After a 30-year career in quality management for small and large manufacturers, Shari Morin was ready for the next chapter in her life. With her husband’s encouragement, Morin decided to hire herself, blending sole-proprietorship with her passion for the arts in a new custom framing company. In the fall of 2016, Morin discovered the Women’s Business Center of New York State, a resource partner funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and attended their 60-hour small business program in Utica, NY.
Morin graduated with her business plan in January 2017, filed her DBA the next month and spent the rest of the year learning the skills and techniques required for professional custom framing. Her training at the American Picture Framing Academy helped Morin learn what equipment was needed and how to use it to create professional products. She also attended Oneida-Herkimer BOCES classes in Adobe Photoshop and advanced digital photography. Morin found a willing mentor in a framing company in Syracuse, and spent many hours soaking in the owner’s wise counsel before finally launching A Lasting Image Frame Shop from her home in Deansboro, NY.
“I don’t see myself ever occupying a cubicle again. I was afraid to get started, but it’s been a learning process over the past two years and I’ve had great support from the people around me. The biggest highlight is being able to give people products that they are excited about,” explains Morin.
Morin develops most of her clients through word-of-mouth referrals, and has slowly acquired used framing equipment to stay under budget. In January of 2018, Morin received a Bank of Utica microloan to help purchase a computerized mat cutter. Plans are developing to relocate out of her now-crowded basement to her barn, which would allow room to spread out equipment and offer a meeting space for clients to discuss their project needs. Morin continues to meet with the Women’s Business Center quarterly to review her financial performance and pricing strategies.
Her best advice for aspiring startups? Morin says: “If you’re going to start a business, really think it through-it’s a lot of work! Whatever you think it’s going to take financially, double it. There are too many unknowns and cash flow is so important. And if you don’t have good mentors behind you, you might end up making mistakes that will cost you in the end.”