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Bhargava Chiluveru's mission to capture the spirit of Atlanta

The founder of fourofour combines local artists, e-commerce and entrepreneurship

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How many websites, online portfolios and social media pages does one man need? Three? Five? Bhargava Chiluveru has nearly 20. Because when you’re a photographer, marketing strategist, creative director, project manager, designer, filmmaker, editor and CEO running three bootstrap businesses out of the startup hub Switchyards Downtown Club, differentiating your brand(s) with a strong digital presence is the hustle.Chiluveru co-founded digital branding agency Chil Creative and Chil Studios, which specializes in contemporary and documentary photography and cinematography, with his wife and director of operations, Anu. When the couple launched fourofour.co in August 2016, he added e-commerce developer and ATL evangelist to the list.Fourofour is an independent brand with a big mission: Bring people together, capture the spirit of the city of Atlanta and empower local artists.“There is something special happening here,” the 31-year-old entrepreneur says. “There are a lot of different silos in Atlanta, so I don’t think people realize how special the city really is. To capture all that while helping artists thrive, that is what we’re trying to do.”

Up on Switchyards’ second floor, the DIY startup vibe is alive and well. The hallway is lined with floor-to-ceiling plywood slabs on sliding tracks, gateways that lead to other B2C businesses trying to survive and thrive. As soon as you step off the elevator, you get the feeling that you’ve entered a place where shit gets done.“Atlanta’s creative and startup scene is pretty heavily focused around B2B — business to business — startups,” says Michael Tavani, the founder of Switchyards Downtown Club. “Switchyards was created to produce more companies that are consumer focused, and to create a culture around those types of companies — to create a community around it. To galvanize them around starting brands that have a soul. … That’s our entire ethos. Atlanta is a big part of that.”Chil HQ is modest. Inside, the white-walled room is big enough to house a team of seven or eight. There’s a row of flat-screen computer monitors atop long white tables against one wall, a few rolling chairs. A line of fourofour shirts (you can tell by the four-star fourofour logo or the palindromic 404 that starts with a backward “4” printed across the chest) and awards hang on the walls.Six months in, fourofour functions as an e-commerce platform and series of pop-up events meant to “embrace our growing city and its people,” says the company’s website. “We want to learn from its unique, ever-evolving culture and show the world a side of it only a few know. We partner with emerging local artists and empower them with an outlet for unique expression and entrepreneurship.”Here, the “entrepreneurship” piece encompasses everything from marketing to logistics, e-commerce and fulfillment. Artists lease their intellectual property — the actual files containing the designs, art or the graphics — and receive a share of the profits whenever a sale is made.“Most of the experienced artists that I come across, fulfillment is the one thing nobody wants to deal with,” Chiluveru says.All of the apparel on the website is made to order. “It’s automated, so if you order something, we get the order, we send it to the fulfillment center, they make it, and they print it and they ship it straight to you. We are paying for that, not the artist.”

Examples of recent artist collaborations featured on fourofour’s online store include a vivid, full-bleed T-shirt picturing the Marriott Marquis’ lung-like atrium from Graphiknation founder Lauren Holley. Atlanta photographer and videographer Scott Valladares (@kidsc0tt) has shirts and prints featuring just the tops of iconic Atlanta buildings set against partly cloudy skies. Christynne Papincak, the photographer behind the @whyiloveatl Instagram account, created a pair of graphic leggings printed with a sprawling black-and-white aerial of Downtown.“We’re trying incredibly hard to give artists a much better cut than most of the licensing sites out there,” he says. “I want to do 50/50, if possible.”“Bhargava and I have collaborated before, and we have a lot of shared vision for unifying the community, as Atlantans, photographers and creative entrepreneurs,” Holley says. “I love what fourofour represents as an emerging brand for Atlanta creatives, so it was an honor to be included in their collection. I can’t wait to see how it will grow organically and what other new artists, genres and products will be added over time.”Chiluveru’s drive to create art and businesses stems from a lifetime spent reconciling his diverse experiences, contextualizing them and then somehow making them manifest. He was born in Hyderabad, a multicultural melting pot in Southeast India populated by immigrants from all over the country. Growing up, his father owned an advertising agency that shared space with his family’s residence. Chiluveru didn’t just grow up around agency life; he grew up in it.“I was exposed to many different creative thought processes growing up, which is rare for someone in India at that age,” he says. “Creative services were pretty rare, and none of my friends were exposed to this type of thought process at the time. We also had a computer early on, which was also very rare.”Even so, his father had bigger dreams. Motivated by the promise of a better, more secure future, he moved the family to Norcross in 1998. The 13-year-old Chiluveru was transported from one melting pot to another, but this time he found himself on the other side of the immigrant experience.“[My parents] sold everything and moved here with about $600 to their name and made it. … The citizenship process here is very long and very expensive. Nobody goes through it without being properly vetted and going through a long, arduous process. My dad ended up changing his career from advertising to IT and had to start over.”Chiluveru’s parents encouraged him to pursue an IT career, too, for the stability.“My parents eased up recently when they saw some of my work being recognized,” he says. “I’m pretty sure they are proud of me, but I’m sure they still worry about my stability in the creative field.”After earning a marketing degree from Georgia State University, Chiluveru moved to Midtown with the intent of becoming an artist. He wanted to see if he could quell his parents’ — and his own — fears about not being able to make a living as an artist. Inspired by intown culture, the people and the architecture, Atlanta became his muse.

Chiluveru loves digital manipulation in photography. One of his recent projects played with symmetry. In one piece in the series, he took Atlanta’s skyline and mirrored it horizontally so that the familiar silhouette of buildings cascades across the sky and the ground below. Like a good piece of science fiction, the image conjures a familiar yet unfamiliar new world. Creating fantasy realms based in Atlanta echoes the artist’s affection for John C. Portman Jr.’s space-like architecture.The volume of Chiluveru’s body of work is staggering — thousands of photos spanning several portfolio sites, Instagram, boxes of matted 8x10s and 5x7s that were once destined for sale at art festivals. He estimates that he’s got about 16 terabytes worth of data, raw photos, and video and design files in all.“What I realized over two or three years is that to make a living as an artist is extremely difficult,” Chiluveru says. “I needed to create an online portal to distribute all of this. Then I noticed that everybody else was having the same problem, so I decided to create a place where we would all be able to sell our art.”What sets fourofour apart is the combination of streetwear and art with the entrepreneurial assistance.“They are both ways that people tend to show their love for a city. Apparel is a great medium to do that. Art, in general, has always been a great medium to show your love for something. I think those are things that are in my roots, and so I built that into the brand.”So why Atlanta? Why now?“Atlanta has all this new energy. There’s a whole new generation of people moving here, a whole new generation of art and culture. We need to showcase what’s really happening and talk about that kind of stuff.”There are organizations with similar missions. You’ve Been Noted is another platform that acts as a spotlight and sounding board for local makers. Organizations like the Goat Farm and the Beltline are doing great work to put art on the map and encourage artists in general, he says. #Weloveatl — the hashtag turned local arts organization with nearly 60,000 Instagram followers — is a big reason audiences discovered Chiluveru’s work in the first place.


“I’m definitely appreciative of that,” Chiluveru says. “At the end of the day, I just want to keep paying it forward. It’s not about rivalry or anything like that. Fourofour is all about love. Atlanta is so big; I think there’s room for all our dreams.”



More By This Writer

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Article

Friday November 17, 2017 06:57 pm EST

Our favorite hometown honky bitch, author Hollis Gillespie, came up with "The 5 Absolute Worst Thanksgiving Day Dishes" for her Shocking Real Life Writing Academy newsletter. Now we all have our own weird little food quirks, but very few sound as unappetizing as Thanksgiving sushi. Thanksgiving sushi? Really? That's just gross.

1. Bacon Mug: This is a giant mug made of fried bacon and filled...

| more...
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  string(12) "Startup City"
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  string(45) "ATL entrepreneurs and the spaces they call HQ"
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  string(14400) "It's no secret that Atlanta is quickly cementing its position as a tech capital and a hub for startups. Just take a quick survey of all the co-working spaces that have been sprouting up around town, housing this new generation of business owners from Downtown to the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Buckhead and beyond and you'll see that our city is in a prime position to claim the mantle of "Silicon Valley of the South."

And it's not just the number of new companies that's worth taking stock of it's also the kinds of companies we're growing in the ATL. The entrepreneurs in our fair city are creating businesses that are infused with creative energy and built on a foundation of art and culture, as well as commerce. So much so, that we decided to turn the spotlight on a handful of locally based startups to learn about their organizations and the workspaces they've come to call home.

To make this piece happen, Creative Loafing teamed up with the folks from Hypepotamus, the leading startup and technology-focused publication in the Southeast. Working in conjunction with Hypepotamus, we're presenting the interviews in this article, and there's even more content and perspective on its website, Hypepotamus.com. It's our hope that together we can help spread the word about leaders who are hustling to develop new products, disrupt staid industries, drive change and make our city stand out.



!!!Tallia Deljou, co-founder and president, Mavenly + Co.
Operating out of Switchyards Downtown Club since 2016, Mavenly + Co. works to provide women with the tools and resources to design a career, and a life, with purpose. Co-founders Tallia Deljou (who serves as the company's president) and Kate Gremillion do this by providing one-on-one coaching and by hosting retreats, workshops and events that are crafted to empower women to confront challenges on the road to career satisfaction.

What is your role at Mavenly?

I am a positive psychologist. Essentially, I help women find what it is in their careers that really lights them up to give them some kind of path to follow when they might feel stuck in that first stage of figuring out what they really want to do.

And how exactly would you describe positive psychology?

My master's degree is in positive organizational psychology. And positive psychology as a field has done years of research on human flourishing and how to optimize our experiences specifically at work. So it's a lot of research in how to optimize our creativity, motivation, how to feel more positive emotion in our work, how to feel engaged with what we're doing.

How did Mavenly + Co. come to be?

We both met after traveling for a year to about 50 universities total as leadership consultants, realizing that so many of the women we were meeting with, especially in their senior year of college, were not having the conversations they needed to be having about what life after college looked like. You know, you just spent four years of your life and a lot of money at Harvard and you're getting straight A's and you're valedictorian and if someone asked you what you wanted to do, it was still the hardest question to answer.

For us that was a big red flag and when it came to life design and career design. Why were these things that people weren't getting in college? Kate initially started writing about her experience, getting into her dream corporate job, hitting that wall, hating it but not knowing what to do next. Sharing her experience online brought a lot of readers to the blog, and people started sharing their own experiences. And then one thing led to the next and a podcast grew out of the blog. I ended up going to grad school. Researching, studying, learning the psychology behind all of it. Kate and I reconnected and decided to build out a curriculum that would lay the foundation for our coaching, for our workshops, for any of the events that we were gonna do. But really it came from seeing how many people struggle with the answer to that question, "What do you want to do?"

What's it like working at Switchyards?

We did a search for all the spaces in Atlanta and went to visit, I would say, a majority of them. Switchyards was one of the last ones Kate found. I think what grabbed her attention initially was the focus that they have here on helping you build your business and all the resources they provide. They're clearly doing a lot to keep the community strong and provide opportunities for you to connect with other people, for you to learn from other people, for you to teach other people. They're community focused, and their mission to help you build your business was what attracted us at first. And then once we came to see the space, it was a no-brainer for us. The culture is very clearly communicated the minute you step in. You know whether or not it's the place for you.

What's the biggest obstacle you're currently trying to overcome?

It's hard to think about long-term strategic planning when you're running a business and so involved with the day to day. We've been working on finding time to step away a bit so we can focus on the future.

In terms of forecasting, what does the future hold for Mavenly?

We want to be spending more time doing the corporate work, helping companies become better workplaces and work environments for millennial women. We recently came across a list of the top 100 workplaces for millennial women. Our goal is to help companies get on that list.

Women face very different obstacles in their careers. Mavenly + Co. isn't really directly addressing the glass ceiling, but we want employers to understand that there are things they can do and should prioritize internally. Things like helping women build confidence in their skill set, clarifying their career path within an organization, giving them control and ownership over the work that they're doing, and a connection to the company's larger mission.



!!!Zach Pousman, founder, Helpfully
Helpfully is a startup that helps startups and helps large companies act like startups. It's a research and development consulting collective that founder Zach Pousman launched in 2015 after a career working in agencies and as a UX designer. Pousman assembles custom teams on an as-needed basis from a pool of more than 20 private contractors and currently operates out of the Ponce City Market-based co-working space, Industrious.

What is Helpfully's elevator pitch?

We custom-create teams around a particular kind of business problem. For a funded startup, we could staff product people, but we could also staff marketing people, or technology people. Maybe you need a UX person. Maybe you need just a few weeks of a graphic design team or of a branding person. The teams are very flexible based on the client's business needs. And we can do that every time because they're not my employees.

How was the company born?

I was looking for more impact. I had worked myself up the food chain at this agency and had gotten far away from the work. And I really wanted to have impact on both the strategic and the tactical . ... It was like, how do you build this semi-permeable membrane where people could both work for you in some full-time capacity, or at least you could have access to that person full-time, but then they would, obviously, have all kinds of side-projects and side-work? A lot of people that work with me, they have lots of jobs they're DJs or artists, etc. I love that, because it allows us to cross-pollinate. It allows us to tap into networks that I would not otherwise get access to. And it allows us to bring exactly the right team to a project on day one.

Talk about your working space at Industrious.

It was about wanting to be in the heart of the city wanting to be a part of the Beltline and the energy. Actually, when I started Helpfully, I was like: "We're gonna do it on the Beltline." All these pieces and parts came into focus at Industrious.

What obstacle are you currently trying to overcome?

One of the things that we are working hard on right now is getting teams to gel. Like, getting our team and a client team to work together faster. Say you have six months or a year to work together and build rapport and build communication styles from the bottom to the top. In the hot oven of a startup or startup-minded team, if you have time, all of that will just sort itself out. But because we want to help companies accelerate and get to market faster, we want to compress a year of hanging out into a week. We have some fun things we're designing, like on-boarding experiences, so we can be better at going faster.

What are your plans for the future?

One of the big things I want to do in 2017 is have more impact. When I say that, I don't mean just like, "Oh, I want to do projects that are more complex or expensive." But I want to do projects that go into more people's hands and that affect how those people live and think and work and shop. I want to earn space on the home screen of people's phones, and I haven't done that yet. That's a good goal, right? There's only 20 spaces.



!!!Diamonde Williamson, co-founder, Blossom
By day, Diamonde Williamson is the diversity coordinator for the business incubator TechSquare Labs, and in that role she helps create programs that empower people of color to build technology products. Williamson is also the co-founder of Blossom, a web-based TV network that is working to provide a customized content experience for women of color. Since February 2017, Blossom's six-person team has been operating from WeWork in Buckhead.

How did Blossom come to be?

I was working in television as a producer in reality TV, just to get my foot in the door. I used to really want a talk show like Oprah, and working in reality television was my way in. But that got old quick because I realized I was part of the problem with television nowadays. It's very driven by drama. And if my ultimate vision was to create empowering content, then I was in the wrong space. So I came up with Blossom, because I wanted women of color to have the space where we could have content that actually resonated.

So you were done with reality television?

I was fed up. I remember one specific incident there with one of the girls; she was older, she was from a reality show, and she was like, 'How did I do?" Like after a scene, she came and asked us how she did, and I'm like, "Why are you asking us how you did? You just acted a fool. Like are you proud of that?"

Why did you decide to go with a co-working space?

WeWork had a program called Mission Possible, where they award a free office space for six months to startups, and I was one of them. We just needed a place to get into so we could all meet and where we could also meet people. I really like to connect and to be around people. And that's the opportunity that co-working spaces provide you.

What is your biggest challenge right now?

Right now, the biggest challenge is actually having people understand the vision. Because I know we know, my team knows, the vision. My team knows the end goal. So it's tough to explain that over and over because we're only in phase three. Sometimes people can only see what's in front of them. But we know the goal. We didn't know we needed a Netflix until they gave it to us.

What are your hopes for the future?

I'm not here to fight what is. I'm just here to provide an alternative. We can be all obsessed with reality TV and caught up in their lives, but we're not learning anything from them. I'm just here to provide an alternative. Reality TV, I'm not trying to fight it, just trying to redefine what that means.



!!!Javier Santana, co-founder, Launch
Launch is a strategy-first digital agency based out of FlatironCity in Downtown. Javier Santana, his co-founder, David Preiss, and their team work to understand their clients' goals, industry and target audience to identify key opportunities in the digital space before they even "consider breaking out the crayons."

What is the significance of your company's name?

From concept to creation, we get your digital products "Launched" - like Matt Damon to Mars in the 2015 feature film The Martian.

Well, what is the company's origin story?

After three and a half years at Homedepot.com, I decided to go out on my own. As co-workers, Dave and I found we had a lot of similar ideas, so we started chatting about starting our own company. Once we decided on a UX and Creative-focused nano-agency, we Thelma & Louise'd it onto our new venture. It was only Dave and I for a while, so we quickly became the freelance tag team for some Atlanta agencies. For two years, we were white-labeled to help with pitches and projects for big-name clients. That was fun for a while, but we realized that we lost focus on our own dream and shifted gears.

We wanted to create an agency that had good vibes with a cool work environment so we could attract intelligent people to do awesome work. We persuaded them to join us by showing them our space filled with suitcase boom boxes and a disco ball and treating them to Korean tacos (true story). Today, we have 17 team members and counting.

Can you explain why you set up shop in FlatironCity?

We never wanted a co-working space. We wanted something more than that something different. We needed to find a transitional space that didn't feel like we were in a short-term "rent-a-desk" type of environment. We didn't want what felt like a temporary home with terrible wall art, a bad coffee machine and a remote you need to put in a Ziploc bag, so we took our time to find the perfect space and found FlatironCity.

What are your goals for Launch?

We want to be the best company to work for in Atlanta, hands down. We'll accomplish this by hiring the best talent, which in turn helps us land excellent projects and clients. Within the next year or so, we will be looking at growing the team, with potential expansion to the West Coast.

What's the biggest obstacle are you currently trying to overcome at Launch?

Finding the right talent is always an obstacle. We want people who share our vision, are a good cultural fit and are in it for the long run. So when we recruit, Dave and I end up eating a lot of taco lunches - and travel with a disco ball."
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  string(16742) "It's no secret that Atlanta is quickly cementing its position as a tech capital and a hub for startups. Just take a quick survey of all the co-working spaces that have been sprouting up around town, housing this new generation of business owners from Downtown to the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Buckhead and beyond and you'll see that our city is in a prime position to claim the mantle of "Silicon Valley of the South."

And it's not just the number of new companies that's worth taking stock of it's also the kinds of companies we're growing in the ATL. The entrepreneurs in our fair city are creating businesses that are infused with creative energy and built on a foundation of art and culture, as well as commerce. So much so, that we decided to turn the spotlight on a handful of locally based startups to learn about their organizations and the workspaces they've come to call home.

To make this piece happen, ''Creative Loafing'' teamed up with the folks from Hypepotamus, the leading startup and technology-focused publication in the Southeast. Working in conjunction with Hypepotamus, we're presenting the interviews in this article, and there's even more content and perspective on its website, [https://hypepotamus.com/people/creative-entrepreneurs/|Hypepotamus.com]. It's our hope that together we can help spread the word about leaders who are hustling to develop new products, disrupt staid industries, drive change and make our city stand out.

{HTML()}Cover1313Tallia Deljou, co-founder and president of Mavenly + Co., at Switchyards Downtown ClubJoeff Davis{HTML}

!!!__Tallia Deljou, co-founder and president, Mavenly + Co.__
Operating out of [http://switchyards.com/|Switchyards Downtown Club] since 2016, [http://mavenly.co/|Mavenly + Co.] works to provide women with the tools and resources to design a career, and a life, with purpose. Co-founders Tallia Deljou (who serves as the company's president) and Kate Gremillion do this by providing one-on-one coaching and by hosting retreats, workshops and events that are crafted to empower women to confront challenges on the road to career satisfaction.

__What is your role at Mavenly?__

I am a positive psychologist. Essentially, I help women find what it is in their careers that really lights them up to give them some kind of path to follow when they might feel stuck in that first stage of figuring out what they really want to do.

__And how exactly would you describe positive psychology?__

My master's [[degree] is in positive organizational psychology. And positive psychology as a field has done years of research on human flourishing and how to optimize our experiences specifically at work. So it's a lot of research in how to optimize our creativity, motivation, how to feel more positive emotion in our work, how to feel engaged with what we're doing.

__How did Mavenly + Co. come to be?__

We both met after traveling for a year to about 50 universities total as leadership consultants, realizing that so many of the women we were meeting with, especially in their senior year of college, were not having the conversations they needed to be having about what life after college looked like. You know, you just spent four years of your life and a lot of money at Harvard and you're getting straight A's and you're valedictorian and if someone asked you what you wanted to do, it was still the hardest question to answer.

For us that was a big red flag and when it came to life design and career design. Why were these things that people weren't getting in college? Kate initially started writing about her experience, getting into her dream corporate job, hitting that wall, hating it but not knowing what to do next. Sharing her experience online brought a lot of readers to the blog, and people started sharing their own experiences. And then one thing led to the next and a podcast grew out of the blog. I ended up going to grad school. Researching, studying, learning the psychology behind all of it. Kate and I reconnected and decided to build out a curriculum that would lay the foundation for our coaching, for our workshops, for any of the events that we were gonna do. But really it came from seeing how many people struggle with the answer to that question, "What do you want to do?"

__What's it like working at Switchyards?__

We did a search for all the spaces in Atlanta and went to visit, I would say, a majority of them. Switchyards was one of the last ones Kate found. I think what grabbed her attention initially was the focus that they have here on helping you build your business and all the resources they provide. They're clearly doing a lot to keep the community strong and provide opportunities for you to connect with other people, for you to learn from other people, for you to teach other people. They're community focused, and their mission to help you build your business was what attracted us at first. And then once we came to see the space, it was a no-brainer for us. The culture is very clearly communicated the minute you step in. You know whether or not it's the place for you.

__What's the biggest obstacle you're currently trying to overcome?__

It's hard to think about long-term strategic planning when you're running a business and so involved with the day to day. We've been working on finding time to step away a bit so we can focus on the future.

__In terms of forecasting, what does the future hold for Mavenly?__

We want to be spending more time doing the corporate work, helping companies become better workplaces and work environments for millennial women. We recently came across a list of the top 100 workplaces for millennial women. Our goal is to help companies get on that list.

Women face very different obstacles in their careers. Mavenly + Co. isn't really directly addressing the glass ceiling, but we want employers to understand that there are things they can do and should prioritize internally. Things like helping women build confidence in their skill set, clarifying their career path within an organization, giving them control and ownership over the work that they're doing, and a connection to the company's larger mission.

{HTML()}Cover11213Zach Pousman, founder of Helpfully, at the Industrious space at Ponce City MarketJoeff Davis{HTML}

!!!__Zach Pousman, founder, Helpfully__
[http://www.helpfully.com/|Helpfully] is a startup that helps startups and helps large companies act like startups. It's a research and development consulting collective that founder Zach Pousman launched in 2015 after a career working in agencies and as a UX designer. Pousman assembles custom teams on an as-needed basis from a pool of more than 20 private contractors and currently operates out of the Ponce City Market-based co-working space, [https://www.industriousoffice.com/|Industrious].

__What is Helpfully's elevator pitch?__

We custom-create teams around a particular kind of business problem. For a funded startup, we could staff product people, but we could also staff marketing people, or technology people. Maybe you need a UX person. Maybe you need just a few weeks of a graphic design team or of a branding person. The teams are very flexible based on the client's business needs. And we can do that every time because they're not my employees.

__How was the company born?__

I was looking for more impact. I had worked myself up the food chain at this agency and had gotten far away from the work. And I really wanted to have impact on both the strategic and the tactical . ... It was like, how do you build this semi-permeable membrane where people could both work for you in some full-time capacity, or at least you could have access to that person full-time, but then they would, obviously, have all kinds of side-projects and side-work? A lot of people that work with me, they have lots of jobs they're DJs or artists, etc. I love that, because it allows us to cross-pollinate. It allows us to tap into networks that I would not otherwise get access to. And it allows us to bring exactly the right team to a project on day one.

__Talk about your working space at Industrious.__

It was about wanting to be in the heart of the city wanting to be a part of the Beltline and the energy. Actually, when I started Helpfully, I was like: "We're gonna do it on the Beltline." All these pieces and parts came into focus at Industrious.

__What obstacle are you currently trying to overcome?__

One of the things that we are working hard on right now is getting teams to gel. Like, getting our team and a client team to work together faster. Say you have six months or a year to work together and build rapport and build communication styles from the bottom to the top. In the hot oven of a startup or startup-minded team, if you have time, all of that will just sort itself out. But because we want to help companies accelerate and get to market faster, we want to compress a year of hanging out into a week. We have some fun things we're designing, like on-boarding experiences, so we can be better at going faster.

__What are your plans for the future?__

One of the big things I want to do in 2017 is have more impact. When I say that, I don't mean just like, "Oh, I want to do projects that are more complex or expensive." But I want to do projects that go into more people's hands and that affect how those people live and think and work and shop. I want to earn space on the home screen of people's phones, and I haven't done that yet. That's a good goal, right? There's only 20 spaces.

{HTML()}Cover1613Blossom team members production manager Erika Smith (from left), founder Diamonde Williamson and creative producer Melani Carter outside their office at WeWork in BuckheadJoeff Davis{HTML}

!!!__Diamonde Williamson, co-founder, Blossom__
By day, Diamonde Williamson is the diversity coordinator for the business incubator TechSquare Labs, and in that role she helps create programs that empower people of color to build technology products. Williamson is also the co-founder of [http://watchblossom.com/|Blossom], a web-based TV network that is working to provide a customized content experience for women of color. Since February 2017, Blossom's six-person team has been operating from [https://www.wework.com/l/atlanta--GA|WeWork] in Buckhead.

__How did Blossom come to be?__

I was working in television as a producer in reality TV, just to get my foot in the door. I used to really want a talk show like Oprah, [[and] working in reality television was my way in. But that got old quick because I realized I was part of the problem with television nowadays. It's very driven by drama. And if my ultimate vision was to create empowering content, then I was in the wrong space. So I came up with Blossom, because I wanted women of color to have the space where we could have content that actually resonated.

__So you were done with reality television?__

I was fed up. I remember one specific incident there with one of the girls; she was older, she was from a reality show, and she was like, 'How did I do?" Like after a scene, she came and asked us how she did, and I'm like, "Why are you asking us how you did? You just acted a fool. Like are you proud of that?"

__Why did you decide to go with a co-working space?__

WeWork had a program called Mission Possible, where they award a free office space for six months to startups, and I was one of them. We just needed a place to get into so we could all meet and where we could also meet people. I really like to connect and to be around people. And that's the opportunity that co-working spaces provide you.

__What is your biggest challenge right now?__

Right now, the biggest challenge is actually having people understand the vision. Because I know we know, my team knows, the vision. My team knows the end goal. So it's tough to explain that over and over because we're only in phase three. Sometimes people can only see what's in front of them. But we know the goal. We didn't know we needed a Netflix until they gave it to us.

__What are your hopes for the future?__

I'm not here to fight what is. I'm just here to provide an alternative. We can be all obsessed with reality TV and caught up in their lives, but we're not learning anything from them. I'm just here to provide an alternative. Reality TV, I'm not trying to fight it, just trying to redefine what that means.

{HTML()}Cover11313Javier Santana, co-founder of Launch, in his company’s space at the Flat Iron buildingJoeff Davis{HTML}

!!!__Javier Santana, co-founder, Launch__
[https://www.launchjourney.com/|Launch] is a strategy-first digital agency based out of [http://www.flatironcity.com/|FlatironCity] in Downtown. Javier Santana, his co-founder, David Preiss, and their team work to understand their clients' goals, industry and target audience to identify key opportunities in the digital space before they even "consider breaking out the crayons."

__What is the significance of your company's name?__

From concept to creation, we get your digital products "Launched" - like Matt Damon to Mars [[in the 2015 feature film ''The Martian''].

__Well, what is the company's origin story?__

After three and a half years at Homedepot.com, I decided to go out on my own. As co-workers, Dave and I found we had a lot of similar ideas, so we started chatting about starting our own company. Once we decided on a UX and Creative-focused nano-agency, we ''Thelma & Louise'''d it onto our new venture. It was only Dave and I for a while, so we quickly became the freelance tag team for some Atlanta agencies. For two years, we were white-labeled to help with pitches and projects for big-name clients. That was fun for a while, but we realized that we lost focus on our own dream and shifted gears.

We wanted to create an agency that had good vibes with a cool work environment so we could attract intelligent people to do awesome work. We persuaded them to join us by showing them our space filled with suitcase boom boxes and a disco ball and treating them to Korean tacos (true story). Today, we have 17 team members and counting.

__Can you explain why you set up shop in FlatironCity?__

We never wanted a co-working space. We wanted something more than that something different. We needed to find a transitional space that didn't feel like we were in a short-term "rent-a-desk" type of environment. We didn't want what felt like a temporary home with terrible wall art, a bad coffee machine and a remote you need to put in a Ziploc bag, so we took our time to find the perfect space and found FlatironCity.

__What are your goals for Launch?__

We want to be the best company to work for in Atlanta, hands down. We'll accomplish this by hiring the best talent, which in turn helps us land excellent projects and clients. Within the next year or so, we will be looking at growing the team, with potential expansion to the West Coast.

__What's the biggest obstacle are you currently trying to overcome at Launch?__

Finding the right talent is always an obstacle. We want people who share our vision, are a good cultural fit and are in it for the long run. So when we recruit, Dave and I end up eating a lot of taco lunches - and travel with a disco ball."
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  string(14856) " Cover1 9 13.596fbe43b4a2c  2018-04-10T03:28:56+00:00 cover1_9_13.596fbe43b4a2c.jpg     ATL entrepreneurs and the spaces they call HQ 4618  2017-07-20T00:09:00+00:00 Startup City clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Stephanie Dazey  2017-07-20T00:09:00+00:00  It's no secret that Atlanta is quickly cementing its position as a tech capital and a hub for startups. Just take a quick survey of all the co-working spaces that have been sprouting up around town, housing this new generation of business owners from Downtown to the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Buckhead and beyond and you'll see that our city is in a prime position to claim the mantle of "Silicon Valley of the South."

And it's not just the number of new companies that's worth taking stock of it's also the kinds of companies we're growing in the ATL. The entrepreneurs in our fair city are creating businesses that are infused with creative energy and built on a foundation of art and culture, as well as commerce. So much so, that we decided to turn the spotlight on a handful of locally based startups to learn about their organizations and the workspaces they've come to call home.

To make this piece happen, Creative Loafing teamed up with the folks from Hypepotamus, the leading startup and technology-focused publication in the Southeast. Working in conjunction with Hypepotamus, we're presenting the interviews in this article, and there's even more content and perspective on its website, Hypepotamus.com. It's our hope that together we can help spread the word about leaders who are hustling to develop new products, disrupt staid industries, drive change and make our city stand out.



!!!Tallia Deljou, co-founder and president, Mavenly + Co.
Operating out of Switchyards Downtown Club since 2016, Mavenly + Co. works to provide women with the tools and resources to design a career, and a life, with purpose. Co-founders Tallia Deljou (who serves as the company's president) and Kate Gremillion do this by providing one-on-one coaching and by hosting retreats, workshops and events that are crafted to empower women to confront challenges on the road to career satisfaction.

What is your role at Mavenly?

I am a positive psychologist. Essentially, I help women find what it is in their careers that really lights them up to give them some kind of path to follow when they might feel stuck in that first stage of figuring out what they really want to do.

And how exactly would you describe positive psychology?

My master's degree is in positive organizational psychology. And positive psychology as a field has done years of research on human flourishing and how to optimize our experiences specifically at work. So it's a lot of research in how to optimize our creativity, motivation, how to feel more positive emotion in our work, how to feel engaged with what we're doing.

How did Mavenly + Co. come to be?

We both met after traveling for a year to about 50 universities total as leadership consultants, realizing that so many of the women we were meeting with, especially in their senior year of college, were not having the conversations they needed to be having about what life after college looked like. You know, you just spent four years of your life and a lot of money at Harvard and you're getting straight A's and you're valedictorian and if someone asked you what you wanted to do, it was still the hardest question to answer.

For us that was a big red flag and when it came to life design and career design. Why were these things that people weren't getting in college? Kate initially started writing about her experience, getting into her dream corporate job, hitting that wall, hating it but not knowing what to do next. Sharing her experience online brought a lot of readers to the blog, and people started sharing their own experiences. And then one thing led to the next and a podcast grew out of the blog. I ended up going to grad school. Researching, studying, learning the psychology behind all of it. Kate and I reconnected and decided to build out a curriculum that would lay the foundation for our coaching, for our workshops, for any of the events that we were gonna do. But really it came from seeing how many people struggle with the answer to that question, "What do you want to do?"

What's it like working at Switchyards?

We did a search for all the spaces in Atlanta and went to visit, I would say, a majority of them. Switchyards was one of the last ones Kate found. I think what grabbed her attention initially was the focus that they have here on helping you build your business and all the resources they provide. They're clearly doing a lot to keep the community strong and provide opportunities for you to connect with other people, for you to learn from other people, for you to teach other people. They're community focused, and their mission to help you build your business was what attracted us at first. And then once we came to see the space, it was a no-brainer for us. The culture is very clearly communicated the minute you step in. You know whether or not it's the place for you.

What's the biggest obstacle you're currently trying to overcome?

It's hard to think about long-term strategic planning when you're running a business and so involved with the day to day. We've been working on finding time to step away a bit so we can focus on the future.

In terms of forecasting, what does the future hold for Mavenly?

We want to be spending more time doing the corporate work, helping companies become better workplaces and work environments for millennial women. We recently came across a list of the top 100 workplaces for millennial women. Our goal is to help companies get on that list.

Women face very different obstacles in their careers. Mavenly + Co. isn't really directly addressing the glass ceiling, but we want employers to understand that there are things they can do and should prioritize internally. Things like helping women build confidence in their skill set, clarifying their career path within an organization, giving them control and ownership over the work that they're doing, and a connection to the company's larger mission.



!!!Zach Pousman, founder, Helpfully
Helpfully is a startup that helps startups and helps large companies act like startups. It's a research and development consulting collective that founder Zach Pousman launched in 2015 after a career working in agencies and as a UX designer. Pousman assembles custom teams on an as-needed basis from a pool of more than 20 private contractors and currently operates out of the Ponce City Market-based co-working space, Industrious.

What is Helpfully's elevator pitch?

We custom-create teams around a particular kind of business problem. For a funded startup, we could staff product people, but we could also staff marketing people, or technology people. Maybe you need a UX person. Maybe you need just a few weeks of a graphic design team or of a branding person. The teams are very flexible based on the client's business needs. And we can do that every time because they're not my employees.

How was the company born?

I was looking for more impact. I had worked myself up the food chain at this agency and had gotten far away from the work. And I really wanted to have impact on both the strategic and the tactical . ... It was like, how do you build this semi-permeable membrane where people could both work for you in some full-time capacity, or at least you could have access to that person full-time, but then they would, obviously, have all kinds of side-projects and side-work? A lot of people that work with me, they have lots of jobs they're DJs or artists, etc. I love that, because it allows us to cross-pollinate. It allows us to tap into networks that I would not otherwise get access to. And it allows us to bring exactly the right team to a project on day one.

Talk about your working space at Industrious.

It was about wanting to be in the heart of the city wanting to be a part of the Beltline and the energy. Actually, when I started Helpfully, I was like: "We're gonna do it on the Beltline." All these pieces and parts came into focus at Industrious.

What obstacle are you currently trying to overcome?

One of the things that we are working hard on right now is getting teams to gel. Like, getting our team and a client team to work together faster. Say you have six months or a year to work together and build rapport and build communication styles from the bottom to the top. In the hot oven of a startup or startup-minded team, if you have time, all of that will just sort itself out. But because we want to help companies accelerate and get to market faster, we want to compress a year of hanging out into a week. We have some fun things we're designing, like on-boarding experiences, so we can be better at going faster.

What are your plans for the future?

One of the big things I want to do in 2017 is have more impact. When I say that, I don't mean just like, "Oh, I want to do projects that are more complex or expensive." But I want to do projects that go into more people's hands and that affect how those people live and think and work and shop. I want to earn space on the home screen of people's phones, and I haven't done that yet. That's a good goal, right? There's only 20 spaces.



!!!Diamonde Williamson, co-founder, Blossom
By day, Diamonde Williamson is the diversity coordinator for the business incubator TechSquare Labs, and in that role she helps create programs that empower people of color to build technology products. Williamson is also the co-founder of Blossom, a web-based TV network that is working to provide a customized content experience for women of color. Since February 2017, Blossom's six-person team has been operating from WeWork in Buckhead.

How did Blossom come to be?

I was working in television as a producer in reality TV, just to get my foot in the door. I used to really want a talk show like Oprah, and working in reality television was my way in. But that got old quick because I realized I was part of the problem with television nowadays. It's very driven by drama. And if my ultimate vision was to create empowering content, then I was in the wrong space. So I came up with Blossom, because I wanted women of color to have the space where we could have content that actually resonated.

So you were done with reality television?

I was fed up. I remember one specific incident there with one of the girls; she was older, she was from a reality show, and she was like, 'How did I do?" Like after a scene, she came and asked us how she did, and I'm like, "Why are you asking us how you did? You just acted a fool. Like are you proud of that?"

Why did you decide to go with a co-working space?

WeWork had a program called Mission Possible, where they award a free office space for six months to startups, and I was one of them. We just needed a place to get into so we could all meet and where we could also meet people. I really like to connect and to be around people. And that's the opportunity that co-working spaces provide you.

What is your biggest challenge right now?

Right now, the biggest challenge is actually having people understand the vision. Because I know we know, my team knows, the vision. My team knows the end goal. So it's tough to explain that over and over because we're only in phase three. Sometimes people can only see what's in front of them. But we know the goal. We didn't know we needed a Netflix until they gave it to us.

What are your hopes for the future?

I'm not here to fight what is. I'm just here to provide an alternative. We can be all obsessed with reality TV and caught up in their lives, but we're not learning anything from them. I'm just here to provide an alternative. Reality TV, I'm not trying to fight it, just trying to redefine what that means.



!!!Javier Santana, co-founder, Launch
Launch is a strategy-first digital agency based out of FlatironCity in Downtown. Javier Santana, his co-founder, David Preiss, and their team work to understand their clients' goals, industry and target audience to identify key opportunities in the digital space before they even "consider breaking out the crayons."

What is the significance of your company's name?

From concept to creation, we get your digital products "Launched" - like Matt Damon to Mars in the 2015 feature film The Martian.

Well, what is the company's origin story?

After three and a half years at Homedepot.com, I decided to go out on my own. As co-workers, Dave and I found we had a lot of similar ideas, so we started chatting about starting our own company. Once we decided on a UX and Creative-focused nano-agency, we Thelma & Louise'd it onto our new venture. It was only Dave and I for a while, so we quickly became the freelance tag team for some Atlanta agencies. For two years, we were white-labeled to help with pitches and projects for big-name clients. That was fun for a while, but we realized that we lost focus on our own dream and shifted gears.

We wanted to create an agency that had good vibes with a cool work environment so we could attract intelligent people to do awesome work. We persuaded them to join us by showing them our space filled with suitcase boom boxes and a disco ball and treating them to Korean tacos (true story). Today, we have 17 team members and counting.

Can you explain why you set up shop in FlatironCity?

We never wanted a co-working space. We wanted something more than that something different. We needed to find a transitional space that didn't feel like we were in a short-term "rent-a-desk" type of environment. We didn't want what felt like a temporary home with terrible wall art, a bad coffee machine and a remote you need to put in a Ziploc bag, so we took our time to find the perfect space and found FlatironCity.

What are your goals for Launch?

We want to be the best company to work for in Atlanta, hands down. We'll accomplish this by hiring the best talent, which in turn helps us land excellent projects and clients. Within the next year or so, we will be looking at growing the team, with potential expansion to the West Coast.

What's the biggest obstacle are you currently trying to overcome at Launch?

Finding the right talent is always an obstacle. We want people who share our vision, are a good cultural fit and are in it for the long run. So when we recruit, Dave and I end up eating a lot of taco lunches - and travel with a disco ball.     Launch co-founder David Preiss at the Flat Iron building        20868151         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/07/cover1_3_13.596fbd710966f.png                  Startup City "
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Article

Wednesday July 19, 2017 08:09 pm EDT
ATL entrepreneurs and the spaces they call HQ | more...
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Twain's Brewpub and Billiards chef Savannah Sasser can look at a pig or cut of pork and tell you if the animal was happy when it died. Anyone can if you know what to look for.

“Blown capillaries,” Sasser says. She’s rinsing a sink full of vegetables in her home kitchen a few miles east of Decatur. “If you ever see a pig with a lot of red little spots on it, it was under severe distress when it was slaughtered. Pigs have feelings and they know something's wrong when they go to the slaughterhouse.”

Two months prior to this balmy August afternoon, this room was packed with Atlanta’s Les Dames d’Escoffier — local members of the renowned culinary mentorship organization for women — and two whole hogs ready to star in the butchering workshop Sasser was hosting that day.

“When I took on Twain’s I was a vegetarian and everyone thought it was hilarious. But then after going to different local farms and seeing how they were treating animals humanely, I started to eat meat again,” she says. “Everyone laughs at the vegetarian who likes to butcher. But I find it cathartic, so I do it quite often. If I'm having a rough day and we've got some pig in today, I'm gonna go handle it.” 

Sasser has been the Executive Chef at Twain's for the last four years. When the owners decided to buy and renovate the former Suburban Lanes Bowling Alley and reopen it as the Comet Pub and Lanes, they tapped Sasser to build its kitchen up from scratch. She created the menu, wrote kitchen protocols and guidelines, calculated food costs, and shored up vendors. Now that the Comet is up and running, her attention is back on Twain’s. 

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When she took over for the Decatur brewpub’s then-chef Ben Horgan in 2012, she had a plan. She wanted the food to better reflect the house beers that Twain’s then Head Brewer David Stein who went on to co-found Creature Comforts Brewing in Athens and Twain’s current Head Brewer Chase Medlin were producing. Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu of Pittsburgh in 2005, Sasser had developed a passion for local food and sustainable farming. She started to prepare even more of Twain’s sauces and ingredients from scratch and began sourcing all of the pub’s proteins from Georgia farmers. Eschewing the typical bar food repertoire even further, she made room on the menu for two rotating vegan dishes. 

“I want everyone to be able to eat something when they come to Twain's,” she says. “It's a bar, but you know, vegans and vegetarians like to go and have a nice beer at a bar.” 

No one taught Sasser how to cook vegetarian cuisine. When she stopped eating meat for two years in 2010, she learned by doing. She had to feed herself, after all. Today she’ll put those skills to use and cook up a lovely meatless meal that feeds up to six people. 

<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8510939ab46bf70bbf4a2%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_display" style="display:inline;"><a class="dynavar" onclick="javascript:toggle_dynamic_var("{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8510939ab46bf70bbf4a2%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}");" title="Click to edit dynamic variable: {data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8510939ab46bf70bbf4a2%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}">No value assigned<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8510939ab46bf70bbf4a2%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_edit" style="display:none;"><input class="input-sm" name="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8510939ab46bf70bbf4a2%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}" type="text" value="No value assigned" />

With a budget of $20 in mind, it was easy for Sasser to dream up the vegetarian family meal she has planned. She’s making a dish out of creamy Logan Turnpike grits topped with a fresh corn, creamer pea, and tomato relish, finished with a sunny fried egg. She’s also serving an elegant spinach salad with juicy muscadines, lemon goat cheese crumbles, and curried peanuts tossed in a warm sorghum and Vidalia onion vinaigrette. She wanted her ingredient choices to be protein-rich and encompass a variety of textures and flavors. 

“I also wanted to source locally from Your DeKalb Farmers Market, which not everyone always thinks about,” she says. And the meal “had to be very light, which is what you want when it's this hot and muggy outside,” she says. 

She preheats two cast iron pans in the oven, one for toasting the peanuts and the other to slowly caramelize a large Vidalia onion she just chopped up. She gets some water boiling for the grits, and shaves slabs of fresh corn off the cob in four effortless swipes. 

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“I don't have that great story where I grew up in a household where my grandmother was picking things from the garden,” she says. She pauses to squeeze the remaining juices out of the bare cob and into the bubbling water. “I remember my mom making casseroles, opening cans of green beans, a basic rice dish,” she says. “The focus was more on talking as a family than what was necessarily on the plate.” 

When Sasser’s stepfather passed away, the then 14-year-old began cooking a lot of the family’s meals to help out. 

“I always wanted to be a chef,” Sasser says, “but once I was doing it to help out my family I realized that food was much more than nourishing the body. That it could be comforting, and silently helping, only added to my passion for cooking.” 

After culinary school, Sasser worked at a small French restaurant, Café du Jour, and the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. Next she spent a short time cooking at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs before swearing off hotel gigs for good and returning to Atlanta in 2010. She got a job at the Grape in Vinings where she worked under chef Micah Willix, her eventual mentor.

“I was kind of in awe of him,” Sasser says, “because he’d be like, ‘I'm not serving chicken because I can't find a pasture-raised chicken,’ with that kind of conviction. I was like, ‘Oh, I want to have that kind of conviction.” 

<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8534238ab46383dba3a78%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_display" style="display:inline;"><a class="dynavar" onclick="javascript:toggle_dynamic_var("{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8534238ab46383dba3a78%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}");" title="Click to edit dynamic variable: {data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8534238ab46383dba3a78%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}">No value assigned<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8534238ab46383dba3a78%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_edit" style="display:none;"><input class="input-sm" name="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8534238ab46383dba3a78%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}" type="text" value="No value assigned" /> As Sasser removes the seeds from each golfball-sized muscadine, she describes the role they’ll play in her spinach salad. “They’re going to bring a tartness to the salad,” she says. “And then texturally, muscadine is firmer than a normal grape. They’ll go really well with the lemon goat cheese and spinach and then the sorghum and Vidalia onion will add the sweetness to balance it all out.”  At Twain’s, Sasser’s classical French training melds with her Southern sensibilities. Both cultures routinely show up in dishes such as the cassoulet she’s developing for Twain’s upcoming quarterly menu change.

“It is a traditional French dish, but I’ll be using local peas and making my own sausage with pork and then adding bacon — little aspects of Southern,” she says.

Sasser’s vegan and vegetarian offerings have attracted their own dedicated fan base.

“We have a community that comes in to Twain's purely because they know they can get a good vegan or vegetarian option,” she says. “Our vegan pasta with a smoked lemon oil, heirloom tomatoes, and some arugula — I was really surprised at how well it did. I have a feeling I'm going to get in trouble with some people when I take it off the menu.”

On Sasser’s watch, Twain’s became the first Decatur restaurant to subscribe to the CSA program that local farming nonprofit the Global Growers Network offers in addition to educational programming for disadvantaged farmers. The CSA arrives at Twain’s every week and usually includes around six cases of seasonal, locally grown produce. Sasser rarely knows what ingredients are coming and loves the task of adapting her menu accordingly. Some weeks are harder than others.

“One time I got six cases of radish and then six more cases of radish,” she says. “It challenged me to figure out what I could possibly do with all these radishes, how to implement them on a bar menu. I made a radish preserve and also a radish and ranch chow-chow.”

Sasser’s main focus right now is to keep pushing Twain's further — to make its menu more local and sustainable and to craft more ingredients from scratch. They already do a lot of butchering and make their own sausage. Now Sasser wants to implement an in-house charcuterie program. Eventually, she hopes to open her own place, perhaps with Twain’s owners Ethan and Uri Wurtzel as partners. Her dream restaurant is a small, intimate affair. It would only be open for dinner and the menu would change daily.

    “I’d like it to have a garden or my own farm, if we're talking about shooting for the stars,” she says. “And a really cool beer program, as well, and drink program. … Community is huge. That would be a main focus of the restaurant — a lot of family tables.”

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As she drizzles glistening bits of caramelized onion over the fresh spinach straight from the pan — the heat, she explains, will wilt the spinach a bit and add another texture profile to the dish — the themes of food and family return to the forefront of Sasser’s mind. Growing up, the food they ate at her house wasn’t particularly special. The time she got to spend in the kitchen with her mother, on the other hand, was priceless.  

“I didn't always have a lot of quality time with her,” Sasser says. “Cooking time was time that I got to spend with my mom.” Even before she was big enough to reach the countertop, Sasser would help out with things like baking, making stuffing at Thanksgiving, and stirring anything her mother allowed. Sasser motions across the room toward a tiny step stool with a heart shape cut out of the dark wood. “That’s from when I was little,” she says. A note written on the bottom reads, “Your first step stool to becoming a chef. Love, Mom.”

For Sasser, dinnertime will always mean family time. She’ll always view cooking for others as an act of love. Her past experiences shaped these notions and, in turn, have had a profound influence on her chef identity. Sasser may not have had a memorable gardening grandma, but her food tells a story that’s all her own.

---
!!!Recipes
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Logan Turnpike Grits and Summer Corn Salad

Serves 4-6

 

For the corn salad: 

Ingredients

• ½ cup fresh creamer peas or other peas that you like

• 1 tablespoon salt

• 2 ears of corn

• 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

• ½ Vidalia onion

• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

• ¼ cup rice wine vinegar

• 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

• fresh cracked pepper

• 4 sunny-side-up eggs (one for each serving)

======

===  ===

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a large cast iron skillet in it.

Rinse peas in a bowl of cold water, allowing debris to float to the top. Remove debris and rinse. In a sauce pot, cover peas with cold water and bay leaf. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, skimming the top of impurities (foam) as needed. Add salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Remove cast iron and add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, carefully spread out onion and season with ½ teaspoon salt. Put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until starting to brown.

Rinse corn under running water, removing any fibers. Remove kernels from the cobs, saving the cobs for your grits, and set aside. Rinse and quarter tomatoes. Combine tomatoes, corn, onions, and peas in a bowl. Mix oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a separate bowl and then stir in with the vegetables until everything is evenly coated. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Fry eggs right before serving.

To assemble spoon grits onto the plate and top with pea, corn salad, and sunny egg.

<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8537e39ab461672bbf493%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_display" style="display:inline;"><a class="dynavar" onclick="javascript:toggle_dynamic_var("{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8537e39ab461672bbf493%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}");" title="Click to edit dynamic variable: {data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8537e39ab461672bbf493%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}">No value assigned<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8537e39ab461672bbf493%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_edit" style="display:none;"><input class="input-sm" name="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8537e39ab461672bbf493%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}" type="text" value="No value assigned" />

    For the grits:

Ingredients

• 4 cups water

• 3 corn cobs

• 1 bay leaf (optional)

• 2 tablespoons salt

• 1 cup Logan Turnpike grits

 

Directions

Combine water, corn cobs, bay leaf, and salt in a sauce pot over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer remove cob and set aside. Slowly whisk in grits and turn heat to medium low heat. Once the cob is cool enough to handle run the knife back down the cobs and add any little bits that fall off back into the grits. Continue to stir grits and cook for 30 minutes or until done.

---
      <span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8546939ab461672bbf4fa%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_display" style="display:inline;"><a class="dynavar" onclick="javascript:toggle_dynamic_var("{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8546939ab461672bbf4fa%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}");" title="Click to edit dynamic variable: {data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8546939ab461672bbf4fa%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}">No value assigned<span id="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8546939ab461672bbf4fa%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}_edit" style="display:none;"><input class="input-sm" name="dyn_{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257c8546939ab461672bbf4fa%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}" type="text" value="No value assigned" />Spinach Salad with Vidalia Onion and Sorghum Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

 

For the spinach salad: 

Ingredients

• 1/2 bunch spinach

• 1 cup muscadines

• 1 loaf lemon goat cheese

 

Directions

Clean spinach until all soil is removed, spin dry. Rinse muscadines and cut in half removing seeds. Set spinach, muscadines, and cheese aside until ready to assemble.

 

For the vinaigrette:

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons oil

• ½ each Vidalia onion, small diced

• 2 tablespoons sorghum (or molasses or maple syrup)

• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

• Salt and fresh cracked pepper

 

Directions

In a sauté pan heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and continue to cook until caramelized, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add all remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

 

For the peanuts:

Ingredients

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon salt

• 1 cup peanuts

    ===  ===

Directions

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with large cast iron skillet in it. In a bowl combine oil, curry powder and salt. Toss the peanuts in the oil and spice mix. Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven and add seasoned peanuts. Put back in oven and toast until golden brown.

To assemble the spinach salad:

Combine muscadines, goat cheese, and spinach in bowl. While peanuts and vinaigrette are still warm, pour over spinach and serve.

---
!!!Receipt
Corn: 99 cents

Logan Turnpike Grits: $1.60

Fresh peas: $2.99

Cherry tomatoes: $1.10

Vidalia onion: 90 cents

Sorghum syrup: 50 cents

Spinach: $1.29

Muscadines: $2.55

Goat cheese: $2.39

Eggs: $1.00

    Peanuts: $1.96

Curry powder: $2.32

 

Total: $19.59

*Pantry Items: salt, pepper, mustard, oil, vinegar"
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Twain's Brewpub and Billiards chef Savannah Sasser can look at a pig or cut of pork and tell you if the animal was happy when it died. Anyone can if you know what to look for.

“Blown capillaries,” Sasser says. She’s rinsing a sink full of vegetables in her home kitchen a few miles east of Decatur. “If you ever see a pig with a lot of red little spots on it, it was under severe distress when it was slaughtered. Pigs have feelings and they know something's wrong when they go to the slaughterhouse.”

Two months prior to this balmy August afternoon, this room was packed with Atlanta’s Les Dames d’Escoffier — local members of the renowned culinary mentorship organization for women — and two whole hogs ready to star in the butchering workshop Sasser was hosting that day.

“When I took on [http://local.clatl.com/location/twains-brewpub-and-billiards|Twain’s] I was a vegetarian and everyone thought it was hilarious. But then after going to different local farms and seeing how they were [[treating animals humanely], I started to eat meat again,” she says. “Everyone laughs at the vegetarian who likes to butcher. But I find it cathartic, so I do it quite often. If I'm having a rough day and we've got some pig in today, I'm gonna go handle it.” 

Sasser has been the Executive Chef at Twain's for the last four years. When the owners decided to buy and renovate the former Suburban Lanes Bowling Alley and reopen it as the Comet Pub and Lanes, they tapped Sasser to build its kitchen up from scratch. She created the menu, wrote kitchen protocols and guidelines, calculated food costs, and shored up vendors. Now that the Comet is up and running, her attention is back on Twain’s. 

No value assignedNo value assignedNo value assignedNo value assignedNo value assignedNo value assignedNo value assignedNo value assigned$20 Dinner with Savannah Sasser"
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Article

Thursday September 8, 2016 09:00 am EDT
Twain's Brewpub and Billiards' Executive Chef makes a satisfying and affordable meatless meal | more...
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    While the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters, five vowels and seven consonants, dishes with Hawaiian flair can leave you scratching your head.  Yet the Hawaiians are on to something when it comes to BBQ, creating the most tender and moist pork using to the islands’ traditional kālua (KA-lua) baking method.

    Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ (2160 Braircliff Road, 404-638-1115,www.waikikie.com)is the only Hawaiian restaurant in Atlanta with the kālua secret. Owner Paul Jolin was impressed with the diversified evolution of the cuisine after being stationed at Pearl Harbor with the Navy. Hawaiian flavors reflect the many immigrants to the islands, including China, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Britian and the Philippines.  The restaurant serves a variety of Hawaiian “local food”, lunch plates served with rice, mea, Teriyaki sauce and even macaroni salad. 

    The restaurant’s most popular dish is the Kālua Pork ($7.99). This Hawaiian grilling method is based off kālua, baking in an earth oven. The pork is marinated and then prepared with cabbage, a staple vegetable on the island. Thanks to the cabbage, the pork is lighter, the density and saltiness of the meat is cut and the cabbage takes on the flavor of the pork. For foodies, that can also mean larger, guilt-free portions. We’ll say Mahalo (thanks) to that."
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    While the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters, five vowels and seven consonants, dishes with Hawaiian flair can leave you scratching your head.  Yet the Hawaiians are on to something when it comes to BBQ, creating the most tender and moist pork using to the islands’ traditional kālua (KA-lua) baking method.

    Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ (2160 Braircliff Road, 404-638-1115,www.waikikie.com)is the only Hawaiian restaurant in Atlanta with the kālua secret. Owner Paul Jolin was impressed with the diversified evolution of the cuisine after being stationed at Pearl Harbor with the Navy. Hawaiian flavors reflect the many immigrants to the islands, including China, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Britian and the Philippines.  The restaurant serves a variety of Hawaiian “local food”, lunch plates served with rice, mea, Teriyaki sauce and even macaroni salad. 

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Wednesday August 3, 2016 04:30 pm EDT

image-1
While the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters, five vowels and seven consonants, dishes with Hawaiian flair can leave you scratching your head. Yet the Hawaiians are on to something when it comes to BBQ, creating the most tender and moist pork using to the islands’ traditional kālua (KA-lua) baking method.

Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ (2160 Braircliff Road,...

| more...
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  string(3348) "image-1
 Popular Grant Park eatery Stone Soup Kitchen (584 Woodward Ave. S.E., 404-524-1222. www.stonesoupkitchen.net) is shutting its doors after 11 successful years. And it’s laying the blame on its new landlord, a real-estate developer with big plans for Memorial Drive. 

   According to a press release, owner Sarah Rick received an eviction notice from Paces Properties on June 30 saying that the restaurant had 60 days to cease operations and vacate the premises. Stone Soup’s final day of service will be Tues., Aug. 23. Rick says that’s exactly 38 years to the day that the Emory University graduate opened a natural grocery store in Virginia-Highland, also named Stone Soup, that was the forerunner to the popular Grant Park cafe. 

    “It was a little bit like getting divorce papers in the mail when you didn’t even see a divorce coming,” Rick, who  opened the restaurant in 2005, says in the release. 

    Of all the developers making bets on Memorial Drive in recent years, Paces has been the most active in its acquiring land along the once-industrial corridor that’s poised to become a strip of retail, residences, and restaurants. The company says it is investing more than $200 million in multiple properties — including Atlanta Dairies, a mixed-use project — along the once-industrial strip between Oakland Cemetery and the Atlanta Beltline.     

      Since purchasing the Woodward Avenue building in January, Rick says, Paces had apparently been seeking to increase rent “enough to make it completely unaffordable.” The owner says the restaurant would have had to rework its concept to make the new payment. 

   “As a tenant here, things have been iffy for about two years,” Rick says. “It’s a sad way to go out. Our 17 employees have taken the news well. I’m glad they at least have a little time to explore new opportunities.”

   The press release says that, in preparation for her forthcoming retirement, Rick has spent the last two years seeking prospective buyers. She recently had a formal deal in place with another restaurant operator that likely would have kept the Stone Soup in its current location and the same name, the press release says. But that deal was contingent upon brokering an affordable lease with Paces.

   In a statement, a Paces spokeswoman says Stone Soup “was not under a current lease” when the company bought the building in January. She says tenants’ rents needed to be “logically” increased to fund exterior improvements and building system upgrades. The commercial building that houses Stone Soup is one of several properties that Paces plans to spend $20 million redeveloping.

  The company made numerous attempts to agree to a long term lease with the restaurant, the spokeswoman says, but “negotiations broke down especially when Stone Soup Kitchen revealed their intention to sell their business by year end,” the spokeswoman says. “Paces was disappointed that an agreement could not be reached to continue to maintain the existing Stone Soup Kitchen operation, as the tenancy of Stone Soup Kitchen was one of the deciding factors for the acquisition.” 

   Rick says the restaurant will “continue to do everything we can to secure a future for Stone Soup Kitchen.” 

ead the full press release:

        pdf-1


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 Popular Grant Park eatery Stone Soup Kitchen (584 Woodward Ave. S.E., 404-524-1222. www.stonesoupkitchen.net) is shutting its doors after 11 successful years. And it’s laying the blame on its new landlord, a real-estate developer with big plans for Memorial Drive. 

   According to a press release, owner Sarah Rick received an eviction notice from [http://www.pacesproperties.com/|Paces Properties] on June 30 saying that the restaurant had 60 days to cease operations and vacate the premises. Stone Soup’s final day of service will be Tues., Aug. 23. Rick says that’s exactly 38 years to the day that the Emory University graduate opened a natural grocery store in Virginia-Highland, also named Stone Soup, that was the forerunner to the popular Grant Park cafe. 

    “It was a little bit like getting divorce papers in the mail when you didn’t even see a divorce coming,” Rick, who  opened the restaurant in 2005, says in the release. 

    Of all the [/atlanta/fast-times-on-memorial-drive/Content?oid=16858440|developers making bets on Memorial Drive] in recent years, Paces has been the most active in its acquiring land along the once-industrial corridor that’s poised to become a strip of retail, residences, and restaurants. The company says it is investing more than $200 million in multiple properties — including Atlanta Dairies, a mixed-use project — along the once-industrial strip between Oakland Cemetery and the Atlanta Beltline.     

      Since purchasing the Woodward Avenue building in January, Rick says, Paces had apparently been seeking to increase rent “enough to make it completely unaffordable.” The owner says the restaurant would have had to rework its concept to make the new payment. 

   “As a tenant here, things have been iffy for about two years,” Rick says. “It’s a sad way to go out. Our 17 employees have taken the news well. I’m glad they at least have a little time to explore new opportunities.”

   The press release says that, in preparation for her forthcoming retirement, Rick has spent the last two years seeking prospective buyers. She recently had a formal deal in place with another restaurant operator that likely would have kept the Stone Soup in its current location and the same name, the press release says. But that deal was contingent upon brokering an affordable lease with Paces.

   In a statement, a Paces spokeswoman says Stone Soup “was not under a current lease” when the company bought the building in January. She says tenants’ rents needed to be “logically” increased to fund exterior improvements and building system upgrades. The commercial building that houses Stone Soup is one of several properties that Paces plans to spend $20 million redeveloping.

  The company made numerous attempts to agree to a long term lease with the restaurant, the spokeswoman says, but “negotiations broke down especially when Stone Soup Kitchen revealed their intention to sell their business by year end,” the spokeswoman says. “Paces was disappointed that an agreement could not be reached to continue to maintain the existing Stone Soup Kitchen operation, as the tenancy of Stone Soup Kitchen was one of the deciding factors for the acquisition.” 

   Rick says the restaurant will “continue to do everything we can to secure a future for Stone Soup Kitchen.” 

ead the full press release:

        [pdf-1]


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  string(3715) "       2016-07-12T17:57:00+00:00 Omnivore - Stone Soup to close on Aug. 23, blames landlord increasing rent   Stephanie Dazey 3919069 2016-07-12T17:57:00+00:00  image-1
 Popular Grant Park eatery Stone Soup Kitchen (584 Woodward Ave. S.E., 404-524-1222. www.stonesoupkitchen.net) is shutting its doors after 11 successful years. And it’s laying the blame on its new landlord, a real-estate developer with big plans for Memorial Drive. 

   According to a press release, owner Sarah Rick received an eviction notice from Paces Properties on June 30 saying that the restaurant had 60 days to cease operations and vacate the premises. Stone Soup’s final day of service will be Tues., Aug. 23. Rick says that’s exactly 38 years to the day that the Emory University graduate opened a natural grocery store in Virginia-Highland, also named Stone Soup, that was the forerunner to the popular Grant Park cafe. 

    “It was a little bit like getting divorce papers in the mail when you didn’t even see a divorce coming,” Rick, who  opened the restaurant in 2005, says in the release. 

    Of all the developers making bets on Memorial Drive in recent years, Paces has been the most active in its acquiring land along the once-industrial corridor that’s poised to become a strip of retail, residences, and restaurants. The company says it is investing more than $200 million in multiple properties — including Atlanta Dairies, a mixed-use project — along the once-industrial strip between Oakland Cemetery and the Atlanta Beltline.     

      Since purchasing the Woodward Avenue building in January, Rick says, Paces had apparently been seeking to increase rent “enough to make it completely unaffordable.” The owner says the restaurant would have had to rework its concept to make the new payment. 

   “As a tenant here, things have been iffy for about two years,” Rick says. “It’s a sad way to go out. Our 17 employees have taken the news well. I’m glad they at least have a little time to explore new opportunities.”

   The press release says that, in preparation for her forthcoming retirement, Rick has spent the last two years seeking prospective buyers. She recently had a formal deal in place with another restaurant operator that likely would have kept the Stone Soup in its current location and the same name, the press release says. But that deal was contingent upon brokering an affordable lease with Paces.

   In a statement, a Paces spokeswoman says Stone Soup “was not under a current lease” when the company bought the building in January. She says tenants’ rents needed to be “logically” increased to fund exterior improvements and building system upgrades. The commercial building that houses Stone Soup is one of several properties that Paces plans to spend $20 million redeveloping.

  The company made numerous attempts to agree to a long term lease with the restaurant, the spokeswoman says, but “negotiations broke down especially when Stone Soup Kitchen revealed their intention to sell their business by year end,” the spokeswoman says. “Paces was disappointed that an agreement could not be reached to continue to maintain the existing Stone Soup Kitchen operation, as the tenancy of Stone Soup Kitchen was one of the deciding factors for the acquisition.” 

   Rick says the restaurant will “continue to do everything we can to secure a future for Stone Soup Kitchen.” 

ead the full press release:

        pdf-1


             13087872 17442252        http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/07/0a2b49_stonesoupgooglemaps.png                  Omnivore - Stone Soup to close on Aug. 23, blames landlord increasing rent "
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Article

Tuesday July 12, 2016 01:57 pm EDT

image-1
Popular Grant Park eatery Stone Soup Kitchen (584 Woodward Ave. S.E., 404-524-1222. www.stonesoupkitchen.net) is shutting its doors after 11 successful years. And it’s laying the blame on its new landlord, a real-estate developer with big plans for Memorial Drive. 

According to a press release, owner Sarah Rick received an eviction notice from Paces Properties on June 30 saying...

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