Three Midcity companies will split $20,000 from Capital One Bank as part of a program to help local small businesses in that part of the city.
DNA Workshop, the architecture and design firm started by Dyke Nelson 18 months ago, won first place and $10,000. Nelson said DNA will put the funds toward a precision router that will allow it to cut wood and other materials with a high degree of detail.
DNA was joined by Time Warp boutique, which placed second, and Carco Awards, which placed third, in the Grow Mid City contest.
The contest, done in conjunction with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, had applicants submit an overview of their businesses and a vision for how the funds could grow their operations and midcity.
DNA Workshop, which moved into the former Christian Street Furniture warehouse on South 14th Street just off of Government Street about five weeks ago, was conceived to be more than just an architecture firm.
DNA, for example, built the bistro tables and did the wooden wave-pattern ceiling installation at Rock-n-Sake in the Perkins Road overpass area.
Nelson said the presence of the word “workshop” in the name is no accident: DNA plans to do an increasing amount of the production for its interior design work in-house as a way to control quality and cost.
Nelson said a CNC Machine, a precision cutting tool that uses dimensions input into a computer for precise detail work, will help make DNA the place to go for quality creative work.
“Whatever we can think of, we can produce,” he said, noting the router will allow highly complex designs to be replicated perfectly.
“The goal is to export goods and import cash into the neighborhood,” he said.
Capital One hailed DNA’s emphasis on reuse and recyling, which Nelson said stems from the firm’s plan to use salvaged and recycled materials.
Nelson, who used to work at Chenevert Architects, played a key role in that firm’s decision to renovate its Third Street office while meeting the high environmental standards known as LEED certification.
“It’s important to have a sustainable portion to everything we do,” Nelson said of DNA.
Josh Holder, owner of Time Warp on Government Street, said about 20 percent of the $7,000 he’s getting will go toward a new storefront sign and 80 percent will go toward creating a better website focused on online shopping.
Holder said one-third of the vintage clothing store’s business comes from tourists who hit up local boutiques in the cities they visit.
The problem, he said, is “there’s no way that I can gain them as customers again.”
Holder realized that a stronger e-commerce component to his business would allow those customers to continue shopping at Time Warp even after they leave Baton Rouge.
“They can then buy from me online and that money filters back into midcity and I can grow my business nationally, instead of just locally,” he said.
Holder said his store and others like it along Government — Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop, Honeymoon Bungalow and Caffery Gallery — help feed each other because they increasingly promote themselves as part of the larger whole of midcity.
Holder said Time Warp’s longer-term plan is to open a second location in New Orleans, possibly on Magazine Street or in the French Quarter, though he noted neighborhoods like the Marigney and along Freret Street are burgeoning as well.
“I’d love to be the same kind of anchor for another small part of the city that is in the process of revitalizing,” he said.
Carco, which has been designing, assembling and engraving trophies and awards for corporations and academic institutions for 25 years, also will use its $3,000 award for its website.
Fran Carville, co-owner of Carco, said upgrades to the company’s website will help broaden its reach and help it better serve its local customer base.
“Our roots are here and we want to continue to grow in midcity,” she said. “There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.”
Capital One spokesman Steven Thorpe said the bank has gotten positive feedback on the contest and plans to hold it again next spring.
Copyright © 2015, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved