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updated: 2/27/2014 3:11 PM

From ER to digital photo booths, couple says 'cheese' at events

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  • Victoria and Fred Skeppstrom

    Victoria and Fred Skeppstrom

  • TapSnap removes the walls and ceiling of the traditional photo booth, digitizes it and allows people to say "Cheese" and then post the photo on Facebook.

    TapSnap removes the walls and ceiling of the traditional photo booth, digitizes it and allows people to say "Cheese" and then post the photo on Facebook.

  • Lou Toste O'Brien

    Lou Toste O'Brien

  • Lynn Bunnell

    Lynn Bunnell


After Fred Skeppstrom of Wilmette earned his medical technician license, he worked for about three years in the emergency room at Evanston Hospital. That's where he met his wife, Victoria, who worked in patient registration.

But the long hours and fast pace of a trauma center could be harsh.

"You just never know what happens and there were some long hours and a hectic pace," he said.

He wanted to do something more fun. After a few seasons of working as a beer vendor at Wrigley Field and going to college, he earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies and philosophy at Northeastern University.

All those experiences helped him develop his business acumen and he jumped into entrepreneurship, he said.

He and Victoria married in 2010 and then came across Vancouver, Canada-based TapSnap, a company that takes the traditional photo booth box to the technology age. The portable phototainment system eliminates the walls and ceiling of the little photo booth often found at malls and amusement parks. The mobile digital technology of the system, popular at events, allows people to say "cheese," add props to a photo, write messages and then email it to themselves or post on Facebook.

The couple bought a franchise last November and operate it from their home in Wilmette.

Their first major event was the New Year's Eve party at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago, where guests lined up to do fun shots of themselves for the New Year, write on the photo and post it on social media sites. The next event was operating TapSnap at the Chicago Auto Show.

The digital photo experience is also available for rental at weddings and other events for $375 per hour, Fred Skeppsttrom said.

An upgrade in software is being tested that will allow a link to be mailed to someone not at the event, so they can log on and watch others have their photos taken live, he said.

So did Fred and Victoria ever get their photos snapped in the traditional photo booth, like a lot of young couples?

"Sure we did, but I wouldn't post those," Fred said. "I don't want to give the competition any free advertising."

Changing the retail experience

CEO Jeffrey Sears and Founder Jim Stuart on March 4 plan to unveil their first retail store outside San Diego, Calif. It's called Pirch at Oakbrook Center and offers a "try-before-you-buy" experience with fully-functional cooktops, ovens, refrigerators and grills, as well as working showers, sinks and baths. They said you can enter the "tranquil vestibule" and go up an escalator where a barista will make a complimentary handcrafted beverage in the Bliss Cafe.

O'Brien a "Woman 2 Know"

Lou Toste O'Brien of Naperville has been featured as a "Woman 2 Know" by CBS2 Chicago. The interview ranged from O'Brien's "sweet success" to the influence of her parents, who were also entrepreneurs. Her Grandma Toste brand of homemade cannoli filling and a selection of Italian desserts, can be found at Casey's Foods in Naperville and Western Springs, Brookhaven Marketplace at the Burr Ridge, Darien and Mokena stores, and select Mariano's stores, Her cannoli filling also is used in the desserts at the Naperville Country Club.


Prairie Path Books owner Sandy Koropp in Wheaton said she is partnering with Toms-Price, a family-owned furniture store to offer book lovers a homelike setting where they can buy great reads. Toms-Price is furnishing its Wheaton store with leather chairs and sofas, and a kitchen will allow for book discussions around cooking demonstrations. Toms-Price also has stores in Lincolnshire, Skokie, South Barrington as well as an outlet in Bloomingdale.

Lynn Bunnell of West Chicago was named regional community life manger for Pathway Senior Living LLC, a senior living management company headquartered in Des Plaines that owns and operates senior living communities in the Midwest. ... S. Kyle Mitter is the new senior mortgage banker at the Lindenhurst residential mortgage team of North Shore Trust and Savings, which is based in Waukegan.

Court Carruthers, Lake Forest-based Grainger's senior vice president and group president of the Americas, will speak at the Raymond James 35th Annual Institutional Investors Conference in Orlando, Fla., on March 4. ... Also Paul Miller, Grainger vice president of global e-commerce, customer information and innovation, will speak at the 16th Annual Credit Suisse Global Services Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 10.

Palatine's Lavelle Law Ltd lawyers Cameron Monti, Amil Alkass, and associates Lance Ziebell, Kristina Regal, and Joshua Nesser were all recognized with Super Lawyer status, which is for those under 40 with less than 10 years experience. They were recognized as Rising Stars, a designation assigned to just over 2 percent of all attorneys in the state.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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