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Indy Hall opens its own retail arm with KINSHOP

Artist, maker and entrepreneur co-working hub Indy Hall is launching its first-ever onsite retail venture, and just in time for holiday shopping.

Indy Hall staffer Sean Martorana, who focuses on the arts community and curatorial side of things, says KINSHOP -- which officially opened on November 6 and will probably run until February 2016 -- places no restrictions on the kinds of goods for sale from the Indy Hall community.

“It was really cool to see and celebrate the things that people have made here,” he enthuses.

Dubbed "a collective boutique and small-retail experience in the Indy Hall Gallery," KINSHOP features wares from over a dozen members. The name came out of the group’s recent successful KIN collaborative exhibition, which kicked off this fall’s arts season.

Items on sale range in price from about $100 to $125 for sculptures and $10 to $12 for small arts and crafts items such as prints, wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards, music, pillows, jam, wineglasses, terrariums, tote bags, scarves and more. Thirty percent of each purchase goes directly to arts programming at Indy Hall, funding things like classes and workshops, and gallery and store upkeep. The rest goes to the makers.

The goods will rotate throughout the season -- as soon as one item sells out, something else made at Indy Hall goes on the market. That means the shop will be worth multiple visits for the assiduous locally minded holiday shopper.

“As we sell we’re just going to keep putting stuff in," explains Martorana. "We have so much stuff in our community that we’re not going to go empty."

Indy Hall’s usual weekday hours (9 a.m. - 6 p.m.) are a good time to check out KINSHOP; if you need to make it an evening outing, Martorana recommends Night Owl hours (Tuesdays, 6 - 10 p.m.).

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sean Martorana, Indy Hall 

Local 'Shark Tank' alum shares tips for business success at International House

For the second event of its Entrepreneur Works Presents speaker series, Philly nonprofit Entrepreneur Works is bringing Rebecca Rescate to International HouseShark Tank viewers may remember her from memorable turns during seasons two, three and four; on October 19 from 7 to 9 p.m., she will lead a special presentation and Q&A with aspiring entrepreneurs

A Northeastern University graduate who majored in design with a minor in business, Rescate tells Flying Kite that she wanted to be an art teacher growing up before realizing that product design was her true calling. In the last decade, she's shepherded a diverse stable of products onto the market, including the ones she landed deals for on ABC's Shark Tank. Cat owners across the country are toilet-training their felines with the CitiKitty system, while others are staying cozy with HoodiePillow. (For a look at all of Rescate’s brands and products, check out her website.)

A mother of three kids under 10, the Yardley resident is an advocate for tailoring work life to one's personal schedule. She also emphasizes that developing a successful brand or product doesn’t happen overnight.

"There’s a lot to learn and people don’t have the patience to do the learning," she explains, touting the value of the local library and myriad modern resources aspiring entrepreneurs can access without relying on a specialized degree. "I didn’t launch my second brand until six years into owning my first business."

It took her that much time to master the ins and outs of understanding a market, fine-tuning and promoting a product, and building her brand.

According to Rescate, her October 19 speech will tackle "the reality of entrepreneurship, and the really amazing lifestyle that you can build as an entrepreneur," unshackled from the typical nine-to-five, Monday through Friday schedule. It took her awhile to realize this, she admits, but once she began building her work hours around her life instead of the other way around, she realized "you can use it to your advantage to be more effective than you ever imagined."

For her, that means being "on fire" at four or five AM -- she can get more done in the wee hours of the morning than she ever can in the middle of the afternoon -- and designing the cycle of work on her businesses around the kids’ school year.

"A lot of times as an entrepreneur, you can forget to use those things to your advantage," she insists. "Take advantage of when you’re at your best…I have used the best of me to create the best business."

In other words, "Why are you working when everybody else works? It doesn’t have to be like that."

"I always try to empower people to use what they have at their disposal," she adds. "It’s never lack of education, lack of funding, or lack of connections that keeps you from being successful. How successful you are is determined by you."

The event, sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, is happening in partnership with International House’s Intercultural Leadership Series, which fosters "insight on the competencies, behaviors and specific skills needed to be an effective leader in an intercultural environment." Advance registration ($20; free for International House members and residents) is required.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rebecca Rescate

The Center for Architecture unveils Kahn Coffee -- designed by you?

This year, the Philadelphia Center for Architecture's DesignPhiladelphia event (October 8 - 16) will feature a small but energizing twist: a contest to create branding for a new coffee blend open to designers of all stripes. The buzzy brew will be available exclusively through the Center and American Institute of Architects (AIA) Philadelphia, courtesy of a new partnership with Philly Fair Trade Roasters.

DesignPhiladelphia attracts over 150 partners each year for public programming on 21st-century design, technology and collaboration in the business world.  

AIA and Center for Architecture Executive Director Rebecca Johnson says the beverage brainstorm came about as the Center worked on some renovations in advance of the AIA Convention in May 2016, which will bring 25,000 architects to our city. The team started thinking of fun ways to improve the space -- a place to grab a local pick-me-up made a lot of sense.

"There’s always meetings here, so we want to have a sense of a hub of activity for the design community," explains Johnson. "Coffee just kept coming up. For the Convention, I thought that would be a really fun thing."

The name Kahn came up due to the Center’s annual Louis Kahn lecture.

"Do people know the significance of Louis Kahn to the entire world?" asks Johnson. "He’s a huge influencer. And he’s a Philadelphia architect."

And then the idea went a step further: Bring the local creative community in on the process. Running during DesignPhiladelphia, the contest is open to everybody: architects, artists, laypeople. The finished branding doesn’t necessarily have to feature Kahn -- if participating designers have another idea of someone to feature, they should go for it.

The deadline for entries is September 30, and the concepts will be on display at the Center during DesignPhiladelphia. The public can vote on their favorite. (For formatting guidelines and other instructions, click here.) Everyone who votes will get a free sample cup of the new coffee.

Beyond simply offering a new amenity for the many people who use the Center, the organizers hope to get the community even more engaged with the interdisciplinary space that also houses the Community Design Collaborative. Johnson hopes Kahn Coffee (or whatever the brand turns out to be) and the contest will be one more way to spark the kind of conversations AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture aim to foster.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rebecca Johnson, the Center for Architecture and AIA Philadelphia

Mt. Airy's Make Art, Grow Food connects kids and elders thanks to a new grant program

This summer's news about the impending loss of their lease didn’t deter Mt. Airy Art Garage leaders and supporters from celebrating the September 9 dedication of their new Make Art, Grow Food mural and garden. The project has transformed MAAG's backyard from a blank wall and a tangle of weeds to a vibrant art piece and rows of fresh vegetables.
The project was made possible by a grant of about $5,000 from the East Mt. Airy Neighbors Association (EMAN) Community Fund, administered through the Philadelphia Foundation. It’s EMAN’s first year giving these grants, and Executive Director Elayne Bender says Make Art, Grow Food was a natural fit for their mission.
The mural was developed via a months-long collaboration between a specialized class of autistic sixth, seventh and eighth graders at the nearby Henry H. Houston School, the elderly day residents of Homelink, Inc. (an adult center and MAAG neighbor), and MAAG member artists and educators. According to Bender, this inter-generational aspect in particular appealed to EMAN.
Illinois native Daisy Juarez, a painter and MAAG member, spearheaded the mural portion of the project. The participating kids and elders drew their own designs for the wall, and Juarez worked them all into one piece. The design was projected and traced onto primed paper pieces. The students and adults then painted in segments on tables inside MAAG; these paper segments were then mounted and sealed on the wall.
"It’s the first time we did a project here with this many people," explained MAAG co-founder Arleen Olshan at the dedication, which was attended by the kids, the elders, Bender and representatives of other supporting groups such as Valley Green Bank, Primex and Mt. Airy Animal Hospital.
For the garden portion of the project, a local Home Depot donated plants and gear, including tables and hoses. MAAG volunteers are helping to maintain the space.
The proud kids (along with a few parents) and elders got their first look at the finished mural on the wall at the dedication. Wherever MAAG lands, Slodki promises that the mural will follow, with a large photograph of it converted into a giclée print.
Bender says the project was a particularly emotional one for her: She cried upon seeing the finished mural in August. 

"It’s joy on a wall," she enthuses.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Elayne Bender, East Mt. Airy Neighbors

An urban farm sprouts in Chinatown thanks to Grow Where You Live

Meei Ling Ng, a Singapore-born, Philly-based artist, designer and urban farmer, has taken on a multifaceted project in Chinatown North. The initiative features a vertical urban farm, a job-skills program for people in recovery from addiction or homelessness, and a new fount of fresh food for the partnering Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.

The impetus for Ng's new project grew out of Grow Where You Live, her year-long Social Practice Lab residency at the Asian Arts Initiative. It was supposed to wrap up in June, but the current urban garden project has proven so successful that Ng's Asian Arts residency has been extended at least until the end of this year.

"Ideally I was looking for a vacant lot around the neighborhood," says Ng of a long search for an appropriate urban farm space and partner organization. Such a space -- open to the work of an artist and farmer -- was hard to find, partly because of recent gentrification in the area.

A tour of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission late last year proved extremely propitious: Ng learned that the organization, which provides a range of vital services to the city’s homeless, was in the process of a parking lot space swap with their neighbors to the west, Roman Catholic High School.

The switch would leave a large space along Sunday Breakfast’s kitchen wall -- about 20 feet wide and 100 feet long -- empty of cars by law.

"This is amazing. This is exactly what we want," Ng recalls thinking on seeing the space; she envisioned a specially designed and built vertical urban farm. "We can use a whole big empty wall with asphalt under…this could be an awesome, awesome project."

The artist spent a month on a meticulous rendering of her idea, then pitched it to Sunday Breakfast. The project became reality through support and donations from Asian Arts, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Orchard Project, City Harvest and South Philly’s Urban Jungle, a landscape design firm.

Since then, the little farm has provided pounds of produce that go directly into meals served at Sunday Breakfast.

The partnership also has a human component: The farm runs with help from workers at Overcomers, an intensive 16-month program for men in recovery from addiction and homelessness. They reap a wealth of skills -- not only the ability to grow their own healthy food in an urban setting, but practical job training in a rapidly growing industry. The formal part of the Overcomers project is finished, but a few participants have stayed on as official apprentices and volunteers.

"This is very exciting that we have a team now to work on the farm," says Ng, adding that she has high hopes the project will continue in future summers.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Meei Ling Ng, Asian Arts Initiative

Designer Amy Devan is making fashion waves from Philly

Most fashion designers dream of living and working in New York, London, Paris or Milan, where the big fashion weeks happen. But Amy Devan made a different choice.

The creative director of Naveda, a two-year-old luxury womenswear brand, spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia and earned her MBA at Drexel University. She founded her brand in 2013 while living in New York City. Six months ago, she made the move back to Philadelphia because she recognized it was a great place to be. Now she has a studio near Rittenhouse Square where she meets with clients for custom couture and works on her ready-to-wear line, which is sold online and in boutiques across the country.

"I thought it was really good timing to move to Philadelphia," she explains. "There's so much creativity here. I really wanted to be part of that."

Devan designs for the woman she is and wants to be: a free spirit who loves the best in materials and details. Her brand has two divisions: ready-to-wear and custom couture/bridal. Her customer tends to be a Free People customer, later in her life, and with more money to spend.

"Even though there are two segments, it's the same aesthetic, the same customer," says the designer.

Her clothes look like one-of-a-kind vintage pieces -- flowing silhouettes, beaded accents and intriguing colors. Devan has captured the attention of American and international media, and has shown her collections at New York and London Fashion Weeks in the last two seasons. Her brand is growing and she currently has a team of ten, some of whom work remotely.

Up next for Naveda is launching a ready-made couture collection, and merchandising the Fall 2015/Winter 2016 ready-to-wear collection. 

Writer: Rosella LaFevre
Source: Amy Devan, Naveda


Philadelphia's University City Science Center plans to double its campus

As Philadelphia's University City Science Center points out on its website, when it was founded in 1963, "the war on cancer had not been declared, the Apollo astronauts had yet to walk on the moon, and the first commercial microprocessor was eight years away."

Now the renowned urban research park -- already the oldest and largest in the U.S. -- has announced plans to double the size of its campus and accelerate the creation of a globally recognized innovation district for science and technology in West Philadelphia. 

In a joint venture with Wexford Science + Technology, a Baltimore-based biomed realty company, the Center is exploring joint development opportunities for nearly four million square feet of office, laboratory, residential, retail and parking space over the next 10 years. These opportunities include development of the former University City High School site adjacent to the Science Center and the three remaining open parcels on the existing campus: 3400, 3800 and 3850 Market Street.
Wexford has a wealth of experience in this area -- they have already developed 4.35 million square feet across 11 knowledge communities built upon a foundation of research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity. Their projects offer the programs, amenities and activities attractive to life science and technology companies and their employees.
To date, the Science Center and Wexford have successfully completed three development projects at 3701, 3711 and 3737 Market Street. These projects include multi-story buildings with lab, office and clinical spaces, structured parking and ground-floor retail spaces. 

"Our strong partnership with Wexford enables us to take a proactive and engaged approach to the changing landscape of Philadelphia’s fastest-growing innovation neighborhood," explained Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang in a statement.

"Combining the vision and commercialization success of the Science Center, the development and programming expertise of Wexford and the intellectual capital and research strength of the institutions in University City, such as Drexel, Penn and Children’s Hospital, this partnership is primed to create a new environment of innovation and collaboration that will expand University City’s role as the fastest-growing economic engine and destination for innovation in Philadelphia and the region," added Jim Berens, president of Wexford.

Source: University City Science Center
Writer: Elise Vider

Philly-Based ZOOM Interiors walks away from 'Shark Tank' deal

A year ago, Madeline Fraser, Elizabeth Grover and Beatrice Fischel-Bock spent an hour in-studio with five investors on the set of ABC's Shark Tank. The three entrepreneurs were recent college grads who hailed from all over the country but came to Philadelphia to grow their online interior design consultation company, ZOOM Interiors.

They offered up a lively presentation to Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner. The trio sought $100,000 for a 20 percent stake in their company. They came out of their pitch with a deal from real estate magnate Corcoran, who offered $100,000 for 33 percent of the business. The episode aired on May 8.

"I never thought they would be so invested in the company," recalls Fraser. "They were very kind and willing to give guidance. It was such a priceless experience to have these five people give their advice."

After five months of due diligence, ZOOM Interiors and Barbara Corcoran parted ways. While Fraser and her business partners sought more of a mentor to guide and shape the business, they felt Corcoran was too busy to give them the personal attention they sought. 

"She's such a busy lady," says Fraser. "I think it was a bit much for her to take on at the time. Her staff is really incredible as well. Through the process of due diligence, you're getting a business analysis from such wise people."

ZOOM Interiors was born while Fraser, Grover and Fischel-Bock were studying abroad in London. Meanwhile, their friends were getting first jobs and moving into grownup apartments -- and emailing to ask for interior design advice. The three design school students were always notably well-dressed and people liked their aesthetic. They answered questions, did some online shopping, and helped those friends transform blank spaces into stylish homes, all through email from thousands of miles away. Turning that process into a company was the next logical step.

Since filming their episode of Shark Tank, Fraser, Grover and Fischel-Bock have made some adjustments to the business model. They still provide a free 15-minute consultation to each person who fills out their survey. After that, customers can purchase a custom concept board (called a ZoomBoard) to start the design process for $199. If customers like what they see, they can take the next step and receive a detailed shopping list. There are other extras and room bundles available for purchase.

The biggest change to the model might be the elimination of commission on the pieces purchased. This cuts out the greatest risk with traditional interior design: that the designer is urging you to buy certain furniture and décor because they're getting a cut. ZOOM's business model has no hidden fees.

The company also sells furniture and décor through the "Shop" section of their website. The are pieces chosen because they fit the founders' high-style, minimal-effort aesthetic.

Fraser has been in Philadelphia for about a year now, and she's in love with her new city. 

"We visited a few times before graduation and fell in love," she enthuses. "This is a really great place for startups."

Writer: Rosella LaFevre
Source: Madeline Fraser, ZOOM Interiors

Calling all Makers: NextFab opens second location in Fishtown

 NextFab, a "gym for innovators" that provides members access to a variety of fabrication tools, celebrated the grand opening of its second location on Friday. The new outpost is on the first floor of Impact Hub Philadelphia, a socially-minded co-working space in Fishtown.

While the pairing of a business space with a workshop may seem odd to some, the match was well-made. The lovingly restored building at N. 4th and Thompson Streets was formerly occupied by 3rd Ward, a Brooklyn-founded (and now defunct) maker space.

"We learned that 3rd Ward had left a fair amount of equipment and some spaces fit out as workshops, and that Impact Hub was pondering what to do with them," explains Evan Malone, president of NextFab. "Our working together seemed to be a logical solution."

In addition to taking over unused space and equipment, Malone is also excited to be close to where people live and work -- there is a large community of artists, designers and tinkerers in the Fishtown, Northern Liberties and Kensington communities.

"It's not as large as our Wash Avenue location, but it provides well-rounded wood and metal shops, and a very quiet and comfortable CAD and electronics lab," enthuses Malone. "We are most excited that North 4th has NextFab's first shop dedicated to jewelry making and we have a professional jewelry designer on staff."
Keep an eye on the NextFab website for special offers throughout the month in celebration of the new space and for partnership projects with Impact Hub later this year.

Writer: Hailey Blessing
Source: Evan Malone, NextFab

Drexel and TechGirlz partner to teach game design to young women

Girls just want to have…parity in the tech world.

With the aim of addressing gender inequality in the sector, Drexel University’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio is working with the Philadelphia nonprofit TechGirlz to create a virtual game design class that will be made available, free-of-charge, to schools and students nationwide.

This set of self-contained, online instructional videos and educational materials will guide middle school and high-school-age students – and their teachers – through a basic game design curriculum. 
"Our goal is to give young women a little taste of game design," explains Frank Lee, an associate professor in Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and founder of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio. "Many of them are already playing video games, but we’re hoping our workshops will inspire them to ask questions about how they’re made, and think about how they could make them better. We want to make a program that is useful and engaging enough that students will get enough basic coding knowledge to make a simple game."

"Our goal for this program is to make sure girls understand what technology is all about and how they can be part of it," adds Tracey Welson Rossman, founder of TechGirlz. "This particular program is targeted to increase the number of girls who understand how cool creating games can be."

Participants in TechGirlz’ ongoing workshops and summer programs are currently testing the game design curriculum for an anticipated fall launch. According to Welson Rossman, the nonprofit is also planning to expand its workshop offerings nationwide. 

Source: Tracey Welson Rossman, TechGirlz and Drexel University
Writer: Elise Vider

Turning artists and creatives into entrepreneurs at Corzo Open Office Hours

According to Todd Hestand, manager of incubator programs at University of the Arts’ Corzo Center for the Creative Economy, there’s no excuse for creative professionals in Philly not turning their ideas into businesses.

"This is one of those great lies," he explains. "Artists love to say that there’s no resources out there for them, there’s no funding, and that’s all just a big excuse…there are tons of resources out there for artists. You just have to go out and look."

One of those resources is the Corzo Center (which receives funding from PECO, Wells Fargo and the Knight Foundation). It offers a four-pronged program for different levels of engagement, including free lectures and workshops, Corzo’s Open Office Hours program, two-week business Boot Camps, and a Creative Incubator Grant.

The Center defines artists as broadly as possible -- everything from musicians and performers to fine artists, craftspeople and industrial designers. And they can help any artist who wants to start a business, either for- or non-profit, from supporting themselves with their own practice to developing an app.

Hestand, a serial entrepreneur with a long resume as an executive management consultant who is also an artist and musician, first came across Corzo Director Neil Kleinman about five years ago when he joined Philly Startup Leaders.

"He said he was running this thing called the Corzo Center," recalls Hestand. "I said, 'Who’s on your team?' He said, 'Well, just me.' I said, 'Well, not anymore.' That was about it."

Hestand is also the administrative coordinator for the Open Office Hours program, providing unlimited, free, confidential entrepreneurship counseling sessions to the public. This rapidly growing four-year-old initiative offers access to about 25 experts at three different partner locations: UArts, the Curtis Institute and NextFab.

All consultants are well-rounded business strategists, but aspiring entrepreneurs can pick from a long list of specialties including accounting, marketing, PR, taxes, finance, web design and development.

While the Corzo Center isn’t the only place in the city offering counsel to aspiring entrepreneurs, "there really isn’t any other organized, growing operational office hours capacity for artists starting businesses in Philly," argues Hestand.

Recently, a new scheduling platform through the Timely app has dramatically increased program participation: The number of appointments has doubled every month since it launched.

Hestand estimates that 100 people used the old platform last year, but that number could easily jump to three or four hundred in 2015.

"All locations are free and open to the public," he urges. "Sign up for a much help as you need."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Todd Hestand, The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy


Art meets science in University City with stunning, shifting "Blueprint" installation

Most art pieces invite the viewer to bring their own perspective, but rarely does the art itself shift before you can look away. With "Blueprint," a new two-piece installation in lobbies at the University City Science Center’s 3737 Market Street, members of London's United Visual Artists (UVA) have taken the laws of science -- in fields like biology, software and genetics -- and married them to the light, color and texture of art.

When Flying Kite caught up with UVA's Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet in early December, it was a busy week for the internationally acclaimed arts group, which works on projects that encompass sculpture, installation, live performance and architecture. UVA recently installed pieces in Seoul, London and Philadelphia -- that's three exhibitions on three continents opening in the same week.

Each rectangular Blueprint piece is eight feet high and four feet wide, and weighs over 286 pounds. They’re a combination of color-shifting LED lights glowing through a translucent acrylic matte broken into 1,536 rectangular cells thanks to an aluminum grid (or aluminium, depending what side of the pond you’re from).

"We’re not very pro using off-the-shelf products," explains Found, referring to the painstaking year-long process of creating the works by hand, not to mention the software that powers Blueprint’s undulating look.

Because if you look at Blueprint for more than a few seconds, you’ll notice that the colors are constantly shifting and shading, fighting each other for chunks of the board, constantly spreading and receding in different ways. Occasionally, the board resolves into one solid shade before the waves of color pulse back to life.

It’s all thanks to an algorithm "inspired by the building blocks of life," explains Kreukniet. "Instead of deciding the composition [of the piece], we’re deciding on a set of rules."

Think the natural laws that govern things such as weather patterns, soil conditions and evolution. The rules are constant, but the practical outcomes -- from drought to monsoons or frogs to giraffes -- are infinitely varied.

Found and Kreukniet have a curious relationship to their Blueprint creations, each of which plays host to two distinct software "organisms." As long as the installation is turned on, the two computer-engineered entities, representing themselves with different colors, wrestle each other for control of the board's grid, within the rules of their co-existence.

Found and Kreukniet are pleased with the location of the pieces -- these permanent installations are free for everyone to view and consider, outside of a rarefied gallery setting.

"Every time you see the piece, it’s doing something different," says Found.

Blueprint is funded by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program, which teamed with the Science Center and its 3737 Market Street development partner, Wexford Science + Technology.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet, United Visual Artists


The Mobile Maker Cart brings the tools to the people

Public Workshop founder and director Alex Gilliam calls the blue Schwinn adult tricycle known as the Mobile Maker Cart a "cabinet of curiosities," but then admits that that’s not quite right.

"Cabinet of possibilities. That’s better," he says of the one-of-a-kind mobile workshop conceived and assembled with the help of $180 and a team of 16-20 year-old Public Workshop members at the University City Science Center’s Department of Making + Doing.

The cart’s young designers fashioned several surprising elements out of wood, including pedals, handlebars, a chain-guard and even a smartphone speaker. The Mobile Maker Cart has tools, storage space, an expandable workbench, a small battery-powered generator and a folding canopy, and it’s open to anyone in the neighborhoods it visits.

So far, these visits have included block parties in Powelton Village and Spruce Hill, and stops are coming up in November at various vacant lots on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. (Mobile Maker Cart activities are funded by ArtPlace America.)

"Humans are wired to copy one another," says Gilliam of the Public Workshop mission, and why the Cart, offering an opportunity to observe and participate in the creative process in public spaces, is a perfect example of it.

“We originally learn by touching and interacting with the world,” he adds, and we experience a remnant of this every time we absentmindedly put a pen in our mouth while thinking.

Youngsters might drive adults crazy with time-honored toddler activities such as banging pots and pans together, but "that is their way -- and originally your way -- of understanding what a pan is, and what acoustics are," he insists. Once we grow up, not everyone feels like an artist, writer, director, architect or designer. But given the opportunity, "everyone likes to build," and hands-on activities spark "a chemically different process" than sitting in a meeting or completing paperwork.

Whether it’s a shovel, saw or a sledgehammer, the chance to connect with others over a physical task releases endorphins, which foster a sense of teamwork and inclusion, a sharpened memory, and the tenacity needed to get things done, Gilliam continues.

Public space is "the original Internet," he adds, where we connect, learn and collaborate in the way we really evolved to. "People are tired of talking about stuff, they just want to do…We’re pushing all those buttons."

When Mobile Maker Cart visitors are impressed by the gear onboard, and learn that, for example, an item was made by a sixteen-year-old girl, "it changes the conversation very quickly. People think, if a teenager can do it, maybe so can I."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Alex Gilliam, The Public Workshop


No sweat! Philly's Fairwear keeps bike commuters cool and office-appropriate

Riffing off Benjamin Franklin, inventor, founding father, quintessential Philadelphian and all-around cool dude, Fairwear, a Philly startup, promises freedom to pursue an active lifestyle while staying comfortable. 

Founder Louis Pollack says the idea arose from the challenge of staying cool and presentable in everyday clothes while biking around Philadelphia, his adopted city.

Fairwear uses performance-based materials to create garments that are moisture wicking and highly breathable.

"Our apparel doesn't have a glossy lycra-like flair, nor does it have awkwardly placed pockets or technical trim," explains Pollack. "Fairwear is meant for a clean and comfortable transition from bike to boardroom to bar, in no particular order."

Fairwear’s line of men's button-down shirts is priced between $75 and $85. 

The company sources everything domestically from Philadelphia or New York, and manufactures at a factory in Northeast Philadelphia.

"When I started I knew I wanted to source everything locally," recalls Pollack. "My desire to keep production nearby is partially patriotic but also makes sense logistically. Local factories offer a much higher level of craftsmanship because you can maintain close input on the process. Sending your stuff overseas to be made is scary because you instantly lose control and are trusting someone you’ve never met before."

Fairwear is sold at a handful of Philly-area bike shops, craft and high-end flea markets like Philadelphia’s Franklin Flea and Phair, and at trade shows such as the upcoming Philadelphia Bike Expo

Pollack comes from a garment industry background and established the company earlier this year. As the company grows, he hopes to take Fairwear to larger national shows, and eventually open a brick-and-mortar location.

"We are always improving and tweaking details," he insists. "Stuff like material, fit and finish can always be made better. Our immediate reaction has been very positive. We want to continue supporting our early adopters, while sustainably growing Fairwear’s presence."

Source: Louis Pollack, Fairwear
Writer: Elise Vider

Philadelphia Fashion Incubator launches a five-day pop-up shop in Manayunk

The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy's Center City (PFI), an intensive year-long business boot camp for early-career fashion entrepreneurs, will be launching a pop-up shop in an empty Manayunk storefront from June 25 through 29.
Launched in March 2012 as a collaboration between Macy's Center City, the City of Philadelphia and Center City District, PFI is helmed by executive director Elissa Bloom, who previously taught fashion entrepreneurship at both Drexel University and Moore College of Art.
Prior to her Philly relocation, Bloom spent roughly eight years living the entrepreneurial lifestyle in New York, launching a successful accessories business.

"I basically created this program out of the needs that I had as an entrepreneur and a designer in the market," says Bloom. "It's kind of like a five-year fast-forward for these designers."  
The six entrepreneurs enrolled in this year's residency are offered legal advice from local volunteer lawyers; receive business plan reviews and professional advice from a Wharton research director; are introduced to industry insiders; and meet regularly with mentors.
"But in addition to the curriculum, I thought, 'Well, the designers also need opportunities to sell and showcase their collections,'" recalls Bloom. "Hence, the pop-up."
Scheduled to run from 11 a.m. on June 25 through 8 p.m. on June 29 at 4347 Main Street in Manayunk, the pop-up shop will kick-off with a party on the evening of the 25th. Roughly a dozen designers will be showcasing and selling their work, including three graduates from the program's first two graduating classes.
To learn more about the stainless steel accessories, utility design handbags, women's evening wear and patterned garments that will be on offer at the shop, click here.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Elissa Bloom, Philadelphia Fashion Incubator
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