Air Force spouse Vista Bartholomew knows a thing or two about growing a business. Her company, VistaPix Media, is a photo scanning, photo restoration and film and media preservation service. In just a few short years, Vista went from taking on local clients, to serving clients across all regions of the United States. And she did so while managing a household, two children, a PCS and the military lifestyle.
Vista and her husband, Major Brendon Bartholomew, met when they were in high school. Growing up, Vista and her family moved often with her minister father, also an Air Force veteran. After high school, she joined the workforce. The first five years of her career, she was promoted from call center representative to head trainer at a travel agency that handled the contract for General Electric. When she and her husband married, Vista transferred with the same company to San Antonio, where he was assigned. “After that assignment, I found myself looking for new employment at each new location. I did everything from temp agency work, admin jobs with construction companies, county offices, and fitness companies. Although I hadn’t found the “perfect” job, each position taught me something and helped me build the skills I currently use to run a business.”
By the time they received their fifth assignment at McChord AFB in Washington, Vista decided she wanted to pursue a degree more seriously. She enrolled at Park University and was accepted for a Senior HR position at Tesoro. The company ended up paying for her degree through tuition reimbursement and she graduated with honors in 2009 with Bachelors in Business Management with a focus in Human Resources.
But the military came calling once again, and the Bartholomews were given orders to move to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. “We had been stationed there once before, so although it was a familiar move, this time we were doing it with a 3-year old and another baby on the way. It was stressful to say the least! I also knew that the job market in the small town I was moving to wasn’t that great.”
A Convergence of Events
It was the concern about finding proper employment that planted the seeds for Vista’s business. “I looked for work in my local community and couldn’t find anything worthwhile. To me, there had to be a balance between my own need to obtain a professional position and sacrificing time with my children.”
Around that time, Vista and her husband experienced the loss of his grandmother. For the funeral, she created a slideshow of her life to share with the entire family. She found that she enjoyed putting together images that told a beautiful life story. Brendon’s grandmother, Vista shares, was kind enough to leave them an inheritance. “We wanted to make good use of that money. So we started to build our business.”
When VistaPix Media first launched in July 2012, it was primarily to create custom slideshows for special occasions. Her first challenge was finding a name for the company, and then she built a website. “Initially, it was just me in a home office. My husband would come home after work and help me out. When I started, I didn’t have that many clients. We got some customers through local advertising. I would work maybe 5-6 hours a day while my daughter was going to preschool.”
VistaPix Media Now
Today, Vista has clients from all over the US. And the process is running smoothly. When clients place an order, VistaPix sends them a prepostage box. They fill it with their photographs and organize any way they wish. The company scans them in with a variety of options: color correction and restoration, among others. The company then puts the photos on a disk or a USB drive to preserve their longevity. “Every box that comes in, we know that name, we’re familiar with that order, we do it quickly and it’s a much easier and more personalized service. I’m trying to keep it very personalized.“
But just as the business began to thrive, she and her husband received military orders– this time to North Carolina. Vista was not deterred. She and Brendon developed a flawless plan to transition the venture to North Carolina and ensure continued business growth.
During that transition, and today, what helps Vista the most, aside from the support of her husband and family, are her employees—all military spouses. “My first employee, Erin, is a young wife new to the Air Force. I met her in my bible study group and she has been not only a crucial asset to my business, but one of my closest friends. Liza, the first employee I hired when we moved to North Carolina is an Army wife of 15+ years. She has been a loyal and very efficient employee from the get-go. Yolanda, hired last April, is not only a Navy wife but was also in the Navy herself. She has proven to be highly professional, kind and willing to learn any aspect of the business,” she shares.
For Vista, hiring military spouses is a natural choice. Military spouses, she explains, are extremely adaptable. And as individuals used to change, they constantly bring new ideas to the table. “No matter their background, we always have that we’re military spouses in common. We may not agree on the same music or share the same political beliefs, but we’re all spouses. We’re side by side all day long and we understand one another.”
What Inspires Vista
Vista has created a business she loves because she does it with people she loves. Her husband has been her number one emotional and professional support. And her children continually inspire her to do more, “I always want to be an example of working hard to achieve a goal, stick-to-itiveness, and good work ethics.” It is because of this passion that Vista’s company continues to grow. But not because the financial aspect is the ultimate end goal, “We of course set monetary goals every month and have reached those goals consistently throughout the last two and a half years, but there’s nothing that compares to hearing from someone about what a good job we did. I will always put customer satisfaction over money.”
Vista is passionate about her business and her family, but she is also an advocate for military spouses who want to achieve their own goals. “I would like to inspire others to achieve something different and “out of the box” that we can sometimes feel forced into. I hope I help to inspire others to find their passion and make it a reality.”
Vista’s Reasons Why Military Spouses Ideal Employees:
1. Extremely adaptable: Since my business is constantly changing and evolving to be more efficient and meet customer needs, having employees that can roll with the punches is important.
2.“Idea” people: The military doesn’t always ask our opinion as spouses, so any time a spouse is encouraged to contribute to a process or solution, they are up for the challenge.
3. Loyal/Dependable: Spouses have a great work ethic. They feel like they are important because they are!
4. Multitasking: We are used to juggling many tasks (kids, work, school, home, etc) especially when our spouses are deployed. Asking a spouse to handle several tasks at work doesn’t overwhelm them as it might someone not affiliated with military life.
5.Stress: Military spouses are built differently–they handle stress well and have a higher threshold for it. There are times when my business can get very busy and having employees that are able to multitask and not get stressed is one less thing I need to worry about.
For more information on Vista Bartholomew and to place an order with her company, please visit http://www.vistapixmedia.com.
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