From community-driven to socially distanced: Tips from a creative studio pivot
With studios closed & creative production halted, Cameron Kirkland, creator of Cam Kirk Studios, adjusted his operations and found resources to keep his creative community thriving.
Known as “Atlanta’s Favorite Place to Create”, Cam Kirk Studios was always more about building community than maximizing their bottom line. Cameron Kirkland, owner of the studio and a professional photographer, designed the studio to be and creative paradise for photographers and creatives to go to do their best work. But knowing other entrepreneurs relied on their business to do business is also what made their operations so difficult when COVID-19 hit.
“We had to close shop for two months, and it was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make because my studio is not only a tool for me as a business, but we basically are a tool for other entrepreneurs and other businesses,” says Kirkland.
To learn how he stayed inspired and then turned that inspiration into a new business idea, tune in to our conversation with Kirkland by watching the video or read his key lessons below.
1. Ask other business owners what resources they’re using to navigate the pandemic.
Like many businesses, Kirkland was facing the impossible situation of a temporary closing would forever shut the doors of Cam Kirk Studios. Then he heard about the PayPal Grant from another business owner in his community.
“Friends within a community who just kind of knew, like business owner to business owner, here's some things that I'm getting into. Here's some things you should check out. And I can't remember which friend exactly sent it to me, but I had heard about it. I just didn't know when the [PayPal Grant] application was actually available. And I remember when I got the email, I visited the website, filled it out, and just kind of sat back, fingers crossed and just see what would happen. Because this game as an entrepreneur, it's so easy to feel like you're in it by yourself. And a lot of times it can be discouraging, because you find it hard to believe a company like PayPal would even care about your business in any sense, or even what to look out for you, or even see it.”
Even during times of adversity, Kirkland continues to expand the Cam Kirk Studio offering digitally—from classes and workshops to a neighborhood marketplace platform—in order to stay afloat during the next phase of the pandemic, and after.
“The neighborhood market is a new venture we started here at Cam Kirk Studios, but it's an extension of the work we do Again, I was just inspired by seeing so many different entrepreneurs create out of our space. One of the things we saw was, so many brand owners, and product makers, and people just creating things. And they would come to the studio to shoot their product shots or their look book. And we were just thinking like, wow, it'd be great if we had a platform that can bring everybody together on one, and everyone from our community can shop on one platform.”
3. Build a community of support.
“Never think that you're in this by yourself, because you're not. We're all going through the same thing. Find other people and find ways to stay encouraged and keep it going.”