Supporting small and local businesses is second nature to the Streetsense team — whether it’s rocking a DC-made tee or grabbing lunch from a local mom and pop. A few months ago we asked — what if we used our collective intelligence to bolster small businesses and entrepreneurs in the DC area? From there, Goods & Service —a week of pro bono technical assistance designed to support local and independently owned establishments in the retail and food industries — was born.
In partnership with the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), we invited DC-grown businesses to apply for the program in exchange for our expertise in planning, real estate strategy, architecture and interior design, branding, engagement, food and beverage consulting, and industry specific research and insight.
We were thrilled to receive over 40 applications for the program and selected six local businesses with varying goals to participate in the week: Kicheko Goods, Together We Bake, DanceLoft on 14th, Number 1 Sons, Nubian Hueman, and Studio Elan. (You can learn more about each business here.)
To kick off the program, we invited the owners to our Bethesda headquarters for a trend report on the state of retail, then broke out for individual vision sessions to determine the specific needs of each entrepreneur. From there, we got to work strategizing digital marketing tactics, sketching storefront designs, performing website audits, creating design packages, and sampling kimchi.
At the end of the week, we presented our work to each owner — with deliverables ranging from full-blown marketing plans to retail design packages to media outreach toolkits. Since then, we’ve seen Goods & Service participants open their shops to the public, refine their social media strategy, launch media outreach campaigns, and approach storefront design in a more holistic way.
Our favorite part of the week was hearing what Goods & Service participants had to say afterwards:
“What was accomplished in such a short time was really impressive and incredibly useful. Their expertise and knowledge, willingness to explain in non-techie terms, and enthusiasm for the project and TWB was awesome.” – Together We Bake
“I thought my team was awesome. They were in constant contact throughout the week and went above and beyond, helping me think through and strengthen user experience, website and brand messaging, and space design—all of the items I wanted support on. They were friendly, approachable, highly responsive, and engaged. I really felt like they cared about getting to know me and my business.” – Kicheko Goods
“Thank you so much for starting this program and giving us this opportunity! We loved working with such a high caliber firm. Definitely lit a spark for us and gave us much to take back to the drawing board!” – Number One Sons
We’re looking forward to seeing how our recommendations and deliverables pan out over the next few months. A heartfelt thanks to our partners at Wacif and fellow team members for their hard work in launching this initiative.