Careers

YLNI Farmers Market: The Neon Cauldron

Posted by on August 11, 2017 | 0 comments

YLNI Farmers Market: The Neon Cauldron

Kayla Gervais has always been crafty and found enjoyment in recreating her favorite bath and body products at home. Today, The Neon Cauldron sells an entire range of imaginative products from bath bombs, bubble cookies, soap cupcakes, and much more. Kayla’s products are made with a combination of oils and butters, so your skin gets a healthy pampering when using them. The goal is to provide an enjoyable and luxurious bath experience for kids and adults alike with simple ingredients that can work with many skin types. The kids get some fizzy fun and the adults get those few precious moments of self-care. After sharing some of her homemade bath bombs with family and friends who fell in love with them, The Neon Cauldron was born. When Kayla launched in 2015, her first group of loyal supporters was her fellow babywearers called the Cupcakes. Through her involvement with this group, she tested out the products, got an endless source of new ideas, and found her most loyal customers. Another important source of support is her husband. Despite working his own full-time job, he dedicates his evenings to assisting Kayla however possible and always gives her some encouraging words. Much of her success can be attributed to word of mouth advertising from customers that spread the joy of her products to others. When Kayla is not busy with her boy or The Neon Cauldron, she is getting her geek on with books, movies, and video games, cooking, or working with her crochet hook. As a small business owner and a mother of a three year-old boy, Kayla appreciates the need to take time for yourself and refresh yourself before and after a hard day’s work. You are the most important part of a business when you are the whole business, so taking care of the other facets of your life are just as important as the business itself. Come down to the YLNI Farmers Market this summer to check out The Neon Cauldron and their fun and creative bathing products. You can visit The Neon Cauldron’s website and follow them on Facebook and...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Comedy Club

Posted by on August 8, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Comedy Club

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Comedy Club

After performing at his first open mic night years ago, Micheal Moses fell in love with comedy. For the past 12 years, he has performed at comedy clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Now Moses is back in Fort Wayne with the mission to make the city laugh.   Wanting to challenge the naysayers who constantly say there is nothing to do in Fort Wayne, Moses officially opened the Fort Wayne Comedy Club in June 2017. Located at 2104 South Calhoun Street, shows play every Saturday night. Tickets for the events can be bought in advance for $15 on their website, or $20 at the door. And in case you work up an appetite while laughing, the comedy club also provides southern style dinner options.   Looking down the road, Moses’ goal is to continue to make his business a world class comedy club that brings in headline performers that compete with larger markets.   Moses spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what he had to say.   What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? For several years I have utilized several venues around town to promote the brand Mike Moses Presents under labels like Art & Soul of the City, Notes & Words, Link Up!, & Pro Amateur Comedy Showcase.  An opportunity opened up where I could add professional stand-up comedy to this repertoire.   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community?  The people! Like Randi Lincoln with her networking groups, Allen Helms, Jomare and Elizabeth Mizzell, as well as the folks at Anthony Wayne Medical Associates and Summit pharmacy, just to name a few. They have, and continue to lend their time, talent and knowledge not to mention access to their resources.   What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? In a word, the naysayers. What person has helped you the most in your journey?  The owners of 2104 better known as @2104 Fort Wayne   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Before Columbus discovered the New World, Leonardo Da Vinci drew up the concept of a flying machine that could carry a person, his contemporaries labeled the idea as crazy. Some 500 years later people are actually flying. My point is this, never let a naysayer tell you it can’t be done, or that’s a crazy idea.   What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion? As we as a city move forward with the redevelopment of the downtown area, there needs to be a better and more thorough understanding of inclusivity as it relates to the needs and challenges of small businesses (entrepreneurs).   Find out more information about Fort Wayne Comedy Club by visiting their website. Check out Michael Moses at his recent 1 Million Cups presentation. 1 Million Cups is “an event for local entrepreneurs to meet and present their startups to the thriving peer network of founders in Fort Wayne.” Events occur every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at Sweetwater. Check out their website for up-to-date information....

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Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne

Posted by on August 8, 2017 | Comments Off on Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne

Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne area community good neighbor Steve Franks “Fort Wayne, a league of its own.” For over a decade, Steve Franks has been helping small businesses take their first step. He works with Start Fort Wayne coaching entrepreneurs through their LevelUP program and serves on the board for the nonprofit Believe in a Dream, working with their Believe in Your Business program that focuses on high school age entrepreneurs. He sees youth-centered entrepreneurship as vibrant and world changers. When encouraged, they will find the way. I asked how one would encourage these young entrepreneurs. “Not every venture needs to be a home run, but a lot of singles will get a lot of runs,“ Steve replied. He went on to explain that not every first venture will be your best.   I find myself continually amazed and inspired by people living in the Fort Wayne area, Steve Franks being one of them. We had an opportunity to ask Steve about who he is and what he does. How long have you been helping small businesses? I left the world of innovation consulting 13 years ago and started coaching entrepreneurs at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. NIIC was fairly new at the time. I sought it out since it had the word “innovation” in its name – it turned out to be more about entrepreneurship than what I had come to know as innovation. Fortunately, discovering I loved working with startup entrepreneur, I started helping them think through their new ventures. Most everything I’ve done for the past three decades or so has been with smaller entrepreneurial companies.  I’ve co-founded two ventures and have been working around and developing new things.   What was the first job or one of the first jobs you had? The job that made the biggest difference in the trajectory of my life was when I resigned from the cushy office job at North American Van Lines (where I worked since high school) to go sell microcomputers on commission. Not the most fiscally prudent move, perhaps, but it worked out and gave me a foothold into something I love–which was why I took the plunge. It started me down the path of working with things I was passionate about, rather than just some financially comfortable salary job. It allowed me to hone skills that help me be a good entrepreneur coach today.   You are helping with things all over. How do you keep your energy up and prioritize to prevent burn out? What is this “prioritize” thing you speak of?  One way to not burn out is to be busy. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you only really burn out when you are doing too much of something you don’t enjoy. For me, it is fun to be involved in many things.   Fort Wayne, what does that mean to you?   Well, Fort Wayne is my home, and I’ve defined my personal mission as helping make it a better place by growing its entrepreneurial community. I also like participating in the arts community.  I love to collect art by local artists (I have a fairly large collection, which I am able to do by focusing on highly affordable pieces).  In a way, the two communities are a lot alike. Both are strong and vibrant, populated by an amazing...

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YLNI Farmers Market: Knotoday

Posted by on July 28, 2017 | Comments Off on YLNI Farmers Market: Knotoday

YLNI Farmers Market: Knotoday

Cheyenne Gonzales loves to create, and she’s sharing this passion with the community. She started Knotoday earlier this year as her first business, along with the local creative group, Photanical. Cheyenne sells fiber art pieces: macrame wall hangings, plant holders, keychains, garlands, and select knitted pieces that garnish your home in style. All of her macrame pieces are 100% cotton and hand dyed. Not only can you buy her works of art, but also you can make your own! Knotoday shares the creative knowledge of fiber art making in local workshops.   Cheyenne got started selling pieces to friends and family. The inspiration for Cheyenne is her grandmother Vicki, the “Queen Crafter,” who is always willing to show Cheyenne new ideas and techniques.Word spread of her business with the help of social media, which has been a great communication tool for introducing Knotoday. While the goal is to continually grow Knotoday, she maintains a full-time job as an Insurance Specialist for Specialist Transportation. Outside of her passion of Knotoday, Cheyenne is a yogi at Pranayoga, a mom to her cat Johanna, and the biggest Jim Carrey fan you will ever meet.     The most important lesson Cheyenne has learned through starting Knotoday is to show appreciation to the people and opportunities that come your way. She is extremely grateful for to the small team who has been supporting her through this journey. After months of working on her craft, and a lifetime of developing her creativity, Cheyenne has learned that whatever you do, do it every day – be involved in your craft every single day.     Come down to the YLNI Farmers Market this summer to check out Knotoday and the unique products Cheyenne has to offer. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates and upcoming...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Narwhal and the Manatee  

Posted by on July 25, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Narwhal and the Manatee  

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 it out. You have to. You need to. You want to. It’s wonderful.   Which person has helped you the most in your journey? My husband, Christopher Sutton. He’s been a compass for me, providing gentle feedback all along the way. Also, Micki and Michael Cooney, dear friends who believe in what I’m doing so much.   What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion? Offer a “safety net.” Every business has a down season. Sometimes it’s hard to get through that down time, so having a purse, so to say, of “emergency funds” to help small businesses get through a rough patch...

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YLNI Farmers Market: Nana’s Southern Treats

Posted by on July 21, 2017 | Comments Off on YLNI Farmers Market: Nana’s Southern Treats

YLNI Farmers Market: Nana’s Southern Treats

At Nana’s Southern Treats, Joyce Culberson (aka Nana), makes amazing assortments of homemade baked goods each week. Nana specializes in southern delicacies, such as rich buttery pound cakes, seasonal fruit tarts, pies, and pastries, all with homemade crusts. You can also pick up items like cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, cookies, and gooey sweet bars for the kids. With the help of her friend Linda (aka Mee Mee), Nana brings Southern hospitality to you in baked sweetness. Whether you are one of her fans clamoring for her booth every Saturday or new to her creations, Nana is seeks to bring a piece of happiness to you with every treat. Nana comes from the hills of Alabama, where she learned from her mother and grandmother to not only bake, but to create delicious food. She was taught that we eat with our eyes, as well as our mouths, so she works hard to make bakery treats that are both beautiful and delicious enough to share with family and friends. With this devotion to loving care, Nana decided that retirement offered a chance to share her passion with the rest of the community. This engagement with the community has created a new source of enjoyment–spending time with new friends and patrons at the market every Saturday. Quality, quality, quality. That’s the loving care that Nana expresses with every creation and the most important lesson she has learned. To be successful, you have to produce the highest quality product possible. Come down to the YLNI Farmers Market this summer to check out Nana’s Southern Treats and try their delicious homemade baked goods. Nana loves to gather with new friends just as much as she loves to share her creations with...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Hyde + Alchemy

Posted by on July 5, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Hyde + Alchemy

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 is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The sales and distribution process was tough to tackle at first. Being a small business, you are the creator, marketing department and delivery guy – a tough task to manage in the beginning stages of a business.   What person has helped you the most in your journey? Hands down, my wife Leah! I also enjoy listening to educational podcasts. Anything from marketing tips to being a new dad, I love absorbing the raw content quickly!   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? I have been an entrepreneur since high school and have...

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Find Volunteer Opportunities through United Way of Allen County’s New Volunteer Hub

Posted by on July 3, 2017 | Comments Off on Find Volunteer Opportunities through United Way of Allen County’s New Volunteer Hub

Find Volunteer Opportunities through United Way of Allen County’s New Volunteer Hub

Our community is full of wonderful people. It’s also full of wonderful organizations and great opportunities. If you find yourself looking for ways to become more involved in our beautiful city, United Way of Allen County’s volunteer portal just might be the answer you’re searching for. From financial support of local nonprofits, to advocating on behalf of things like early childhood education and connecting individuals to resources through 2-1-1, United Way of Allen County supports and advances our community in a variety of ways. It made sense, then, that they’d be the type of organization that would see a need, then step up and see what they can do to meet that need. The United Way of Allen County volunteer portal is an online hub for individuals to find volunteer opportunities in our community. Individuals can create an account and scroll through a list of needs to find a volunteer opportunity that’s a perfect fit. Individuals can filter their search by availability, interests, skill-sets and more. The search brings up all the necessary information about the organization and the volunteer position, often linking directly to a webpage where the potential volunteer can apply, or at least providing the contact information for the individual at the organization responsible for volunteers. “It makes finding a volunteer opportunity so much easier, because not only can you search for the specific opportunities you’d be interested in, but you can also contact the agency directly,” says Tiffani Arnold, Manager of Strategic Volunteer Engagement at United Way of Allen County. She’s right. I decided to test the site and see what opportunities were available to me. After creating an account, it asked me to list some of my interests, talents, and choose some example organizations that I liked. I then searched for volunteer opportunities in Marketing, since that’s my strongest skill, and bam! I was paired with a Marketing and Communications need at Early Childhood Alliance. All I had to do was fill out a form with a quick note and my availability, and wait for them to contact me. Perfection. Anyone can create an account and use the hub to find volunteer positions, and it’s 100% free for both the individual using it and the organization advertising on it. That’s huge for nonprofits where extra money for advertising isn’t always available. We love the hub, and we love that we have organizations in our community that are committed bringing us all...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Full Circle Wellness

Posted by on June 20, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Full Circle Wellness

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 in a coach, hire someone to do your web design or social media, or ask a friend for a hand in painting your space. Help doesn’t make you weak, it helps you gain strength and energy to give everything you’ve got towards your passion.   What person has helped you the most in your journey? My Executive Coach, Michelle Gladieux. She is my cheerleader and my person I can go to when I need to be held accountable for getting the major stuff done for business growth. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the positive role she has played in my journey, all the way to today.   What would be...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 3B Apps

Posted by on June 13, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 3B Apps

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 business, whether that be adding new features to the app or highlighting things we need to change.   What person has helped you the most in your journey? I would say my father. He has been a business owner here in Fort Wayne for the majority of my life, so growing up, we would not only constantly talk about business (and do now more than ever) but also get firsthand experience. We’re really grateful for that.   What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion? Co-working spaces are something I really enjoy because they provide opportunities for us to meet fellow entrepreneurs, discuss new ideas, and...

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