Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Micah Ruiz, Founder of Orion Custom Framing, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a full-service, preservation-level custom frame shop. We provide museums, galleries, interior designers, and private collectors with customized frame solutions for projects of all types and sizes. We pride ourselves on our quality, craftsmanship, and problem-solving abilities. We offer adaptable designs that transcend style and trends to provide the perfect framing solution for every project.
Our frames range from hand-carved, gold leaf, and welded steel frames to clean hardwoods and inexpensive veneer frames. We offer custom mirrors, acrylic boxes, oval frames, and more! We have a response for anything that comes through the door!
Tell us about yourself
I have been framing for over 20 years! I’m an industry-leading framer and a contributing writer for Picture Framing Magazine. I started picture framing as a teenager, thinking it was a summer job, and fell completely in love with it. I get to work with people designing and beautifying their art. I get to utilize my creative problem-solving skills and then work with my hands to build each piece. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment seeing your designs all the way through, from conception to the finished product. I feel completely blessed to be surrounded by art and creative people all day, every day!
I spent over a decade running other people’s shops and always dreamed of starting my own. I finally took the leap six months ago, thanks to the persistent encouragement of my wife, Alexis, and I could not be happier! I have two young kids, Asher and Arrow, and I want them to grow up in the shop and see me following my dream. I want not just to tell them but show them they can do anything they set their mind to. Even my shop’s name, Orion, is my son’s middle name. My family is at the center of everything I do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far is being able to create jobs. Creating jobs with livable wages was a huge part of my business plan. Framing is an artisan craft, and many people in the industry are not getting paid what an experienced artisan deserves. A lot of very talented framers are moving into other industries to be able to pay the bills. I’m worried if we don’t change things, there will be a major shortage of experienced framers in the coming years.
I’m not even six months into opening my shop, and I already have four employees, and they’re all making more than they ever have. I am so proud of that! Four employees are far beyond what I anticipated at this early point in my business, but with the level of work I’m bringing in, I need the help to keep up with production, and I see myself hiring again soon.
I believe wholeheartedly in business karma, and if you treat people right and you are honest, and follow through with everything you say you’re going to do, you build a reputation, and the business keeps coming. Even though my shop is new, I have spent years building up my reputation and my name in the industry and cultivating relationships both with clients and vendors, and it’s all paying off now!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Owning your own business requires a lot of sacrifices. Not just from me in running the business but from my whole family, especially my wife handling more things at home while I’m getting the business running. Before I started, I knew how important it is for a frame shop to be open 7 days a week, and my family and I committed to those hours, knowing it would be a lot. In the last 8 months, I have had 5 or 6 days off. I’ve created my schedule so I can drop my daughter off at preschool in the morning, and I make it home for dinner most every night, but it’s still a lot. Now that I have employees, I started taking one day a week… most weeks. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I did this to myself, and as crazy as it is, I’m loving it, but it’s still hard.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Look into city and state resources. The city wants new businesses popping up, and they have lots of resources available to help you get started! I reached out to the Small Business Development Center of San Francisco and received invaluable help. They helped me write my business plan and projections and get my hands on grants that the city is giving out to help small businesses. They helped me get my SBA loan, and I would not be where I’m at without the help of the SBDC!
- Know your limitations. It’s easy to want to handle everything yourself, but it can be impossible. It’s good to know where you really shine and where you can use help. I immediately hired an accountant knowing that I have zero interest in accounting and would be missing out on big savings and deadlines if I trusted myself. I’m really good at what I do, and that is not what I do. Hire people who are better than you at the things you’re not good at or don’t want to handle.
- Trust your gut. It can be helpful to get advice from people with more experience than yourself but don’t just follow what you’re told. Everyone has an opinion, and even if it’s good advice, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. It’s your business, and it’s your baby; you know the right answer. Be confident!
Where can people find you and your business?
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