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: 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: Stonewares
Sep07

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Stonewares

This entrepreneur spotlight features Laura Brandenburg of Stonewares! Laura makes absolutely amazing earthy, stoneware pottery and jewelry. While she has several stable items, she also does custom orders. I’m in love with her planters. I also have a thing for mugs, and she recently made some of the coolest Indiana  mugs I’ve ever seen! Laura has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics, and to add to her awesome-ness, she recently completed work that she was commissioned to create by internationally renowned interior designer, Kelly Wearstler. The bowls that she created are decorative elements that will outfit the furnished units of Hollywood Proper at Columbia Square—how cool is that?! Here’s what she had to say about doing business in the Fort. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? In 2004, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics from IPFW. My dream was always to have a home studio and start to sell my functional and decorative stonewares locally. I saved up and purchased my kiln and my wheel and the studio slowly came together. My work was selling and I decided to take a leap and dedicate more and more of my free time to creating my work and selling it. Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana has been so supportive of my work that I am happy to have this location as my roots. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? The people in the community supporting their local artists and shopping locally has been one of the main reasons that my business has survived and thrived. There are so many resources in our community that have had a big impact on me being able to do what I love. YLNI’s Barr Street Market was where I began regularly selling my work in 2008. I have been a vendor there every year since and attribute the bulk of my business growth to that venue and community. Local juried Art Fairs such as the Covington Art Fair and Art at the Riverside have also helped me to share my work with a broader range of customers desiring fine art. The Downtown Improvement District in its creation of HolidayFest and the Holly Trolley has allowed me to continue my work as coordinator and participant of the “Foxy Ladies Art Posse”; an assembled group of local makers’ Holiday Pop-up Show at Artlink Contemporary Gallery. Artlink has hosted the Foxy Ladies Art Posse Holiday Pop-up show for the past 5 years and has been a solid supporter of local artists. Local entrepreneurs have also been a huge reason my work has...

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Ditch the junk and taste “Homemade Everything” at Junk Ditch
Nov20

Ditch the junk and taste “Homemade Everything” at Junk Ditch

One day, just maybe, Fort Wayne will have a “brewery on wheels.” But until then, you can look forward to the next best thing: a brick-and-mortar brewery launched by the talented team who brought you the Affiné food truck. Sometime soon (in the first half of 2016, fingers crossed), Dan Campbell, Andrew Smith and Jack May will launch Junk Ditch Brewing Company. Located off of Main Street, the Junk Ditch building is tucked away, east of Leesburg Road and west of O’Sullivan’s. It takes its name from the actual Junk Ditch, which winds behind the brewery on its meandering path from Waynedale to Swinney Park.   Junk Ditch Brewing Company will be another entrepreneurial adventure for Dan, Andrew and Jack, but it won’t replace the food truck. While Affiné continues to supply duck confit tacos and pork belly bahn mis along its usual route, Junk Ditch will have its own unique menu. But just as they did with Affiné, the passions of the three chefs – handcrafted beer, seasonal flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and a “from scratch” philosophy – will shine through. “Ultimately we enjoy beer and we enjoy creating,” says Jack. “Food and drink go hand in hand, and we wanted to bring the ‘everything local and in-house’ philosophy to Junk Ditch. For Andrew, the idea for Junk Ditch had been brewing for quite awhile. “When I was on a vacation in Seattle I saw some local neighborhood breweries, and was very intrigued by the concept of a brewery in a city neighborhood. When I returned we started working on finding a building that would work.” While the inspiration happened 2,000+ miles away, Andrew says they intend to keep the flavors close to home. “We will change menu items to showcase our Indiana farms. We want to be known for fresh ideas that are always changing.” To wash down all the homegrown deliciousness, the Junk Ditch taps will feature a variety of beers, ready to drink by the pint or take home in kegs or growlers. The tap list will include an even mix of house-made brews and taps from the team’s favorite guest breweries. Whether they’re making their own beer, featuring another brewery, or creating a new dish – quality and variety will drive the Junk Ditch approach. “The focus of in-house beers will to produce very high quality product,” says Andrew. In addition to featuring the best brews, that approach also means continuing what they started with Affiné – including from-scratch breads, house-cured and processed meats, and fresh herbs and produce from a garden behind the Junk Ditch building. “The menu and beer list will be continually...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 1 Million Cups Fort Wayne
Nov03

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: 1 Million Cups Fort Wayne

Do you remember Start Fort Wayne? We covered this initiative earlier this year (see article), and some exciting changes have happened since then for this organization with a mission of supporting and strengthening the entrepreneurial community right here in our area. It has barely been a week since Start Fort Wayne publicly announced its new status as a non-profit organization to the community (!!!), and it’s already starting a buzz in the entrepreneurial community by working to build relationships within the entrepreneurship ecosystem here in northeast Indiana. Up first is 1 Million Cups Fort Wayne, presented by Start Fort Wayne with The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, at 9 a.m. this Wednesday at the Crescendo Café at the Sweetwater campus (see map). “1 Million Cups will bring our entrepreneur community together to solve the business problems that entrepreneurs face every day,” said Dave Sanders of Start Fort Wayne, in a prepared statement from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. According to the 1MC website, this program, developed nationally by the Kauffman Foundation, “is based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.” Each event will feature a short presentation by a local entrepreneur followed by a discussion with the audience. This week’s event will feature Brendon Maxwell, owner of Utopian Coffee. Upcoming presenters include: November 11 – Jeremy Diller, owner of Scenario 77 November 18 – Jennifer Ford, owner of Jennifer Ford Art December 2 – Bo Gonzalez, owner of Bravas. 1 Million Cups Fort Wayne is sponsored by Sweetwater and Utopian Coffee. For more information about 1 Million Cups, visit www.1millioncups.com/fortwayne. For more information on Start Fort Wayne, please visit www.startfortwayne.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. For more information on the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, please visit www.neindiana.com. Get Directions This post is the first in a series of posts on Start Fort Wayne where Living Fort Wayne explores resources available to entrepreneurs and spotlights entrepreneurs who decided northeast Indiana is the place to operate their...

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