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Fresh Food Hub upgrading kitchen

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Fresh Food Hub upgrading kitchen

| KPC News

January 9th, 2019

AUBURN — Denise Hoff, founder of Fresh Food Hub at 212 N. Main St., Auburn, described her business in a recent feature of Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, our KPC sister publication:

Hoff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the Indiana Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in social work and mental health counseling from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified holistic health coach.

How would you describe Fresh Food Hub?

Fresh Food Hub has a mission to provide its community with high-quality, locally and sustainably produced food at a reasonable cost in the form of groceries and farm-to-table dining.
Our location serves as a storefront for area food producers and as a center where the community can come to learn more about whole food nutrition, health, and other important topics.
In addition to eating good foods, being healthy involves paying attention to the impact we have on the planet as well as on our neighbors. At the Fresh Food Hub, we care about our food, our planet and our community.

How have you developed Fresh Food Hub since starting it?

When we opened our market in 2015, we sought to connect community members through food. We supplied fresh food from local farmers or from small, local entrepreneurs who use locally produced ingredients in the food they make.
Through our educational classes and community outreach, we have worked to get people out of the fast-food lane and back into the kitchen.
Part of our mission is to teach people to cook healthy, delicious food. We offer classes and workshops designed for busy people trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Last spring, we partnered with the Market Wagon online service in Indianapolis to bring its virtual farmers market experience to the community.
Customers can get on the web to browse Market Wagon’s list of what farmers in the area have available, then order from more than one of them in a single, combined online purchase for a packaged grocery pickup at the Fresh Food Hub.
The arrangement has broadened the selection of fresh, locally produced food available to the community.

What can you share about your latest project?

We need a fully functioning kitchen to advance our goal of bringing our community together through food.
To date, we have installed much of what we need to have a teaching kitchen: sinks, counter space and coolers. One item we lack is a stove and the electrical upgrade needed to accommodate this addition.
Individuals working with me on the kitchen project include Tammy Alvord, who does holistic nutrition counseling for us, and Brandy DePriest, who does media and communications work for us.

How will you use the $1,000 Farnsworth Fund grant you received for the project?

We will use the grant to buy the stove and related equipment, and for the stove’s installation, which will make our teaching kitchen more like most of the home kitchens in our community.

How do you see yourself fitting into the Farnsworth Fund community of entrepreneurs, and how could it benefit you?

I learned about the Farnsworth Fund and its entrepreneurial community through Anton King, executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership Inc.
The Farnsworth Fund is important for small businesses like ours, because it helps local entrepreneurs connect to the community, and I would be open to partnering with a mentor through it to further our long-term business strategy.
I would like to be part of the Farnsworth group of local entrepreneurs to expand our network and to be a resource to others.
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Why conform when you can transform?

By | Blogs, Dekalb News + Blogs | One Comment

This past January 2018, I spent three months in Denver and Birmingham working for my previous company. I lived the traveling life, filled with long days and short nights, hotel food paired with late night calls and texts with friends and loved ones where too often I dozed off after exhaustion during the call. This had been my work life for the past fifteen years, coupled with a lifetime as a touring musician traveling the world.

I spent nine hours driving home all night from Alabama on Easter Sunday in April of this year, and the following Monday, turned in my notice to leave my corporate job permanently. The next day I penned this hashtag with one extremely vivid theme: #makingadifferencein2018. Like catching lightning in a jar, I had now caught the entrepreneur fever and was ready to drink the shine! Goodbye paycheck, so long conference calls, adieu to hotel rewards “perks”, ciao to canceled and delayed flights. Hello to home, so nice to meet you finally!

“If you’re not making a difference in people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business, it’s that simple…” ~Richard Branson

This past year, my partner and I have been refining our business plan that started as a dream several years ago. We’ve morphed from what was to what will be by combining both of our lifelong passions. We’ve sought guidance, feedback, funding and a home all while pitching our idea to many in the entrepreneur/startup community, as well as potential investors. What was a dream is slowly becoming reality, and I emphasize the verb with careful superlative caution.

I was asked to pen an article that would inspire other entrepreneurs, possibly sharing the innovation our brand brings to the events industry. Rather than self-promote our business plan, pitch deck, presentation or whatever we choose to call it this week, I am choosing to become gut-level and go against the grain by sharing how I’ve gone all in to make this dream a reality.

Although the excitement of our venture keeps me up at night, takes command of conversations in coffee shops, restaurants and networking functions, I’d rather share the pain, hurt, and road hazards, coupled with hope brought on by my own personal faith that you aren’t just beginning to make a difference in people’s lives by starting your own business. You’ve been doing it all along. Now it’s time to wake up and make a difference in your own life.

So Long Travel, Hello Entrepreneurship

In just one year, I’ve sold my house and moved into a small studio in the town we look to launch our first location. I sold almost all of my furnishings, pawned my touring drum set, liquidated what little I had in savings and retirement, and now I’m selling my car to get something more affordable. I’ve driven for Uber, taken on a handful of consulting opportunities (one that cost me dearly and still amazes me!), helped a local deli owner cater events (who has become a cool friend), and lastly, been the driving force of a new restaurant desperately looking to establish a forward-thinking culture (both on the floor and on social media). I’m constantly setting up meetings in coffee shops, where we all know refills are free and I’m not afraid to ask for the handout of the muffin or sandwich that is being tossed at the end of the day. I am that guy that has given up everything to see this dream take flight.

I’ve been blessed to travel all my life. So often, these “blessings” come with a personal price. I’ve been to every state, Mexico, Canada, Europe. Anyone that knows me past one cup of coffee or glass of wine knows I have a story or an experience from all these travels. But the experiences I received came with a personal debt. Two divorces, countless holidays on the road, and far too many relationship could-have-beens.

To go all in, I’ve chosen to give up most all personal travel this past year. Travel has become walking two or three blocks in my town to have a conversation about growth plans for the community or a business pitch. Although I’ve performed as a musician on stages all over the country and Europe, I’ve chosen to turn down every gig opportunity given to me this year. I’ve scaled back culinary and live music outings to something I can count on one hand. In short, I’ve completely scaled back the same passions I look to add to our combined venture. In an odd way of sorts, I’ve felt like I’m cheating on a loved one.

Perplexing Passion…

This journey from comfort and conformity has quickly turned into a daily sort of perplexing passion, yet what we look to gain far outweighs what has been given up. The hope of waking up every morning and living out this dream is stronger than ever after nearly a year. Like a candle, this wick runs deep. This past year, I was recognized for a grant from the Farnsworth Fund, interviewed for TV, radio, social media and multiple news articles. We held multiple focus groups testing and refining our eventual brand with packed houses each night! I had a handful of speaking engagements, including two city council meetings. I was the kite flying effortlessly all year with so much attention paid to this dream. Thankfully, I had a trusted loved one holding on down below! What has been a struggle more than anything financial (although that weighs heavy daily…) are the confusing and misrepresented relationships (both personal and professional). The many emails that are never returned, the promised follow up from local groups, the friends and family that showed support when my paycheck had a few extra zeroes attached that are now near silent, and finally, the handfuls of close relationships that awkwardly have chosen to remove themselves.

Compare and contrast this vision: Little Johnny grows up playing on Grandma’s ole upright piano banging out an array of fist-pumping chromatic chords of chopsticks that instantly make dogs howl from two houses down. These mashed up melodies were never brought to light with honesty as Johnny’s elder refused to stifle the sensation of his nightly performances. After the final bow, and the clapping from the “crowd”, a distant sigh of relief from anyone around, be it two legs or four! It would be many years later when Johnny would meet a true professional with balls, and next thing you know, Johnny is now learning paradiddles, rhythm, and meter and kissed the keys goodbye. Yes, I was Little Johnny and this story makes sense for a five-year-old. Yet as hungry entrepreneurs, we’ve run into a handful of elders in the entrepreneur community that finds their transparency stops once the show is over.

Finding true, honest, gut-level, and transparent supporters is the key and should be kept to a minimum! Like any long-term relationship or marriage, there must be true honesty at all costs. Hand claps, fist bumps, toasts, and hugs are temporary feel-goods and completely lose their sincerity and value when you’re faced with challenging decisions that could lead you down the wrong path. When a potential consumer, investor, or networking partner says they like your idea, drill them with the open-ended questions. Refuse to let them get away without giving you their true honesty. I’ve made this comparison in my professional life for years: compare the marriages around you now that are satisfied versus loyal. I’ll take loyalty hands down all the time. Build your dream on loyalty!

Seek This Pain Out

Have a solid partner that you trust to be faithfully honest with you even when you’re feeling the glory of perceived support. Even if you’re on your own, I highly recommend someone who balances you out, even an equity partner. Be wary of tunnel vision and self-promotion of the masses. Ask what, why, and how from your true supporters. Challenge yourself to get more than just market research, or the allure of the latest group of potential consumers who can’t wait to buy your product or service. Like a new app on our smartphones, these relationships will replace themselves with somebody else if they are not true supporters. Don’t be afraid to challenge the entrepreneur community to expose their own pain and hurt past a weekly/monthly support group. There are many out there that do and are willing to share, but I’ve found you need to seek this pain out.

In my personal experience, those who have gone all in have scars that can help a startup guide their way through the a”maze”ing minefield. There will most definitely be personal attrition along the way, but a true sense of support will extend no matter what the circumstances may be, and the removal of some will be better going forward. Many of the close family and friends I had when I held a big corporate paycheck have completely gone silent. I was prepared for this, and my belief is anyone who has truly been successful in following their own dream will share this same story. Just be prepared for the ones you never thought would walk away. It will hurt!

Keep a daily journal of every meeting and conversation you have with those you are choosing to share your dream with at such an early stage. (I’m personally terrible with this as I’m concentrating on pitching the dream. My partner is dead-on with this and truly shines during our recap sessions.) These notable notes may be your lifeblood, and like a transfusion, could be the jumpstart on the next leg of your plan.

Have a solid partner that you trust to be faithfully honest with you even when you’re feeling the glory of perceived support

Lastly, keep your “why” firmly out front, rock solid and bulletproof! As you grow in your venture, your support groups are strategically bragging your “why” for you. Like a songwriter hearing a crowd of thousands sing his song back to him, it’s the most amazing part of the dream! Look at every aspect of your business plan, pitch deck, presentation or coffee conversation, and ask yourself, “Does this venture continue to answer the ‘why?’” This shouldn’t stop once the doors open, either. You must be financially sound, profitable, and prove that you can scale, yet my belief and experience has shown if you put people before profit, all of the above comes naturally. Your venture’s culture is the modern-day sustainability when it comes to people!

Less Certainly is More

Finally, I have surrounded myself with a “less is more” group of transparent supporters. My many years of corporate leadership gave me a sense of false confidence as if there was a hammer waiting somewhere if a vendor or client relationship went south. I now look to my business partner and a select group as a tool to keep me balanced and on track. My “why” goes back to Richard Branson’s quote, and I get up daily with the commitment that our venture will make a difference in people’s lives. That is the most transparent reason why I went all in and chose to go down this road. It was not for money, fame, or fortune. It is because my passion and drive in life has and always will be about seeing that child smile, that awkward teenage couple out on their first date that could use a lift, that weekly book club that just lost a woman to breast cancer, that only child with dreams far past the surrounding cornfields, and so many more.

This venture will make a difference not only in one person’s life but will help propel a community in a forward-thinking direction. The life of a founder is not easy. Yet we stay focused and are not afraid to keep communication open and honest with the few that honestly support our dream! They will be your first marketing team!

It only makes sense that this journey to making a difference in people’s lives started with making a difference in me first.

Why conform when you can transform?

Article written by TK Kelly, Farnsworth Founder and Co-Founder Lucky Dog Books and Bistro

Follow coë here!

What is coë? A small town space where food, music and creative arts collide

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What is coë? A small town space where food, music and creative arts collide

| Input Fort Wayne

September 26th, 2018

What does art look like? TK Kelley and Angie Slentz are challenging the notion that art has to be a one-dimensional experience, found only in a bigger city.

Enter coë, a project that combines culinary, music, and creative arts all under one roof, in unique experiences that cannot be replicated. And co-founders Kelley and Slentz are betting on the town of Auburn as the location for these experiences.

Why Auburn?

For Kelly, the reason is part personal, a nod to both his youth and his professional trajectory.

“I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota … before leaving to move to Hollywood at age 18,” he says. “I have lived all over the county and toured all over (as a musician). I literally grew up on the road.”

His time on the touring circuit influenced his outlook, showing him that cities both large and small can hold great potential. For example, Auburn, with a population of about 13,000, is small town with character and a strong community of people who are investing in its future. Downtown Auburn is especially poised for growth, as a company called Team Quality Services has recently pledged an investment of $2.56 million to move its headquarters there.

Speaking of moving, Kelly went on to work in tourism and hospitality for 15 years—which brought him to northeast Indiana. He’s lived in cities like Nashville, Seattle, San Francisco, and Oklahoma City and traveled the country supporting many other attractions.

You could say there’s been a consistent theme over the years. Through his travels, he’s had the opportunity to immerse himself in the cultures in each of these areas that have ultimately allowed him to establish great relationships in music and culinary communities. Most recently, he enjoyed a 4-year tenure at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo as the general manager.

Upon relocation to the area, it didn’t take long for Kelly to realize that Northeast Indiana had great potential and heart—and that includes boosting entrepreneurship and innovation.

“If you truly have a dream, there’s an entire community (willing) to support you,” he says.

So he and Slentz did just that. They had a meeting of minds and fleshed out what the coë experience might look like. They’ve devoted the last year to planning these experiences, and “experience” is the key word here.

“We don’t believe we can ever replicate the night,” he says. “It’s like falling in love for the first time.”

For example, the duo have spent the past several months curating a series of pop-up style focus groups at The Deli at Sixth and Main in Auburn. A select group of people, with a diverse set of backgrounds, were invited for an evening engagement.

The real magic was in the lack of details provided. According to an Aug. 28 press release, “the intimate group of 40 guests were aware there would be food and music, and that was it. What they ultimately walked into was a unique, one-of-a-kind invitation into the minds of all these artists.”

What the first cohort of guests found was a nationally recognized chef mentoring an up-and-coming talented cook from Fort Wayne, a touring singer-songwriter from Nashville sharing the night with a local rising guitarist, and a creative artist painting live.

This all happened in a living room where food was cooked in front of the guests, songwriters performed on couches, and the visual artist captured the energy of the evening in the form of a painting.

In other words, it was dynamic and organic. There was no agenda, and that’s the beauty of it.

In Kelly words, it’s all about intimacy and allowing the artists to be themselves and transparent.

“The connection comes from the art,” he says.

Kelly hopes to continue the momentum of events like these and draw guests from around the region and beyond to participate.

“The plan is to do two to three experiences between now and next spring,” he says, adding that he hopes to ramp up the frequency in 2019.

The success of coë largely depends on people taking a chance. Kelly says the fact that they are “first to market” makes coë elusive, and some people are hesitant to take the leap.

“When people actually experience it, that’s when they get it,” he says.

But it doesn’t end there. Kelly says they are looking into the possibility of making coë a more regular part of the community. Their vision? “This (would) no longer be a ticketed event, but a 7-day a week storefront location in downtown Auburn that would showcase author readings and signings, culinary creations created in an open kitchen and cooked in front of you, combined with featured creative and musical artists.”

Experience coë

The ticket is $75 a person and includes an evening of artistic experiences and a 5-course meal, with and beer and wine sourced from local vendors.

See their Facebook page for a schedule of upcoming experiences.