Saturday, January 24, 2015

Business spotlight - Grammy Geek - By Michelle Libby

Stephanie Butterfield has found her niche helping seniors and juniors with their technology phobias, questions and basic knowledge one-on-one and in their homes. 

Children like to give their parents and grandparents iPads and laptops to keep them connected, but without teaching them how to use it, it sits there.

“It’s a language they don’t know. They’re scared of it, but they can do it,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield owns Grammy Geek, a place for seniors to turn when they have questions with their computers, iPads, tablets or any other piece of technology. 

“I ask them to tell me what they like and why, and I’ll show them what the device can do for them,” she said. 

“I was always ending up helping family and friends. I’m going to start my own business when I retire,” she thought. She had been dabbling in the business for the past three years, but when she retired earlier than expected, went to full time last spring. 

For 17 years she worked for a company that worked with developmentally challenged adults. “I did all of the IT work there. I knew more than the others and it ended up being something I loved doing,” she said.  

When she started she always expected that she would add into the business her love of photography and videography. She now takes old photographs and turns them into slideshows on DVD for special birthdays or anniversaries. She also does memorial DVDs for funerals and table top books. 

Grammy Geek travels within 40 miles of Bridgton, where she lives. She has regular customers in Gorham and Westbrook as well as Portland, Windham, Raymond and Naples.

One of her oldest clients is a 90-year-old man, she said. He just needs to know how to use his technology. Some older people pay for computer help, but then ask her to sit for a cup of tea once she’s there. “I don’t mind,” she said. 

She does one-on-one support for any device or program. She also teaches classes for larger groups like at a nursing home. In one hour, she can help a customer learn new things. She also created guides to leave with the clients so they have something in their hands to go back and reference. 

Butterfield fixes Malware, removes viruses and works with Windows 8. “They can have me come in and set it up right at the beginning,” she said, avoiding having to fix the problems later. She also can set up and show a client how to use Skype to video chat with family members, or simply help them navigate around their new operating system.  

Prices vary by service starting at $50 for a one-on-one 1-hour session. “If you go to the big guy, you’ll pay big bucks,” Butterfield said.

“I like being the little guy. I like not over charging and not identifying customers by a number. I like running into them on the street and calling them by name. I think that’s important,” she said.  

The younger clients are in their thirties. “That’s the gap that didn’t have computers in schools. To live in the world these days, everything is online,” she said. 

Butterfield said that she knew nothing about computers 15 or 16 years ago. Her son had to write a note for her on how to turn the computer off and on. What a difference a few years makes. 

“Seniors suffer at feeling [out of place] in a world where they’ve lived full lives with stories of things they’ve done. I have a real passion for them to have what they need,” she said.

Butterfield is 64 years old and she knows that her customers are comfortable asking her questions that might seem stupid to someone younger, but to her she can explain the answer in ways that the client can understand. “We have the same reference points that make sense to them,” she said.  

One of the most gratifying situations she had was helping a woman get pictures off an SD card from a big celebration. “She thought she’d lost the pictures,” Butterfield said. “I can recover data.”

 She gives 100 percent at any job. She’s a member of National Cyber Security Association. 

“I consider myself a geek and proud of it. I love technology,” she concluded. Find out more at: or call her at 207-310-0289.  <

Business spotlight - Halcyon Tattoo - By Michelle Libby

Owner Steve Chambers has a passion for art. It’s this artistic creativity that led him to his current career as a tattoo shop owner and artist at Halcyon Tattoo at 120 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. The new storefront opened in August. Before that he had a shop in Westbrook. 
He said that being in Windham is a good thing. “It’s where I live. I think the market is saturated in Portland. Being in Westbrook was for convenience, since he and his wife own the building that houses Voila Salon and, formally, Halcyon Tattoo. 
Halcyon Tattoo specialized in custom tattoo art. No two pieces are the same, Chambers said. The people who come here are willing to wait for the art work to be just right. Customers come into the shop, one of the largest, if not the largest tattoo parlor in Maine, with an idea. From the idea and brainstorming with Chambers, he then creates the artwork and consults with the client for approval. Sometimes he crumples up three or four versions before finding one that he approves of.

“Everything is custom. We never do the same piece on another customer. That why customers come here and are willing to wait,” Chambers said. Very few people come here on a whim, he added. He can do generic, basic tattoos and smaller pieces that don’t require a lot of effort for pulling everything together.
His artwork is more on the realism side, he said. For that it has to be all planned out. Chambers has always been artistic and took art classes at the vocational school in Portland. “I’ve always been in tattoo shops since I was 15,” he said. He was 15 when he got his first tattoo, an eagle. 

His customers come from all over the area and even Canada. They find him through Facebook and searches for artists online. “They’re all unique and they’re all crazy, I think,” he said with a chuckle.
There are certain areas on the body that are easier to tattoo and that hurt less. Arms and legs are easy, but on the ribs and stomach the skin is stretchier and it changes how the tattoo looks. He also said that any place that the sun had damaged is easier to tattoo. “It’s painless. It’s more annoying,” he said about the needles. He relates it to an elastic snapping you or a cat scratching you. “Everybody’s got a different pain tolerance,” he said. 

Tattoos can take anywhere from three to 13 hours depending on the level of detail. 

Aftercare is very important to a tattoo. Keeping it protected from the sun and from germs is crucial after getting inked. It will take three to four weeks for the tattoo to completely heal. 

Halcyon Tattoo has another artist working there, Doug Landry. Chambers said he is picky on who he brings in to work at his shop. 

“One bad tattoo comes out of here and people will be talking bad about you forever, because tattoos are forever,” Chambers said. 

Many tattoo artists like to outline, shade and then color. Chambers prefers to finish a section at a time. He can do it the traditional way, but prefers to have a client leave with a finished section to show off.
Prices start at $60 and go up from there. He said that “no tattoo is ever finished and it’s addicting.”
Chambers has his own tattoos. He can’t do it on himself so he searches out mentors he can learn from before he makes an appointment. He looks for styles that match his own. “I want to strive to be the best,” he said.

Some people search out tattoo artists to cover up scars or so they don’t feel like the only person at the party. “I got tattoos to be different,” he said. It’s not like that now. Chambers also said that he is afraid of needles in a doctor’s office and that getting a tattoo is nothing like that. 

Steve has been married for 15 years and has two children. 

“I love this more than anything else I’ve done,” he said. “I’m a perfectionist…a little OCD.”

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Spotlight on Edward Jones - Pete Neelon office

Pete Neelon – Financial advisor and financial planner

Pete Neelon loves economics and investing, which makes him the perfect person to run his Edward Jones business in Windham. He has been involved in helping clients plan for their futures and their family’s future for 15 years. 

“You know when they say, ‘If you love what you do you’ll never go to work another day in your life’? It’s kind of like that,” Neelon said about being a financial advisor and planner.

Through Edward Jones and Neelon, clients can create education plans, like 529 plans, sign up for life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance and create investment portfolios with mutual funds and money market funds and do estate planning. He also can also work with individual stocks.
Recently, Neelon had a visit from clients who had planned for their daughter’s education. They had structured the plan so that she has no college debt as a recent graduate. 

“Time is your ally on all investments,” he said. He recommends clients fund their retirement accounts first and then college for the children as “retirement planning can only be done in advance.” 

Neelon joined with Edward Jones as a partner because of its entrepreneurial spirit. “Edward Jones is over the door, but it has my name is on the door,” he said of his office in the Don Rich Plaza in North Windham. He has put his own style, set his own hours and has worked to have his own “book of business”. “It is an honest and ethical business,” he added. He described Edward Jones as a “bit on the conservative side.” 

Not all who work under the Edward Jones name are also financial planners, Neelon said. Actually, very few are. He went to school for a year and a half to earn his Certified Financial Planning certification.
Edward Jones does not manufacture any products. Neelon has preferred vendors that Edward Jones likes to work with, but he is not limited by that. 

He meets with his clients yearly and some more often if needed asking them about their goals, their timeframe and their risk tolerance. He works with serious, long term investors. He likes to work with small businesses setting up 401K plans and other retirement plans. 

Neelon’s office has two branch office administrators, Anne-Marie Polanski and Pam Burt.

Neelon is a past-president of the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce, he chaired the chamber golf tournament for many years, is a current chairman of the board for his church, sits on boards for charitable organizations and loves to ski and golf. He lives in Gorham with his wife. He has two grown children. 

Edward Jones is looking for people to run offices in the area who are strong in math and enjoy helping people. For more on Neelon and Edward Jones, visit