| Follow Us:

Craft Manufacturing : Innovation & Job News

131 Craft Manufacturing Articles | Page: | Show All

Andrew Hudson's Career Bootcamps help job seekers and career changers

Looking for a job in Denver? Looking to change careers or returning to the workforce after a hiatus? Check out one of Andrew Hudson’s upcoming Career Bootcamps. Hudson, who runs the eponymous site, Andrew Hudson's Jobs List, and the career bootcamps, is holding four three-hour sessions throughout March, starting on March 18. Hudson is no stranger to the bootcamps or the career list. He's been running a jobs website in Denver (originally www.prjobslist.com) since 2005. Today the jobs list sends a newsletter and updated list of positions -- over 1,000 professional positions in Colorado a month -- to subscribers every Monday.

While Hudson isn’t a corporate headhunter or jobs placement agent, he's dedicated a lot of time to helping others find jobs, including holding between 40 and 50 career bootcamps annually. "I've done this for a seven years. I've had about 600 or 700 go through the bootcamps," he says.

The career bootcamps, which cost $175, are often attended by mid-or senior level professionals, according to Hudson. "They come for a variety of reasons, they may hate their boss, or are looking to reinvent themselves." He adds that some may be returning to the workforce after an absence as a stay-at-home parent or because of the recession.

"The common thread, no matter why people are looking for a job…is they haven’t had to do it for a while and the rules have changed dramatically," he contends. He attributes at least part of that the uprise of online job search giants like Monster.com.

Hudson limits the bootcamps to 10 people. "The reason I do it the small-group dynamic is easier to manage and more people are willing to engage more," he explains.

Attendees might be surprised to find that the sessions aren’t just resume building sessions. "To me it’s more about having a really good conversation with yourself about what you value in a job," Hudson says. "The strategy of successful job seekers is…they research what it is they want to do and know how their backgrounds talents and skills are aligned with what they want to do." As such the resume building part of the sessions are last.

Hudson is holding the bootcamps at Fluid Coffee Bar's Fluid Meeting Spaces March 18, 20, 22 and 26. He plans on hosting additional bootcamps in the summer.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com. 

Hacking up something new at The Concoctory

"We wanted to do a hackerspace, because that's where I come from," says Mar Williams, cofounder of The Concoctory, a retail shop and nonprofit hackerspace -- think of it it as a postmodern crafts space, where yarn and needlepoint are replaced with soldering irons and 3D printers. It's a place where DIY (do it yourself) is an ethic. The space allows members 24/7 access and also hosts regular classes on lockpicking (only for fun), building a Raspberry Pi -- the $25 computer on a card -- and others as opportunities come up. 

The Concoctory recently hosted a class on soldering "TV-B-Gone" kits. The $20 hack kit allows users to turn off all sorts of TVs. The teacher "was sort of hanging out with another friend and hackerspace member and he said, 'Hey, I can teach a soldering class,'" Mar explains. "He joined up for the month." 

“We get a lot of people like that,” she adds. "We don’t have professors, but people who are like: 'What do I know?' and they teach that." Another person who's taught at the space calls himself a "mad physicist" and "taught an intro to capacitors and inductors class from a physics perspective, so it’s an interesting twist."

Williams and partner Fred Roybal opened The Concoctory in March 2013, and in September they opened up the hackerspace. "I'd been part of this hackerspace and I loved the way it worked," Williams explains. "I wanted to do it again and I wanted to figure out a different way to do it. And I think the existing model is great and I think tacking on sort of the gift shop to the hackerspace is good."

Since opening the hackerspace they've attracted about 10 members. Most members pay $50 a month but they also offer a "scholarship" membership for members who can't pay and would rather trade sweat equity to use the space. 

"I want people to make really amazing projects in the workspace," Williams says. The Concoctory and its members are currently building out hacker stations, which will include a 3D printing station (they have two 3D printers), a silkscreen station, a soldering electronics bench, a lathe station and potentially a laser-etching station, among other tools and gadgets.

"We haven't had anybody use the lathe yet, but they use the hell out of the 3D printer," observes Williams.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at  chris@confluence-denver.com.

Design firm Smirk moving to RiNo, gives $90,000 to charity in 2013

Nick Baumgart had been designing websites under the moniker of Baumgart Web since 2006. After meeting Taylor Langan in the spring, they joined forces and launched Smirk in April 2013.

"We're both really passionate about design and impacting the world in a positive way," says Baumgart. "These days we're really focused on apparel -- we didn't set out to do that."

Eight months later, they've shifted from websites to T-shirts and raised more than $90,000 for charity in the process. They're moving from Littleton to RiNo in early 2014, in part to be near their printer, A Small Print Shop.

Smirk has had a lot of success with its 1876 brand of Colorado-related shirts, hats, and hoodies as well as making shirts to sell for charities tied to The Chive, the self-described "best website in the world" that's spawned local communities all over the country.

Smirk printed its first Chive-related shirt in April. "The Chive thing just sort of happened to us," says Baumgart. "Denver Chive tapped us. They wanted a do a shirt to raise money. We thought we'd sell 50 or 60 of them --  we ended up selling 1,600."

The company also raised $7,000 as part of a flood-relief push in September.

Beyond the Chive shirts and the 1876 brand, Smirk's designs play off of Internet and pop-culture memes. The company also makes a few greeting cards and has a branded corn-on-the-cob butterer.

"It's kind of a joke," says Baumgart. "In the history of human beings, no one has ever thought that rolling a hot ear of corn on a stick of butter was a hard thing to do."

He doesn't discount the possibility of Smirk moving back into interactive design. "It's all about what we're passionate about. If it's a website or a shirt or a card or a corn butterer, if we're passionate about it, we'll go after it."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Guile by Terra Nova Games hits retail market

Denver-based Justin Schaffer and Austin-based Robert Garza and Justin Schaffer co-founded Terra Nova Games in February of 2013 as a means to self-publish Schaffer's first game design, Guile.

"Our goal is to share our passion for the hobby with others and encourage face-to-face fun through interactive and innovative gameplay," Schaffer explains. "We strive to bring people together in person, to use games as a means of socializing and strategizing around a table of friends."

Schaffer describes Guile "as a medieval memory card game of deception and intrigue for two players that takes 20 minutes to play. Players must use memorization, deduction, and bluffing to manipulate the Knights of the Round Table in their favor in order to wield the most influence when each knight's loyalties are revealed."

Terra Nova ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in July to help raise money to manufacture, pay for the art, and compose a soundtrack for the game.

Guile can currently be purchased at three Denver-area stores (Time Well Spent Games, Adventurer's Quarter and Black and Read) as well as the Terra Nova online store.

Schaffer and Garza have planned a Kickstarter campaign for Terra Nova's second game, Ophir, in mid 2014. Designed by Arkansas-based Jason D. Kingsley and Charles Wright, Ophir is a game that pits players against each other as rival seafarers.

They are looking to find more game designers while keeping the company lean. "Our plans are to keep things bootstrapped for now, but since we have started accepting game submissions from designers, we'd be more than happy to work with a local Denver designer to get their game published in the future," note Schaffer.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Former Future Brewing Company staffing up for launch in early December

Former Future Brewing Company is on track to open its taproom at 1290 S. Broadway in early December and will make three hires before the first beer is poured.

Former Future's husband-and-wife Co-Founders James and Sarah Howat were inspired by looking back in time. "We take historical ideas -- more than just the beer -- and we reinvent them and put a modern spin on them," says Sarah, Former Future's Community Builder. James is heading up the brewing, with a microbiology degree and six years of brewing experience.

Sarah says employees will have an opportunity to grow with the brewery. "We really want to build people up in the company, and not just have them be a bartender."

Fin Art is working on the interior of the 2,700-square-foot space on Antique Row. The goal is to make it a comfortable room for the neighborhood.

"Back in the early 1900s, the taproom was a communal place," says Sarah. "We're going to have a huge community focus."

To this end, Former Future has attracted about 3,000 'Likes' on Facebook before brewing its first barrel of beer. "A lot of brewers don't take the time to build that up before they launch," notes Sarah.

Former Future is selling $175 memberships that include limited-edition bottle releases and a pair of growlers -- the only growlers that can be filled at the taproom.

"We're going to have a lab onsite," Sarah says. "James does a lot with yeast. We actually propagated the yeast in our saison from our neighbor's apple tree."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Photobook-maker Artifact Uprising launches mobile app

Golden Triangle-based Artifact Uprising has launched a mobile app this week that allows users to design and order a small photobook ($16.99) printed with images from their smartphone.

"People are realizing they can be great photographers with their camera-phone," says Artifact Uprising CEO and Co-Founder Jenna Walker, reciting the app's tagline: "Off your device and into your life." "We're calling it the democratization of photography."

Before Artifact Uprising, Walker was an established Denver photographer. "We saw a need in the market for something that was different than the big companies," she says of the genesis of the Galvanize-based company.

It follows that Walker started the company with a pair of fellow photographers in her husband, Matt, and her sister, Katie Thurmes, to fill the need.

There was an immediate learning curve to hurdle. "We launched the company as artists and quickly realized we needed to learn technology," says Walker.

The company offers a variety of customizable hardcover and softcover photobooks as well as boxes and other products made from reclaimed beetlekill pine. The latter are manufactured by Azure Furniture, also based in Denver. The photobooks are printed at a facility in Aurora.

A little over a year after its launch, Artifact Uprising has bootstrapped its way to a staff of eight employees plus several interns, and continues to hire.  "We'll likely hire two people in early 2014," says Walker.

"It's been an interesting path, just trusting our guts," says Walker. "It's been fun to see our guts check out right."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

"Roaster of the Year" Coda Coffee grows to 40 employees

Transplants from Seattle, brothers Tommy and Tim Thwaites started Coda Coffee in Denver in 2005. It was just the two of them at first, which snowballed to four within a year. The company has about 40 employees today.

"We doubled our sales every year for three years in a row," says Tommy of the growth curve. The company continues to hire.

After numerous accolades in the last five years, Roast Magazine recently named Coda the "Macro Roaster of the Year" for 2014.

Coda roasts about 500,000 pounds a year, far above the cutoff for a micro-roastery, but still relatively small. "We were considered macro, but we're still micro," says Tommy. "We were competing with companies 10 to 15 times our size."

Coda Coffee is a certified B Corporation, and contributes to educational infrastructure and other projects in growing areas in Colombia and El Salvador, as well as providing excellent benefits to employees.

"Sustainability is a big piece of what we do," says Tommy. "That's probably the number-one reason we won [the Roaster of the Year] award."

Both Tommy and Tim have worked in the coffee business since the 1990s in Washington, Arizona and Colorado. WIth Coda, they buy directly from farms in 15 countries.

The company sells 15 kinds of coffee wholesale and has seven retail locations in metro Denver at Kaiser Permanente facilities and is opening two more, and also sells coffee at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

CreativeMornings Denver launches

CreativeMornings Denver, a monthly series of speakers, launched the morning of Nov. 1 at the Convercent office in the Golden Triangle. The speaker was molecular gastronomist extraordinaire Ian Kleinman of The Inventing Room.

After launching in New York in 2008, CreativeMornings has chapters in about 60 cities.

R.J. Owen, Director of Product Management at Convercent, heard Creative Mornings Founder Tina Roth Eisenberg speak at SXSW 2013 in Austin.

"I said, 'That sounds like something that would work really well in Denver,'" says Owen. "I thought we would have had a chapter already."

But Denver didn't have a chapter, so Owen set out to establish one. His team snowballed to eight people as it completed the requisite application video and enlisted local sponsors: Convercent as well as Huckleberry Roasters and Babette's Artisan Bakery at The Source for coffee and breakfast.

Attendees should get free tickets online before the event, as maximum capacity is 150. After 30 minutes of networking, the format calls for a speaker to hold court for 20 minutes, followed by about 20 minutes of Q&A. Coffee and breakfast are provided.

Subsequent CreativeMornings Denver will take place at other locations on the first Friday of each month.

Owen projects a mix of creative types ranging from copywriters to artists as speakers. "It's a little bit of everything," he says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Something Independent's S|I Wright Award salutes Colorado's top lifestyle company

Launched as the S|I Entrepreneur Award in 2011, the award has been rebranded the S|I Wright Award for 2013.

Pagosa Springs-based VOORMI won the award over co-finalists Fishpond and Optic Nerve.

"We thought it was time for a change," says Chuck Sullivan, Co-Founder of Something Independent, the events and media company behind the awards. "We took a step back and thought it was time for a nomination process and filter."

Instead of companies self-nominating via a 90-second video, Sullivan and company winnowed down a list of 200 companies to 14 nominees. The final list included Denver's Kota Longboards, Viktorian Guitars, Boa Technology and Jiberish. Previous winners were Flylow Gear (2011) and MHM (2012).

Wright alludes to "making" or "doing," says Sullivan, as in millwright or playwright. "We thought it would be uniquely able to highlight companies across the state driving the lifestyle industry in Colorado," he explains. "We're super excited."

Adds Sullivan: "Looking at the list of companies, the common thread is a state of mind -- that pioneering spirit of being a Colorado business. We call that the intersection of lifestyle and commerce, and we think Colorado is the hub of that convergence"

The awards ceremony took place at Session Kitchen (1518 S. Pearl St.) the night of Oct. 22, right before the eatery opened to the public.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

CO Clothing's 'Laser Horse' joined by 'Laser Bronco'

If you've seen a T-shirt with a horse that looks a bit like one that stands sentry at a local airport with lasers shooting out of its eyes, then you've seen the handiwork of CO Clothing Co. (formerly Mile High Clothing Co.).

And now "Laser Horse" has a sibling shirt in the helmeted orange-and-blue "Laser Bronco."

Founder Bryan Patton moved from Cleveland to Denver in 2012. A graphic and web designer doing business as Fat Free Design, Patton soon saw an opportunity to go into the clothing business.

He looked for Denver-centric shirts that he liked, but had trouble, so took an old adage to heart. "I said, 'I'm just going to do it myself,'" says Patton, who transitioned his Mile High Clothing brand into the outdoors market in 2014.

Inspiration struck left and right. "As soon as I got to Colorado, I fell in love with it, and how active everybody is and how much there is to do," Patton says.

He's created dozens of designs since for hats, sweatshirts and tank tops as well as T-shirts. Besides the bestselling "Laser Horse," his "D is for Denver" design is also popular.

CO Clothing is available at I Heart Denver Store, MegaFauna, Indy Ink and the Denver Fashion Truck.

"I'm different because I print on all sorts of shirts and materials," he says. "Not being from here helps me because I can really appreciate Denver."
Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Denver Startup Week Q&A: Nikki Braziel, Octa

Octa is making holding a tablet easier and better. Its WhaleTails and MonkeyTails attach to an iPad via a Vacuum Dock that can snugly grip to a surface for days with only a few pumps. The company was co-founded by the CEO/COO couple of Kevin Prometheus Trotsky and Nikki Braziel in 2010 and has been shipping product since 2012. They raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter to launch the MonkeyTail in May. Confluence caught up with Braziel recently for a Q&A for Denver Startup Week.

What's the latest news at Octa?

We have high expectations for the MonkeyTail for Christmas. We have some great retailer partners like Plow & Hearth and Fab. We're launching in Europe in October.

We have the first product of our next tablet tail line in development. I can't tell you any more about it. It's not available until early 2014.

The other big news is we're pushing an MSRP change. The MonkeyTail kit will be $69.99 instead of $99.98. The WhaleTail kit will be $39.99.

What's your perspective on the Denver startup community?

Pro and I are both really excited to discover the depths of talent in Denver. We've been working in a bit of isolation since starting the company, and only recently did we learn how many startups were working in the community, and working hard. We found out about StartupDenver and the Rockies Venture Club and became aware of a lot of startups in Denver through that.

What are some of your favorite places in Denver?

I'm pretty hooked on Crema. They make coffee in a French press. Both Pro and I are hooked on City O' City's breakfast burritos -- we live on Capitol Hill. We love Linger. We love Root Down.

And we love RiNo -- we love the views of the mountains and the city.

Hobbies outside of Octa?

I've been working on a novel for the past four years. It's historical fiction, set in New Orleans in 1897. It will be done in the next two years.

I've taken a lot of workshops with Lighthouse Writers Workshop. It's so wonderful to go into this warm, old Victorian house and connect with people who are so passionate about writing.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Chipper Booth moving into custom photobooth market

Vince Dressel was working for Chipotle's corporate office in LoDo when he launched Chipper Booth Photo Booth Company as a side project in Oct. 2011.

"For seven years, I'd been doing an analytical office job and I was tired of it," Dressel explains. "I like old things and photography is a hobby." The intersection of these two interests: building a vintage-looking photobooth in the garage.

That initial Chipper Booth debuted at the Huge Comedy Show at the Oriental Theater in 2011. Then Dressel started going to bridal shows to market the Chipper Booth to wedding planners and the like.

Dressel left Chipotle in May 2012 to concentrate on the Chipper Booth full-time. Today he has two employees, Loveland-based Erica Leigh and Jeff van Geete, an MBA student at CU Denver, plus three contract employees that work events.

Chipper Booth did 66 events in 2012 and Dressel expects to double that number in 2013. Four hours runs $999.

The vintage look harks back to the glory days of the photobooth, says Dressel. "Whenever a 70-year-old man gets in it, he says, 'This reminds me of the ones I used to get in on the boardwalks.'"

While Chipper Booths look old, they are full of the latest digital technology. "Everything's local," says Dressel, from the wood to the screws. "It's important to me to support local businesses because I am one of those businesses."

While weddings, festivals and other events are the lion's share of Chipper Booth's business, Dressel and van Geete see custom photobooths for bars as the main route to growth.

"People keep saying we should franchise or expand to other cities," says Dressel. "I believe we can make a healthy living right here in Denver."

To this end, the first custom Chipper Booth went into operation at the Squire Lounge in July and the second will be at the Park House by mid-September. "We can build a little piece of art," says van Geete. Prices start at $12,000.

Because of the digital bells and whistles, the custom booths are integrated with Facebook and Twitter. "It essentially manages their online presence for them," says van Geete, highlighting automatic hashtagging and tweeting. "It's going to handle a lot of what they do anyway" -- with their patrons' help.

"If you're not tweeting a couple times a day, it's like not being in the yellow pages in the '90s," says Dressel.

Echoes van Geete: "There's always going to be a line, there's always going to be a big party and it's shooting out tagged messages all night."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

14er Project wall chart tracks your summits (and looks good doing it)

Nathan Downey, Founder of The 14er Project has climbed 23 Colorado's 14,000-foot-peaks, but saw no good way to keep track of his mountaineering exploits.

"There was no good way to track what 14ers you climbed that was aesthetically pleasing," says Downey, an art director who's based in Capitol Hill.

Consider the problem solved. The 14ers Project's debut product is a wall chart featuring icons for all of Colorado's 58 14,000-footers -- 53 official and five unofficial (typically peaks too proximate to be considered a distinct summit) -- locally screenprinted on heavy-duty paper. Each mountain has a box below ready to be stamped with red when the peak has been conquered.

Downey has sold about 50 of the $79 charts of his first run of 200, and plans another print run as well as other products, one in partnership with California-based Klean Kanteen.

Comparing the local mountaineering subculture to surfing in California, he says that Snowmass Mountain has been his favorite 14,000-foot peak so far.

And he has no plans to stop hiking them anytime soon. "I'm addicted to the achievement syndrome," says Downey.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Clean Getaway Soap Co.'s small-batch bars taking off

Lindsey and Mikel Stone, the wife-and-husband team behind Clean Getaway Soap Co., started making small-batch soap in 2008. About 10,000 bars later, it's "nearly full-time," says Lindsey.

"It was a hobby that evolved, but it evolved really quickly," says Lindsey of the company's beginnings. "We had a glut of soap and we had to get rid of some of it."

The couple was inspired by the ethos of urban homesteading. "I've always been impressed by the thought that pioneers could do this with little more than beef tallow and ashes," explains Lindsey. "I thought we could do it."

Another inspiration: Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. Before he was the city's crime boss in the late 1800s, Smith was known for grifting folks with a con involving bars of soap wrapped in dollar bills.

Clean Getaway offers no such con, just small-batch soap at a time. The Stones use ingredients like coconut milk, hemp oil, shea butter and of course lye to make soaps like Happy Camper (with avocado oil and shea butter) and the orange-flavored F Bomb. "We keep trying to make something that tastes good if you get your mouth washed out," says Lindsey of the latter.

Clean Getaway Soap is available for $7.50 a bar on Etsy and at local markets and festivals, where the bewhiskered Mikel takes on the persona of Mr. Clean Getaway and offers eye-catching hashtags like #mustacherides on a photo-friendly chalkboard as promotion.

"He's the brains," says Lindsey. "I'm the brawn."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Mile High Mountaineering innovating backpacks, looking to urban market

Based in southeast Denver, Mile High Mountaineering (MHM) has been bringing innovative designs to the staid backpack market since its founding in 2009.

"You don't see backpack startups too often," says Founder Jeff Popp. Most of today's leading brands "were startups 30 years ago," he adds. "I saw an opportunity to up the game of the market."

Taking cues from the snowboarding world, MHM has done just that with its market-first "snake-loading" Salute 34 backpack. The S-shaped route the zipper takes down the pack allows much better access, says Popp. "Literally, you have an access point at any point on the backpack," he explains. "You don't have to dig things out from the top."

MHM's catalog is now eight models deep, including 80-liter backpacking packs, smaller packs for day hikes and winter models as well as the bestselling 34-liter Salute. The packs are manufactured in Vietnam.

Now with two full-time employees as well as several contractors and interns, MHM is setting its sights on the "urbaneering" market with a sister brand, Coalition, says Popp. As an example of what to expect, he points to MHM's Colfax pack, featuring an iPad sleeve and convertible straps that allow it to be carried like a backpack or a messenger bag.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.
131 Craft Manufacturing Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts