July 2, 2012

Young Maine upstarts blaze a trail

With passion and a bit of daring, Maine entrepreneurs have launched businesses in challenging economic times.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Charles Friedman, 23, is founder of FlowFold wallets and tablet cases, which he displays at Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine store in Portland. They’re made of scrap material from high-tech racing sailcloth.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Andy McDermott, 28, shapes a board at Black Point Surf Shop.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

"I was scheming up a business for a long time. Instead of taking notes in class, I was building a brand," said Friedman, who said he's been working ever since middle school busing tables on Peak's Island or painting houses.

He credits the Foster Center for Student Innovation with helping him learn about business basics such as paying sales tax, writing a business plan and trademark registration.

"As a young person with no business history, you can't just walk into a bank and get a line of credit," Friedman said.

FlowFold, whose slogan is "Carry the Future," uses scrap material from high-tech racing sailcloth to make wallets and iPad cases.

"We're not the first people to make products out of recycled sailboat cloth. It's the value and quality and design we put into it," Friedman said.

Revenues are expected to be in the range of $75,000 to $100,000 this year, up from $35,000 in 2011, Friedman said. The company produced 5,400 units in 2011, and has made 3,492 units so far this year.

Friedman has a partner and co-owner, Devin McNeill, as well as a salesman. Another person handles shipping about 30 hours a week, and four to five independent contractors handle sewing.

"We've learned that the rules of business apply to everyone no matter how old you are," Friedman said. "Act as seasoned as everyone else. It's easy to dream really big at first, but focus on what you do best."


Not every young entrepreneur is in business for the money.

Three young Mainers have a project of passion that they call Flannel, a magazine dedicated to "what we love about the state: the great outdoors, the creativity and the do-it-yourself mentality," according to their website.

Sean Collinson and Travis Bourassa started Flannel in 2008 when they were 24 and 25, respectively, as a hand-assembled 'zine featuring art from their friends.

Now, they are launching their sixth issue with a limited run of 250 copies that features artists across the state. They distribute it at galleries, music shows and stores across the state with the help of their friend Jessica Harvey.

Flannel aims to showcase an edgier side of Maine's art scene. No lighthouses, seagulls or lobsters.

"The three of us feel that kind of landscape is done for the tourists and features what will appease people," said Bourassa.

The project got some help from the Foster Center for Student Innovation, but business advice was never what the friends sought.

"That wasn't really our goal," said Bourassa. "Our goal is getting people's work out, not to make a buck."

Bourassa and Collinson said they work at Trader Joe's to earn a living and produce Flannel twice a year to help promote Maine art.

Their advice for young people out of work?

"Spend your time with something you love and something good will come of it," Bourassa said.


Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:



Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Brett Dobrovolny, 23, Ryan McDermott, 25, and Andy McDermott, 28, are the team behind Black Point Surf Shop.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)