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SoHo Creative Studio at Home in Portsmouth

Published Thursday Jan 6, 2022

Author Judi Currie

SoHo Creative Studio owners Michael Cinquino and Rebecca Lee cut the ribbon on their new Portsmouth office. Courtesy photo.

During the pandemic, many professionals left crowded cities for safer rural areas, with NH being among the prime destinations. There was also a rise in entrepreneurs as people lost jobs and sought to gain control over their destiny. SoHo Creative Studio personifies both trends as the founders decided to start a new business and move in 2020.

It all started with Michael Cinquino and Rebecca Lee taking a trip from their home in New York City to Portsmouth and deciding to stay.

Cinquino has been a professional photographer in New York for 12 years, while Lee spent 20 years in textile design. “We went into our apartment in Brooklyn on March 15 [2020] and didn’t leave our front door for 45 days,” says Cinquino. “I had a photography business and studio rental business in SoHo and, unfortunately, I lost both of those businesses pretty much instantly. Rebecca was let go from her 20-year career as a textile designer.”

The couple says they had a backup plan should one become unemployed but not for everything to go away at once. Cinquino says they had time to contemplate what the future would look like.

“There are many things we love about New York, but it is so chaotic, and it feels difficult to make an impact,” he says.
The couple decided to combine their skill sets to offer photography, videography and web design, with Lee transitioning from textile design to user interface design.

“We realized what was most soulful for us was helping small businesses,” says Lee. “We started to look at areas outside the city for a place with community-minded people and support for small businesses and Portsmouth came up in our search. We came up for a week and fell in love with the area.”

They have a variety of clients, including a software developer, a producer of children books about Corgis, and a startup in Dubai. Cinquino says they mainly work with small- to mid-sized business focused on growing by using photography, video and digital design.

“People are not getting in front of the camera and telling an honest story,” Cinquino says. “We truly believe that which is most personal is most universal. But it can be scary to get in front of the camera and talk about what you value,” he says. “It is not something a lot are able and want to do. But it is what we push most clients to do; it is a differentiator.”

For Lee, moving from her textile design background in the physical world to creating experiences in the digital world has not been that big of a change. “I’m a huge advocate of the design thinking process, boiling down a problem and solving it using creativity in a very methodical way. It’s a data driven approach,” says Lee. “While the way I solve it is different, the issues are always the same: how can I make a product or process seamless for the user, so it is pleasing and productive?  You only notice design when it is not working.”

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