Change has pushed Kiela Beam’s business into different avenues over the years, but her dedication to her customers and the community have remained a permanent part of her offerings.
Beam runs Kiela’s Custom Framing and Photography at 201 Main St., at the corner of Main and Grace streets.
Kiela’s Photo Lab opened in a small store on Main Street in Cedartown in July, 1990. Today, her custom framing and portrait studio sits a half mile south of where her original business was, but it is filled with the memories and mementos of three decades.
Beam started her business next to Cedartown Insurance Agency near Bradford Drugs before moving to her current location about 15 years ago. She started as a 21-year-old photo enthusiast with a dream of starting a business.
Beam said the fact that she was so young when she began her business — and looked younger than she was — led to some interesting interactions with customers and the public.
“People would come in and ask where my parents were or wonder why I wasn’t at school,” Beam said. “I would have to constantly tell people that I was the owner. Even then they didn’t really believe me.”
Soon, however, Beam’s continued perseverance and skill won over customers and she grew her reputation as a photographer with a professional portrait studio. She said her attention to customer service and her dedication to provide customized services have helped her stay in business.
“When people need something specific for a photo or frame they know they can come to me and I will give them my honest opinion if we are able to do it and that we will do the best quality work that we can,” Beam said.
Kiela’s opened originally as a one-hour photo lab and portrait studio. Then when the industry converted to digital photography she began offering photo prints from digital mediums. But that has become far less of a priority as people take and save photos on their phones or upload them to online services.
“That’s when I ended up doing custom framing. That’s really my primary business now,” Beam said. “I do a lot of fixing and restoring old photos and transferring home videos from VHS to DVD. Things that preserve old memories.”
Beam grew up in Cave Spring and graduated from Pepperell High School, working part time in a Rome photo lab. That’s where she learned how to develop and print film as well as learn how to manage a customer-based business.
After purchasing equipment from a photo lab that was changing management, Beam opened her own lab. She later added video transfers, portraits and, eventually, custom framing to the services she offered.
Many people in Cedartown remember getting holiday portraits taken at Beam’s studio. Last year Beam held her 25th annual Halloween portraits for downtown Cedartown trick-or-treaters.
Her two children, Sasha and Riley, have also been a part of many downtown Cedartown memories as they kept up a tradition of opening a lemonade stand on Main Street for a number of years.