By Whit Richardson
Bangor Daily News, Maine
Christine and John Carney have built a business out of zombies and cupcakes.
Out of an office in the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, the husband-and-wife team design and manufacture quirky acrylic decorative ornaments to stick on the top of cupcakes.
The zombies were the initial spark, but they now have more than a dozen designs — everything from geek glasses to octopus tentacles.
They sell them through their online store on the website Etsy.com.
Christine told the Bangor Daily News that the community has been incredibly supportive of their business, called Thick and Thin Designs.
The pair, who are originally from the Providence, R.I. area, have received support from the university, where John is a graduate student in the Intermedia Program, and from other entrepreneurs in the area.
That entrepreneurial community was on display last month at Kosta’s Bar & Grill in Old Town, where Christine and John pitched their business idea to a crowd of close to 60 people.
The pitch-off, the second such competition during a networking event called Big Gig, is part of a concerted effort by Orono, Old Town, the University of Maine, Husson University and other partner organizations to generate buzz around entrepreneurship and innovation.
The third Big Gig pitch-off is scheduled for Feb. 11.
“Honestly, in larger cities as small entrepreneurs you fade into background,” Christine said. “There’s no way … we would have got near the amount of support [in Providence] that we have here, where the community really matters.”
Christine and John’s pitch won. Though there’s a panel of experts — called Big Wigs — the winner is determined by the audience.
For winning, the pair received $100 and the chance to compete for $1,000 at the Big Gig finale in April.