Posted: April 01, 2014
CBCA: Create Award finalists
Winner: RakunGigi Sukin
Acknowledging an uptick in Colorado businesses raising the profile of locally made goods, the Create Award recognizes for-profit initiatives that have made a significant impact on Colorado’s creative economy. Watch a video about the finalists.
With notable surge in socially conscious companies and purpose-driven consumerism, Erika Righter’s long-time concept of a philanthropic enterprise, Hope Tank came to fruition in 2012. Her eclectic Baker neighborhood boutique supports more than 45 local artists and for each item purchased — from accessories to home goods and gadgets — the retailer contributes to at least one of roughly 100 nonprofit organizations.
“I think people underestimate their customers and how much they want to know how their money is being spent, and where it goes“ said Righter, who started the brick-and-mortar outpost after she and her husband were both laid off from their previous jobs. Depending on the purchase, Righter ensures a portion of each sale benefits charitable initiatives, including local nonprofits such as Conservation Colorado and the Women’s Bean Project.
Righter relocated from her original space on Sante Fe Dr., just more than six months ago.
“I don’t want people who just want to be in a cool shop on Broadway,” she added. She noted community support and responsiveness has been particularly impressive. “People come in and bring their friends and family members and explain the mission and they’re getting it right. That tells me I’ve succeeded.”
Noyes Art Designs
For 35 years, Sheridan-based Noyes Art Designs has promoted its mission of applying art to encourage health and healing. The vast majority of its projects are tailored to reinvigorating health care facilities, breathing a fresh aesthetic into spaces that promote wellbeing.
“I think the impact of linking art and business, makes something come alive in people,” said Nancy Noyes, owner of the art consulting firm. “It brings comfort and inspiration to people — security and motivation. All of those things are so important to the healing process.”
With the recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act, “47 million people nationwide will eventually be covered who weren’t before,” Noyes said, predicting an uptick in business. “Right now, hospitals have to figure out how to accommodate that number of people. After a few slow years, everyone is building now and we are very much apart of that.”
When Meghan Throckmorton opened her boutique Rakun in 2011 in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, she could only hope to leave a lasting impression on the handmade community through economic development, collaboration and community initiatives. Pivoting from a purely retail model, the shop became a welcoming creative business incubator, with more than 200 local crafters setting up shop to-date.
“I ask everyone who sells their products at Rakun to spend some time in the shop each month,” Throckmorton said. “This creates this magical interaction between makers and buyers. Consumers are part of the design and production process, designers get immediate feedback, and everyone gets a subtle reminder that buying habits matter,” rather than shouting “Go Local!” from the rooftops.
On the Colorado creative scene, she notes “a surge in professional development tools aimed at creatives.”
“I first noticed this trend when I formed Denver Independent Boutiques in 2011, a network of shops …” she said. “Three of the original 15 shops in the network carried a lot of screen-printed products that could have viewed each other as competition. Instead they jumped right in and started helping each other.”
Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.