Occupation: Director of Membership Development, Downtown Phoenix, Inc.
What’s your favorite thing about Downtown Phoenix? I love the culture and diversity between the arts and the professional aspect. The juxtaposition of the sports venues, business towers, open spaces and public art.
What are your favorite places downtown? They’re based on neighborhoods. I love Roosevelt Row, all the way from Pita Jungle to Welcome Diner and everything along the way. Hance Park and What Should Go Here Pop-up Park. The restaurants on 1st and 2nd Streets like FilmBar and Angels Trumpet.
What’s would you consider your style? It’s a hybrid between professional and trendy and sometimes chic. My best friend is a fashionista so whatever she tells me. More specifically, it’s blazers mixed with skinny jeans, stilettos and a statement necklace. It has to work to go to board meetings with lawyers and finance people, while also hanging out with arts people and able to wear to evening events.
Biking fashion tips? I like to mix it up and sometimes wear skirts or dresses and bike in heels, but I always have backup flats or flip flops with me. It’s all about the step through bike.
Biking Essentials: A basket, bell, lights, my briefcase is always with me with a backup mini purse that can hang from my wrist, and sunglasses!
What she’s wearing: Black patent flats, black skinny jeans, a blouse from Target, and a vintage houndstooth-print jacket purchased in Los Angeles.
How do you think Grid Bikes will change/improve bike culture in downtown Phoenix? It’s for people like me who carpool. It’s a great opportunity to leave the car and not drive from garage to garage and have to remember where you parked. It’s great to have options.
How does a downtown hotel celebrate its second birthday? If it’s the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, they mark the occasion with an elaborate block party, replete with an adult hot chocolate bar, lobster corn dogs, Dave Damiani & the No Vacancy Orchestra and a silent auction, with proceeds to benefit the O’Connor House.
A luxurious celebration, for sure, but one that is representative of the relationship the Renaissance has built with the downtown community in only a couple of years. It is the perfect opportunity to, as General Manager Paige Lund says, “share the personality of this great city and the soul of this great city, because there’s a lot of it.”
Having opened its doors in January 2012, the former Wyndham property had undergone a renovation a few years prior, but the Renaissance team has actively transformed the space, updating guest rooms, fitness center and club lounge to create a cohesive space that reflects its downtown environs. A lifestyle brand within the Marriott portfolio, Renaissance partners with each city in which it is located to promote what Lund describes as “the experiential side.”
We asked the Navigators to share some of the gems they suggest to visitors. Here are a few highlights.
Downtown Deli (for the chicken noodle soup!)
Orpheum Theatre (for shows or the Tuesday guided tour)
Hotel guests are referred to as “Discoverers,” while concierges are “Navigators,” helping to plan their visit. While visitors are known to come to the Valley for the weather, the golfing and other outdoor activities, the navigators introduce Phoenix-centric cultural elements, such as local museums, restaurants, and live music. “The places where a local would go,” according to Lund. The hotel even offers a tour of downtown murals.
“They navigate those that stay with us to all the hidden gems, all the local flavor, the best places to sip, savor, shop and see that you wouldn’t otherwise know about if someone local didn’t tell you.”
The most integral local component that the Renaissance has incorporated into its décor, programming, and overall mission is the local arts scene. The guestrooms are filled with photographs that resulted from a student competition with the Phoenix Union High School District; the chandeliers in the ballroom were made by local artisans; and most recently the hotel added its very own gallery, Shade West.
Located in the west wing of the hotel, the non-profit gallery space is run by Shade Projects, with exhibitions changing every four-to-six weeks. The gallery was a natural progression of the partnership the Renaissance has developed with the downtown arts scene. While Lund does not have a formal arts background, she notes that Lead Navigator Jesse Perry is an artist. Many other staff members are well versed in the arts, while others have earned an arts education through their time working here.
The partnership between Shade Projects and the hotel was cemented during a nearly eight-month video project for the hotel that was directed and photographed by Wayne Rainey. The video deftly portrays the relationship Renaissance strives for—a luxury hotel within the heart of a vibrant downtown.
Of the video, Rainey says, “We wanted to create a sense of place. We wanted to create something that said, ‘Check this out. Here are the people of our neighborhood.’ … It’s authentic marketing. It’s almost a lost art, but it’s so cool, and it’s honest, and it works.”
Event Manager William Stratton sees a successful payoff already in terms of the perception of the hotel’s guests. “People have started to identify us with knowledge and being well versed in the arts, generally speaking.”
Says Stratton, “I appreciate what art does to a person. I appreciate how it makes you think independently and critically. Art represents what it represents to the individual regardless of what is on that canvas, regardless of what is being molded, it’s what does that represent to yourself. … I love how people see different things. I love how it’s not the same, ever.”
Understanding and integrating the arts extends throughout the Renaissance. Lund was recently honored with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association 2014 Hotelier of the Year award, showing how downtown Phoenix is being recognized at the state level.
For everyone in Phoenix, in the hospitality industry or otherwise, the big focus is next February’s Super Bowl. Lund indicates that the hotel is already booked by the NFL. “This is Phoenix’s chance to really show everyone what we’re about.”
Between block parties and local community partnerships, the Renaissance is establishing itself as the downtown venue to showcase the urban core of the Valley. “We’ve just really chosen to embrace what this brand stands for,” Lund says of the boutique hotel. “They give you a great foundation, what you do with it is what’s so important. We have just chosen to do it on steroids.”
If you go:
Renaissance Second Annual Birthday Bash
Date: February 22, 2013
Time: 7 to 11 p.m.
Location: 50 E. Adams St.
Featured image courtesy of Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
When he came up with the idea for Lawless Denim & Co. about three years ago, CEO Roman Acevedo found it a daunting task to find people skilled in sewing and leather making. But with the store’s addition of the first draper loom west of the Mississippi, he can maintain the unique quality and authentic vintage essence of the jeans, while partnering with the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center to train people in the industry.
The 3,500-pound machine is a piece of history, originating from Pennsylvania during World War II. Bringing this sought-after, 80-year-old loom into the store on February 4th was not a small feat (it required a forklift), but there are a number of benefits it will bring for the business, its customers and the Phoenix economy.
“The loom that revolutionized the denim industry” will manufacture chambray, denim, canvas and more to speed up the production of jeans. Currently, Lawless sources its denim, which is made from pima cotton from Japan and North Carolina.
“My thought was, we’re an Arizona-based company creating our own jeans here, why not take it a step further and use the pima cotton that we grow in our own backyard and make our own denim?” said Acevedo.
In the next 30 to 45 days, he expects the loom to start producing denim, after having undergone extensive maintenance. Once it’s up and running, he will search for eight to 10 more vintage looms to place in the store, which only opened in October 2013.
“The only thing slowing us down is availability, said Acevedo. “They’re very hard to find.” This particular loom was the result of intense Internet research and making new contacts, which he hopes will prove valuable in his quest for more looms.
“It’s about creating that Arizona product with the very unique experience that every element done here is bespoke.”
“We could very easily charge four or five hundred dollars for a custom pair of jeans, but that’s not helping the economy. What helps the economy is people spending money, which in turn drives production, which in return creates jobs.”
In addition to the custom jeans ranging from $115 to $195, the store offers off-the-shelf jeans for $87, along with belts, denim shirts and a collection of leather products.
The store will offer customized dress shirts ranging from $85 to $145 with the option to choose the collar, cuff, fabric and monogram in the coming month.
The store’s next step in customization is nailing their own buttons made of Arizona copper and silver.
One of the most vital partnerships for Lawless has been with the Arizona OIC- a non-profit job-training program. Acevedo said he does not have the means to train people how to sew, while the OIC trains people in three-to-five month programs, teaching them the skills to work right away.
For Acevedo, creating jobs is his primary goal, and he said denim’s ageless quality couldn’t be a more fitting tool to achieve just that.
By maintaining valuable relationships with the city and the people within it, Lawless has seamlessly contributed to the growth, well-being, safety and style of people near and far with new additions and innovative ideas.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Downtown Phoenix coworking space workshops and several public events this month.
CO+HOOTS, downtown Phoenix’s ﬁrst coworking space, is holding several open-to-the-public events at its location at 11th St. and Washington St. (1027 E. Washington St.).
One of the featured events this month is a lunch-hour “Midweek Mindtweak” talk on Wednesday, February 19 geared toward small business owners. Brandy Lawson, a purveyor of small business with 15 years experience in business technology and marketing, will advise attendees how to deﬁne and set goals as well as how to get “unstuck” from a current rut.
The event is free for CO+HOOTS members and $5 for non-members. Tickets are available at Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=10436031451.
Every Wednesday, a local food truck visits CO+HOOTS for its “Washington Wednesday” food truck event from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Every Thursday night, CO+HOOTS hosts “Game Night” free of charge for board-game enthusiasts of all ages.
Wednesday, Feb. 12: Great Pho King food truck, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 13: Game Night, starts at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 18: Ruby on Rails meet up, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 19: Midweek Mindtweak with Brandy Lawson, noon-1p.m.; Rock A Belly food truck, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 20: Game Night, starts at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Saffron Jak food truck, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 27: Game Night, starts at 6:30 p.m.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Art Detour 26 is an All Access Pass to More than 100 Downtown Art Venues ‘Living in Color’
Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc. Host ‘Art d’Core Gala’ Celebrating a ‘Downtown for Everyone’
The 26th Annual Art Detour, March 8-9, 2014, will be an exceptional celebration of artists and their important contribution to the vibrancy of downtown Phoenix.
More than 100 spaces, including working artist studios, unique art spaces, galleries, cultural venues, restaurants and retailers will open their doors to make this the best two-day, all-access pass to the downtown arts scene in Detour’s 26-year history. [See the full list of participants: http://artlinkphoenix.com/articipants/participating-venues/]
“Detour-ists” are invited to visit artists’ private working studios not typically open for viewing, explore Pop-Up Gallery exhibits exclusively planned for Art Detour, and to discover the colorful mural scene on walls, buildings and fences throughout downtown.
A free double-decker London bus will circulate, making stops at neighborhood “park-and-ride hubs” in Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, CityScape, Arizona Center, and more, providing the public with a unique opportunity to explore Phoenix’s art scene in a fun, festival environment. The event coincides with First Friday, March 7, 2014, resulting in a weekend chock-full of arts-related experiences, exhibitions and activities.
Join the Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., Artlink and other community partners on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at the Art d’Core Gala, a celebration of the significant role the arts have played in invigorating and adding color to our downtown.
Mayor Greg Stanton will be the featured speaker of the festive event at Crescent Ballroom, toasting business leaders, small business entrepreneurs, neighborhood groups, and the flourishing arts community in an expression of shared pride in Phoenix.
“It took everyone, including the City, business, neighborhood groups, entrepreneurs and artists to bring our city this far,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We will continue working together to add the textures, flavors, and colors that strengthen our vibrant downtown and showcase this city we love. We are building a downtown that belongs to everyone.”
This free, “fun formal” affair will feature live music and dancing; fabulous food and drink; art installations featuring premiere local artists; and an eye-popping virtual tour of downtown art spaces. Guests are encouraged to dress colorfully with creative formal attire.
“Downtown artists and arts entrepreneurs are key players in the ongoing development of our vibrant downtown core,” said David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “The Art d’Core Gala is a party where everyone can come together to celebrate the positive impact the arts have had in our remarkable city.”
WHEN: Saturday, March 1, 2014, 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003
TICKETS: There is no charge for this event, however, please RSVP to Art d’Core Gala
ATTIRE: Dress colorfully! Creative formal attire encouraged.
HOSTED BY: The Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc.
Art Detour 26 Schedule of Events:
3/1 – Art d’Core Gala at Crescent Ballroom – A festive, free, art-full celebration of our downtown hosted by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and benefiting Artlink Inc.
3/7 – Pre-Detour First Friday. March First Friday is one of the most popular of the year.
3/8-9 – Art Detour 26. A free, two-day immersive arts experience, featuring over 100 designated venues and free, circulating trolleys to help visitors enjoy self-guided studio, art space and gallery tours.
This free weekend event also offers programming for all ages, including family-friendly “Kids’ Detour” activities at participating venues.
“Artlink is excited to have partners like CityScape, Downtown Phoenix Inc., Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Phoenix Community Alliance who are helping connect Artlink to the broader downtown community,” said Catrina Kahler, President of Artlink’s Board of Directors.