Member Feature // Ann Baron

Member Feature // Ann Baron

This week, we had the privilege of interviewing Ann Baron, who started Northern Colorado Community, a small business dedicated to networking. Ann’s history is impressive, and her experience is broad. Without a doubt, Ann has some valuable wisdom to share with us. She has 20 years of experience in the business world, and started Northern Colorado Community after having served as Business Development Manager at the Loveland Chamber, working as a Business Consultant for the Small Business Development Center, doing sales with the Fort Collins Downtown Business Association, serving on the board of a non-profit, and more.

Through all her positions, a passion arose for “promoting and connecting small businesses.” Already connecting businesses and meeting with business people, it was a natural progression to launch Northern Colorado Community. Ann said, “I love being a resource and organizing events where business owners can connect. Plus, I make sure my events are fun!” Her regional business networking group brings together businesses in the area with memberships for only $14/month, and offers things like Business After Hours, Business Before Hours, Lunch & Learns, and Business Expos.

I asked Ann if she could share some successful networking stories, and she told me about a person new to the area who attended one of her events and was quickly immersed in the community. She added, “I have introduced [this person] to many key decision makers and launched their business more than any other organization they have ever been involved with in over 20 years of business.”

Ann believes that communities exist to support, encourage, and inspire one another. She feels that many small businesses are run by solo entrepreneurs who are often isolated and need other business people to advise them and discuss ideas and solutions. She says, “Co-working can facilitate synchronicity and exciting outcomes for everyone.  When you are by yourself, you can become “stuck” or start talking to yourself, but in a co-working environment you have others to bounce ideas off of.”

Furthermore, Ann shared some advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs, which largely had to do with personal goal setting and being intentional to set up meetings. She said, “When you are self-employed, no one is kicking your butt to get you to work or make quotas. You must set your own goals and work schedule. It is too easy to do laundry, walk the dog or let time get away from you.” She also said it’s important to just get out of your house or office to meet people. For instance, scheduling at least one meeting or networking appointment per day will help you connect with others and get your day started. She also suggested that using some type of social media is a must, and that if you don’t like it, you can hire someone to do it for you. She uses Facebook, emails, and Meet Up to get her news out.

There are, of course, challenges involved in networking, and Ann believes that the hurdles mostly depend on your personality. Extroverts tend to “vomit” and talk over everyone around them. She advises those with outgoing personalities to intentionally slow down and listen to others. Try to really get to know a few people instead of talking to everyone in the room.  On the other hand, Ann knows that simply getting out to network is usually a challenge for introverts, so she suggests seeing if someone else you know is also attending the event.  However, that doesn’t mean you and your friend should stick together during the entire event; rather, ask the friend to introduce you to other business people they know.

So, with those challenges in mind, how can people become better at networking? “First of all, listen and care about the other person above yourself. Many people are anxious to share all about themselves or their business, but fail to build the connection with the other person first. Listen and see if you can mutually support one another’s business,” says Ann. She also recommends just enjoying the networking event and trying to be relaxed. More specifically, she says that you should decide ahead of time how many people you want to meet and follow up with after the event. It doesn’t have to be a large number, maybe it’s just two or three, but you must follow up with them within 24 hours. Another practical piece of advice: bring a sample of your product or service to networking events if you have one, so you can show others.  

Ann’s parting words of wisdom: “Be kind to yourself.” She elaborates, “You will have up and down days.  Instead of thinking, you are a terrible person remember to write down what is going right in your business. I keep a “gratitude” jar where I write down what I am grateful for each day. Enjoy the steps along the way. Remember what you are passionate about and how you are serving others. Each person has wonderful gifts and skills, therefore remember you are amazing. There is only one you.” 

Coworking // News and Statistics

Coworking // News and Statistics

The idea of coworking, like most things, began long before we think it did. Perhaps no one ever coined the term ‘coworking’ (as we know it today) until 2005, but collaboration and community are part of human-nature – human needs even. Some say that the library is the original coworking space, offering resources and amenities like free WIFI, printing, desks, rooms for rent, and community workshops and events.

In 2006, two New York City roommates started a group called Jelly, a gathering of freelance and mobile professionals who met in homes, coffee shops, etc., to work and collaborate side-by-side. This wasn’t a business; it was more like a Meetup as we know today, but others saw the potential and started to capitalize on the idea. By 2008, most major cities in the US and Europe had a coworking community. According to the Global Coworking Survey, last year 11,300 coworking spaces existed worldwide, with a total of 835,000 members. By the end of this year, the projected operating coworking spaces is nearly 14,000 with a total of about 1.2 million members.

By those statistics, the number of people who have worked in a coworking space is projected to increase 50% since last year (and doubling since 2015). Deskmag, an online magazine about coworking, states that, “Coworking spaces anticipate more members (86%), higher income (81%), more events (71%), and a greater sense of community (84%) in 2017.”

But even with optimistic outlooks, there are still challenges to be faced. Attracting new members remains the biggest challenge for coworking spaces, with the 2017 Global Forecast showing a 9% increase in concern for adding members since last year. There is, however, a substantial amount of overall growth in the industry, and many spaces are opening new locations or expanding their space – which means room for more members. Although, about 18% of coworking spaces still face the challenge of not having enough room. Other common challenges include administrative tasks, general workload, and organizing events.

Furthermore, the Millennial Generation is rapidly changing the workforce, and by 2020 it is estimated that 40-50% of jobs will be remote. Check out this infographic of coworking statistics, for some interesting figures, which include:

  • 78% of coworkers are under the age of 40
  • 60% are more relaxed at home since coworking
  • 70% reported they felt healthier than they did working in a traditional office setting

With all that said, coworking is clearly on the rise and in demand. And because of that, it is being embellished and re-engineered each year. As the startup community tends to do, there are frequently new ideas and additions making their way into the industry. Some interesting ones that have popped up include: coworking for medical office space and individual physicians, women-only coworking spaces (which already exist, but are on the rise), coworking or startup homes, and outdoor coworking spaces like this San Francisco startup called Campsyte, which boasts a camp-ground themed coworking space.    

It will be interesting to see how coworking changes and expands as technology grows, and as the workforce adapts to the demands of the next generation – which include things such as flexibility, work-life balance, working remotely, and the desire for meaningful work. Here at The Articulate, as the surrounding community continues to expand, we expect to grow as well. With new events, plans, goals, and more, we hope to continue to build our community in new and creative ways, allowing us to thrive in the industry.

Community Feature // Union

Community Feature // Union

Photo credit: Vaught Frye Larson Architects

Photo credit: Vaught Frye Larson Architects

We all know about Social, the beloved downtown Fort Collins underground cocktail bar. The speakeasy is classy, it’s beautiful, it has amazing drinks…and now from the same people comes a new project: Union. Replacing the open space across from the Rescue Mission, Union will be a beautiful entrance to the River District upon its opening next year.  

Last week I sat down with Raffi Jergerian, the bar manager at Social who is also a part-owner of Union and will be running the restaurant. We talked about the awaited venture. Raffi said, “After working on Social, the idea of Union came about in that we wanted to create a bar concept that stemmed out of an older-era apothecary theme. That’s where the concept is going. It’s unique, and although it has been touched on before, the concept itself hasn’t been released yet.”

However, Raffi did give me a little deeper insight into what Union will be like, stating that the atmosphere lends itself to community. “It will be very luxurious,” he said, “but the menu and the whole thing will be more playful and fun. We knew we’d have a space with a big patio and a high ceiling, and we want something more casual for daytime, but still playing off old classics.” He added that the bar program will build off both old and regional classics going back to the 1800s.

Additionally, drinks at Union will be of lower alcohol content, more fitting of an all-day type of place, and the bar will be central in the facility. Raffi also noted the architecture will be unique, falling in line with the budding river district and also retaining the old classics of the area. “A lot of great thought and design is going into this. We’ve got a lot of really amazing people and architects working on this.”

Challenges of bringing this dream to a reality, especially for owners Ty Fulcher and Ryan Houdek, have been buying the land and figuring out how to build from the ground up. “They took Social and gutted the space and built something beautiful,” said Raffi, “But with Union we started from scratch, and there have been a lot of politics, governmental barriers and challenges we’ve had to face.”

Groundbreaking for Union. Front row, from left to right: Christine Houdek, Ryan Houdek, Ty Fulcher, Raffi Jergerian. Photo credit: PHOCO

Groundbreaking for Union. Front row, from left to right: Christine Houdek, Ryan Houdek, Ty Fulcher, Raffi Jergerian. Photo credit: PHOCO

When I asked Raffi if Union will collaborate with the surrounding businesses and Fort Collins community, he responded, “It’s kind of what you do in downtown Fort Collins. Whenever possible we will work with other businesses.” Part of downtown Fort Collins is the community. The city thrives because of its foundational value of community, and Union represents the merging of past, present, and future for the rising River District and Old Town area. Here at The Articulate, we neighbor the space where Union will be. We anticipate the presence the restaurant will have and its role in transforming the area, setting a new stage for the River District.

Speaking of The Articulate, I asked Raffi what advice he has for emerging entrepreneurs and solopreneurs (like many of the current and future Articulate members). As a well-respected and successful service industry professional, his advice is backed by years of experience and skill: “Be realistic, and create things within the means you can create them – and provide them well. All that aside, the most important thing is the service and hospitality aspect. Creating something great is one thing, but taking care of people, well that comes from a really thought out place.”

I concluded by asking what he wants people to know about Union prior to its opening. Along the same lines of the experience of Social, he wants people to know that they can anticipate what Union is going to be like: another place that will provide great service, hospitality and design. He’s excited to offer another place like that for all types of people.

With all that said, an image of Union was conjured up in my mind (albeit only partial at this point) – and it’s certainly a place I want to go. Based on our conversation, I envision a place with character, history, class, and comfort. A place like Social in that it is beautifully designed, statement-making, and offers quality in all areas: from hospitality and service, to food and drink, to seating and decor. It’s very name holds a following because of its reputation. Everyone knows Union, and everyone loves Union; it’s a landmark.

 

Creativity and the Brain

Creativity and the Brain

The brain is a vastly uncharted territory. As science continues to study the brain, it’s been realized that we know only the tip of the iceberg of what our brains are capable of. Recent studies are now showing that the whole “left-brain, right-brain” generalization belief system is not as accurate as we once thought.

You know the one. The left brain is for math and science, logic and analytics; it’s structured, “clean”, organized, and numerical. Whereas the right brain is the creative side – free flowing and abstract; full of art, music, ideas, messiness. While there is some truth to the right-and-left-brain notion, we are realizing this is certainly not the whole picture. But that really isn’t surprising, right? We are talking about the human brain, after all.

Today we can identify three main centers in the brain that are involved in creative thinking: the Executive Attention Network, the Imagination Network (or Default Network), and the Salience Network.

Belle Beth Cooper, in her article “The Science of Great Ideas - How to Train Your Creative Brain”, describes the three networks like this:

Green = Executive Attention Network. Red = Imagination Network

Green = Executive Attention Network. Red = Imagination Network

The Executive Attention Network helps us with laser focus on a particular task. It’s the one that we activate when we need to concentrate on complicated problems or pay attention to a task like reading or listening to a talk.

The Imagination Network, as you might have guessed, is used for things like imagining future scenarios and remembering things that happened in the past. This network helps us to construct mental images when we’re engaged in these activities.

The Salience Network has the important role of monitoring what’s going on around us, as well as inside our brains, and switching between the Imagination Network and Executive Attention Network for us.

You were probably told that creative types are predominantly right-brained people. The truth is, however, that when it comes to creativity, the entire brain is involved. In his article, “The Real Neuroscience of Creativity,” Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute, puts it like this: “The entire creative process – from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification – consists of many interacting cognitive processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.”

Kaufman also identifies the importance of distinguishing between intelligence and imagination in understanding the creative process. Simply put, he believes that intelligence is everything that allows us to learn what is, [whereas] imagination is everything that allows us to envision what could be. He then adds that creativity requires both intelligence and imagination.

Let’s take a moment to look at the definition of creativity before moving on. Oxford’s dictionary says this: “Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” By that definition, creativity has no preference to skill or trait. I can easily say that engineers are just as creative as web designers or that software developers are just as full of ingenuity as composers – they are just different kinds of creativity. But now I can take a little more of a leap and say that an accountant, for example, can have just as much creativity as a composer. Why? Well, while the job of accountant might be less creative than other jobs by nature, someone’s career choice does not determine their level of creativeness.

The human mind was made to create. No one person, no matter what their talents or skills or abilities, is devoid of creativity or greater creative potential. People possess different types of intelligence: different skills, different insights, different ways of understanding and creating. But the creative process of the brain does not discriminate between one kind of intelligence to another. In general, the creative process that any person goes through is the same, and it can actually be a learned process.

Let's wrap up and connect a few dots:

  1. The creative process involves the whole brain – it’s not limited to the right side as we once thought.
  2. Creativity spans all types of minds, talents, and traits. This means that anyone and everyone has creative potential. Creativity can even be learned, and we can train our brains to think more creatively.
  3. Creativity requires the use of both our intelligence and imagination. This means that we can’t just “do” (use our intelligence) and we can’t just “dream” (use our imagination) to be truly creative. We must use both!

In my opinion, science is never complete: it’s changing all the time. So, keep an open mind and know that, especially when it comes to the brain, the possibilities are endless!

Check out this article for a few practical tips on increasing creativity. Apparently walking, allowing our spaces to be a little messy, dimming the lights, working in a busy area with noise, and even being bored all lead our brains to be more creative! Also, click the link here to read a few surprising facts about creativity, and here to see the five stages of the creative process. And if you really want to get in on this subject, try giving this book on the neuroscience of creativity a read.

Event Feature // Her Story

Event Feature // Her Story

Generation to generation, story to story, woman to woman. Sharing our stories means sharing our struggles, our fears, our victories, and ultimately, ourselves.

For the past four months, Blair Mirabito and her team of women have been encouraging women in the power of their stories. By creating a safe space for women of all ages and backgrounds to come together and discuss feelings, topics, and their experiences as women in a transparent manner, they have crafted and coordinated Her Story, a monthly event held right here in the Articulate’s photo studio. 

Photo credit: Tiffany Whitsitt

Photo credit: Tiffany Whitsitt

Each month, Her Story gives women the chance to explore a theme geared toward a common feeling, struggle, or experience that women face. Past events have included topics around isolation and loneliness, relationships, worrying and fear, and balancing life and priorities. The event begins with the lead storyteller sharing her story, which relates to that month’s theme, and then follows with a time of small group discussion led by a moderator.

While speaking with Blair, it become apparent that she is someone who focuses heavily on giving back and strengthening her community. Please enjoy more insight on this unique event by reading about our conversation below!

Photo credit: Tiffany Whitsitt

Photo credit: Tiffany Whitsitt

Logan with The Articulate: How did Her Story get started? What made you want to bring women together to discuss something that isn’t typically talked about?

Blair with Her Story: When my husband and I moved to Fort Collins seven years ago, we began Antioch Community Church. We hold many events at Antioch, but I began to realize that the women attending these events identified with the church, and others who might be interested could feel shut out if they didn’t identify with the church. My team and I discussed the disconnect that our society currently faces where discussions about our feelings, especially the negative ones, are almost becoming taboo and are talked about very little. In this age of being connected, there is very little connection actually occurring.  For example, there is a trend where social media is used to express our life’s excitement but deep down, our social media life and real life might not align perfectly – and that can create these feelings.

We wanted to create a space that was open for women of all beliefs and backgrounds to come and feel like they can listen to others talk about these feelings and have the opportunity to share their stories.  Through these discussions, we believe that each woman can become more empowered and feel less isolated in the difficult experiences they are having.

Logan:  What do you think attracts women to come to Her Story?

Blair:  I think a big attraction is that there is a very low barrier to entry.  You just have to come and be present. There is no cost or speaking requirement. We just want the event to be as open and inclusive to every woman as possible.  From my team’s perspective, we have the idea that Her Story is meant to be a gift to our community.  It’s a way for us to bring all these amazing people together and use each story to strengthen not just our community of women, but to help them feel more connected when they leave to our Fort Collins community as a whole.

Most of our women hear about us on social media or word of mouth and it’s amazing to see more and more women at every event.

Logan: What has been your favorite memory?

Blair:  When we were planning and setting up for the first event, we had no idea what to expect.  We didn’t know how many people would show up or how well the event would go. There was a lot of uncertainty, but immediately once we started, the energy in the room was there and I could tell it was going to be something special. Afterwards, a lot of women stayed around and expressed how much they liked it and wanted to come again. That memory shows me that there is a need and a desire for Her Story, and that we have the chance to connect with a lot of women because of it.

her story photo.jpg

The last Her Story event for the spring will be held on Sunday, May 21st at The Articulate between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. The theme is “Why We Tell Our Stories” and the lead story teller is a woman named Renate, a 90-year-old Jewish woman who was born in Germany during World War II and eventually made her way to the U.S.

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Blair and her team would like to invite every woman to attend and bring a friend. You can follow Her Story on their Facebook page or get in contact with Blair through her email, blairmirabito@gmail.com.

Member Profile // Special Olympics

Member Profile // Special Olympics

This week our member Jeff Franklyn will be hosting an Articulate Member Happy Hour.  Jeff is the Northeast Regional Manager for the Special Olympics and took some time to sit down with me and tell me more about his work.  Jeff individually plans roughly 30-35 events in Northern Colorado every year and discussed how it can be stressful at times but the payoff is far more rewarding.   Read about our conversation below!

Logan with The Articulate:  What is your background and how did you become involved in the Special Olympics?

Jeff with Special Olympics:  I have been working with the Special Olympics since I was in college.  Once I graduated I started doing event planning in Michigan and coordinated a nonprofit baseball league coaches’ convention for about 8000 people.  This helped me grow in to a bigger role and eventually move to Fort Collins in 2015.

Logan:  What do you do specifically for the Special Olympics?

Jeff:  My region covers everywhere north of Thornton and east of Boulder.  I am responsible for planning all of the athletic events, fundraisers, conferences, and a lot of other smaller things.  My biggest focus is on athletic functions because these take the most time to plan and have the most participants.

Logan:  What are your favorite things about your job?

Jeff:  Definitely the events.  There is a ton of backend work that goes in to planning them and a lot of people tend to forget or not understand that.  Once the event is all planned and ready to go, it’s awesome to watch it unfold.  It’s like when someone builds something and, while putting in the work can be hard and stressful, once it is completed it is extremely rewarding.

Logan:  What struggles do you face in your job?

Jeff:  Because I have so many different events and projects to balance and coordinate, prioritizing is the biggest challenge.  It has been a big learning point for me to have a list of 15 things I need to get done and understanding that you can’t do everything for task number one before doing task number two.  Everything overlaps and I have to carefully plan when I will do each task.  I currently have an intern that helps me a lot with time consuming tasks like data entry.  I plan to keep growing my intern program and form a strong partnership with Fort Collins.

Logan:  Why do you personally like the Special Olympics?

Jeff:  I really enjoy the mission and how much positive impact it has over the population.  Individuals with disabilities have come so far in the past decades and its amazing to see how much we can impact not just an individual’s life but their family as well.

Logan:  Do you have a favorite memory?

Jeff:  The memories I make are what keep me going and inspire me to put in as much work as I can.  My favorite memory that I will always remember was in 2010 when I was still working in Michigan and met a guy named Paul at a power lifting competition.  After he competed he came up and gave me a huge hug and thanked me for my work.  The next year and for six more after that, he would always come up to me and give me a hug, flex his muscles, and ask if he was strong enough to lift a house yet.  It was awesome and he did the exact same thing for seven years in a row.

Logan:  How has The Articulate helped/assisted in your work?

Jeff:  Since my job requires me to work remotely, the dedicated desk space is great.  I tried working at home but quickly realized that it wouldn’t be good for me.  I love the space and the community of people.

If you would like to get in contact with Jeff Franklyn about how you can donate or volunteer for an upcoming event, you can reach him at jfranklyn@specialolympicsco.org.

Member Profile // Chatty Gus Studios

Member Profile // Chatty Gus Studios

This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with Tiffany Whitsitt who founded Chatty Gus Studios in August 2016.  Chatty Gus specializes in dog portraits and does a remarkable job in bringing out each dog’s individual personality.  As an entrepreneur, she was thinking about her next big thing when inspiration came from an unlikely source, her dog Hank.  While Tiffany, her husband Travis, and Hank were camping in the Snowy Range Mountains in Wyoming one weekend in August 2015, Hank heard a gunshot and ran away.  The two searched all over for Hank but had no success.  They began to accept that Hank might not be coming home and looked to photographs they had of Hank to aid in their sadness.  Tiffany realized she had many pictures of Hank but wished she had a high-quality photograph that truly captured his unique spirit.  Luckily, Hank was found and returned home after 60 days.  After life returned to normal, Hank’s departure gave her the idea to start Chatty Gus Studios and shoot high-quality dog portraits that capture each dog's unique personality.  Below is a transcript of my conversation with Tiffany:

Logan with The Articulate:  What was your background before you started Chatty Gus?

Tiffany with Chatty Gus Studio:  I began my photography career as a wedding photographer.  I had been thinking about more ways to expand my photography business and the idea to shoot dog portraits mixed perfectly.  I still shoot some weddings as my time allows but I focus the majority of my time on Chatty Gus.

Logan:  What do you think makes Chatty Gus stand out compared to other pet photographers?

Tiffany:  Every shoot is tailored and styled according to each dog’s personality.  Since every dog is different, so is every session.  I adjust to the dog and stay patient when trying to get them to calm down and pose.  I use this to personally tailor the session to the dog’s personality which can include styling the set to include different props or a scene.  I will include various toys that the owner tells me are the dog’s favorite and that help bring out that dog’s personality.  My access to studio space is also a huge plus.  The Articulate’s studio fits my needs perfectly and allows for the dogs to be off leash and feel more at ease.

Logan:  Do you offer outdoor shoots?

Tiffany:  I do!  While most of my shoots are in the studio, some dogs are truly at home outside and I will adjust to make those shoots just as perfect as the studio shoots.

Logan:  Where would you like to see Chatty Gus in the future?

Tiffany:  Of course, I would love to photograph more dogs.  Beyond that, I have started partnering with other small businesses to create a small boutique with unique dog-related gifts.  They are really creative and most are handmade.  It’s also great partnering with other small companies because it is a win win for both of us.

Logan:  What has been your favorite memory so far?

Tiffany:  My favorite memories really just come from hearing about how much the owners enjoy the portraits and how much of an impact they can have on their family.  Our pets are a part of our families and often times we wish we had more pictures to remember them once they are gone.  Chatty Gus has allowed me to help capture a dog’s spirit and contribute to a family’s memories of their pet and that has been very rewarding.

Logan:  Tell me about Yappy Hour.

Tiffany:  Yappy Hour is a collaborative event that Hayven Design, Z Catering, Staffing, and Events, and I have created.  It’s a happy hour for both dogs and their humans.  We’re hosting Yappy Hour on May 3rd at The Articulate and are inviting locals to come with their dog(s) and enjoy some time to connect with the community.  Z Catering will be providing food and drinks for people as well as their dogs.  All the food will be dog friendly and Z Catering is creating some unique dog-themed cocktails.  There will be a silent auction, a photo booth, and much more.   You have to buy tickets beforehand, which can be found here.  We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Member Profile // Z Catering, Staffing, and Events

Member Profile // Z Catering, Staffing, and Events

Recently L Kent Cottle and his business partner Patrick Mosher moved to Fort Collins to begin their new business venture creating a catering company called Z Catering, Staffing, and Events.  The two had heard a lot of buzz about Fort Collins like the amount of growth and possibilities, the vibrant and welcoming community, and the dedication toward small and local business.  The two saw Fort Collins as a great opportunity to create Z Catering, Staffing, and Events by using their experiences and unique outlook on food to do things a bit differently.  They do this by working extremely closely with farms and ranches to provide fresh, organic, and local food and beverages to their clients.  Kent and I sat down to discuss the success Z has had so far and how they want to become more involved with the community of Fort Collins.

Logan with The Articulate:  How did Z Catering, Staffing, and Events come to be?

Kent:  We originally came to Fort Collins to open some new restaurants and bars and present our unique experiences with food to the community.  Working closely with farms and ranches to source food has always been in our values and as we began to reach out to the local ones, we were welcomed much quicker than we expected and everyone had big hearts and great ideas.  These ideas changed us to begin a catering company instead.  We had planned to begin in January 2017 but because of some strong requests to begin earlier, we began catering our first events in September of 2016.

Logan:  What does Z specialize in?

Kent:  We are of course a catering company, but we specialize in pulling everything together.  To us that means working with farmers and ranchers to look at what food is in season and how much quantity they have and creating our menus from that.  Food is much more than food to us.  It matters where it is sourced, the quality, and what kind of audience it is being served to.  It can create the atmosphere for the event and we capture that in our menu selection.

Logan: What would you say differentiates Z from other catering companies?

Kent: Our staff for sure.  I’m reluctant to call them staff because they are so much more to us.  They have incredible hearts and every one of them strives to not only increase their knowledge about food and beverages but to connect it to the guests.  Hearing about how well our staff performs and how much the guests enjoy our food keeps Patrick and I motivated.  We hear great things about our food all the time and I definitely attribute this to our sourcing practices and working with our partner farms and ranches to look at what is in season and the conditions that the food has grown in.

Logan: Do you have a set menu or is it customizable for each event?

Kent:  Other than using food that is in season, it is fully customizable.  Patrick works extremely hard to capture the uniqueness of an event and uses the menu to express that.  We love having the client be involved in making decisions in order to serve the best possible products while still catering to any dietary restrictions.  We can do gluten free, paleo, vegan and vegetarian, low sodium, ect.  Everything is possible and nothing in impossible.

Logan:  Where do you plan on taking Z Catering, Staffing, and Events?  What visions do you have for it in the coming years?

Kent:  We want to be a strong part of the Fort Collins community by drawing attention to local farms and ranches, startup communities, and being involved with nonprofits.  We want to actively be involved with a movement to inspire chefs and restaurants in town to be more proactive with their menus by sourcing as much as they can locally.  This can happen through combining purchasing power and proactively working together with farmers to grow organically.

From the start of our planning processes, giving back by working with schools and kids was a huge focus for us and another way we want to be involved in the community.  We have an opportunity to impact how children will grow up viewing food and we want to help make that as positive and effective of an experience as possible.  We are beginning to be involved with food lessons and lunches at local schools and that has been such a rewarding experience so far.  I think so many business have an idea that once they reach a certain point they will start giving back.  You have to start doing whatever you can now because it’s not what you think you are but what you do that defines you.


While I spoke with Kent and as I reflected on the conversation afterwards, a few things really stood out to me.   The notion that giving back and being involved in community is something that Kent and Patrick aren’t forcing or viewing as an obstacle.  It is in their core values and just how their minds function and where their actions immediately go to.  Kent’s tone and descriptions of why they are doing the work was never directed toward him or Patrick, it was always brought back to strengthening the community and local farmers.

If you would like more information about Z Catering, Staffing, and Events or hire them for your next event, you can visit their website or contact Kent at ZeventsLKent@gmail.com

Member Profile // Luxe Event Productions

Member Profile // Luxe Event Productions

     I had the opportunity to sit down with Libbi Alcorn to learn more about Luxe Event Productions and her journey to grow it over the past 23 years.  Luxe specializes in event planning and production, mainly for weddings but also for corporate and nonprofit events, anniversaries and any other event needed.  Libbi and her team of certified event planners have been featured for their success in Lydia’s Style Magazine and recently won WeddingWire’s Couples Choice Awards.  Luxe is also an active supporter and sponsor of SAVA (Sexual Abuse Victim Advocate Center) and Libbi has recently been asked to join multiple nonprofit boards around Fort Collins.

Below is a transcript of my conversation with Libbi.

Logan with The Articulate: When did you begin Luxe?  What events led up to you creating it?

Libbi: I owned a wedding cake company in Wyoming.  A lot of my clients would come in and ask me questions like, “what colors should I pair with the cake” and “what should my timeline around the cake be?”  As I got more and more questions, I began to realize that I could expand my business into wedding and event planning.  After I began to transform to event planning and production, I moved to Fort Collins in 2000 and continued my business there.

Logan: What initial struggles were there?

Libbi: It was surprisingly easy to start out.  I worked from home and didn’t have a lot of the traditional overhead expenses that come from having a separate office.  At that time people still advertised in the phonebook and I gained a lot of my business from that.  I was also one of the only wedding/event planners in the Northern Colorado region so I gained a big radius for potential clients.

Logan: Building off the topic of advertising, how do you receive most of your clients?

Libbi: Well I don’t advertise in the phonebook anymore (laughs).  I get most of my clients, about 75%, through word of mouth and the rest from our website and social media.  In 2014 we rebranded and changed our name from Elegant Events to Luxe Event Productions.  This was because we wanted to become more of a one-stop shop for events.  This created a little confusion for people trying to find us but soon enough Luxe had its name out there.

Logan: How did the growth of Luxe impact your team?

Libbi: The most important part was to understand that growth means your business needs to continuously change and you need to roll with it.  As we grew I was able to bring in some interns and eventually hire them on board.  The hardest part for me was learning how to delegate the tasks and trust in my employees to effectively carry out our brand.  The people on our team are chosen carefully.  They represent the Luxe brand in a positive way.  We have procedures in place to keep consistency and I know that when I assign an employee an event to handle, I can be confident that they will successfully build the relationship with the client and provide an unforgettable experience.

Logan: Why do you personally believe in Luxe?

Libbi: Most event planning and production companies are either planners or rentals.  I am a planner but have also built up the tools to bring events to life and don’t have to go outside of our company much for that.  This saves the client time, money, and effort.

I truly love my clients and I think that is captured by how much we focus on building our relationships.  The only way to provide a bride and groom’s dream wedding is to become invested and build the relationship with them.  How are you going to make the experience unique to them without learning about their unique experiences together?

Logan: What hobbies do you have outside of event planning?

Libbi: I love to read and travel.  The most recent book I read and loved was called Property of a Lady.   My favorite place I have traveled to is London.  It was dreary and rainy the whole time, and I thrive in that environment.  I loved the history and learning about the mysteries in the royal families. If I could travel anywhere, I would love to go to Italy.  Two of my children went there and their stories and pictures have been stuck in my mind ever since.

Logan: If you could plan your dream event, what and where would it be?

Libbi: Absolutely a wedding.  I would love to plan a high end, celebrity wedding without a budget.  I dream of building a glass covering over a swimming pool for the reception and would love for it to be in Napa or Italy.

Logan: Thank you so much for sharing more about Luxe Event Productions with us today, Libbi!

To contact Luxe Event Productions for your next event, you can call (970) 690-6880 or email events@luxeeventproductions.com.

Five Years of PHOCO

From the day PHOCO began in 2012, Patrick Edmiston was focused on being more than just another photography company that views the world through a single lens.  He adopted an African proverb “If you want to go somewhere fast, go alone, but if you want to go somewhere far, go together.”  He did just that and worked to grow his team by focusing on each person’s unique abilities, collaboration, and community.  Five years later, PHOCO is recognized as a top photography and videography collective because of the consistent adherence to these principals.

When Patrick began PHOCO, he had become an expert as a single photographer but wanted more.  As a Fort Collins native, he had an urge to blend giving back to the community with his photography, sparking the idea for PHOCO.  Patrick added the eager and ready to learn Shaye Fitzgerald to the team and the two began networking around Fort Collins to form PHOCO.  As the team grew, each member added their own unique skills and ideas and soon enough PHOCO was becoming a one-stop shop for photography and videography.

Team PHOCO from left to right: Shaye Fitzgerald, Ryan Waneka, and Patrick Edmiston

Team PHOCO from left to right: Shaye Fitzgerald, Ryan Waneka, and Patrick Edmiston

Fast forward five years to 2017 and PHOCO has used its team to stay true to its initial values of creating a collaborative atmosphere and using their business to connect with the community.  The current team of Patrick, Shaye, and Ryan Waneka keep busy with hundreds of events every year and about eight major multi-day, full-scale events.  Some of their major events include shooting for New West Fest, promotions for New Belgium and Lululemon, and most recently a music festival in Napa called Yountville Live.  Check out the video they created to highlight Yountville Live!  But PHOCO is also available for one day events like headshots and weddings.  Their wedding portfolio is remarkable with personal video highlights and collections of photographs, each one vivid with detail and emotion.  The team is focused on capturing memories and ensuring the highest quality of services and products for each event because they understand the impact it has.  As Shaye puts it, “PHOCO is more than a job.  All the people I meet and the places I go create an impact on me.  When I hear from a client about how an image we took for them moved them to tears, it fills me with so much reward and humility for the opportunity I have.”

Looking forward to where PHOCO wants to be in five more years, Shaye notes, “We currently shoot all around the country but would like to be recognized as a top photography company nationally and pull more clients from all over the nation.”  With so much talent and passion for delivering each client a personal and unique project to touch them emotionally, PHOCO is certainly headed in the right direction.

Patrick, Shaye, and Ryan would like to personally invite the community of Fort Collins to attend their Five Years of PHOCO party hosted at The Articulate this Friday, March 24th!   The event is focused on thanking the community for all its the support over the last five years and looking back on the wonderful memories the team has shared with their clients.  Join us at The Articulate this Friday, March 24th from 6-9pm.

Corndoggies Event Showcase

The Articulate would like to thank everyone who attended the Corndoggies One Year Anniversary party on March 3rd!  The event had 200 people in attendance and raised around $750 for the Food Bank for Larimer County.  Every year the Food Bank provides meals for 36,000 people in need throughout our community and events like this one help increase their continued support throughout Larimer County.  The Articulate is grateful to have had the opportunity to support such an amazing organization and looks forward to partnering with them again in the future.

We would also like to thank Corndoggies for not only the incredible corn dogs but their remarkable staff as well.  John, Natalie, Jake and the rest of their team were faced with many people anxiously awaiting the one of a kind corn dogs but kept up the positive energy and created a fun event for everyone who came. Each time a corn dog was ordered you were greeted with a smile and undeniable friendliness. If you missed Corndoggies at The Articulate, you can catch them on National Corn Dog Day at New Belgium Brewery on March 18th. It is sure to be a popular event and another way to connect with the community.

Lastly, we would like to thank the talented community members and members of The Articulate who displayed their artwork at the event, including Darren SquashicTiffany Whitsitt, Ian Hylands, Ben WardShaye Fitzgerald, Ryan Waneka, and Patrick Edmiston.  Their photographs are still on display so be sure to stop by The Articulate and check them out.

Benefits of Coworking

Welcome to The Articulate Blog!  This blog gives an insight into The Articulate and the benefits of coworking, highlights the fantastic work from our members, and showcases the many events that are held in our creative space.

With so many coffee shops, café’s, and public buildings available one might wonder why they would feel a need to cowork.  Many of these places offer the same or similar benefits that coworking spaces provide including Wi-Fi, desk space, and the ever-important bottomless coffee.  The worker can come and go as they please and even use these places for networking and meeting with clients.  After all, couldn’t you do most of that from your home as well?

You could… but it would be a mistake.  The one thing all of these places lack or are missing all together is the main reason why coworking is so successful.  The people.  Coworking not only allows for the personal benefits an entrepreneur or someone who works remotely needs, it also surrounds you with similar minds fostering a creative atmosphere.  The Articulate aims to attract creative minds and bring them together in one professional workspace.  By doing so it stimulates creative discussion, allows for assistance when you need it, and has the potential to bring in new ideas you never would have thought about.  Working from home or coffee shops can be productive at times, but one is far more likely to look around their home and become distracted by chores they have been putting off.  At a coffee shop, you might eliminate the home distractions, but what happens when you are stuck with a problem you just can’t figure out or are looking for feedback on a project?   Coworking can eliminate the need to search google for every uncertainty and can supply invaluable feedback from others who are more than willing to help.  In the few weeks I’ve been at The Articulate, I’ve witnessed a member aid another in naming a kumbucha cocktail he was creating.  Another helped make suggestions to a photographer with questions on their camera and shared different techniques they like.  Personally, a member took time to ask me about my life and volunteered to assist in any way while I search for career opportunities post-graduation.  The willingness of people to help is remarkable and keeps you wanting to come back.

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The Articulate knows our members have many day-to-day tasks that can get in the way of networking with others or getting assistance on a problem they have. This is why we strive to host multiple events throughout each month geared toward networking and learning.  Some of these events include member happy hours where members can simply learn more about each other by connecting in a casual and low stress atmosphere.  We also host a member premier night about once a month that allows members to give a presentation of what they have been working on and gain valuable feedback.  While happy hours and premier nights are for members only, The Articulate also hosts multiple public events as well.  Both co-founders of The Articulate, Patrick and John, have hosted a photographer’s basics class where participants received one-on-one training on how to best utilize their camera. 

This coming weekend, you are invited to an event at The Articulate open to anyone in the community!  On Friday March 3rd we will be hosting the Corndoggies Food Truck one-year anniversary!  Come enjoy all the corn dogs you can eat as well as several local artists’ displays around our space.   For more information on these and all other Articulate events, please check out our events page.  If you would like to experience the benefits of coworking for yourself, contact us to get a tour of our space and learn more about our membership options!

The Articulate

Welcome to The Articulate Blog!  This blog gives an insight into The Articulate and the benefits of coworking, highlights the fantastic work from our members, and showcases the many events that are held in our creative space.

The team that helped make the space what it is today.

The team that helped make the space what it is today.

The Articulate began when Patrick Edmiston was renting out an old warehouse on the edge of Old Town Fort Collins for photo shoots for his company, PHOCO Photography.  After about a year, an idea began to grow in Patrick’s ever-creative mind.  The warehouse had a lot of unused space and Patrick recognized the opportunity to transform it into a new coworking space for creative individuals.  He soon bought the space and he and his team began planning renovations for what would become The Articulate.  While spreading the word about this new coworking space, Patrick was introduced to John Iverson.  John has an immense experience in studio management with heading studios in Los Angeles, New York, and Milan and was immediately excited about the idea of  coworking in Fort Collins.  The two were eager to partner and combine their resources to grow The Articulate.  The construction and renovations had their ups and downs, but soon enough on July 1st 2016, The Articulate was ready to open.  Patrick and his team at PHOCO had vigorously spread the word to anyone and everyone who might be interested and could gain from the space.  By the time the opening party came around, there was no shortage of interest with a few hundred people in attendance.

The Articulate has attracted the interest of companies and entrepreneurs looking for office space and over time, more and more members have joined.  By targeting creative individuals, The Articulate has an immense amount of impressive talent with members ranging from photographers, video and virtual reality producers, search engine optimizers, and even a law firm geared to assist small businesses.  When learning about The Articulate or walking around the space, one word is often overheard and impossible to overlook: community.  Since day one, The Articulate has had a laid back, casual, open door feel that spreads through every member.  Each member is eager to assist and use their unique skill set to view and suggest ways to help one another.  This community eliminates the sense of competing with one another and instead creates the sense of how we can all aid one another.  Through member showcases, happy hours, education events, and community events, The Articulate provides many networking opportunities to learn about other members and/or voice needs for assistance.

In such a short time, The Articulate has grown and already established itself as a premier coworking space in Northern Colorado.  Next week, coworking spaces and entrepreneurs in Fort Collins have teamed up for Fort Collins Startup Week.  All week, people have the opportunity to hear from local businesses as well as try coworking at various spaces.  The Articulate is proud to have members hosting events throughout the week as well as opening our doors on Tuesday, February 28th to anyone interested in coworking and learning more about our space.  To learn more about The Articulate, please connect with us to request an appointment or feel free to stop by anytime!