Five Things You’ll Find at Meli Mei
Nov15

Five Things You’ll Find at Meli Mei

Holiday shopping season is officially upon us. If you are looking for that perfect dress for your Christmas party, charming pieces to add to your wardrobe or a gift to put under the tree, Meli Mei has you covered. This charming boutique opened this past August in the City Exchange Shops in downtown Fort Wayne. They are ready to see how much locals love to “shop small” this holiday season. Here are a few things you can expect to find when you shop Meli Mei: 1. Specialty products from around the world Meli Mei is proud to bring fashion from different cultures to our region by selling accessories from around the globe. Thanks to this hip boutique, you can shop styles from Paris to Bangkok here in Fort Wayne. Meet the maker Monday: Anne Cauduro is a Brazilian designer, who now resides in Paris, France. Growing up, Anne was always interested in crafting as she watched her mother create clothes and accessories. Anne later got her degree in Fashion Design, but was feeling lost. In 2016, she moved to Paris and began creating jewelry that would transmit her personality and a mix of her life in Paris and her Brazilian roots. She started working mostly with natural materials from Brazil and felt particularly in love with all the gorgeous healing stones from there. Later her partner Guilherme joined and they created @laboboa together. “Being able to create a connection with another person, to deliver a piece that we made with our own bare hands, and which will make someone happy to possess, is special. It gives us a feeling of empathy to one another, and that’s such a beautiful feeling. Empathy can change the world.” Here at Meli Mei, we are proud to work with such talented designers and always striving to bring you the best products from around the world.#shopmelimei #meethemaker #meetthemakermonday A post shared by Meli Mei (@shopmelimei) on Oct 23, 2017 at 1:11pm PDT 2.  Goodies for all ages Shopping with your little ones? Meli Mei makes it easy for you as they carry merchandise for all ages. You may even find a matching set for you and your darling tot or teen. Gorgeous bracelet sets for you and your little princess💚💕💚 A post shared by Meli Mei (@shopmelimei) on Feb 15, 2017 at 6:03am PST 3. Trendy graphic tees that say how we are all really feeling If you rock the comfy chic look and are a wee bit sarcastic, then you will love these tops. Go ahead, let the citizens of Fort Wayne know what is truly on your mind. A post shared by Meli Mei (@shopmelimei)...

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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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LFW Weekend Fun File
Feb11

LFW Weekend Fun File

This weekend is Valentine’s weekend, and I have PLENTY of date ideas for you. You can add these to your typical dinner and flowers and a box of chocolate, or you can make it a totally off-beat date weekend and try all the quirky (but fun) things going on in our city! This isn’t all there is (believe me – I had a terrible time trying to narrow things down) so make sure you check out our calendar for a more comprehensive list! If you’d like to see your event featured in the Weekend Fun File, or added to our events calendar, let us know! Email us at info@livingfortwayne.com   1. How Sweet it is Wine Tasting Thursday, Jan 11 from 5p – 8p     A delicious evening of wine & chocolate samplings from around the world! 2. Tumbledown at Cinema Center Thursday, February 11, Pre-Show at 7:00 Feature at 7:30             As part of the NY Film Critic Series, there will be an interview with Jason Sudeikis, Rebecca Hall, & Blythe Danner after the showing. Don’t miss! 3. My Cold Hearted Valentine Friday, January 12 at 7p                 Kick off your Valentine’s Day weekend with a night of mystery and mingling. Explore the museum, drink in hand. Interview suspects, and in true Science Central fashion, get “hands-on” while examining the evidence. Drinks and food provided by Hoppy Gnome and JK’s, and dessert is provided by Sweets So Geek. Ah! What a fun, off-beat Valentine’s date night! 4. George Gardner (Void Reunion) Friday, February 12 at 8:30p to 11p         Join a Soirée favorite, George Gardner from Void Reunion, for a night of friendly hangs at the offices of One Lucky Guitar. BYO and support local musicians! 5. YLNI Farmer’s Market Saturday, February 13 at 9a – 1p           The usual: good eats, great buys, support your local businesses. Not only do I look forward to these Saturdays, but the kids love going as well! 6. Cupid’s Chocolate Chase Saturday, February 13 at 8:45 am           You can run (or walk if you’re me) in support of the ALS association. At the end of the run, you get chocolate. I might get into running if someone gave me chocolate every time. Our resident runner wrote a piece about the event, check it out! 7. Fun at the City Exchange Shops                 There’s a Matilda Jane pop-up in collaboration with The Good Ones (dying — my daughter has so many Matilda Jane clothes it’s...

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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jack Ellsworth of Valontine
Dec22

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jack Ellsworth of Valontine

This week’s Start Fort Wayne Entrepreneur Spotlight features Jack Ellsworth, founder of Valontine, located in the City Exchange Shops downtown. Valontine offers “items that mirror what is in style today, while still holding on to their vintage heritage.” Beard Oil from Valontine was recently featured on our Christmas Top Picks, and I can honestly say you will never visit this shop and walk out disappointed. Never. Jack’s knack for thrifting and his eye for fashion has transformed from a hobby into an Etsy Shop, and now into a local brick and mortar location that’s a real gem in downtown Fort Wayne. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? “It has always been a dream of mine to have my own company. My mother, father, sister, stepfather and a majority of my step brothers have had prosperous businesses or have dabbled in running their own companies in the past. So the idea of having my own business just seemed to be the norm. I have had a few businesses in the past but they were either freelance work or online only. When I saw the opportunity for a tangible store in the downtown area at a reasonable price, I decided it was the perfect time to take the leap.” What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? “Being a part of The City Exchange has helped me the most. The location and low overhead has made exposure more possible and has helped to keep me out of the red in regards to expenses. Also being a part of the cohesive tenant community — I’m not there by myself — I have the other tenants as support and we help bring each other customers.” What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? “Sporadic business traffic. Most would think weekends would be popular days of the week to shop, but I’ve had certain Mondays where I’ve done better than certain Fridays or Saturdays. Also opening during the holiday season has skewed numbers a bit (in a positive way) — so it’ll be interesting to see what traffic will be like outside of the holiday season.” What person has helped you the most in your journey? “I would say my friends and family. They are my biggest supporters. I would also say the people of City Exchange, without this location I doubt I would’ve been as successful. My mother has helped me a lot, she’s had her own business for 20+ years, and she’s had many ups and downs. I have learned from her issues and her triumphs and...

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