“Yes! You literally get inside the bus and take some photos yourself…”
-Mayra + Fer Rodriguez
I met with The Photo Bus Austin owners Mayra and Fernando five months ago here in Austin, TX. Ironically we are from the same town and we ended up meeting in the city we moved to. If you live downtown Austin you’ve probably have seen them riding on the red vintage beauty. If you are planning an event and you want your guests to have a unique time while taking great photos, this vintage photo booth will go perfectly.
A warm hearted couple that will make you feel like you’ve known them forever, it just feels good to be around them, soft-spoken and kind. These young entrepreneurs will share with you the struggles of starting their own business far away from home while being husband and wife. As I said before, people who follow their heart and their creativity inspire me very much. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are Fernando and Mayra, a husband and wife team running a really unique photo booth business. Fernando also runs a photography and film business.
What makes you different from other photo booths?
Our photo booth is inside a vintage 1970 Volkswagen bus. Yes! You literally get inside the bus and take some photos yourself. We also have a button which allows you to take your own photos when you’re ready, instead of getting caught off guard so I think that’s pretty neat.
How is it owning a business as husband and wife?
We learned from our own experience that owning a business together is not all the romance. But it’s definitely an adventure. At the beginning we struggled with separating work from personal life and that really affected our marriage. We had to, and still continue to, learn how to keep both separate. We also learned that giving your spouse the silent treatment kills productivity haha! We would give each other the silent treatment for days after an argument in the early stages of our business and we noticed we missed deadlines and even lost customers. In every stage of your life you get the opportunity to grow and the way you grow is by overcoming your struggles. One of the main advantages of owning this business together is being able to share the responsibility for ensuring that the business remains successful. We also realized that we couldn’t make it happen without each other.
Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?
We both grew up in the border cities of Cd.Juarez and El Paso and we knew that for both of us there was more than 9-5 jobs. We always looked for inspiration in other cities because in El Paso there wasn’t a lot of it so we decided to move to Austin.
How difficult was it to start a business in a new city?
Very, very difficult but we knew it wasn’t impossible. We didn’t know anyone and we had only been to this city once. But we are happy to say the we see our business growing better here in Austin.
Who is your ideal client?
The one the who understands and values the uniqueness of our concept.
Name something you love, and why.
We both love the liberty we have with our business. Although it’s so much work we like the fact that we can manage our own schedule.
What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?
Fernando: My social skills in English
Mayra: Learning how to drive the bus.
What is your dream project?
Owning a badass warehouse that we can turn into a venue, our studio, and our house and somehow impacting people’s lives through that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Fernando: Invest in yourself and focus on what you’re good at. Fail and try again. Fail and try again. Keep failing and keep trying.
Mayra: Learn to enjoy the process. Goals are great but when you’re only focused on them you get burned out because you’re not paying attention to path that leads to your goal.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Owning several businesses and being a couple-preneur.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Fernando: When I went to the Sierra de Chihuahua to make a short film about an orphanage that exists in the middle of place where the narcs own everything and everyone. People there live in a world of fear all the time and that made me appreciate the freedom and the peace I have here.
What jobs have you done before being a business owner?
We both had a lot of different 9-5 office jobs from County offices to church ministry.
Favorite or most inspirational place in Austin?
We still don’t have a favorite inspirational place but we do love to go see the downtown skyline from the Long Center or from the last floor of a parking garage. We also love working at Seventh Flag Coffee and Mañana Coffee; and we like exploring new places to get new inspiration.
What do you like about your work?
That we have the power to manage our own schedule and to work as a husband and wife team because we get to see each other everyday and get to spend time with our dog.