culture

Making Connections: Support Local FL

I sit here surrounded by half filled brown corrugated cardboard boxes. The dining room table is stacked with framed photographs, clocks, and a crystal ball. My bookshelf is empty. The walls are bare. My coffee is warm, and my heart is full. If you know me personally then you know a few major things that I hold dear; 1. coffee 2. working together for the greater good of our society and culture; community and 3. the preservation and elevation of ethics and morality. Let’s get right into it. I’ve said it time and time again, community is what builds and grows the cultural experience of an environment. It is typically an underlining theme in my blog. I talk about it a lot. After living in Sarasota for 10 years watching that city grow, being part of an art collective with the mission to share contemporary visual art with the community and continuously supporting small local businesses. They have always supported me right back. The last 3 years have really shown me what I stand for as a person and artist. It’s what makes me more authentic. My truth. And one of the many reasons I am so attracted to Miami. I have attended Miami Art Basel since 2004. I have watched, from a distance, the city grow and realign itself with what matters the most. Becoming a hub for creative entrepreneurs and pushing the boundaries of how people interact with businesses and artists. Support Local is the brand in front of the movement carrying that mission for Miami. 

I was able to catch up with Janel from Support Local FL. Janel is the liaison for the brand. She oversees the partnerships, manages the social accounts, and on-boards new businesses. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with her over the phone and really dig into what Support Local stands for and how it operates. The mission is clear. Build relationships and support collaboration. Janel said it beautifully “transform the process of opening businesses in Miami”. Janel gets to know the brands and builds the direct relationships with each founder and their mission. She mentioned that they have always worked with makers and businesses, through the parent company Prism Creative Group, an agency dedicated to elevate culture in Miami, and from that sprung Support Local. Support Local is the platform that provides a curated directory of local businesses, taking action and alleviating pain and pressure of starting a business in the Miami area, and how to find the treasures. 

Janel, Chief Social Alchemist for Prism Creative Group and Liaison for Support Local FL

Janel, Chief Social Alchemist for Prism Creative Group and Liaison for Support Local FL

Support Local is mindful of the brands it supports, obviously it must be local, and SLFL takes the time to get to know the story behind the business as well as the product. Support Local stands with the brands it represents, they too are a small business. They understand the pain points for new small businesses and makers alike. They are currently connecting on a project with the City of Miami that is going to take work and time to scale but it’s incredible that its happening. The relationships are being built. Through the SLFL website businesses are able to showcase their brands becoming a resource for anyone visiting and living in Miami. Through the website you can find an array of fresh visionary companies. There are hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, a variety of makers, markets, and coworking spaces. By dropping the Support Local name at the business you can unlock a perk, which is listed with the company on the website. This perk is a driving force, it’s the connection point between the businesses that are bred in Miami with the people searching and wandering for the best coffee, yes I went right for the coffee. 

Another part of the Support Local mission is to connect the businesses to each other. This is where support meets collaboration meets better business and more opportunities. The first event they did was themed for this, meet and greet style with consumer interaction. The second event which happened in June was themed “Collaboration”. At the most recent event, Support Local had a collaboration board, one side it said “What do I need?” and the other “What do I want?”. The attendees were able to share their information and Janel is the business to business match maker, making the connections, forming the partnerships. Pairing together the makers, graphic designers, market gurus with different local companies, creating the opportunity to utilize the talent that makes the community vibrant and healthy.  She also mentioned that these themed events are going to keep happening. The next event is scheduled for July 19 at Made at The Citadel themed “Creativity”. All are welcome and you’ll be able to find me there; supporting, connecting, collaborating and being creative.

Photography Credit  Mac's Pub

Photography Credit Mac's Pub

I gush over all of this. My demeanor has transitioned from stressed about moving to pack faster.  It’s so much of what I’ve been craving for the last 3 years all rolled up into this beautiful dusty seashell pink with black, teal, and chartreuse accented website with an authentic mission. Adorned with the tribe I’m looking for, believing in the same things I believe. Creating and driving a community that works together for the greater good of the society and culture, preserving and elevating the ethic and morality. Being authentic. Although the movement is currently based in Miami the goal is expand throughout the state. If you believe what we believe, I encourage you to check out the curated directory of local businesses next time you are in Miami, grab a coffee, head to a museum, enjoy the culture, and give back to the people that create the experience. 

Creating Community: The Cowork Movement

On Thursday I received a phone call from a great friend. He was one of the 5 people present when I made the official decision to take on the Alchemist Production name and began branding. Zac called to catch up and tell me about his most recent business idea, Coworking. He lives in an area that already has 3 very different coworking spaces, but I believe that there is a shared value in line with the Coworking Manifesto to the greatest degree. I have recently been exploring the idea of work culture, work identity, community and the impact of work spaces. More and more coworking or collaborative working spaces are popping up in cities all around me. This is not a new idea. 

Let’s talk about the history of shared work spaces. Cafes are one of the original cowork environments, although the people sitting with paper and pens, or now a days, on their computers are not interacting with each other, the culture is present. Since the 1920s companies have experimented with the psychology behind work spaces from lighting to sectioned departments to open room floor plans. Each experiment measured productivity, communication, creativity, and community. Artist cooperatives like the 10th Street Galleries, a set of artist-run galleries, that began opening in NewYork in the 1950s included studio facilities and exhibition space. These two examples are the foundation of the fundamental ideas influencing our 21st century cowork movement and revitalization of makers.

It’s common place to see a cafe within a contemporary coworking space. Blurring the line between cafe and work space. The cafe may have its own set of company values and the patrons may not share these values on a professional level. This is the distinction between people who work in a cafe and people who are members of the social institution of coworking. The most popular type of coworking space support entrepreneurs in an array of industries. Unfortunately makerspaces are not as accessible as the spaces dedicated to tech startups and other diverse independent professionals. Which brings up personal questions, where do I land in the professional world? Am I part of the maker movement? 

The maker movement is defined as the new “DIY”. There is a manifesto made up of ideas converging traditional artisans with technology. I believe I am a traditional artisan but I went to college to learn my personal craft. This may or may not separate me from the movement. It’s still a bit unclear to me. When my partner and I made the decision to move to Miami I began researching studio spaces that would allow me to create my sculptures. I have two major pain points with the kind of making I do. One, I run saws, sanders, and an air compressor regularly which is both loud and messy. Two is I need to stage my objects and present them in a space that will convey the final image. Taking other people into consideration means I’d rather not piss you off with the roaring sounds and on some occasions the weird smells that my materials produce while curing. I started looking into coworking spaces, because I believe I am an entrepreneur, or artrepreneur. I fell in love with Made at The Citadel. Unfortunately the monthly financial overhead was outside of my budget for the amount of physical space needed to support my personal maker needs. I believe in the core values that coworking spaces represent. I want to be part of a community of like minded innovators that explore different industries and can come together on a socially responsible level. I love that each and every different space has a unique visual identity that push the mission and invite entrepreneurs to build the creative business culture allowing them to work in these concept spaces. 

I’ve had the pleasure of being supported by BOLD: Cowork when they purchased a commissioned installation for their space. The project was in line with my core values and one of the many reasons I feel supported by cowork institutions.  Zac and I are now involved in a conversation about his personal cowork mission taking the fundamental ideas and pushing to create a space that will impact people and support his community. The visual identity is just as important as the business plan. Integrating the two ideas as he moves forward are going to develop the positive impact on the community at large. I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve been supported by and I will continue to support the mission to thrive in a work environment that expresses productivity, communication, creativity, and community, one networking event and installation at a time.