Blog

River District Spotlight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The River District Association is so excited to share our new monthly series, River District Spotlight, produced by Lucia Video.  This series is a chance for us to celebrate new businesses, anchor businesses, and upcoming events.  You can watch it the first of each month on River City TV, or the RDA YouTube Channel.  

Tell us what you think! 

 

 

Dream Launch Awards - Bubble Aquatics and Exotics

The River District Association is excited to celebrate the 2022 Dream Launch Pitch Grant Awardees!  These businesses participated in a 6 week Dream Launch Bootcamp that covered topics from financial planning, business planning, access to capital, marketing and more.  Those that attended all 6 classes were able to pitch for funding if they chose to.  

Bubble Aquatics and Exotics, owned by Ashlyn Tickle, was awarded a $25,000 Dream Launch Grant. 

Bubble Aquatics and Exotics owner Ashlyn tickle was born and raised in Danville.  She has always been fascinated by reptiles and all kinds of animals.  When she was little she used to help her dad in the garden, and would befriend the resident garter snakes.  

Ashlyn moved to Florida in 2018 for college and fell in love with a store there that specializes in reptiles.  That is when she got her first pet Axolotl.  She loved her Axolotl but had to give her to a friend when she moved back to Virginia during Covid, because at the time Axolotls were not legal in Virginia.  As of last August (2021) they are now legal and they have been reunited. 

Since moving back to Danville, she has noticed there are very few resources in the region for people who love reptiles. She began to speak to other reptile owners who were having to travel long distances to get food and supplies for their pets.  Through these conversations, she realized there was a market and a need for reliable reptile supplies.  Thus, Bubble Aquatics and Exotics was born!

Bubble Aquatics and Exotics will provide the region with a reliable source of products for all manner of reptiles, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, bunnies and rabbits as well as traditional pets.  The store will also be a source of a wider variety of animal products such as pond stock (fish for stocking ponds), and live coral for saltwater fish tanks.  Bubble Aquatics and Exotics will also sell hunting and fishing licenses, and is working with the Department of Agriculture to be able to sell poultry and waterfowl in the spring and summer. These birds would come from a specialized breeder for healthier birds and hatching eggs. With the Department of Agriculture's permission (once obtained) Bubble Aquatics and Exotics  will also sell quail.  For those who like to knit, she also plans to stock ethically raised Angora rabbit fur, either already spun for knitting, or in its raw form for those who knit. 

Ashlyn has already been selling Axolotls that she breeds and is looking forward to having a store in the River District.  She is motivated by providing reptile (and all animal) lovers, the products they need to keep their animals healthy and happy.

What made you decide to take part in the Dream Launch Bootcamp/Pitch?

“When I began looking for buildings, I learned about the Dream Launch Bootcamp opportunity from a City employee”

How would you describe your experience in the Dream Launch Bootcamp?

“It was very informative and fun.  We learned all about the steps required to start and run a business.  I would recommend it to others to help build confidence.”

How will the Dream Launch Grant funds help your business? 

“With the grant I will be able to purchase inventory and make renovations to the building, as well as buy equipment, display case, furniture, and expand my marketing.”

Words of wisdom for new entrepreneurs?

"Do things one step at a time.  Have a mentor.  Participate in the Dream Launch classes, they allow you to network, find products, and meet people in the industry."

Dream Launch Awards - The Cosmetic Art Store

The River District Association is excited to celebrate the 2022 Dream Launch Pitch Grant Awardees!  These businesses participated in a 6 week Dream Launch Bootcamp that covered topics from financial planning, business planning, access to capital, marketing and more.  Those that attended all 6 classes were able to pitch for funding if they chose to.  

The Cosmetic Arts Store, owned by Sebastian Steele, was awarded $25,000 to help establish the business in a brick and mortar location in the River District. 

The Cosmetic Art Store is a business to business distributor to salons in the region.  The business opened in June of 2020 and sells all the products and supplies necessary to run a hair or nail salon.  The Cosmetic Art Store only carries brands that are family owned, and are only available in salons.  


Sebastian started the business as a way to support the industry that he loves and that gave him a successful career.  When he was 15 he became homeless, but was able to open his first salon when he was 16.  That step in his life was an amazing opportunity that led him to live and work all over the United States from Washington, DC, to L.A..  Eventually his journey brought him to Chapel Hill, NC to run the Aveda Institute there.  During this time he heard about Danville and all the growth and revitalization happening in the community.  He visited and fell in love, eventually moving here to work in real estate, and open the Cosmetic Art Store.  The salon industry gave him an opportunity to turn his life around, and he wants to be a part of doing the same by supporting the next generation of beauty entrepreneurs and salon owners.  


What made you decide to take part in the Dream Launch Bootcamp and Pitch Competition? 

“I wanted the Cosmetic Art Store to be in the River District.  I actually did the Dream Launch Bootcamp in 2019, but was only able to attend half the classes, and have wanted to finish the experience ever since.  I was able to participate this year, and am excited to be in the River District, renovating a building that needs work, and being a part of revitalizing the River District.”


How would you describe your experience in the Dream Launch Bootcamp?

“It was well run, very clear, and I got more out of it than I expected.  I have experience running large businesses so some of that material was a review, but some was also new and specific to the area.  Also, participating made me redo my business plan, and I realized I was in a better place than I expected.”


Any words of wisdom for new entrepreneurs?

“Make connections, participate actively in your network, seek out resources.  Through relationships made at Dream Launch I have met new accounts and found reliable contractors. I am excited to see what RDA continues to do!”

Dream Launch Awards - The Brick Running and Tri Store

The River District Association is excited to celebrate the 2022 Dream Launch Pitch Grant Awardees!  These businesses participated in a 6 week Dream Launch Bootcamp that covered topics from financial planning, business planning, access to capital, marketing and more.  Those that attended all 6 classes were able to pitch for funding if they chose to.  

The Brick Running and Tri Store, owned by Adam Jones,  was awarded a $25,000 grant to expand the business located at 410 Main Street.  

Owner Adam Jones was born and raised in Danville, VA. He remembers over ten years ago when the idea for The Brick started with a brainstorm on the back of a napkin while sitting in Red Lobster. And on April 14th, ten years ago, The Brick opened on Main Street in Danville, to be a business specializing in shoes, apparel, equipment and nutrition for walkers, runners and triathletes. Adam attributes the store’s success to his motto “people over profit” and focuses on how the store can provide great service. 

The awarded funds will be used to expand The Brick’s service and product offerings, related to bike sales and gear, as well as bike repair.  The funds will also allow the store to expand into the building’s upstairs space, providing more retail space and a common space for group gatherings that will allow the store to be even more of a community hub where relationships and friendships are forged through the love of physical activity.  

What made you decide to take part in the Dream Launch Bootcamp and Pitch Competition?

“I heard about it years ago when it first started, and didn’t think it pertained to my business.  But then I realized businesses wishing to expand could also participate.  I wanted to expand my businesses bike offerings, as well as the retail square footage, so I decided to participate this year.  I also knew that no matter what, the experience of networking with like minded individuals, and receiving professional feedback would be valuable.”

How would you describe your experience in the Dream Launch Bootcamp?

“Dream Launch was a great experience.  It was informative and inspirational.  Getting to meet new businesses, and learning from established business owners and getting to consult with SBDC was very valuable.”

Words of Wisdom for new Entrepreneurs?

“What’s easy to do, is easy not to do.  Pay attention to details like saying thank you to those who support you and providing amazing customer service.  Start small, have a big vision, and have tenacity. Stay out of unnecessary debt.”

For more information and to get connected, visit The Brick’s website and Facebook page. Happy running, walking, swimming, and biking!