This week the Buzz is opening, projecting and buying a T-Rex costume — if there’s still one left to be had on the shelf.
First up: It’s a double “Welcome to L-A.”
In Auburn, it’s Twelve North Agency. In Lewiston, Tina’s Nails.
Bill and Kelly David are the husband and wife partners behind a new marketing and branding agency at 214 Minot Ave. in Auburn born out of a pandemic pivot.
Bill, who had worked in media sales and technology, opened Squad Collaborative in 2019 as a marketing agency focused on sports and live events.
“Coming into the pandemic with a live events and sports agency, all of those things went away,” Kelly David said. “He did what everyone did and thought, ‘I’ll just wait until it comes back.’ But it just didn’t.”
In October 2020, she said, Bill shifted to a full-service agency and she started to think about leaving a nearly 20-year career in health care, most recently as a hospital public information officer, to expand the agency further.
She joined full-time in May. The company initially worked out of their Auburn home before finding the Minot Avenue spot, which has several offices and an under-construction podcast studio.
Twelve North Agency has a full-time creative director and several freelancers. Most clients are based outside Maine, David said.
The company specializes in public relations, crisis communications, social media management, recruitment marketing, logo design and branding for small, growing and struggling businesses, she said.
“I’m obsessed and dorky about branding, like people are about IT geeking out — that’s how I am about branding,” said David, which led to her own new podcast, “Irrationally Passionate.” “The basis of it is that being driven by your passions is so important. It’s really just about going after it and getting it done and making yourself happy and making a difference at the same time.”
ACROSS THE RIVER
Tu “Tina” Nguyen-Gagnon moved to the U.S. from Vietnam in 2005 and went to school in Augusta the next year to be a nail technologist.
After a decade-plus working at local salons, she just became her own boss.
Nguyen-Gagnon opened Tina’s Nails at 984 Sabattus St. in Lewiston this month.
“About two years ago, the thought was in my head to open my own business, but I guess I was too scared to try,” she said.
Her husband, John, along with family, friends and customers convinced her to try.
The former Gallant Therapy space needed plumbing, electric work, flooring and paint. She installed seven pedicure chairs and eight manicure tables.
“I had to buy everything new, supplies, equipment, so needless to say I have a small fortune invested in my new salon,” she said. “At times it was very stressful and scary, especially doing this in times like this. But after the salon was all done, ready to open and looks so beautiful, I feel better.”
Nguyen-Gagnon has three employees. The salon offers pedicures, manicures, gel nails, acrylics nails and dip.
She said she’s felt loved by the support from old and new customers.
“(We) want everyone to be satisfied and happy, to feel like family, not a number to be waited on next,” she said. “I hope to have my daughter, who is now 11 years old, and who is very interested in my work, to join me someday in this business.”
LOOKING 30 YEARS OUT
State economist Amanda Rector brought historic slides and stats to the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week and also looked ahead for Androscoggin County.
“(It) is younger, it’s more diverse — that really is an advantage for labor force growth in the future,” Rector said. “If you think about the state as a whole with that older population, less diverse population, it makes it hard to grow employment because there are a lot of people who are starting to age out of the workforce and many fewer starting to age-in. So having that younger population, having a more diverse population which in turn will help to attract more people down the line, is really an advantage for the region.”
Asked about people moving here and working remotely, Rector said it’s hard to capture in employment data but a trend to watch.
Living here and working elsewhere, “they’re still part of the community, they’re still spending money in the economy,” she said. “Previously, maybe somebody wanted to come here for a job, but without the option of remote work for the other person, it just didn’t happen, so we lost out on both of those people.”
And even if the live/work stay is fleeting, Maine could still benefit.
“In my job in particular, I’m often taking a much longer view than many people are,” Rector said. “It’s not just that we need more workers now, it’s that we need more workers for 20, 30 years out and those are the kids that we have today. Even if both parents are working out-of-state, the idea that (their children) are exposed to Maine … gives them a tie to the state that hopefully we can use later on if they do move away. We can reel them back in later and remind them of such a wonderful experience that they had in this state that they want to come back.”
THAT’LL BE SO EMBARRASSING IF WE’RE BOTH DINOSAURS
There’s only 10 days left to snag a costume before Halloween, and according to All Home Connections, the most popular costume forecast for Maine this year is dinosaurs.
The company used Google’s top Halloween costume list from 2020 along with Google Trends for the projections.
Dinosaurs were tops in eight states. A few states stood out for funky results: “Monsters, Inc.” characters in Hawaii, Mickey Mouse in Kansas and “Clueless” characters in New Mexico.
Last year for Maine, the projected top costume was Fortnite characters.
Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]