At Project Spaces, everyone has a unique story to tell. With our monthly member spotlights, we delve deep into the worlds of our members to learn more about what drives them. This month we did something a little different, and sat down with King West members Ben Bonnici and Michelle Kast - a powerhouse creative couple and the founders of Heritage Park Studio.
King West members Ben Bonnici and Michelle Kast are a dynamic duo in both love and business. They’ve turned their shared passion for photography into Heritage Park Studio (HPS), which specializes in shooting intimate, exciting moments such as weddings, family photos and everything in between.
Ben and Michelle started in separate creative industries then combined their unique skillsets to create the studio. We spoke to them about what led them to photography, each other and what their plans are for the future.
Michelle got her start as a lifestyle blogger. She first picked up a camera to give herself a photo documentary of her own life. She eventually turned her lens on other people and started running her own business. Ben pursued film photography as a hobby in high school. He then attended art school and opened a screen-printing shop after graduating.
He used his photography skills to take photos of the items in his shop and screen-printed photos for his friends in bands. When digital photography rose in popularity he saved enough money for a digital camera and began photographing the nightlife scene. Over time he was able to turn it into a full-time business.
Both Ben and Michelle also have backgrounds in graphic design. Michelle hacked the first version of Photoshop when she was only eleven years old. Her fascination with design from a young age led her to freelancing. She designed websites and did branding for creatives until eventually she became the creative.
When the couple met they had the combined skills necessary to start a studio and the rest is history!
According to the pair, the most rewarding part of their job is the ability to travel, the flexibility and the closeness with their clients.
“We’ve gotten to be a part of very intimate moments in people’s lives. Whether it’s their wedding day, right after they’ve had a baby, they’re launching their brand-new company that they’ve put so much time, heart and money into, we’ve gotten to feel like we’re really connected with people in exciting and intimate times in their life,” says Michelle.
“It’s very nice but we also have flexibility to do things that we want to do, to take time with our kids when we need to.”
“Being behind the scenes of big productions that people pay hundreds to see and we’re just right in there is also very rewarding,” adds Ben.
Their best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to monetize their creative endeavours is to make sure it’s something you’re extremely passionate about so you don’t lose interest too quickly. They also noted that the act of being in business can take some of the fun out of it when you’re under pressure from clients.
Michelle emphasized that it’s important to have interests outside of your business so you don’t burn out. “You can’t afford to give 100% of yourself, 100% of the time to your business. If you aren’t taking time for yourself, you can’t even show up as 100% yourself,” she says. “The more you invest in yourself, the more you have to give.”
They’ve chosen to give Heritage Park Studio a headquarters at King West because they love the community vibe at Project Spaces.
“You have relationships with people without them being your actual co-workers. We’re not all sitting around looking over our shoulder for a boss or something so we have the camaraderie of co-workers but it’s much more relaxed,” says Michelle. “Almost everybody here is a freelancer or in a startup. The entire vibe of everybody is a lot more relaxed and casual. You actually get to know the real people that work here rather than their work persona. We love that we can have the anonymity of not working with people but also be in a space where there’s a lot of energy and things going on around us. And it just looks cool when we bring clients in.”
You can find out more about Ben and Michelle on their website and on Instagram where they post a lot of sneak peeks and behind the scenes footage. You can also stay tuned for a name change and re-brand before the end of the year.
If you’re tired of working out of cafés and want to give your business a new headquarters, book a tour at Project Spaces today. You’ll learn more about our vibrant workspaces and get to know some more awesome entrepreneurs like Ben and Michelle. We can't wait to meet you!