• September 2015

Embrace the Race

What would you do if an international bike race — scheduled to bring 1,000 top cycling athletes and 450,000 people to town — was about to descend on your city? If you are an entrepreneur, odds are good you would find a way to put yourself, and your business, in the middle of the action.

That’s exactly what BJ Kocen, Jennifer Glave, and Tammy Rostov decided to do when the three Richmond retailers founded West Main Village, a community of 35 restaurants, galleries, retail shops, and small businesses that will close down the block in front of their shops from Sept. 25-27 and host an array of events during the UCI 2015 Bicycle Race, which runs from Sept. 19-27.

If you are a bike fanatic, you know all about Richmond2015.com. The Road World Championships (or simply, Worlds) is cycling’s pinnacle event, held annually in an international city chosen by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) through a competitive bidding process similar to the Olympic Games.

Covered by more than 500 media outlets from around the world and broadcast live to a global audience of more than 300 million people, this nine-day event features 12 championship races for Elite Men and Women, Under 23 Men, and Junior Men and Women.

“It is a rare opportunity for the athletes to compete for their country, just as they do during the Olympic Games,” officials explain. “Athletes compete in three different disciplines including the traditional Road Race, the Individual Time Trial, and the recently introduced Team Time Trial. World champions are crowned in each discipline. Worlds is truly one of the great global sporting events.” Scroll down to learn more.

In celebration of this exciting event coming to the town where we recently opened our offices, we dedicate this issue to the bikers, businesses, food, fun, and future of Richmond, VA.

Following are some of our favorite people, places, and things to do in town:

  • Historic Hotels are a frequent find in the capital of Virginia, which is among America’s oldest cities. Patrick Henry, a US Founding Father, famously declared “Give me liberty or give me death” at Richmond’s St. John’s Church, leading to the Revolutionary War. So where do you stay when you come to town? One of our favorites is a charming spot in the center of town, where Edgar Allen Poe played as a child: Linden Row Inn.
  • Art history is also something Richmond does spectacularly well! In this month’s History column, Grateful American™ Foundation founder David Bruce Smith shines a light on that fact in his conversation with the VMFA’s Alex Nyerges. Check out their podcast interview.
  • Bikes are simply the best way to tool around town — even when international bikers aren’t coming to Richmond. Data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that Richmond leads Virginia cities in bike commuting, with 2.2 percent of workers getting to work by bike. This makes Richmond 42nd out of the 375 cities reporting, notably just behind Santa Monica, CA. Join in on the fun. And learn more about the powerful history of bikes in this month’s Books column.
  • Beer — craft beer, especially — is one of the tastiest treats in Richmond, according to Jane Ferrara, the chief operating officer of the City of Richmond’s Economic & Community Development office. Click here to see what the hoopla is all about.
  • Networking in Richmond is easy and fun, especially if you are a woman looking to grow your career. “Perhaps it’s that Southern charm at work,” suggests Dee Dee Schurman, the incoming president of Richmond’s Network of Enterprising Women.
  • Chambers of Commerce are always a great place to join to grow a business. And if you are a woman wanting to build relationships, sign up for the next Real Conversation event at the Richmond Chamber’s Extraordinary Women’s Exchange. Don’t miss our Q&A with membership coordinator Stephanie Phillips.

We raise our glasses of wine, beer, or the biker’s choice — refreshing water — to the past, present, and future of Richmond! And we leave you with this parting thought about the power of riding a bike.

“Throughout human history, in any great endeavor requiring the common effort of many nations and men and women everywhere, we have learned — it is only through seriousness of purpose and persistence that we ultimately carry the day. We might liken it to riding a bicycle. You stay upright and move forward so long as you keep up the momentum.” — 8th (and current) Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon

Keep on pedaling! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine • Founder, InkandescentPR.com

Richmond 2015: How to Capitalize on a Big Opportunity

ENTREPRENEURS OF THE MONTH: SEPTEMBER 2015

BJ Kocen, Jennifer Glave, and Tammy Rostov unite to create West Main Village and Embrace the Race, Richmond 2015

By Hope Katz Gibbs,
Publisher, Be Inkandescent

The three West Main Village founders knew they had to do something.

The announcement had just been made that the international UCI Bicycle Race would be coming to Richmond, VA, from Sept. 19-27, 2015 — and that the cycle route would be curving just a block away from their shops — Tammy Rostov’s Rostov’s Coffee & Tea and BJ Kocen and Jennifer Glave’s art gallery glave kocen.

Over a freshly brewed pot of dark roast, the entrepreneurs cooked up a plan: They’d gather the community of 35 restaurants, galleries, retail shops, and small businesses in the three-block area in front of their shops, arrange to close off one block to traffic, and host an array of events during the weekend of the race, Sept. 25-27.

They posted a West Main Village Facebook page, and started having meetings. And, they began attending meetings of the city’s organizing committee. And, they asked as many questions as they could to position themselves for maximum visibility.

Scroll down to read our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview with the West Main Village founders on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

Be Inkandescent: When did it first hit you that you absolutely had to do something to get some of those 450,000 people into your stores?

BJ Kocen: I think it was the minute we heard about the race coming to Richmond. We knew that the only thing that could top this event was if Richmond secured a bid for the Olympics. So this is huge!

We talked to a lot of people who said they plan to stay home to avoid the chaos. But the three of us felt differently. That’s why we came up with this idea of embracing the race, because we see it as an opportunity for all of the business owners in the neighborhood to come together and work on something big that is certain to be a ton of fun.

The world really is coming to Richmond, and we want to welcome all these people from different nations to our great city. We want to be ambassadors. We want them to have a good time, be comfortable, and we want to show the world what RVA has to offer.

Be Inkandescent: Your two shops are right next to one another on West Main Street. Tammy tell us how this big idea to host a street fair was set into motion.

Tammy Rostov: It started last May 2014, on a Thursday. I remember it clearly because a group of kids was handing out information packets explaining that the road would be closed all weekend because the collegiate bike races were coming through town. They wanted to let us know there would be a slight inconvenience. I was intrigued, so I went down to watch the race and see how it would impact the neighborhood.

It dawned on me then that in September, we would have the world bicycle race in town — and it would be a huge event. We knew from Richmond city officials that the road in front of our stores would be blocked to traffic, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Wouldn’t you?

The next step was to invite all the neighbors to come hear about what was happening, and think about what we could do to maximize our visibility. We had about 20 people at the first meeting to hear what it was going to look like, and what we could do to welcome the people who come into our community for the UCI Road World Championships.

Don’t stop now! Read the rest of our interview. Click here to listen to our entire podcast interview on Inkandescent Radio. And click here for the Official Race Schedule. Ride on!

Entrepreneurs Unite: Find New Ways to Shine a Spotlight on Your Business

Tammy Rostov, BJ Kocen, and Jennifer Glave created the West Main Village in 2014 in an effort to “Embrace the Race” — that is, the 2015 UCI Road World Championships that will come to Richmond, VA, on Sept. 19-27.

The event is expected to draw 450,000 people to this relatively small city. So we sat down with these savvy entrepreneurs to learn more about their thought process, their challenges, and their big dreams for what may come as a result of their efforts to close down the block in front of their shops and host a street fair on Main Street in the Fan district of town.

Be Inkandescent: When did it first hit you that you absolutely had to do something to get some of those 450,000 people into your stores?

BJ Kocen: I think it was the minute we heard about the race coming to Richmond. We knew that the only thing that could top this event was if Richmond secured a bid for the Olympics. So this is huge! We talked to a lot of people who said they plan to stay home to avoid the chaos. They are worried about traffic, and they think this race is just going to be a huge nuisance.

But the three of us felt differently. That’s why we came up with this idea of embracing the race, because we see it as an opportunity for all of the business owners in the neighborhood to come together and work on something big that is certain to be a ton of fun.

The world really is coming to Richmond, and we want to welcome all these people from different nations to our great city. We want to be ambassadors. We want them to have a good time, be comfortable, and we want to show the world what RVA has to offer.

Be Inkandescent: Do you also hope that West Main Village will be a group that does other events in the future?

BJ Kocen: Absolutely. We see it as a great way to pull together the folks who have businesses near ours, and while having it continue past the race may take a little effort, we are up for the challenge!

Be Inkandescent: Your two shops are right next to one another on West Main Street. Tell us how this big idea to host a street fair was set into motion.

Tammy Rostov: It started last May 2014, on a Thursday. I remember it clearly because a group of kids was handing out information packets explaining that the road would be closed all weekend long because the collegiate bike races were coming through town. They wanted to let us know there would be a slight inconvenience.

I was intrigued, so I went down to watch the race and see how it would impact the neighborhood. It dawned on me then that in September, we would have the world race in town — and it would be a huge event. We knew from Richmond city officials that the road in front of our stores would be blocked to traffic, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

BJ, Jennifer, and I went to City Hall to get a closure for the road so we could create a village during the last three days of the race. The first step was to invite all the neighbors to come hear about what was happening, and think about what we could do to maximize our visibility. We also talked at length to Monica Callaghan from the Richmond 2015 organizing committee. We had about 20 people at the first meeting. We all sat down and heard the numbers and what it was going to look like, and it created this excitement about how we could embrace it and what we could do to welcome these people into our community.

Be Inkandescent: Tell us about the master plan for West Main Village. What exactly are you doing on Sept. 25-27?

BJ Kocen: The biggest thing is attracting the fans who will be following the racers down the race course along Lombardy Street. It’s one of the big bends in the course, and they are going to be racing through this portion of the course every 20 minutes. So fans who stand on our piece of Main Street will get to see the racers fly by — but what are they going to do for the next 20 minutes?

Our plan is to create a family-friendly area, where people can hang out and wait for the next heat to come through, but not be bored. We are literally completely changing the block. My gallery space is being rented out to a pop-up bike expo and shop. Shram bikes is also coming in and renting another gallery across the street.

Along the street we’ll have vendors renting tents — everything from arts and crafts to sports vendors and jewelry stores, too — and we will have a children’s activity center. So there will be plenty of places to sit and hang out. Plus, all of the restaurants in the area are going to have to-go food ready. It’ll be one-stop-shopping that is fun and easy for visitors. The vendors will be on the 1600 block of West Main between Lombardy and Vine. That is the only area that will be blocked off to traffic.

Tammy Rostov: And, there will be bike valets so people can ride their bikes to Main Street and leave them there. The bikes will be safe, they can walk the course and they can always come back and get the bikes.

Be Inkandescent: What’s also interesting is that when racers turn from Lombardy onto West Main Street, the curve is tight.

BJ Kocen: That’s right. It’s a really fun spot of the race, and we are thinking of calling it the Main Squeeze because they’re going to have to really cut to make it without crashing. So people are going to be able to stand there, morbidly maybe, waiting for these guys to wipe out. It’s going to be an interesting alternative spot to watch the race.

Be Inkandescent: Are you guys doing anything special? Is there going to be special bike coffee?

Tammy Rostov: There is! We’ve come up with a Too Tired blend, which we will be serving and selling. That was top secret — until now.

Be Inkandescent: This plan has evolved over the last year. What have some of the challenges been?

BJ Kocen: It has all been challenging. But as my father said to me, if it’s easy it’s probably not worth doing. The first challenge was to get all the business owners together because they are all very busy. And I wouldn’t necessarily say we had any push-back from the Richmond 2015 group, but they were working out so many details that they didn’t have all the information we needed when we wanted it. I think we assumed maybe this organization would be a conduit between the race and the business owners, and that ended up not being the case pretty quickly. We learned early on that we were sort of on our own.

Tammy Rostov: The good news is that we’ve had a nice response from our City Council person who has been very helpful. Ditto for the Richmond City Police Department, which has worked with us to ensure that the Main Street Village area will be safe and that we do a good job.

Be Inkandescent: What I really love about your story is that you have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by embracing the race.

BJ Kocen: Indeed! There are plenty of people who want to try to put something in place and buck a system or get some sort of leverage to get an advantage. But our goal is to establish relationships and build something that will be great during the race — and continue afterward. We are on a mission to maintain the integrity with what we wanted to do with this village. I think that’s one of the reasons we were have been successful, because we were very charming about it.

Tammy Rostov: I have a funny story. I’ve gone to every single meeting Richmond 2015 has had for the community and when they open up to questions they first thing they say is, “Tammy do you have a question?” And because there are always so many people in attendance, there is a rule that you can only ask one question — but now they say, “Okay Tammy, you can ask two, just make it quick.” And then they chuckle. Now when the organizers see me walk in the door, there’s a little camaraderie. They know I’m full of questions; I want to know everything.

I have been here since I was 11, and I’m really proud of Richmond. I know the race — and our West Main Village initiative — will be a huge success. I know my business will do fine, and we expect to generate three times the sales that we normally do in a day. But I hope other people in the block are successful, too. I think we have awakened a spirit in all the business owners on the block to think outside the box — not just keep their regular hours and do business as usual — but instead create a special, welcoming area for the guests to hang out and have fun.

Be Inkandescent: Here’s to embracing Richmond 2015!

For More Information

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The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

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When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.

Many people prefer to play it safe when it comes to business matters. Are you willing to take risks in the pursuit of entrepreneurial success?”

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If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”

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There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

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The journey is the reward.”

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There is little success where there is little laughter.”

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As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

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The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

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Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

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The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

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The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”

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Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

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A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”

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It is to no purpose to turn away from the real nature of the affair because the honor of its elements excites repugnance.

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The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”

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If it isn’t good, let it die. If it doesn’t die, make it good.”

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

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I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.”

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Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what nurtures creative thinking.”

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Remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you’re stumped, because sometimes you really can’t be expected to handle everything alone.”

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Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

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How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

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My job is my hobby. I come to work to play.”

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Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic selves. We must learn to respect them. We must learn to listen.”

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History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”

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Speaking more than one language is no longer just an asset in today’s job market; it is a requirement.”

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We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”

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If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

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Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

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Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

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The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of inkandescent terror.”

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Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.”

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I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

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Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

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A person who learns to juggle six balls will be more skilled than the person who never tries to juggle more than three.”

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The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

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Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

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Change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change.”

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What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

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Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

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Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”

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That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

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Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry. Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.”

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