Since his first job at Fuji Film, Christian Rea has loved photography, technology and also entrepreneurship. The Bend native came back to Central Oregon in 2013, and is now combining those passions into a fun and friendly startup.
PixyPics is an online website where you can order all manner of photo products from canvases to mugs to blankets and more. The feel-good twist: PixyPics donates 20% of its profits to regional and national causes.
“I want to use my expertise to build a business and make an impact on my community,” Christian says. “PixyPics taps into both those things.”
A photographic history
Christian moved to Rochester, New York to go to college after graduating high school in Bend. Once there, he landed a job with FujiFilm. He worked for $8 an hour learning the technology behind digital photography and software systems.
The entry level opportunity segued into a full-time job as Christian then moved his way up and around the company. He spent nearly six years as a lab systems engineer before transitioning into fulfillment, managing product and operations relations for clients such as Shutterfly, WalMart, Rite-Aid and more.
“We were taking the brick and mortar one-hour photo concept and putting it online,” he says. “We digitized the process; it was a really exciting time.” He used that valuable experience to come back home about four years ago, landing a position as a Sr. Project Manager at G5. Then he started to get the entrepreneurial itch.
“I’ve spent a lot of time helping build other people’s businesses,” Christian says. “I wanted to see if I could do it on my own.” After leaving G5 Christian started a digital marketing consulting business, and began to ponder the beginnings of PixyPics.
Years removed from Fuji, he still loved the power of photos to tell a story or evoke a memory, and he was intrigued by how businesses could facilitate a bigger positive impact. He determined that he could combine the two, creating a photo gifts and products business that gave back to charitable organizations—something to help it stand out from the others in the space.
He partnered up with Nate Kay, who he met at G5 after discovering they had a shared passion for photography. Nate is a successful photo blogger who runs The Photo Argus and also works with Christian to support his digital marketing Clients. He’s also recruited Tor Naerheim, a nationally recognized designer who has helped build brands for some of the most recognized companies in America over the past 20 years.
The trio launched PixyPics in July, with the idea of giving back a fifth of its net revenue to a growing cadre of causes, which currently includes the KIDS Center in Bend and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
A community approach
The team is getting creative with how it promotes PixyPic’s products and mission of community support. For example, the company is launching a campaign this fall called “Wrapped in Love.” The plan is to give blankets with special photos of family and other loved ones to kids at Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital.
PixyPics is also gearing up to run a promotion giving away a free canvas print to people who sent in a family photo with a story about their family. Christian says that he wants his company’s community focus to impact not just nonprofits, but also customers and of course, the people that work for him.
“We want to be a community,” he says. “Our employees and our customers come first and their families, then together we can support partnerships with nonprofit organizations and companies.”
It definitely makes shopping feel that much better. Good luck to this BendTECH member, and if you’re in need of some photo gifts, be sure to check out PixyPics.
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
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