RUMFORD — Jennifer Pingree was feeling anxious about going back to work at Franklin Savings Bank and sending her daughter to day care.
So she decided to stay home, and she and her husband, Brian, a forestry worker, began looking for ways to supplement their income. Their endeavors included a DJ business and various mechanical jobs out of their garage.
Then Pingree saw that the Rumford business, Creative Signs and Apparel at 43 Exchange St., was for sale.
“Being the crazy, spontaneous person I am, I woke (Brian) from his nap and said, ‘Hey, look what I found,’ so we checked it out, and one thing led to another,” Pingree said.
Brian Pingree said the couple wanted more freedom, and Jennifer Pingree had always been the “artsy” type. She’s already created original designs for the business, including “mama bear” shirts and decals for infant and child loss awareness.
“Every once in a while, I can let out my own things,” she said.
The start-up was a “smooth process,” she said, thanks to business adviser Jane Mickeriz of Maine Small Business Development Centers, who assisted the couple with their loan process and business model.
“She was amazing,” Pingree said. “I’d recommend her to anyone. I think it was probably the time frame that got to us the most. Everything has a process, but knowing there were a lot of jobs we were losing because we weren’t open , that was most frustrating but not anything we got worked up over.”
Customers can expect much of the same service and products, including vinyl decals, graphic banners and signs, they got with the previous owner, Mike Pingree, as well as some additions to the business, including a small storefront with bags, clothing and signs. The atmosphere of the shop is also a little different.
“(We’re aiming for) both a professional and family feel,” Pingree said. “I’m not uptight; I’m very laid back and friendly, and I tend to make friends with most people that come in. When my daughter is here, she could have her toys strewn all over the front of the store, but we also take our job personally and seriously.”
The couple hopes to grow the business into a job that they can both work at full time. In five years, Jennifer Pingree said, she hopes to be “crazy successful,” with a bigger space and her husband by her side.
So far, she said, they’re right on track.
“We’ve been crazy busy, and we hope that continues,” she said.