The Founder of MCB Studio Backdrops Turned her Hobby into a Rental Business

Michelle Barton has always been creative, but five years ago, she started painting and renting out backdrops for photo shoots. While still working full-time, she has built a thriving backdrop rental business...

MCB Studio Backdrops

Founded

2017

Industry

Backdrop rentals

Location

Melbourne, Australia

Key features used

  • Stripe Integration

  • Inventory Management

  • Online Bookings

Michelle Barton has always been creative, but five years ago, she started painting and renting out backdrops for photo shoots. While still working full-time, she has built a thriving backdrop rental business in Melbourne, Australia. Recently, she found that answering calls, texts, and emails was too challenging and turned to Booqable to help her automate bookings.

MCB Studio Backdrops

Michelle founded MCB Studio Backdrops in August 2017 when there was only one other backdrop painter in Australia. At the time, this art form was rare, and therefore, the market in the majority of the county was ripe for the taking. She has always been creative and seized the opportunity to rent out her creations to photographers and producers across Melbourne.

Her backdrops are in sizes from 1.5m (5 ft) by 2m (6.5 ft) up to 4m (13 ft) by 7m (23 ft). All are different in color and texture, mostly painted on 12oz artist canvas, but some are painted on muslin and nessel. They bring warmth and color to photoshoots and are often used by photographers for specific projects. Renting is the easiest option as it is affordable and saves space required to store them.

In addition to renting out backdrops, Michelle also creates custom pieces for clients with specific needs. For example, a company asked her to create a custom backdrop for their most recent advertising campaign. Once these pieces have been used, they are added to the general rental pool, which Michelle is constantly expanding with new designs.

Balancing act

Of course, running a rental business alongside a full-time career is no easy task, and as MCB grew, her available time shrunk. This began to lead to challenges as making time to answer phone calls, texts, and emails started taking up more of her time. This was especially true regarding last-minute bookings where clients needed to book their backdrops quickly.

Compounding this difficulty, she would also have to create invoices and ensure they had been paid. This was fine when she had the time, but when she was busy, it became difficult to manage. As you can imagine, this became stressful to deal with, and it was starting to look like she wouldn’t be able to balance her career with her rental business.

In addition, Ripe Studios, from whom she collaborates for storage of the backdrops and serves as the pickup location, were under a lot of pressure. Clients often would come to them directly, expecting them to book on the spot, only to have to contact Michelle to make a booking. Meaning they could potentially not get a backdrop in time, leading to frustration.

A smoother process

In summer 2022, this came to a head, and Michelle knew she had to find a way to manage bookings that was less demanding on her time. In her search for a way to streamline the process, she came across Booqable. This allowed her to automate the booking process as clients could book online and collect their orders from Ripe Studios without her involvement.

Being able to accept online bookings has also made her payment workflow much easier to manage too. Instead of creating and sending an invoice to every client after they make a booking, she allows them to pay with their credit card during the online checkout process. This not only makes it easier for her but also provides and more convenient experience for her clients.

Finally, if clients turn up to Ripe Studios without a backdrop booking, they no longer have to turn them away and direct them to call Michelle. They can simply tell them to make a booking on her website. Allowing them to book, pay, and take what they need within a matter of minutes. This has led to much higher client satisfaction and a smoother collection process.

More backdrops in more places

Michelle has found a much better balance between her career and running MCB Studio Backdrops over the past couple of months. This has not only allowed her to focus on her career but also created more time for her to grow her business. She plans on expanding her inventory and has begun renting out backdrops in Sydney with the assistance of The Dale Studio.

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