China’s largest photo studio chain, making photos fun, social, and memorable.
Despite the rise of camera phones, photo studios are still widely popular in China. Families and friends will visit a photo studio together to commemorate special occasions like birthdays, holidays, or life milestones such as college graduation and weddings. The studios offer an opportunity for socialization and self-expression, a highly desirable experience in the social media age.
HIMO’s founder Yihan Huang is a photography professional, and wanted to give every person a beautiful memento through their photos. They opened their first portrait studio in Hangzhou in 2011, providing professional makeup, hair styling, photography and retouching services. The location quickly became a frequent hotspot for local celebrities and models who sought all of these elements for their own photography.
HIMO pioneered a new store model in shopping malls, offering the same professional styling and photography services that traditional wedding photo studios provide. At the same time, the company significantly reduced the processing time and cost of a professional photo experience. HIMO makes the ability to share photos a core part of its service and has become a social destination for a younger generation.
HIMO is the largest chain of its kind in China, with over 500 stores serving 5 million customers as of 2021. From the beginning we were impressed by HIMO’s innovation in the photo production process. They were able to transform a labor-intensive, time-consuming experience into something that is simple, light and fun for a new generation of consumers. This next generation is much more comfortable with online and external identities, and HIMO provides an easy way for them to craft these personas.
We first encountered HIMO 8 years ago while searching for a studio to take professional headshots for the GenBridge team. Today, we are HIMO’s first and largest external investor. Our work focuses on enhancing and accelerating the new product development process, extending the user life cycle, improving the company’s internal systems, and providing guidance on potential mergers and acquisitions.
Before HIMO, Chinese consumers would take headshot photos at mom-and-pop print shops that generally offered plain portraits with little thought given to light, background, or styling. Younger millennials and Gen-Z’s are eager for more professional and personalized products, and are willing to pay a premium to highlight their individuality. Unlike the generations before them, young consumers want to be seen and validated on social media, increasing the demand for professional portraits and commemorative photos that capture treasured memories.