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Start Your Business Success Stories

Small Business Snapshot: Taylor Studios

Small Business Snapshot: Taylor Studios Credit: Taylor Studios

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Betty Brennan, president of Taylor Studios, a business founded in 1991 that designs, creates and installs exhibits for museums and other venues, explains how this image represents her business.

Brennan explains...

This photo represents our mission: To create products and experiences that inspire people. What do you get when you weld together three miles of rebar, 7,000 pounds of metal, 300 pounds of wire and 16,000 individual small pieces? An amazing sculpture of a wooly mammoth.

This is one of many exhibits we created for Horicon Marsh, a wildlife refuge in Wisconsin. We designed, fabricated and installed the story of the formation, destruction, resurgence, and maintenance of the area’s natural resources. At the entrance, visitors are drawn to life-sized metal sculptures of a Paleolithic man hunting a mammoth. Inside the Education Center, the history of Horicon unfolds from the pen and paintbrush of a fictional naturalist who works at Horicon Marsh. Add sculptures, a life-cast figure, audiovisual presentations, immersive environments, mechanical interactives, dramatic lighting, and sensory engagement — such as temperature change, tactile elements, and scent — and the story of the marsh is told.

I wanted to start a business from a young age. When I was in college I told my future business partner I wanted to make the Inc. 500 list. At that point, I was a junior in college, about 20-years-old. That year, I met a lifelong entrepreneur who allowed me to board my horse at his farm in exchange for work. He eventually gave me a place to live, too, as I ran out of money. He encouraged my entrepreneurial drive, and by example and involvement in his businesses, he showed me what being a small business owner was like. Fast forward about ten years after that, and Taylor Studios made the Inc. 500 list.

The business was started on the kitchen table. I was just out of college and had no money. It was bootstrapped. It took persistence, lots of sales phone calls and time. Now, we have a diverse staff of exhibit designers, interpretive planners, graphic designers, sculptors, metal workers, woodworkers, painters and administrative employees. We have been creating experiences for 25 years for clients like Gettysburg Cyclorama, The Marine Museum, Arkansas State Parks, the National Park Service, the University of Illinois, Adler Planetarium, Carle Hospital and Eli Lilly.

Our biggest challenge is making the sales to grow. Most of our work is won through an RFP (request for proposal) process. It is a very competitive market. We are constantly improving our marketing and sales effort to win more of the best work.