SpeedPro Imaging's August 2017 Franchisee in Focus: Shira Kollins, Chicago, Illinois
Nation’s Leading Printing and Graphics Franchise Monthly Franchisee Series Focuses on Studio Owner Shira Kollins’ Trailblazing Creative Spirit
Pioneer, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development.” That’s certainly one way to describe Shira Kollins, the owner of SpeedPro Imaging Chicago, but she’s that and so much more! Art is embedded in Kollins’ DNA – her creative heart and sharp business mind have helped her become one of SpeedPro Imaging’s most prolific franchisees.
Kollins opened her SpeedPro Imaging studio in 2010, becoming the first person to bring SpeedPro’s large format imagery to the Windy City. It was a culmination of a journey that began about 400 miles northwest in Minneapolis. Her introduction to printing just happened to be down the hallway from her childhood bedroom.
“I literally grew up with a printing company in my house,” says Kollins. “My mom did invitations and used an office to run a small printing company.”
After-school activities included making runs to offset printers for press approvals. Kollins was hanging out with mom, but she was also unknowingly getting an early jump on her future career path.
When college years rolled around, Kollins made the trek from Minneapolis to Chicago. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from DePaul University, she went to work with some of Chi-Town’s most prominent ad agencies.
“I went straight from college into a job where I was making digital printing plates and films,” says Kollins. “I worked my way up in advertising agencies and later became the art director for Modern Luxury’s Chicago Social magazine. I loved being creative and was always searching for more.”
There wasn’t a “Newton’s apple” moment for Kollins when it came to entrepreneurism…but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Her mother, a business owner, served as an excellent mentor for several years.
“I was doing freelance design work for a couple of years,” she says. “That’s when I determined I should go into business for myself. I spent a lot of times in cubicles, and it’s a little rough sometimes to get motivated. I saw there was a market for large format imagery.”
It didn’t take long before Kollins was signing documents to join SpeedPro Imaging. “I never thought I would go into a printing company, but it was appealing because of the brand’s established reputation and national footprint,” she says.
Kollins quickly made her presence known, even going so far as helping SpeedPro Imaging land its first national account.
“I think what separates SpeedPro Chicago from other companies are the creative backgrounds possessed by my employees and I,” she says. “We’re not an old-school, grumpy company that doesn’t call you back. We’re an extension of our clients’ marketing and branding departments. When I go on site, I do a lot of creative brainstorming and come up with different ideas on how to achieve what they’re looking for.”
SpeedPro Imaging has allowed Kollins to see some of Chicago’s most recognizable landmarks from a perspective few get to enjoy. She’s worked with the Rosemont Horizon arena and completed a huge project to transform the ground floor of the Hilton Chicago at O’Hare Airport. Famed chef Mario Batali’s Eataly Chicago also entrusted Kollins with their interior and exterior signage needs.
And as a loyal Bears fan, Kollins was very excited to work with Aramark Foods, the food vendor at Soldier Field, to revitalize food service spots at the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“It felt as if I lived [at Soldier Field] for a couple of months,” Kollins says. “My team designed, printed and installed imagery for all food and beverage carts and menus in the stadium. We’re hoping our comprehensive vision and transformation in the concourse will be supplemented by more W’s for the team on the field!”
Investing in herself has paid dividends, professionally and personally. Kollins helped decorate the wedding venue where she got married with removable custom wallpaper and dance floor. Kollins’ wife, Meg, gave birth to a daughter two years ago and the happy couple is hoping to grow their family soon.
“Being an owner gives me flexibility to handle childcare and build a future with my family,” Kollins says.
Life has come full circle for Kollins. Her mother, who once allowed her to tag along, is now a business partner. Some of the firms where she once was an employee are now clients. And her creativity and business acumen is a reason why her studio has recently hired additional workers.
“I enjoy our customers,” she says. “I do not sell anything that I don’t stand behind. I make sure everything that goes out the door is A+ quality. My job is to make the customer look good.”
For more information on the SpeedPro Imaging franchise opportunity and what it takes to be a successful franchise owner like Kollins, please visit http://www.speedprofranchising.com/