2012-04-27 / People

Behind South Portland’s new Buy Local president

By Kristy Wagner
Staff Writer


Suzanne Madore Suzanne Madore Suzanne Madore works hard every day to help further the development of South Portland businesses. As the president of the South Portland Buy Local organization, Madore encourages economic development and community among neighbors in South Portland.

But this South Portland supporter who lives in Knightville is not from South Portland – or even from Maine. The Connecticut native discovered the city when she came to Maine for college.

“I moved here in 2000 to attend Maine College of Art,” Madore said.

Madore, 30, studied photography at MECA and lived in an apartment in Portland.

“I first moved to South Portland because rent was cheaper,” Madore said. “We liked our apartment (in Portland), but we didn’t love it, and everything in town was either too small or too much.”

Madore said she found an apartment in South Portland near the Boys and Girls Club and loved it.

“I like the neighborhood feel (of South Portland) and the fact that Portland is still minutes away,” said Madore, who added that she enjoys walking the Greenbelt and the views of Portland from South Portland in the morning.

“After I graduated from MECA I moved out of Maine and became homesick (for South Portland), which was strange because I am not from here,” Madore said.

Madore did an internship with Artascope Studios in South Portland during her senior year at MECA.

Madore kept in touch with Artascope Founder Catherine Bickford, who offered her a full time position managing the art studio.

“Through the evolution of running the studio I was very intrigued by marketing,” Madore said.

After realizing she had a strong interest in marketing, Madore left the studio and entered an online graduate program in Internet marketing at Full Sail University in Florida.

While studying with Full Sail, Madore fine-tuned her skills in search engine optimization, social media and all forms of Internet marketing.

“Wanting to push my (marketing) program a little further made me want to start my own business,” she said.

Madore started her Internet marketing company, Girl in the Orange Coat, in 2010, and it continues to thrive today. The signature orange coat Madore wears when the weather is cold inspired the name of her company.

“It’s my side business. It’s my alias; folks started calling me by my coat instead of my name,” Madore said.

Her current employer, Kemp-Goldberg Partners, is supportive of Madore’s side business and encourages her work. Kemp-Goldberg is a public relations and advertising agency in Portland.

Madore began attending Buy Local meetings in South Portland before she went back to get her master’s degree at Full Sail because she felt her marketing skills could be of good use to local businesses. Madore said Dani Nisbet, former president of South Portland Buy Local, and Vice President Jon Platt, had already done a lot to establish the organization by the time she joined them. Platt owns Nonesuch Books in Mill Creek and Nisbet owns Belissimo, a salon on Ocean Street.

“Dani Nisbet and Jon Platt really kicked it all off. I liked showing up and being able to help out,” Madore said. “I have a certain skill set that other business owners don’t have or don’t have time for.”

Madore said she offered time and skills to the Buy Local community whenever she was needed. In January 2011, Nisbet announced she was stepping down as president and asked Madore if she would be interested in the job.

“I am about a month and a half in and already I have a bunch of ideas and have met with a lot of support,” Madore said. “Jon Platt has agreed to stay on as vice president for another year and he has been really supportive of a lot of my ideas.”

Madore said South Portland Buy Local is working on a nonprofit campaign called Move Your Money, which calls for local businesses and government to open accounts with locally owned banks as opposed to big name banks from away.

“(Business money in local banks) ends up being a lot that goes back into community and stays in the community,” Madore said.

She said Buy Local in South Portland is in its third year and approaching its fourth.

“A lot of foundational and organizational stuff has been done,” Madore said. “We have a directory and we’ll have a directory launch in June.”

The Buy Local directory includes all participating South Portland and Cape Elizabeth businesses.

“We are working toward a signature event and trying to do some big community involvement events throughout the year,” Madore said. “We’re really pushing the idea of spending money at home more.”

Madore’s Buy Local mindset is more than supporting local business, though.

“It’s about camaraderie and business. It’s about knowing who you’re helping and who you’re supporting,” Madore said. “I get really excited about the stuff that I do and one thing I really like about this community is that it has really empowered me to make a difference.”

Madore said she never realized her full potential and “entrepreneurial quirks” until she came to live in South Portland.

She said the next couple of years should be exciting for Buy Local and she plans to contribute enough of her time and skills to be a driving force for the organization.

“It’s one of my many challenges and I am up for it,” Madore said.

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