Alice Riot and Midwest Pantry: The Learning Journeys

A lot of learning happens in between the spark of an idea and the launch of a business. The key word is learning — something many confuse with failure. The road to launching is a journey of the adventurous variety, yet often those stories are overshadowed by their bigger, shinier sibling: the final product.

Because learning journeys are equally as important as the ideas themselves, we created an opportunity for Studio/E members to share the adventures of launching their ideas: the #ideaSLAM. The way these events work is members pitch their ideas and share what they learned along the way, concluding their presentations with an ask of the audience. The audience then chimes in with questions. We had our second #ideaSLAM this week, featuring Alice Riot and Midwest Pantry.

Kelly Groehler went first. Just last week Kelly and her co-founder Kate Iverson launched Alice Riot – a line of professional women’s garments that double as limited-edition prints of original, contemporary works by women artists. “If you had told me five years ago I’d be standing here today announcing the launch of my apparel line, I’d have laughed in your face,” Kelly began. While Kelly has retail experience, it’s not in the fashion world. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her desire.

Kelly shared that instead of saying “no” to herself, she started saying “yes.” She asked herself what the best thing she could do for women was, and that was to make sure to bring them along on every step, which is why this line for women is by women – art and all. By surveying their networks, Kelly and Kate learned what the market is missing, and they filled that void with Alice Riot.

To learn more about Kelly and Alice Riot, check this out.

Chad Gillard went next. The learning journey Chad spoke about was of launching Midwest Pantry, a member organization formalizing the local food creator community to make Minnesota the number one place to start and grow a food business. He and co-founder Zoie Glass did a lot of iterating before the organization became what it is today. “We had to fall out of love with our business model so we could pivot,” Chad said. “And we continue to pivot.”

Chad held meet-ups with folks in the food world and learned from their experiences and mistakes. “It’s important to understand that we built every interaction we’ve had from literally serving food to people,” Chad said. He and Zoie created Midwest Pantry to help food businesses, but eventually they realized that they needed to ask for help themselves. So they cashed in some IOUs and were overwhelmed and humbled by the yeses they received.

Chad elaborates on Midwest Pantry here.

The #ideaSLAM is a nice way to see how the Studio/E methodologies have been used first-hand. What makes these events resonate, however, is that vulnerability is the name of the game. Kelly didn’t successfully produce a beautiful garment right away. Chad didn’t wake up to a community of food-loving individuals. But with persistence, dedication and clarity their desires, Kelly and Chad kept at it and the result is the wonderful businesses that are Alice Riot and Midwest Pantry.

If you would like to join our learning community and attend more events like the Studio/E #ideaSLAM, we’d love to meet you.

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