January 19, 2017

Young entrepreneurs share keys to success

A recent Redlands Forum reveals how young creatives are building the community along with their businesses.

Community support plays a key role in their business success, say local entrepreneurs who participated in a Jan. 4 Redlands Forum sponsored by Esri and the University of Redlands Town & Gown.

The six panelists who participated in the “Youngblood Creatives Redlands’ Next Generation of Entrepreneurs” event spoke of the tremendous support received from the Redlands community. They also shared a desire to help that community thrive.

“It is really impressive we get to [be on this panel],” said panelist Lisa Vest ’09, who launched Vasa, The Yoga Studio in 2014. “A lot of us are like-minded and want the same thing—a community to build and love and cherish.”

Robb Pearson, general manager of Augie's Coffee House, added, “All of us have the same ambition that a thriving Redlands—a fun, creative, hip Redlands—is going to be successful for all of us today and hopefully in the future.”

Moderated by Esri founder and President Jack Dangermond, the forum explored topics ranging from career turning points to methods—such as mentoring Redlands students—of nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“We don’t feel this sense of competition. We feel a sense of connectedness,” said Ryan Berk, owner of à la Minute Ice Cream and Parliament Chocolate. “We all want to help each other develop.”

Also speaking on the panel were James McClung, an independent designer and illustrator; Bryan Bruce, co-founder of The Overland, a craft cocktail bar slated to open this spring; and, Kadir Fakir, co-founder of Cheesewalla, a soon-to-open gourmet grilled cheese café.

The entrepreneurs support each other through cross-promotion on social media and using each other’s products and services. For example, Augie’s coffee appears in a Cheesewalla recipe and McClung has contributed to design and branding for Augie’s, à la minute and Parliament Chocolate.

One audience member asked how the larger community could further help the entrepreneurs.

“Talk about what is going on in Redlands—a new rebirthing of our community,” suggested Dangermond. “You can see it in the architectural expressions; you can see it in the investments going on in Redlands. It’s a pretty cool little town.”

Organizers of this year’s Redlands Forum series include Shelli Stockton, director of alumni and community relations at the University of Redlands and former president of Town & Gown, and Char Burgess, vice president and dean of student life at the university. After the event, Stockton reflected, “As a Redlands resident, the program made me proud of our city, the way we support our entrepreneurs and small businesses, and excited about the future of Redlands as a city of unique businesses.”

For more information about future Redlands Forum events, visit The next forum, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8, will feature University of Redlands Professor Kathy Feeley, author of Mary Pickford: Hollywood and the New Woman.