Langley Meets Tech: Fine Balance Imaging
By Grace Swanson
Wife and husband duo, Joe Menth and Rhiannon Fisher, have been very busy since they moved their businesses, Fine Balance Imaging & Printing and Feather & Fox, to Langley, Washington this year. So busy that people kept knocking on their door during the shop’s renovation stage to ask when they would be open for business.
“Being back in Langley has been such a huge blessing,” Menth said. “I had no idea there were so many businesses that needed something like this in Langley.”
Fine Balance Imaging & Printing provides high quality printing services, from posters to banners to fine art prints. It is owned and operated by Joe Menth and his mother Nancy Baker.
The Feather & Fox portion of the shop also offers a selection of trinkets and books. When Baker, Fisher and Menth decided to move to Langley they morphed their two businesses, Feather & Fox and Fine Balance Imaging Studios into one.
Fisher selects a majority of the retail products.
“I like the idea of providing the service of selling beautiful things,” she said. “People appreciate them and it makes them happy and that makes me happy.”
She hopes to expand the business to sell a collection of high end art supplies and tools beyond the office supplies their shop already offers.
Menth decided to move to Whidbey Island to escape the corporate life. He worked for a Seattle high tech company during the Dot-com bubble in the late 1990’s, but lost his job when the bubble burst.
During this period, Menth says he was caught up in the capitalist lifestyle and climbing the corporate ladder. He eventually found a marketing job at a German biotech firm in Seattle, but was laid off after the firm closed his branch.
In 2003, he decided to move to Whidbey. Baker, Menth, and Baker’s mother opened an art gallery on 2nd Street that year. They closed the gallery in 2006 and transitioned to a fine art printing business, Fine Balance Imaging Studios, which was located in Bayview.
Fisher moved to the island to be closer to her brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. She also wanted to enroll her children in the Whidbey Island Waldorf School.
Fisher and Menth met in 2012 while working at StoryDome, a non-profit on Whidbey Island that explores the world’s history through a geodome experience. They opened their business, Feather & Fox in Bayview in May 2014.
Originally, Fine Balance Imaging Studios primarily dealt with printing artwork.
Then in 2016, Sharon Rose, the previous owner of Whidbey Island Printing in Clinton, offered to sell Menth and Baker her business. They took a leap of faith and embarked on a dynamic collaboration of Fine Balance Imaging Studios, Whidbey Island Printing, and Feather & Fox.
Baker, Fisher and Menth moved to Langley to become part of Langley’s creative sphere.
“There’s this spectrum of creative services and we fall across certain parts of the spectrum and they (the other businesses in Langley) fall across other parts of the spectrum,” he said. “Langley’s core is creativity.”
Running a print shop requires dealing with large files. The BiG GiG, Whidbey Telecom’s latest Gigabit internet, speeds up downloading and uploading files, which makes Menth and Baker more productive.
Recently, a client sent Menth a 14 gigabyte zip file for print, which could almost fill a standard 16 gigabyte thumb drive. With regular DSL internet, downloading would have taken five or six hours meaning the file may not be printed until the next day.
The zip file was downloaded in less than five minutes using the BiG GiG and the print was ready for the customer the same day.
“Having the BiG GiG in our business has made our ability to fulfill the needs of the local community so much easier,” Menth said.
The BiG GiG is available in a co-works space that the trio opened in Fine Balance Imaging. This office environment will offer a modular conference room/classroom with a smart-board touch screen, a workspace and conference room, and high-quality printing services.
Like other islanders, Menth says that living in a small community can pose some challenges, but the benefits pay off. He is grateful for the ability to drive to parks in minutes and form a bond with community members. In his view, living on Whidbey Island makes people reevaluate what material objects they actually need in their life.
“Most people I know that live on the island have chosen a slightly simpler way of living,” he said. “Even if the rate of pay or the level of revenue a business can get here might not be as high as in the city, you adapt to need less and realize what’s important.”
For more information about Fine Balance Imaging and Feather & Fox please visit:
www.fbistudios.com or www.thefeatherandfox.com