Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Blogger: Jonathan Campbell

Our guest blog is a week early, but we just really wanted to share what Jonathan Campbell of 231 Commerce had to say. Our Young Professionals love living in Traverse City and Jonathan sheds a little light on why starting your own business in the area is a great idea. Take it away, Jonathan!

If you were to tell me Four Years ago, that I would be married, living in Traverse City and own my own company, I would have thought you were crazy.  But, here I am living, working and playing in TC, loving every minute of it.

Three years ago I moved to Traverse City from California, where I had been living and working for a friend and before that I was in Boston working for a Commercial Contractor.  I am a Northern Michigan native, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, but little did I know how much had changed since I lived here 13 years ago!  My girlfriend (now wife) had a job in TC, so I thought it wouldn’t be bad to live here for a year before we moved down to Chicago, so we could both pursue our careers there.  I began looking for work, but never really expected to find much because the economy was so bad and hey, we would be leaving in 8 months anyways.

The rest of the story is history, because I found a job with MyNorth Media, began my new career in Digital Marketing and decided to buy a house and stay for a while.  I began meeting a lot of new people, networked into the business community and quickly learned that the Northern Michigan that I grew up in had changed.  Traverse City is now an incubator for young energetic talent looking to succeed in an array of different fields.

In April of 2012 , myself and a business partner decided to start our own company.  With his background in E-commerce and my background in web design and development, we thought it would be a perfect match for an E-Commerce Management and Digital Marketing Company.  We both agreed that there needed to be a young, fresh and progressive digital company in town that is well versed in the industry locally as well as nationally.  We are currently managing three online stores, Consulting with future clients about steps they need to take to successfully launch an online store, designing and developing websites and working on a couple smartphone applications.  We feel that we are able to offer our clients the best service in the digital market because we are diverse and have a proven track record of success.  Instead of telling clients what we can do, we can just show them the success of the products that we have already launched.

Everyday at 231 Commerce is different and exciting.  We are able to learn new techniques to optimizing our resources and trouble shoot new problems with customers.  We are writing our own book on Product Management, SEO, Customer Service, Product Fulfillment and online branding and Traverse City is the perfect place to do this. 

We have access to everything we need here in TC and that is credit to the continued hard work of the business community encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs as well as the groups we are a part of, including the TCYP.  The TCYP is a great group that allows younger professionals the opportunity to interact and learn from one another and share helpful information as it pertains to our generation.  Without the TCYP I feel that our younger generation would be less informed, which would make it difficult for us to assimilate into the business community and be successful.

I couldn’t think of a better place to start a company.  Traverse City is a wonderful place to live and work and I look forward to growing my business here. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Traverse City Summer.

Summer has always been my favorite season...even in 100 degree Florida heat. Something about soaking up the sun and embracing the warmth just ensures that I will be in a completely wonderful mood for the rest of the day. That being said, one of the main things I was certain that I would miss was Florida summers- beach days, Happy Hour on an outdoor patio, grilled fish tacos and fantastic sunset get the picture.

However, Traverse City has proved to me that Florida summers are not the best summers...bold statement, I know.

I am now convinced that Traverse City summers are beyond anything I could have asked for. Even when I'm at the office working during summer days, being able to look outside at the gorgeous summer skies and busy Front Street foot traffic just puts a smile on my face and makes my productivity skyrocket. Sunny days (especially ones with no humidity and highs that are 10 degrees lower than the Florida average) simply just offer me the same energy as an extra shot of espresso would. It's the perfect  pick-me-up and Traverse City offers the perfect package of summer.

What exactly do I absolutely adore about Traverse City that Florida cannot offer? You're so lucky- I'm going to tell you right now! 

Traverse City offers me a phenomenally sunny and scenic view on my walk to work. Traverse City allows me to walk to a beach with stunning views of the peninsula and an even better view of the sunset. In regards to the sunset, Traverse city sunsets occur around 9pm instead of Florida's 7pm time, leaving me at least four hours everyday after work to enjoy the daylight and realize that the area I now call home is simply wonderful.

Traverse City also offers me a 6:00am sunrise to wake up to and start my day, which honestly sets the tone of positivity each and every morning. 

What I'm getting at is...Traverse City summer has won my heart and I personally think that is a huge step in the direction of accepting that while Florida will always be where I grew up, there are not many places that can rival working in a place as beautiful and uplifting as Traverse City.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lunching and Learning with TCYP

Lunchtime was always my favorite time of the day during my school years. It was the best time to catch up with friends, exchange stories and information and even learn new things that you didn't get the chance to learn while in class or at work.

Well, now that my school days are over, my daily scheduled lunch times are a thing of the past... which is why the Traverse City Young Professionals Lunch & Learns are some of my favorite YP Events to attend. If you've never been to one, you're truly missing out.

Lunch & Learns have allowed me to catch up on important issues in the area, listen to influential and knowledgeable business and community leaders, and even meet candidates for upcoming races. Without Lunch & Learns, I would be far more out of the loop with the happenings of the Traverse City area. They really have allowed me to learn about so many different aspects and have given me faces to put to important and well-known names.

Lunch & Learns are also my absolute favorite networking opportunity. Everyone who attends a Lunch & Learn is doing it willingly and is exciting to be there. Having the chance to sit down for a meal with my peers and talk about current issues, our jobs, or simply just how our day is going has not only helped with my friend-making-abilities, but has also fulfilled the void that was left by my lack of school lunch time socialization.

Plus, each Lunch and Learn gives the attendees an opportunity to donate to a different cause each month. So not only are we getting the chance to learn, network and socialize- we get to reach out to the community that is giving us all of the opportunities to do so.

Not only that...the food is always exceptional. has yet to even slightly disappoint me. Kudos to you for your outstanding meals, Traverse City Golf and Country Club. I may have taken an extra cookie once (or twice, but who's counting?).

My point is, being a Young Professional in Traverse City also brings about some wonderful opportunities like Lunch & Learns. I would love to see you at the next one (and you can sign up right here!)...I'll even share my extra cookie.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Importance of Networking

Before I moved to Traverse City, I had heard of Networking Events. I had seen them in movies. I had even heard talk of some of my peers attending them. They always seemed like swanky after work cocktail parties where everyone knows everyone else in attendance and they all have a fabulous carefree after-work celebration wearing only the best new business attire.

I knew that once I was a part of the working-post graduate world, I too would have to be a part of these networking events. This terrified me. My work clothes only got as sophisticated as the occasional outfit from Banana Republic (which is still absolutely one of my favorite work numbers to date). I was convinced that I would be completely out of my element.

Upon starting my life as a Young Professional, however, I found out that I was slightly misinformed. While I was beyond nervous walking into my first networking night, Business After Hours, I walked out at the conclusion of the event breathing a sigh of relief...and with twenty new business cards in hand.
Macaila, another TCYP, and I at The Cherry Festival YP social event.
Source: National Cherry Festival

Traverse City Networking Events are such an essential part of fitting into the professional community- especially as a younger member of the area. They have provided me with not only a chance to introduce myself to a ton of business owners, but also have allowed me to strengthen the connections I have already started to make by giving me a chance to catch up with individuals I crossed paths with in the past.

These networking nights have given me a chance to establish myself in a new town. True, they can be intimidating at first, but as long as you hold your own and make your presence known, you're golden. You cannot go into an event expecting people to flock to you because you're a fresh face (which was my first mistake...luckily Allison Beers made me aware that this would not work well for me early on). Once I made my introductions, I felt so much more comfortable and was able to chat about work and possible connections with ease.

Networking has given me an easy way to socialize with like-minded individuals and create lasting connections at the same time. I'm a huge advocate of multi-tasking, so clearly I'm a big fan of, the food is always exceptional. There really is nothing not to like!

Today marks my seventh month living in Traverse City and working with Events North. Thanks to both my job at Events North and networking events like Business After Hours and TCYP Social Events, I usually say hello and stop for a quick chat with someone every time I walk down Front Street.

And let me tell you- It's a great feeling.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Blogger: Kate Daggett

It's time again for another Young Professionals Guest Blogger! This month we bring you Kate Daggett, owner of KidzArt in Downtown Traverse City. I'll let Kate take it from here!

Kate is the lovely lady in the middle. Thanks to Sarah Brown Photography for the photo!

I always think about rolling my eyes whenever people ask me what I do. It typically goes something like this… “Oh, so you’re KidzArt! I see your ads everywhere. So you guys, like, paint with kids, right?”

My first response is a deep breath. Then I answer their question with, “No, actually KidzArt is teaching art education programming to little, itty, bitty finger painters all the way through Senior Citizen programming. We teach at area schools after school’s out, in special needs classes during the day, and a few schools that no longer have art programming available. We teach in the studios a wide variety of classes for a wide variety of ages and abilities, including all of our grown-up classes. We work very closely with a large number of non-profit organizations teaching classes and having drop-in times for just their groups. We attend and help manage several family friendly festivals and fairs all over Northern Michigan. We assist with area education and art programs with collaboration groups and advisory meetings. Not to mention the business side of things. So when it comes down to it, teaching kids to paint is just a small portion of what I get to do every day.”

When I go through all the list of places we have programming, groups I’ve been affiliated with, boards I’ve spoken to; people tend to stare at me with their eyes wide and jaws dropped. In my typical fashion, I chuckle and say, “Yeah, I’m pretty tired just telling you what my weekly calendar looks like.”
Being a business owner is hard, exhausting, and many times downright frustrating. The marketing, networking, advertising, finding amazing staff, educating the community; it’s darn near impossible to keep up the pace I find myself in every week.

That’s why I enjoy attending the TCYP events when I can. It’s an opportunity for me to put work, kids, and the many loads of laundry all on the back burner. My husband, who is a PGA Professional at the Traverse City Golf and Country Club, and I don’t get to spend very much time together during the spring, summer, and early fall. So when we have the opportunity to attend a wine tasting at an area vineyard or get tickets to see a local production with a group of like minded professionals who are actually our age, we love it! It’s so much fun to meet new people and compare notes on what our kids are into. We can chat about our businesses or simply about what we’re being served to eat.

I love that I get to wear tie-dyed T-shirts and sneakers to work every day if I want to. But it’s also nice to get dressed up, go to a new place, and talk with people who are out there working their tails off just as hard as I am. I love to take a deep breath while looking over an amazing vineyard by the water and hold my husband’s hand to remember why we live in such a glorious place.