Hello Alignable community!
We’re kicking off a new series we hope you’ll enjoy: Alignable Member Stories.
This is a bit of a personal project of mine. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole career. One of my companies which you may have heard of is Invisalign—the teeth straightening device. And I’ve started many other technology-related companies. While these weren’t “local businesses,” the entrepreneurial journey with all it’s highs and lows is one that I share with you. It’s what led me to co-found Alignable with Eric.
It’s been fascinating talking to many of you over the past couple of years. I’ve heard so many unique and inspiring stories that I wanted to find a way to share them. So here we go! Starting today, we’ll be featuring Alignable members around the country. We’re shooting for at least one profile a month. Want to tell us your story? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about your business!
Without further ado, here’s our inaugural story: A true Renaissance man (see the photographic evidence, below), Tom Yackley shows us it’s never too late to follow your passions—even if you’ve already had one (or more!) very full careers!
Tom Yackley is the owner of Yackley Photo in Alpharetta, Georgia. After teaching music for nearly 30 years in local Alpharetta schools and raising 3 kids, Tom decided to pursue his life-long passion for photography as his second career.
Q. Tom, tell us a bit about yourself and the business.
My wife and I both taught at local schools here in Alpharetta – Milton High School and Alpharetta High School for me & Webb Bridge Middle School for Robin. It was a 30+ year career and an extremely rewarding one for us. Our 3 kids went to school here as well - and they’re all grown up and out in the world now!
I offer photography services for families. I also enjoy shooting landscapes, abstracts, and environmental portraits.
Q. How did you get started?
I’ve had a passion for photography ever since I shot black and white film and developed it in the darkroom for our high school newspaper staff. I enjoy seeking out great light and locations to make people look their best.
Photographer Jim Dunaway encouraged me to establish a website for my landscape photography but I decided to expand and include people. They are the focus of my business.
Q. Tell us about your business neighborhood, how has it changed over time?
Alpharetta has really expanded in the time I’ve lived here. In 1985 I was teaching at the old Milton High School and directing a musical. One morning I was feeling a bit frustrated when I pulled my truck up to the back parking lot gate to find it was locked and knowing I was the one who had locked up the night before. I unlocked the gate and was pulling it open when a cow started running toward the opening. I managed to get it closed just in time! There aren’t so many cows around anymore but a strong, technology-rich business community has taken her place.
Q. A little fun-fact about you:
I’m Co-Artistic Director of the Alpharetta Community Chorus. We’ve got a great group of community members who love to sing together!
Q. Who are some businesses you’ve met on Alignable? What’s your favorite thing about Alignable?
I started my business a year ago from square one. I didn’t really know any other businesses or know how to get the word out about my services. Alignable was a really terrific way for me to market locally - way better than Facebook in some ways. I’ve met several businesses through Alignable and came up with the idea about taking pictures and blogging about them. I set up a website specifically for this project. Check out some of the features here: http://www.alpharetta.photography/features.html. I met all but one of the featured businesspeople when I went to photograph them. The other one, Becky Berry, I invited to Alignable.
My favorite thing about Alignable is that when I made the request for people to be featured on my blog, within a couple of days there were half a dozen people who were willing to take a chance on me. I appreciate that kind of support.
Q. How do you market your business? What online media do you use - and what’s working?
I have a website, http://www.yackleyphoto.com and have sold some landscapes and music group photos there but I find the personal touch is generally more effective for me. I’ve also used Facebook a bit and tried paid promotions but I haven’t seen any measurable result from that. My daughter Claire who’s a college student helps me out when she can with photo shoots, editing, and lots of advice!
From Venkat Krishnamurthy's post on Alignable, October 1, 2014.