Starting a business is never easy and one local couple knows that fact very well. As a start-up, they went from selling nothing to selling thousands of items in a matter of months and the product is truly one of a kind.
Almost 100,000 likes on Facebook, tens of thousands of orders a year, a record breaking item on the discount site Groupon. People across the country are eagerly placing orders to get their pictures printed on wood, on burlap, on blocks.
It's an idea that came to the McCormicks in a moment of desperation. This sweet couple met in Utah. Lindsay was born and raised in East Tennessee.
"My childhood was really fun. My parents are musicians. They used to sing at Dollywood for like 12 years," says Lindsay McCormick.
Todd grew up in Utah. "Always loved real estate, buildings, creating in general. When I was given assignments in school, I always did the wackiest thing possible," says Todd McCormick.
Todd and Lindsay met when Lindsay moved to Utah. They got married and together started a photography business, invested in a huge real estate project, had a baby and then made a huge move.
"It didn't make any sense to move out here, but we felt really strongly that God wanted us to move to Tennessee," says Todd.
So they picked up and moved and began their lives together in the South.
"We started the photography business in Tennessee and it went really well and me and her brother partnered on a video company and it's still a really successful business here in Knoxville today," says Todd.
Things were going well, but they were not making enough money to continue to support their real estate venture in Utah.
"We had nowhere to turn. I had tapped out my family on helping us. I tapped out my friends and I needed money to finish this project or else we were going to have to file bankruptcy," says Todd. "We just prayed. We got down on our knees and prayed for a way out of it and that's when the magic started happening."
And magical it was. "My cousin, Lee, he has a company called Frame the Alphabet and he was telling Todd about how successful he was being on Groupon," says Lindsay.
"I call that our Hail Mary moment," says Todd.
"In two weeks we came up with the idea, built a website and pitched it to Groupon. That was our hope was that Groupon would take it on and sell thousands of units and that we'd make money to pay for the mess we were in in our real estate deal and it happened."
Groupon sold a thousand orders, but the McCormicks were still perfecting the process of printing pictures on wood.
"It was kind of a transfer process onto the wood so it was all manual, no machinery used at all and it was really time consuming and physically hard to do," says Lindsay.
They made it through that batch and then did another Groupon deal. It sold 17,000 orders.
"We broke records with Groupon. We were excited. We were sitting there on the day that they launched watching every ten minutes going up 100," says Todd.
They invested money and bought four printers, but they didn't work right.
"We needed all running 24 hours a day to keep up with the orders we sold so we were just getting pushed back, pushed back and it created a customer service nightmare," says Todd. "It got so bad that at one point we were two months behind on a lot of orders, we had two or three thousand emails from people, hundreds of messages from people calling us."
The whole family was working non-stop. They were overwhelmed and then Todd remembered hearing about a printer's conference.
"There are many coincidences in Photo Barn that I think are much more than coincidences. We've just been guided and helped and led in a lot if instances," says Todd.
And that's where they found a printer, but could it mass produce pictures on wood?
"I remember sending Lindsay a text that says, 'It works!' and just those two words, I mean I almost get emotional thinking of it. Again we found ourselves in an insurmountable moment we couldn't get past and we found a solution," says Todd.
Now Photo Barn is doing incredible. "We have a great customer base. I mean we have thousands and thousands of customers all over the country that say that their house is full of Photo Barn products," says Todd.
"Every time I think about it, when we re-tell the story it just seems unreal, like a story, but it's such a huge part of our life," says Lindsay.
And that huge real estate deal in Utah that was bogging them down is now paid off.
"We moved here on a whim. We came here when it made no sense to come here and because we did it changed our lives," says Todd.
Photo Barn, a portrait of success because of the McCormicks hard work, determination and faith.
"It is an absolute miracle what happened to us in our lives and we give all credit to God," says Todd.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.