At each monthly meeting of Flagstaff Communicators, a door-prize drawing will be held. The winning business will have a profile and photo created and posted on the home page of this site for the month ~ a prize worth $250.
Reading, & creating, the signs of the times
Creativity and customer service are Bowen’s hallmarks
Crystal Bowen can read the signs of the times. Not only that, she creates them ~ lots of them.
Bowen’s company, Express Yourself Signs LLC, offers everything from standard signs to vehicle wraps, mailbox wraps and laptop computer covers. The company also offers graphic design services and printing and can create business cards, tradeshow and promotional items, t-shirts ~ “anything to do with signs and advertising,” Bowen says.
“I’m also a licensed contractor,” she adds, “so I can pull permits for putting signs up.”
Bowen has been in the sign and graphics business for about 10 years, “but I’ve beenaround it all my life because it’s a family trade,” she says. Her great-grandfather started in the field in 1946, and it’s been handed down through the generations since then.
The business isn’t the same as in her ancestor’s time, however. “It’s changed a lot, from taking a paintbrush and a can of paint to doing what I do,” she says. “The digital age has changed the business a lot,” and Bowen has kept up with the changes. Her office now houses computers, digital printers and all the other trappings of the information age. (It also has larger-than-life portraits of Bowen’s dogs decorating the walls ~ sign samples, of course.)
Bowen didn’t start out in the family business. “I was an insurance underwriter before I did this,” she says, “but I couldn’t be creative enough. I’ve always been creative and artistic.”
So she made the switch to signs, starting in her garage, then moving into an office in town about three years ago.
“I like the design work best, being creative.” One of her favorite projects was designing and creating an apron and mailbox cover for her sister, Frances Blackwelder, when Frances was in the Pillsbury Bakeoff a few years ago.
Another favorite: Creating a car wrap for a drag racer called Rust Bucket. “I took a picture of a rusty piece of metal in a recycling yard,” Bowen says. “That was the background for the wrap.” She added text and embellishments to the design. Then, she had to measure the car from stem to stern and side to side, including the convex and concave areas, to make sure the wrap fit perfectly.
The biggest challenge? Working with computers and equipment, she says, because they can be temperamental.
But the equipment has its upside, too. “People can sit down with me at the computer and I can work [on a design] until they get what they want.
“When a customer gets exactly what they wanted, that makes me feel good.”
Bowen says that “People come to me because they like me as a person, and because I do a good job at a good price ~ I’m fair.” They also like that Express Yourself Signs LLC is local.
Bowen is content in her creative profession, seeing that people are pleased with her efforts.
She says, “I honestly enjoy coming to work.”
For more information on Express Yourself Signs LLC and samples of Bowen’s work, go to http://www.eysigns.net (the site even has information about the Flagstaff Sign Code).
You can also see them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Express-Yourself-Signs-LLC/139220012757439
Joe Bodin is ready and able to expound on all things computer-related
When talk turns to technical matters, a twinkle appears in Joe Bodin’s eyes and a hint of a smile plays around his mouth.
Joe loves computer tech talk. And not surprisingly, he’s an expert in that field.
Joe’s “Reliable Web Designs” by Flagstaff Central.com Inc. has been offering web design and Internet marketing services since 1999.
His free monthly Flagstaff Tech Talk sessions at the Kickstand Kafé, cohosted by friend Bret Carpenter of Orig’native, explores such topics as search engine optimization, choosing a hosting service, creating effective mobile websites and more.
And Joe’s Flagstaff Central.com has been a hub of Northern Arizona information for 13 years.In fact, that website was the first one he built. “I taught myself on it,” he says.
He’s also on the board of Flagstaff Communicators, serving as an ambassador, technical adviser and all-around great guy.
A Northern Arizona University alumnus, Joe has lived in the Flagstaff area about 26 years.
He worked as a stage manager in theater for about nine years, doing “background technical stuff.”
Then, he was the event coordinator for Bookman’s for eight years, which included a lot of marketing work and graphic design. “I was the first event coordinator at Bookman’s,” he says; the position included creating and disseminating publicity and creating and implementing reading and business literacy programs in fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes in local schools.
“Doing that job demanded that I learn things like Photoshop and Pagemaker,” so he taught himself those programs. “At the end of that job, I had a lot of computer experience,” he says.
He also got to know a lot of people in Northern Arizona during that time, so when his daughter was born, it was a natural progression for him to start his own business that would allow him to be a stay-at-home dad.
He started Flagstaff Central.com Inc. with graphic design services, at the same time running events, working with Theatrikos and creating tabloids. The Flagstaff city guide, Flagstaff Central.com, was also part of the mix, starting as a small online listing of community events and growing to hundreds of pages.
“I was a little overwhelmed,” he admits, so “I decided, with my wife, that web design would be the best course” for the business ~ while continuing the city guide as a free service for the community.
His focus for the company is “good products and good customer service.” That includes being proactive for his clients. “If something doesn’t work, I’m not going to wait until they’re angry,” he says. “I’m going to fix it ASAP because I care.”
That philosophy has paid off with customers in Northern Arizona and countrywide who have heard about his work mainly through word of mouth. He customizes his web design and marketing services for each client, and sometimes brings in other experts to complete the work. “I’m a web designer, not a programmer,” he notes. “If someone needs a programmer, I hire someone. You can’t know it all,” he adds, but he has created a network of people to augment his services.
At the same time, he continues to explore and experiment with new technology himself.
Flagstaff Central.com is due for an overhaul, Joe says, and that work is in his long-term plan. “I want to put a new face on it, liven it up.” The site, which lists events, offers a PayPal connection for donations to nonprofit organizations and features links to local blogs, is a labor of love for Joe: “anything I can do for the community.”
He’s also working on a mobile version of the site, to be more user-friendly for tourists.
The site, he says, gets more than three million hits a year. He urges people to “keep an eye on” the site because “it changes every day” as new information is added.
Joe is happy with the way things have turned out.
“I feel pretty lucky,” he says, “having a stable business, being with family and providing a positive thing for the community.”
If you missed Joe’s talk on “Mobile Websites and QR Codes” at Flagstaff Communicators in September, you can catch it at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Kickstand Kafé. The talk is free and open to the public; reservations are not required.
Bringing change to NAU-TV
Station manager Joe Chitwood oversees HD switch and more
NAU-TV has a new baby. And Joe Chitwood couldn’t be prouder.
The professional television station on the campus of Northern Arizona University went live with a high definition channel earlier this year, after months of planning and pre-launch work.
There’s also a new studio, new control equipment and a high-definition remote truck. It’s been a big undertaking, and Chitwood has been station manager through the process.
He took the position in February 2011. When he saw the ad for the position, he said, “This job is me.” He’s glad he landed it. “I’m loving it. There are a lot of challenges and there are a lot of opportunities.”
When Chitwood was younger, he had a different career in mind. “I started out wanting to be a filmmaker,” he said, so “I went to California.”
That didn’t work out quite as planned, he said, so he moved to Arizona and worked in the restaurant business. “I built a restaurant in Pinetop, then moved back to Tucson.”
That move got him back on track in the media arena, and he completed his bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television and master’s degree in Education at the University of Arizona. He spent some time working as a videographer in the School of Agriculture at the U of A and then moved over to the PBS affiliate KUAT. He served there as assistant general manager for 10 years and then freelanced for about three years before landing the station manager position at NAU-TV. His goal is “helping people with their lives by telling stories,” and he said, the team at NAU-TV helps him accomplish that goal.
The station staff includes seven producers and two engineers; he calls the producers “preditors” a combination of the editor and producer jobs at the station. Students from the NAU School of Communication serve as production crew for Lumberjack athletic events during the fall and spring semesters.
“The staff is really great ~ really easy to work with, really professional,” Chitwood said.
The station is funded by the university, so “everything we do is university-related in some way,” he said.
NAU athletics is a big focus, and the staff covers everything from Lumberjack football, basketball, volleyball and soccer.
“Lumberjack Sports is carried nationwide on Fox College Sports regionally on Fox Sports Arizona,” Chitwood said.
The crew also produces “Inside NAU,” “The Score,” and “What’s Cooking?”
While some of the NAU-TV programming is locally produced, other programming is picked up from other sources, including CPB-Annenberg and the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking based at Yavapai College. “One of the missions of my job is to get more programming; ideally, the station would add more programming from local sources, he added. Community support also is crucial, he said. But “our focus is not hitting you over the head, but developing community partnerships ~ what can NAU-TV do for you?
“We’re now offering sponsorships,” he said. “Our first title sponsor is Flagstaff Medical Center”. NAU-TV also signed Findlay Toyota as a Gold Level sponsor for the upcoming athletics season.
The station covers a broad area, from the Verde Valley to northwest New Mexico, making it very beneficial to sponsors, Chitwood said. “We probably have a reach of about 23,000 households locally and regionally, our programming reaches 2.5 million homes through Fox Sports Arizona. NAU-TV web-streams programming through nau-tv.com, and Chitwood hopes How about ‘and Chitwood hopes the high-definition truck would be used for streaming and taping additional performances and events on and off campus.
This year holds new opportunities for the station and for Chitwood. “I’m really excited about the year coming up,” he said. “We have a new vice president for intercollegiate athletics, a new men’s basketball coach, a new women’s basketball coach, and a new general manager at Fox Sports Arizona.
“I think the stars are aligned.”
Member Profiles are the top door prize from each meeting. They are valued at $250. Want a profile posted on this website? Join us at our next meeting and enter the drawing.
Writer, marketing expert, adventurer
Stacey Wittig applies deep understanding to everything she does
Stacey Wittig is an explorer ~ of communities, continents and concepts.
Whether creating marketing strategies for a client of her marketing company, Wittigwriter Marketing and Sales, or researching a location for a travel story, she likes to delve deep, understand complex ideas, then translate her research into compelling copy.
Wittigwriter is Stacey’s primary focus. She writes copy for print, web and emails, as well as brochures and other promotional items for local, regional, national and international clients.
She’s had a lot of experience in that area; she sold Yellow Pages advertisements for 21 years before starting Wittigwriter five years ago. During her Yellow Pages days, she wrote thousands of ads for an amazing array of clients, from attorneys, dentists and doctors to contractors, Realtors and restaurateurs.
She credits her ability to understand and deliver what each client needs to her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science.
“I use that knowledge every day,” she says. “It helps you think, and really drill into a subject, then communicate that information to the general population. Understanding logic and winning debates ~ it really does apply in sales.”
Her current work is focused on web and email campaigns, although she still develops marketing strategies and creates copy for print and other media for her clients.
Her client list is varied. “I know so much about so many kinds of businesses,” she says, and quickly learns what she doesn’t know.
Stacey’s love of travel writing comes from her roots. “I say it’s my father’s fault. He’s Norwegian, so it’s the Viking blood that causes me to want to go everywhere,” she says with a smile. She’s been traveling “since I was a kid…. I went to France as an exchange student in the 10th grade.”
A more recent mission trip to Africa with an interdenominational group of Flagstaff churches underscored that love. As in all of her projects, she delved deep; in addition to getting all of the necessary documents and shots, she studied Swahili to prepare for the trip.
That journey was a turning point for her. “I was at a point in my life where I could redefine what I wanted to do,” she explains. “I’d always wanted to write,” she adds, so the step into her own marketing company and travel writing seemed natural.
Her travel writing includes information on food and wine. While she wouldn’t call herself a wine expert, she says, “A big part of traveling is experiencing the food and wine in the area,” so she includes her observations on those elements in her articles.
Stacey also writes about hiking. She’s explored a lot of trails in Northern Arizona. She’s also hit the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Milford Track in New Zealand and El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. “I love long-distance hiking,” she says.
She’s been back to Spain a few times. “I like going somewhere, finding an off-the-beaten-path place, then going back to explore more,” she says.
At the top of her to-do list: exploring the wine country of Argentina and getting to know the people there.
Want to keep up with Stacey’s adventures? Follow her on Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/travelwriter
She also writes a blog that includes marketing tips. Find her athttp://www.wittigwriter.blogspot.com/
Member Profiles are the top door prize from each meeting. They are valued at $250. Want a profile posted here? Come to our next meeting and enter the drawing
Acting career helped lay the foundation for current profession
Heather Bostian guides yoga students as owner of Holistic Bodywork Design
“Om.” The class begins and instructor Heather Bostian lifts her elegant voice to lead a chant.
“Om.” The class ends, and Bostian intones the syllable, along with her students, that many Hindus believe is the sound of the universe.
In between, she guides her students through a series of gentle, safe but demanding asanas ~ yoga postures ~ in her new class, “Freedom Over 40 Ananda Yoga,” at the Joe C. Montoya Community & Senior Center in Flagstaff’s Thorpe Park.
Bostian’s Flagstaff practice, Holistic Bodywork Design, specializes in holistic body design, massage therapy and yoga instruction. Her name is followed by the acronyms LMT, MFA, RYT and CHT, highly qualifying her for the work.
Her current work is a different path from those she has followed in the past.
With two master’s degrees in theater arts, she once was an actress; she likes to keep her hand in that profession with occasional regional theater and advertising work.
Once a singer, she now expresses herself vocally with the Threshold Choir, which sings for the dying at their bedsides.
She also was once a substance abuse counselor, deeply involved in the Native American community in San Francisco.
Then, her life changed. On a drive across Arizona, she passed through Flagstaff and, she said, “My heart opened.” She bought a home here in 2001 and plans on staying for the rest of her life.
Her acting career helped lay the foundation for her current work. “In acting, you have to stay tuned up, strong, focused,” she said. “I stayed that way through yoga and bodywork.”
She decided to start teaching yoga because “I was doing a lot of bodywork and I saw a lot of people coming in with injuries from taking yoga. I decided there was a need to teach safe yoga.”
Ananda yoga stresses safe and correct alignment as well as body/mind/spirit integration. It includes affirmations for many of the postures, retraining the mind to abandon incessant, often negative chatter and adopt positive thoughts. It’s a way to calm the mind in a chaotic world.
“The world is pretty upside down right now, and insane,” she said. “I have a strong background to bring into the insanity” and create a little sanity ~ one student, one client at a time.
To learn more about Heather Bostian, her “Freedom Over 40” yoga class and her Holistic Bodywork Design, go to http://www.heatherheals.com/, call 928.522.6004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
~Profile and photos by Star Hunter
Shooting Star Communications LLC
LMT = Licensed Massage Therapist
MFA = Master of Fine Arts
RYT = Registered Yoga Teacher
CHT = Certified Hypnotherapist