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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Introducing our new “Entrepreneurship Spotlight” series
Dec08

Introducing our new “Entrepreneurship Spotlight” series

Last month we introduced our new Start Fort Wayne series with our post on the ongoing 1 Million Cups series. This month we are kicking off a new series of posts on local startups and entrepreneurs with our “Local Entrepreneur Spotlight” series as an addition to our partnership with Start Fort Wayne. This new series on entrepreneurs is for the following people: People who are currently entrepreneurs in the area, People in the process of starting a local venture, People who have ever dreamed of business ownership, Resource providers in the community who serve entrepreneurs, and People who are just simply fascinated by entrepreneurship and the creative climate in can foster. Join us every few weeks to get a sneak peak into the minds of our area’s up-and-coming business and community leaders as we ask them the following questions: What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? What person has helped you the most in your journey? What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion? We have an exciting list of newer businesses and entrepreneurs we’ll be spotlighting in our series, but we need more folks to tell their stories of success (or challenges). If you or your business would be interested in being spotlighted in this series to share what it took for you to be successful building and growing your business in Northeast Indiana, please email us at info@livingfortwayne.com. Let’s join together to build a strong community of entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana. For more information on Start Fort Wayne, please visit...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Syndeo Studios
Nov17

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Syndeo Studios

Northeast Indiana is not exactly known as an animation hot spot. So, why did two young men fresh out of college decide to build their animation and design venture here? Chris Viel and Curtis Wood might have chosen to go the traditional path after college, but instead they decided to start-up something unique to Northeast Indiana. Founded in late 2011, the two of them have been growing together as entrepreneurs with their venture, Syndeo Studios, out of Huntington, Indiana. As they both headed into the Huntington University Digital Media Arts program, partnering on an entrepreneurial venture wasn’t exactly on the two classmates’ minds at first. “At first when I went into college, I was like ‘oh, I want to work for Pixar or whatever’ but then the professors kind of melded my mind,” said Viel. “Now I like the idea of kind of like an independent thing where you get to do your own thing…you’re not just doing the same thing over and over and over, and you have this creative freedom.” Syndeo is working to promote the medium of animation to clients in the region – and most of their clients are local. Viel and Wood create pieces in stop motion animation, 2D/3D motion graphics, compositions, and logo animations – unique media that make people stop and look. Take a look at their reel below. “That’s kind of our target…We do want to target this area and try and build up, and say to this area that this medium is actually important, and to make this area look better,” said Viel. During the initial startup phase, after talking with one of their professors at Huntington University, he took them in the direction of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center’s Student Venture Lab, an incubator for student entrepreneurship at the high school, college, and post-graduate levels. From there they have been slowly building up their name and recognition from other people. From partnering with Kelly Lynch of Lynchpin Creative on some projects to doing projects for the alma mater, Viel and Wood are continuing to grow and get their name out there. They even won a Gold Addy® Award for their piece “Celebrate Norm” in 2014. With both coming from an artistic background, picking up the business side of things was not without its challenges. “I’m an artist. I didn’t go to school to learn business,” said Wood, “You know, I wish I would have minored in it at least.” Learning how to deal with clients and keep them happy has also been an area where Viel and Wood have grown. “That was the hard part, because we’ve obviously never...

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