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WHAT'S UP THIS WEEK FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JULIE ENGELS

Early this year, Mayor Skadron invited me to consider how longtime Aspen Times columnist Su Lum would’ve regarded the mentorship program under my watch. Upon research, I imagined the spirited writer nailing me to the wall with a crone's gaze, taking an unfiltered drag from her smoke, and on the exhale saying, “I don’t hate it.”

Seven months later, I’m asking myself what another of Aspen's grande dames would have thought of AE’s shared space with Maker + Place, an emergent bastion of creativity. Gracing our front door, I picture an enchanted Elizabeth Paepcke embracing Michaela Olson and the panashe her luxury, maker movement brings to Aspen. My mind’s eye sees Elizabeth engaging Clarity Fornell to weave a custom throw designed for living room; being fitted for custom sandals handcrafted by Madelyn Soldner Sullivan, granddaughter to Anderson Ranch’s founder; and  lastly, swapping outdoor adventure tales with Fatmap entrepreneur, Matt Doyle.

The Aspen Idea, an alchemy of Body, Mind, and Spirit, underpins the foundation of Aspen Entrepreneurs. Before launching our nonprofit, we dreamt of a place infused with Aspen’s vital life force with the ability to harness that energy and help convert it into fuel for our local economy. The results from this summer’s 10-week pilot program are proving to be quite remarkable. Not only has Maker + Place met their revenue projections, but the working thesis of connecting makers to consumers within a conscious space confirm Michaela’s retail hypothesis: humans crave bespoke objects with a soul and are willing to pay more as a result.

If you haven’t popped into to see us yet, please make it a priority before September 22 when our doors close for the Fall.  Workshops, events and gorgeous luxury goods still await your presence. Nearing the end of Elizabeth day’s, she had told a reporter that her beloved Aspen had “become a town of glitz and glamour…a nut without a kernel.”  I’d like to imagine both Elizabeth and Su thinking that AE and Maker + Place are kernels of evidence that Aspen’s unique value proposition is alive and growing.

Warmly,

Julie Engels
Executive Director of AE