I Know Chicago


Purveyor of all things interesting, amazing, unique, unusual + badass in Chicago.

A Chicagoan Who Deserves a Minute of Your Time

Perhaps you know Dawn Hancock, owner of Firebelly Design the force behind the hottest design company in the city who’s motto is “Good Design for Good Reason”. They nearly invented sustainable design and have been going strong for 12 years! (That’s through two major recessions).

Well she is one of three finalists in the Driving the Midwest, “Our Town. Our Hero’s” contest and I am requesting that you take 5 seconds and vote for her.  (No email registration required…just click through Sunday). 

Here’s some of the reasons why she is deserving of your vote:

Whenever Dawn sees a need she springs into action!  She saw that her neighbors were in need of basic essentials so she started a non-profit, Reason to Give www.reasontogive.com which, in 3 years, has provided assistance for over 600 members of the Humbolt Park neighborhood.  She re-structured her small business so that her for-profit work fully funds the non-profit so that 100% of donations go directly to the families in need.

Dawn saw a need for mentorship for young designers so she created Camp Firebelly www.campfirebelly.com and for 4 years has been inspiring the next generation of do-good designers.  That wasn’t enough, so Dawn created a mentorship program for all Chicago designers and has created hundreds of mentorship relationships http://onethingtoshare.com/. Now she’s scheming her next big plan which is going to blow minds (I’m not allowed to say anything yet but I’ll break it here first when I get the word).

She is regularly out speaking to students, designers, the public about following your gut and doing good.  She inspires and touches everyone she meets.  She was even a TEDx speaker.  Watch her TEDx talk here.

Thanks in advance for supporting this amazing woman who is changing lives everyday in Chicago.  Vote Here.

So You Want to be an Entrepreneur, eh?

Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, recently announced his plan to pay 24 students $100,000 to forgo college for two years and join him in Silicon Valley developing business ideas.  A vocal challenger of the value of higher education, Mr Thiel is not alone. 

A recent Pew Research Center report showed that of 2,142 adults surveyed, 57% said the higher education system in the U.S. fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend.  75% said college is too expensive for most Americans to afford.  Among adults ages 18 to 34, 57% say they would prefer to work and make money; and 48% say they can’t afford to go to college.

One Chicago entrepreneur has developed her own solution to these challenges with a real-world, 9-month, alternative MBA program that she is launching this September.  Dawn Hancock, owner of Firebelly Design, a Chicago-based branding and design firm just announced the launch of her brainchild, Firebelly University. 

Dawn started Firebelly Design 12 years ago at the age of 25.  She cashed out her 401K and turned $6,000 into a highly successful company designing for the likes of Lightbank, Groupon, Cricket and the Chicago Community Trust.  As a serial do-gooder, Dawn also started a non-profit which is almost exclusively funded by her business.  The Firebelly Foundation has been in existence for four years and has several arms including Reason to Give and Camp Firebelly. (Disclosure: I’m on the Board of Directors)

The success of Camp Firebelly is what spawned the idea for Firebelly University. Camp Firebelly is a ten-day highly intensive internship for students and recent college grads.  Campers live at the loft office and collectively work on a project for one non-profit under the guidance of the Firebelly team.  They gain the experience of collaborating with other designers, working with clients directly and managing a project from beginning to end.  Additionally, campers enjoy professional and artistic development opportunities with pros like Threadless, Vosges and The Post Family. 

“The Firebelly business model is one that leads to a lot of questions,” shared Dawn, “I’m constantly being asked if I live on ramen noodles because other business owners find it so hard to believe that we can do what we do and still turn a profit.  We can and we do.  I’m looking for superhumans and believers who want to do just that.  I want to create a whole army of entrepreneurs who understand that doing good and running a sustainable, profitable business or non-profit are not mutually exclusive.  That is why we are starting Firebelly University.”

The first Firebelly University class will be comprised of five entrepreneurs-in-the-making and will function on a model similar to Public Allies, the organization she worked with to find her foundation’s employee.  Monday through Thursday will be spent running a business. Students will learn the technical and social skills needed to be successful entrepreneurs by running an actual design studio and taking on clients. Projects will include everything a design studio might undertake: branding/identity, messaging, print/web design and web development.  Fridays will be educational experience days where students will get to meet community and industry leaders in and out of the studio. Finally, over the course of the 9-months students will be working on an individual project with a much larger scope, the catalyst for launching their own business.

Based on Firebelly’s beginnings, each student will invest $6,000 as seed money for the program and every month they will earn back $1,000 plus 10% of each month’s profits as a stipend.  Students will walk away with their investment plus profit, based on client work. 

“The perfect candidate is someone looking for real world experience. Someone who wants to build connections and gain resources a traditional MBA program wouldn’t provide, someone who wears many hats. Designers, writers, developers, project managers, illustrators, photographers, videographers, musicians and everyone in between. If they can circle 2 or 3 of these and have a superhuman drive to make a difference in the world, they’re probably a perfect fit.  Age is not a factor either.” said Ms. Hancock. 

Applications are online now and are due by July 5th. 

Firebelly on Facebook + Twitter


GRANT FOR GOOD
Perhaps this is a smidge self-promotional but well it’s for a good cause and it’s my blog damn it. My company, Pivotal Chicago, was going to straight up steal an idea from Firebelly Design (with their permission of course) to award one grant to a lucky non-profit for one years worth of our work. It was our way of focusing our “giving” efforts into something more meaningful than piece-meal support.
After some chatting we decided, wouldn’t it just be smarter to join forces (since we work together a lot anyways) and create an even bigger grant! After more chatting we thought, “Holy shit, what if we could get all of the players we work with and love so much to get in on this.  That would be one MONSTER grant!” So, we did and The Grant for Good was born.
Applications went out in October and by deadline we had over 80 applicants from all over the country. We selected the Chicago Women’s Health Center.
On January 3 we began our work. Firebelly Design creating a brand new look + website, PK Wheeler Communications writing all the copy + developing voice, IShootRockStars handling all photography, One Tree Forest Films creating a legacy video, Salsedo Press donating all labor costs for any/all printing, The Morten Group providing organizational and resource development, Pivotal Production providing event strategy, planning and production + social media strategy + development and Latent Design providing architectural design services as CWHC is moving into a brand new location this Fall!
The culmination of much of this work will be unveiled at the CWHC’s very FIRST (in 36 years) formal fundraising gala on November 10th! The great news is you can already buy tickets! 
AND, we have some badass sponsorship packages available and we are accepting rockin’ silent auction items. Don’t you want to help? Yes or Yes? You can email me: shannon@pivotalchicago.com for info + packages.
Some folks who are already on board and we LOVE them for that!
Greenhouse Loft - Chicago’s newest greenest event space opening this FALL (we will be their first non-profit event!) @ghloft
Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale - YUM! @gooseisland
Good Harbor Vineyard - Family owned + operated winery + vineyard in Michigan who cares about the environment and supports local artist. @goodharborwine
I think this is an epic example of the power of collaboration for collective good. It’s been an amazing experience so far.
SAVE THE DATE - NOVEMBER 10th!!
Grant for Good on Facebook

GRANT FOR GOOD

Perhaps this is a smidge self-promotional but well it’s for a good cause and it’s my blog damn it. My company, Pivotal Chicago, was going to straight up steal an idea from Firebelly Design (with their permission of course) to award one grant to a lucky non-profit for one years worth of our work. It was our way of focusing our “giving” efforts into something more meaningful than piece-meal support.

After some chatting we decided, wouldn’t it just be smarter to join forces (since we work together a lot anyways) and create an even bigger grant! After more chatting we thought, “Holy shit, what if we could get all of the players we work with and love so much to get in on this.  That would be one MONSTER grant!” So, we did and The Grant for Good was born.

Applications went out in October and by deadline we had over 80 applicants from all over the country. We selected the Chicago Women’s Health Center.

On January 3 we began our work. Firebelly Design creating a brand new look + website, PK Wheeler Communications writing all the copy + developing voice, IShootRockStars handling all photography, One Tree Forest Films creating a legacy video, Salsedo Press donating all labor costs for any/all printing, The Morten Group providing organizational and resource development, Pivotal Production providing event strategy, planning and production + social media strategy + development and Latent Design providing architectural design services as CWHC is moving into a brand new location this Fall!

The culmination of much of this work will be unveiled at the CWHC’s very FIRST (in 36 years) formal fundraising gala on November 10th! The great news is you can already buy tickets!

AND, we have some badass sponsorship packages available and we are accepting rockin’ silent auction items. Don’t you want to help? Yes or Yes? You can email me: shannon@pivotalchicago.com for info + packages.

Some folks who are already on board and we LOVE them for that!

I think this is an epic example of the power of collaboration for collective good. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

SAVE THE DATE - NOVEMBER 10th!!

Grant for Good on Facebook

I’m Feeling Very Festive

I am going to keep throwing you badass holiday events as they come up because I want you to shop local and have fun this holiday season. So…here’s three you can hit this weekend.

Friday Night

High Design Holiday at the ReBuilding Exchange

Celebrate the holidays, do a little shopping and support a good cause at “High Design Holiday,” the first event sponsored jointly by the ReBuilding Exchange, the US Green Building Council Illinois Chapter and American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter.

Great music, a photobooth, delicious food and beverage, display of winning design competition entries and good folks! And see our new line of RX Made furniture!

Tickets are $40 pre-sale (and $50 at the door) and include delicious food and 2 drink tickets. A cash bar will also be available. More info on our website! http:// www.rebuildingexchange.org/
 holiday2011.html

Refreshments provided by Bells Brewery, Candid Wines and Pepsi.
Music by Peoples DJ Collective.
 

Saturday

Firebelly Design Holiday Pop Up Shop

This Saturday is your chance to score the most incredible, original and locally made holiday gifts this city has ever seen!

Firebelly Design is hosting their bi-annual Holiday Pop Up Shop Saturday, December 10th from 11am - 5pm at their studio at 2701 West Thomas Ave.

Not only will you get the chance to purchase art by some of Chicago’s most well-known artists + designers like: The Post Family, Matthew Hoffman, Plural and I Shoot Rock Stars but there will be ample culinary magicians selling delicious treats like: Katherine Anne Confections, Jo Snow Syrups and World of Tea.

The best part is that 50% of every penny you spend will go directly to help struggling families in the Humbolt Park neighborhood through the brilliant non-profit Reason to Give!

This is your chance to:

  1. Shop Local
  2. Support Local + Talented Artists, Designers + Micro Food Entrepreneurs
  3. Support a Local Non-profit who is Supporting Your Community
  4. Purchase Totally One-of-a-Kind Holiday Gifts
  5. Meet and Hang Out with Some Local Celebrities

We are overjoyed to say that our friends at EventBrite thought that this event idea was so wonderful that they awarded us first prize in their “Dream Event Challenge” as part of the Downtown Dash. You can watch our entry video + learn a bit more about Reason To Give and the families we support here.

Sunday

Woman Made Gallery is hosting a fantastic artisan shop full of gorgeous art, jewelry, ornaments, ceramics, etc. at all price points. You can check out some of the items on their facebook page.

If you were shopping for the perfect holiday gift for me here’s your chance! ;)

It’s that time of year again! When all the typographic cool kids converge on the Co-prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport for the annual Typeforce Show.

TYPEFORCE 4 The 4th Annual Showcase of Typographic All-stars Opening Night: March 1, 2013 No cover for entry, merriment, and camaraderie!  Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S Morgan St in Bridgeport Featuring work from: Alex Moulitsas, Alexa Viscius & Drew Ryan, Anthony Lewellen Baozhen Li, Lucky Pierre (Bill Talsma, Michael Thomas, Mary Zerkel, Holly Abney, Travis Hale, Kevin Kaempf, Jeffrey Kowalkowski, Heather Lindahl, Tyler B. Myers), Blazo, Chris Branson & Jeremy Van Cleef, DePaul University Graphic Design Student Chapter (Chris Kalis, Samantha Rangel, Julia Simplicio), Drew Tyndell, Emily Haasch, Franchec Crespo & Adrianne Hawthorne, Greg Calvert, Jason Frohlichstein, Kelly Dorsey & Tricia Chamberlain, Kyle Louis Fletcher, CMYKittens (Laura Rafson, Maria Squeri, Erika Galvez and Liz Rosenberg), Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters (Lauren Schroer, RC Jones, Jeni Brendemuehl), Lou Medel, Renata Graw, Tanawat Sakdawisark, Todd King, Double Blind (Victor Fong, Stephen Lee, Simone Martin-Newberry, Aaron Maurer, Lou Medel, Margo Yoon)http://typeforcechicago.com/
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It’s that time of year again! When all the typographic cool kids converge on the Co-prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport for the annual Typeforce Show.

TYPEFORCE 4
The 4th Annual Showcase of Typographic All-stars
Opening Night: March 1, 2013

No cover for entry, merriment, and camaraderie!

Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219 S Morgan St in Bridgeport

Featuring work from:
Alex Moulitsas, Alexa Viscius & Drew Ryan, Anthony Lewellen
Baozhen Li, Lucky Pierre (Bill Talsma, Michael Thomas, Mary Zerkel, Holly Abney, Travis Hale, Kevin Kaempf, Jeffrey Kowalkowski, Heather Lindahl, Tyler B. Myers), Blazo, Chris Branson & Jeremy Van Cleef, DePaul University Graphic Design Student Chapter (Chris Kalis, Samantha Rangel, Julia Simplicio), Drew Tyndell, Emily Haasch, Franchec Crespo & Adrianne Hawthorne, Greg Calvert, Jason Frohlichstein, Kelly Dorsey & Tricia Chamberlain, Kyle Louis Fletcher, CMYKittens (Laura Rafson, Maria Squeri, Erika Galvez and Liz Rosenberg), Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters (Lauren Schroer, RC Jones, Jeni Brendemuehl), Lou Medel, Renata Graw, Tanawat Sakdawisark, Todd King, Double Blind (Victor Fong, Stephen Lee, Simone Martin-Newberry, Aaron Maurer, Lou Medel, Margo Yoon)

http://typeforcechicago.com/

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