The Story Exchange, Linda Russell, MugsyClicksYour Name: Linda Russell

Business Name: MugsyClicks, a provider of professional photography for children at school

Type of Business: Arts & Entertainment/Children’s Goods & Services/E-Commerce

Business Location: San Rafael, California, United States

Twitter   @mugsyclicks

Reason for starting
Starting MugsyClicks was a revolution. I was a very successful wedding portrait photographer who was crazy enough to believe that kids and parents deserved a better school portrait product. That this billion dollar industry could be localized to support the community photographer. What ended up happening was a true adventure story in success, failure, greater success, failure and still greater success. I have styled many looks along the way including web developer, system crafter, marketing master and most of all educator.

How do you define success?
Well. There is money. Can you hit your target goals, this is, after all business. But in the mugsyclicks world there are many many touchstones to success that generally start with a strong connection to an individual and a desire to please them. From the photo crafted and captured to the school admin to the parent purchaser and back to the photographer and subject. The smoother that circle of creation the more successful I feel as a business owner and visionary.

Biggest Success
That is such a hard question. I could say the launching of our web platform. It was a huge project. I could say photographing our 100k subject. Winning Make Mine a Million. Supporting and raising 2 children alone by my wits, both of whom are artists. My son is works in what has now become a family business. But really, each day is a biggest success. Yesterday’s great new hire! Hopefully today’s will be knocking off the latest web functionality rebuild and next December 31st will include finally hitting the 1 million $ sales mark we have been circling for two years.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The website was and continues to be huge. I never entered the tech field to build “the next big thing.” I just wanted to fix a problem and decorate it the way I wanted it to look :0). What a friggin project. So many moveable parts. So much MONEY and time spent. I have learned massive amounts about programming, interface, people management, negotiation, UI, data tables, amazon clouds. Negotiating, holding people accountable. Getting past the WOMAN THING where they don’t take you seriously. Finding the smooth space between sounding like someone’s mother, a bitch or a sweetie. Working with family has its own sassy twist getting from point A to B. And then there is always funding.

Who is your most important role model?
Visionary. Leader with a willingness to do what it takes including stop and listen.