By Audrey Dutton The Idaho Statesman
Frank Baillargeon is a longtime photo-printing expert. He started a home-based business Jan. 1 with his wife, Pat, to put Idaho’s iconic images on local walls, shelves and anywhere else a canvas or fine-art poster print will fit.
The business, Iconic Idaho, makes prints from historic collections. The images are licensed from Idaho State Historical Society, Boise State University, the Library of Congress, the Idaho Statesman (disclosure: the Statesman has a business relationship with Iconic Idaho) and other entities. They also come from contemporary iconic Idaho photos by Idaho photographers. Iconic Idaho also does custom work and installation, among other things.
Baillargeon says he is evaluating retail and office space, and ways to fund expansion, to move the business out of the couple’s home. The business eventually might hire senior-level managers and retail sales associates.
Q: What did you do previously?
A: [I worked for] 38 years as a leader in the consumer photo-printing industry. My last 12 years was as president of F/22 Consulting, where I managed projects for all of the leading print service companies in the world, including HP, Kodak, Fujifilm, Agfa, Shutterfly, Boots-the-Chemist, Cewecolor, Wal-Mart and Walgreens, as well as dozens of imaging science startups.
Q: What led you to open this business?
A: I turned 65 in 2013, and Pat and I decided that it was time to get off of planes, out of hotels and set up shop here in our Idaho home. I majored in American history in college, am an expert in print and print technology, love photography and think that I live in one of the most beautiful and wonderful places on Earth. Iconic Idaho celebrates all of that.
Q: How did you accomplish this goal?
A: When you focus on things that are familiar and for which you have passion, and when your spouse/partner shares your dream, it’s far easier than learning something new or risking time and treasure on the unknown.
Q: What challenges have you faced, and how have you met them?
A: Website development was a bit of an unknown — how, with whom, on what platform, etc. With the help of my longtime collaborator and design marketing genius, Mark Davis, and his former student and amazing designer, Zach Sagar, we made the right choices, persevered and launched what I think is a very lovely and easy website quite quickly.
Securing an initial reference account can always be problematic and take longer than anticipated. Here, we just, frankly, got “Boise lucky.” By that, I mean that a word in front of a complete stranger can turn into an introduction, which can turn into a business opportunity in a place where people naturally care, trust and seek to help. Our décor solution is at the Mode Lounge today because of just such a chance encounter. And our first few weeks have been full of similar stories of successes flowing our way from friends who know friends, and new friends revealed.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in the next three to five years?
A: Build a secure, profitable and enjoyable lifestyle business here in Boise. Develop a model based on our development and success that serves as a franchise model for other entrepreneurs in other “iconic places” throughout the country. Commit 5 percent of a growing gross profit to Treasure Valley community benefit.