Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.

With one year under their belt as at-home-entrepreneurs, Ball State alumnus Andy Shears and his wife Amy have decided to relocate to a larger retail and studio space in Downtown Muncie. 

The couple are owners of Muncie Map Co. LLC, which includes the Muncie Map Company — the only independent map shop in Indiana — as well as Amy Kay Photography Newborn Portraiture and Fur in Focus Pet Portraits.

Muncie Map Co. 

Who: Muncie Map Company, Amy Kay Photography Newborn Portraiture and Fur in Focus Pet Portraits

Where: 11 E. Adams St., Muncie 

When: Open by September 6 

“I remember Vonnegut wrote at one point that married couples who work together should get several anniversaries a year to account for the extra effort needed to be together all the time,” Andy said. “Given my experience with Amy, I think that’s baloney.”

Fur in Focus, a modern pet photography studio, was the first of the three businesses to get started. Amy’s love for rescue and shelter animals was what inspired her to create the business in 2009 while living in northwest Ohio. 

“I’ve studied and worked with animals professionally since 2006,” Amy said. “I’ve learned to read their moods and body language and work with them in a way that brings out their personality. 

“Pets are an important part of our families that are not with us long enough. I believe everyone should have gorgeous portraits of their pets that not only show their beauty and personality, but also show the bond my clients have with them.”

After five years of developing Fur in Focus, Amy expanded her photography business by adding Amy Kay Photography Newborn Portraiture after "falling in love with newborn portraiture.”

“What I love about newborn portraiture is celebrating this special time with the families I work with,” Amy said. “It captures such a fleeting time when babies are so very tiny, and I want to preserve those memories.” 

Since moving back to Muncie in 2017, Andy created Muncie Map Co. LLC, combining his and Amy's work. Andy said he “needed to make a change,” leaving the world of academia.

“After spending a few months exploring our options, doing interviews and getting some offers, Amy and I decided to turn down everything else because the best way forward for us was to move back to Muncie and start Muncie Map Co. LLC,” Andy said. “Muncie is where I wanted to be, and making maps is what I wanted to do, so it was the best option.” 

While the couple said they have enjoyed daily collaboration with their “best friend,” they realized that working from their own garage caused them to spend the last year “bumping elbows.”

Since he was young, Ball State alumnus and Muncie Map Co. LLC co-owner Andy Shears had an interest in geography and cartography, which stemmed from his attraction to maps. He remembers watching his mother, who was a geographer, explore the field. Tier Morrow, DN

Working out of a bigger space downtown will allow the co-owners to work more efficiently as the building is “already divided up perfectly for [their] retail and studio spaces” Andy said. 

In order to transform Muncie Map Co. LLC from an online and market-only business to a brick-and-mortar retail store, the Shears set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for their move to 111 E. Adams St. 

Although they didn’t reach their goal of more than $10,000 for inventory, fixtures and equipment for the new location, Andy said he will launch an “Adopt-a-Map” program as another fundraiser in hopes the new store will open Sept. 6.

“I’ve taken a bunch of really cool public domain map scans from the Library of Congress, Boston Public Library and New York Public Library," Andy said. "I’ve [also] assessed how long it would take me to digitally repair each map to something resembling the original print while leaving patina and aging.

“We’re going to ask folks to 'adopt' the map by paying for the repairs, for which they’ll get a print and a shout-out in the map’s credits. Then I’ll sell the map in my shop and donate part of the proceeds to Delaware County Historical Society.” 

In addition to the photography and maps, Muncie Map Co. LLC will also feature lines of "Muncie-centric gear" including shirts, stickers and magnets. 

Andy said the couple are also intending to set up their business as "a showcase for the local creative community."

"We’re hoping to have similarly curated selections of local music with Village Green and local books from the historical society," Andy said. "We want this to be the Muncie store as well as a map store.” 

Contact Nicole Thomas with comments nrthomas3@bsu.edu.