In the spring of 2020, photographer Diane Dodd’s business came to a complete halt due to COVID-19. Dodd is the owner and photographer of Diane Dodd Photography, a Savannah-based business focusing mainly on family, elopements and engagement photography.
“When the Coronavirus hit, it completely canceled all of my bookings in the spring, I had no work for about eight weeks.”
With her business coming to a full halt, Dodd was quick to pivot and began photographing Savannah scenes and its iconic locations. She began posting these pictures under a new social media account called Charming Savannah. With the instant success of the account came a new business idea. “It was a huge hit and gave me the idea to start selling products like cards and puzzles and a calendar with the Savannah scenes I was photographing,” she said.
Dodd has worked with the SBDC for over 10 years on various aspects of her business. She reached out to Becky Brownlee, area director of the UGA SBDC in Savannah, for help getting her new idea up and running.
“I first heard about the UGA SBDC through a Savannah photographer networking group many years ago when I moved back to Savannah and started my photography business. I used their help with my new website and learned about SEO and have gone to some of their seminars too.”
Based on her long-existing relationship with the SBDC, Dodd knew Brownlee would be able to help launch this new side business.
Brownlee helped Dodd with this new business idea as well as registering the business and name. “Diane immediately recognized the need to find alternative ways to generate income, so we worked with her to organize her new venture, Charming Savannah,” said Brownlee.
Dodd’s success during the pandemic can be credited to many things, however, her idea to make masks featuring some of the Savannah scenes is what she credits the most. “Tourists and locals LOVED them. I started getting them into shops downtown and they are still doing really well,” says Dodd.
“Becky was very helpful and supportive of my new Charming Savannah idea. We were able to schedule a virtual meeting to discuss it last spring when COVID-19 first started affecting everything. She answered all my questions and concerns. The SBDC has always been very helpful!”
Since reaching out to the UGA SBDC in May, Dodd has been able to take an unprecedented event and make the best of it.
“Since May, Diane has added multiple products to the line, and we are so proud of her for being creative and business savvy and finding a way not to just survive but to thrive during this challenging time,” said Brownlee of Dodd’s success.
Eight months later, Dodd continues to see success with Charming Savannah.