Stabilize Your Business Foundation in the Downturn Recap

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or have recently launched an idea, the implications of COVID-19 are forcing business owners to focus on the basics. Learn how to fundamentally structure your processes in order to gain a greater understanding of how to make critical business decisions during the downturn.

Hear from Kim Grotto of Grotto Marketing, Lauren Barron from Fiercely You, Inc., Kim and Art Angel from E2A Partners.

They discuss how to create a stable business foundation by utilizing a combination of strategy, financial best practices, customer personas, pricing, key data collection and marketing strategy.

Stay tuned for more video highlights from this webinar!

Focus on What You Control

Kim Grotto of Grotto Marketing

  • Do not make decisions out of fear, shift your focus to what you can control
  • Having a responsive versus reactive mindset allows for wiser decision making
  • Be mindful of where you invest your time and energy


  • Let Financials Work For You

    Lauren Barron from Fiercely You, Inc.
  • Financial analysis encourages strategic operational planning and decision making
  • Establish a system that encourages financial best practices and recording
  • Let your finances work for you by taking advantage of information they provide
  • Your strategic plans and your financial expectations go hand-in-hand


  • Customer Success vs Business Development

    ID Managing Director Travis Linderman and E2A Partners Kim Angel

  • Ensure that your customers are utilizing your services optimally
  • Direct your focus to current customers which will lead to long-term loyalty and retention
  • Don’t neglect those who already trust you and your product


  • Trending Numbers and What to Do

    Lauren Barron from Fiercely You, Inc.

  • Take a closer look at an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow comparison with Lauren Barron
  • Ask yourself three important questions: Why are my numbers trending the way they are? How did it happen? What am I going to do about it?
  • Utilize these resources to gain a better view of the trends in your business


  • Intimate Knowledge of Your Customer Profile

    Lauren Barron from Fiercely You, Inc.

  • When determining pricing, analyze who you are serving and what their needs are
  • Pricing decisions are influenced by many internal and external factors
  • Cost of goods sold and cost of services may require obtaining various quotes


  • Building Your Strengths & Consistency

    Kim and Art Angel from E2A Partners.

  • Recognize what you are good at and what is working for your business
  • This is not a time to start from scratch, learn to pivot by identifying adjacent services/products
  • Do not assume customers behaviors based on past experiences
  • Realize who you are to the core and how viewers see you


  • Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Making Business Decisions As you Navigate the Downturn Recap

    Missed our last webinar? View: Making Business Decisions as you Navigate the Downturn with Kim Grotto, Lauren Barron, Kim and Art Angel. They are ID members and small business owners discussing topics ranging from marketing to financial planning. Check out the videos below!

    Don’t Miss Our Next Webinar!

    Create a structure upon which to understand and make fundamental business decisions in a time of re-evaluation. Learn how to create a stable business foundation by utilizing a combination of strategy, financial best practices, customer personas, pricing, key data collection, and marketing strategy. Run time: Approximately 60 minutes.

    Part 1: Cash is King

    Kim Grotto and Lauren Barron, Fiercely You

    • “Cash talks and everything else mumbles”
    • Businesses should utilize a 13-week cash flow forecast. This high-level tool can give a cumulative figure of your cash flow or cash burn. In simpler terms, it is reconsolidating your checkbook for your business.
    • Consider your customer demand. If there is a continued need for your product or service but people are not able to access the way they normally would think about other ways you can provide.

    Part2: Marketing

    Kim Grotto, Grotto Marketing

    • “The opportunities are there it is all about how you take advantage of them”.
    • Marketing is far more strategic and methodical than many come to believe. Articulate and communicate their brand, mission, values and products in order to expand their reach, earn revenue, increase loyalty and market share.
    • Know your audience. Prioritize current customers and the needs you can fulfill for them. Stay connected to key partners and employees.
    • Learn about the Four C’s: Cohesiveness, Connection, Communications, and Create and how to apply them to your business.

    Part 3: Hunting for Data!

    Kim Angel and Art Angel, E2A Partners

    • Hunt for data and learn to interpret it. Look for information that you can apply to your business model. It is time to assess the ways in which to drive your business forward. Don’t make assumptions based on past behaviors.
    • The “come to us” mentality for retailers and services is a thing of the past. Your business needs to tune into the “we are there for you” mindset.

    Part 4: Communicating Values through Emails

    Lauren Barron, Kim Grotto, Kim Angel and Art Angel

    • Q: What is the relevance of newsletters and today’s COVID-19 saturated emails? How many emails are too many?
    • A: If the information is relevant and serves value, say it! Take a look and analyze your audience’s pain points, how they are feeling or the message they need to hear?
    • Resend your emails about three days later. Not only that, but you should really put thought into your subject and preview line as well. Grab the readers’ attention and give them a reason to stop and engage.

      Consider your call to action. What response are you looking to get? Drive your content around that goal and then you will know if the email was successful.

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Business Idea Competition: Final Round

    Concordia University Chicago will livestream the finals of their CougarTank business idea competition to students, alumni and the startup community. CougarTank encourages young creators to apply their entrepreneurial prowess to bring their innovative ideas to life. Through this competition, students go head-to-head presenting their business models to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and alumni. After conquering multiple rounds of scrutiny, the final five teams have been selected.

    The CougarTank Final Round
    April 17, 2020 – 5:30 to 7:30pm

    Groups will present in the following order:

    Amazing Feet 5:30-5:55pm, Doc In a Box 5:55-6:20pm, Ru, The Toy Guru 6:20-6:45pm, Stylo Closet App 6:45-7:10pm, Sync.Lync 7:10-7:35pm.

    Here is a profile of each emerging company and the founders who are building them:

    Amazing Feet – Nivedita Kadambi & John LeMieux


    Amazing Feet is planning on making big waves in the podiatric industry. The concept is simple – using a 3D scanning device, a podiatrist would scan a patient’s feet and then deliver the resulting images/orthotic corrections through the Amazing Feet app. This technology could give patients the flexibility of purchasing custom shoes on demand.

    Doc in a Box – Brian Harris & Kristen Landon

    Maintain good health while in college with Doc in the Box. Doc in the Box is looking to help full-time, undergraduate students gain easy access to healthcare. This service would utilize technology to suggest self-administered care for non-urgent situations and reduce the stress of finding coverage. The cost would be affordable due to the plan being included in the student’s tuition and fees.

    Ru, The Toy Guru – Emily Hynan & Jason Slusher

    Do you fret about shredded dog toys all over your home? Ru, The Toy Guru has the solution for you. This dog toy company’s concept involves soft, industrial-strength Velcro. Unlike other products on the market, this toy provides a unique, money-saving twist. It is meant to be ripped apart and put back together. Built to endure a profound amount of puppy pulling, owners can simply push the pieces back together each time it “rips”. Let your furry friend play and be rough, without worrying about your wallet.

    Stylo Closet App – Kanwal Irfan

    The Stylo Closet App aims to solve a common dilemma that many face when standing in front of their closet. What do I wear? The app accesses thousands of looks curated specifically for you. How it works: Stylo Closet takes pieces from your wardrobe (uploaded by the user) and generates options based on the clothes you already own. This app differs from its competitors by suggesting trendy hair and makeup ideas. It also connects users to fashion influencers that can inspire personal styling decisions.

    Sync.Lync – Anna Krenz & Antea Pela

    Are you tired of your phone battery dying when you’re on the go? Generate energy with Sync.Lync. This fitness band converts human movement into power for your smartphone. This device pairs to a fitness app with an assortment of workouts and encourages community activity. It also includes a safety feature for emergency situations.

    Stay Connected

    Learn more about Concordia University Chicago’s CougarTank program here.

    Explore the other various programs they have to offer by visiting their website.

    Connect with CUC on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Business Update 1-on-1 with Travis Linderman

    What challenges are you facing as a startup founder? We will work through them with you.

    Fundraising • Brand Identity • Deck Review • Sales & Marketing Strategy • Customer Discovery

    Cash Flow & Burn Rate • Value Proposition • Market Research • Business Model Canvas

    All Chicagoland startup founders welcome!

    Click below to schedule your 45 minute 1-on-1 with ID Managing Director Travis Linderman



    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Small Business Resources to Overcome COVID-19

    The information in this post was last updated on June 30th, 2020.

    To help entrepreneurs and small business owners find the help they need, we have compiled a list of resources targeted at COVID-19 related business challenges. This list will be updated as new information and resources as they become available.

    The College of DuPage Business Development Center website is being updated daily with information for COVID-19 Small Business Assistance.

    Choose DuPage and DuPage County are coming together to assist small businesses and independent contractors in the DuPage area by offering the Small Business Relief Program. This provides grants to use for employee retention payroll, utilities, and rent.

    See something we missed that should be included? Shoot us a message at ID@InnovationDuPage.org.

    Financial Help

    Loans and Grants

    Main Street Lending Program

    The Federal Reserve Board of Governors acted on June 8 to allow more small and medium-sized businesses to be able to receive federal Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic financial support via low-interest loans. The program will lower the minimum loan amount, raise the maximum loan limit, adjust the principal repayment schedule to begin after two years, and extend the term to five years, providing borrowers with greater flexibility in repaying the loans.

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    The CARES Act was unanimously passed by Congress on March 27th, 2020 and is the largest economic stimulus package in American history. This act involves multiple areas of assistance and this link will help you better understand what may apply to your small business. For additional information, check out the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist’.

    The Paycheck Protection Program is included in the CARES Act. This program is designed to keep small business workers on the payroll. More funds have been replenished and applications are now being accepted. Due to the increase in volume, the site has been experiencing technical difficulties. If you have trouble accessing the site keep checking back. Need help with questions please contact The College of DuPage Business Development Center.

    Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Relief Loan

    This loan brought to you by the SBA can be used for: Fixed Debts, Accounts Payable, Payroll, other Bills. For more details and information on how to apply, check out our dedicated ‘SBA Disaster Injury Loan’ post.

    Choose DuPage & DuPage County Small Business Relief Program

    In an effort to assist small businesses and independent contractors impacted by COVID-19, DuPage County in conjunction with Choose DuPage is providing grants to use for employee retention payroll, utilities, and rent.

    Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

    The WBDC knows that access to capital is critical for business success. They provide loans to small businesses who otherwise cannot get a loan from a bank.Loans are available to small businesses located in Northwest Illinois and targeted towards businesses with less than $1 Million in annual revenue.

    Illinois Department of Commerce Loan

    Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy, and the Advantage Illinois program is there to assist. By working with the state’s banking community and venture capitalists, they help entrepreneurs and small businesses.

    Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund

    The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund will help to provide small businesses with emergency cash flow during this immediate health crisis. Applications will begin to be accepted on March 31, 2020.

    Facebook Small Business Grant Program

    Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits to businesses that may be experiencing disruptions in these uncertain times. The money given can support your workforce, help with your rent costs, connect with more customers, and cover operational costs.

    Honeycomb Credit

    Community sourced loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 via the crowdfunding platform. Honeycomb is offering 45-day payment free periods, 6-month interest-only periods and reducing their posting, success, and investor fees.

    Worknet DuPage

    Worknet DuPage is providing worker training grants intended to help manage the cost of training new employees through the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) . This grant is applicable to various industries and occupations including healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, accounting, office & clerical, trucking & logistics, and more.

    Tax Relief

    Research and Development Tax Credit

    A government-sponsored tax incentive that supports businesses that conduct R&D in the United States. The tax credit is more comprehensive than most realize. Businesses of all sizes can apply and do not need research labs to be eligible. The credit is meant to encourage innovation and maintain technical jobs in the U.S.

    IRS Tax Relief

    The IRS has announced the extension of tax filing and federal tax payment deadlines to July 15th. In addition, a plan is in place to implement a Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses.

    Illinois Tax Help

    In an effort to assist eating and drinking establishments impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is waiving any penalty and interest that would have been imposed on late Sales Tax payments from qualified taxpayers.

    What is Available to Employees as a Business Owner?

    COVID-19 Changes to Unemployment Rules

    Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible. Please review this link for the information to assist your employees.

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

    This program helps those with low-incomes buy the food needed for good health.

    Tips for Working from Home

    Github’s Guide to Remote Work

    GitHub has curated a remote work emergency toolkit for leaders and managers and a remote work starter guide for employees to assist businesses during this time in order for everyone to maintain optimal productivity and stability.

    Facebook Minimizing Business Disruption During Emergencies

    Facebook is helping workplaces stay connected by helping minimize disruptions to businesses during emergencies. Utilize their multiple channels to stay in touch with customers and employees.

    Video Conferencing Services

    The following are video conferencing resources allowing businesses to stay connected and productive while working remotely.

    Microsoft Resources

    Google Hangouts

    Go to Meeting by LogmeIn

    Zoom

    DuPage County Business Help

    The College of DuPage Business Development Center

    The Illinois SBDC/PTAC/ITC at College of DuPage, as expert advisors, are here to advise and guide small businesses within our community. They post a weekly COVID-19 Small Business Update answering questions they receive.

    1-on-1 Business Mentoring

    Innovation DuPage is offering free 1-on-1 zoom mentoring sessions for all Chicagoland startup founders. What challenges are you facing? We will work through them with you. Get help with Fundraising • Brand Identity • Deck Review • Sales & Marketing Strategy • Customer Discovery Cash Flow & Burn Rate • Value Proposition • Market Research • Business Model Canvas • and MORE.

    Choose DuPage

    Choose DuPage is volunteering their expertise to assist businesses in DuPage County. Get help with Banking, Education, Insurance, Legal, and Marketing. Join the conversation on social media about what businesses and residents are doing to help during these times by using the #DuPageDifference.

    DuPage County Health Department

    A resource in maintaining the health and safety of residence of the DuPage county. Stay up to date on what is happening in your area.

    Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce

    View the WDCC’s informational fliers in relation to COVID-19 and how they are supporting businesses during this time .

    Western Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    The WSSCI is committed to serving regional businesses and community prosperity through best practices, advocacy, access to leaders, economic development, collaboration and business education. Check out their page for a list of resources available to those impacted by COVID-19.

    Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce

    View what professions are considered essential and non-essential along with a list of local grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices and other critical services located near Glen Ellyn.

    New Policies and Legal Resources

    Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

    IDFPR has announced new guidance on license expirations dates, continuing ed deadlines, and more to help licensees maintain their licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    You can find the official press release here .

    Insurance Interruption Coverage

    Your business insurance may contain interruption coverage you can use during COVID-19, learn more by clicking the title.

    Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion Act

    On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed and signed. These are two provisions providing paid leave to employees forced to miss work because of the COVID-19 outbreak: the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Learn more about how this could serve you in the link.

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Woman looking at her laptop

    SBA COVID-19 Disaster Injury Loans

    The information in this post was last updated on June 30th, 2020. It will be updated as new information is released.

    The College of DuPage Business Development Center website is being updated daily with information for COVID-19 Small Business Assistance.

    As small businesses and entrepreneurs face fear and uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) has been working tirelessly to make vital resources and assistance available. On March 17th, the SBA announced new Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small business owners impacted by the Coronavirus.

    The SBA is now offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury from COVID-19.

    Read below to learn how your business could benefit:

    SBA COVID-19 Disaster Injury Loan for Small Business Working Capital

    Loans can be used for: Fixed Debts, Accounts Payable, Payroll, other bills that can not be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

    For more information regarding the:

    • Collateral needed
    • Fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent for small businesses, 2.75 percent for non-profits
    • Long-term repayments with a maximum of 30 years
    • History of revenue necessary

    Please visit the Coronavirus Disaster Assistance page.

    Things to know

    Repayment does not start until 4 months after you sign the promissory note. You can put the payout on hold if you do not need the money immediately.

    The credit scores of all owners with more than 20% ownership are extremely important. If your credit score was great in the past, and if it declined due to COVID-19, have proof of it.

    The timeline from a complete loan application to payout is 3-5 business days. You will need to prove that the business is able to make the payments through operations (have a previous Profit & Loss report) and with a personal financial statement.

    SCAM ALERT: There have been reports of scams COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans. To avoid these, remember THERE’S NO:

    • Immediate deadline to apply
    • Application fee
    • Credit card information required

    Eligibility

    Screenshot

    According to the SBA office of disaster assistance, “small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for a long-term, low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

    This loan is only available for natural-born U.S. citizens or those with a valid permanent resident card(green card). As we find out about other economic support programs for those business owners who do not possess these qualifications, we will let the public know.

    Applicants must additionally be able to show a loss effective January 31, 2020, to now and/or in the future, as compared to 2019 financials.

    Application

    You can now begin the application process.

    UPDATE: Due to problems caused by high traffic volume, the SBA has streamlined its application process requirements into a new three-part webform. Find the easy-to-follow online application form here.

    START EARLY – the biggest reason for delays in processing is due to missing information. Make sure to complete all requirements before submitting.

    Next Steps

    Need assistance with your application? Find your local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, or SCORE mentorship chapter here. For up-to-date information on the help that the SBDC is providing, sign up for their email list.

    If your business is suffering economically and has a current business loan with any lender, consider contacting your lender to request a loan modification (interest only payments, partial or complete payment abatement, etc.) for the months in number it will allow; the bank’s ability to respond will be dependent on the type of loan product you have such as SBA guaranty program loan, in house private bank loan, or online lender.

    Want more help? Check out our growing list of small business resources to overcome COVID-19 HERE.

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    How Work Structures are Changing for the Better

    Key Takeaways

    • Workplaces are becoming less reliant on physical spaces for employees
    • Working remotely may come with “strings attached” unlike working from anywhere
    • Businesses can reap many benefits from allowing their employees greater flexibility
    The New Way of Working

    Long gone are the dreary days of cramped cubicles and bright office fluorescent lights. Our workspaces are ever-changing; this leads us to work from our chaotic kitchen counters, the waiting room at our child’s local pediatrician and at crowded coffee shops.

    Work is no longer tied down to a physical location but can be carried out from anywhere in the world with the appropriate technology. Leading companies are paying attention to these workplace trends and rushing to meet the needs of their employees’ relentless desire for flexibility.

    Working from Anywhere

    When properly discussing the key advantages of working outside of a stereotypical environment, we must also factor in the notable differences between working from home and working from anywhere. Working from anywhere does not consist of the “strings attached” associated with the standard policies of working from home. This often includes requiring that workers come into the office periodically. Working from anywhere allows for geographic flexibility.

    The Demand for Flexibility

    Published studies show that the average employee will accept about 8% less pay to have the added advantage of working remotely (Harvard Business Review). Experienced managers are often concerned that by allowing all employees to work from home they will do less work due to environmental distractions.

    Contrary to this widespread belief, the opposite occurs. When employees are allowed to work from anywhere, it improves their overall happiness and productivity leading to higher retention rates, increased sales and improved performance.

    Where We are Headed

    Within the next few years, we can eagerly expect that businesses will be more flexible with their employees. A typical 9-5 job may soon look vastly different. We need to rethink the way that we do business by building alternative practices that enhance productivity and satisfaction.  Leading companies will focus less on physical bodies in seats and more on the way that their employees work best. This will challenge the way key leaders and companies have operated for years as they steer away from the traditional structure.

    Connect With Us

    Innovation Dupage caters to the changing ideology of workplaces by providing a come and go workspace for businesses and entrepreneurs.

    To learn more about the programs that we provide visit our membership page.

    Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    9 Boutiques to Visit in Glen Ellyn

    Local charm, quaint downtown streets, and a neighborly feel… What more could you ask for from a suburban area? Glen Ellyn is just 24 miles west of Chicago with around 28,000 residents. It sits in an ideal location with access to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Glen Ellyn has everything to offer with lots of great restaurants, shops, and small businesses.

    Check out 9 boutiques that are sure to spark your interest: 

    Enchantments



    Enchantments is a charming clothing boutique carrying trendy pieces with a twist. Owner Jennifer Massarelli’s childhood love for barbies and playing dress-up inspired her to share her passion for fashion with the community. Jennifer’s fashion knowledge brings popular, sought-after designers to her location. Her boutique carries unique pieces such as vintage Chanel and other rare brands. With 18 years in business and counting, Enchantments knows a thing or two about fashion. Be sure to follow their social media to stay up to date with their upcoming sales and events. Instagram: @enchantments_glenellyn

    Located at: 

    534 Crescent Blvd.
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-469-1989

    Re:new Project



    Re:new Project’s company mission is uplifting and heartwarming. They employ refugee women from around the world and provide them with a space to grow, learn and rebuild their lives in the United States. You can purchase the products made by these women at their studio/store conveniently located on Main Street near Banyan Tree Mall. Some of the upcycled and handmade products available for purchase include bags, jewelry and accessories. 
    Their instagram: @renewproject

    Located at: 

    483 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630) 547-2176

    M&Ems and Meredith Jaye



    M&Ems is a lifestyle specialty boutique and a one-stop shop for all occasions. The Fuller’s inspiration for the store came from a family ski trip where they stumbled upon a “quaint children’s boutique that embodied a simple but sophisticated retail experience.” The Glen Ellyn store is named after the owner’s two daughters, Mackenzie and Emerson. While best known for their children’s products, they have expanded into women’s clothing, accessories and home decor. 
    Their instagram: @mandemsmj & @meredith_jaye

    Located at: 

    460 North Main Street 
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-469-6040

    The Gnome Colony



    Step into a whimsical storybook world by heading to The Gnome Colony on Main Street in Glen Ellyn. As you walk in, you enter a secret garden with delightful products and hidden treasures. Stop by to meet the owner and mastermind, Michael Perich, and see why West Suburban Living Magazine and Glancer Magazine named them “Best of the West 2019” and “Readers Choice 2019” respectively. 
    Their instagram: @thegnomecolony

    Located at: 

    485 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-793-5284

    Gather & Collect



    At Gather & Collect, you can find more than just antiques. Owner Julie Spiller curates a variety of products full of character and history. Her businesses selection of goods have come a long way since it was opened nearly 9 years ago. They carry antique books, timeless lamps, vibrant artwork, handmade jewelry, fragrant soaps and much more. Gather & Collect merchandise is ever-changing, so it is worth the trip to see what unique items you can find. 
    Their instagram: @gather_and_collect

    Located at: 

    473 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-469-2558

    Norabella Boutique



    Norabella is a mother-daughter owned shop with a contemporary style and flare. They feature apparel, jewelry, gifts and more. The business is known for their boutique quality without the expensive price tag. Norabella’s offers clients the option of subscribing to monthly style boxes with items curated specifically for them. Check out their Instagram for some of their latest styles and looks @norbellaboutique

    Located at: 

    485 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-403-2203

    Jayne Boutique



    Jayne Boutique carries well known women’s brands such as Free People, Lucky Brand, and Birkenstock. They have six stores in the Chicagoland area offering an ageless shopping experience. Don’t be fooled by their multiple locations, Jayne’s contributes to Glen Ellyn in more ways than one. They work with local charities, schools, nonprofits and other organizations.
    Their instagram: @jayneboutique

    Glen Ellyn’s Location: 

    476 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-793-9098

    Blonde Boutique



    Sisters, Allison Ohlander and Natalie Smith, opened a boutique putting their expertise in fashion merchandising to good use. At Blonde Boutique, you can shop trendy yet timeless apparel with pieces for all ages. Guests can take advantage of Natalie’s impeccable fashion sense by utilizing her personal styling service.
    Their instagram: @shopblondeboutique

    Located at: 

    494 North Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-474-9258

    Paying It Forward



    The name of this luxury consignment shop speaks for itself. In 2016, owner Tami was diagnosed with breast cancer. The community rallied around her showing the family love and support through such a challenging time. Paying it forward became the inspiration for the shop. They donate 20% of all proceeds to local breast cancer charities. Another great reason to shop locally.
    Their instagram: @payingitforward16

    Located at: 

    546 Duane Street
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
    (630)-450-6891

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    What’s Shaking the Region

    Innovation DuPage joined forces with Brewpoint Coffee and the City of Elmhurst to host DuPage County’s first Makers & Shakers event. Sharp minds from across Chicagoland came together for this electric evening to promote their businesses and make meaningful connections with fellow startups and business moguls. The dynamic event drew a vast array of noteworthy entrepreneurs from all industries and stages of the startup journey. This is just the beginning. Makers & Shakers is going to continue to build on its initial success bringing together entrepreneurs from Elmhurst, the DuPage region and beyond.

    Thank you to Fry the Coop, Propelling Good and Luxe Productions for the sincere discussion about the challenges facing startups

    Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

    Dare to STEAM

    Surrounded by a fortress of picture books, three women took the dais to a round of applause louder than what’s typically heard in this Glen Ellyn meeting room. Instead of local citizens gathered to hear from their city council, the room was full of educators and librarians from across DuPage County ready to hear from three best-selling childrens’ authors. And not just any childrens’ books, either: these ladies write books designed to encourage kids of all ages to be interested in STEAM.

    Injecting a Love of STEAM into Curricula and Play

    STEAM. Every current educator knows what it stands for (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Art, Mathematics). They also know they are to place more focus on it in their classrooms. But for kids who aren’t ready for titration, or even times tables, how do they get them excited about the subjects in an organic way?

    That’s where the evening’s panelists came into play. First was Sarah Aronson, author of Just Like Rube Goldberg, whose non-fiction account of Goldberg’s life as a picture book introduced her to the world of writing STEAM. Second was Andrea Beaty, author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and other picture and chapter books about The Questioneers, a fictional classroom of STEAM loving kids. Finally, the panel included Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves series, which breaks scientific concepts down to the earliest reading levels. All of them spoke on their creative process, the inspiration behind their work, and the intersectionality among STEAM, children, and literature.

    Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.

    All three authors noted that children naturally have the inquisitive minds of scientists, and they write to encourage that instinct. “Kids are really good at asking questions,” Spiro observed. She wants to make sure that her books reflect curious kids, with adults in their lives who model that curiosity. Beaty echoed that sentiment, remarking that “not knowing is the greatest thing in the world. Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.” 

    Unlikely Origins

    Proving that creativity and innovation aren’t hampered by background, the women shared their journeys to become childrens’ book authors. Spiro was a magazine writer with no background in the sciences, while Beaty studied biology, not literature. Aronson described her career as a physical therapist who began writing on a dare. But each of them found parallels between their work then, and their work now.

    “Story arcs are similar to the scientific method,” said Spiro. “My books are grounded in childhood experiences,” which helped her bridge the connection from reviewer of childrens’ books to a writer of STEAM books for children.

    For Beaty, it was about seeing a story within her own children. After observing that her son loved building things, from school projects to simply stacking jam containers at restaurants, she thought more children should be encouraged to do the same. That became the foundation of her research process: observing the kids around her, as well as the ones her illustrator, David Roberts, draws into her stories.

    On the other hand, Aronson’s biography of the famed inventor, Just Like Rube Goldberg, required meticulous research to not only earn its nonfiction status, but also meet the approval of Goldberg’s granddaughter. She explained that she had to “learn the research process as [she] did it.” She clearly succeeded, earning Goldberg’s granddaughter’s blessing and rave reviews from the literary community.

    Failure is Fantastic

    But what if Aronson hadn’t gotten the go-ahead to publish? Or if she had, what if no one had read the book? Well, in Aronson’s own words, it would’ve been okay, since “failure is amazing.” The other authors immediately agreed. Spiro commented that we have to teach our kids that failure is a part of life, and that “it’s safer to read about a character who’s failing” than to admit to their own failures. Beaty added that expectations need to be set for kids that sometimes things fail, or just don’t go well. In those cases, it’s not about the fact that there was a failure, but rather that there is now another chance for success. She tries to emphasize perseverance in her characters, so kids can see that failing is okay, as long as they keep trying.

    For Spiro and Aronson, the main concept they wanted their audience to take away was that persistence and determination is what matters when it comes to kids in STEAM. Beaty summarized her message as being okay with who you are. Aronson concurred, commenting that “sometimes the last person we’re kind to is ourselves.”

    Supporting Independent Bookstores

    After she finished signing copies of her books which were purchased from the Bookstore of Glen Ellyn, Spiro suggested that the event was only the beginning of how the three authors could collaborate with Innovation DuPage. “There are many more events we can do, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

    Beaty was quick to agree. “It’s an exciting endeavor,” she commented, “I love seeing how my books connect with people.”

    The three authors are proof that when people of different backgrounds reach outside of their comfort zones to explore concepts in new ways, innovation happens. And in this case, that innovative thinking is being passed down to the next generation.

    Innovation DuPage organized the panel to support The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn and to promote new ways for educators and parents to engage innovative STEAM training. STAY TUNED as Innovation DuPage continues to support and engage the community with its next panel, “Kids, STEM, and Games”.

    by Laura Zimmermann

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