Trendsetter Place a One-Stop ‘Feel Good’ Destination

Hiawatha was incorporated 68 years ago with only a few city officials, a volunteer fire department, and a couple of businesses, including a trailer business owned by Fay Clark.

Today, the city boasts more than 300 businesses that includes restaurants, insurance companies, grocery stores, gift shops, banks, coffee shops, health care facilities, and a variety of other services.

According to the Hiawatha Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO) website, “Hiawatha is home to six of the Corridor Business Journal’s-Corridor’s fastest growing companies for the past three years.”

Comments made by members of the business community indicate that one reason Hiawatha is growing so rapidly is because of Interstate 380, which runs through the center of town. With the ability to go from the south end of Cedar Rapids to Hiawatha in a matter of minutes, consumers now have a variety of shopping destinations to choose from within both communities. The ease of access from the two major exit ramps, Blairs Ferry and Boyson roads, makes it easier than ever to locate what they’re looking for.

One Hiawatha business owner, who saw the potential for a growing business years ago, is Laura Frey, owner of Trendsetter Place, 1200 N. Center Point Road.

Frey sold homes in Hiawatha and Robins, while developing land and building homes with her husband for many years before deciding to open a boutique.

“A neighborhood boutique seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “Many of my clients who built with us, coming from other cities and states, would ask about shopping, and I thought the area needed more alternatives.”

Frey said she tends to think outside the box when it comes to women’s fashions. “I often go to LA and hand-select the clothing and accessories we sell in the store,” she said. “This way, we get the latest styles months earlier than if I were to order online or over the phone. The personal connections I make in LA also allow me to purchase items that would normally sell out before offered to the masses.”

Frey’s desire to help women in the community feel good about themselves is the motivation behind her venture. She opened her first boutique, LA Trends Addict, in 2015, and since then, has added several other shops to make Trendsetter Place a one-stop destination for ‘looking and feeling good’.

Frey owns several other business in the mini-mall including Luxe Salon (4 stylists – hair, hair extensions, lash lifts, mani/pedis and makeup), D’luxe spray tan, and Center Studio – a studio for rent, used for fitness and other meetings.

Other businesses occupy space in the building, including, Lashes by Colby, Frey Homes, and Hunter Appraisers.

When Frey isn’t looking for the next new fashion, she is hosting a variety of events, including girls’ nights out and fundraisers for charities.

“We participate in the boutique bus crawl that was an idea of Heidi Cordes from Lillian’s in Marion, with another coming up April 5,” she said. “Our last girls’ night out was a launch of Dollup beauty (locally owned by Nikki Hynek) as we are now selling her products at LA Trends Addict and Luxe. It was a successful and fun night.”

Frey is planning a new venture, which will be introduced this summer and will be launched this fall, called ‘Pop up with Purpose.’

“We also have vendor fairs with other stores, with the next one coming up April 22. I enjoy collaborating with the other boutiques and locally-owned businesses to support one another.”

City Administrator, Kim Downs, said retail shops like Frey’s are starting to pop up all over the city, including along Center Point, Robins, Miller, and Boyson Roads. They are joining the growing number of small businesses that see Hiawatha’s market potential, as well as a great place to raise their families. And with the addition of Town Village Center, the growing number of retail businesses are expected to rise even more.

“Supporting local businesses not only helps small business owners thrive, but it help the community, as well.”

A list of Hiawatha businesses can be found on HEDCO’s website at http://www.hedco.org. And for more information about LA Trend Addict, visit their Facebook page or website at http://www.latrendsaddict.com.

 

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Commitment Key to Keeping Resolutions

A new year, a new opportunity to become a better version of ourselves. For those of us who see the glass half full, the new year is a chance to start again and maybe make better choices during the next 365 days.

But for some, making a New Year’s resolution is difficult. Why make a promise to do something different, if you end up breaking it two weeks later?

Some experts suggest that those making resolutions stop thinking of it in terms of a short fix. Instead of making a resolution to lose 25 pounds, learn to eat healthier and start an exercise routine.

Instead of quitting smoking cold-turkey, try going through a smoking cessation program to get the help and support needed to help you stop smoking for good.

Like anything else, if you’re not ready to change, there’s really no point in trying until you are. When it’s time to change, you’ll know. You’ll become painfully aware that your habit is disrupting your life and want to do something about it.

Besides, there is nothing written that says you have to make a resolution. Take a look at your life. If you think things are great the way they are, there’s no need to change. But if you envision your life to be better than what it is, you should at least look at what’s not working and consider the possibility of change.

Some resolutions tend to keep their popularity year after year. Below are the top New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Will they be yours in 2018?

1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating                          21.4%
2. Life / Self Improvements                                    12.3%
3. Better Financial Decisions                                   8.5%
4. Quit Smoking                                                          7.1%
5. Do more exciting things                                       6.3%
6. Spend More Time with Family/Friends            6.2%
7. Work out more often                                            5.5%
8. Learn something new on my own                     5.3%
9.  Do more good deeds for others                         5.2%
10. Find the love of my life                                      4.3%
11. Find a better job                                                  4.1%
12. Other                                                                    13.8%

*Information Courtesy of http://www.statisticbrain.com

Tanda Naturals Makes Being Healthy Affordable

Tana Studt believes being healthy shouldn’t have to be expensive. That is why she offers her health and beauty products at a price everyone can afford, while taking care of the environment, too.

Tana and her sister-in-law started Tanda Naturals in 2014. They were helping with her mother-in-law with her business, when they decided to go into business for themselves.

“We both knew a lot about natural products from helping my mother-in-law, and I thought it would be a great way to make extra money,” said Tana.

The two women started out selling their products at the Hiawatha Farmer’s Market, and branched out to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Market.

“I was hesitant to try it, because it was intimidating, with so many people, but I decided to just go ahead and do it,” she said. “We signed up that first year in April, which is considered a little late, but were lucky because a few people vendors backed out. We’ve been doing the farmers market every weekend during the summer since.”

Tana, who lives in Hiawatha with her husband, Alex, and two children, said that though Tanda Naturals offers a variety of products, two particular items seem to take turns at being the most popular.

“Our magnesium lotion and deodorant are the best-sellers,” she said. “Of course, everything we sell is 100% natural and does not contain any synthetic ingredients or fragrances.  We have a lot of other items that are popular, but those are the two biggest selling items.”

Tana started Tanda Naturals with just a few products, and now covers several shelves in her kiosk at the farmers market with her essential oils and sprays, bath bombs, natural cleaning products, magnesium lotion, all-natural lotion bars, natural eye and face creams, Ouchie Salve, Burn Out! Sunburn spray, Quit Buggin’ Me – natural bug spray and much more.

When Tana isn’t helping her customers at the farmers market, she is helping her clients at Benefits Solutions in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“I enjoy helping people,” she said. “Whether it’s at work, or helping people stay healthy, it’s what I love to do.”

Tana said the markets can be a lot of work, but said she can always count on her husband and daughter, Brooklynn, to help out.

“Alex is instrumental in helping with all of the market and vendor shows, along with making several of the products, and Brooklynn helps man the booth at every market, so I get a lot of help,” she said.

The last three Downtown Farmers Markets will be held Aug. 26, Sept 2 and 16.

For more information, call Tana at (319) 431-254 or email her at tandanaturals@gmail.com. A complete list of products can be found on Tanda Naturals’ website.

 

Little Free Pantry Helps Ease Food Insecurity

“Take a book, leave a book,” is the premise behind the Little Free Library concept.

But one little girl, who was returning a book she borrowed to a local Little Free Library, saw an even greater possibility.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there were things like this with food in them?” Annabelle, 7, told her mom.

Annabelle’s mom, Heather Spangler, got to work right away to see her daughter’s vision become a reality.

With the help of the Hiawatha Public Library, Home Depot, Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and the Northeast Cedar Rapids Mom’s Club, four Little Free Pantries recently opened, with the intent to ease food security in those communities.

But this was not the first time Annabelle had come up with an idea to help others in need.

Annabelle was only 4 when she opened her Christmas presents and observed, “Mom, we have so many toys and there are kids who don’t have enough.”

Annabelle reached out to her friends, gathered the toys they no longer played with, and then donated to kids in need.

Heather saw the joy helping others brought to her little girl, and her friends, and created Kid-Powered Kindness, a Facebook page dedicated to spreading acts of kindness. Every year since, Heather, Annabelle, and their friends have completed a new project that benefits the community in some way.

According to Heather, Kid Powered Kindness is driven by the philosophy that kids can make the world a better place.

“The kids are the ones who come up with the projects,” said Heather. “I just help them figure out how to do it.”

Projects Kid Powered Kindness has completed include collecting books to promote literacy and collecting items that help the Humane Society care for animals in need of adoption.

According to Hy-Vee’s communications director, Kristy Stake, Hy-Vee donates $5 million annual to help those with food insecurity, and plans on continuing to help stock the pantries at their locations.

Hiawatha’s mayor, Bill Bennett, who was also on hand to help dedicate the Little Free Pantry, said he was amazed that a little girl can make such a difference in her community.

“She saw a need in the community and did something about it,” he said. “We could all learn something from her. “Every step we take is a step closer to making things better, for everyone.”

Donations for the Little Free Pantry are always welcome and appreciated.

Hiawatha Offering Free Fitness Classes

Fitness enthusiasts take advantage of the free Zumba class March 9 at the Hiawatha Community Center. Photo by Cynthia Petersen

Time is running out to try Zumba for free at the Hiawatha Community Center.

April 13 is the last time Zumba, an aerobic fitness program inspired by various styles of Latin American dance, will be offered at the center, 101 Emmons Street in Hiawatha. The last Zumba class will be held Thursday, April 13 at 5:30 pm.

According to several Zumba enthusiasts, the great thing about Zumba is that you don’t have to know how to dance to join in. “The important thing is to keep moving and have fun.”

Hiawatha Parks and Recreation director, Kelly Willadsen, said the city has been offering a variety of fitness activities to the community the past year, including yoga and Zumba, which the community can try for free.

“Not many people know what Zumba is so we thought why not give people the opportunity to see what it is about free of charge and maybe they will continue after our classes here,” said Willadsen. “Brooke Lentz does a great job and we have been impressed by the numbers we have seen over the last two months. We definitely hope to have her back next year.”

Brooke Lentz, Public Relations and Event Coordinator for Pat McGrath, is a certified Zumba instructor and leads the 30-minute class at the center. She became certified during a 1-day training session in Indianola last year, she said, simply because she loves to dance.

“I was in dance classes and show choir in middle school and high school. I was on the dance team my freshman year in college and the cheerleading squad my junior year at Wartburg College, as well. During the training we learned basic steps for four different rhythms: merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggaeton. My favorite is the reggae! The music is unbeatable. Zumba creates a community and make fitness exciting.”

Lentz said she was approached by Willadsen to lead a Zumba class once a month for the first four months of the year.

“I could not turn the opportunity down because city officials wanted to provide free fitness to the community. Amazing!”

Lentz also leads a weekly class for employees at the McGrath Fitness Center.

For more information, visit the city’s website at Hiawatha-iowa.com or the Hiawatha Parks & Recreation Facebook page.

Retired Linn-Mar Teacher Explores New Venture

 

You’re never too old to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Suanne Huffman of Marion is proof of that. At 74 years young, Suanne, a retired English teacher from Linn-Mar High School, has decided to begin a  new venture; making, printing, and distributing greeting cards nationwide.

“I just love making things, and people seem to like the things I create,” she said. “I don’t like to sit around much. Working on my projects keeps me active.”

Suanne uses clothing and other items to make upcycled art, altered books, and greeting cards. She also paints and restores shabby chic furniture, repurposes children and adults’ clothing, makes purses, pillows, jewelry, vintage linens, and “unique crafty projects of all kinds.”

“I love making the cards,” said Suanne. “I use fun little objects to decorate the outside. I add a quote, and leave the inside blank for a handwritten note. I think it’s really important to write what you feel inside to make it more personal.”

cards
Suanne hopes to market her greeting cards nationwide.

Suanne grew up in Marion and graduated from Marion High School. She attended Iowa State Teachers College, which is now UNI.  She went on to earn her BA from Upper Iowa University in English Education, and her M.A. in English Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA.

“I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t sure what kind,” she said. “I thought I might like to be a German teacher, but they didn’t offer it Upper Iowa. And then English teacher popped into my head. That’s when I realized it’s what I really wanted to do all along. It just made perfect sense. I don’t know why it took me so long to see that.”

She and her husband, Max, lived in California for seven years.  Suanne’s first teaching job was at Edgewood High School, a Los Angeles suburb.   The couple moved back to Marion, where she taught English at Linn-Mar, retiring 15 years ago.

“Both of my kids (Julie and Mace) were in my English class, and they both did fine. They didn’t get any special treatment, of course, even though my son joked about it sometimes,” she said with a chuckle.

After teaching for 30 years, Suanne decided it was time to retire. “I was getting a little burned out, I think, and I loved doing crafts, so I started making things for my friends and family.”

One day she was working on a project for her friend, Mary Campbell, when Mary suggested they open a store together.

Suanne creates art out of books; altered books
Suanne creates art out of books; altered books

The two ladies rented several rooms on the 2nd floor of The Perfect Blend in Mt. Vernon. But three years later, Suanne decided the hours were too much for her and opted to stay home and work on her projects.

She started a half-time position at The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art as a Museum Educator, which involved training docents (tour guides), developing programs and tours for schools.

Since then, Suanne has taken part in the McGowan House Artisans, Serendipity, Next Page Bookstore, the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, as well as Iowa Artisans Gallery.  Suanne also attends artisan shows in the area, including at Prairiewoods events, as well as out-of-state.

Crafting isn’t Suanne’s only interest; she is also very active in the community. She has served on several boards, including the Marion Arts Festival. She also works periodically supervising events at Lowe Park, and she and Max are both members of the Friends of the Marion Parks. 

The next few months, however, will be spent producing, marketing, and distributing the greeting cards.

“I am already talking to a printer to try to get prints of the cards sold nationally. We have also stopped at several little shops during our travels to see our daughter in California. I give them a few cards to try out and my contact information. I keep hearing, ‘I’ll let you know after the holidays,’ so I guess we’ll just wait and see.”

Suanne said she wants to keep the cards affordable, so she has decided to reprint them, rather than producing each handmade card individually. “It takes a long time to make just one card, so I would have to charge more.”

Suanne came up with the name of her business ‘Goody Two Shoes,’ in honor of a fable that explained where the term came from.

“As a variation of the Cinderella story, the fable tells of a poor orphan girl who goes through childhood with only one shoe. When she is given a complete pair by a rich gentleman, she is so happy that she tells everyone she now has two shoes … she tries to greet all she meets with a joyful heart.”

“While it might be difficult today for us to follow such a path, it emphasizes that each of us can make a contribution. In an effort to promote the true spirit of caring for others, a portion of the profits from Goody Two Shoes products are given to charity.”

The complete story can be found on Goody Two Shoe’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pg/whimsicalwares, as well as on the back of each card.

Though Suanne enjoys traveling, displaying her artwork at bazaars, and getting out in the community, she said her crafting tends to take over, and uses much of her downstairs to store all of her creations.

“I have always had a passion for crafts and to create things,” she said. “This is just something I want to do. And despite what some people think, you’re never too old to start something new.”

Suanne’s greeting cards can be found at Next Page books, The Cedar Rapids Museum Gift Store, The Perfect Blend, and Iowa Artisans Gallery.

For more information, contact Suanne at suannehuffman@gmail.com.