We recently connected with Blake Sullivan and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Blake thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. We’d love to hear your thoughts about family businesses.
My brother and I have grown up in a family surrounded by business. My grandpa founded a hardwood flooring company called Sullivan Hardwood Flooring in Scottsville, KY where now three of my uncles and one of my cousins work. My grandma also worked a flower shop in her basement when my mom was younger and my mom was one of her assistants in the shop. Many people are cautious about entering business relationships with relatives because there have been plenty of stories of broken relationships that come from doing so. However, when my brother Kyle and I started videoing weddings in October of 2020 our relationship has done nothing but strengthen.
Kyle and I have are able to use our brotherhood to our benefit in our business by how effectively we communicate. We run a wedding photography and videography business called Captured by Sullivan which we started in the summer of 2021. When I was a baby, my mom said that Kyle was my mouthpiece; he would interpret any sounds or gestures I would make and he would communicate that with my parents. That same idea carries over to our business as Kyle and I nonverbally communicate throughout the entire wedding day. Whether it is a small head nod during the wedding ceremony or just making eye contact, Kyle and I are able to tell each other what to do or what we are about to do very effectively. There is nobody else that I would want to be doing this business with other than my brother.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
My name is Blake Sullivan and I am a current junior studying mechanical engineering at NC State University. Videography has been a passion of mine since the 6th grade where I started making Lego stop motion movies and short action films with my neighbors. Since then, I have done commercial work for small businesses and filmed video projects for my church. I lead the videography side of Captured by Sullivan and I love all of the emotion which can be captured through video!
My brother, Kyle, is three years older than me and graduated from NC State in 2021 with degrees in finance and economics. He currently works with Truist bank in Charlotte and has been married for over a year. Kyle’s wife, Avery, often is one of our second-shooters whenever clients ask us to do both photo and video for their wedding. Kyle began taking photography seriously when he studied abroad after his sophomore year of college to Germany. Before being the lead photographer at Captured by Sullivan, Kyle took portraits for his friends, graduation photos, and even some pet photography.
Kyle and I were asked by a friend from church if we could video her wedding in October of 2020 since she was trying to save some money due to being in the middle of the pandemic. That was the first wedding which we filmed and other friends started reaching out the next summer asking us if we could film their weddings for a discounted rate. In the two years of Captured by Sullivan’s existence, we have filmed/videoed a total of 10 weddings.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
Kyle and I excel at two things which has helped grow our reputation in the wedding market: personability and quality of product.
Kyle and I need to be personable (and we think that we are) in order to make the wedding day as comfortable and stress free for the bride and groom as possible. Kyle and I will go out of our ways to serve the bride and groom so because we know that their wedding day experience is something that they will only be able to have once together. Being personable with the couple boosts our reputation because couples who enjoy spending time with us are likely to recommend us to their friends who are getting married.
Kyle and I also need to offer a professional product (which I think we do as well) in order to build our reputation. I feel comfortable in saying that our product is professional quality because all of the couples have loved the photos and videos which we provide them.
What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?
Within wedding photography and videography, most of our clientele comes from bridesmaids or groomsmen from previous weddings we have filmed or photographed. Because of that, Kyle and I know that if we want to grow our clientele we need to make the wedding party feel comfortable and paid attention to. An easy way to put this into practice is that Kyle and I try to learn the names of the wedding party. If we can’t memorize all of their names, we at least try to memorize the names of the best man and maid of honor and this is a HUGE way to personalize our business.
- Instagram: capturedbysullivan
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/capturedbysullivan/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvWBC-7dZ8N2L1F8tuhd1zA