CLAREMONT — Every business arguably has a story behind it. Flow Studios, a provider of body art, holistic healing services and hand-crafted merchandise, tells the customer its story immediately upon entry.
Located in Tremont Square in downtown Claremont, the walls, decor and showroom offerings are like pages from the story of Flow’s owners, Justin and Marissa Melton. One wall is aligned with scenic paintings, along with a few made by children who visited the studio. A bookshelf on the opposite side holds books about many of the Meltons’ personal loves: dinosaurs, herbs and plants, healing books, a book of guitar chords and a copy of Charlotte’s Web. Justin’s classical guitar leans upright in a corner by one of the studio’s many sofas. Display cases are filled with a plethora of gems and minerals, many that came from the Meltons’ former home state of Maine. Another display case contains a variety of wire-wrapped crystals made by a couple who studied the craft of wire-wrapping under Marissa.
“Tattooing is what generates most of our income, but we have a ton of other passions,” said Justin about Flow’s eclectic variety of offerings. “Part of opening the storefront was really a space to share those other passions.”
Justin, 34, has practiced tattoo design for 16 years, starting as an apprentice at the age of 18. Prior to opening his own studio four years ago in Kennebunk, Maine, he worked in a variety of locations, including in Michigan and the North Carolina region.
“By the time I opened that [first] studio, I kind of had my own clientele already,” Justin said. “We have clients who will fly in from North Carolina or South Carolina, or drive up from New York. Ones from Michigan would schedule out when they came over, or wait until I went back [there] to tattoo.”
The first Flow Studio was a small space of 225 square feet, which housed a tattoo workspace, a few stones and a few wire-wraps that Marissa had done at the time, when she was just getting into it.
Yet Flow’s story, including why the Meltons relocated to Claremont, is about far more than tattoos. When reading Melton’s business plan, which he keeps on a clipboard for visitors to read, one starts to understand that Flow Studios today is not an end product, but part of a narrative that began long before Justin created the business and aims to look dramatically different in the years to come.
At the age of 23, working as a skateboard instructor at a summer camp in Maine, Justin discovered not only his love for teaching but an instructional foundation that would later drive his mission for Flow.
When preparing youth to ride ramps and lift off the surface, the rider’s mental state needs to be present and in sync with the physical movement. He would spend a lot of the time teaching them about “working with the board” and “trusting that flow [of movement],” because if one lets mental obstructions like doubt interfere the rider is more likely to take a spill.
“I initially thought I was teaching them to push around a piece of wood with four wheels,” Melton said. “After a couple of years they’d come back and I realized that it was more than skateboarding. [The kids] were tapping into something that they could use in other facets of their life, taking that same knowledge of ‘being in the flow’ with skateboarding, and applying that same fluidness to other [tasks and challenges].”
That recognition would later become Melton’s definition for Flow.
“Flow is that balance-point when you are so focused in allowing yourself to let go enough to become [part] of that activity,” he said. “If you can be present, with your family members and friends… you can become compassionate for others and fully be there.”
Justin’s long-term goal is to open Camp Flow, an overnight summer camp for youth and retreat. According to Justin’s business plan, Camp Flow would host recreational outdoor activities year-round, and include an organic farm and recreational camping.
Initially, the Meltons relocated to Acworth in hopes to purchase Camp Good News, a former summer camp in Charlestown, located on a 151-acre property. However, plans to purchase the camp fell through.
With the Meltons expecting the birth of their first child in May, Melton said that if a larger acreage isn’t a current option, they may buy a smaller property and start with a simpler, scaled-back plan.
“If the process means I buy a little house with a little land first, I’ll utilize that to the best of my ability,” Melton said. “Which might be better for me. For the next couple years I’m focused on being a dad, doing classes and being a business owner, and when my little one gets older start the camp.”
Melton is active in motor-cross cycling and aims to teach lessons once he acquires his property.
Flow is open on Wednesday and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. They do accept walk-in appointments. In addition to tattoos, piercings, custom designs, they provide tarot readings and wiring classes. To inquire into Flow’s full-scope of offerings, contact the studio at (207)294-1095 or visit their Facebook page.