Long-time downtown biz survives COVID with community support

In March, Focal Point photography studio celebrated 48 years in business, proud to call downtown Farmington home and relying, as always, on community.

“Our community is so awesome,” said business owner Michele Jakacki. “For us, it’s the amazing people here, but it’s also the location, the environment. We’ve worked with some families since we opened 48 years ago, capturing all their stages of life.”

Focal Point Photography
Focal Point Photography recently celebrated its 48th anniversary in downtown Farmington.

Jakacki owned and operated Focal Point with her husband Jerry, until he passed in 2012. She said the local landscape offers a perfect backdrop for her diverse clientele – a huge draw that has kept Focal Point firmly planted on Grand River.

“In addition to our large studio space, we have access to so many beautiful parks, the Longacre House and Warner Mansion, the entire downtown streetscape – we can capture so many different looks without going far from the studio,” she said. “Our clients love that so many locations are within walking distance of the studio, and we love advertising that we’re a brick and mortar business in this thriving area.”

Relationships at the core

COVID-19 presented challenges for even well-established businesses like Focal Point, but prioritizing  relationships has helped them survive.

“We’ve been able to handle it well, with support from our team and community,” Jakacki shared. “We can’t photograph at full capacity in the studio, but outdoor sessions are a great option as spring arrives.”

During last year’s COVID-19 shutdown, Focal Point maintained open and transparent communication with its team and clients. Even when staff had to take unemployment for a time, Jakacki continued to pay for their health insurance coverage, and kept them informed on reopening, the business’ Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan status, and client service.

“We just really wanted to keep everyone in the loop, staff and clients alike. We didn’t want anyone to be in the dark or worrying,” Jakacki said. “We gave clients our cell phone numbers and kept answering the phone, reassuring our clients that their sessions were reserved, their portraits were coming, and we weren’t going anywhere.”

Local high schools extended yearbook deadlines, which allowed the studio to space out sessions and take care of seniors. Clients who received stimulus checks purchased gift certificates and booked future sessions.

“The support has been wonderful,” Jakacki said. “It feels really good knowing our community wants to see us stick around and succeed.”

Celebrating longevity

In March, Focal Point staff celebrated their 48th anniversary and surviving one year of the pandemic.

“We made it through, and we thought that was worth celebrating,” Jakacki said. “We scraped together the funds to give everyone an unexpected bonus, and spent a day just enjoying one another and being thankful to still be here.”

“We have the most phenomenal staff,” she added. “Wonderful, talented, dedicated people… We are a family business, but our entire team truly is a family.”

After surviving recessions and other challenges over five decades, Jakacki feels positive about the future. Staying current with photography trends, techniques and technology has been a critical part of their longevity.

Focal Point also will continue giving back, with family fall days, photos with Santa during Holly Days, gift certificates for local charity auctions, and other philanthropic activities.

While Jakacki has reached retirement age, she has no plans to slow down.

“My CPA asked me, ‘Why retire when you’re having such a good time?’ I’m having so much fun,” she said. “Even after losing my husband, things have run smoothly. I’m hoping Focal Point will still be a part of this community and running smoothly after I’m gone.”

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