Crystal Clear Images.com, LLC had its humble beginnings back in 1997, which was just after owner Crystal Mitchell had finished college. She was doing video production at the time and needed a custom-built computer to run software, such as Adobe Premiere. Since she had a high-powered computer and a printer, people began approaching Crystal to design and print items like business cards and menus. At first she was hesitant, but quickly realized there was a need for her services in the community.
“We started in the basement of my grandmother’s house,” Crystal said. “I was in a learning curve so I would be up every night until three or four o’clock in the morning, and my grandmother would be yelling down the stairs, ‘Turn those lights off! You’re not paying my light bills.'”
Crystal found her own place in 2000, and had to begin to pay her own lighting bills. Over the years, her staff expanded to include a husband – “who is the brawn of the business” – and three other employees. However, Crystal is quick to point out that they all treat each other like family. Currently, she is in the process of knocking down walls and expanding into the building next door. Crystal took a moment from her hectic schedule to offer some tips on handling the responsibilities and expenses of establishing a workplace for your own business.
“The fact that DTE comes out and
they do the assessment
at no charge to you, it was just a miracle.”
What’s one of the biggest challenges within your community and how have you overcome it?
“It’s cute to have a business, but it’s even better to actually have business coming in steadily so you can become a reputable source for your product. I won’t say it’s flooded, but there are a lot of people in this industry. When you look at industries that have a lot of people doing the same thing, there has to be something that separates you from the others. One of the most important things that separates us is the ability to get it done. There have been numerous times when we’ve stayed all night working on a project just to ensure that it will be ready when promised. We make sure that no matter what sacrifice has to be made, the project will be done on time. Our word is everything.”
You’ve achieved some incredible things at Crystal Clear Images.com, LLC. What is one of your proudest accomplishments to date?
“We were really proud to be awarded the city contract. It was a long time coming. I had tried for the contract years ago, and when it came up again, I said, ‘You know what, we’re gonna put our best foot forward and we’re going to do all that we can to get this contract.’ And we won the contract! We’ve been a reliable source for the city, the county politicians, and we even did some work for Michelle Obama. We really pride ourselves on being a company that is dependable and offers top quality products, a company that you can rely on.”
How did you find out about DTE Energy and the benefits of working with them?
“I had gone to a presentation at a church, and DTE was there. They were talking about the contract they had available for smaller businesses. After going to the different vendor tables, I learned that DTE will actually come out to your business and pretty much redo your whole entire lighting and anything related to energy savings and energy optimization. They came out, did an assessment, and changed all of our lighting. I was like, ‘Whoa, what happened in here?!’ Our business involves graphic design, and you’ve got to be able to see to do that. The fact that DTE comes out and they do the assessment at no charge to you, it was just a miracle to me. We were really appreciative.”
What was it like working with DTE Energy?
“A lot of times to get upgrades, you’ve got to get grants and go through a lot of loopholes and things like that. But there wasn’t any of that. It was an easy process. DTE came out, they made us feel comfortable, and they went over and reviewed everything. They even gave me some pointers, as well. When they were doing the walk-through assessment, I saw a spider web by the door. I said, ‘Just two weeks ago, I knocked down that spiderweb and it’s already back.’ They told me that spiders need air flow, so whenever you have a spiderweb by a door or a window, look for cracks and crevices that are letting the air in and out. I never knew that, so they were educating me along with changing bulbs and everything else. I thought that was really, really cool.”
In closing, what do you do at Crystal Clear Images.com, LLC to keep your business thriving?
“Every year, I strive to stay abreast of the latest technology and I make it a point to increase our business by adding on new products and services and, of course, new equipment that brings us up to today. We are a full service company. A lot of businesses claim to be that, but they depend on other people to do their printing for them, or they depend on other people to do their designing for them. We handle all of that, right here in-house. We produce signage, banners, flyers, tickets, booklets, journals, magazines, anything that can be put on paper or any other type of substrate. We do paper, plastic, magnetic material, vinyl and even metal. We can pretty much do it all.”
Support a local Detroit business and your fellow business owner:
Crystal Clear Images.com, LLC
Address: 15627 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48235
For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse Detroit.