Profiles: May Tsupros of Gardeneers

Every month on our Profiles blog series, Coffee & Conversation showcases some of our most outstanding projects from our community members. This month we're talking to Victor from The Remote Lifestyle and May from Gardeneers! Victor has been infusing the C&C community with his knowledge and passion for making the side hustle a viable business. May has been a part of the C&C community from the beginning and it has been amazing to watch her nonprofit not only grow, but flourish. 

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May: Instagram

Gardeneers: Website - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

I feel infinitely fortunate for so many things that have happened in the last three years. Most recently, we had our first big fundraising gala at the end of October and we raised nearly $200K. WOWZERS! Really though, I always feel the proudest and most successful when I see kids loving healthy food and growing it themselves.

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

During the growing season we are a staff of 17, but only 6 people stay on full time through the winter, next year though, we are going to be hiring two more full time positions in development and community building (YAY!) I AM SOOOO PUMPED (like brings me to tears to think about) for the community building position. We are also moving forward with a strategic plan to bring more diversity to our staff; which is something non-profits generally struggle with, and we're going to be serving five NEW schools next growing season. Increasing the total number of schools and students who receive experiential, garden-based nutrition education every week to 25 and nearly 2000 respectively. 

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

To me, collaboration means building a network of support. The more you spread the conversation, your ideas, and joy around the more it comes back. You listen to others, you learn from others, you get each other's back and visa-versa. Collaboration means not having an ego, but being open to realizing there are always more ideas out there and ways to approach situations. Being an island is lonely and sharing success with the people who helped you along the way is always more gratifying.

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Be humble and listen to really hear, not just to respond. OH, I have another one. FIND YOUR PASSION!

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

I always got my ear to what's happening in the food movement in Chicago, but there are two big things I am particularly interested in: 1. food waste-- we have GOT to figure this out and 2. Leslie Fowler, CPS Director of Student Nutrition Service-- I want to see where she goes with school lunches and making them better for our kiddos.

Anything else you'd like to add? 

If anyone wants to barter for garden produce or honey, let me know-- I am trying to start an alternative economy. Also, C&C is an incredible resource so if you are even slightly considering it, GO! You will not regret it!

Profiles: Victor Kung of The Remote Lifestyle

Every month on our Profiles blog series, Coffee & Conversation showcases some of our most outstanding projects from our community members. This month we're talking to Victor from The Remote Lifestyle and May from Gardeneers! Victor has been infusing the C&C community with his knowledge and passion for making the side hustle a viable business. May has been a part of the C&C community from the beginning and it has been amazing to watch her nonprofit not only grow, but flourish. 

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Victor: website

The Remote Lifestyle: website

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

I recently started recording online videos for my business and that's been a big challenge for me. It's not natural for me to think about recording myself, whether it's real-time (Snapchat, Instagram) or recorded (Facebook Video, YouTube). But as an online entrepreneur, you can't succeed without moving into video. Compared to written and audio content, video is by far the most engaging and with the most viral potential.

Video is also a beast of it's own. Different platforms have their own unique characteristics so it's a lot to take in. I'm proud of moving in that direction even though it's still not natural yet. For everyone out there, I've learned a ton about online videos from a course called Jumpcut Academy and I recommend checking that out if you're interested in diving into the world of video.

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

I'm releasing my podcast The Remote Podcast on November 7th! I'm very excited because the podcast series features one-on-one interviews with people living and working remotely.

To preface, my blog is all about location-independence and how you can break free of the conventional nine-to-five and to live as a digital nomad. The podcast will add to that by bringing together stories of people all over the world who are living this type of lifestyle.

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

We have all heard of the phrase, "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with". Unfortunately for many of us, the people we spend the most time with aren't the people who share our values, who push us out of our comfort zone and who challenge our assumptions. C&C members all share an entrepreneurial mindset and a can-do attitude. Being around these types of people give you that extra boost and motivation to follow through with your goals. Never underestimate the power of communities and networks. C&C is a wonderful way for you to meet new people and to get inspired so I always try and make it to the meetups when I can.

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Many people want to be entrepreneurs because it sounds sexy and trendy to want to live an unconventional lifestyle. But I would urge people to ask themselves the difficult questions. Not the generic, "what are you passionate about?" I'm talking about questions like: "what type of life do you want to live?" or "in 10 years, what kind of life do you want to have?" Asking these personal lifestyle questions can go a long way in helping you work backwards and figure out what you want to be doing now to live the lifestyle you want.

Entrepreneurship can mean a lot of things. It can be tech startups, blogging, freelancing, you name it. Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for you to carve out the lifestyle you want and that's what people often forget. It's not a get-rich quick scheme.

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

The Crawlspace is a new non-profit in Chicago that is trying to create coworking spaces inside of high schools. I think it's an awesome concept that could create entrepreneurial hubs within youth communities.

 

Profiles: Ryanne Maldonado of Set Fire To It

Each month C&C Profiles pulls the curtain back on the world of entrepreneurship to see the behind the scenes stories of some of our community members. This month we're checking in with Ryanne Maldonado, Founder of Set Fire To It, and David Blakeman, Founder of Field Days Dog Walking (check out his interview here!)

Ryanne/Set Fire To It: Twitter - Instagram - Facebook - Website

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

Right now I'm really proud of how cohesive my work and my branding is looking as I gear up for the holiday season, which is a really busy time for makers and artists. I am lucky to work out of an amazing studio in Logan Square called Penguin Foot Pottery where I act as studio monitor and instructor. Having a mentor, fellow teachers, as well as a bunch of other ceramists at every level of experience means I get to be both challenged and supported on a daily basis. I feel like my work has grown exponentially in the last year.

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

I have SO many shows coming up - my first is the Handmade Market at the Empty Bottle from 12-4 on October 8 (https://www.facebook.com/events/1771138093130988/) and every 2nd Saturday of the month from now until April. Also really excited for Show Of Hands, November 18th-20th (showofhandschicago.com) at Architectural Artifacts. And the Holiday Revolution Craft Show on December 11 from 12-6 (https://www.facebook.com/events/306252106403743/). That show was so much fun last year, and I can't wait to do it again!

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

Collaboration is paramount in my work. Like I mentioned above, at Penguin Foot I am constantly energized by the creativity of the other makers around me - there is always someone there to talk through a concept, troubleshoot the execution of an idea, or simply empathize with how tired my hands are. We all get to explore together, and we are all better artists for it. I get that same energy from Coffee and Conversation - I actually got my first lead on a pop-up market at a C&C meeting, which led to another craft show, then another, and the momentum from that first little tidbit arguably started my career! It has been my sanity to be around this many people who are forging their own path.

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Surround yourself with good people who will push you forward, and never let anyone tell you that you don't have a "real" job. Being a working artist, a small business owner, or really any lifestyle that isn't structured the way "traditional" jobs are can feel really isolating sometimes, so have people around who understand the work and sacrifices that it takes and who will bring positivity and proactivity into your life.

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

Verdant Matter is a fantastic plant shop in Pilsen that stocks all sorts of local artists (including Set Fire To It) as well as hosting really amazing events like a monthly dinner and yoga series called Breathe/Eat. Definitely worth checking out!

Anything else you'd like to add? 

Just a general thank you to the C&C community for being so supportive and wonderful! I've seen a lot of members at shows I've done and it means the world to me to get to belong to this crew!

Profiles: David Blakeman of Field Days Dog Walking

Each month C&C Profiles pulls the curtain back on the world of entrepreneurship to see the behind the scenes stories of some of our community members. This month we're checking in with David Blakeman, Founder of Field Days Dog Walking, and Ryanne Maldonado, Founder of Set Fire To It (check out her interview here!)

Field Days Dog Walking: Facebook Instagram

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

Although I'm not quite there yet, I've been able to utilize my manager to free up some of my time to work ON the business, rather than IN the business. However, it's always a work in progress, to say the least.

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

Looking to use my experience as a small business owner, particularly with customer service skills, to potentially explore new ventures in the dog industry. Hopefully, some of the "free" time I've created will allow me to do so!

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

For me, collaboration is conversation, whether it's online or in-person. It's important to gain perspective and learn from other people's experience, both wins and losses. Support each other in abundance. Watching each of you work, grow, collaborate, and create is my favorite aspect of C&C -- it's truly inspirational. Well tbqh, coffee is my favorite part.

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Get rich or die trying. And I'm not referring to money. My ex-partner once told me that he wanted to be an entrepreneur so that he could set his own hours and be his own boss. To me, those are luxuries reserved for those who have put in the time. All day, every day, should be an expectation.

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

One Tail at a Time. It's a growing non-profit dog rescue organization in Bucktown. Several C&C members are actively involved and/or on the board. We're always looking for volunteers, foster homes, donations, and adopters! Check out www.onetail.org for more information!

Anything else you'd like to add? 

It's time for coffee ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Profiles: Nicole Vasquez of The Shift

In this episode of C&C Profiles we're hearing from Nicole Vasquez who has grown her coworking space The Shift into a bustling and engaged community in less than two years from first opening the doors. In addition to hosting a C&C meetup at her space, Nicole is active in supporting and leading the startup and coworking community in Chicago. 

 Photo courtesy of Nicole Vasquez. 

Nicole: Twitter - Business BlogTravel Blog

The Shift:  Website - Twitter - Instagram - Facebook Page

 

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

Starting The Shift (a coworking space) from scratch just 1.5 years ago, and now having a full roster of members and a thriving, collaborative, connected, coworking community!

 

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

I'm so stoked about partnering with Levi Baer to launch Second Shift in Logan Square (anticipated launch date: December 2016).

 

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

Collaboration to me is being open to learning from other people, understanding that their knowledge and experience may be different from yours but will provide you with a wider perspective, and most importantly, providing your listening ear and/or support to those people in return. Abundance to me means family, friends, love, and kindness, and things like wealth, status, success, and material things are trivial.

 

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Never stop learning. Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can through books, podcasts, industry news, attending events, and of course: conversations with other people!

 

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

Deskpass!!! Its one membership that provides you access to 35+ coworking spaces and shared work spaces around Chicago! www.Deskpass.com

 

Anything else you'd like to add? 

C&C IS THE FREAKIN' BEST!!!!!!! :)

Profiles: Kailey Donewald of Sacred Serve

In this issue of C&C Profiles, we're checking in with long time community member Kailey Donewald, co-founder of the new vegan ice cream company Sacred Serve. Kailey has not only been active in C&C and the Chicago startup scene for a while, but has also graced us with delicious samples of Sacred Serve on a number of occasions. It is bound to be your new favorite dessert! Here are her thoughts on entrepreneurship:

Kailey: Instagram  - Website - Facebook Page

Sacred Serve:  Instagram - Website - Facebook Page

 

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

We finalized our retail packaging! I hired 2 fantastic designers I met while traveling through Slovenia a few months ago. They really made it happen for us and I'm grateful for their vision, patience, and ability to take our ideas to the next level. 

 

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

We are super excited to be exhibitors at Vegan Vortex (Sunday, September 25, 11am – 3pm at 3519 W Fullerton Ave) and Vegan Mania (Saturday, October 1, 10am – 5pm at 5917 N Broadway). Both events are free to the public and we'd love to see you there! We'll be introducing our handmade, sprouted brown rice, gluten-free waffle cones - which are sure to make an impression - they're jet black and made with activated charcoal for ultimate digestive detox!

 

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

The community within C&C has proven again and again to be an invaluable source of support and guidance. Whether it’s providing an answer to an accounting question, legal advice, or having community members show up to our events – it all contributes to the feeling that we’re in it together and the challenges don’t seem as daunting. It's been so beneficial to be surrounded with individuals that are equally as passionate about what they're working on. It creates an energy that helps to keep the momentum going. 

 

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Trust in yourself, and take calculated risks. While others might have more experience and can offer up some great advice, in the end it’s your vision, and your brand. Second-guessing and getting hung up in the decision-making process can really set you back, so always remember why you started and never lose sight of where you want to end up. If you keep these two things in mind, it's easier to navigate the daily challenges in the face of the bigger picture. 

 

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

A woman I met while living in Bali, Lydia, has created and successfully scaled her location independent business in a pretty rad way - her offerings are something I think everyone within the C&C community would be interested in. Check it out here: http://screwthecubicle.com

 

Anything else you'd like to add? 

I want to thank all of those from the C&C crew that have come out to some of our events. The support and feedback from you is so appreciated! Looking forward to many more events to come! 

Profiles: Levi Baer of Coffee & Conversation

Welcome to Profiles, an on-going series showcasing some of the great companies and projects created by the Coffee & Conversation community members. 

The pieces will feature short interviews that not only showcase was the companies have to offer, but also offer some insight to the entrepreneur process. In the spirit of collaboration, a pillar of the C&C community, we'll share ways we can all further our work, and Do More Together!

We're kicking it off with the profile of Coffee & Conversation itself:

 Photo by Josh Macwan of  Relax Photography

Levi: Twitter - Instagram - Website

C&C: Twitter - Instagram - Website

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

Organizations have begun to ask if C&C can be hosted in their space, which is an amazing leap from how I used to rack my brain trying to think of where we can go next. It means that C&C has grown so much that other people see the value of it, even without attending, and want that value in their space.

 

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the look out for?

Our next great gathering will be September 17 at Next Door Chicago! https://www.facebook.com/events/1089851784442529/

 

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

To me it means that we don't have to be as afraid of being stuck or even failing because we can always go to the community for the resources and guidance we need. Even though I am mostly in operations mode at C&C meet ups nowadays, I still leave the events feeling the "can do" spirit that permeates the room and have a handful of new connections that are going to further my work.

 

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Create some version of your product or service and get it out there in the world pretty much as fast as possible. Get testers, users, and feedback. You never know how it is going to grow and change and it may take some humility to be open to that feedback, especially when our ideas are our babies, but it can be invaluable to stay flexible.

 

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now?

Victor Saad at the Experience Institute, as they launch an online course version of their program called Leap Course. I'm fascinated by online content lately, and they work in a similar field as me, of empowering others, so I'm excited to watch a leader in this field take on video.

 

Anything else you'd like to add?

C&C is one of the projects and accomplishments I'm most proud of :)