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Portrait of a home-based business: Pin-up Girlz founder Chanda Ulmer

If you've been following my Facebook page, then you know I was throwing exclamation points around a lot last week and hinting at something VERY EXCITING. Well... here you go.

I found out about Chanda Ulmer's Pin Up Girlz business and, you know, just to be professional and whatnot, booked myself in for a photo sesh with her (check out my Shopaholic Pin-up shot on my "About" page). I had so much fun! And Chanda agreed to do a guest post to talk about her business.

*Note: if you're in Saskatoon and want to check out her business, she'll be at the Taboo Show on February 16, 17 and 18 at Prairieland Park doing candid shots at her "Pin-up Photobooth."

Take it away, Chanda!

Chanda is obviously a bit of a pin-up herself!

Hi, my name is Chanda Ulmer, I am 41 years old and I LOVE Pin-up Photography! I love it because itʼs beautiful, sassy, cheeky and just the right amount of smart ass! The original Pin-up Girls were just the girl next door, curvy, pretty and “oh so polly anna”!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved playing dress-up. My sister and I would play Barbies and dress-up whenever we could! As I got older though I realized that not everyone thought that dress-up was as fun as I did. I felt that it was too bad adults seemed to lose their playfulness and develop so many inhibitions as they grew older.

I was always the one when there was a dress-up day at school or work to get the most excited, and I would go all out. Do the hair, make-up, totally put together a great costume and show-up only to find out hardly anyone else would be dress-up! Party poopers :(

I have been a stay at home mom since my kids were born (13 years now). They are getting older and donʼt need me quite as much as they did before, for all the little things. It doesn't make me sad but proud, because I know that I have done a good job raising them to be so independent. It had started making for some long days though when they werenʼt coming home for lunch as often. I started to think what could I do where I could still stay home yet be available for them when they needed me, and try out some of my own passions at the same time? Because I know there is still a lot of parenting to be done!

So I laid in bed one morning and thought about all the things that I like to do, I love anything to do with hair and make-up, making props, putting together costumes, everything and anything retro, meeting new people and empowering women to enjoy the skin their in at any age! We had just recently bought (finally) a GOOD camera so I now included photography into all of that and voila! Pin-up Girlz was born!

With my family's support and a meagre budget (for a computer, schooling and business cards), I took some photography and digital arts classes with the University's community arts program and began to see the vision I had in my head unfold before my eyes, (this from the girl who didnʼt even know how to send an e-mail three years ago). My girlfriends have been great in supporting me by being my test models, itʼs been a lot of fun!

So many people over the years have told me how “creative” I am, and it has been frustrating to hear those words because even though itʼs a great compliment I could never seen to find a job where they hired “creative” people with no specific training. So I decided to invent my own! I have tried many different mediums over the years, but found none that could quite express my talents they way I had envisioned them. But through photography and computers it seems to be coming together in a way I could have never imagined! There is so much yet to be learned and I havenʼt been this excited about learning something new in like......ever!

Pin-ups works like this: we schedule a photoshoot (I ask you what you like, what kinds of props and costume pieces you might have and want to use), then I figure out what pieces that I have that will work for the style of shoot that you want. You come to my studio here in Saskatoon and the fun begins! We put the outfits together and accessorize, most girls come with their hair and make-up already done, but I can make arrangements to have it done for you at an extra cost. The shoot usually takes 1 to 4 hours depending on how many costumes you want. Then I sit with you at the computer and we pick the best poses together, you then return to your life of leisure and I will perform my photoshop magic. I will usually have your disk ready for you within two weeks.

It was slow the first year, I advertised only with business cards and word of mouth at first. At times I felt very discouraged and almost gave up, but then the e-mails and phone calls started coming in. As I started making some money I then could afford to do a couple of trade shows and buy advertising for the back of my truck. I am now starting my third year of Pin-up Girlz Photography and enjoying every minute of it! Itʼs hard to say what part is my favorite....if I had to pin it down it would probably be the treasure hunting! When I find a great prop or costume piece in a store or at a yard sale, I start dreaming up what kind of cool pin-up shoot I could use it in, it makes me gooey inside ;)

I now know that there are places in Saskatoon to help people start their own businesses, like Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan and Business Info Source. I would highly recommend going that route I think that you will have a better chance at success enrolling in the seminars they offer. I wish I would have know about them before!

I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of closet “costumeaholics” coming out of the wood work in Saskatoon and surrounding area, FINALLY IʼM NOT ALONE! lol

Check out my passion on my web site or call me here in Saskatoon (306) 291-5769

Check out the other posts in my Portrait of a home-based business series:

Trendy Trachs founder Erin Burr

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