You Say You Wanna Resolution . . .
It's the third week of January. By now, if you're like everyone else we know, you've broken your New Year's resolution -- popped that Vicodin, lost your gym membership card, hit the drive-through at Jack in the Box. We know a guy who resolved not to make any resolutions -- even he went back on his word.
So let's make a deal. Clean slate. Do-over. And this time, let's think big when it comes to making resolutions. Don't just change your personal habits, change your life. Don't count carbs, make goals. Isn't there something you've always wanted to do, to be? Well, now you can, with our handy Resolution Guide. In less than one year, you can be well on your way to an exciting career in -- okay, we broke our resolution to quit watching late-night cable. Anyhow, take a look. We vow to come see your band and eat at your restaurant. Really. We can keep a promise. -- Amy Silverman
So you wanna be . . . a rock star
Hey, readers! If you find yourself fantasizing about the life of a rock musician on career day, remember that thanks to reality television and rising crime statistics, there are a lot of lazier approaches to fame, fortune and overindulgence. So for any air guitarists and desk drummers out there not prepared to slog through thankless gigs for poor compensation and sleeping on amps in cramped vans traveling cross-country, now's the time to consider a less daunting fantasy occupation. Like "Yes Man." Or "Professional Widow." Or "Getting Shot Out of a Cannon Guy."
Still there? Well, if you have the head for success, and the stomach for disappointment (and a talent for convincing people you have talent), you may indeed be ready to rock. If you responded with a well-timed "fuck off, journalist," GREAT! You're well on your way to ingesting your own star-quality vomit. But what to do next?
Before you go enlisting others to flesh out your shallow dream of stardom, decide a direction for the band you are about to put together. Unless you want to get stuck performing your drummer's tentative stabs at songwriting (you oldsters might recall this as the singular reason Cream broke up), it's crucial to establish yourself early on as the creative spearhead of the group. Adam Trombley, singer-songwriter for the group Until August, avoided any confusion by recording home demos that other players could learn his songs from. "With a demo," he says, "you have a concrete idea of what you're about musically, and a potential to frighten away players who want to jam to Dave Matthews."
If you can play all the instruments yourself, you might want to advance straight to the final recording stage without ever involving any superfluous personnel. Such was the case for Scottsdale singer-songwriter Adam Panic. Panic recorded his first two EPs before he was 18, and he managed to do without a band until his recordings went into regular rotation on KEDJ-FM 103.9. This won him a coveted slot at the annual EDGEfest, forcing him to borrow members of The Format's touring band to back him. This is what is known in the music business as a "good problem."
"I'm just going through people who know people," Panic says of the inevitable auditions. "I don't like putting an ad up in Zia's. I seriously wasted so much time going to people's houses in Peoria. One keyboard player had a month to learn two of my songs, and all he wanted to do was talk about his psychological problems."
Having heart-to-heart talks with potential members at the outset may be a time saver later on when you find yourself stuck in a recording studio, or worse, traveling on the road with a band you can't stand. Bob Hoag, founding member of Pollen and The Go Reflex, runs the highly successful Flying Blanket Studios in Mesa, where he has recorded every local band mentioned thus far in this primer and scores of others. He's had a front-row seat to every foible that can self-destruct a new band. And "traveling for the first time together as a band to record out of state" tops his list.
"I had a young band from California that had never spent more than a few days together. They learned many special lessons in the 21 days they spent here in Arizona. One, they really don't like each other. Two, they should not be in a band together. And three, if you smack your guitar player in the face, he will chase you around the studio parking lot with a 2-by-4 until he catches you, and he will hit you with it. And I learned that as a producer, you shouldn't let a band stay at your house for 21 days." The details of that lesson are too gruesome for Hoag to recount, but some of you good-hearted fans who offer to let touring musicians crash at your house, please note that he is still haunted by "the psychic imprint of discarded underwear on my couch."
Of the recording process, Hoag advises young bands to ditch the concept that you're just making a quick demo with which to get signed. "Every recording you make should be a 'real' recording, something you can listen to and be excited about," he says. "If you're doing it for other reasons, they're the wrong ones. Come in with three or four songs of such a quality that you'd be happy to put them on an album."
Even with a finished CD in hand, you are only halfway to being mistaken for a credible rock luminary. You need to book some preliminary shows, and rather than wear out your friends' welcome with too many half-cocked tryouts, play a bunch of under-the-radar openers in remote places so you can get your stage legs. And if someone says, "Break a leg," it's probably a good idea to wait 'til the end of the set to do it.
"When you first start playing out, you're in an altered reality where you think you can do anything," cautions Greenhaven front man Matt Strangwayes. "It helps to know the logistics of where you're playing beforehand. At an early show, I did front handsprings eight feet into the audience, two songs in the set. And when I landed on the concrete floor, I could hear the bone snap above the music. Fortunately, the bartender was a nurse. But I had to finish the show sitting down with my feet in an ice bucket."
If you've chosen this juncture to ask yourself, "Am I making money yet?", just laugh at yourself until you get the hint. Because in the end, you're really doing it for one thing -- no, not that! YOU'RE DOING IT FOR THE KIDS!!
Until August hit its stride once it started to play all-ages shows. "People under 21, they tell their friends faster than someone who's drinking at a bar and is there to go see their friend's band," says Trombley. "If [over 21s] like you, they're not going to e-mail anyone or call radio stations or spark anything." Or toil in an Until August street team and flier shows with the promise of free merch and pizza!
You'll know once you've connected with the kids, because your old friends become the new haters. Says Adam Panic, "The more success you have, the more people turn off. Senior year at my high school, people were throwing stuff at me in math class because I asked the teacher if he could play the radio at 9:15 when my song came on."
But one detractor later wrote Panic a fan letter. "That's fucked up," he says, laughing.
No, Adam, that's rock 'n' roll!
Where to find players
Until August found its first drummer and guitarist through New Times ads, but found its second drummer at a blues jam at the Rhythm Room. Going to other people's shows and stealing their musicians is a great time saver!
Where to buy amps
If it's a custom sound you want, then it's custom amps you should have! Cremona, bassist for The Cremains and Green Lady Killers, uses Krank Electronics of Tempe (The Cremains are Krank Amp spokespeople, and the late Dimebag Abbott was just one high-profile Krank customer). Tony Dow's homegrown company fashioned its first-ever bass cabinet for Cremona, which necessitated Green Lady Killer guitarist Kathleen Ryan to consider upgrading a Krank Revolution amplifier just to keep up. (www.krankamps.com)
Where to buy stage clothes
Kathleen Ryan of the Green Lady Killers confesses that "Phoenix isn't the best place for clothing. We go to Buffalo Exchange and Plush in Tempe, and to the Spectrum Mall, and go to the cheesy girl shops. You can find cool tank tops and tight pants, short skirts. Cheap stuff that looks good." For you guys not into the androgynous look, try Mervyn's!
Where to take voice lesson
Most vocal teachers want to meet with you. We found an affable voice and guitar instructor in Scottsdale online named Craig "Lumpy" Lemke, who promises, "I can do exercises with you that will show improvement in six seconds." Although metal is not his thing, he has steered many shriekers toward achieving that pterodactyl sound through less vocal-cord-damaging means. (www.digitalcartography.com)
. . . Or skip 'em. Kathleen Ryan, singer for the Green Lady Killers, took voice lessons 15 years ago. "If you're looking to expand your range, it's not a bad idea," she says. "But it might change your style too much. Like if you're grindcore, it would suck if you enunciated."
Where to record demos
If you don't have a home studio or a friend with one, girl power trio Green Lady Killers recommends Logan Hallay's House of Hallaj studio (480-710-0721).
Where to record
Adam Panic recorded his EP We All Do at Flying Blanket Studios in Mesa, as did Until August. "It doesn't matter where you go," says Until August singer-songwriter Adam Trombley, "it's who's controlling the knobs, who's going to produce the record. Bob Hoag gets a great radio sound with 10 times crappier equipment than many bigger studios."
"You'll have to excuse me for going all hippie here," says Hoag, "but the things that stand out on radio are the things that were made with absolute sincerity and love." (www.flyingblanket.com)
Where to get on national shows
Despite the number of shrinking venues, there's still plenty of places to play. Although many national acts often come with openers, contact independent promoters like Nobody In Particular Presents (www.nipp.com) or Stateside Presents (www.statesidepresents.com) for national bills you might be compatible with.
Where to contact local bands to feel connected
Adam Panic -- www.adampanic.com
Until August -- www.untilaugust.com
Greenhaven -- www.nonemoregreen.com
The Green Lady Killers -- www.thegreenladykillers.com
-- Serene Dominic
So you wanna be . . . a chef
On any other night, chef Scott Robinson cooks with the motto "mise en place," or "everything in its place." But tonight, while instructing his French Cuisine students, it's simply, "Watch out for the tendons."
It's Fear Factor night at Phoenix College, where a small class of 10 eager chefs-in-training is learning to slice and cook raw calf kidneys, cow tongue and sweetbreads, which, to several students' disappointment, is not actually sugary mounds of dough but rather the thymus gland of a cow.
"No bad comments now; I'm personal about my food," warns Robinson, director of culinary studies at Phoenix College, as he delicately separates the rubbery flesh of a sweetbread from its tendon.
A few students grimace, but after a dollop of cooking oil and a dash of salt, no organ is left untested. If they intend to become chefs, after all, this is not the place for a prejudiced palate.
By the end of the school year, these students will be slicing sweetbreads like pros -- perhaps without the scowl. It's a tough business, Robinson admits, but "with good hands and the right attitude, anyone can become a chef."
It's not all in your chopping technique, however. Education is key, and there are plenty of options.
You can fork over big bucks for a renowned culinary school, shell out significantly less for comparable community college classes, or simply take courses one by one to enhance your culinary competence. Whatever the route, that big, white chef's hat isn't far away. Within a year, you might find that your place truly is in the kitchen.
Phoenix College offers a two-year program, leading to an associate of applied science degree and/or a certificate of completion in culinary studies. The entire program runs aspiring chefs $4,500, but courses such as International Cuisine, Pacific Rim Cuisine and Menu Planning are available individually at roughly $205 per class for those who want to hone their craft or add a few recipes to their résumé.
PC is the way to go, Robinson says, if you're looking to taste-test the industry before digging in. "If worst comes to worst, it gives people an idea of what the industry is like without having to make a major career change, and for much less expensive," he says.
If you have the dough -- as in cash, not Pillsbury -- Scottsdale Culinary Institute is another option. A roughly $40,000 option. Started in 1986, SCI offers Le Cordon Bleu training through an 18-month associate's degree or two-year bachelor's degree in culinary arts, hospitality and restaurant management, and patisserie and baking.
Adam Cho, 25, completed the class portion of his associate's degree in December and starts a six-month externship at Olive's restaurant in New York City this month. The school time was valuable, he says, but not completely necessary.
"The paper I'm getting certifies me a chef, but you don't have to go to school to become one," says Cho, who aspires to own his own restaurant. "It just helps."
Cho says he saw his class of 30 students whittled down to half as many during the year -- many succumbing to the pressure of the fast-paced, high-stress, ego-driven industry that experiences a high turnover rate. But don't let that scare you, he says. The school is perfect for what he calls "career changers," many of whom were his classmates.
"If you're a career changer, it's a great place to be," he says of the school. "Just don't go there if you simply want to learn how to cook, or if you're on the fence about becoming a chef."
And if you truly have a passion for cooking -- and a pocketbook deep enough to support your zeal -- invest in a national four-year institution, he adds.
Christopher Green, who teaches at smaller local cooking schools such as Sur La Table, Kitchen Classics and AndyFood, knows something about career shifting. Green was a newspaper editor in Jacksonville, Florida, for 12 years before dropping everything at 30 to cook full time.
Green, now 40, attended L'Academie de Cuisine in Washington, D.C., for nearly a fourth of the tuition that SCI now charges. While Green says school is important, he warns would-be chefs not to put all of their career eggs in one costly basket.
"Culinary school is really about learning the basics. It is what you do with it afterwards that is important," he says. "Let's face it: Day one of culinary school is going to be spent cutting an onion. Is it going to be a 50-cent onion at community college or a $5 onion at a big school?"
Instead of buying a line-item for your résumé, Green suggests learning from as many different chefs in the industry as possible. Robinson agrees, noting that you're not truly a chef until you've conquered several different areas of the business such as management, service, catering and fine dining.
It takes a good five years with school -- 15 years without -- to succeed as a chef, says Robinson, but persistence, stamina and a positive attitude can accelerate the process. Just ask Terrell Brown, SCI graduate and executive chef at Foster's Seafood, a quaint but upscale bistro in Scottsdale.
At just 24, Brown quickly moved up the ranks to the highest position in the kitchen. (Dishwashing is the dregs, followed by prep or line cook, a number of assistant cooks such as pastry chef or sauté chef, sous chef, and finally, executive chef.)
Brown married at 17 and worked diligently but not happily as a collections officer at Discover Card. With a growing family and a dying patience, Brown decided to supplement his full-time gig with classes at SCI. Two months into the program, Brown spontaneously applied for a prep cook position at Foster's. Three and a half years later, the young executive chef is in charge of entire menus for both Foster's and 33 American Bistro, in addition to managing a kitchen full of cooks who, at their age, should be mentoring young Chef Brown.
But he takes it all in stride, calling his job a balancing act, and crediting school with his success, despite his unusual fast track.
"Could I have done it without school? Probably," he admits. "Would I have gotten that knowledge without going to school? Definitely not."
AndyFood -- A Culinary Studio
7000 East Shea Boulevard, Suite 1740, Scottsdale
Arizona Culinary Institute
10585 North 114th Street, Suite 401, Scottsdale
The Art Institute of Phoenix
2233 West Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix
Chef Brad's Kitchen Store -- Cooking Classes
456 West Main Street, Mesa
Cooking for Pleasure -- Cooking Classes
2575 North Val Vista Drive, Mesa
Cooking With Class, Ltd. -- Cooking School
14202 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 100, Scottsdale
Kitchen Classics Cooking Classes
4041 East Thomas Road, Phoenix
Les Gourmettes Cooking School
6610 North Central Avenue, Phoenix
Maricopa Skill Centers
1245 East Buckeye Road, Phoenix
Phoenix College, Culinary Studies
1202 West Thomas Road, Phoenix
Scottsdale Athletic Club -- Cooking Classes
8225 East Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale
Scottsdale Community College, Culinary Arts
9000 East Chaparral Road, Scottsdale
Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program
8100 East Camelback Road, Suite 1001, Scottsdale
Shar's Bosch Kitchen Center -- Cooking Classes
3434 West Greenway Road, Suite 4, Phoenix
Sur La Table -- Scottsdale, Culinary Program
7122 East Greenway Parkway, Suite 100, Scottsdale
Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School
10701 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 101, Scottsdale
Thai Gourmet House Cooking School
8313 East Monterosa Street, Scottsdale
Stocking the kitchen: helpful stores and web sites
Bed, Bath & Beyond
A Cook's Wares
Crate & Barrel
Dean & Deluca
Sur La Table
Local supply stores
Kitchen & Things
3111 West Chandler Boulevard
Sur La Table
7131 West Ray Road
Shar's Bosch Kitchen Center
1130 North Gilbert Road
7700 West Arrowhead Towne Center
Miracle Maid Cookware
6555 East Southern Avenue
A To Z Restaurant Equipment
1821 West Grant Street
Andrews Restaurant Supply, Inc.
2425 East Washington Street
Arizona Cooking Supply
2933 West Lincoln Street
Bargain Store Equipment
209 South 23rd Street
Carico Del Sol
4744 North Central Avenue
Carico Del Sol
3817 North 15th Avenue
1710 West Montebello Avenue
4041 East Thomas Road
4250 West Honda Bow Road, Suite 880
National Restaurant Supply
3311 East McDowell Road
1095 East Indian School Road
Royal Prestige Exido Universal
2432 West Peoria Avenue
Shar's Bosch Kitchen Center
3434 West Greenway Road
Standard Restaurant Equipment
2922 East McDowell Road
United Restaurant Supply
3532 West Northern Avenue
Urban Chef Outfitters
15414 North Seventh Street, Suite 8
2450 East Camelback Road
Scottsdale Kitchen Co.
7014 East Camelback Road
Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School
10749 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 101
455 South 48th Street
-- Ashlea Deahl
So you wanna be . . . a DJ
On a mid-December evening in a hard-to-find room at Scottsdale Community College, about a dozen aspiring DJs wearing headphones are huddled over their individual turntables, scratching over an instrumental version of Alicia Keys' "Karma" that's being broadcast over the class's PA. Only they can hear what they're doing on top of the funky midtempo beat, but their professor, DJ Radar, is circling the class, plugging his headphones into their mixers and offering instruction. To one ambitious DJ, Radar is explaining that scratching and using the fader concurrently is "like rubbing your tummy and patting your head" -- it's just a matter of practice.
Yeah, with substantial practice, and some good advice from adept DJs like Radar, you too could be mixing and cutting up tracks and rocking the club crowds by the time '06 hits, if you put a lot of effort into it. And keep your expectations low. Even for relative veteran DJs like Smite and Stefascope, consistent success (at least financially) can be elusive -- but hey, this is art, right? Don't worry about the bling; focus on getting the sounds in your head out into the aural stratosphere.
In Radar's class, the second one he's taught at SCC, you're expected to have a turntable, mixer and headphones, but not every student does. Radar begins the semester by breaking down the basics -- the history of the turntable, and turntablism itself; how the steel wheels and indispensable mixers work; the do's and don'ts of scratching (do use a slip mat under your records); proper hand position; and techniques. Ninety percent of the students in Radar's classes have been beginners, so don't be daunted if you're interested in taking the next course.
The SCC class will take you through an analysis of the masters -- from Grand Wizard Theodore to Q-Bert and the Skratch Piklz -- and give you the fundamentals of hip-hop DJ history. But for your own personal "I wanna be a DJ" project, you need to start with your own tastes and develop your own style from the very beginning.
In Smite's opinion, crate digging is often an overlooked facet for new DJs. "If you're in the mindset that scratching is DJing, you're missing out on so much other shit. It's like playing baseball is just hitting home runs or something. You've got what you're gonna play, how you're gonna play it -- you gotta have good shit to play, you gotta be able to present it in an original way, so mixing's gonna play a huge role, and scratching, as well as just reading your audience."
Smite's forte is rare grooves -- old funk and soul 45s with sick cuts that he can throw on top of more current beats. DJ Stefascope, on the other hand, is an aficionado of old-school hip-hop alongside the nu-school underground wax that's constantly being birthed.
Unless you're the beneficiary of an especially hip parent's record collection, you're gonna need some wax. This is the genesis of your artistic process; the records sitting in your crates are the tools you'll need to build your house of sound. For this, you have the obvious suspects, like Circles in Phoenix, and Swell Records (which recently merged with similarly minded retailer Spin Records) in Tempe. Queried on the subject, Stefascope guardedly remarks, "I'm not gonna say Eastside [Records, also in Tempe], those are my records. But that's the best store, Eastside."
When it comes to building a unique record collection, don't forget eBay, where international superstar DJs like Z-Trip and Shadow spend considerable time bidding on vinyl treasures. If rare grooves, classic funk, and '60s soul are your thing, you'll want to hit up the occasional record swaps that pop up several times during the year at various locations, where obsessive collectors like Phoenix music historian Johnny D are known to liquidate portions of their stockpiles.
Both Smite and Stefascope recommend you get your requisite equipment -- two turntables and a mixer (not a microphone, Beck) -- used, if at all possible. "Not retail," Smite says. "There's enough Technics -- they're the standard -- so there's enough of 'em out there that you can probably save yourself half what you're paying for retail." However, if your trust fund is bulging, there are several retail options for purchasing brand-spanking-new gear.
Smite and Stefascope both got their start by playing house parties, and that's the most logical place for you to test your skills in front of your friends, and begin to build a fan base. "That's the best way to learn," Smite says. "It's like being in the Army and constantly being on call; at the same time getting people into your shit, getting the records, having a following."
The local market for DJs at clubs is flooded, so if you can't develop a style that's got something new to offer, your chances of getting a prime gig are greatly hampered. Besides that, DJ nights come and go like the tides. Smite was holding down a reggae night, "Slapstick Sundays," at Flip Flops in Tempe, until it was recently canceled. Similarly, Stefascope had a stint rocking hip-hop at his "Mopery" night at the Sail Inn, until it was unceremoniously axed.
As for getting decent gigs in the Valley, Stefascope has this advice to offer: "Make friends with the right people," emphasizing the politics that permeate every facet of the music biz. "Find whoever's putting shit on. You can't just put yourself on, it doesn't work out so easy."
Nonetheless, with a year's worth of effort and the above advice, you could be making URB magazine's Next 100 by the beginning of 2006. Just remember who got you started, kids.
Get some class
Buy your own spin
To buy turntables and mixers, check out these places:
Guitar Center (various locations)
Southwest Sound Works
425 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
524 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
800 North Central Avenue, Phoenix
217 West University Drive, Tempe
-- Brendan Joel Kelley
So you wanna be . . . an indie mogul
Kimber Lanning's a powerhouse.
It's noon on a typical day in the life of Lanning, but the spunky owner of Stinkweeds Records has had a busy morning by anyone else's account. Having awoken at 6:30 a.m., she's already met with a local politico, stopped at the bank, bought office supplies, came into the Tempe store an hour early, read through 150 e-mails, answered dozens of phone calls, and now stands at the register, methodically sorting through boxes and boxes of new CDs and greeting customers.
And she doesn't even drink coffee.
"What keeps me going is I'm passionate about what I do," says Lanning, 37, as she rips through a box with a razor blade. "I love the challenge. Tell me I can't do something and I'll do it 1,000 times harder."
Lanning's is just one example of the kind of wisdom, fervor, wherewithal, determination and schedule juggling needed to face this perilous path of starting and running a small business. It doesn't hurt to have some creative financing, a good location, and a frugal sensibility to boot.
While it's improbable you'll own two record stores and a performance venue a year from now, following the advice of local indie moguls and using every resource available, you could be well on your way to becoming the latest alt-culture capitalist to hit the scene.
Lanning says the first thing is figuring what you're most savvy about, telling a story of one middle-aged man who came into Stinkweeds wanting to open a skateboard store with no knowledge of the trade.
"He probably thought he's gonna sit in the back and smoke a stogie while these kids run everything for him," she says. "Someone who's worked in a skateboard shop for a year probably would know more about the industry than him."
Lanning also recommends talking to people or surveying the scene to see what's popular or where there's a void. For instance, she says, with the success of local designers like Angela Johnson, it'd be wise to open something fashion-oriented. "You need to be on that right now," says Lanning. "If you try to get on it two years from now, you're too late." Artist and property wiz Beatrice Moore feels there's a similar need for more retailers along Grand Avenue, because of the dearth of shops in the gallery-heavy area.
Despite Lanning's opinion that it's "too expensive" to open on Roosevelt Row or Grand Avenue, there's still a chance to get in cheap. Moore is renovating a commercial building at 13th Avenue and McKinley that'll boast 10 spaces "at lower than average prices" when it opens in June. Developer Wayne Rainey's also aiming to keep rent at one dollar per square foot at "Ro 3," a 20-space indoor-outdoor marketplace set to open later this year on Second Street between Portland and Roosevelt.
Consider getting as close to the action as possible, says Johnny Chu, über-chef and proprietor of Fate, who relocated his former restaurant to a strip mall at McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue in Tempe and drew clientele from both Mesa Community College and Arizona State University.
Bolder businesspeople can take a chance on untested areas, like Central and Camelback, where Lanning opened the latest Stinkweeds last fall. She thinks it has the makings of a potential "boom" area, with a number of affordably priced vacancies to choose from, and like-minded neighbors -- like Cowtown Skateboards -- that she can build a "synergism" with, two ingredients to success.
Rainey says you need to be tenacious, talk to a lot of people, and contact property owners to see if something's available. "If you want someplace that's cool, you gotta go after it," Rainey says. "Being proactive not only pays, it's the only way."
Persistence and creativity are also required when digging up some scratch, and it'll likely involve a variety of sources. In order to get the cash to start the first Stinkweeds shop in 1987, Lanning sold everything she owned and got a bank loan. Jen and Scott Sanders, owners of the Paper Heart, used credit cards and got a group of artists to invest. Cindy Dach and Greg Esser, owners of such art spaces as eye lounge, mortgaged their house.
But before maxing out the Visa or kissing up kith and kin, Chu thinks that embryonic entrepreneurs should prepare a rock-solid business plan proving they figured out how to survive.
"You need a strategy how to make this work, make income and market the business," says Chu.
Two local organizations -- the Small Business Development Center and the Service Corps of Retired Executives -- can help you develop a plan through free one-on-one counseling and low-cost workshops, guiding you through numerical nightmares like securing capital, maintaining cash flow and proving that loans will be repaid.
"We provide a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on," says SCORE counselor Erik Mikkelsen, "but they're going to have to show commitment and do the homework."
Mikkelsen and company also will prep newbies on approaching lenders, but without a co-signer or equity, they should consider local microlenders like Prestamos and the Self-Employment Loan Fund.
Prestamos routinely issues microloans of $2,000 to $35,000 -- at a 9 percent interest rate -- to individuals of every race, and SELF manager Joe Martinez says its analysis includes expected cash flow, equity, credit and collateral.
"Everything is assessed on a case-by-case basis," says Martinez, "but we're willing to be flexible if you've got a good plan and good credit."
SELF's Peer Lending Program doesn't involve a credit check, but applicants without a business plan must complete a free 10-week course in how to prepare one, followed by an additional workshop where they'll pitch their plan to a "Borrowers' Circle" of five to nine PLP graduates.
If it passes muster, you get a $500 loan -- at an "above average" interest rate -- just for going through the process, and after repayment you are eligible for successive "step up" incremental loans up to $5,000. Applicants with a business plan can forgo the course, but must pay a $50 fee.
Moore says the Downtown Phoenix Arts Coalition is negotiating with the City of Phoenix to create a "Downtown Artists Storefront Program." If created, $500,000 worth of grants will be available for purchasing and fixing up commercial buildings, from 16th Street to 19th Avenue and McDowell to Buckeye roads -- with the intent of creating art-related shops, studios, and mixed-use venues.
Lanning says applying for grants and loans usually involves plenty of rigmarole, so pursue every funding option available at the same time.
New business owners are often told to secure enough funding to stay afloat for two years, so Esser suggests bringing together friends to assist you with repairs and putting "sweat equity" into your baby.
"The nice thing about artists is they know labor, they've done drywall and painting before," Esser quips. If major repairs are needed, gather some acquaintances and try to reduce the cost, like when Lanning and friends dug out the old plumbing at the new Stinkweeds store.
There are other ways of stretching your dollar. If you're opening an eatery, Chu says to peruse used restaurant supply stores. Need furniture? Build it yourself or check out thrift shops and have your graffiti artist buddies paint it.
If you've got a great group of friends willing to help, Lanning says, that probably means you're a people person, which is another necessity, along with a few other things.
"I know people with businesses who were knowledgeable and hardworking, and failed because they weren't entrepreneurial or creative enough to take risks. You either have it or you don't."
Arizona Department of Commerce -- Small Business Services
1700 West Washington Street, Suite 600, Phoenix
Service Corps of Retired Executives -- Arizona
East Valley Chapter: 1201 South Alma School Road, Suite 4800, Mesa
Phoenix Chapter: 2828 North Central Avenue, Suite 800
Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center
2400 North Central Avenue, Suite 104, Phoenix
United States Small Business Administration
Prestamos CDFI Small Business Lending
1122 East Buckeye Road, Suite B4, Phoenix
Self-Employment Loan Fund
1601 North Seventh Street, Suite 340, Phoenix
The Art of the Start
Although a good chunk of Guy Kawasaki's book The Art of the Start covers how to pitch new ideas within an established corporate structure, this 226-page ode to entrepreneurship packs plenty of sagelike advice to be gleaned, on subjects like writing a killer business plan, finding your niche market, establishing a "beachhead," creating buzz for your biz, cultivating your customer base, and the growing pains you'll experience on the road ahead. Plus, it's recommended by eye lounge's Cindy Dach, and several copies are available at local libraries for checkout.
Arizona Chain Reaction
1250 East Apache Boulevard, Suite 112, Tempe
Book Your Own Fuckin' Life
-- Benjamin Leatherman.
So you wanna be . . . an auto body mechanic
There's more to being an auto body mechanic than just banging out some dents with a hammer. But if you have the desire and discipline, a career in this field can be extremely rewarding, not only monetarily (with an annual starting salary of approximately $30,000 to $34,000), but in other ways as well: little to no work on evenings and weekends, and solid job security (automotive service jobs can't be outsourced to other countries). Best of all, you can start working in the field within a year, thanks to a pilot program at the Universal Technical Institute in Avondale. Its new FlexTech program consists of 13 online courses (each lasting four weeks), and lab work in the evenings. The online courses use multimedia to simulate automotive technology, and students can work on their own time, so you won't have to dump your old job until you're ready. Visit www.uticorp.com for more information. -- Niki D'Andrea
So you wanna be . . . a hairdresser
Like to trim ends and tousle locks? Are your friends beating down your door because they can always be assured you won't give them a hair-don't? Maybe you need to do what Jessica Miller did. Miller moved to Arizona from Montana to attend the Carsten Institute in Tempe, where students learn the techniques of the man himself, Carsten Wilms. From the holding of the scissors to the unique approach of cutting while the client and stylist are both standing, Miller says that the school and its stern nine-month/40-hour-week program is for the serious-minded only. Once you're official, she encourages putting in even more hard work to perfect the craft, and network your behind off to build a huge client base. And they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. For information: www.carsteninstitute.com. -- Amy L. Young
So you wanna be . . . a bartender
If you're 19, have quick hands and can translate "twhoi mrhoij sheeots" into "two more shots, please," bartending might be for you. Starting as a server in a restaurant that has a bar is a logical first step -- put in enough face time and you could be promoted to a behind-the-bar star. But unless you're a quick study, Tom Cruise, you might want to consider bartending school. ABC Bartending School (www.abcbartending.com) and Bartending Academy (www.pbsa.com) offer courses in drink mixology, customer service and bar management, in addition to help finding a job. During 40 course hours, you'll learn everything from bartending manners (ladies first) to peacekeeping strategies (how to signal the bouncer from behind the bar when things get rowdy). Tips can pile high depending where you work, but there are downsides to pouring everybody else's drink: If you're good, especially, kiss your own weekends out goodbye. -- Ashlea Deahl
So you wanna be . . . a florist
If your tedious cubicle job cries for color, maybe it's time to stop and smell the roses -- then rearrange them and add a sprig of baby's-breath. Becoming a florist can be simple, depending on what you want. To start out slow and simple, look for openings at local flower shops or grocery stores. For a more lucrative line, tap into event planning; offer to do floral design for a friend's small wedding or a company gathering to build your portfolio. A degree in interior design or business also would help, says event planner Patti Barna. If it's the business side of sunflowers you dig, Barna recommends going into it with full gusto. "Start your own shop," says Barna, who left her life as a loan officer to work in floral design. "Get a small place, hire one topnotch designer, and hit the concrete running." -- Ashlea Deahl
So you wanna be . . . an electrician
When the electrical wiring in your house short-circuits from the thousands of Christmas lights you put up to outdo the Joneses, you might get stuck paying hundreds of dollars for repairs. Next year, you can fix your circuits yourself (and the Joneses' circuits, too). Of all the learn-at-home-certification jobs available, electrician is among the most lucrative. The average salary for an electrician is roughly $65,000 a year, and the hours are flexible. Thomson Education Direct is one of many trade schools that offer a career diploma program for electricians that can be completed in a year through distance-learning. You'll take "instruction module" classes that teach you everything from circuit analysis and how to read electrical blueprints to generator theories and wiring. Once you have your diploma, you can start applying for jobs with electrical companies, seek an apprenticeship, or work as an independent contractor. Visit www.ElectricianTraining.com for more information. -- Niki D'Andrea
So you wanna be . . . an animal paramedic
Like EMTs for humans, EAMTs (emergency animal medical technicians) are dispatched to dozens of animal-in-distress calls daily. They dive in Dumpsters to rescue dogs, administer IVs to injured cats, and retrieve family pets from forest fires. Started by the Arizona Humane Society (www.azhumane.org) in September 2002, the animal ambulance service rescues more than 6,500 sick or injured animals each year. No veterinary license or degree is necessary; anyone can go through the Humane Society's volunteer program and request to assist the EAMTs by going on ride-alongs or helping with paperwork. To officially become an EAMT, however, you must get certified through the Humane Society's training program, which offers 116 hours of life-saving medical treatment for animals in the field. The full-time job won't feed a family -- think teacher's salary or less -- but there are several perks involved, like a sweet blue uniform and holster. Oh, and there's that whole rescuing defenseless animals thing. -- Ashlea Deahl
So you wanna be . . . an exotic dancer
Wanna shake your booty for big bucks? First, you have to get a license -- it's the law. At least, that's the case in the metro PHX cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale. (Tempe, Chandler and Mesa don't require 'em.) In Phoenix, you can expect to pay about $150 in application and license fees. That's a lotta lap dances. License in hand, call up a club and ask to audition. Mandi Ray, a Playtime cover model who dances at Bourbon Street Circus in Phoenix, also recommends the following: Purchase health insurance for yourself, learn how to dance ("It's not 'dancing' like you would dance in a club"), and above all, look good. "You make your money off your looks, so the better you look, the more money you'll make," says Ray. Also, expect to shell out some more cash for stage clothes your first year (outfits can cost anywhere from $50 to $350). The return? Anywhere from $100 to $400 a night, depending on where you dance and what shift you work. -- Niki D'Andrea
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