Valerie Edwards, 33, and her husband, Adrian, 30, weren't happy campers upon graduating from California State University, San Bernardino--she with a degree in social sciences and he with a degree in business. Like many new grads, the couple soon found themselves in jobs they both hated.
"We were working a lot of hours and not really going very far," recalls Valerie, who was a store manager at a major toy retailer at the time, while Adrian spent long days on the road in sales for an automotive solvent business. "We were hitting a dead end and weren't challenged in the way we thought we could be."
Searching for a change, the couple researched franchise opportunities at their local library. Since both enjoyed amateur photography, they narrowed their choice to video production companies and, in 1993, opened a Video Data Services franchise in San Bernardino. A year later, however, sales hadn't taken off as anticipated, so the Edwardses decided to roll the dice and move their franchise to Las Vegas.
The move to Vegas gave the couple the challenge they'd been seeking--and then some. "The first year, [we ate] a lot of macaroni and cheese," Valerie admits. It was tough being new in town, with no established customer base. "We had to make a lot of cold calls, talk to a lot of people and introduce ourselves," she remembers. "You really can't be shy."
Since then, the Edwardses have enjoyed a steady stream of videotaping jobs--ranging from weddings to legal proceedings--that brought 1998 sales to more than $100,000. The rewards are more than financial, notes Valerie: "I like being self-employed and the balance [it allows] between business and family. We have a 3-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. If there's something going on [with the business] and both Adrian and I don't have to be there, [one of us] can be with our children."
Video Data Services Inc. is seeking franchisees nationwide and in Canada. Start-up costs begin at $22,500; for information, call (800) 836-9461 or visit http://www.vdsvideo.com.