(Photo via Flickr user Omar Bárcena, used under a Creative Commons license)
It was when Little Baby’s Ice Cream was first starting out that cofounder Pete Angevine met Kate Strathmann, CEO and director of Center City-based small business consultancy Elysian Fields.
After some consulting on financials and business development for the local ice cream business, which has since expanded to Baltimore, the two became friends through their experiences as company leaders — something that Strathmann admits might initially seem weird to people questioning how a business consultancy has anything to with a place that sells ice cream.
“Both businesses have a tremendous amount of mutual respect, and even though a business consultancy and an ice cream business may seem very different, I think both businesses are creative and offbeat in how we approach our ‘work’ and similar in spirit,” Strathmann wrote in an email. “We are not a typical business consultancy, and Little Baby’s is not a typical ice cream business.”
[Editor’s note: Indeed.]
That nontraditional attitude has been funneled into the creation of a new, $1,000 funding opportunity for a local creative project “contributing to the vitality of Philadelphia through creativity and community engagement” called Shared Interest.
And the money itself has an interesting backstory: It’s coming out of the flat interest paid back by Little Baby’s after Elysian Fields provided the company with a short-term, low interest loan last year for that Baltimore expansion (with an additional matching amount from Elysian Fields).
The grant application doesn’t go live ’til this Monday, April 10, and will be accepted through noon on April 23. But if you think you’re project is a good fit for the funds, take a look ahead at the pretty darn simple application process — they’re looking for just four answers to four questions, in addition to four pictures to better illustrate what you write.
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"I like to think of regeneration as a better metaphor than sustainability."
The quick-and-easy process of the application is an integral part in what Strathmann says should be the main focus for anyone looking to provide funding — supporting the “amazing, sometimes-scrappy, groundbreaking work” she sees around the city. She has plenty of experience in this area too, with six years as the cofounder and leader of the recently retired Philly Stake, a dinner gathering of sorts where the main conversation was how best to distribute funds to community projects.
“I like to think of regeneration as a better metaphor than sustainability sometimes — we reached a point where it made sense to end the project so that we could focus on and grow other work as individuals (or maybe with each other in the future),” Strathmann said of Philly Stake, from which she took inspiration when creating Shared Interest.
This kind of “hyperlocal cooperative capitalism” Strathmann feels she and Angevine are doing is also something they feel is a bit rare in the local funding scene. She pointed to certain examples of it happening — Greensgrow’s recent fund honoring founder Mary Seton Corby in her passing or Rooster Soup Company coming out of a partnership between Broad Street Ministry and Federal Donuts — but she thinks more could be done.
“I would love to model and keep experimenting with ways that small businesses can partner to both support each other, while also generating ways to give back and invest in communities they are a part of,” Strathmann said.
“Owning a small business is really challenging, and takes a tremendous amount of work, dedication, and sleepless nights. But I also find, for myself, that leadership feels like a great privilege, and I’d like to keep finding ways to use the economic power we do have to find ways to create more community wealth and vibrancy.”-30-
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