When Kansas City’s event scene went dark in the early days of the pandemic, Stellar Image Studios seized a lights-camera-action opportunity to add new value to a suddenly virtual world, said Jasmine Baudler.
“I encourage people not to cancel their virtual events or their fundraisers or galas because — even though it’s hard — it’s an established marketing principle to market aggressively during an economic downturn,” said Baudler, who owns and runs the production company with her sister, Amber Baudler.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pair and their team identified five video services they could continue offering despite stay-at-home restrictions and designed to reach customers with new needs, Baudler explained.
Such a lineup of services includes event live streaming and pre-recorded interviews, repurposing archived footage, motion graphics and animation, and iPhone compilations.
Click here to learn more about Stellar Image Studios.
The woman-owned company invested in a high-end video streaming software to bolster its lineup of offerings, Baudler noted.
“It was an extra expense that we weren’t anticipating, but in order to stay afloat and to stay relevant, we knew we had to,” she said, noting the software eventually made the company’s own pivot to a virtual event — designed to showcase emerging, local music talent — that much easier.
“‘Onstage with SIS’ was supposed to be live at the Buffalo Room in Westport on June 13, but because of everything [going on] we decided to have it premiere on YouTube and Facebook live,” Baudler explained of the event, which saw the Stellar Image team safely pre record sets in its studio space and play them out as if they were live — showcasing artists in a high-quality way.
“At first I was scared because we had already agreed to pay all the artists. We had certain equipment that we had to rent to make sure that the production went smoothly,” she said. “I wanted to keep our team’s spirits high, and this was a project that really challenged us and kept our creativity flowing.”
Check out Onstage with Sis below, then keep reading below.
The company hopes to pull off similar success for clients, Baudler added, noting community support has also kept the camera running in a rocky economic and social environment.
“That really helped keep us in business, along with being a recipient of the Paycheck Protection Program and we also received a loan through the AltCap program,” she said, noting AltCap also became a pandemic-era customer of Stellar Image.
“We highlighted [through virtual interviews] all the different small businesses who were recipients of the KC COVID-19 grant,” Baudler said. “That was really cool because we were a recipient of their services and then they hired us for our services.”
Baudler also served as a mentor during the 2019 AltCap Your Biz competition. Click here to read more about the event which took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Shooting for impact
When it comes to stand-out service, there have never been such devoted sisters, Baudler said.
“Amber went to school at the University of Nebraska, and her senior year she was hand-picked along with 10 other classmates to join the Global Eyewitness Project,” she said of how her sister and Stellar Image’s chief creative was first exposed to impact filmmaking, documenting the effects of sex slavery under the hand of mentors from National Geographic.
Meanwhile, Baudler was using her international business degree in the working world, yearning for entrepreneurial opportunities, she recalled.
“I was [also] in the nonprofit world for a while and I developed sustainable programs for those in need and that’s kind of where I’ve acquired my business acumen,” Baudler said. “We eventually decided it was the right time to team up and go into business together.”
In the two-and-a-half years since Stellar Image uncapped its lens, the sisters’ complementary skill sets and do-good mission have turned the agency into a content production powerhouse.
“What I really like about Kansas City is that it’s collaborative over competitive,” Baudler said, noting work with local firm Blue Coffee Pictures on a project for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
“That was probably one of our favorite shoots because the creativity was really high and we were able to collaborate with another great company and make some incredible videos.”
Stellar Image has also worked with local clients that include Bank Midwest, Advent Health, Yogurtini and the Johnson County Library among a lengthy and rapidly growing roster — thanks in large part to Baudler’s commitment to networking.
Click here to check out video work by Stellar Image Studios.
Inclusion on set — especially behind the camera
Added value for Stellar Image is its commitment to creating an inclusive environment, Baudler explained.
“We strive to have a 50/50 ratio of men and women on set, because it is a pretty male-dominated field,” she said, noting the company is also focused on providing training opportunities for women in film.
“We have somebody — a young, aspiring videographer, Octavia Malone — who is the owner of Malone Productions and it’s just a one-woman show. She comes in, we let her train on our equipment and give her those free training opportunities because she has the passion and the hustle to be a really incredible videographer,” Baudler said, adding she’s confident Kansas City can serve as an example of what proper representation in film looks like.
“I am all about proper representation in the media industry — because it is lacking and that’s something that we’re diligently working on,” she said.
Opportunities for mentorship in the digital media field and hands on experiences like those Malone is receiving are drivers of the industry and companies like Stellar Image should prioritize them at all costs, Baudler said.
“I am a firm believer in mentorship. I have a business mentor that I meet with twice a week. I met him when I was in my nonprofit days and he has contributed to the success of this,” she said.
Baudler also serves as a mentor to the owner of African Designs and for Big Brothers, Big Sisters where she was recently awarded 2020 Big of the Year.
“Mentorship is very powerful and that’s how we are trying to close the gap of the proper representation.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.