Rachael Kvapil

Rachael Kvapil of Pagesculptor Studios Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Eric Engman/News-Miner

When Rachael Kvapil launched her multimedia marketing firm, Pagesculptor Studios, making a video involving mermaids and doing underwater camera work was not something she foresaw. But that’s what she found herself doing when a local aerial acrobatics school hired her to oversee a promotional piece.

“They got two performers who were guys who were pretending to be hearing the sirens’ song and running to them,” Kvapil said. “It shows them coming up with the silks and drowning them in the water.”

“Thank God I’m a swimmer,” she added, “because I was underwater with goggles.”

The slogan for Kvapil’s company is “Helping small businesses do big things,” and it’s an approach she takes to heart. She started small herself, working out of her basement while holding down a full-time job.

Her goal was to help small local businesses reach customers in an increasingly cluttered media biosphere. It was a natural fit for her, she said, because, “I have always extensively loved media. All sorts of media. Whether it’s video or audio or whatever.”

Kvapil grew up in Alaska. Her father worked on the pipeline in the 1970s and most of her childhood was spent in Wasilla. After high school, she left for the Northwest for a few years but eventually found herself in Valdez, married and a mother.

In 1997 her young family moved to Fairbanks, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UAF, with minors in marketing and communications. After graduating, she went to work for local television stations, advertising firms, and the Fairbanks Arts Association, where she honed her skills.

Being highly self-motivated, however, meant that it wasn’t long before she was spending her off hours working for herself. “I started doing side projects in 2004,” she said.

One of her earliest clients was the University of Alaska, and that required that she obtain a business license. Thus RKMA, which stood for Rachael Kvapil Multimedia Studio, was born. “It’s always been a side gig for the most part,” she said. “It’s grown and it’s changed. It was originally mostly writing articles and freelancing them statewide.”

Kvapil came of age with the internet, and she said keeping abreast of the rapid changes in online promotions has been key to her success. “I remember doing social media on a flip phone,” she said of her early days.

As building webpages and shooting video eclipsed the writing portion of her work, she changed her business’s name to Pagesculptor in 2009, adding “Studios” in 2018. The name, she said, dates back to when she was in school.

“I interned in college with Ice Alaska. They’re all ice sculptors. I was working on their web page. I thought, I’m not an ice sculptor, but I’m a page sculptor. So that was how it came about.”

Kvapil said a big part of her work involves helping clients target their promotional materials to prospective customers. “When you develop media and media content for webpages, or for social media, you cannot separate the marketing component from it. When you’re making a video, I don’t care if it’s a video of us talking, or of your cats, you have an idea of who you are making that content for.”

With that in mind, she tells prospective clients that they need to decide if a professionally produced marketing campaign will lure more customers than one they do for themselves.

“There is a time and a money correlation. You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I losing money by doing it for myself,” she explained. “Your phone is not going to get something that will be aired on the Super Bowl. A 4K camera will.”

Investing in a 4K camera was a difficult decision for Kvapil, who generally tries to keep her expenses under control. “It was a small heart attack to pay for it, but it was worth it.”

That said, she advises prospective business people to exercise financial caution. “You can do a lot with a little bit of equipment,” she advised. “You don’t need all the super high-end bells and whistles.”

In her field, Kvapil explained, inspiration is more important than technical finesse. Reflecting on the mermaid video, she said, “This is a professional client, but we’re also very creative. You can imagine it in many, many different ways.”

David James lives in Fairbanks.