Cincinnati has experienced transcendental growth throughout the last decade. A new partnership between two local organizations was created to ensure that women can continue to have an impact on that transformation. MORTAR is an entrepreneurial incubator focused on growing businesses in underserved communities, and Indigo Hippo is a thrift store, gallery, and arts programming organization in Over-the-Rhine. Together, their missions will act as a launch pad for creative female entrepreneurs.
“[Our] partnership came about very naturally,” says Alisha Budkie, Founder and Executive Director of Indigo Hippo. She continues, “We’re thrilled to get to work together in the area where our missions overlap. Getting to work with creative entrepreneurs and remove barriers there combines MORTAR’s focus on making entrepreneurship more approachable and accessible, and Indigo Hippo’s focus on allowing creativity to be more approachable and accessible.”
Allen Woods, Co-founder, Chief Vision Caster & Branding Gladiator at MORTAR explains the how and why behind his organization. “MORTAR was created to address the needs of the people living in redeveloping neighborhoods. As those areas begin to change, becoming more populated and revitalized, we want to make sure that the residents in those areas are equipped to grow with their neighborhoods.” He adds, “Our goal is to change the way that America looks at development. We want the process to be more holistic – developing the buildings is cool but developing the people is a way more lucrative investment.”
MORTAR’s signature program is a 9-week entrepreneurship course, but both Woods and Budkie saw a need to intentionally reach out to women in the community. Budkie explains, “The community has been asking for an all female cohort. In the last two years, nearly 70% of MORTAR graduates have been women – an entrepreneurial trend that is mirrored nationally. We believe in listening to our community, and in the power of women.”
She continues on the importance of cultivating arts in the community, “We are fortunate to live in a city that strongly values creativity. It is important to foster and cultivate an environment that emphasizes the value of the creative process and of creative. We want to show that it is possible to turn your passion into your life path and make a living doing something that feeds you.”
The curriculum for this program will look a lot like MORTAR’s traditional community classes, but “with an additional focus given to building the person behind the business…It’s important for entrepreneurs to view themselves as a very valuable part of their business, and to invest in themselves and their personal growth.”
Aspiring entrepreneurs can apply for this or any MORTAR class on their website at www.wearemortar.com.
The program is also looking for female mentors to inspire and motivate their class attendees. MORTAR will be hosting an informational session called VOCAL on Monday, May 2 from 6-8 and an entrepreneurial mixer and wine tasting on May 12 at The Bacchanalian Society.