Metro Frame Works makes business an art form

Categories: Cup of Joe

In late 1999, ignoring the rampaging fears of millennial catastrophe, Melanie Lunsford signed a lease at 44th and Tennyson and opened her own frame shop called Metro Frame Works.

A woodworker by trade, she had just left a furniture restoration job to apprentice in a framing store and then decided she wanted to go out on her own. She found the financial capital in the place many entrepreneurs do—within her own family.

An inheritance had allowed her to purchase a home, renovate it and flip it for a considerable profit. That profit allowed her to make the key investments in the lease for her store and tools and feel comfortable for a year. A few years working at FirstBank didn’t hurt her financial acumen, either.

Her advice to individuals who want to work for themselves: Make sure you understand your financial tools as well as you understand your core business.

Her knowledge of credit, audits, taxes and accounting have enabled her to grow to three times the size she was in 1999, add staff and become very successful as both a frame shop and an art gallery.

Melanie also stays on top of the technology in her field, ensuring that she can work with clients in as many ways as possible. Today, a client can e-mail her an image of a piece of art to frame, and she can provide proofs of the image framed in a number of different ways. The client chooses a style, couriers the art, and Melanie frames and couriers it back.

Convenience for her clients keeps her ahead of the competition. Today’s economy has hurt the entire art community and Metro Frame Works is no exception. Melanie and her team are managing by using their existing inventory of frames, cutting hours, but not personnel and continuing to participating in community events like First Friday Art nights to bring new people into the store. Art has been important part of humanity for thousands of years—and Melanie plans on being around for at least the next several decades to frame great pieces of work.


Video company focuses on ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Categories: Cup of Joe

Robin Vissar thought she was going to spend her life in broadcasting.

As it is wont to do, life intervened and soon she found herself married with children and not wanting to be on the journalistic treadmill with its 70-hour work week and its less than family-friendly lifestyle.

She wanted to be home, while remaining involved in the business world, so she did what more and more stay-at-home mothers are doing: She became an entrepreneur. Creative Touch Video ( ) provides commercial marketing video production, as well as with wedding videography, and safety and compliance videos for a host of clients.

Vissar started in the wedding video business by accident. Often enlisted to video her friends’ weddings, she soon found herself with six part- and full-time staffers who edited videos out of their own homes—many of them stay-at-home mothers just like herself.

When asked about business today, Vissar said she and her team had to think hard about what their clients really needed and decided to cut the cost of a 30-second Web commercial from $1,500 to $500.

Vissar says that the team is working much harder to close sales with their corporate clients because organizations are reluctant to book to far in advance in this unpredictable economic climate.

In addition to the market challenges, Vissar reports that access to working capital is an issue. She says that, at least for today, she has only cut hours – not positions – and she and her team are looking for ways to spend smarter and get more bang for their buck.

All in all, Vissar’s advice is pretty straightforward: “Spend wisely, support your colleagues and remember that recession is a puddle, not a cave, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

That’s pretty good advice.


Byte Technology takes big bites of opportunity

Categories: Cup of Joe

Some might say Clarence Low and his team at Byte Technology are of the “glass half-full” persuasion.

Amid the downturn in our nation’s economy, Low, an active Chamber member since 2003, and his team aren’t hunkering down. They’re full-steam ahead.

With his handful of staffers, Low works at Byte Technology work to help their clients nation and world wide to effectively market themselves on the World Wide Web, with thoughtful Web sites and integrated collateral pieces.

A company’s or organization’s Web presence is “the new business card,” Low says. “It defines, for better or worse, your image.”

Though the current economic situation may be tough to navigate, Low said businesses large and small should be taking advantage of this time to brand and market themselves on the Web – with the opportunity of lower prices.

“Now is a great time to market and to spend money intelligently,” he said, adding that companies and organizations not taking advantage of this time won’t recover from the downturn as easily or quickly.

To help them weather the storm, Low said his company has developed flexible payment plans and packages that allow clients to continue their branding and marketing efforts.

 Low’s list of clients includes a slew of companies large and small across the country, in the United Kingdom and Mexico, and he says his involvement with the Denver Metro Chamber has helped him to serve them creatively and effectively.

“Our involvement with the Chamber and the programs it has to offer has paid dividends for us,” Low said.

Low and Byte Technology have been a Chamber member since 2003 and Low is a graduate of the Chamber 100 program, as well as a participant in the Gold Member Alliance Program and CEO Exchange.

He views participation in DMCC programs as a way to share ideas and problem solutions.

“We’re all in the same boat. It’s all about how we can weather this environment and survive,” he said.