We had the good fortune of connecting with Thalia Perla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thalia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In my mid 20’s I set a goal for myself to have my own business by the time I’d turn 30. I had been working in the creative field for some years but at the time I had no idea what I wanted that business to be or how I would make it happen. All I knew is I wanted to start a business from the ground up and be my own boss. In September 2018, I took a trip to San Francisco that left a mark on me, and between that and my love for vintage things, I was inspired to look for a classic Volkswagen Bus. I searched for buses online and in November of that year, I came across a Craigslist ad for a ‘77 Volkswagen bus that was on sale in San Antonio, TX. I took the trip to San Antonio and made the best purchase of my life. As a fan of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, I decided to name my bus Stevie! I didn’t know what the future held but I knew I wanted to do something special with Stevie and that I was going to create a mobile business around it. Then 2019 came along and that year was all about brainstorming business ideas, getting mechanical work done on the bus, and coming up with a plan to reach my goal. During that brainstorming process, starting a photo bus was the idea I gravitated towards the most because of my love for photography. I picked up photography when I was in college and taking pictures has been a hobby of mine ever since. There weren’t many photo buses in Houston so I decided to go with my gut and eventually Stevie the Photo Bus was born.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Stevie the Photo Bus is all about a unique photo experience. We have Stevie (1977 VW Bus) and now we also have Lindsey (1966 Beetle), which both are a great addition for all kinds of events. Stevie can be booked as a photo booth bus, which is like a typical photo booth where guests go inside the bus to take photos with the booth and they get printed photo strip copies. Then the other service we offer is renting the bus or beetle as a prop for brand photoshoots/video shoots, for photographers that do mini-sessions throughout the year, or for events where the client wants the vehicles as a photo op for the guests at their event.
Initially, the plan was to be just a photo booth bus but when the pandemic was at its peak and events weren’t happening the strategy shifted. Local photographers wanted to rent the bus for photo sessions, so we started to work with them and that aspect of the business just took off on its own. Then we started to get inquiries for birthday parties, and corporate events and so now we are pretty much open to doing any kind of event.
The best part of this business is the smiles we see when people first see the bus or beetle. You don’t often see these types of vehicles in good running condition on the street because it takes a lot of money, time, and labor to maintain classic cars. When people come across us they get excited and the first thing they want to do is take a picture. Social media, especially Instagram, and the support from local photographers have contributed a lot to the success of this business. I’m very proud to be running a small business that is a little different from the norm and I hope to continue adding more classic vehicles in the future.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We have some great museums in the city so I would have to take them to the museum district. The Heights and Montrose area for food and drinks. As an Alief girl, I would have to take them to explore Chinatown.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
None of this would be possible without my fiance Roberto. Roberto has been my number one supporter from the beginning and I would not be on this path if it weren’t for his encouragement and all his help throughout this journey. My dad is always willing to help me in any way he can and is the reason why I have a great appreciation for classic cars. I am forever grateful for both of their love and support.
Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@steviethebus?