There are some great things happening in Woodstock, and a lot of people are coming together to fill the town with community spirit. One that is near and dear to us is What's Up Woodstock, a Facebook page and blog started by a girl who grew up in Woodstock, and it connects the community with the area's activities. The creator recently asked us to do an interview, and wrote this for us.
The complete interview is pasted below.
1. What made you decide to run Mixin Mingle?
Ever since I entered the workforce, I always wondered if I had what it would take to open a business. Back then, I was always looking to achieve the next milestone in my career and education. I thought to myself, “if I could only learn more skills”, or, “if I could get the right job or promotion (i.e., make more money)”, then maybe I’ll be “happy” or feel like I’m “enough”. I was very frustrated in my career even though I was making great money. I spent 8 hours a day in a cubicle staring at a computer screen waiting for life to happen, waiting for life to become exciting. I was extremely bored and started daydreaming all the time about my dream business. I had just finished my Professional MBA at Northern IL University in Hoffman Estates. As part of the program our group was supposed to meet once a week to work on our projects and sometimes we needed to practice our presentations. This is where I began to identify how difficult it was to find a meeting space. We ended up having meetings in a conference room of a library, or at Panera, or at a team member’s home or work. It was very hard to find a place that worked well for all our needs.
Then, I decided to have my graduation party and again found how difficult it was to find a room to have a party where we could bring our own food and drinks, have a DJ and alcohol. We ended up using a clubhouse at a condo association because it was affordable and could fit a lot of people. But we had to know someone to get in there.
A few months later, my longtime boyfriend and I decided we wanted to marry because we were expecting our first child. I looked everywhere for an affordable place to have a decent wedding. We didn’t belong to a church, and I really wanted to have our ceremony and party in the same place. We ended up getting married in the banquet room upstairs at Pirro’s.
In August 2010, a few months after giving birth to my son, I came down with a severe case of postpartum depression and was hospitalized at Centegra. During my stay there and in the outpatient program, they had a series of activities to help patients get well. There was everything from fitness to arts and crafts to music. I realized then that I needed to incorporate these activities regularly in my life.
Shortly after returning to work from the medical leave I was laid off from my job. My world turned upside down and I knew that finding a new job in the recession would not be easy. At the time, I was seeing a doctor who was treating me using clinical hypnosis. One of the things I asked him to do was help me figure out if I should start a business. He said he could and he asked me to write down what I liked doing and what my skills were. I told him I wanted to use my skills in marketing to help small businesses. I also wanted to have a fun job that would work with the lifestyle I wanted to have. The best I could come up with at the time was to be an independent consultant, but I knew small businesses really wouldn’t have the funds to hire me. So he set the intention during one of our sessions that the idea would just come to me one day.
Well, that day came when I was standing in my kitchen putting dishes away. All of the sudden I was flooded with ideas because it dawned on me that in the last few months I went to all these different places to do different things. I went to a yoga studio for a meditation workshop, I went to a fitness center for a Weight Watchers class, I went to a church for an event with many classes, I went to a library for a cooking class, I went to a historic building to see a small play, I went to the Racetrack for an expo, and I went to Starbucks for a committee meeting. I realized I was going all of these places to do all these things and I saw no reason they couldn’t all happen in the same location. It was the perfect job for me. I was so excited that I told Steve (my husband) that I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
That motivation was powerful enough to lead me to take that leap of faith and dive head first into starting a company.
2. When did you open the shop?
We officially opened our doors on Thursday, May 5th, 2011. It was Cinco de Mayo. I had my friend Tracy Walker come and teach a Hatha Yoga and Meditation class. Nobody from the public came, but my family, friends and husband showed up. Someone was looking in the window at what we were doing so I went outside to talk to her. She said she would come if we did a Zumba class. So I found a Zumba instructor and people started coming for Zumba. That’s how I got my first real customers.
3. Have you had any help?
My family and friends have helped support my venture as much as possible. Plus every customer, instructor and event planner has helped shape the business and has worked hard to help it grow. My business suffered three disasters over the years with two floods and a car crash. People in the community were a huge help during those difficult times.
4. What are you most proud of?
Every time there are people I don’t know in the space who are there for a class or event, it makes the hair on my arms stand up. Or when people say what a great idea they think it is. Because when I first started out, I had no idea what I was doing and frankly I felt stupid putting myself out there this way.
5. What is your favorite event to be a part of?
I think I’m the only person who has been to every single event, and for the most part, they’ve all been special in their own way. I am a person who likes variety and I have a short attention span, so I want my business to be a place that attracts popular activities.
6. What's the craziest thing you've seen or been a part of with mixin mingle?
Hands down it was the Homestuck party. Hundreds of young people came dressed in costumes and threw a dance party.
7. What are your goals with mixin mingle?
Long term, I want to create a repeatable and profitable business model in order to bring the concept to other places. Short term, I would like to fill the empty space with activities. I am also working finding other businesses that can make use the space to offer great public events.
8. Do you feel like you've been successful so far? Why?
From a buzz building standpoint, it’s certainly been successful. It’s hard for businesses to get people to visit their space and to get people talking about them. We have so many different people hosting and planning events and they are spreading the word for us. The more people who see the room and feel at home here, the better our chances they will think of us or recommend us in the future.
9. What is one thing you want to do with mixin mingle you have not done yet?
I always thought it would be cool if a big brand came in to do a pop-up store or event.
10. Is there anything else you feel we should know about you or the business?
We are one of the most open and flexible companies around and feel that we can accomplish more through partnerships than we could by ourselves. We like putting other people and businesses in the spotlight to connect them with the community. We can learn so much from each other and help each other succeed. If anyone reading this has the inkling they might like to try something entrepreneurial or out of the box, we urge them to contact us because we provide a low risk mechanism to do just that.