Niagara-on-the-Lake’s newest business is truly Insta-worthy.
With Lord Mayor Betty Disero cutting the ribbon, Micaela Grant and Katrina Boccia held the grand opening of Selfie Mode last Saturday. The young owners of the Mary Street business hope their photography and videography studio becomes the go-to location for social media savvy travellers and locals alike.
Boccia, 28, and 23-year-old Grant, first discussed the business idea while working together as supervisors at Bricks & Barley.
“Over COVID, I was on Tik Tok and I came across this idea,” Grant says.
“Selfie studios had come up in the States. I thought it was the coolest idea, so I started to do some research and I saw that there was none in Canada, except for
While sweeping the Bricks & Barley patio one day, Grant mentioned the idea to Boccia, who immediately offered to partner with her on the venture.
Grant, who studied communications and marketing at Brock University, and Boccia, a graduate of Niagara College’s human resources program, began preparing a business plan with the intention of applying for financing through non-profit Futurpreneur Canada.
“In the end, we decided to bootstrap it,” Grant says. “We decided to go it alone, without going into debt.”
The pair settled on the Mary Street location. “It was an office space,” Boccia tells The Local. “The walls had giant windows in the middle of them. For photography, that was not cool. We wanted to use every single aspect of the space that we could to bring our vision to life.”
So they drafted friends and family members to get their studio Insta-ready. Windows came out and were replaced with new drywall and studio quality lighting was installed, providing them with multiple blank canvases ready to be transformed into hip selfie backdrops.
Taking inspiration from what they had seen online, Boccia and Grant came up with a multitude of creative ideas for what their target market would like to see. Being of the same age as that target market certainly helped to a great degree.
Local artists were contacted and enlisted to bring their ideas to life. Upon entering Selfie Mode, visitors are immediately struck with the work of Niagara Falls muralist and tattoo artist Dan Kozina, whose “Greetings from NOTL” mural sets the location for the first stop on the selfie tour.
Indeed, every single aspect of the Mary Street space has been used for their vision. Boccia and Grant point out that there are 13 stops on the Selfie Mode tour, 14 if you also include the bathroom, painted in a modern art style.
The two new business owners lead the reporter down the hallway, past the floor-to-ceiling wall of records, a graffiti wall and a rough brick wall with a pair of wings strategically placed for maximum selfie effect. Even a former coffee nook in the hallway has been designed to star in photos.
The former offices now house multiple movie studio-like sets. One includes a clawfoot tub filled with plastic balls, while another has been modelled after a teenage girl’s bedroom from the 90s, complete with posters of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys and old teen magazines sourced from Ottawa. The latter would have fit perfectly into the movie Clueless.
Despite all the work that obviously went into decorating each of the stops along the way, Boccia and Grant say that much of what is seen today at Selfie Mode might not be there in a couple of months.
“We are changing them seasonally,” Grant says of the backdrops. “Halloween is coming in the fall, so a lot of our themes will reflect that. And we’ll do some things for Christmas as well.”
During the walk-through it is clear that the two St. Catharines-born young women have the enthusiasm and the energy to make the business a
Their excitement for describing each setting is palpable. One can see how their love for what they have created will set the atmosphere for a fun-filled indoor selfie tour. And they are always thinking of ways to expand their reach.
“We think this would be a perfect addition to wine tours down the road,” Grant says. “It’s great for birthday parties, too. And a lot of our sets are portable so we can take it on the road.”
“And with our design and marketing background,” she continues, “we also offer customizable backgrounds. We’d also like to offer our services to different wineries, to create sets reflective of their own personal brands as well.”
Boccia and Grant plan to continue juggling their jobs at Bricks & Barley while operating Selfie Mode seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. The studio is located at 376 Mary Street.
They offer half-hour and one-hour sessions which can be booked online via their Facebook page. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own phones and cameras, though they do offer rental cameras or a professional photographer for those who request that service.
You can find them on Instagram at @selfiemodeniagara.