I recently had an epiphany about how Milwaukee is an amazing place to launch a business.
You know what they say about New York: "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." I agree with that, but there is something to be said about cities like Milwaukee, one of those great middle-ground places that is large enough to bring some of the best musical acts known to man to our festivals and small enough that west coasters may confuse it with Minneapolis.
It is also has a magnetic pull, engaging big city dwellers from Chicago. What I have found most convenient, after living in several large cities, is the opportunity to start a business from the ground up. No matter what your passion, this is a great launching pad. There is an ample supply of real estate; the marketing opportunities are endless and nine times out of 10, someone here can benefit from your service or product.
Some of you may know that I have a children's clothing line, Pineapple & Eggplant Kids, and though I had my initial launch in Chicago, I knew that it would be next to impossible to get it to the next level without a small fortune or a solid investor. At the time I had neither, but what I did have was a whole lot of time, a solid concept and a new design partner by my side.
This summer, I decided to put my theory to the test and open up a small space to do business. I wanted to test the waters of commerce and the shop local supporters. I found an inexpensive office space and I put my vision to work. Come see me (open, for now, by appointment only, at 823 N. 2nd St. Lower Level Suite # 3.
Shopping one Saturday, my idea took shape. I made my office space a showroom for local designers and it didn't take long before I found my first two prospects, Snapdragon Arts and Bubble Eye Designs.
Bubbly Eye Designs by Michael Doll is wonderfully creative art for Children's rooms while Snapdragon Arts by Angela Laehn are amazing organic infant clothing using recycled felt to create amazing and fun designs.
Both artists set up shop every weekend at the Cathedral Square Farmers Markets and now show their additional collections at the Pineapple Eggplant Showroom.
My idea was starting to take shape and the vision was becoming clearer, but I still had work to do. Besides product inventory, I needed to create a marketable paradise that embodied the concept.
After a trip to Home Depot, I began by painting, making butterfly stencils and converting recycled wine boxes into shelves. I feel as if I had a legitimate New York or Los Angeles-style showroom. The finishing touches would come with the additions of the other designers.
Styles and art collections will rotate with the seasons and like any other showroom shopping is by appointment only. I consider this a test of my faith of my abilities to bring Milwaukee something new and offer other local business and opportunity to branch out as well.
Now that I have successfully opened up shop and am ready for business, I'm looking forward to see what kind of luck Milwaukee brings. Because, after all, "If you can make it in Milwaukee, you can make it anywhere!"
What a great nod to Milwaukee and its unique potential as a place to build big dreams! Congrats on your many accomplishments!
Great writeup. When I started Bucketworks back in 2002, it was because of the feeling and nature of Milwaukee you write about that made it the right place for this new dream. I had been to many other places but they all seemed "done" in a way that Milwaukee does not. I don't want to merely live somewhere, I want to create it also. Milwaukee is a great place to create.
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