Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Caty Holm
Apr18

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Caty Holm

This entrepreneur spotlight highlights Caty Holm and The Brandon Foundation, an organization that provides support for youth. Students are paired with mentors who help them academically and emotionally, meeting twice a week throughout the school year. The Brandon Foundation’s mission and vision is incredible, and the way that Caty and the mentors believe in the kiddos and help them overcome life’s hardships in order to reach their full potential is inspiring. I believe that investing in our youth is the best thing we can do to continue to make Fort Wayne a great place to live. Caty had a wonderful perspective on startups, collaboration, and following your passion. Take a look at her story, and take some of her sound advice while you pursue your dreams. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?  After teaching in the school system for 10 years I noticed that students would come into my classroom at 8 years of age, full of hope that they would become doctors, teachers, etc. I would follow up with those same students years later to find that their dreams were watered down versions of what they used to be. Why was that?  We started to examine the gaps and disparities that were present that kept students from achieving their goals and came up with a program to fill those gaps.  We believe that all students have a gift and destiny to fulfill. At the Brandon Foundation, we strive to help students realize their full potential while providing the academic and social support that they need throughout the years to see their dreams come to pass. What resource in the community has helped you thrive? Indiana Youth Institute was a crucial piece of our growth and development as a nonprofit.  They linked us up with a consultant group, Michael Burns, who has been instrumental in helping our organization with strategic planning and mentor and board training. This resource has been invaluable as they have helped us to be intentional about our goals and metrics and still remain true to our vision and mission. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? Our biggest challenge has been applying for grants and receiving the money that could allow us to pay employees such as an Executive Director, Staff Therapists and other mentor support staff that could help us develop our program into something that could impact a greater number of children. What person has helped you the most in your journey? My dad, also known at The Brandon Foundation as “Mr. Chuck.” Five years ago when this program was just a vision on my heart I...

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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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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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Entrepreneurship Spotlight – Alexandra Hall
Aug10

Entrepreneurship Spotlight – Alexandra Hall

This Entrepreneurship Spotlight features Alexandra Hall, a local (wonderfully and amazingly talented) artist. She’s a member of Fort Wayne Artists Guild, Wunderkammer Company, and Artlink, and interestingly enough, holds degrees in non-art related fields. She got her start right here in Fort Wayne, at a 2013 art show at the Dash-In. She’s an inspiration for all of us to find the things that we are passionate about, pursue them, and not write-off the idea that our hobbies and talents can someday (with a lot of work and a little patience) turn into a full-time gig. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? Before I had a location at the City Exchange my business was mobile. I attended art festivals and showed work in galleries all over the country. While other cities may have a bigger art scene, I was able to develop a strong customer base here because there is a growing desire for unique and locally made artwork. When it was time for me to experiment with a brick and mortar location, I decided to test out the Fort Wayne market; I only signed a short term lease at the Exchange. I have a summer festival season coming up, so I closed my shop at the end of May, but I have learned a great deal about running a boutique/gallery space. I hope to return in September and find a different location for my studio/gallery. What resource in the Fort Wayne area has helped you thrive in the community? There is a very supportive arts community here. I would not be where I am today without my artist mentors and support from local galleries. People like Charley Shirmeyer, owner of Northside Galleries and local artist Terry Ratliff, have allowed me to make the move from hobbyist to professional artist. The kindness and generosity in this community is the only reason I am able to pursue art. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? I think the biggest challenge I have faced is balancing the growing clerical aspects to my business and the actual creation of my product. I have nothing to sell if I don’t remember to make time to paint! What person has helped you the most in your journey? My parents, Scott and Andrea Hall, have helped me the most. What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? It isn’t easy. Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed, and don’t allow obstacles to slow you down! What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight – CookSpring
Jul06

Entrepreneurship Spotlight – CookSpring

Editor’s note – CookSpring at The Summit will be hosting an open house in celebration of doubling in size on Saturday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their 4,800 square foot space at The Summit at 1025 W. Rudisill Blvd. in Fort Wayne.  CookSpring staff will be conducting tours and providing guidance on starting culinary businesses during the event. Pastries from Hetty Arts Pastry and hot dogs from The Hot Dog Boyz will be available for the first 50 guests.  When The Summit was purchased in 2011, they immediately began looking for ways to use their commercial kitchen on the former campus of Taylor University Fort Wayne. They wanted to be intentional about using the space to support the local food community, and after some research, decided to use the space as a shared kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs in Fort Wayne. Entrepreneurs can rent space in the kitchen (it’s open 24/7) through bookings and even (very affordable) monthly memberships. In addition to access to the kitchen, members have the opportunity to participate in classes and other business-related services provided by Northeast ISBDC, and can receive free or discounted space for events at The Summit’s Atrium event area. CookSpring began in 2015 with one member and has now grown to 24 members! You’ll find many of your favorite food trucks are members, and CookSpring is becoming a huge platform for growth. Smith spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what he had to say. Why was Fort Wayne an ideal place for CookSpring? Beginning in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana wasn’t a conscious decision so much as a default instinct – NEI is our home, and we want to see it have all of the neat opportunities that other cities have. Out of our desire to spur on entrepreneurship, we developed CookSpring into a platform where anybody can give their culinary dream a shot. Recently, Northeast Indiana has been making a strong push to recognize our regional food production as a local asset rather than an export. This investment in local products really helps to encourage food entrepreneurs and in turn makes CookSpring a more vibrant community. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? We have been able to partner and collaborate with local businesses and groups who are dedicated to impacting entrepreneurs and business growth in Fort Wayne. These groups act as referral sources for new clients and we are able to direct our clients back to them for business services. In addition, the local food culture in Fort Wayne has really taken off in the past few years, which makes...

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