It didn’t take long for Thea DuBose to realize an empty storefront in the downtown Gainesville square was the perfect place to relocate her business.
“I saw the potential here when I first walked in the door,” she said.
DuBose quickly signed a lease and began renovating the Main Street location, turning the battered and neglected space into the new home of Naturally Posh Photography.
DuBose, 32, started her photography business, which specializes in portraits of newborns, children and families, in her garage in 2008.
The timing was complicated by the economic recession, but DuBose’s business remained healthy, slowly growing as the years passed.
She moved into a 500-square-foot space on Limestone Parkway, then an 1,100-square-foot space on Thompson Bridge Road before landing in the 3,700-square-foot digs in the square.
But the latest move wasn’t all rosy. The façade was crumbling and in need of major repairs, plus a paint job.
DuBose got a little assistance for this renovation from Main Street Gainesville, an arm of the city’s tourism bureau that promotes businesses in the square through membership drives and fundraising events.
Naturally Posh Photography is the first recipient of a $1,000 grant from the organization to refurbish storefronts, allowing businesses to update their look and attract more customers.
“You can see the transformation,” said Main Street Manager Regina Mansfield.
No tax dollars were used, however. Instead, the money was raised through the annual Spring Chicken Festival.
Of course, the renovations didn’t stop there. The interior had to be remodeled from its coffee shop predecessor, with cabinets and countertops torn out, ceiling tiles replaced and new décor added.
Now, Naturally Posh is “turning moments into memories,” DuBose said.
The square location includes multiple studios, each with an array of backdrop themes and accessories such as teddy bears and sleds that add color to the photo scene.
DuBose produces portraits of all sizes, including some printed on canvas.
Before every appointment, DuBose said she does a full consultation to determine the style and theme customers are looking for.
DuBose also photographs birthday parties and graduations.
And her biggest event of the year is when Santa Claus comes to town. DuBose said she photographs hundreds of happy children posing with Santa.
DuBose said the success of her business is based on return customers. Many of her clients have been around for years, and DuBose takes special pride in watching children grow up while taking their pictures along the way, documenting the evolution of their lives.
“It’s building a relationship,” she said. “I really love the interaction with people. The relationships that are built here last a lifetime.”
DuBose will host a grand opening celebration, which she described as a kid-friendly event, on Aug. 16.
“We’re pulling for our small businesses,” Mansfield said.