News Column

Adrion Bell, owner of The Studio in Hope Mills, takes a shot at longtime dream

May 21, 2014

By Rodger Mullen, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

May 21--Adrion Bell saw potential in downtown Hope Mills."It's fun, it's quaint, it's cute," Bell said. "It's a very warm community."

Bell is one of Trade Street's newest merchants. On May 9, she held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for her photography business, The Studio.

The business is at 5458 Trade Street, formerly the site of Cumberland Dance Academy, which moved to another location.

The Studio is a member-based rental photography studio featuring a client meeting space, dressing room, lighting equipment, backdrops and props.

For Bell, it marks the culmination of a longtime dream.

"This has been a project that has been in the works for three different moves for us," Bell said in an interview at the just-opened studio.

Bell grew up in a military family. Her husband, William, is retired from the military and works on Fort Bragg as a contractor.

While the couple was stationed in Idaho, Bell explored the idea of opening a photography studio.

Bell said her father is a photographer and she took pictures all through college, eventually joining the Professional Photographers of America. She specializes in boudoir and wedding photography.

Before the photography studio could materialize, the couple moved to Virginia, then William Bell retired. The Bells have two sons, Brooks, 8; and Brennan, 5.

After moving to a home near Hope Mills a couple of years ago, Bell revived the idea. She scouted different locations, including downtown Fayetteville, before deciding on Trade Street.

For help in starting her business, Bell turned to the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development. The center helped her devise a business plan and get a start-up loan.

"It was well worth it," Bell said. "They helped me really take a look at what you need to make a business successful."

Building renovations

Bell set to work renovating the space, including removing old floor coverings and painting walls. She credits her husband, parents and a group of friends who call themselves the "Awesome Possum Posse" with helping remake the space.

The space now includes a front parlor where photographs on consignment are on display. It includes a small coffee bar and some old-fashioned wooden classroom chairs that an uncle bought at an auction.

There is a dressing room, and a conference room dominated by a smart TV, where photographers can screen their work for potential clients.

The largest area is an approximately 26-foot-square studio space featuring pull-down backdrops and track lighting. Bell said an outdoor space behind the studio could also be a good photo spot.

The May 9 open house attracted more than 60 people, Bell said.

She hopes The Studio eventually has up to 25 members renting space for their photography projects.

Another potential project Bell would like to help organize is a wine, art and jazz night in which Trade Street merchants would participate, opening their businesses in a kind of art walk.

Bell said she thinks people who venture to the area would see the same potential there that she did.

"I love the area," Bell said. "I love the historic buildings and the old charm."

For more information about The Studio, call 779-3080, go to or visit The Studio's Facebook page.

Staff writer Rodger Mullen can be reached at or 486-3561.


(c)2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)

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