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The Replica Story

Posted by Mandy Gleason on

Hey guys, Mandy here! The fact that you cruised over to this page means a ton! I love hearing your origin stories, and I’m glad you’re (at least a little) interested in mine.

Before launching Replica Surfaces in 2018, I wasn’t a photographer. I was a former Canadian television actor (google “Monster Warriors” for a laugh), was working a full-time job, and unexpectedly needed to take high-quality product photos despite having almost no photography or styling experience!

In my spare time after work, I designed a product for fun and needed to photograph the prototype. Unfortunately, I didn’t have good natural light in my apartment and my kitchen countertop wasn’t the right look. What I needed was a lightweight, realistic backdrop I could photograph outside or next to a window. 

I scoured the internet but couldn’t find one that had all the qualities I needed. That’s when the cartoon lightbulb went off! I scrapped the other product and set out to create the backdrop I was looking for. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2018 (this photo is actually from that campaign), Replica Surfaces became a reality. But the story starts way before that, so let’s back up a bit.

Taking it wayyyy back

I got my first job when I was five years old: delivering newspapers door to door with my parents’ help. Remember newspapers? No? Alright, my age is showing! Four years later (at the ripe old age of 9) I started my first business called “Accents!” Yes, there was an exclamation point in the logo and yes, I used this very serious photo on my marketing materials! I sold handmade beaded necklaces to my classmates for $4.50 each. Because it was the mid 90s, that covered my cost of goods sold, labor, and time spent biking to the bead store.

Providing a service felt incredible and, over the next few years, I also dabbled in lemonade stands, yard sales, and babysitting. By age 11 (around the time this next photo was taken), I felt it was time to convert my years of experience into content for my classmates that also had entrepreneurial leanings (adorable, right?) 

That year I launched a monthly newsletter called “Young Entrepreneurs.” I charged $5 for each subscription and made a whopping $35 (shout out to Becca Abshoff and Ross MacDonald for the support)! This experience showed me just how challenging content creation could be and what it meant to have an obligation to your customers.

A little later...

Over the next decade, I put the entrepreneurial stuff on the back burner to focus on school and act in a number of Canadian kids’ television shows, including one called “Monster Warriors.” It was a combination of Power Rangers and Ghost Busters in which me and the other three Warriors fought computer generated monsters with weapons my character invented out of household objects. I promise it was as ridiculous as it looks in this gif! Of course, that's me with the blonde bob and intense grimace.

And that brings us back to where we started!

Once the show wrapped, I went back to school and eventually did the full-time job thing. That’s when I designed the product I mentioned earlier and photographing it was a STRUGGLE! And it wasn't just because I didn’t have the right backdrop. I also lacked the photography knowledge and supportive community that I needed to improve my photos - and I knew I wasn't alone in that.

That's why I've devoted myself to not only creating the perfect backdrop, but also to sharing everything I’ve learned about photography and styling along the way. You can find it all in my how-tos blog, YouTube videos, and daily tips on Instagram. And because it’s also important to learn from each other, I created the Replica Facebook VIP Community where you can share your photos, ask for advice, and bond with over 4000 other small business owners, bloggers, and photographers who are riding with you on this crazy photo journey! I’d love for you to join us over there, whether you own Surfaces or not.

And that's that!

If you have any questions (or just want to say hi), email our team at info@replicasurfaces.com. We love hearing from you and are ready to help! Otherwise, where can I transport you? 


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