Staying On Trend with Drop It Modern
Jan 26, 2015 10:47AM
● By Brandi Barnett
Got Your BackFebruary 2015
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Kelli Avila
Ask Breanne Schaap, founder of Drop It Modern, and she’s quick to admit the business takes two. Her partner, Kelli Avila, keeps her grounded, says Schaap. “I’m a bit of a rebel, and she’s the sophisticated one.” Admittedly, Schaap’s tastes are more modern, while Avila describes herself as Bohemian. They are a blonde and brunette duo, the flip side of a coin, the yin to each other’s yang. Bottom line: they’re a balance, and they complement each other. Schaap brings the modern and, as the more down-to-earth of the two, Avila brings the drop. Together, these ladies are the creative and entrepreneurial force behind Drop It Modern, and they are making the world a more beautiful place, one backdrop at a time.
The birth of Drop It Modern roughly coincides with the birth of Schaap’s first daughter in 2006. “I decided to become a photographer,” she explains, “and my daughter was the inspiration for that.” Schaap didn’t have a business background: “I was just a student trying to make a buck.” At a trade photography show in Las Vegas, Schaap was looking to purchase material and equipment, “stuff for studio shoots, photographer backdrops,” she says. “But they were all kind of outdated and expensive.” Imagine the ubiquitous pale blue backdrop behind every family portrait ever taken at a mall studio. Schaap believed there was more to offer as a photographer.
She began purchasing fabric from Los Angeles and New York, “upholstery materials that I liked,” says Schaap, “and then began using them for backdrops.” Soon, customers and other photographers were asking Schaap where she got her backdrops. “I noticed there was a demand.”
She opened Drop It Modern as an online store in 2008, working from home, cutting fabrics and sewing them together in her patio and breezeway. With the business’ early success, Schaap was able to save and source fabrics from overseas. For most photography backdrops, Schaap needed 9-foot-wide material, “but you can’t really find upholstery material that’s wider than 56 inches in the U.S.,” explains Schaap. So when she began to purchase her fabrics outside the United States, “that’s when the company really started to take off.”
By 2009, Drop It Modern moved out of Schaap’s home and hired Avila to help with “social connections.” Together, Avila and Schaap keep Drop It Modern afloat of the latest trends. “The design world is like technology,” explains Schaap. “If you don’t stay on the cutting edge, you’ll fall behind really quickly.” So the two follow trends through social media, Instagram and blogs. “It’s a never ending job for us, trying to stay up on the trends, but it’s equally fun, too,” says Schaap. “And if we’re not excited, it shows. What I’ve found is that the most success I’ve had is when Kelli and I put our hearts into it.”
Whether it’s photographers or event planners, people want the unique, sequined and patterned backdrops offered by Drop It Modern. “We’ve found our niche in the photography industry,” says Schaap. “Nobody else was doing it. We’re the place to go for it.” Now Drop It Modern sells internationally to Canada, Europe, China, Japan and Australia. But they also cater to the “stay-at-home mom who is also a photographer,” says Schaap. And thanks to the recent photo booth phenomenon, they’re tapping into other markets. They’re selling balloons and tassels, confetti and frills, pretty much anything that can help take a party or event to the next level.
The success of Drop It Modern has surprised Schaap, but the rebel in Schaap set her up for success. In Photography 101, photographers are taught that backdrops should be subtle, that they shouldn’t contrast with the subject, Schaap says. “We kind of broke the rules when we first started doing this. Everybody liked the sequin backdrop. It was glamorous and fun.” Who knew that being a rebel could also be glamorous? •
Visalia • www.dropitmodern.com