Guest books for keeps

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By Sigourney V. Tulfo

Momentous events are often captured by cameras. Photos can freeze time. Videos can preserve moments. But while these mediums can help document special events, it is the messages that these provoke that will leave the most lasting impression. 

For one entrepreneur-couple, taking photos and asking guests to write messages on the photos can create an extraordinary guest book that will make their clients happy.

Husband and wife Nappy and Santi Tanalgo are the founders of Snap Scribble, an event guestbook service that combines Instax photos and handwritten messages to create a “quirky guestbook with a twist.” 

The business started as an expression of support for a friend who was getting married in September 2016. The Tanalgos’ close friend sought their help to create a unique guest book and they imagined taking Instax photos of guests, and having them write their personal messages on the printed photos.

“We looked and researched for a peg,” Nappy Tanalgo said in a recent interview with BusinessWorld. Their researched made them realize that the concept has been done before but not commonly in the Philippines. The couple decided that this was the gift that they wanted to give their friend but added a little bit of Tanalgo flair.

At the wedding reception, the couple manned a set-up to take photos of guests and encourage them to write their messages to the bride and groom. The guests’ reception was great. The next month, another member of their circle, sought their help. Since then, Snap Scribble became an official enterprise. 

Snap Scribble creates customized hardbound guestbooks. Clients can choose from the business’ existing themes but they can also request for a new theme. Santi Tanalgo shared that the “twist” in their tagline means the set-up.

The set-up, much like a creative photo booth, reflects the event’s theme and includes a backdrop, interesting items and pens that guests can use to create their messages.

Nappy Tanalgo added that this becomes a source of “entertainment”  for the guests. At the end of the day, he said that their client goes home with a guest book containing creative pages of 40 snaps and messages from their valued guests. 

As the business started to pick up, the Tanalgos also had their share of challenges. The first challenge was not having proper transportation. This made carrying big set-ups to and from the event difficult. Time was another challenge for them as preparing the set-up would take a lot of time. Also, some clients will sometimes ask for additional concepts on top of what has already been discussed.

For the Tanalgos who also hold office jobs, these issues cannot be ignored. The couple has since resolved these issues with a better transportation solution and set-ups that can be easily dismantled. They also delegate better now. 

“Snap Scribble is like our breather from  the stress of the corporate world,” Nappy Tanalgo said. “Ang sarap lang din noong feeling na nabigay mo ‘yung gusto nila kahit mahirap. (It just feels good to be able to give clients what they want despite some difficulties),” Santi Tanalgo said.

Their passion for their craft and some memorable clients are what keep the couple motivated.

Their first memorable client is their friend who got them started in the busines. The second is a priest who sought their help on more than one occasion.

The couple shared that the event for the priest was memorable because this paved way for their business to be blessed and it also made them see a different side of priests. Santi Tanalgo said that she saw the sincerity of a group of priest friends enjoying their snaps. For the Tanalgos, this is the kind of appreciation for their snaps that makes them feel good about what they do.

She said that their guest book becomes something else when people treat it like a gift or a “keepsake”. While the snaps usually get a lot of attention, the messages leave the more lasting impression to the client, she added. 

Snap Scribble is just a year old but the Tanalgos see it expanding into an event styling business in the future. 

The couple has this advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” Santi Tanalgo said. She added that one would never know the outcome of their vision if they wouldn’t try to pursue it.