Crossroads Kombucha – Entrepreneurship Spotlight
Oct24

Crossroads Kombucha – Entrepreneurship Spotlight

  It started with a creative spark after trying kombucha tea. Robert Johnson has always been creative with a few Amazon best-selling books already under his belt. After trying to shake a soda habit, Johnson found this bubbly drink and decided to start-up something new in northeast Indiana. We caught up with Johnson to ask him all about this beverage and his growing business, Crossroads Kombucha, which is expanding in the coming months into a new space in Fort Wayne. So…what exactly is kombucha? Kombucha is non-alcoholic, fermented tea. That fermentation process makes it a health beverage. Within each bottle is about two billion probiotics, so a lot of people drink it for health reasons. What made you decide to open a business in northeast Indiana? Back when I was just a consumer of kombucha, I’d go to the store to find new brands and flavors I hadn’t tried yet. It didn’t take long for me to realize almost every brand was imported from either California or Oregon. I thought it was a shame, as Fort Wayne has such a great appreciation for local products, farmers and businesses. The idea to create Crossroads Kombucha – a great tasting, locally produced fermented tea company – hit me in early 2016, and I tried really hard to get it up and running before anyone else latched onto the idea, which would have happened sooner or later. If someone is trying kombucha for the first time, what flavors do you recommend? Newcomers tend to gravitate towards the fruity flavors – mango + strawberry is a good one – strawberry + basil is another good first choice. What would you say is the most unique flavor Crossroads Kombucha offers? We do cinnamon peach, which really literally tastes like peach pie. It has that very unique flavor for a drink. That’s one of my favorites. We’re about to launch lavender grape, which is also a unique combination of two flavors in one. Could you describe who is on your team? There’s really three of us – myself, my wife Yvonne and then our operations manager, Tom Brookshire. He’s really the business mind behind Crossroads. I’m the functional mind behind it. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The greatest challenge by far has been meeting demand. We bypassed the standard farmers market route and went straight to retail in April 2016. Demand was so strong that we added 6 locations within the first two months as a business. Then, as word of mouth began to spread, we realized we had bitten off a bit more than we...

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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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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 — Mike Rowland
Apr04

Entrepreneurship Spotlight — Mike Rowland

We’re back with another Entrepreneurship Spotlight, this time featuring Mike Rowland of Animal Training and Development. Mike has been training dogs in Fort Wayne for over 25 years, and it’s been so fun getting some insight into being an entrepreneur from someone who’s been doing it for years! He definitely has some great perspective for all you future Fort Wayne business owners. His business has evolved from focusing on puppy classes and simple behavior issues, to training service dogs for veterans with PTSD (although he still does puppy classes and potty training). He also now holds seminars and trains future dog trainers. Mike helped my golden retriever and I accomplish our goal of being a therapy team — my dog passed his therapy certification with flying colors! Animal Training and Development is a wonderful asset in our community, check it out! What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? I recognized the need for professional dog trainers in the Fort Wayne area.  There were only a few options back in 1986 and many people were turning their dogs into Animal Care & Control due to relatively common and simple behavior issues like housetraining, jumping, barking, digging and chewing.  I took part in a “Animal Hotline” offered through Animal Care & Control once a week and fielded over twenty calls each day from people that were desperate for help.  It was very rewarding for me as an entrepreneur to take those calls and meet the needs of the callers.  Even though I was doing it for free, I knew the word would spread that people were getting help and that if it worked for them, more people would call.  Within a few weeks, there were more calls to the hotline than I could manage and my business phone began to ring.  It’s been ringing ever since. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? Animal Care & Control, Allen County SPCA, local dog rescue groups and local Veterinarians.  All of these safe havens for animals were great places for me to grow as a professional and give back to those that give so much. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? It takes time and effort to be successful and even more so if you have no money for marketing.  I started with zero investment capital and only passion and dogged determination kept me going through the lean years.  Looking back, those were some of the best days.  Living simply and enjoying what I was doing, knowing I could help people train and enjoy their dogs;...

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