Sierra Harbin wanted to create a space where people could physically go to take photos to impress your friends and family on social media.
On August 4, the 24-year-old Pontiac resident opened Zany Bubbles, a 2,000 square foot “selfie studio” in downtown Keego Harbor. The space includes 22 unique zones available for solo excursions or for private parties and events.
Harbin initially developed the business idea in February 2020. Then the pandemic happened. It was not until June that construction began, with a smooth opening at the end of July.
âThe word ‘selfie’ has had a negative connotation,â Harbin said. “It’s about loving yourself and not being egotistical.”
For financing, she tried to get a bank loan, but that option dried up because she said no bank wanted to invest in a business owned by someone her age.
Instead, she spent all of her savings of $ 50,000 on the building, located at 2900 Orchard Lake Road. She owns and operates the gallery while enlisting the help of her only âemployee,â her 5-year-old daughter, Macey.
âI said, ‘Well I guess I’m priming it,’â she said.
Individuals buy tickets for $ 20 and get a guided tour of Harbin. It can help you take pictures or customize the lighting. She primarily refers to it as a self-guided tour in which visitors can stay as long as they wish.
The inspiration for the spaces came from his own ideas. Harbin wanted it to be a fun space for people of all ages, with a touch of self-love.
Some rooms have “Be” phrases, such as one with a “Be Kind” sign in a teal-colored room next to a hanging swing strung with a “Stay Positive” pillow. A black and white piece of various shapes says âFor the people in the backâ and allows people to take pictures with a megaphone that says âSay it louderâ.
Other rooms have floral walls, thrones, neon lights, and even a large ball pool.
âIt’s really owning who you are and loving it,â she said.
Comfort in your skin
Harbin, who graduated from Oakland University in 2019, graduated in communications with a minor in advertising. His background is mainly digital marketing while immersing himself in photography.
âSocial media is all about loving yourself,â she said. âI have faced my own mental health issues like accepting and loving myself.
The idea for his business was rooted in his own experiences. While in high school, she began to experience mood swings which, while not very severe, contributed to what she said were ups and downs.
She was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, which includes mild episodes of mania and depression.
The feelings were heightened when her daughter was born, Harbin said.
“I think mental health has been something people have been ashamed of for a long time, and I think the stigma around it is finally starting to change,” she said.
In her short stint as a business owner, she is already reaping the rewards. Recently she welcomed a 15 year old girl who said she didn’t like taking pictures but ended up leaving with a big smile. Another group of girls aged 3-10 played in the ball pool and took selfies in front of many sets.
Zany Bubbles is located at 2900 Orchard Lake Road, across from Dairy Queen and behind Sage Green Floral Shop, in Suite 3. It is open from 3 pm to 8 pm Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information visit: zanybubbles.co.