By Kaylor Jones
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
As a husband-and-wife team and the owners of locally based Clique Photo Station, Andrea Notaro and Kliton “Tony” Likaj know a thing or two about the passion and dedication it takes to run a business – and raise a family.
The duo considers themselves to be in the business of providing lively and memorable experiences through their professional, open-air photo booths – available for celebrations of all kinds – but times haven’t always easy.
Likaj was born and raised in Communist Albania, when the economy was heavily restricted.
“There were many nights I went to bed hungry as a young boy,” he says. “But as little as we had, my parents always found a way to provide for happier times.”
Likaj found himself gravitating toward soccer as a way to make a better life from himself, eventually joining FK Tirana football club, the No. 1 club in Albania.
“Even with two jobs each, my parents always made the time to see me play,” Likaj says. When his father fell ill in 1989, Likaj gave up his dream to help provide for his family, coming to the U.S. at 30 years old and opening an Italian restaurant in Phoenix with his sister in 2004, the same year that he met Notaro.
At the time, Notaro – originally from Long Island – was working at a startup of her father’s in Downtown Phoenix. The two married in 2006 and after their son, James, was born the next year, Notaro left her job to focus on raising him. But in 2009 – just two years before they would welcome their second child, Ashlyn – Likaj was forced to leave the family business and found himself in the same position that his own parents had been in, working two full-time jobs to support his family.
After years of Likaj working 16-hour days, five days a week, a stroke of luck came in March 2018 when Likaj and Notaro learned that another couple was looking to sell some of their businesses, and in May of that year, they purchased Clique Photo Station. A major factor behind this decision was the chance to work from home and spend more time together as a family.
The Family Business
Today, Notaro considers herself the driving force behind Clique Photo Station, which offers photo booth rentals for any type of occasion, including weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events. Their three elegant photo stations, complete with fun props and backgrounds (the latter can be customized by Notaro), print glossy copies of the photos before the guests even leave the open-air booth.
“I’m the one doing the sales, marketing, and day-to-day operations from the moment we book with our clients to execution at an event and the days following,” she says. “Tony helps to fill in the gaps whenever needed. He’s the one that you’ll find out on a job without fail, come rain or shine, attending one of our three fabulous photo booths, always equipped with so much enthusiasm and a true, genuine passion for what he does.”
And it’s this shared passion that sets the couple – and their business – apart. “The emphasis we put into nurturing and maintaining our relationships with our clients is a fundamental part of who we are. It doesn’t matter what time it is – it could be 11 o’clock at night, or we could even be on a family vacation, and we will still always find the time to correspond with them,” Notaro says.
In addition to their dedication, Clique Photo Station’s all-new Mirror X Booth gives them something especially unique to offer locals.
“We are currently the only company in Arizona to have this particular model of booth because of how fresh off the market it is,” Notaro says.
The 6-foot-tall, tempered glass mirror combines the fun of a photo booth with technological advancements like interactive animations. “It really is quite the showpiece – almost like a giant iPhone, with an ultra-modern, futuristic design and capabilities that can really knock your socks off,” Notaro says.
After experiencing some tough times, Likaj and Notaro reflect on one of the greatest motivators in their lives. “Our children are our inspiration behind everything we do, and the reason behind every important decision we make,” Likaj says. “They give us the drive to want to give 150% all of the time, to work harder and smarter, to take risks but do it responsibly, and to set the best possible example for them that we can.”
It’s this love of family that makes Clique unquestionably special. “Clique Photo Station was founded by a couple that was planning their own wedding and wanted something truly original when it came to capturing moments for their special day. When they weren’t able to find anything that met their needs, they decided to create it themselves,” Notaro says. “Every great company has a story to tell, and this one just so happens to be built on the strongest foundation there is – love. The fact that Tony and I get to carry it on and help in its evolution is an honor and privilege.”
Clique Photo Station is currently taking bookings for the holidays and beyond. Call 844.425.4783 to book, and learn more at www.cliquephotostation.com.