Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Levin.
Hi Alison, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Growing up in Virginia, I was surrounded by immense history going back to the 1600s. My interest in all things historic peaked as I studied history in school and visited sites like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. I became fascinated with how people lived through these times, their styles of dress, their transportation, and their livelihoods as well as the architecture of the eras. All of this led to me studying Interior Design & Historic Preservation at James Madison University who is, of course, the Father of the US Constitution.
I interned documenting and researching historic buildings at Historic Staunton Foundation, close to JMU. When I moved to Colorado in the 1990s, I ran the historic walking tour program at Historic Boulder in Boulder, CO for three years. Managing their archives, doing research and photography, and training docents kept the seven historic districts running and added to the tour quality. In Gilpin County Historical Society in Central City, CO, I accomplished similar work while honing the archiving skills I utilize today.
During this time, all of my grandparents passed away, and I inherited thousands of photos, documents, letters, cards, postcards, and film reels. I became the de-facto family curator during an analog time. So, I set out to preserve everything as best I could in acid-free containers which would resist the aging process that occurs naturally from chemical fading and breakdown as well as the conditions they’re stored in such as humidity, weather fluctuations, and sunlight. They remained there until the digital age enabled other means of preservation and restoration.
While most of my career has been spent in corporate sales and marketing, it wasn’t until right before Covid that I began downsizing my parent’s home of many years. I realized that everything I had been preserving for the last two decades could now be digitized, so I set out on a journey of digitization. Leveraging my archiving experience, I created a process to catalog and restore our family memories. This led to the realization that there must be so many people who are going through this same experience, and I could help others preserve their family legacy and be able to tell their stories of the past, securing them for their generations to come.
Thus, Ambrosia Archiving was created during the pandemic, and I haven’t looked back since.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I was lucky enough to have so many years of corporate business experience that it definitely helped me in the beginning with planning and launching Ambrosia Archiving. I also had many resources such as mentor groups, webinars, and friends who are also entrepreneurs. But, being your own boss can be daunting in creating a personal/business balance and discipline as well as learning legal and financial. The hardest part for me was learning and honing targeted marketing skills in social media, SEO, and my website. There are a lot of resources out there, but it takes a lot of time away from the work of digitization. When you’re a solopreneur, you do it all.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Ambrosia Archiving?
Ambrosia Archiving helps families tell their stories by keeping their memories alive. By digitizing these keepsakes, it is a great way to have loved ones close as we cherish and miss them. Holding on to sentimental items like photographs and slides enables us to perpetuate their legacy; and while photographic images cannot talk, they can tell stories. And that is why we love helping others digitize their memories.
We understand that going through generations of images can be an overwhelming task, and we find people saying: “I have all of these photos and don’t want to throw them away, but don’t know what to do with them” - that is where we come in to do the hard work.
Ambrosia Archiving offers a comprehensive process that organizes and sorts collections of photographs, photo albums, documents, letters, cards/postcards, magazines, newspapers, and artwork as well as older media such as slides, video tapes, and film reels into a chronological catalog system. Our services include consultation, pickup of items, removal of photos from albums, sorting loose photos, hand-scanning images of different sizes, tagging photos with information written on the back, editing for color restoration and scratches, and uploading to a cloud account, external hard drive, or a thumb drive.
What sets us apart from other retailers or services is our unique background in archiving for several historical societies in Colorado and Virginia. When photographs do not have dates on them, we’re able to gauge a time period to a decade by looking for such things as style of dress, hairstyles, automobiles, and the film used at the time. In addition, our all-inclusive approach to digitization ensures that your personal items have a safe chain of custody and will be handled as if they are our own. While retailers are an option, they often wind up being more work and charge extra for things like different size photos, removing photos from albums, and color restoration plus images may have to be rotated or be scanned all together – not sorted or organized so you have to do this on your own. With online retailers, you are sending away your collection in the mail which may not be suited for extremely old images and documents where they are the only copy.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Ask for help as you wear that one hat daily - for admin, finance, and legal to business development to marketing. Burnout can happen if you don’t find balance, take breaks, and go see live music. Leaning on friends and asking questions is essential as it is truly a learning experience every day. Networking and promoting the business can be a full-time job with all the daily work; but, I love helping people curate their family collection of memories so it’s all worth it.