Femy and Sheila Aziz of Serengeti Design Studios celebrated with a special re-opening earlier in September with the Merrick Chamber of Commerce after successfully transferring their studio from 1421 Merrick Avenue, at the corner of Smith Street, to their new spacious studio at 65 Merrick Avenue. Several members of the chamber as well as state, county and town officials were on hand to welcome the Aziz sisters into their new space.
The move and the new space come at a critical moment for the sisters, as their 400 square-foot space at 1421 left them unable to offer important services Femy knew were integral to growing and expanding the popular studio.
“We were at a standstill with the business,” remarked Sheila of their business at 1421. Many customers and clients had been coming in asking for services Serengeti couldn’t provide. “We had to decide if we wished to grow, or if we wanted to remain this size of a business and stay at that location,” she continued.
With their new 1000 square-foot storefront space, Femy and Sheila now move about more freely to offer large group and family portraits, for example, using a large studio in back that provides several different backdrops. They can also offer custom framing and photo enlargements – to name a few new features at the design studio.
The “game changer” for Femy came when seeing the change room behind the spacious studio that featured a bathroom to accommodate families who wished for large family portraits. “This was it!” she told this magazine. “A family can come in here and change into clothes suitable for a family portrait,” using the sink for makeup and more. It was a crucial piece of the new design studio build.
Femy was equally excited speaking of the new space as offering another avenue toward better customer service. When this magazine walked through the door, Sheila was instructing Paulin Katzman of Merrick on a machine that transferred her smartphone photos onto the computer via wifi, which were then printed out into hard copy photos.
As an artist, Katzman said “I can’t just hold up my smartphone every time I need to look at the photo.” She said she needs hard copy prints as immediate, accessible references when working
Soon, Nica Ivanova, formerly of Merrick, came in to see about portrait photos she had taken. “I had looked around elsewhere to have portrait photos taken, but Femy knew precisely how I would need to pose and how to dress for these portraits.”
“You have to know what the photos are being taken for,” said Femy, to be able to set up the proper lighting and approach to providehigh-quality shots that many customers and clients find impeccable. And, they return.
How Serengeti Developed
Femy, whose mother and father were from the island of Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa, was born in Uganda, migrating to the United States in 1973 at the tender age of two. She attended Floral Park Memorial High School, where she excelled in the arts, from drawing to painting to photography.
In 1989 she attended Morovian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design and advertising. Before long she made her way to the New York Institute of Technology, New York City campus, to earn a Master of Arts degree in communication arts in 1998.
She moved to Merrick in 2002. “I moved to Merrick because it was such a beautiful place,” she told this magazine. “I loved all the shops along Merrick Avenue,” she added. Just like Fifth Avenue!
While walking along the avenue one evening she and a younger sister came upon a ‘space for rent’ sign at 1421 Merrick Avenue. The photo development business that had been there for years was closing.
“I was quite busy with weddings, doing package designs for offset printers and also designing book jackets” out of her home in a business she called Serengeti Design Studio, a name she adopted from the famous land plain of her continent. So, “I took the plunge” and opened Serengeti Design Studios at 1421 Merrick Avenue, having her first Merrick Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting in 2008.
She wishes to thank her customers, clients, colleagues, family and members of the chamber that have helped her achieve success in Merrick so far. And … she believes there is still a better customer service experience awaiting her customers in the future.
For information on the full lines of photographic services available visit http://serengeti-design.com/ . Or call 623-2828.