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RINO’S DENVER PICNIC CO. MAKES EVERY DAY A PICNIC

All through the summer months, you cannot take a stroll through any Denver park without seeing a crowd of picnickers happily basking in the Colorado sun. Picnic season is a staple here in Colorado, yet there are two big problems with our favorite time of year.

For one, it is a daunting task to carry your picnic gear in and out of the park. From tables to chairs to games, it takes a team to put together even the most simple of picnics. Two, the short Colorado season — colder months and windy nights bringing our favorite season to a close. Thankfully, Denver Picnic Co. — The local favorite picnic event company and newest pop-up store – works to make every day a celebration. 

Kassi and Sofia Beer made the jump from sisters-in-law to business partners in May of 2020, but the idea for Denver Picnic Co. came long before that. Avid Jazz in the Park goers, they would haul their picnic set up in and out of City Park.

“We realized it was so annoying to have to lug stuff in and out. We kept saying ‘I would pay someone to do this,’ Kassi said.

It wasn’t long before they realized they could be the ones to do it. Inspired by the popularity of decorative picnic businesses in beach towns such as San Diego, the Beers realized they had found an untapped market in Denver.

While this business plan remained as merely a dream for many months, job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic finally pushed the duo to take the leap. They officially launched Denver Picnic Co. that May, and it was a hit from the very start. 


“It was crazy. We were driving around with balloons in our face, just driving park to park to park… We would get up together, roll our silverware and get it all together, pile it all into our cars and be out of the house from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m,” Kassi explained.

And for good reason. Their picnics are far from your average basket and blanket set up. Offering beautifully curated table settings, color schemes and charcuterie boards from Fig and Honey, Denver Picnic Co. takes the hassle out of picnicking by doing all the work for you. After booking with them, all your party is responsible for is arriving at the picturesque picnic set up completely personalized to you. 

“It’s just really cute and fun. Picnics are about connection at the heart of it, sitting on the floor and getting together,” Sofia said.

Hosting everything from large parties to one-on-one dates — chivalry isn’t dead everyone — Denver Picnic Company has become a favorite for Denverites looking for a unique way to spice up their park days. The past two summers have been a massive success, hosting an endless number of private parties and even a summer rooftop series throughout the warmer months.

While the outdoor picnics go as long as the seasons allow, Kassi and Sofia were faced with a new challenge: maintaining their business throughout the colder Colorado months. While last year they focused their efforts on building Good Neighbor boxes — curated gift boxes featuring a number of local products — this year they have decided to move the picnic party indoors to a brand new pop-up space in Rino. 

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A HOTEL MADE OUT OF SHIPPING CONTAINERS HAS OPENED IN COLORADO AHEAD OF SKIING SEASON – AND BEDS START AT $50 A NIGHT

Over the last year, the mass shipping container shortage has brought these modest metal boxes into the limelight. Many consumers may recognize the shipping container shortage as the reason why they can’t get ahold of affordable everyday goods …

But there’s a quieter, more fun side to the container industry and its uses besides its currently long list of problems. Shipping containers sometimes find second lives as the base for tiny homes, food trucks, swimming pools, and more.

And over the past few years, interest in these shipping container-based units has skyrocketed, Loni Greff, a managing partner at Tangle Pools, told Insider’s Hannah Towey.

Amid this container demand (for use as both freight transport and alternative architecture), a hotel and hostel made out of upcycled shipping containers has quietly opened its doors in Silverthorne, Colorado this weekend.

Internet, meet the Pad, Colorado’s newest shipping container hotel.

The Pad says it’s “one of the first lodging properties to be constructed using upcycled shipping containers,” although there are already several shipping container-based hotels open around the world.

But the mountain-lined property — located just a stone’s throw away from skiing hotspots like Copper Mountain and Breckenridge — isn’t the typical break-the-bank Vail, Colorado ski resort.

Instead, the Pad says it’s targeting “travelers with champagne tastes on a beer budget” with beds starting at $50 a night.

Along with lodging, the property also has communal spaces, like lounges, a rooftop bar that doubles as a rentable event space, a lobby bar, and a hot tub.

If you’re interested in experiencing the shipping container architecture trend firsthand, the Pad is now open and available to book ahead of the winter skiing season.

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BRONCOS LAUNCH SECOND ANNUAL BRONCOS BUSINESS BOOST PROGRAM TO SUPPORT LOCAL COLORADO BUSINESSES

DENVER — The Denver Broncos announced on Tuesday the launch of the ‘Broncos Business Boost’ program, which encourages fans and the Colorado community to support local businesses.

‘Broncos Business Boost’ is committed to helping Colorado businesses rebound and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 through multiple avenues. The program, which is proudly supported by U.S. Bank, Verizon, United Airlines, FedEx, Xcel Energy and Marketing 360, will run until Dec. 31, 2020.

Broncos fans can nominate deserving local businesses for a chance to win various prizes including $1,000 U.S. Bank gift cards, United Airlines flight vouchers, an Xcel Energy Statement Credit and a Marketing 360 all-inclusive marketing campaign. Additionally, prizes include a “Broncos Business Boost Combination,” consisting of digital advertising on DenverBroncos.com, social support from Broncos Promos social media accounts, inclusion in a BroncosTV campaign courtesy of Verizon, and tickets and game-day signage recognition (2021 season).

Colorado businesses can be nominated by visiting www.BroncosBusinessBoost.com. In addition, fans can win Broncos-themed prizes such as player autographed items, United Airlines vouchers and a $500 gift card to a local business of their choice by supporting and shopping at local businesses.

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CPNRS.TV – MONTANA RAE

CPNRS.TV – AMY PARSONS

PEOPLE TO WATCH – THE BRADSHAW COLLECTION

Katie Bradshaw is one of Colorado’s most popular boudoir photographers. With a luxury experience in her stylish studio, Katie makes women feel empowered and sexy with professional makeup artists, champagne and a day of fun. In 2021, she launched The Bradshaw Collection to provide unique hand-made lingerie for all women.

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Take a trained patternmaker/designer and combine her with a professional boudoir photographer and you get the dynamic duo behind The Bradshaw Collection. Add to that the DNA bond of a mother and daughter and you have a truly unique collaboration of mind, body and spirit.

The Bradshaw Collection is a lingerie boutique. Meaning we are a smaller shop, offering a limited quantity of each style. We source high quality fabrics, utilize “made in the USA” grade craftsmanship, and develop each design to be truly distinctive.

ABOUT THE BRADSHAW COLLECTION

It all began with an idea that we could create lingerie that appeals to a wider range of women. Body types that aren’t usually featured in lingerie ads, but who are truly as sexy, strong and beautiful as the images we’ve been bombarded with over the years. We believe there is a way to design intimates that flatter, and enhance the female body so you love the way you look.

* * Images from https://instagram.com/thebradshawcollection

Our goal is to have you feel great in your own skin, because when that happens so does an awakening. The inner beauty begins to radiate, the YOU beneath the exterior becomes grander, more confident and you come to embrace who you truly are. A fierce, courageous, luminous one-of-a-kind woman.

* * Images from https://www.thebradshawcollection.com/

Website – https://www.thebradshawcollection.com/

Website – https://www.instagram.com/thebradshawcollection/

PLASTIC HIPPOS ARE OUT – COLORADO PLAYGROUNDS ARE GETTING A MORE NATURAL MAKEOVER

Parks departments along the Front Range are working with the land to create spaces that the next generation will actually use.

Before 2016, Grant Frontier Park was touted as a place where prospectors first discovered gold in the South Platte River near Denver. No one seemed to care. 

“I never saw anyone in the park,” Gordon Robertson, director of planning design and construction at Denver Parks and Recreation Department, said of the three-block long park that straddles the river at the edge of the Overland neighborhood

Denver set out to change that a decade before, partnering with the Greenway Foundation to create more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails and more than 20 parks, all of them linked by a restored South Platte River. 

The river has become an example of how cities can use existing landscapes to create natural areas, parks and places for kids to explore. Replacing the plastic slides, turtles and jungle gyms with tree stumps and boulders still feels like a movement, and Colorado, full of adults who use its natural areas to play on the weekends, remains one of its leaders. Now visitors can find those parks near Denver’s poorest neighborhoods as well as its wealthiest, and all along the Front Range, including Fort Collins, Boulder and, more recently, Greeley, which just built a massive natural park in the eastern part of the city. 

But before Denver decided to rehabilitate the South Platte and use its natural wonder to create places for kids to play, it was used mostly as a way to move water from one point to another. Residents of the neighborhood near where the park was built didn’t even know there was a river there, Robertson said.

Bienenstock, the founder and CEO of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds in Canada, these days specializes in presentations, advocacy and training. The business also designs, manufactures and installs natural playgrounds. 

His company might install tree trunks for kids to climb on or hop on from one to the next. Not only are these natural, but the experience changes every time a child plays on them, Bienenstock said. 

“We didn’t build them a plastic hippo,” he said. “That plastic hippo will always be a hippo. But a few logs can be a hippo or a car or a parkour experience.”

It made sense, even perhaps back in the 1980s, to build playgrounds with plastic hippos because children then had more opportunity to connect with nature, play in streams and catch turtles in the woods. 

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DENVER’S MICRO BUSINESSES HOPE YOU’LL COME PAY THEM A VISIT

In the past year, Colorado has attracted many big-name tech expansions and stamped a new class of unicorns as the ecosystem smashes A new campaign aims to drum up foot traffic and buck the COVID online-buying trend.

Even in the earliest days of this pandemic, Erika Righter worried that her reliable customer base might fundamentally change its shopping habits. In April of 2020, she organized a crowdfunding campaign to pay artists to decorate the boarded-up windows around her South Broadway gift shop, Hope Tank, with messages that might remind Denverites that the businesses were still there and would need their help.

“The goal was really to make it so people don’t forget us,” Righter said when she spoke to us last year, adding that she wanted “to make it something beautiful and put some cash in people’s pockets.”

She’s still working to make sure the city’s smallest enterprises don’t get washed away by COVID-19’s waves of change.

In recent weeks, Righter has used grant money from Denver Human Services to pay more artists to boost local business owners again. This time, she’s commissioned colorful nylon signs that read “GO BIG FOR SMALL BIZ,” and she’s expanded her focus beyond Broadway. The project is a collaboration with Access Gallery, which helps people with disabilities access opportunities in the arts.

Righter has expanded her advocacy beyond Broadway. She’s hoping the campaign might be embraced by people all over the metro, if not farther away.

“The origin story is my personal frustration with feeling unheard in the recovery process for brick and mortar,” she told us. “It was really about: I went to some smaller towns in Colorado that really showed up for small businesses.”

She’s concerned recovery efforts in the city have unequally focused on dining and that there hasn’t been an adequate push to support retail shops like hers. The new banner campaign is an answer to that anxiety, which is fueled by her sense that customer habits fundamentally changed during lockdowns.

“I think that people got very comfortable working from home and ordering everything online,” she said. “I think people’s habits in their neighborhoods have changed.”

While she’s seen a rise in tourist foot traffic in recent months, in-person transactions are still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels. She worries local shoppers, who used to stop by as they wandered her neighborhood, may never come back like they used to.

The reality may not be so dramatic, but it’s hard to tell.

Mark Matthews is a vice president with the National Retail Federation who focuses of industry analysis. Before COVID, he said, online ordering accounted for about 12 percent of retail sales across the country. That number shot up to 19 percent last year.

“There’s been a pretty steady drop-off since then,” he told us over the phone. “Foot traffic is not back to where it was, but we’ve seen a steady rebound.”

Online-only transactions have fallen back somewhere close to 14 percent, though the trends have become increasingly difficult to track. One reason is that it’s hard to classify new forms of exchange, like when people order online and then pick up products at curbsides. This kind of thing is called an “omni channel” transaction, and while it’s become a growing part of business it also doesn’t fit nicely into the old ways of reporting sales.

While broad-picture data suggests things are getting back to normal in the retail world, Matthews said people like Righter will have had a harder time keeping up because “for small businesses, it is a little more difficult to engage online than some of the bigger stores.”

Debra Johnson, co-owner of MATTER book and print shop near Coors Field, said numbers of walk-in customers were still dragging until the last week or so. She said global supply-chain issues made people worry that holiday gifts might be hard to come by, so they’re showing up earlier than usual this year. While the recent rush has been nice, she’s otherwise thinking about  competition with online giants. She said she welcomed a banner from Righter, because it helps remind people that her business can’t exist without intentional patronage.

“Jeff Bezos has all the toys and all the discounts and all the free shipping that aren’t free,” she said. “The idea that you could go on Amazon and buy a book for less than we pay wholesale, that’s a fact. So it has to be on purpose that you want to support your local independent book store.”

Another challenge Matthews sees for urban businesses is the continued absence of customers who live outside of their neighborhoods. Pre-pandemic, there was a large push to cater products for people who commuted into cities for work. That’s reversed, he told us, as white-collar workers have stayed home. It’s been good news for suburban retailers, but not so much for people in Righter’s shoes.

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INNO UNDER 25: THE YOUNG COLORADO TECH LEADERS YOU SHOULD KNOW

In the past year, Colorado has attracted many big-name tech expansions and stamped a new class of unicorns as the ecosystem smashes venture funding records.

But it’s not just the established players that have been making waves.

The next generation of startup and technology leaders have been quietly building their companies at local college campuses, raising capital from investors and getting a foothold in the fast-paced Colorado innovation ecosystem.

If you’re trying to forecast what the future holds for Colorado’s startup scene, look no further than these young entrepreneurs who are currently making an impact.

With a decorated accelerator and incubator system, strong innovation programs at the state’s higher education institutions and a plethora of boot camp options, Colorado is ripe with startup resources and the next generation of innovators are taking advantage.

To highlight a handful of Colorado’s most accomplished young entrepreneurs, we reached out through our newsletter, social media, community leaders, accelerators and schools for nominations. We’ve trimmed that to a list of 12 local innovators who are 25 years old or younger.

Here are Colorado’s 2021 Inno Under 25:

Trina Jefferson, 23

Scott Romano, 23

Jefferson has quickly risen through the ranks at Colorado’s Ball Aerospace, making noise as a mechanical engineer at the company. While she thought in college that she’d end up in entertainment or journalism, Jefferson has excelled in her engineering role and is also pursuing an online degree in Space Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to her day-to-day activities, Jefferson has become a leader in Ball’s diversity and inclusion efforts, sitting as a Divisional Lead for the company’s African American Ball Resource Group. While she admits that she has faced challenges in her engineering career as a young, Black woman, Jefferson is taking the crucial steps to tackle these problems at Ball.

Scott Romano, 23

Romano has been busy since graduating from the University of Denver in 2020, serving as the chief of staff and director of operations at the small business nonprofit Energize Colorado. After launching in response to the pandemic, Energize has provided a variety of resources to support Colorado’s vibrant small business ecosystem. In his role, Romano’s primary tasks include project management, process implementation and team oversight. Prior to Energize, Romano built and sold social media company Cultivo Media, and worked with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Boston Consulting Group and the Colorado Media Project.

Veda Gerasimek, 22

On Colorado’s Western Slope, Gerasimek is bucking the stigma associated with young innovators. The Colorado Mesa University student aims to prove that age isn’t the only factor in entrepreneurial spirit, as she holds marketing-focused roles at Maverick Innovation Center, Founder Institute, among others. Gerasimek, who jokes about her alter-ego “Inno-Veda,” also spoke at West Slope Startup Week this year, sharing her story of how an autoimmune disease derailed her Olympic mountain bike dreams and drove her to entrepreneurship. And, as she starts her final year of college, Gerasimek is dedicating her time to building a network of innovation centers to support budding entrepreneurs.

Marlo Vernon, 24

Like many entrepreneurs, Vernon’s first startup was influenced greatly by a personal pain point. When Vernon’s family became worried about her grandmother’s status living alone, the former CU Boulder graduate got to work. She began developing a nonintrusive way to monitor her grandmother’s movement, launching water tracking startup CarePenguin in 2020. With the startup’s combination of sensor hardware and partner application, users can monitor human behavior by tracking water usage. Once the temperature sensor is placed on the hot water pipe, it monitors each time the temperature spikes and sends an update to the application. Earlier this year, the company wrapped up beta testing of the product and launched in the app store.

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DENVER STARTUP WEDFULY TO APPEAR ON ABC’S SHARK TANK ON FRIDAY

The pandemic served as a crucial inflection point for virtual wedding startup Wedfuly.

As the money from its wedding planning services dried-up during the early days of Covid-19, founder and CEO Caroline Creidenberg said the outlook was grim for the Denver-based startup.

From there, Wedfuly built out its software platform and found a swell of interest from couples. To date, the company has worked with nearly 1,000 couples to share weddings with 200,000 guests from around the world.

The company offers comprehensive virtual wedding services, from emceeing the event to handling multimedia elements and guest management. Wedfuly has also started offering livestream options at in-person weddings to allow guests to attend the wedding even if they aren’t physically there.

The key for her team will be continuing to provide an alternative option to traditional, often expensive weddings.

“We’re excited to continue working with our hub clients, couples that feel like the wedding industry doesn’t fit their needs, and slowly chip away at this monster of an industry,” she said.

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