Throughout the past year, local businesses have taken a huge hit with some closing and others struggling to stay afloat. As a way to help, a group of female entrepreneurs created the Hatchery Co-Op to help small business owners form creative ideas to diversify and grow, while also contributing to the overall economic vitality of Renton’s downtown area.
The Hatchery Co-Op idea was officially launched during last year’s holiday market inside of River Valley Cheese, the organization’s current base.
Through pop-up markets in the Hatchery Co-Op space, they began and continue to feature a variety of diverse local vendors and makers, as well as promoting events that encourage the community to support local businesses and invest in Renton’s business district.
“Renton has this very cool, small, hometown vibe, which makes it pretty unique,” says Fancy Vargas, CEO of the Hatchery Co-Op. “It is also very diverse. We have so many female business owners, and we really want to support them, along with members of our BIPOC community.”
The diverse group of ladies, each vastly different in age, from distinct backgrounds, and at varying stages in life, includes Fancy Vargas Smith, CEO and owner at Elevate PR & Project Management; Pippa Mccurry, CRO and owner of the Brittle; Kristi Slotemaker, CFO, and owner of River Valley Cheese; Laura B Steele, member and owner of LauraBCharcuterie; and Annie Boyington, member and owner of Trevani Truffles.
“It’s really like a family,” says Vargas. “We have that sister vibe. I love that even though we’re all so different, with different ideas, we respect each other, and work really well together.”
To date, they have launched several successful happenings, like the recent Coffee Crawl, and have a number of future activities in the works.
On March 27 and 28 they will host a free exhibit celebrating women in history. The display will feature silhouettes of 30 women who have made an impact throughout history, commissioned by local artist, Charles Conner, the Original Spur.
Guests scan QR codes teaching them about each woman’s accomplishments and taking them on a scavenger hunt that concludes with a free deck of cards picturing the women’s silhouettes, along with notable quotes.
On May 7 and 8, they will host the Lady Lotus Challenge, an event centering around female empowerment, with different activities, and photo booths with dress-up selfie options.
In the future, the group hopes to create a 501 c and tailor community outreach programs to youth and potential entrepreneurs.
“We would like to bring youth into apprenticeships with area businesses, teaching them skills and things like financial literacy,” says Vargas. “We want to help propel them to become adults that care about helping other people. That’s our business model, to help as many people as we can.”