South Milwaukee Business Spotlight: Lovenote Creative

Here is the third installment of South Milwaukee Business Spotlight, a collaboration with the South Milwaukee Community & Business Association where we’ll spotlight a local small business each month. Businesses will be chosen by the SMCBA.

This month, we profile Lovenote Creative.

The Basics

  • Business name: Lovenote Creative, LLC (DBA Lovenote Photos)

  • Address: 1300 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee, WI 53172

  • Hours:  By Appointment Only

  • Phone number: 414-550-2882

  • Website: http://www.lovenotecreative.com

  • Social media: http://www.facebook.com/lovenotephotos

  • Founded:  2013

  • Owner(s): Julie Arnold

  • # of employees: 2: Julie & husband, Jason “Red” Arnold. Lovenote Creative also works with several talented consultants as needed.
  • Primary business: Photography, Graphic Design & Web Design


Learning More

How did you get involved in the business?

I started my career in high school at Sears Portrait Studio. In the 10+ years that I was in the big-box retail portrait industry, either full- or part-time, I tried them all — Olan Mills (where I was a Certified Professional Photographer & District Trainer), JC Penney Portraits, The Picture People — you name it, I’ve worked it. I then tried my hand at secretarial work for a couple years, but found myself spending too much time prettying-up Excel spreadsheets, and that’s when I decided to go to college for web design. However, in 1999, the art of the website was still in its infancy and I learned little about web design, so I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design & Multimedia, and started a career in print design. For the last 15+ years, I’ve designed catalogs, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, flyers, etc. for all sorts of companies such as Kohl’s, Taste of Home / Reader’s Digest, Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee Tool, and even Summerfest.

My hubby, Jason, is a talented musician and has the best bass voice anyone could ask for. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from UW Parkside, sang with the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, and has written, recorded & copyrighted 2+ albums of original music. He is also a master impersonator and can do fantastic impressions of Darth Vader, Alan Rickman, Bill Clinton, Christopher Walken & Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to name a few. He is also very analytical, is a great problem solver, has studied Six Sigma and is working towards his Black Belt Certification. I’ve been subtly teaching him the ropes of design, typography & composition since we met in late 2008, and now he’s working for Lovenote Creative full-time.

In 2013, I received a Canon Rebel DSLR camera for Christmas, and my passion for photography was reborn. I decided to start my own business later that year so I could utilize all of the multiple talents that I’ve acquired over the past 25 years in supporting others. I love helping other small businesses succeed via print & online marketing, while also providing families with heirloom portraits that they will treasure for generations.

What sets your business apart? 

Between the two of us, we are literally a One-Stop Shop creative company. We have a combined experience of 40+ years in wedding, portraiture & product photography, graphic & print design, marketing & advertising, web design & social media, videography & video editing, copywriting & proofing, voiceovers & audio mixing, efficiency practices, and so much more! If you can think it, we can create it!

What is your business’ biggest challenge?

These days, everyone has a phone in their hand 24/7, which takes high quality pictures and has apps that let you create a cute collage or meme on the fly. Similarly, everyone also has a computer & a printer, and can design a flyer, handbook or presentation with relative ease. Our profession has become a part of the DIY culture, which is completely understandable, so why pay for an “expensive” service when you can do it yourself, right? Well, sometimes, you just need a professional before you get featured on PinterestFail.com.

Tum ta ta TAA! Lovenote Creative to the rescue! If your business, organization or non-profit is growing faster than you can keep up with, or Microsoft Word isn’t cutting it anymore, then we can help. We will meet with you to plan a branding & marketing strategy, design some eye-catching online & print ads to help get your word out, and/or take some beautiful photos of your company, products or events to illustrate your vision. Equally, we can alleviate you from being behind the camera at all of your get-togethers so you can instead socialize with your family, friends & colleagues, and assist you in designing a beautiful wall art collage or custom designed album to enjoy for years to come.

What is your business’ biggest opportunity? 

Surprisingly, everything has recently come full circle. Once I started designing simple WordPress websites for other local small businesses, even more local small businesses started asking for web design services. Technology is just a tad bit different than in 1999, but I’m taking the bull by the horns and letting the demand drive my business; both my husband and I are in the process of earning a few web design certifications to better serve our area’s needs. This just adds another facet to the Jack-of-all-Trades moniker, and I’m excited to see where it leads us.


What are your growth plans? 

We opened 7 Bridges Studio in May of 2016, which is a photography collective; a space shared by several businesses. It’s the cream building on the corner of 13th & Milwaukee, across from The Tap Room, and was built in the late 1800s. It features Cream City Brick, which serves as a stunning background for any family portrait — just ask Mayor Brooks! (I enjoy joking that “I shot the mayor’s family with a Canon last summer.”) Anyway, we’re hoping to be chosen as a recipient of the generous Downtown Revitalization Grant to replace the large picture windows, eliminate the siding, and bring its olde-tyme charm back to life. We’re also planning on renovating the old barber shop, in the west 1/3 of the building, into a shared office for home-based and small businesses that need a private, part-time space to meet with their clients that’s a better alternative to a noisy & bustling Starbucks.

Why should others consider doing business in South Milwaukee? 

Being a Kenosha native, I used to think of living in South Milwaukee as a temporary move. However, the longer I’m here, the more I love it. The people are great, the businesses are amazing, and it has such a cozy, small-town charm that doesn’t feel like a big-city suburb. The Milwaukee area is big into the arts, and it’s making its way down the coast and turning South Milwaukee into a destination location for tourism and creative ventures alike. We, as a city, are on the cusp of something great that you can just feel in the air.

Both Jason & I love South Milwaukee so much that we regularly volunteer where we can. Jason sits on the board of directors for the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, while I am a director in the South Milwaukee Community & Business Association and part of the Project ReStore committee, which is focused on the downtown revitalization. Every interaction I have with SM residents is a positive one; all of the phenomenal business owners & volunteers have a goal of keeping our city great, and an end-game strategy to reach it. I’m now proud to say that I’m a permanent resident of the City of South Milwaukee and I will work tirelessly to build & sustain this wonderful community and its businesses.

If you could change one thing about South Milwaukee, what would it be?

The current culture of smartphones & WiFi has us all moving so fast — and as that is happening, this enormous world of ours is becoming a vastly smaller place. We’ve become so accustomed to having large entities supply us with so many of our needs that the small-town Main Street has gone through a dramatic transformation over the past couple of decades. The very street that was the heart of the city when it was first placed on a map has become neglected as the corporate big-box stores dominate the area. Thankfully, in South Milwaukee, our Main Street — Milwaukee Avenue — is starting to make a comeback. All of the behind-the-scenes players have the town’s best interests at heart and we continually strive to make #SoMKE a fun place that everyone is proud to call their own. I mean, what other mayor runs a blog around here? Come on?! Talk about transparency! 😉 If anything, I wish there was more involvement with all of our many activities, even if it’s just coming out and enjoying them. We work really hard to create events that are family friendly and keep us all busy, especially during the summer, and even while Trick-or-Treating down Milwaukee Avenue (which I organize, hint, hint). Our work isn’t done until you’ve had a fabulous time, so put down your phones and come mingle with all of your amazing neighbors!

What is something people would be surprised to know about you or your business?

We host a monthly Girls’ Night Out Pop-up Shop that features 10-20 different home-based, women-owned businesses! It usually falls on the first Friday evening of the month, but will sometimes move to the 2nd Friday if it conflicts with holiday celebrations. We’re also adding a Saturday shop on August 19th, so make sure you come out & see all of the fantastic products offered by the wonderful women in this group. Visit us at http://www.GirlsNightOutSM.com for more details.

A surprising fun fact about me is: I traveled the country for 10+ years, riding roller coasters! You know those wacky coaster enthusiasts on the Discovery Channel that rave about all of the rides they’ve ridden? Those are my friends! (I’m even in one that was filmed on the Hades coaster in Wisconsin Dells lol) So! I’ve been to 80+ different parks and have ridden 300+ different roller coasters. I’ve made hundreds of friends throughout this awesome country and have thousands of pictures and hours of videos of my adventures (which was pretty unique back “in the day” before cell phones). I also started a pretty popular roller coaster photography website in 1998, which also influenced my decision to go to college for web design. Actually, one of my favorite long-term clients is a roller coaster engineering firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, run by a couple whom I became friends with because of this fun hobby! Now THAT’S a fun fact!

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