The Small Business Revolution Starts Now

Screenshot from smallbusinessrevolution.org

Screenshot from smallbusinessrevolution.org

This post is sponsored by Tiny Diner.

Seven Twin Cities small businesses are featured in a national Small Business Revolution campaign
By Joanna Demkiewicz

A century ago, in 1915, a man named W. R. Hotchkiss took out a $300 loan to start a check-printing business in St. Paul. He called his business Deluxe Corp., an appropriate title for a company that would eventually innovate in its industry and start a revolution. Deluxe now has locations across the United States, in Canada, and in Ireland, and it helps invigorate businesses by offering financial and small business marketing solutions.

For Deluxe’s 100th anniversary, the company recruited photojournalists, writers and filmmakers to literally hit the road to document stories from 100 small businesses across the U.S., proof that despite how large Deluxe has grown, those on top still remember that they started small.

Deluxe has named this project The Small Business Revolution, and it has already hit 16 states, including Texas, Illinois and Louisiana. The journey began where Hotchkiss began his — in the Twin Cities — and seven of the narratives honor our dynamic small business community, from a doughnut shop to a women’s clothing line to a solar-powered diner.

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

Tiny Diner was the inaugural focus of the Revolution, and the story featured small business veteran Kim Bartmann and her passion for transforming a forgotten neighborhood relic into a diverse gathering space — complete with a garden-to-plate philosophy and a solar-powered roof. Bogart’s Doughnut Co. (below), Laura Hlavac Design and St. Croix Chocolate Company — all Twin Cities originals — offer additional perspectives on why and how small businesses are important.

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

“I think we’re in the middle of a huge cultural shift,” St. Croix Chocolate Company co-owner and chocolatier Robyn Dochterman told me. “You can see it in the farm-to-table movement, the craft brew boom, and in the continued popularity of Etsy. We’re no longer expected to go work for a big firm when we join the work world. Instead, we’re figuring out new ways to contribute to the community and apply our creative spirit. [The Small Business Revolution] is spreading the word that there’s a payoff that might not necessarily be big bucks, but rather big satisfaction.”

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

Courtesy of Tiny Diner

Like the grassroots nature of starting a small business, the success of the movement hinges on involvement and interaction from locals — but the beauty of this campaign is that “locals” are nationwide. Why not check out #SmallBusinessRevolution to learn about the hidden gems around the country? Scrolling through the campaign’s Instagram account might help you plan your next vacation or even find your wedding dress. Reading how an entrepreneur turned a renovated meatpacking plant into a shoe company on Facebook could be the catalyst for someone to do the same in his or her neighborhood.

The revolution is just the beginning. The rest — after the campaign wraps up and the hundred small business stories have been told — is up to us.

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