Meet the young entrepreneurs building momentum in downtown Springfield

When Alex Temple was 15 years old, he told his father, Steve, he wanted to get a job to start saving for college and start his own business. Steve’s response: “Let’s start one now.”

So, Temple decided to revive the Paramount Flagpole company his dad started in 1999 and subsequently launched Pinnacle Flagpole in 2018 — selling, installing, and servicing flagpoles, flags, and accessories to residential and commercial customers.

Temple admits he’s in a unique market — not to mention he’s still in high school — but he loves it. “It’s nice having a niche,” he says. “It’s just me and my dad doing sales and it’s basically survival of the fittest. I can see what works and what doesn’t work.

The entrepreneurial bug has bitten the 18-year-old. He is already taking college-level classes in business and plans to attend University of Dayton and major in entrepreneurship.

Before the recent developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield was seeing several small businesses popping up all over the city, with young entrepreneurs like Temple leading the way.

Rob Alexander, executive director of the Springfield Small Business Development Center (SBDC), says he’s seen an uptick in the number of entrepreneurs coming through the doors looking for advice on starting a small business.

Alexander says small businesses owners opening shop downtown are bringing a lot of momentum to the city. “In general, when downtown does well it spreads out and everyone feeds off of that momentum.”

That momentum is further propelled by millennials who are attracted to the entrepreneurial lifestyle and implied freedoms that come with it, says Alexander.

“I see a lot of young entrepreneurs in their early 20s all the time come in to talk to me about this,” he says. “They’ve grown up watching people on YouTube create things and make money at it. Society has just shifted to a point where it celebrates the entrepreneur in a way that they didn’t a decade ago.”

The Hub Springfield caught up with a few young entrepreneurs who are shaping Springfield and making a difference to talk about their businesses, why Springfield is the place to be an entrepreneur, and how they’re dealing with the impact of COVID-19.

Planting a flag

Most entrepreneurs just feel the urge to start a business in their blood. But most young entrepreneurs just don’t know where to start, Alexander says.
Alex Temple launched Pinnacle Flagpole in 2018.

“A lot of young people have an idea but they're afraid to act on it,” he says. “The biggest barrier is financial, and the second is not knowing where to turn for help. We get a lot of simple questions like ‘what are the steps to starting a business in Ohio.’”

But people like Temple discovered at a young age that he wanted to manage his own businesses and he knew where to start.

Temple used the SBDC to get Pinnacle off the ground. “They helped me break it down and create a business plan,” he says. “Basically, they showed me how to pitch the company and become a more well-rounded entrepreneur and pushed me into new markets.”

With the motto “Putting Ole’ Glory back into the Hearts of America” Temple has successfully planted his own flag. Pinnacle landed 12 jobs in its first year and 18 jobs last year. Temple says he expects to have between 25 and 35 jobs in 2020 as the company expands southward and outside of Clark County.

With most of Pinnacle’s business revolving around development and construction companies that are putting up flags during new construction on industrial projects, Temple says he’s not foreseeing any decline in business as a result of COVID-19, although he says it’s too early to tell for sure.

But he’s already looking ahead beyond flagpoles and accessories. He is now in talks with the Chamber of Greater Springfield about starting a drive-in movie theater in Springfield and says he has a list of business ideas he plans to start under the umbrella Pinnacle Development.

A true passion

Growing up, the thought of owning a small business never occurred to Kwaunisha Moore. She never knew people who loved their jobs — let alone owned a business. A job was simply a way to earn income, and in her family, it was often paycheck-to-paycheck kind of income.

“At the age of 16 I knew I didn’t want to live that way,” she says of her childhood experience. “And I honestly did not know entrepreneurship was an option for me because I had never seen it done in my community.”

Moore, 28, knew she wanted more for her adult career and believes in following her heart. So, she pursued her interests and followed her entrepreneurial instincts. “I did not have an easy road,” she admits.

Today Moore is a trendsetter in Springfield’s entrepreneurial world — first starting eyelash lengthening services with Lashes by Kwaunisha three years ago and last August launching Blessed Beauty KLM, specializing in eyebrow microblading and microshading at 1605 N. Limestone.

After earning her cosmetology license through the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center while at Springfield High School, Moore worked in a salon as a receptionist and assistant for three years, saved money, and soaked in everything she could learn about the business.

“Working under women who were already successful in the industry, I was just like a sponge — learning how to, and not to, run a business,” Moore says. She says she received a small loan through the Springfield SBDC for the store sign, but otherwise funded Blessed Beauty with a lot of discipline and her own savings.

“I put myself on a strict budget,” she explains. “No lashes, nail, hair appointments, shopping — I cut all of that out in order to save. The sacrifice is worth it.”

Moore credits her success to her Christian faith and a lot of hard work. She says she would like to expand into permanent makeup offerings, as she sees a market in Springfield for beauty services.

“I believe small business is the heart of Springfield,” she says. “It is a great opportunity for the whole city — creating jobs and inspiration for others to start a business as well.”

In the meantime, she says she follows her heart and encourages other entrepreneurs to do the same.

“My advice would be to start a business that you are already passionate about,” Moore says. “I see a lot of people start a business simply for money, but money is not enough motivation to keep you pushing during those hard times. Make sure your business has a purpose and simply don’t quit!”

She’ll need to embrace that no-quit mentality now more than ever. With COVID-19, the hard times are here; on Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all barbershops, nail salons, beauty salons, and tattoo parlors to close.

“I canceled all of my appointments for this month. Luckily, I have money saved for hard times but my heart goes out to other stylists who are not prepared for this difficult time. Besides having money saved I have to keep the faith that everything will work out,” she wrote in a text message Wednesday evening.

Land of opportunity

Jordan Stacy Coyne was just starting a career in agriculture communications when an idea sparked a new career path. When her grandmother died in August 2015, Coyne inherited 25.5 acres of land at 1751 Rebert Pike. The undeveloped land is in a rural setting, yet just over 2 miles from downtown.

The Barn at Cliffside Acres is a wedding venue featuring a modern farmhouse.While Coyne never considered entrepreneurship, she was drawn to the family property and the urge to do something with it. So, in May 2018 she and her now-husband, Jim, decided to take the leap and use the land to open The Barn at Cliffside Acres — a wedding venue featuring a modern farmhouse.

“The property was sitting vacant and we weren’t sure what to do with it,” recalls Coyne. “My grandmother wanted it to be shared with other people. This wasn’t totally crazy — it was a place that made her happy.”

By May 2019, Coyne had rezoned the property from residential use to agricultural and broke ground — moving a million pounds of dirt to make way for the venue.

When finished this May, the venue will have a 360-degree outdoor ceremony space under two maple trees, a 6,400-square-foot all-season barn, and a covered patio. The Coynes can host up to 225 guests.

Even though construction is not yet complete, Coyne says they already have 16 weddings booked for 2020 and three weddings in 2021. “We’re really happy with the response it’s been receiving,” she says.

In fact, the Coynes are so excited about their new wedding venue, they took it on a “test run” and were married this past September at Cliffside Acres in the middle of construction.

Coyne says she used her network of mentors, both in agriculture and the wedding industry, to put together her business plan and make her dream a reality. She urges other potential entrepreneurs to do the same.

“Use your network and don’t be afraid to ask questions of people who could be potential mentors for you,” she advises.

Coyne agrees with Moore that Springfield is an ideal city to start a new business. “This is the perfect time to be a young entrepreneur and small business owner in Springfield,” she says. “The amount of growth I’m seeing day after day is exciting.”

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