May 01, 2011 — "You're crazy!" "It'll never work!" "In this economy, you'll never get a
loan!" All those negative comments from naysayers did not detour Maggie
Habieda Nowakowski, proud owner of the brand new Fotografia Boutique
studio in Oakville, Ontario, from realizing her dream and building it
anyway. Now that the studio is finished, and more spectacular than she
even first imagined, all those negative mutterings have melted into
positive comments and praise.
Maggie admits designing and building the perfect, state-of-the-art
studio from scratch was no easy task. However, she was bound and
determined, no matter what challenges she had to overcome, and she did
encounter numerous obstacles during this long process. Armed with a deep
level of faith in herself, what she had learned from WPPI in four years
and believing it could be done, drove Maggie onward toward her goal. In
the end, she not only reached her goal, but exceeded it.
The new Fotografia Boutique studio is truly a work of art, and only the
best of customer service and high-quality photography are offered here.
To support this vision, Maggie constructed 12-foot-high ceilings
throughout, with a custom made 16-foot-high dome in the center of the
gallery, where a beautiful chandelier hangs. The 9-foot solid-wood doors
make for an impressive entry into this space. Large canvas prints in
designer frames grace the gallery walls. A framed, 60-inch LED monitor
built into the wall projects a constant stream of Maggie's outstanding
images. The Crema Marfil marble floor presents a feeling of elegance and
class. Her goal was to combine a classical style with the latest
technology. Maggie now has the art/photo gallery she always wanted, but
did not have room for in her home location. To make clients feel
comfortable and special, tasty tidbits of food and various drinks are
offered during sessions from her built in kitchenette. Because she did
it her way, the studio fits her every need.
The whole process began about a year ago when Maggie realized her
600-square-foot in-home studio was just too small to meet the demands of
her growing business. She began looking for a storefront location to
transform. Leasing a space was her first option, until she realized how
limiting renting from someone else turned out to be. Finally, with the
support from her husband Robert, she decided to purchase a building.
That decision opened up a whole other world and took her on an adventure
she never expected at the onset.
"[ I thought] If I didn't do it now, I may never get the chance again,"
Maggie says, "My heart was telling me this was my dream and it would be
great. During those 11 weeks of actual construction, I ran into so many
obstacles and challenges, I can't even tell you. Finally, I had to take
over the whole project and I became the general contractor. No one else
could interpret my vision and desires as I wanted. Every aspect had to
be beautiful and matching, so it all worked together. When we first
started, the 1500-square-foot space was merely an empty shell.
Everything had to be specially designed and built from scratch. I had to
pick the tiles, floor coverings, paint colors, furnishings, light
fixtures and everything. Nobody showed me how to do this either. I had
to learn as I went along by researching. I studied every aspect of
building, designing and decorating from early morning to late into the
night. It was a very wearing and lengthy process, but it was all worth
Relocating to a brand new studio space means growth and expansion,
requiring a name change as well. The name, Moments By Maggie, as she had
been known for four years, no longer suited her business plan. "I
changed the name because Moments By Maggie was fine when I worked out of
my home and did it all myself. Now, I have a commercial location and
intend to grow even more. In time, I plan to have a staff of
photographers who are trained to shoot my way. I want them to be
identified as professionals by wearing special logo shirts to the
events. Moments By Maggie was too personal to share. I needed a
universal name with an international flare, and one that stood out.
Because I am from Poland originally I wanted to use something from my
native language and be more multicultural. Fotografia Boutique reaches a
wider audience; sounds more professional," Maggie explains.
Even the design of her logo has an international touch—it was created by
a designer in Switzerland, named Jimmie Bergqvist. It was produced as a
result of an on line contest hosted by 99designs, where he was chosen
from 180 entrants.
It's no wonder that Maggie was able to pull off this mammoth feat
without fear of failure. All of her life has been a challenge, with
obstacles to overcome. She was born into a poverty-stricken family of
eight children in Communist Cracow, Poland and lived under very bare
conditions. When she was 16, she immigrated to Canada and lived with her
Aunt Wieslawa Stepkowska and Uncle Joe Bednarczyk in Toronto. Upon
arrival, Maggie could not speak English. However, Maggie studied hard
and learned to speak fluent English and excelled in her classes. Later,
she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design and worked in the art
field as an illustrator and graphic designer for 10 years prior to
tackling a photography career.
Wieslawa Stepkowska is now the business manager of Fotografia Boutique
and ensures that the studio moves forward with a solid business plan so
Maggie's vision is fully realized. Ian Cutherbert Maggie's former
teacher and mentor at Sheridan College, also acts as the full-time
studio manager. Between those two, Maggie has much more time to devote
to her clients, creating more photography and doing the computer and
Maggie advises other photographers to hire a competent business manager
to help implement your vision and set the operation in the right
direction as soon as possible. Maggie says she ran the studio from home
by herself and didn't really have a solid business plan, so now she is
correcting that oversight. She was fortunate to work with a seasoned
business planner, WS Consulting.
As for the future of this remarkable woman and photographer, if we know
Maggie is not one to rest on her past successes, but moves ever onward
to explore and conquer new frontiers."I cannot express enough how much
WPPI has helped me," she says. "Without WPPI, I could never have
accomplished this dream at this time in my career. I'm at least five
years ahead of where I would have been without them. I have attended
every WPPI Vegas Convention for the past four years and I intend to keep
going back in the future. I love entering the WPPI print and album
competitions to keep myself inspired and challenged to continue
improving my work. Every photographer should belong to WPPI, in my
opinion," Maggie concludes.
Readers may contact Maggie Habieda Nowakowski at Fotografia Boutique via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and view her Web site at
Linda L. May is a freelance writer/photographer based in Fort Dodge, Iowa.