By KATIE GAGLIANO, The Advocate
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — “Leave your message after the beep” has taken on a whole new meaning for Lafayette resident Shayla Lange, whose new business Ring-A-Ding Ding Audio Guestbook transforms the banal communication method of voicemail into an opportunity for fun, sentimental keepsakes for major life events.
Ring-A-Ding Ding Audio Guestbook, which launched in mid-May, will give brides and grooms an alternative to the traditional paper guestbook for their wedding.
When guests arrive, they’ll be met with a vintage-style rotary phone engineered to act as a standalone recording device. Guests will pick up the phone, hear a personalized voicemail message and then have the option to leave the happy couple words of wisdom, well wishes, comical quips or stories of favorite memories throughout the night, Lange said.
Clients have several package options for the rental based around the number of hours they’d like the phone available. Ring-A-Ding Ding’s service comes with delivery, set up and pickup of the phone, with Lange aiming to turn around the voicemails within 48 hours of the event for delivery to the client. The messages can be delivered via the cloud, on a custom USB drive or pressed into a vinyl record, she said.
“I capture that moment for you. Whoever listens to it is transported back into that moment and it feels like you’re there again. Imagine being 70 years old and you pull out your audio guestbook and you’re listening to it with your husband. It’s something like a time capsule with voices,” Lange said.
While the audio guestbook concept has been a growing trend in the bridal market, driven partly by brides sharing the product on social media, Lange said she sees a range of events her service could be used for, including baby showers, birthdays, retirement parties and milestone anniversary gatherings.
This isn’t Lange’s first time launching a business.
Since graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in mass communications in 2019, Lange has started her own marketing firm, now a partnership firm called The Social Mavens, and a luxury picnic business called The Picnic Chick.
The 27-year-old’s businesses are now profitable enough that she was able to leave her full-time job as a marketing and sales associate to focus on operating and growing them. Lange said she cherishes being self-employed because it gives her freedom to embrace her creativity and act quickly when a new idea develops that she thinks could stand out in the local business landscape.
“I think I like that it’s a little bit of an adventure. There’s adrenaline, and a feeling of what’s going to happen next and who can I serve next,” Lange said.
The entrepreneur said she’s already developed a growth plan for Ring-A-Ding Ding and is hopeful that if demand meets expectations she’ll be able to acquire a second phone in a new color within the first few months of operation to serve more clients.
Lange came across the audio guestbook concept while scouring TikTok for new ideas for the entertainment side of The Picnic Chick. She was immediately intrigued, drawn in by the fresh concept and interactive opportunity the phone can bring to events, but also by the sentimental quality of the product.
“I think a voice is so precious. You can’t replace that,” Lange said.
Rhonda Lange, Shayla’s mother, said she and her daughter love the concept because they know firsthand what it’s like to wish for a keepsake of a loved one after their death.
In 2013, Shayla’s godmother Chantell Autin, a cousin of Rhonda’s, passed away. The women had no videos or clips of her voice preserved; after digging online, Shayla managed to find an old clip of Autin on YouTube that she plays when she wants to feel close to her, her mother said.
“The person that sparked her interest for party planning and things like that, her nanny, has passed on…She has grandbabies that she never got to meet. How nice would it be for them to hear her voice and know the warmth of her voice?” Rhonda Lange said.
With the routine threat of hurricanes and the need for evacuation in southern Louisiana, Rhonda Lange said there’s also something comforting about the voicemails being stored in the cloud, safely away from the ravages of flood waters. The New Orleans-area native said her family lost many photos and keepsakes during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Rhonda Lange raised Shayla as a single mother with help from Shayla’s grandparents and said she’s proud to see the independent, educated and go-getting young woman she’s become.
Rhonda Lange said she makes a point to encourage her daughter’s endeavors 100%. Even if she’s initially skeptical that the concept will take off, she said she knows Shayla has the vision and drive to make it happen. As transplants to the region, Rhonda Lange said she’s touched to see how the community has embraced her daughter’s businesses.
“I’m glad she’s starting in Lafayette because she believes in the community here. We’re not from here. She attended UL and after she graduated I said to move home and she said no, I love the community and camaraderie here and I want to stay here and grow my businesses,” Rhonda Lange said.
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