Measure What Matters: The Barre Code

This blog post is part of Local First’s Measure What Matters series, where we interview businesses that have taken the Quick Impact Assessment, and learn about how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

The Barre Code is a boutique fitness studio that offers barre workouts, which incorporate strength training, cardio and restorative stretching. Stacie Thomas, owner of the Grand Rapids Heritage Hill location, opened her studio in March 2018 with a mission of empowering women and helping them become the best version of themselves.

A Michigan native, Thomas moved to Chicago after graduating from Western Michigan University. While living in Chicago, Thomas discovered The Barre Code after hopping around to different fitness studios. She fell in love with The Barre Code because of how community driven it was, and that its mission was focused on women empowerment. Soon enough, Thomas auditioned to become an instructor and moved back Michigan in late 2015 to open her own studio in Grand Rapids.

“It was important for us to be part of a community where we could thrive. We landed in Grand Rapids because we thought it would be a great place to live and start a business,” said Thomas. “It’s our goal to be a one-stop shop for women looking for a versatile workout that fits their unique fitness needs. We want women to walk into our studio feeling comfortable and knowing that they will get a workout that makes them feel good inside and out.”

Shortly after opening her business, Thomas connected with Local First and learned about the Quick Impact Assessment (QIA) and Good for Grand Rapids. Thomas said the QIA served as a helpful tool as she started her business, and that Good for Grand Rapids felt like an authentic way to connect with the community.

“The Quick Impact Assessment was a good way to start conversations within my business regarding employment, sustainability and community engagement. Sometimes as a new business owner, you only see what’s right in front of you – whether it’s a new opportunity or an obstacle – and the Quick Impact Assessment helped me take a step back and look at the big picture,” said Thomas. “The Quick Impact Assessment helped me think proactively about my business and identify our strengths and weaknesses. It also offered goals that we could easily implement as a new business, like reducing our waste and using eco-friendly cleaning products.” 

One of the top goals for Thomas’ business is connecting with the community and offering a gym that welcomes all people. Since opening in March, Thomas has offered free neighborhood classes and donation-based classes that support local nonprofits. The Barre Code has also partnered with Matthew Agency, a West Michigan-based model and talent agency, to offer body positivity programs for women.

Thomas is also passionate about supporting local businesses. Thomas encourages her members to shop local by giving them a 30 percent discount on retail items for bringing in a receipt from a small business that The Barre Code nominates each month. She also has collaborated with local artists to feature their artwork in her studio.

“My advice to anyone thinking about taking the Quick Impact Assessment is to step back and take a look at all areas of your business with an open mind. The Quick Impact Assessment offers a way to shed more light on your business and answer important questions you probably haven’t thought about yet,” said Thomas.  

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Take the Quick Impact Assessment today to learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community at localfirst.com/sustainability/measure-what-matters.

Measure What Matters: Mosby’s Popcorn

This blog post is part of Local First’s Measure What Matters series, where we interview businesses that have taken the Quick Impact Assessment, and learn about how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

Mosby’s Popcorn was founded in 2016, fueled by a love for popcorn, kids and family. Brian and Denise Mosby, owners of Mosby’s Popcorn, originally got their idea for starting a popcorn business from a family member who also owned a popcorn business. At this time, the Mosby family was already running an inflatables business for school events and thought selling popcorn would be another way to connect with local schools.

Mosby’s Popcorn is located on Kalamazoo Avenue and crafts a variety of popcorn flavors – everything from Grand Rapids-inspired beer cheese to pineapple to cheesecake to caramel. Brian and Denise use their business to give back to the community by hosting fundraisers, facilitating backpack giveaways and school supply drives, and donating popcorn and gift certificates to local schools and churches.

Brian and Denise learned about the Quick Impact Assessment (QIA) and Good for Grand Rapids through their Local First membership. They said the QIA has helped them analyze their business more closely and understand the needs of their business.

“The Quick Impact Assessment allowed us to look at how we have grown over the last two years and gave us some ideas for what we can build on,” said Denise. “The biggest takeaway was learning about the positive impact of being involved in our community and being part of social change. The assessment also helped us reinforce the positive culture in our business and the relationship between and our community and our employees.”

One of the most valuable lessons Denise and Brian learned from taking the QIA was how to simplify their mission statement. After recently going through a rebranding process, Denise and Brian felt it was important to fine-tune their mission. The combination of the rebranding process and taking the QIA helped Mosby’s Popcorn identify what matters most in their business model.

“We have a great product and have a following, and now that we’re two years in, we’re ready to grow our business,” said Denise. “This process helped us think about the positive impact our business can have and showed us areas where we can focus our growth.”

One piece of advice Denise has for other businesses taking the QIA is to be comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” She said that the QIA is a great tool for identifying your business’ strengths and areas where you can gain more knowledge.

“Your business is only as strong as the community and customers that support you,” said Denise. “The Quick Impact Assessment is an important tool for helping you understand your business and getting to know your customers and community. Community involvement has played a huge part in our success and the Quick Impact Assessment has helped us get to know our community on a deeper level.”

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Take the Quick Impact Assessment today to learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community.

Measure What Matters: At Your Service Valet

This blog post is part of Local First’s Measure What Matters series, where we interview businesses that have taken the Quick Impact Assessment, and learn about how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

At Your Service Valet has been “driving service forward” since 2008. Founded by Chris Young and John Levandowski while attending college, At Your Service Valet is a full service parking company that offers a variety of services, including valet for private parties, black tie galas, hospital guest services, hotel and visitor parking, parking lot consulting and management, and everything in between. Outstanding service is at the heart of At Your Service Valet – they are committed to paying close attention to detail, being professional and friendly, and exceeding expectations.

At Your Service Valet employs 60 people across four locations in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Flint and Traverse City. From the time a guest pulls up to an event to the time they leave, At Your Service Valet ensures a high-quality parking experience. At Your Service Valet is dedicated to having a positive impact on the communities they serve, which is why they recently took the Quick Impact Assessment to become Good for Grand Rapids.

“As a small business, we do our best to be involved in the community and find ways to make a positive impact,” said Ariel Christy, administrative and events manager for At Your Service Valet. “It wasn’t until we took the Quick Impact Assessment when we realized how many more opportunities there were to make a positive difference in our community that we weren’t aware of. Becoming Good for Grand Rapids has helped us be more conscious as a business and tackle items like drafting a mission statement.”

The Quick Impact Assessment helped At Your Service Valet take inventory of their strengths and identify areas where they could grow. Since most of At Your Service Valet’s business model relies on technology, like smart phones and texting, they have a small carbon footprint. The Quick Impact Assessment also helped At Your Service Valet find opportunities to bring the mission of Good to Grand Rapids to other communities that they serve.

“The Quick Impact Assessment has provided a benchmark for our company,” said Christy. “It also helped us clarify our mission statement and identify ways to drive it home to our employees. We’re looking forward to using this as a tool to see what works for our business and how we can use these tools to motivate and inspire our employees.”

At Your Service Valet is a longtime Local First member and continues to give back to the community in a number of ways, including donating parking services for Local First’s Annual Meeting each year. At Your Service Valet also donates parking services to various nonprofits in the community and encourages employees to volunteer at organizations like the Humane Society.

“What’s really inspiring about Good for Grand Rapids is that we can expand these ideas to our employees and our other locations,” said Christy. “It’s important for our employees to feel good about where they work and have an opportunity to give back to their community.  We hope we can take the knowledge we’ve gained and apply it in Grand Rapids and everywhere we work and grow.”

For businesses that are considering taking the Quick Impact Assessment, Christy offers a few words of advice.

“Don’t be intimidated by the Quick Impact Assessment and answer as much as you can. This assessment is a great tool for creating benchmarks for your business and finding out where you can improve,” said Christy. “It’s really inspiring to see all the other businesses that have joined Good for Grand Rapids. This movement is a great way to promote doing good in our community.”

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Take the Quick Impact Assessment today to learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community.