Suzy’s friendly smile became a beacon of acceptance for me in a place where I felt intimidated by the incredible level of brains in the room. At TechMaine, I joined a group of web site designers who met to discuss emerging technical considerations and information, which was somewhat foreign to me and a bit like eating Vegemite. Suzy made it go down much easier. She knows geek-speak but has a way of patiently explaining those “techy” things to those of us who just say, “Huh?”
She graduated from Parson’s School of Design, well before the personal computer was even considered by the unsuspecting general public. It was an era when print advertising and Mad Men still ruled, and geeky computer things were considered science fiction – like the Star Trek that Suzy still loves today. After graduation, much to her mother’s dismay, she turned down a well-paying job with a graphic design studio to work at Radio City Music Hall, not as a Rockette, but as a not-so-well paid usher.
It was a time of great upheaval when the Music Hall was hanging on for dear life. The old show and movie routine ended and other stage events took their place.
Insider info: In the play Snow White, the witch (played by a man) and Snow White eventually married. There were many other such marriages within the Radio City Music Hall community — including Suzy’s.
She soon finagled her way into the art department where she worked on the marquee and huge, outside window displays for special shows. Those windows could not be accessed from inside the building, but were opened like doors from the outside. “It made creating a collage display in the rain very difficult,” she explains. People would be lined up outside the theater waiting for a show as she was trying to maneuver in and out of the window — sometimes in the rain while trying to keep the display materials dry.
Like many young people, Suzy was drawn to the City by its resources, activity, and bright lights, but after several years the noise and bustle stifled her. The eternal sounds of jack hammers in a brick building next door and a burglary in her apartment sent her fleeing. She had been to visit friends in Maine once and recalled it was “pretty and quiet.” She beamed herself up here, and a year later, her husband-to-be, followed.
In Maine, after ten years of using her artistic skills to create window displays for JC Penny and in the throes of a mid-life crisis, she began taking computer classes. The idea that one could write code into Notepad and presto — a Web site appeared — fascinated her! It was like science fiction, and she was ready to jump aboard her own ship Enterprise.
She took the first steps of creating her business, Phoenix-Massey Studio, by helping artist friends who needed Web sites. “It’s all about the visual organization of information,” she explains.
Like every other small business owner, she needed to market hers, and attended a non-geeky women’s networking group through the Women’s Business Center, where I first met Suzy and several other women business mavens. Eleven years later, we still meet monthly to share wonderful food and marketing ideas. (Unfortunately, the TechMaine group dissolved for lack of funding). Suzy often shares information about Facebook and other social media marketing tools, and she loves apps.
Check out the video of her two cats playing with a “mouse app” on her iPad.
The Internet opened up a world-wide market for artists of every kind and a new genre for visual artists — one that sparked an interest and lit a fire in Suzy’s heart. Her enthusiasm, artistic abilities, and warmth show through the Web sites she has created, and she has a way of communicating with her customers that makes the geeky stuff feel less alien.