The Scenic City’s very first selfie museum, Chattanooga Selfie Museum, opened its doors in October 2021. Founded by Mikesha Lacy, the museum aims to provide the perfect social media-worthy moment for all who enter its doors. The museum opened with around 15 selfie rooms but has grown to over 25, each with its own unique theme that visitors can use for personal photoshoots. Even before the pandemic, major art galleries have been looking to discover new methods for attracting visitors into their halls. Selfie museums are part of a growing trend within the industry of increasing attendance by providing a space for guests to share their gallery experience with the rest of the world. The Chattanooga Selfie Museum has brought this cultural phenomenon to downtown, offering tourists and locals alike a unique experience where they can share the arts and culture of Chattanooga with their social media followers. Trend had the opportunity of speaking with museum founder, Lacy, to learn more about the operations behind this popular attraction:
Trend: What inspired the Chattanooga Selfie Museum? How did this project start?
Lacy: I was looking for a photography studio that had multiple backgrounds and backdrops. When I looked for it I realized Chattanooga doesn’t have anything like a selfie museum. [Selfie museums] are in bigger cities and I didn’t understand why we have such a high rate of tourists and we don’t have anything like that. I thought it would be really great to offer, not only to the locals, but the tourists as well something different to do while they’re here.
Trend: What attracted you to opening this museum in Chattanooga?
Lacy: Chattanooga is an artistic city. You can find great pieces of art just walking down the road. So I thought it would be great to put a selfie museum downtown where you can come indoors and explore installations of different art pieces.
Trend: What are some of the popular attractions inside the museum?
Lacy: You can find a 50s diner, a replica of a private jet, a music room with different microphones, a flower wall and a selfie box.
Trend: How long does the tour usually take?
Lacy: About an hour or less. If you’re a real hardcore selfie taker, you’re going to spend a lot more time searching for that perfect selfie. We have docents walking around providing their expertise on selfies. There’s a certain way your light should be, you’re angles are also really important. It’s things like that where we can direct the customer if they want help. Some people are experienced and they know what they want. So it just depends on the customer.
Trend: What are some of the challenges you faced as an entrepreneur? How did you overcome these challenges?
Lacy: Some of the challenges are things like marketing or being really hands-on. How I learned to [overcome] that is by giving people things that I’m not necessarily good at. I do marketing well, but to take it to the next level I needed to rely on people that are better at it than I am. It was a challenge because this is my baby. It’s hard to give that control to other people, but I knew I had to in order for me to succeed.
Trend: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in creative fields who are looking to start a business?
Lacy: Have a business plan before you start anything. Know your business inside and out before you even have a building. Know what your operations hours are, how many staff you’re going to need, know everything as if you had the space and are already operating. If I would’ve done that it would of saved me some time in the end.
Trend: What is your favorite part of this business?
Lacy: It’s the smiles that I get out of this place! When people come in they’re so excited and they’re smiling. It’s such a rewarding feeling because, whatever they’re going through, by the time they hit our doors they’re happy.
Learn more about the Chattanooga Selfie Museum, here.