Hera Hub DC is excited to share Startup Stories from our members. We periodically interview incredible businesswomen from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Our goal is to share our members’ wonderful stories with the public. 

Digitizing by Rachel helps preserve priceless pieces of personal history through digitizing collections of analog media.

Rachel Westfall, the owner and founder of Digitizing by Rachel, has been a Hera Hub DC member for eight years.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

When COVID-19 shut everything down in March of 2020 I had a lot of free time. I had been in the middle of transitioning careers and the job I was transitioning into was no longer an option. To fill that free time I decided to start digitizing my family’s photo collection, a project I had started years ago but had let fall to the bottom of my to-do list. One day I was chatting with a friend on our weekly Zoom calls and mentioned this project and how much I was enjoying it. She suggested I explore offering to do the same type of work for others and the rest is history! I slowly developed processes for managing and digitizing other’s collections and expanded the services I provided. It’s been an incredibly rewarding job and I’m grateful to my friend for giving me that push!

Who are your clients and what do you do for them?

My clients are local to the DC Metro area and are primarily everyday people who have boxes of photos, slides, and film in their homes that they want to have digitized. I provide digitizing services for them, so they organize their collections and determine which items they want to send in and I process them and return their items along with the new digital versions via USB or digital download.

What are your business’ values? How do they align with your personal values?

My business values are Respect, Integrity, and Transparency.

They very much overlap with my personal values. Not only do I treat my client’s projects as if they were my own, but I also strive to create an experience for my clients that I, myself, would want to have if I were trusting a company with priceless pieces of my family history.

How/Why did you choose your business name?

I chose my business name, Digitizing by Rachel, because it was the most direct name. It clearly states exactly what you get when working with me. Digitizing services done by Rachel. This process can be emotionally taxing and I believe being able to provide clear and decisive information to clients, even within the business name, can have a positive impact.

What do you love most about your work?

I love hearing from clients how the work I did for them allowed them to connect with others. Whether that be celebrating the life of someone who has passed, revisiting long-lost memories with an elderly parent suffering from dementia, or laughing along to silly home videos of kids who are now all grown up. So many beautiful pieces of our lives are captured through film and have ended up collecting dust in a box somewhere. I love being able to help bring those memories into the digital age so they can be shared and enjoyed in a whole new way.

What is the biggest challenge in running your own business?

I think the biggest challenge in running your own business is analyzing risk vs. reward for your business, especially when in a slump. There will be times when business is slow or a previous marketing/sales strategy is no longer providing the same amount of returns and you the business owner will have to figure out how to turn things around.

I think part of what makes this difficult is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You as the business owner have to figure out what tools you have at your disposal, which tools you want to use (not all are worth implementing), and if the risks that come with them are worth the possible (but not guaranteed) reward. Ultimately, it’ll be your decision and the weight of that falls onto your shoulders. Even with mentors and coaches, at the end of the day, you are the one who knows your business best and you are the one that has to bear the consequences of your decisions.

What are your/your business’ goals for the future?

At this time, my goal for Digitizing by Rachel is to continue to provide digitizing services to my local community.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

My advice would be to make sure both your financial and legal pieces are well organized and put together. This is not legal or financial advice. I’ve just been grateful to have both of these pieces well-established early on. It’s helped me avoid tough spots and difficult conversations because I was able to communicate expectations to clients from the start.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats and we all have different levels of experience with these “hats”. What may seem like a no-brainer to one person may be a blindspot for another. You don’t want to be playing catch-up regarding money and contracts ever, especially if your business grows quickly.

Rachel Westfall, Founder of Digitizing by Rachel, is a DC native who has been helping people in her community digitize their collections of analog media since 2020. She enjoys helping to preserve the precious memories stored within those priceless collections.