George Park


Making The Dream Work

It is strange how things work out.  George clearly knows what he wants his framing business to end up like and has the vision to see its development through.  There is no detailed master-plan and yet the evolution of Dreamcatcher Framing Company has been like completing a jigsaw puzzle, where pieces come to hand at exactly the right time.  The planned summerhouse being able to be modified into a workspace to help cope with increased framing work is one example of the way things have fallen neatly into place.

Another is the coincidence of a bulk order for some framed photography coming just after new workshop tools had been ordered.  The over-arching dream has always been to “grow” the framing business alongside his continued day-job.  Eventually the emphasis will switch from one to the other so that there is a steady income ready for a leisurely retirement. 

The Dreamcatcher name developed from dreamcatchers that George had seen and acquired partly in conjunction with his wife’s interest in varying alternative folklores and spiritual beliefs.  A good way of explaining the notion of Dreamcatchers is to quote from native American tradition:

“The Indians believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dreamcatcher, when hung in your place of rest, swinging freely with the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know the way, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way, get tangled in the web and perish with the first light of the new day.”

As well as being an enticing way of making a statement about his framing services (Capturing Your Memories In Frames) George also recognised a unique logo for his business in the look of a Dreamcatcher.  In fact it took about 4 months for him to be happy with the image and font style for the Dreamcatcher Framing Co logo.  Again, George photographed the dreamcatcher and designed the logo himself, but the time has been well spent because it provides a highly distinctive and memorable trademark:  making an impact is a vital part of marketing the business.

At this point, early advertising and marketing revolved around the circulation of fliers and pamphlets.  Using an insert in a local newspaper managed to target 20 000 homes, but in the end, it was not a huge success.  What worked better has been the hard slog that George and his wife have been through, personally posting fliers through letter boxes. 

Often you bump into people and it is that dialogue and simple networking that starts the ball rolling.  Capturing a customer in this way and delivering top quality work at good prices has meant that Dreamcatcher Framing Company’s reputation is constantly growing.  At the moment George’s customer base is firmly based in the domestic market place with the occasional “commercial” project coming from getting himself known and being in the right place at the right time.  You address a “home” project only to find that the customer also remembers the work you have done when needing something to be framed for their workplace.

 



The second major drive for George has been the Dreamcatcher website.  Who designed and constructed the site? No prizes for guessing. Any website takes a while to complete and George’s is no exception.  Starting by mapping out the look of a page, the essential menus and how pages progress from one to another, the site has taken almost 9 months to arrive at the current “live” version.  A great deal of thought has also gone into making it clear to read and easy for clients to move around.  Similarly, attention was given to ensuring that the site would feature positively in listings and searches.  Buying a search engine optimisation package is not cheap, but has increased the number of site hits.  The outcome is that George now receives regular enquires for quotes from the site.  The best result so far is that Marie Curie Cancer Care commissioned framing of a cricket bat signed by the victorious England team in the Ashes and of a photograph of Colin Montgomerie with a signed flag from the 18th tee at St. Andrews; these items were to be auctioned off to raise funds for the charity.  And who knows what projects will come off of the back of that?

George is now looking to branch out into wedding photography, spotting the earning potential in another of his hobbies.  Having developed a number of good contacts through his photography interests, he has a friend and mentor guiding him in this endeavour.  Undertaking a number of wedding shoots for family, a couple of (very) willing volunteers and using an opportunity to shadow a professional photographer, George will develop a portfolio of work to market his photography service.  This will then be marketed through a new website (under construction) using the working title George Park Photography.  It also provides another potential source for the bespoke framing service.

Would George change anything in how he has gone about developing the business?  No regrets, nothing different – except perhaps having more disposable money to make the process a little easier.

Is the enthusiasm still there?  No hesitation – George would be happy to work 12 hours a day at the bottom of his garden doing work he still thinks of as fun.

So, is George happy with how things are going?  At the outset he reckoned on 4 years to turn a profit.  Two years in, things are progressing well and he is confident that his “retirement dream” has been captured.

For the illustrated version of this article follow the link: Making The Dream Work

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