If a picture is worth a thousand words, a photo booth owned by a husband and wife duo is worth a whole lot more. Inspired by a love for the spontaneous moments photo booths inspire, Kate and Alex started their Portland-based business, Picstop with an admirable dream in mind: “to create one of the best photo booths in Portland that someone could rent for hundreds less than our competition.”
Get to know the story of their business and their own love story.
How did Picstop come about? Tell us more about how affordability and fun inspired the business.
As far as I (Kate) can remember, I’ve always loved photo booths. I have photo strips from 20 years ago that I still look back on as keepsakes. When Alex and I were married back in 2012, we couldn’t afford a photo booth at our wedding (at least one that we would love and be proud of.) We ended up buying an instant camera, building a backdrop and having a friend run the “photo booth.” We made due with what we had, yet to this day we dream of what it would have been like to have a beautiful booth at our wedding. Fast-forward to 2013, and the dream for Picstop came alive at a friends wedding. Alex and I frequented that booth more than anything else that night and had way too much fun.
Thankfully, we had the help of multiple friends to help build this dream. Yes, we actually built this booth! Our friend Tom helped with the design, and the Speiss/Francis clan (Tiny Luxury on HGTV) did the actual building along with Alex’s good friend Brett. My sister-in -law Olivia of Olivia Strohm Photography helped design our logo, and our buddy Nate helped with our website.
Had you always dreamed of starting a business?
As a couple, we never made plans to start our own business. Alex is a pastor at our church and is the type of person that needs consistency. He would much rather have a 9:00-5:00 job that has stability and doesn’t have to wonder about unknown things. I, on the other hand, have dreamt of so many things but no ideas that were worth pursuing. That’s why we have the potential to be so good together. He needs my spontaneity and I need his structure.
What’s been the most rewarding part of Picstop so far?
For me, the most rewarding part of Picstop is when I get to witness someone having the time of their life while using our booth. It makes me so happy when I get to see loved ones making memories, being fun, being spontaneous, and breaking out of their shell. At one of our events, I got to witness an older Dad and his 6 sons (who happened to look identical) all come together in our booth and be silly and fun.
Another moment that stands out to me was when someone proposed in the booth while taking photos. He timed each step of the proposal with 1 of the 4 photos. It’s moments like this that allow me to take in the moment and be so proud of the service Picstop offers.
As a husband and wife duo, tell us a little about your own love story.
Alex is the best man I know and my best friend. He’s someone that everyone looks up to and respects. We met when he was leading a day trip to the beach with our church’s college group back in 2011- July 30th to be exact. He was the driver of my van that day. We weren’t especially flirty that day, however, we did spend a lot of time in groups. I remember that he was near me most of the day making sure I was okay and taking care of me. (Marry a guy like this, ladies!) That day, he came adorned with a mustache and tattoos – two things I’m not crazy about. I kept feeling that he was intriguing, but I couldn’t tell if he was cute. Turns out he’s incredibly good-looking. Plus, he’s the funniest person I know.
We started dating on September 10, 2011 and were married September 29, 2012. We’re quickly approaching our four-year anniversary, and I can say they have been the best four years of my life. We also have a 9-month old baby girl and her name is Ella. People say she looks just like Alex, and I love that.
What’s it like owning a business with your spouse?
Owning a business with Alex has been all the emotions: exciting, filled with pride, rewarding, and challenging. Some times we both don’t know what to do. What do we do if our software malfunctions? How do we get more business? Is this work actually worth our time? I have an exciting, every-day-is-a-good-day, happy personality. Alex is the realistic thinker who can problem solve anything. Because we have such drastic personalities, it can make owning Picstop more challenging. We definitely butt heads once in a while, but there is so much potential for us to do amazing things when we work hard and trust one another’s strengths. Regardless of how successful Picstop is, I’m so thankful that I’ve got to experience owning this business with my best friend.
What is your favorite love story?
I’m a sucker for love stories. It drives Alex crazy that I only want to watch romantic comedies or Pixar movies. I have a little bias, but I like our own love story the most. Yet, for the sake of this question, I’d say our favorite love story (or one of them) is that of Albert Brennaman and Allegra Cole from one of our favorite rom-roms, Hitch. Albert’s the goofy, overweight, “loser” and Allegra is the wealthy, successful, beautiful bombshell. Everyone loves the Cinderella story. No matter how many times we watch Hitch we can’t help but find ourselves rooting for Albert and celebrating with him when he gets the grand prize. We think marriage, more than anything, is about friendship. Who cares how sexy your husband is if he’s not your best friend?!