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: Jill Ueber of Belyst Boutique
May11

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Jill Ueber of Belyst Boutique

This Entrepreneurship Spotlight features Jill Ueber of Belyst Boutique, another gem found in The City Exchange Shops. Jill is from Fort Wayne, and has degrees in Apparel Merchandising and Costume Construction Technology from Indiana University.  Confession: I love Belyst. I usually leave the shop only when my boyfriend drags me out, after I’ve decided that I absolutely need every single item I see. The tops, bottoms, dresses, jewelry and accessories are all perfect — seriously, everything is perfect. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? Fort Wayne offers a lot of fantastic opportunities for entrepreneurs! There’s a real desire for local business here, with a supportive and enthusiastic community. The cost of doing business in Fort Wayne is also considerably lower than in larger cities. It’s truly a comfortable place to live and work. Fort Wayne is my hometown, and I love being a part of all of the changes taking place here, especially the redevelopment of Downtown.  What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? The Downtown Improvement District has been really influential in directing people to The City Exchange Shops through different events, the most recent of which was Mother’s Day Downtown. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The greatest challenge was initially building a clientele. I’ve been in business for 4 years now, and many of my customers have been shopping with me since I opened. I think my greatest challenge currently has been directing customers to my new location. I made the move from southwest Fort Wayne to downtown when The City Exchange Shops opened in Fall 2015, and I think there are many people who just don’t think to come downtown to shop yet. I feel like that mentality will continue to shift as more and more new businesses open, along with the completion of the Ash Skyline project.   What person has helped you the most in your journey? My parents have been very supportive of me from the start. I lived in a few other cities after college and didn’t realize how great it was to be back home, and to have all of my family close. What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? The biggest piece of advice I would offer is to have a really solid plan starting out. Also, don’t expect it to happen all at once. It takes time to build up your customer base and get your name out there. Any business is going to have good days, and bad days. Stay positive and maintain your passion for your product. Those are things that...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Jill Howard of Juice Jar
Mar14

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Jill Howard of Juice Jar

This entrepreneur spotlight highlights Jill Howard from Juice Jar! Juice Jar is located inside the City Exchange Shops (there are so many amazing things in there) and is a premium place for some cold-pressed juice. Their juice is 100% raw and organic, healthy, and 100% delicious. It’s really great, you can stop buy and choose from their in-store menu while you’re out and about, or you can make sure you’re getting your daily juice on by ordering larger supplies — they even do delivery! Personally, I’m a smoothie-loving gal, and I LOVE the “Feeling Vitality” smoothie. Jill had some great things to say about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, having the chance to share her experience, wisdom, and insights into small business in our city is a real treat for us! What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? My husband Scott and I decided to open Juice Jar, because we saw an opportunity to bring something to Fort Wayne that at the time did not exist. I have been an avid juicer for almost ten years and have always made my family juices at home. Drinking juice daily helped me overcome some personal health issues I’d been dealing with for over a decade. One day I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could get juice like I got my daily coffee. That started the conversation about opening our own juicery and what would need to happen for that endeavor to take place. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? I’m partial, but Fort Wayne has been a wonderful place to start and operate a business. There are so many people and organizations that want to see you succeed. The resource that has been the biggest help to us has been The City Exchange Shops and the people behind it. Having the opportunity to be in the heart of downtown and incubated with other small businesses at an affordable rate has been a huge component to Juice Jar’s initial success. In addition, the individuals behind the scenes at The City Exchange Shops offer amazing guidance and introduce you to resources and people that a new business owner would otherwise have to try and find on their own. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The challenges we face keep changing. The things that were challenges when we first started are no longer issues and I am hoping the things we face today will be ironed out in the near future. It is a continuous learning curve, which I love! I would have to say the most...

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All We Want For Christmas is Fort Wayne
Dec18

All We Want For Christmas is Fort Wayne

The holidays are upon us and if you are anything like me, you are probably scrambling to get that perfect gift for a special someone. Here at Living Fort Wayne, we love to shop local and promote small businesses right here in the heart of downtown. To continue on with this tradition, we asked our staff what they wanted the most for Christmas. So sit back, relax, read our 2015 edition of All We Want For Christmas is Fort Wayne, and hope you’re not on Santa’s “Naughty” list.   Leslie Snare Well, I’m hoping Santa (or someone equally as cool) gets me a Brewerker membership from Summit City Brewerks. I’d definitely be better equipped to deal with the holiday shopping crowds! Plus, membership includes a t-shirt so that’s an extra special bonus! This membership also includes a SCB logo beer glass, birthday fill, membership card & sticker, and even special invitation-only events. Becca Bell I want a Patagonia pullover from Fort Wayne Outfitters and a year’s supply of weekly bottles from Juice Jar. I’d love for Santa to add to my collection of Susan and Steven Shaikh’s gemstone rings, which are sold at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Paradigm Gallery. Also, mugs from Laura Brandenburg’s Stonewares. Tim Zink I know this is an old standby favorite in Fort Wayne. Since I thoroughly enjoy cookies, I wouldn’t mind having a box of cookies from the Cookie Cottage to replace every meal for a couple days (or to share…I guess). Jasmine Bejar I’ll add anything from Hedgehog Press. I love the unique and Fort Wayne-centric prints and art! I’m specifically itching for some of her wood cut coasters. Some Hedgehog Press products are also sold at Valontine Vintage inside the City Exchange Shops. Jade Kelsey If Santa could bring me a shiny new bike from Human Motor Works, I promise to be good all year! Human Motor Works also sells great running gear, bike accessories, and everything you’ll need for your next triathlon! Lynn Altevogt I just want absolutely everything from Fancy & Staple! But since I don’t expect anyone to spend quite that much money on me, a gift card would do just fine. Honestly, browsing around the shop is half the fun. I usually have to make two or three rounds to look at everything. Here are a few things on my wish list from there:     Travis Bartlett  I would love a bottle of beard oil from Valontine Vintage and some gourmet popcorn from Poptique, both located inside The City Exchange Shops. Some goodies from the Vanilla Bean to satisfy my relentless sweet tooth and I would also...

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