We talk to the founders of an economic development platform that aims to help local creative entrepreneurs build viable businesses from their craft.
On our recent trip to Denver, we met Brian Corrigan and Samuel Schimek, co-founders of Yes Please More, an economic development platform that aims to help local artists, designers, and other creative entrepreneurs showcase, fund, and build viable businesses from their craft. Yes Please More’s most recent project – a unique pop-up ‘souvenir shop’ housed in one of the growing number of vacant retail spaces in Denver Pavilions – features 100% Colorado designed goods, like handcrafted furniture, jewelry (including rings made from real hose clamps – a lovely invention of a local Denver jeweler), evocative portraits of the Coloradoan skyline, and other generally affordable goods with a regional bent.
Sam and Brian worked with the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs and Create Denver to approach property owners (including those at Denver Pavilions, the largest shopping and entertainment center in the city, who were surprisingly amenable to the concept), illustrating to them the value of enlivening their dead spaces and the unique marketing opportunity that exists in supporting the creative community in this new way. Sam explained that government support of the arts has played a crucial role in nurturing the growth of local creative culture:
“The city and state are trying really hard to motivate the creative economy and help make it a part of our culture. It was just released in the last year that the creative industry in Colorado is in the top five for economic producers for the state. So to fortify that, the Governor just signed into law three bills that help improve and grow the creative economy here. With that kind of energy behind it, along with the community – there’s just a lot of opportunity here to grow.”
Yes Please More’s latest pop up store is located on the second level of Denver Pavilions, right behind Niketown, in a space once occupied by a bridal boutique. 70% of the sales made at the store will directly benefit local creatives while the other 30% will be used to support additional programming. In selling quirky, locally-focused pieces, Brian explained, “We kinda feel like we’re exporting a bit of Colorado culture – and it’s a great alternative to the Made in China shot glasses that you can get at the other souvenir shops in town.” An entire class of interior design students from the Art Institute of Colorado created fixtures for the store and will continue working with Sam and Brian throughout the lifespan of the installation, which will close later this winter.
After that, Yes Please More plans to continue working with local organizations and artists to help their city continue shaping its distinctive identity in the global arts & design community. Brian, a transplant from Washington DC, is optimistic about the opportunities a place like Denver offers for creators like himself:
“[This city] is fresh and it’s young – and there’s a lot of energy. People are willing to experiment here – and to go ahead and fail, and to learn from their failure and move on. And I think that’s an exciting thing. Because of the conditions that exist here in Denver, you can go ahead and try these crazy things because it’s not as expensive as NY, SF, or LA so you can put yourself out there and you don’t have to worry as much about stuff like if you can pay your rent… You can go ahead and try out these ventures that you’ve dreamt about.”