Local Business News
The City's Economic Health Office recently conducted a scientific survey of Fort Collins businesses about the community's business climate, expansion plans and experience with City services. Read the survey results.
Results of the Arts Market Survey, funded in part by the City of Fort Collins Economic Health Office, are now available. The City, Downtown Development Authority, and Bohemian Foundation engaged Artspace to assess the feasibility of an affordable housing development.
Small Business Corner: Suzanne Akin of Akinz
Q: Tell us a little bit about you – what’s your background? If you had 2 minutes in an elevator with the Governor to tell your story, what would you say?
A: I grew up with an art & design background (an art teacher mother, professional artist as a grandmother, several entrepreneurs in the family & a degree in fashion design), so I knew I wanted to create my own company that combined both elements. I drew inspiration from the sports that filled my after work hours and that’s how Akinz was born, a clothing line with an emphasis on graphics, inspiring others to get outside and making things by hand. Akinz has been a labor of love for almost 13 years now, traveling with me from Texas to Steamboat and then Fort Collins. We’ll be celebrating the 6th Anniversary of the Old Town store in August and we opened a store off Harmony on the south side of town in November.
Q: What do you like about doing business in Fort Collins? With two locations in Old Town and now on Harmony Road, how do they differ?
A: I love that people here love to support local. They like getting involved and seeing the process of our items being made in our Old Town store. It’s also great to go out to the local breweries after work and see people sporting our hats or shirts. They may not know me, but most times I’ll get a wave or a smile since they recognize me from the store.
The two locations are both so fun but very different. The Old Town location is where most of the ‘magic’ happens. It’s full of projects, activity and people and most times it’s a little TOO full. haha. It has grown as an organic, always changing thing and it is part of the charm.
The South store is huge compared to Old Town, especially once you take out the space needed for our equipment. That has given us the opportunity to spotlight over 35 other local makers, artists & businesses. I love bringing that taste of local to the south side of town. We hear so often, “there is nothing like this on this side of town” which was exactly our goal, to spread out the local love!
Q: Your products are made right in your flagship store on Walnut Street. Can you talk about what sustainability means for Akinz and why that’s important to you?
A: I started making all of my products by hand simply because I loved to do it! I’m a maker at heart and I love being able to say that I made the product I’m selling. As Akinz grew, it was impossible to make everything myself anymore, but we have spent a lot of time developing ways to keep production in house and keep our product at the same quality and price point my customers are used to.
As for sustainability, a big chunk of the problem can be in the carbon footprint caused after production. Products go from the manufacturer, to the brand, to a distribution company, to a wholesale buyer or to amazon and then finally to the consumer. That’s a lot of shipping! By making our products in house and selling them direct to the consumer, we cut out a gigantic piece of the carbon footprint line. When we decided to move the production of our leggings out of house, we spent 4 months finding just the right manufacturer, who after searching all over the country, we finally found just down the road in Denver! It is very satisfying to put in the work to get not only the result we wanted, but one that is friendly to the environment too.
The City of Fort Collins has joined with ACCION Colorado - the largest non-profit, small business lending network in the nation - to bring ACCION to Fort Collins this summer to assist small businesses that may not meet traditional lending requirements.
ACCION’s Denver-based bilingual staff specialize in lending to start-ups, low-to-moderate entrepreneurs and other potentially disadvantaged borrowers who may not “fit in the box” for conventional small business lenders. ACCION has partnered with the City and FVC MESH to provide in-person lending services from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 7 and 21, July 5 and 19 and August 2 and 16 at FVC MESH, 242 Linden St. Read more.
In 2014, the City evaluated current workforce and future needs as an essential part of a healthy economy. That effort has grown to a regional level: In 2017, the City will participate in a Talent 2.0 Regional Action Plan to address access, alignment and barriers to developing the first regional workforce action plan. Talent development is a team sport that requires public, private and educational institutions to work collaboratively to be successful. See the presentation from the February 2017 rollout.