Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Narwhal and the Manatee  
Jul25

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Narwhal and the Manatee  

It all started with a baby’s rash.   Megan Elizabeth Sutton was worried when her infant daughter broke out in red patches, soon realizing it was a bad case of eczema. When she began researching natural ways to make her own lotion to treat this skin condition, she didn’t realize that in a couple of years it would become a business.   Celebrating a year of business this past spring, the Narwhal and the Manatee has lined their shelves with handmade bath fizzies, soothing lotions and natural skincare products. Taking inspiration from her favorite hobby, baking, Sutton’s cupcake bath fizzies have become famous for looking so good, some have mistakenly tried to eat them!   Her team hasn’t gotten this far on their own. From the lard she sources out of Chesterton, to the beeswax and honey from New Haven, Sutton depends on regionally-sourced ingredients. Her goal this year is to focus and expand the number of small businesses that can produce the ingredients she needs.   Looking to grow her business, Sutton has also branched off into the world of private labeling. Working with many regional businesses, Sutton’s team works with a range of companies to create unique and custom skincare products that fit their customers’ needs.   Interested in visiting the Narwhal and the Manatee? Check out their shop located in the City Exchange.   Sutton spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what she had to say.   What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? I have lived in Northeast Indiana for 13 years and I’ve watched this community truly believe in its potential. After going to school and participating in several volunteer organizations, I realized this is my opportunity to add to the culture of this area.   What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? My biggest challenge is in recognizing my own value. It’s easy to put a price tag on a product, but I have a hard time remembering that my time, talents and efforts are also valuable.   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? I got my start with the NIIC (Northeast Indiana Innovation Center). Greater Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Enterprise Association have both been very supportive and helpful. And the City Exchange made what I do a possibility by providing space for new businesses downtown.   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Go for it. I found starting a business similar to having a baby: you’re never ready. But once you get going, you figure...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Hyde + Alchemy
Jul05

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Hyde + Alchemy

  Stumbling into the fragrance industry in 2015, Jon Paul and Leah Capito were honeymooning in Mexico when they met a local couple creating fragranced soap. With Leah’s allergies to popular synthetic fragrances, the couple quickly became interested in the science behind custom, natural perfumes. The hobby soon became a fun couples’ activity that was maturing in their home closet. After a few bad combinations, the Capitos soon landed on some intoxicatingly good fragrances that left them asking, “Would people buy this?”   While researching new ingredients, they quickly realized the lack of education about what is in perfumes that consumers have . They launched the online-based Hyde + Alchemy in order to share their one of a kind scents, but to also start a transparent conversation about natural perfume ingredients. Listed on each product is the main accords, fragrance layers and ingredients – all natural, no chemicals or synthetic scents.   Though they recently became new parents, the couple isn’t slowing down as they further their distribution of high-end, custom fragrances into stores across Indiana and the Midwest.   We sat down with Jon Paul to discuss what it was like opening an eCommerce business in Fort Wayne and here is what he had to say. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? We are from Fort Wayne, so we are well acquainted with the benefits of small city living. For one, the cost of living is a paramount factor to an entrepreneur, and since Fort Wayne is steadily providing a low-cost market, it is the perfect city for a new business. Fort Wayne is also a great place to establish local partnerships. With so many new small shops opening, it is a great time to work together to ensure we all are successful. Working with shops like Fancy and Staple downtown and Just Be in Leo, I have been able to better understand what our vast and segmented audience is looking for in a fragrance.   What was the craziest scent you have come across? In an effort to have natural products, I went out to a local farm and through a livestock pin to access a nearby lavender field. The lavender was a great, quality ingredient, but the venture to it proves how dedicated we are to finding local ingredients!   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in it? Working with the different shops! Each of our sellers has provided critical feedback on what is selling and what isn’t. If it wasn’t for the shops, we wouldn’t have built the local presence that we have strived for.   What...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Full Circle Wellness
Jun20

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Full Circle Wellness

What is the one commonality we have in our daily lives? Stress. In 2007, Vicki Eber began her career in massage therapy; thus creating Full Circle Wellness. As a certified yoga instructor and receiving a Wellness Coach certification from Mayo Clinic, Eber works with individuals and corporations to build personal and professional stress-free lives. Creating specific wellness plans for her clients, Eber is helping people make small lifestyle changes to manage their stress and incorporate in any of the seven aspects of wellness they may be missing because stress has taken over. Though her journey has been long, she is now looking to digitize her business into podcasts and webinars to better reach a national audience. Eber spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what she had to say.   What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? I opened Full Circle Wellness in 2007 after getting tired of making notes of what I would do to improve the places I worked for. I knew I was going to be staying here, and it wasn’t going to be easy, but I took the opportunity to make a leap when my place of work was closing. I know I’m meant to be an entrepreneur now that I’ve been doing it for a little over a decade!   What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? Always being a few years ahead of what my clientele may be prepared for, and trusting it will be a success. Fear and doubt is always a struggle of an entrepreneur and I’ve been putting faith in myself as a standard practice since the beginning, even when fear and doubt start creeping in.   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? I am connected to a women’s entrepreneur group, Own Your Success. They are such a wonderful support system, give great advice, and inspire me every day with what all they do. Also, my clients and students. They inspire me each time I connect with them. They are why I do what I do, which helps me to continue thriving. I am constantly reminded why I do what I do. If I lost that, I wouldn’t be thriving.   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Scrape your knees, fall down, but get back up! Those are the best moments to learn and grow from. Never cave under doubt and fear! The scariest moments are going to be the best decisions you’ve ever made because you took a chance. Lastly, ask for help! Invest...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 3B Apps
Jun13

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 3B Apps

If you are looking for motivation this week, look no further than Mitchell Skees and his two brothers, Nathan and Connor Skees. Founding 3B Apps in 2015, their first job was creating a mobile app for Fortune 500 company, Aramark – oh and did we mention the three boys were just 15 and 13 years old at the time? Fast forward two years. In between juggling high school homework, the team has produced a SaaS business model by building and maintaining customized mobile ordering applications for restaurants. With a client list that boasts many of the region’s top restaurants, 3B’s goal is to give small to medium sized restaurants the technology that matches their large chain competitors, without the large price tag.   What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? We grew up in an entrepreneurial household and had that business spirit so to speak, plus we loved the flexibility that it offers. Ever since the introduction of the App Store we’ve been fascinated with programming. A couple of years ago while working on some smaller projects, we asked ourselves if we could turn this hobby into a business. Looking at a number of restaurants Fort Wayne has, we decided to launch our apps to help local restaurants because they were so underserved in the technology sector.   What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? Just getting the app built and making sure it was ready to be in the real world took a lot of work. My brother Connor, who heads up technology for 3B Apps, is entirely self-taught in his programming skills, so there was definitely a learning curve. Something that we’re still working to overcome is balancing school and work. The fact that we’re homeschooled gives a lot of flexibility, but it’s still a challenge nonetheless.   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? We’re currently involved in the Student Venture Lab program at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC). They’ve been able to help connect us to who we need to talk to, give us coaching, as well as provide office space for 3B Apps. There’s more of a support network here (in Fort Wayne) than people realize.   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Finding a strong set of mentors and people who are ahead of you in their careers is crucial, as well as focusing on the one thing that is the most important to your business. For us right now, that’s sales. Focusing on that drives all other areas of our...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Danielle Stoller
May30

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Danielle Stoller

For this week’s entrepreneurship spotlight, we caught up with recent 1 Million Cups’ presenter Danielle Stoller, the owner of Emerald Crane, to chat about her new business. After graduating from college in 2014, Stoller moved to Chicago and started sending out hundreds of copies of her resume. After testing out dozens of versions, she was left with no call backs for even the most basic of jobs. This moment led Stoller to a career in the world of recruiting and hiring. After moving to Fort Wayne to be closer to family, Stoller launched her online-based resume and career consulting company, Emerald Crane, earlier this year. The online business allows her to connect with clients of every stature across the nation as they begin their steps towards their career goals. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? I decided to open a business in Fort Wayne because, essentially, it’s home. Stepping into entrepreneurship is in some ways bold and scary, and doing it where I have a lot of social support has been instrumental to staying positive as well as foundational to achieving visibility. You may have a great idea or great product. You may be a great person with a lot to offer. But I’ve found that in so many ways, people are the gatekeepers of where and how far you’ll go. For me, Fort Wayne has proven to be a place where people are more willing to lend an ear and give a supporting hand up where they can. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in it? I honestly feel that the interconnectedness and small-city feel has been so key in Fort Wayne. Yet at the same time, it seems the time is ripe for building and investing in entrepreneurs. Something is happening here. Between the development of the downtown area over the last few years, newer real estate development, implementation of things like co-working spaces, and an intentional push for entrepreneurial growth coming from multiple sources, Fort Wayne is embracing a larger city mindset. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? I think my biggest challenge so far has been to get out of ‘fear’ or security mindset–and stay out. It’s so easy to give up on myself before I ever even really attempt anything in the morning. I’m continually plagued by the fear that it would be better for me to go back to work full-time. The belief part people talk about is no easy thing for me. What person has helped you the most in your journey? It’s so impossible to...

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