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Lajanae Smith: Local artist and filmmaker

Grand Rapids is full of talented young people from all fields. It can be difficult to get around the Beer City USA moniker that we have found for ourselves, but there are some young people who are pushing to make Grand Rapids known for more than just beer.

The film industry can be as tough and cut throat as Wall Street itself, and it takes talent, persistence, and the right connections to make a dent. We are lucky to have a growing group of young filmmakers in our growing city that have chosen Grand Rapids as their home base.

One such person is Lajanae Smith, so we caught up with her to find out more about her travels, work, and why she chooses Grand Rapids as her home base.

RG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

LJS: I say that I am a filmmaker: I write, produce content on a short scale, and freelance crew in film production for feature films. The long term goal is to become a director and I plan to direct a short I wrote late this year. In creative work, I am an ideas person and I like to exercise my imagination. When working in the music scene, I do public relations for three artists that are my clients.  Sometimes my worlds collide and I meet major artists, Ty Dolla $ and Lizzo for example, that I want to consider acting for a movie I’ve been developing for the last year and a half so that’s always a fun conversation to entertain, Lizzo was into it…

RG: Why Grand Rapids as home base?

LJS: Grand Rapids is where I was born and raised. It’s where the majority of my family and friends are and even though I love visiting new places, GR is home. Over the last few years major changes have been taking place (so much construction!). I’ve since learned that what may equal positive change for a select few isn’t always positive change for all. If I didn’t get my start here I would not see myself trying to start anything here. GR has not always been inclusive. I haven’t always seen the change I want to see as an artist here in my hometown. I laude Carbon Stories and laFEM for who and what they are and do. 

So perhaps because the infrastructure to feature films doesn’t seem as accessible here already, I feel the need to be part of the change I want to see. To create community surrounding that idea and make opportunities and avenues for those that remind me of myself and want to collaborate. For them to see those possibilities for themselves and to tell new stories. If nothing else really just to believe in people.

RG: What potential do you see in Grand Rapids?

LJS: Currently there seems to be a lot of potential in Grand Rapids if you’ve been in line awhile. It’s difficult to play the long game and have patience when it feels like you’ve been waiting 400 years just to live freely and expressively create sans boundaries. Grand Rapids seems ripe for great change with the new technologies and innovation already taking place. I see we’re building leaders and the culture is shifting to better reflect metropolitan cities. We believe in family and children here and I genuinely think our kids are the future. 

RG: When you’re not traveling and working, what do you do for fun around the city?

LJS: I bike, I read, I love studying my field, I watch a lot of movies, enjoy time with friends and family. I Love Downtown GR and Movies in the Park. We have a few weekly watering holes for filmmakers that I frequent to catch up with people. My work is my passion and purpose so it’s very fun for me to work on projects I care about when I’m home.

RG: What are you currently working on?

LJS: Currently my main focus is the creative arts company Cinema Bijøn Enterprise that I’m launching mid-August. I’m planning a community-wide business and movie pitch at Chez Olga in Eastown so it’s a bit unconventional and scary but I know it’s needed and I’m very excited. Chez Olga is opening on a Sunday just for that and customizing a brunch menu with me, so that kind of creative collaboration with minority women and immigrant business owners has been a total blessing. After that I hope to freelance on two films shooting in GR and then heading down to Atlanta to finally collaborate with The House Of June, an independent arts production company founded exclusively by black women. I’ve been developing two projects with them since late 2015.

RG: Anything else you would like to tell us?

LJS: My hope for opportunities in the city include sharing more of my experiences/narrative on a city/communal level. Specifically, what it was like to experience Sundance and SXSW and to work on the movie Mudbound. Just to provide context and hopefully inspire people that want to embark these journey’s that anything is possible! 

Mudbound is already on Netflix’s website here

Lastly, Open Projector Night at the UICA has been an awesome opportunity for new and experienced Michigan Filmmakers. Everything we show is actually required to have a tie-in to Michigan. The last big show of the year is August 16 and I’d love to extend a personal invitation to those that haven’t been but are curious to come check us out!


Catching up with Smith was a breath of fresh air for another long time resident of the city. She sees the city through different lenses and knows Grand Rapids intimately, so she can speak about it with both critique and love. 

The words of James Baldwin come to mind when hearing Smith talk about her hopes for her industry’s growth in Grand Rapids, where Baldwin says “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually” 

Smith dishes it out as it is, and chooses everyday to stay and make a change. This city is lucky to have one Lajanae Smith, let’s hope she succeeds in inspiring more just like her.

The date for Smith’s “Hollywood Pitch & Brunch” is August 13th and will go from 11AM-3PM at Chez Olga in Eastown

Smith’s company Cinema Bijon Enterprise is a creative arts company focused on producing avant-garde digital multi-media content by and largely for women of color. Launched in 2017, founded in Grand Rapids, MI. The mission is to bring celebratory, thought-provoking stories to life in order to improve the self perception and external opinion of people of color. Specifically Black women. Respecting diversity in order to change our world for the better. These are new stories. 

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Grand Rapids Coffee Shop Guide

When Grand Rapidians are not out at the nearest brewery, they can usually be found at one of the many coffee shops that continue to pop up across the city.

Here is a short guide to all the local shops serving up a different kind of brew. Roasted beans and sweet treats are the way to a freelancer's heart. That and of course, very strong wifi. 

The Sparrows Coffee Tea and Newsstand - 1035 Wealthy St. SE
Cozy environment with plenty of seating for a long work session. Just a few steps away from local restaurants and The Meanwhile bar for those marathon work sessions that go late into the night. Its new West Side location is soon to open its doors at 442 Bridge St NW.

The Bitter End Coffeehouse - 752 West Fulton
A long standing classic study and work spot on the West Side, few things have changed at this beautiful location that is situated in a century-old bank building. 

Madcap Coffee - 98 Monroe Center NW
The favorite spot for all the downtown movers and shakers. Madcap is beautifully designed from its exterior down to its tea serving boards and pots. With two other locations at The Downtown Market and at 1041 East Fulton St., Madcap is everywhere, and if for some wild reason you haven’t been inside, just explore your instagram feed. A friend in your group has likely instagrammed their latte art...this week. 

Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar - 955 Wealthy St. SE
You read the correctly...AND wine bar. Sure, The Meanwhile is on the other block, but when you are settling into a good book or on a killer work streak, why break it with walking out? Especially during a harsh Michigan winter. (It’s never too early to say Winter Is Coming in Michigan)

Lightfast Coffee + Art Collective - 944 East Fulton St.
A selection of tasty baked goods, chocolates and art is a recipe for success for this newer coffee shop on Fulton Street.

Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge - 100 Commerce SE
Art, cozy environment and some of the comfiest seats to sit back, forget about work and concentrate on a strong brew.

Mayan Buzz Cafe - 208 Grandville Ave SW
A stone’s throw from Founder’s Brewing and The Rapid Central Station, Mayan Buzz has long been the home for marathon work sessions thanks to their early and late hours. If you’re looking for something more be sure to head on Thursday nights for their open mic nights!

Rowsters Coffee - 632 Wealthy St. SE
Clean lines in design, strong coffee and regular art showings from local artists. Rowsters recently opened the Rowers Club on the West Side at 616 West Fulton to expand access to their delightful brews.

Ferris Coffee & Nut - 227 Winter Ave NW
With locations on both the West Side and downtown in the Trust Building, Ferris coffee carries all the treats and brews you could need for a relaxing time. 

Lyon St. Cafe - 617 Lyon St. NE
It is hard to beat a coffee shop nestled in the border of Midtown, that sources its treats from Nantucket Bakery and has Martha’s Vineyard just a few doors down. An excellent spot to work, meet and to just lose yourself in a tasty cup.

As always, if we missed your favorite spot let us know in the comments!

R.I.P. Kava House for all those who remember...but also check out That Early Bird

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Images courtesy of The Bitter End, Rowster, The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand, Mayan Buzz Cafe, MadCap Coffee, Lyon St. Cafe, Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge, Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar


 

Thom McGuire: Music, Movies, and Hustle

When people think of music scenes their thoughts go to Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, but too often the Midwest is left out, or so it seems. Talent is certainly in every state and city, but it takes a certain other level of talent to spot and guide music talents to the next level. Enter Thom McGuire of McGuire & Associates.

Thom McGuire has been in the entertainment industry all his life. Born in Washington D.C., McGuire then moved around the country from coast to coast working on movie sets and for music labels. All this led up to his last move 11 years ago when he made his way to Grand Rapids.

McGuire certainly has the pedigree and chops of a music industry veteran. Tag on his uncanny likeness to industry titan Rick Rubin (it’s all in the beard!) and McGuire stands out in the local Grand Rapids music scene. McGuire has been managing talent off and on for years through McGuire & Associates and has specialized in taking talent from local to a regional stage and beyond.

Grand Rapids has certainly always had a healthy music scene, whether it was through traditional music venues or house shows, musicians have been filling this city with life for decades.

Before the inception of Founder’s Fest or even the Pyramid Scheme, there were shows held at the now defunct Skeletones and The Five-One. Both were all-age venues that served the alternative music in the early 2000s. With their passing, bands found venues and outlets through the DAAC (Division Avenue Arts Collective) and a growing number of smaller venues like The Upper Room

Local bands can also find their sound at house shows and smaller venues, and have carved out an even bigger local scene for themselves with events like the Lamp Light Music Festival which is comprised of a weekend of multiple house venues hosting a mix of local artists from the region. 

McGuire says, “The local music scene is needed and I certainly underestimated it when I move here from L.A 11 years ago.” McGuire has since begun taking on talent full time through McGuire & Associates and is looking to help bring local talent “from the street to the elite” as is the tagline for McGuire & Associates. 

McGuire recognizes and believes in the talent that Grand Rapids continues to turn out, so he has put one more iron in the fire, namely his new group West Michigan Industry Professionals.

“This city has so much talent, and it just keeps growing. If we all got out of our silos and worked together we can make so much more,” says McGuire about the meetup group, which he describes as a more relaxed might to get to know each other over a few drinks at a local bar. 

McGuire & Associates is available to take on talent for regional growth, providing management and booking services as well hourly as services.

With more people like McGuire turning their eye to Grand Rapids and West Michigan in general, it won’t be long before we will have to add music to our “Beer City” billboards. 

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Images courtesy of 
Thom McGuire.

The Matthew Agency: Modeling In the Heart of Downtown West Michigan

Are you Grand Rapids next top model?

The Matthew Agency, founded nine years ago by photographer Jerrad Matthew, has prevailed as the go-to talent and modeling agency in Grand Rapids. Throughout the years, the agency has increased its clientele base to include some of Grand Rapids’ top international businesses.

In a recent turn of events, the agency was acquired by local businesswoman Kelly Koning. When the opportunity presented itself, Koning could not pass up the opportunity. The acquisition will be a marked shift from her previous venture, a logistics company, where she ran the business with her husband.

“My previous experiences mesh with the needs of the Matthew Agency, alongside with my degree in international business and past work in Barcelona for global fashion brand Desigual, allow me a solid working foundation in the industry,” says Koning.

The Matthew Agency represents talent from Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

“We take great pride in assisting our vendors with professionally scouted, diverse talent of age, ethnicity, and body size of today's communities. We seek to always represent ourselves well within this community and on all job sites,” adds Koning when asked about what the agency stands to uphold moving onward.

Since the acquisition was official at the beginning of June, Koning has had time at the reigns to analyze and set goals for the near future.

“We are scouting more models to join our agency and our open call will be next month, July 12, at our office in McKay Towers Suite 422.”

Koning says that on her list of objectives is to “..to be on the forefront of celebrating diversity, non-discrimination, and body positivity…a place that radiates positivity and celebrates everyone!” She adds, “We celebrate all types of beauty at The Matthew Agency and I hope that shows in our diverse base of models and talents currently signed.”

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, U.S.-based women business owners generate $1.4 trillion in sales and employ nearly 7.9 million people.Also, more than 9.1 million firms are owned by women.

We ask Koning what, if any, obstacles present themselves for a woman business owner in West Michigan. “Owning and running a small local business takes a lot of fortitude and there are always hurdles that present themselves in growing and expanding. I am confident that by nurturing existing relationships [and] building new lasting relationships while continuing to be a leader in local talent, we can contribute to the vibrant and exciting growth in West Michigan. I believe so strongly in our Grand Rapids community and the power that lies in supporting local,” answers Koning.

You can follow The Matthew Agency on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with their handle @matthewagency.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Some Like It Hot: Outdoor Eats

Mother nature is certainly making up for lost time with the weather we have been having lately. Forecast shows that we will be enjoying this for some time to come.

So get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather with the best outdoor eating spaces our city has to offer.

Taqueria San Jose -1338 Division Ave S
Nestled in the heart of the southside. Offers authentic Mexican cuisine.

Sundance Grill - 151 Ottawa Ave NW
Right smack in the middle of downtown’s Center City.

Donkey Taqueria - 665 Wealthy St SE
Nestled in the Wealthy St Business district. Offers Authentic Mexican cuisine.

Creston Brewery - 1504 Plainfield Ave NE
Hard to go wrong with beer and an eclectic food menu.

Parsley Mediterranean Grill - 80 Ottawa Ave NW
An outdoor seating area with one of the best views of the city. Right across from the GRAM and Madcap Coffee.

Palace of India - 138 Fulton St E
Located right on Fulton Street. If you find yourself sweating from the spice, just grab a table outside and blend in with the rest of the city making their way through this heat.

Marie Catrib’s - 1001-1003 Lake Dr SE
Still offering some of the best deli meals in East Hills, or better known as the Center of the Universe.

The Old Goat - 2434 Eastern Ave SE
Located in the growing Alger Heights district.

Iron - 25 Ottawa Ave SW
Right in the middle of the Arena district. Offering contemporary takes on comfort food.

Slows BBQ - 435 Ionia Ave SW
Located in the Downtown Market.

Social Kitchen & Bar - 435 Ionia Ave SW
Located in the Downtown Market.

Terra GR - 1429 Lake Dr SE
A locally sourced farm to table restaurant nestled in East Hills.

Founder’s Brewery - 235 Grandville Ave SW
If you are reading this and you have not had a meal and drink on Founder’s outdoor seating, you are missing out on more than just a good time. You are missing a rite of passage for any Grand Rapidian.

If you have reached the bottom of this list and are currently scoffing, please join us in the comments section and share your favorite outdoor seating restaurants, food trucks, or secret summer bbq pop-ups across the city.

Happy Hunting!

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Summer jobs roundup

Summer is here with it comes all the fun and games, but remember to always keep your eyes on the latest job opportunities.

Grab a cold drink, sit outside, and take a look at some of the latest opportunities the city has to offer.

Habitat For Humanity

Site Supervisor: The Site Supervisor oversees and works directly with volunteers and home
buyer families to provide instruction while ensuring site safety and producing a positive Habitat site experience. This position will also manage the warranty program with existing homeowners, as well as work on educational builds alongside students and instructors.

Send resumes by June 16, 2017 to hr@habitatkent.org

Neighborhood Resident Development Manager: The NRDM is called to serve as Habitat Kent’s “ambassador” to the community and serves as the communications liaison between the selected neighborhood and HFHKC. The Manager will be responsible for overseeing and implementing resident-driven community planning processes and neighborhood outreach and engagement strategies to ensure that the voice of the community is heard and their potential maximized to create a real and long-term impact.

Send cover letter and resume by Friday, June 16, 2017 to hr@habitatkent.org

Corporate Relations Manager: The Corporate Relations Manager seeks to build transformational relationships with corporate and business partners to further the mission of Habitat Kent. This position is responsible for building on an existing donor-centered data-driven strategy to prospect, cultivate, solicit, and steward gifts from corporate and business partners.The Corporate Relations Manager works closely in collaboration with the Resource Development team, Volunteer Services, and Gift in Kind to ensure business and corporate partners are being engaged on many levels, that Habitat is sharing meaningful stories, authentically thanking those who support Habitat Kent’s mission, and reporting successes and challenges. Habitat Kent’s Resource Development team is focused on a collaborative, organization-wide approach to fundraising with integrity, creativity, and transparency guiding our decision making.

This is a full-time exempt position. Please send resume/cover letter by Friday, June 30, 2017 to hr@habitatkent.org.

Managing Director of Operations: The Managing Director of Operations at Habitat Kent is a newly created position within the organization. The Managing Director will provide key leadership and overall strategic and operational responsibility for four key departments that make up significant components of the affiliate’s operations (Construction, Volunteer Services, ReStore, and Material Recovery).

Send resume/cover letter by June 30, 2017 to hr@habitatkent.org

Cultural Intelligence Center

Client Services Coordinator: The Client Services Coordinator will provide informative, helpful customer service for all customers, and administrative and day-to-day support to the company’s corporate segment and certification programs.

City of Grand Rapids

Administrative Analyst I - Neighborhood Connector: This position is responsible for providing a variety of administrative support services to a department head or other administrative position. The work includes providing staff liaison to the various departmental divisions and programs, outside agencies, and the media. The work is performed under the general supervision of a department head or administrative position. The employees may supervise subordinate support staff.

Apply here

Administrative Analyst II - Legislative: This is advanced professional work providing a variety of administrative support services to the City Manager or Assistant City Manager and department heads. The work includes providing staff liaison to the various city departments and programs, outside agencies, and the media. The work is performed under the managerial direction of the City Manager or Assistant City Manager.

Apply here

Administrative Analyst II Sustainability: This is advanced professional work providing a variety of administrative support services to the City Manager or Assistant City Manager and department heads. The work includes providing staff liaison to the various city departments and programs, outside agencies, and the media. The work is performed under the managerial direction of the City Manager or Assistant City Manager.

Apply here

Keep your resumes updated, your interview skills sharp, and your game up!

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Elevator Up partners with SightLine Display to enhance digital offerings.

Design is all around us, whether it’s the phone we are reading this on, the car we ride, or even the shoelaces we tie every day (if you still wear velcro straps good for you! That’s a biomimicry design at its best.)

Design includes everything from the spacing on our steps, the material of the handrail, down to the stickers and signs we see at the grocery store.

For years companies like SightLine Display have designed and supplied consumer brands and retailers with effective retail signage for everything from produce to clothing. An entire sale can depend on the right signage. Whether the customer notices the colorful display, or is able to quickly see the price and find the best deal, it all affects the sale.

It may not sound needed or worthwhile, but during times when marketing is being pushed to smaller platforms like Snapchat with seconds of exposure, even older industries must adapt or die.

So will the small stickers and signage you see at department and grocery stores become tiny screens that flash prices and deals? Not exactly; those signs and stickers are purchased in bulk and are often purchased as a carefully designed set of signage systems for displaying inventory.

These sets can be incredibly dense and extensive, so imagine you are the owner of a small grocery store and you want to upgrade your signage for your new expansion, or you are the owner of a small chain of department stores and need signage for all your items in all of your stores.

If you think this is a tall task, imagine all the work it takes to design, organize, and then sell those signage systems. The work becomes even harder for the signage company when they seek to help the client make the best purchase and feel satisfied. Now this may all seem very uneventful and seem like the last business idea one would pitch—after all everyone wants to be the next Facebook, Google, or Snapchat. But for every every flashy startup,there is a silent giant like Oracle: a company that provides database management systems, essentially the equivalent of owning the construction company instead of the new popular restaurant.

SightLine Display recently reached out to local company Elevator Up to improve their offering and platform. Where once the options were displayed in large binders full of images to sift through, clients now have a streamlined experience to the full offering of signage solutions.

“Partnering with Elevator Up has helped us clarify our product and service offerings...This new platform makes our custom products and services available to a wider audience.” said Steve Cole, CEO of Sightline in a press release.

SightLine Display’s new e-commerce platform, that was developed in partnership with Elevator Up can be viewed here.

Elevator Up has formed an ongoing partnership to continue to enhance SightLine’s product and service offerings. Extensive customer experience research allowed Elevator Up to develop custom solutions for SightLine’s integrated inventory management. This paired with SightLine’s use of rapid prototyping has allowed the business to move forward at a new pace.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s Innovation and Jobs Editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Malamiah Juice Bar: Mobile Juice Bar For The Win

The news is not the only thing that is on a 24-hour cycle. As our city continues to grow and more transplants move to Grand Rapids, our city is staying up later and waking up earlier. Whether it’s a busier work schedule, events, or longer commutes, our time gets squeezed from different ends. Combine a busy schedule with a dash of stress, and you have the recipe for poor eating habits.

Surely there’s nothing wrong with a bit of comfort food every now and then, but it can be hard to stay healthy when we live fast lives and need food fast, but we don’t want fast-food. There is always the super trendy Soylent option for those on the tech vanguard, but with only two flavors, it can be lacking at times.

For almost four years, Malamiah Juice Bar has provided the downtown area with convenient fresh juices and smoothies. After a win at the local entrepreneurial pitch competition 5x5 Night last winter, the team is ready to launch their latest division of their business. A mobile juice bar will be hitting the streets soon to provide juice to those who find themselves just a bit out of walking distance from the Downtown Market.

Malamiah Mobile Juice Bar wants to provide its array of products to a wider audience by bringing the juice...literally.

We caught up with co-owner Jermale Eddie to get the scoop on the latest addition to the business.

When we last touched base there was talk of a food truck, why the change to bikes?

We recognized that the prize money that we won was just a drop of "juice in the cup" compared to the actual cost of a truck, equipment, and permits. We wanted to be true to the concept of "going mobile" like we stated, we just did it in a smarter and more economical way...kind of outside the box—like we normally do things. When it’s all said and done, we pitched, we won, we refined ,and we bought a bike! Juice + Bike = A Healthy Lifestyle Business that is visible in the community.

What area will you be covering with the bike(s)? Will you be riding it yourself?

At this time, I am piloting just this one bike to see how things go. I am able to post up at one location within the downtown area, but I can actually drive it around the rest of Grand Rapids. We originally planned to use our bike to attend special events. However, depending on the demand, we may be out and about more than we thought. We also hope to pop up on the Lakeshore and other area of West Michigan as requested. It’s a good way to test the market. We may also use it to get into some business, office, and home deliveries.

Will it have a regular route and time?

Not at this time, but we are about the community. If the community wants more Malamiah, then hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email or stop in at our shop in the Downtown Market to let us know!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Mobile Juice Bar this summer as they ride through the city offering freshly squeezed juice.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Pop Up Shop: Can't Knock The Hustle

With nearly six months under her belt, entrepreneur Tova Jones has successfully launched her concept business that targets the e-commerce retail market.

A brick and mortar store for online retailers who want to offer a showing of their items, but either cannot or do not wish to rent a permanent space, The Pop Up Shop is a common occurrence in major markets, and Jones has taken the concept and added her own approach as she brought it here to Grand Rapids.

When asked what inspired Jones to create the Pop Up Shop, she responds “I got the idea actually from owning a plus size e-commerce clothing business. I noticed that when I was a part of vendor opportunities I made more money because the consumer could feel the product, try it on, and meet the face behind the brand. I looked high and low in west Michigan, actually Michigan period to find storefront space that could be rented out to sell product short term, and had no luck. So my husband and I decided to be the change that we wanted to see. We found a great downtown location and the Pop Up Shop became a reality.”

Jones’ location at 315 S. Division places the Pop Up shop right in the Avenue for the Arts along many other local businesses. She says the Pop Up Shop has hosted “...bridal pop up shops, bakery pop up shops, a Detroit-based African Clothing brand, lularoe pop up shops... we've had CD releases, handcrafted jewelry, and even a dog Treat Pop up shop! We also have community meetings in our space and small listening parties.

The options are limitless. We are hoping to attract businesses who are looking to add pop up shops to their branding and business model. And more artists, we would love to see our space used as a small gallery. Our goal is to help expand the brands of e-commerce business owners artist and musicians.”

Although the location offers a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, it also gives Jones the opportunity to interact with an array of different businesses. “I love seeing the excitement in their faces when the talk about their businesses. I love bouncing ideas about how to have a successful pop up shop and even easing some of their concern. I just love the synergy,” says Jones.

The Pop Up Shop is now taking bookings for June-August. To schedule a walkthrough, you may visit their website at www.popupshopgr.com or you can email the team at grpopupshop@gmail.com with any questions.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

The Women's Resource Center: Providing pathways to self-sufficiency and success

We all enter the workforce at different ages and with different backgrounds. There is of course the tale of a young Warren Buffett and his paper route where he displayed a high business acumen at such an early age. The young Buffett made sure to write off his bicycle on his taxes because of its use during his paper route.

Now, we all know what that young boy grew up to be, and the legend he has become. The Oracle of Omaha is now worth just under $74 Billion and is considered to be one of the world’s most savvy businesspeople. No one would deny that Buffett was born with an innate gift for business, but we cannot overlook the time and systems of privileges that allowed him to use his full talent and hard work to achieve and overcome.

It is very easy to look at those from our community that have fallen on hard times or were born into systems of perpetual structural violence and disadvantage, and not see talent, potential, or passion. Yet it is there, and time and time again we are reminded of those of us that rise from adversity. In big ways and in smaller ways, whether it is a mega star like Oprah Winfrey or a home grown star like Latesha Lipscomb, the talent is there alongside all the barriers.

Grand Rapids is fortunate to have a team of dedicated and talented people at the Women’s Resource Center, and a newly named CEO in Sandra Gaddy. The proverb states it takes a village to raise a child, yet in many ways when we live in community with each other it should be better said it takes a village to raise a person.

When entering or re-entering the workforce it can feel daunting and scary, and many try to go at it alone not knowing that no one ever makes it completely on their own. Behind every successful person there is a long story; the successful stand on the shoulders of their mentors, coaches, sponsors, family, network, and friends.

This is what the Women’s Resource Center provides for its members, and they take it to heart. Newly appointed CEO Sandra Gaddy refers to herself as the newest member of the team, and speaks about how it takes the entire team, at times other program members, to empower each and every woman in the program.

Gaddy says “Our purpose is simple yet powerful. We empower local women to become economically self sufficient and improve their lives through career development, meaningful employment, and powerful growth.”
Servant leadership shows itself at the core of this amazing team, where they have several pathways aimed to empower and uplift women.

The Empower Pathway “..helps women who are in a life transition to move toward economic self-sufficiency by providing career and life skill development” states the organization’s website, and is provided by professional staff Career Coaches.

The Women Mentoring Women Pathway provides “caring volunteer mentors who offer one-on-one advice and encouragement while developing a personalized plan of action with each participant.” states the organization’s website

The New Beginnings Pathway operates with the “understanding that incarceration presents unique challenges for future job seekers, and provides enhanced gender-responsive mentoring services to women at Kent County Jail pre-release and up to 18 months post-release. Offering one-on-one and/or group mentoring, employability assessments coupled with individual employment development plans, employability and life skills workshops, job placement and retention assistance, and strength-based case management services to connect returning women with collaborative community partners for substance abuse and mental health treatment, education/training, housing and basic needs, and other services critical to their successful community reentry.” states the organization’s website.

If these programs were not already multi-faceted, the center also provides: a business center, computer classes, resume coaching, a seeking employment together- support group, interviewing techniques, resume writing, personal finance management, a working women’s clothing closet - where you can pick out a full work outfit, a divorce information workshop, and a scholarship program available for the women participating in the intensive program and is designed to assist women in becoming economically self-sufficient.

Gaddy adds “Not everyone comes to the Resource Center at the same time and place in their lives and careers,” so the center has a diverse set of resources to overcome the barriers and challenges that women often encounter.

I have no doubt of the quality of work that the Women’s Resource Center provides, but I do know that a team can always use more players for the long game. If you fancy yourself a leader or a skilled teammate, consider looking at the growing talent at the Women’s Resource Center and reach out to the team to learn more how you can continue to lead by having a hand in inspiring and growing more leaders.

If you want to become a participant or are unsure if the Women’s Resource Center is right for you and would like to learn more please reach out to the team here. Take Gaddy’s words to heart “We empower local women..”, and indeed they have, are doing so, and will continue to do so.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Underground shows and podcasts: The new way to discover music and the artist's that make it

Startups have been shaking things up for decades. We see them more visibly now and refer to them as startups, more prominently tech startups, but they have always been at the core of innovation in our society.

The startup is of course comprised of individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset, strong work ethic, and passion. These are our society’s disruptors, innovators, and most unique individuals.

Grand Rapids is no stranger to entrepreneurs, but the latest wave of innovators usually look towards the San Francisco Bay, NYC, or even secondary markets like Austin or Boulder. Still, even among the innovators, there is unique innovation and radical thinking.

Enter those transplants that come to Grand Rapids that thrown down roots to collaborate and innovate to fulfill their passions. This passion drives them to face failure everyday, and the slate can be wiped at any moment.

Necessity is the mother of innovation, and our city is beginning to fill with talented individuals eager to make Grand Rapids their canvas.

The concept of a house show is not new, but at its core is the spirit of innovation. Where a house show does away with the traditional venue and all the fees that come with it, and instead uses a house as the venue for a more economical and intimate production. The same is true for podcasts. With high barriers of entry for both venue shows and radio broadcasting, entrepreneurs sought ways to get out their material. In the same vein, our city has seen a growth of house shows, to the success of The Lamp Light Music Festival and the rise of more Grand Rapids based podcasts, like Super Hungry The Podcast.

Virginia Anzengruber, host of Super Hungry The Podcast, has made Grand Rapids her home base and has begun to use different ways to reach a wider audience and provide unique content.

This past weekend, Anzengruber hosted a secret pop-up show and podcast on the Southside of the city where she hosted local rapper Lady Ace Boogie of “Feel Good Music” fame. The mix of an interview and a live show was punctuated by questions from the audience and performances of unreleased material for the lucky few.

When asked about why the she used the unique format, Anzengruber replied: “I love the intimacy of house shows, and am inspired by the people of at SoFar Sounds (Sounds from a Room), who curate some of the best and most intimate shows I've ever been to. I wanted to sort of recreate that vibe with this event. The small, intimate audience brought the exact atmosphere I was hoping would organically happen. I think it really comes across in the recording.”

The show was intimate, allowing the audience to see and hear Lady Ace Boogie in ways that a traditional venue could not grant. Under the advisory of local music mainstay Thom McGuire, president of the West Michigan Entertainment Industry Professionals, Anzengruber presented a viable new formula for the growing underground music scene in Grand Rapids. With advisory from McGuire, who himself worked with the band Journey, it seems that Anzengruber’s efforts will be well guided.

Anzengruber added: “I've been to tons of house shows...I knew it was something I wanted to do, and I think Lady Ace Boogie is such a dynamically talented performer that I knew we'd be able to create something special. Having an audience's energy to pull from really makes a difference. It's like any live show—it only exists between the people who were actually there.”

Though a singular experience, Anzengruber did capture the entire event for her next episode of Super Hungry The Podcast, which will be dropping soon. With a great show in the books we asked what was next for Anzengruber as she seeks to continue to expand formats she tells us:

“I’m currently in the funding/pre-production phase for my next project, an expansion of the Super Hungry brand. While the podcast focuses on the lives of working, or "Not-So Starving Artists"; the new project, a six-episode YouTube series, is called Super Hungry: Conversations from the Kitchen and will explore the intersection of food and storytelling. Highlighting some of the best and most inspired chefs in our nation’s mitten. Super Hungry: Conversations from the Kitchen will dissect and engage the viewer in the ephemeral Art of the Meal. I'm also going to be offering my Podcasting 101: The Basics and Podcasting 201: The Details workshops again through a collaboration with Avenue for the Arts.

Grand Rapids is mixing it up, and you will miss out if you don’t stop and smell the roses. The person next to you in the coffee shop or on the bus could be the host or creator of the city’s underground scene.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

BedBud alarm: Put an end to sleeping in

Our weather is here, then there, then back again. What is consistent is that we are having longer days of sun. The morning at 7 a.m. looks a lot different then it did a few months ago, and like the saying says, early to bed early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise. I’ve been waking up at 4:45 a.m. for a while now and I still haven’t seen my wealth grow. Maybe the growth in my wisdom will make me realize how wealthy in experience I am. Afterall, I was paid in experience from all those internships!

Whether it is waking up early for health reasons, for productivity, or because you absolutely have to get to work, you most likely utilize an alarm clock. The alarm clock is simple, it always tells the time, and at certain times it alerts you of that time. The problem here really is us, the human variable. We whine, we procrastinate, and we don’t wake up the first time! The solution is really simple: sleep earlier and get enough sleep, and you will naturally wake up on time.

Oh if it were only that easy, so inventors see a problem to fix. They toil away and look for the most effective solution. Some are very effective but are not so, how can we put this delicately...they are not the way you would imagine waking up peacefully from a deep slumber.

Enter the BedBud Alarm, the latest device from the now Grand Rapids-based company AtLast Industries.

President of AtLast Industries, Don Rhoads says “The BedBud Alarm allows the user to finally take control of their morning routine. Many individuals have the drive to wake up and start their mornings, but have the terrible problem of hitting the snooze and going back to sleep.”

So here is how it all works: you place the BedBud between your mattress and boxspring, let it calibrate its sensors to the weight of the bed, and then just pull out the easy-to-use app to set your weekly alarm schedule.

No need to set eight different alarms to wake you up! We all know someone who does this...or maybe it’s you!

Excited to give it a try? AtLast’s press release tells us that “the Kickstarter campaign will go live May 2017. The best way to make sure that you get the early bird pricing is to go to our website sign up for our newsletter. Anyone signed up for the newsletter prior to launch and who backs the BedBud within the first 48hrs, will be up for a chance to win a free run of the product!”

Summer seems to be trying to peek its head around the corner, so don’t miss any more sunlight and get up early!

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Envoy secures Grand Trunk to B2B Platform

Local company Envoy has been making the news lately with continued growth and moves to their new space on the westside. The local business community is happy to hear that Envoy is back in the news again with another exciting announcement!
From Envoy’s press release: “Grand Trunk, makers of renowned adventure, travel, camping, and beach accessories, has adopted Envoy as its B2B platform.”

This is great news for the ever growing business community in Grand Rapids, as another startup continues to show strong and steady growth.

Envoy is a technology company providing innovative wholesale B2B software solutions for content and commerce, and is designed to help footwear and apparel companies create dynamic content, increase sales, grow their wholesale channels, and raise their market strategies.

From Envoy’s press release: “Grand Trunk will be using Envoy Core to unify their B2B processes and fuel growth, while providing valuable feedback on the specific demands a growing company will have for its B2B platform.”

"Our new Envoy Core offering is really exciting for us. It's an opportunity for growing companies to take advantage of the same powerful tools and benefits found in our enterprise edition. Envoy Core gets these growing brands out of using an xls sheet to capture orders and a PDF to tell their story, and gives them a destination to invite their buyers into a modern purchasing and showroom experience," says CEO Jon Faber.

With similarities to Swedish-based, but Grand Rapids present software company Configura, Envoy has found an elegant solution to a problem within an industry that has been previously overlooked. In a Jobsian approach, Envoy has simplified an antiquated process that tech has overlooked and that businesses have not noticed could not only be improved, but revolutionized.

If you are reading this news and are currently living in Grand Rapids, our city is shaking things up!

If you are a Grand Rapids expat reading this elsewhere, then you might want to reconsider that move. Grand Rapids is showing little sign of slowing down.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Tallysheet: Clearing out the Headache from Clearing out your stuff

The weather is getting nicer, and you are a little late on your spring cleaning. You call your friends and they are in the same predicament. Thank goodness for friends! So you all decide to gather up your extra things you have from your spring cleaning and have a big sale!

If you have ever managed a multi-seller garage sale, you already know the headache that this can bring. If you have never managed one, just take a look at the image below for the nightmare that awaits you.

That is all in the past thanks to a West Michigan based startup, husband and wife duo Holly and Brian Anderson, otherwise known as Tallysheet.

“The traditional process of tracking how much each seller has earned in a multi-family garage sale is really time-consuming and antiquated. It usually involves peeling price tags off each item and sticking them on a poster board or notebook. Then adding up all those tags at the end of the sale. I kept thinking ‘There has to be a better way to do this!’" says Holly Anderson.

After hearing and experiencing the same problem again and again within their friend group, the Andersons decided to do something about it. Brian, a VP at local digital agency Brightly, and Holly, a Project Manager at Haworth, put their skills together to knock out an app ideation, creation, and launch in record time.

Sitting down in May of last year to ideate and prototype, they worked throughout the summer during their free time and were able to launch by September 2016.

The app does it all and with slick design for simple user interface. When asked about their favorite feature they created for the app the Andersons said, “I love that multiple cashiers can each be using their own phone to simultaneously checkout customers, and they can be anywhere in the garage—not stuck at a table behind a cash box.

Another great feature is that cashiers can run real-time reports at anytime to see how much they've earned. After all the hard work of pulling the garage sale together, it's really rewarding to see that total going up!”

You would expect these features and design type to be a product of a Silicon Valley startup or a top prospect fresh out of Y-Combinator, but we have the talent right here in West Michigan.

The app has seen the most installs and growth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. It is safe to say that this app has gone global, showing that West Michigan has more than just manufacturing under its sleeve.

So we asked the Andersons if this cool new app is meant for just garage sales and they let us know that “in addition to garage sales and estate sales, we've seen people use it for all kinds of multi-seller events like craft sales, bake sales, fruit and vegetable stands, and multi-level marketing parties and shows [e.g. ThirtyOne bags, Premier Jewelry, etc.]. We've found that it's applicable across a broad market of sales events.”

Well you heard it here first folks, put away the dry erase board and the cash security box, and jump into the future with Tallysheet!

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

5x5 Night: On the road at The Downtown Market

If you haven’t made your way out to a 5x5 Night by now, I feel bad for your back; it’s been achingly supporting the rock you’ve been living under for the last 5 years. Truly painful. We have some great chiropractors here in the city that can take a look at that.

This past Tuesday was another installment of Start Garden’s 5x5 Night: On the Road series. The team headed down to the Downtown Market with five contestants to hear their pitches, rub elbows with the entrepreneurial community, and to of course eat and drink amazing offerings from the market.

This installment had a bit of everything. The pitches included a board game, a community development, a fashion line, a food company, and a mobile app.

Nathan Straathof presented his idea “Unlabeled: Blind Beer Tasting Game” where cards were matched to flights of beer to taste and show off your fledgling Cicerone skills.

Maurice Townsend presented his vision for “Motown Square,” a community of affordable and mixed-use housing on the southside of the city.

Rhoda Klomega presented her business “Delasie,” a fashion line emphasizing fitted clothing that lifts your confidence.

Hannah Johnson presented her business “Spera Foods,” a nut-alternative food that uses a tasty root vegetable called the tigernut.

Jeffrey Boore presented his untitled idea for an app that provides meal planning and grocery shopping, and is also a cooking guide.

Each presenter drew the audience in with their charisma, and impressed everyone with market research, but it may have been the fashion model line up that did it for Klomega and her fashion company, Delasie.

The judges awarded Delasie with the coveted check for $5,000, provided by Start Garden, and an additional $5000 in legal services from Varnum LLP, a Michigan law firm based in Grand Rapids. The $5000 in legal services will go a long way in helping this fashion startup grow as they seek to hire new staff due to continued demand and growth.

If you missed this installation of 5x5 Night you can’t afford to miss the next one. Be sure to stay updated here for the next event!

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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