Dream Big, Shop Local: the 107
I’d like to introduce you to the women of the 107, an inclusive, collective work space, located on West Vickery Boulevard.
These eight unique, entrepreneurial women, who are experts in their field, have created a product or started a practice to help make a difference right here in our community and even the world. One afternoon, I had the absolute privilege of sitting down with each one of these beautiful women to hear their stories about their passion and how it evolved to where it is today. You, dear reader, get the privilege of hearing about some great art, crafts, and businesses available to you practically at your back door.
Jill Black – Amada
First, let me introduce you to Jill Black, owner, and manager of the 107. I met Jill over a year ago when she stepped into my spin class for the first time at ZYN22. Since that time, I have not only known Jill as a riding warrior but have also come to admire her passion for her community and desire to help support local entrepreneurs right here in Fort Worth.
One of the ways, Jill said, she is trying to curate vendors for the space is by “finding unique products that support your local community, and in that, you’re supporting an entrepreneur.” Besides the ten private rooms that are leased out to vendors and small business owners, there is a larger flex space in the building, which allows for pop-up markets. This is yet another way Jill likes to bring in creative artists and retailers who may not have a space of their own to sell their craft.
Jill, herself, has an affinity for eclectic home decor and art, especially Mexican Folk Art, so she is opening one of the spaces at the 107 to start her business called “Amada”, the Spanish word for beloved or a treasured item, where she will sell “beloved artisan goods”.
Part of the inspiration for having this retail business after working in real estate for the last 18 years was because of an extraordinary man named Charlie. You see, Jill is hoping to market her own business by telling Charlie’s amazing story. Charlie was born with a disability yet has demonstrated that there are no limits when passion is involved. A man with a big heart, he seeks to help other disabled people like himself by showing them how to do great things. Out of about 50 employees, 25 percent of them are disabled. Jill showed me a picture of one of his employees with no arms, etching glass by holding the glass between her feet! Incredible and amazing, isn’t it?
Charlie and his team make candles that many of the Catholic churches use in their churches, but he also makes glasses. If you have ever been to the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, you may have seen these beautifully etched glasses. Charlie helps his local workers learn this amazing trade and as a result, gives them purpose, meaning, and a way to provide for themselves and their families. My friend Jill likes knowing she can offer her customers a unique item that also helps her friend Charlie and the rest of his team.
CHOKE – Resident Artist and Brooha
The first person to join the space at the 107 was CHOKE (Creating Her Own Kinetic Energy). This is the name she gave herself at the age of 10. She grew up in Washington, DC, and had always wanted to be a graffiti writer. She says there’s no real story to it, but I would beg to differ. She said she needed a graffiti artist name, so Choke took a dictionary and blindly pointed to a word that would end up serving that very purpose. We laughed at the fact that it could have been ANYTHING!! “At first, I didn’t like it, but after a while, I liked the way the letters started to flow together, and now it has metamorphosized into what it is today. The acronym came after several years. I had people tell me that I have an energy about myself where I just don’t stop, I just keep going for it, no matter what my circumstances.” So, Choke stayed as her name.
Graffiti was like a moving gallery to her, but soon that love of art morphed into other opportunities for painting. While living in a studio apartment in California, the tenants, including Choke, got a call from the city that they were shutting the building down, and everyone had ten days to move out. It was then that she put her stuff in storage and decided to move to Asia. She was in a place of trying to figure out her life and what she wanted to do. Asia had been at the top of her list. She lived in Japan first and then went over to Thailand. She had her sketchbook and a backpack and met some local Thailand people her age that quickly befriended her and wanted her to meet their tribe. It is from this established relationship that Choke started buying directly from them and selling their goods here in the states. As a result, every time she goes back to visit, she sees the fruit of their labor together, whether that is in the form of a new roof for their home, or tile on they inside. Choke gets to pick the colors and items she wants to make and then brings them back to here to sell. I must say, sitting in the interview with Choke, I saw so many beautiful items that I would love to purchase and knowing that it was going to a tribe that would help sustain their livelihood, made it even better!
“It is important for me to see that they have the materials for their looms, they have their string, and whatever else they need to dye…whatever they need.” Choke considers this every time she goes back to visit. She will also begin to work with other artists in other countries to do the same thing. Choke has a strong understanding of where she has been, especially experiencing homelessness. She understands the value that anything is better than the dark places where she has been and experienced. She uses those hard things like a flame to ignite a passion in her that she never wants to go back there again. She has gratitude for how her life has evolved and allowed her to bring hope across the ocean and using her inspiring artwork (her paintings are also for sale, and they are AMAZING!) to grace the walls of anyone willing to buy them and take them home.
“I want to empower myself, but I have found that empowering other women is even more empowering. It’s an amazing cycle! I think in America, it is our duty to travel around the world to be able to know who your neighbor is, so we know how to coexist.”
Denise Acebo – One Tiny Acre Soaps
Denise is a one-woman show where she makes handmade soaps from natural products. She prides her craft on being vegan, so there are no animal fats and no palm oil. Everything from the soaps to how she packages them is earth friendly. The trade was handed down from family, and Denise adjusted the ingredients to fit her vegan lifestyle. “I prefer to do everything by hand,” she said. “I even prefer to sweep rather than vacuum the floor.”
Denise gets some of her inspiration by whatever is growing in her garden. She grows all of her botanicals in her backyard on “one tiny acre,” hence, the name of her business! Going back and talking about how she got started, Denise said that when she made it for herself for the first time, she was fascinated by the chemical process: “to watch oil and lye water chemically bond before my very eyes was just so cool!”
Of course, family and friends of Denise receive the gift of beautiful soaps for holidays and birthdays! Thanks to Jill’s pop-up market outreach to local artists, Denise was one of the first to participate, and it was then she realized just how valuable a space like the 107 could be for her business. No longer would she have to deal with the unpredictability of Texas weather for outdoor markets.
I had to inquire as to which soap scent was her favorite. Although she likes whatever she is making at the time, her favorite at home is the green tea and ginger. She says it has a crisp fresh scent! Lavender and vanilla are a customer favorite, as well as the “man bar” which has a manlier scent or the upgrade from “man bar” is called “Husband #2”. This name came from her daughters as they felt the second version of the manly smell was even better than the first!
Denise also does hand-knit washcloths. After her first son was born, her mom taught her how to knit. Her mom died at an early age, so it became very personal to her, so she likes to think of it as keeping her memory alive by making them. The furniture in her space was made by her father and was hers as a child, which makes her soap business even more meaningful. The items from “One Tiny Acre Soaps” would be fabulous gifts. Stop by and see Denise! Tell her I said, “Hello!”
Renee Segars – Massage Therapist
Renee Segars is a relatively new massage therapist whose story starts a few years ago when she was going through some significant life changes. Overweight, suffering from adrenal fatigue, and chronic illness; she realized she had to make some major changes.
“On this path to wellness, I discovered a wealth of resources available to everyone in primarily Eastern medicine and spiritual modalities. Although, a long-time meditation practitioner to alleviate anxiety; it wasn’t until I began studying meditation and yoga in earnest that I began to clearly see the definite mind-body-spirit connection. Massage just seemed to be a natural extension of these practices and was the perfect foundation.”
Coming from a family with a strong medical background and always wanting to know everything, she began researching the hows and whys of why these modalities work. “I often found the spiritual “woo-woo” explanations for these modalities didn’t satisfy my curiosity or my questions. It frankly often felt a little too “snake oil”, for me. Being able to explain it to my 88-year-old grandfather is helpful too.”
Now, it is her intention to make these modalities as readily available and easily understandable as possible while allowing her clients to take and apply these practices to their everyday lives in a practical, well-grounded way.
“I really enjoy working with clients who are passionate about and ready to take ownership of their wellness.”
Renee refers to herself as an “anatomy geek” and has done extensive learning on the effects of stress on the body and what it is about massage therapy that helps. Some of her modalities for relieving stress are cranial sacral therapy and acupressure. She also does barefoot massage, which is a deeper form of massage. “My goal is for my client to feel relaxed. We are so busy and if for one hour our body can learn to relax and our mind have some space, I hope that once they leave, they want to have that again. I want to be an anchor for someone’s healing.”
I’m signing up as soon as possible for her signature massage! This massage 90 minutes in length and includes an introduction of cranial sacral therapy and acupressure for the first 15 minutes to help the client get into that space of relaxation. Renee believes clients will then be able to take deeper tissue pressure when they are in a relaxed state. Sounds amazing and just like what you need about now, right?
Go see her. Now.
Gabi & Liz – Modern Meets Vintage
MMV Boutique is owned by sisters Liz and Gabi. We are Latina boss babes who like to share our eye for trendy fashion to local women through affordable clothing and accessories.
We are a women’s clothing and accessories boutique that carry trend right clothing at affordable pricing because we believe you shouldn’t have to break the bank to look good. We specialize in curating the right assortment for the stylish women, with affordable price points and creating personal connections with our customers. We are honest, honorable business women who care about our customers and their happiness.
We are proud of our commitment to make the customer our #1 priority through quality and value in our product. We also provide styling services for any customer to add a touch of personalization to their shopping experience.
Marni Reecer – ReecerMedia & BossDog Hosting
After 10+ years of freelancing as a web designer and digital marketing specialist, Marni moved her home office to WeWork in 2017. Two years of steady growth gave her the confidence to go bigger. Specifically, she wanted a space that not only would accommodate two desks but would offer ample wall space to display her husband, Chris Reecer’s artwork.
“There are so many beautiful oil paintings hanging in our house, and in Chris’ garage studio, it was time to get them out in the open. the107 is the perfect home for them,” Marni explained. (Visit chrisreecer.com to view his work.)
Aside from being her husband’s biggest fan, Marni is busy running two businesses at the107.
- ReecerMedia offers business consulting, web design, WordPress care, creative, SEO, and digital marketing services. www.reecermedia.com
- BossDog Hosting allows Marni to bring a “boutique style” of web hosting to her clients, who want a more personal experience compared to the larger “Godaddy’s” out there. www.bossdoghosting.com
The name came from her desire to be a strong female leader (hence the pink in the logo) and the fact that she holds her own at home with three strong-willed Alaskan Malamutes, Ringo, Rainie, and BB.
Doing business for good.
Marni offers US Veterans a substantial 20% discount on all services and hosting plans, in memory of her father, Lt. Col. J. A. Getchell, USMC, a Vietnam veteran who fought his last battle against Alzheimer’s with grace and dignity.
As part of ReecerMedia’s growth, Marni recently added stepdaughter, Joanie Reecer, to the team. Marni treasures Joanie’s creative skills, social media, and Shopify experience for added support. Who else is behind the curtain at ReecerMedia? Marni spoke highly of her team of designers and developers in Romania, with whom she has known for more than ten years. “Our relationship became a more official partnership just over a year ago. I am their official US office, and they support me in building custom WordPress sites and superior ongoing care for my clients.”
It’s all about connecting with people.
Connecting with her clients is super important to her in building a successful business. When you meet Marni, you will understand just how easy it is to connect with her. She’s a calming soul with way more knowledge than I could ever fit into my brain regarding website development and more!
Dana Farrell – Holistic Nutritionist
Dana has served her community as a Registered Nurse for 34 years and is also a Holistic Nutritionist. Her training also includes two forms of entry medicine: Reiki and Access Consciousness, and she offers sessions for both modalities. This “queen” of many health and wellness trades offers health coaching for individuals and corporate health training. While Dana was trained in western medicine, she had the valuable opportunity to learn more eastern and holistic concepts.
Over the course of many years as a home health nurse, Dana says she “saw the gap and disconnect in teaching and ‘getting well’ “. This led her to study and gain value from the whole person concept: mind-body-soul healing using the tools of the earth and our own intuitive selves. More than anything, when a client walks away from time with her, Dana says she wants them to go away feeling empowered to change and move forward, even the tiniest 1st step. She hopes they can also pass it on and share health and healing with others. Dana sees herself as a resource and friend who can support her clients on their journey.
How does Dana’s business stand out against others who practice a similar health and wellness model? She says, “I combine health coaching with energy healing, yoga, and meditation. I have training in all these modalities, and each plan is made on an individual basis. People are very different in their learning and the way they organize their lives. ‘One size fits all’ is not effective for many people.” Dana loves teaching and public speaking. She considers it one of her greatest gifts. She loves helping people unravel the puzzle and assist them in taking control of their health. If you need some unraveling, come check her out . She is ready to help!
Cherissa Scott – Pablo’s Lotus
Yet another business brought to you by Mother Nature herself includes the healing oils of Pablo’s Lotus by Cherissa Scott, who we featured in Madeworthy. Cherissa has started housing some of her business at the 107. Until now, most of what she has done has been private on her own property in “the cottage” behind her house where her garden grows all the ingredients for her medicines and an apothecary where she creates it all.
The 107 was an opportunity to get out there beyond her property to let the community know about and benefit from what she does. Cherissa is entirely faithful and true to the craft of her work. The herbs are harvested only with the moon when the herb is the fullest of nutrients. She prays over each element every day when it’s in process, which can be 30-40 days.
Her passion started with Aveda at the age of 26 as an esthetician. “I started to notice that when someone was going through something stressful, the condition of their skin was the first thing I would notice.” Realizing she wanted to know more about why plants were good for the skin, she ventured into getting a horticultural degree, becoming a soil specialist, which allowed her to create remedies. She believes the success of a remedy, comes from the soil used to create it, which is what she says is unique about her business.
A popular remedy she carries is nectar, which includes sage, lemongrass, and holy basil grown in her sacred soils. “You can use it as a moisturizer, but people will also use it for inflammation, such as arthritis pain. It makes the skin thicker and more buoyant and helps your immune system be stronger.” She shared with me so many benefits of how the oils can help people in their healing journey no matter what they are going through.
Cherissa’s journey is one she hopes to bring healing to whoever needs it. She is dedicated and passionate about every aspect. You can see it in her beautiful face when she talks about it! If you miss her at the 107, check her out her website here for more information on not just her products, but opportunities for workshops, lectures, open forum discussions, and social group functions available for scheduling.
Monday – Resident Artist
Stacie Monday, who prefers to go by “Monday,” currently has her art displayed in the multi-purpose room at the107. Jill recirculates the art every two months so that a fresh new artist can have a space to showcase their work. Monday is currently their featured artist, and you can come to see her art up close and personal until the end of November.
Monday has been an artist for five years. Her story about how she became an artist will move you! It is also very spiritual. Before becoming an artist, Monday was also a stay-at-home mom, and while she loved her child and being a mom so much, she knew she wanted something more. Her relationship with God became stronger, she said, after having her daughter.
In her journey into falling more in love with God, she prayed one day for God to tell her what else He wanted her to do with her life. It was during that very conversation with God that she says He told her to be an artist and paint. “It seemed out of nowhere because I had never taken any art classes, and I said to God, ‘How am I going to have time being a stay at home mom?'” I was intrigued with what she told me next: “God said, ‘Oh, you can just sleep less.'” From that moment on, Monday would rise and shine at 3 am and start painting! While she painted, she would listen to sermons or worship music, and that is still what she does even now, five years later. Oh, and let me also throw in the fact that she learned how to paint from YouTube!
I love Monday’s style of art …it’s very personal, as I know most artwork is. Because God had told Monday she needed to paint, the talented artist struggled with whether her artwork should always be religious in nature, that she should stay in this “box of creative boundaries” to honor God with her artwork. At one point, she says she got so frustrated about what to do that she just stopped painting. In 2016, Monday started going to therapy, and her therapist was the one who told her that it was okay to be able to express what she needed to through painting. Monday’s heart is to uplift black women, and her therapist helped her understand that doing that through her artwork wasn’t against God. Thank goodness, from that point on, Monday’s artistic wings started to spread, and she has taken up residence in the world of art!
Monday’s art celebrates the beauty of black women by painting them in a way where they are not sexualized but seen as feminine and soft. Monday feels like often black women are portrayed as angry or bitter. “People don’t always see our hearts, and people don’t see us as just women at the core.”
In conjunction with those thoughts at the core of her creative process, Monday has done a lot of research in her genealogy to find out who she is and where she comes from and incorporates that genealogy in her paintings. “I definitely feel like I’m going through an identity crisis, and this has helped me try to understand who I am.”
As we were wrapping up our conversation together, I asked Monday to tell me any advice she would want to share with others who are working on becoming an artist themselves. It didn’t take her long to tell me:
“I would say, in my community, what I have noticed, is that a lot of young artists don’t really know how to paint their story. We sometimes paint celebrities to prove how good we are, but I think you should focus on your story, and what is it that you want to tell the world. Because it’s so much more than how good you are, it’s about inspiring other people, it’s about changing narratives, changing all of those different negative things. I think art can be so much more meaningful if you are true to yourself, and you paint your story.”
If you can’t make to the 107 by the end of November to see her artwork up close, you can also see Monday’s brilliant artwork here.
You HAVE to stop by the 107 and meet these women and experience the passion of their trade. Okay, you don’t HAVE to, but I HIGHLY recommend it! Not sure of when the best time to stop by would be? I have a list of Holiday Market dates happening at the107. Certainly, one of these dates will fit your busy shopper schedule:
- Saturday, November 30th, from 10-5 (Small Business Saturday!)
- Saturday, December 7th from 10-1
- Saturday, December 14th from 10-1
- Saturday, December 21st from 10-1
Jennifer Kieta is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston. She graduated from Texas Tech University and has lived in Fort Worth since 1996. After marrying her husband, Brian in 1998, Jennifer worked as a Child Life Specialist at Cook Children’s Medical Center for 9 years before becoming a full-time mom to her two daughters. Her passion for helping people in healthcare transitioned into the fitness world in 2014. She now teaches spin and HIIT classes at Zyn22 and Pilates at Studio 180 in Pop’s Gym. December of 2017, Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her journey through a double-mastectomy and being able to call herself a Survivor and Overcomer has allowed her to have an even greater passion for helping people embrace every day and take care of themselves one day at a time.