Ava Zech is the Head of Social Media and Marketing here at Ferguson’s and a resident in one of our airstreams. This #girlboss loves her cat, Pino, and beating the summer heat in Mt. Charleston. You can often find her documenting many of our community events to share on social. She is the woman behind our Instagram and Facebook channels! 

Tell us about living at Ferguson’s!

I came here in September 2017 and I think I was only supposed to come here for three months. I was going to put off going to college for the first quarter and then I decided to stay and work and live here … and I love it. I just fell in love with the community and couldn’t think of possibly being anywhere else. I’m happy. I’m here to stay, which is awesome. It feels good.

Where are you from originally?

Seattle!

Very cool. What was your journey of getting here? How did you plug into Fergusons?

I’ve known a lot of people involved with [Fergusons] since I was really young, so when the airstream park was started, I started coming back and forth. It’s been, like, four years now of just visiting. Then last year I was spending all my money to come down every month and stay at the airstream park and see everybody. It was like my home away from home, so I knew that I was going to end up here … there was no other choice.

And now you’re living in an airstream in Fergusons residential?

Yes! I live in an airstream here with my cat, Pino. It’s definitely a weird transition. Just living the minimalist lifestyle definitely took a while to get used to; having to throw a lot of things out and really figuring out what I need. But, I love it. I think it’s definitely the way to live. You know, I only have the things I need and we have this whole community space so it’s really awesome.

What’s one of your favorite things about living in the Ferguson’s community?

I think it’s the sense of family. Like, we’re all so close and always have people to be around. No matter what it is – watching movies or cooking family dinner – it’s always having people around to talk to you. That’s my favorite part, for sure.

That’s awesome. Anything special you want us to know about Pino the cat?

Ha. Pino is a crazy cat. I got her in October 2017, kind of spur of the moment and didn’t think about having a cat in a trailer. But yeah, she’s definitely a boss babe too. She’s crazy. I’ve got a couple of scratches on me right now!

You’re pretty young, too. You’re 19 and you’re taking on the marketing and social position with Fergusons! How does that feel?

Ah, awesome. I still remember when Jen asked me to do it. So, I came on as just the intern doing whatever the team needed. I think I ran to Lowe’s, like, every day for three months when we were first moving in. And then Jen asked me to take over and I was like, ‘Woah, okay. That’s a crazy position to have!’ I’m so honored and Jen is amazing at teaching me, making sure I know the brand voice and everything. It’s been awesome to learn how to do that and marketing and everything. I’m so lucky to have this team of awesome women who all just lift each other up and support each other. It’s been amazing. We’re definitely transitioning a lot with how we do things and we’re always growing so it’s super fun to be a part of this brand from the beginning; I’m excited to see where it goes.

What are you most excited about seeing when the front of the property opens?

I don’t even know! I’m really excited about all the plant life and the trees and everything. I miss that a lot from being up in the Pacific Northwest – like all the greenery, the grass and everything. So, I’m really excited about that and having that space to do it and see how the community responds to it.

“I think it’s the sense of family. Like, we’re all so close and always have people to be around. No matter what it is- watching movies or cooking family dinner, it’s like, always having people around to talk to you. That’s my favorite part, for sure.”

Very cool. Any podcasts/ books/ authors/things that keep you inspired?

Right now our whole team is reading “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership”. I’ve been reading that and I love it. It’s just about learning how to take ownership and be a leader. I’ve also been reading “Grit”, which is kind of an interesting business book that I read on the side about being a self-starter; which I really want to be a self-starter  in the future with whatever I do.

Definitely! What are you rooted in?

I don’t want to be repetitive and say “rooted in community”, but I think that’s definitely something that keeps me going- it is the community here and the outside community. Bringing people together for Market in the Alley and then having this [residential community] here – whatever we do, I think that’s super important and keeps everyone going.

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people who make Las Vegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

Featured Socialista Podcast Guest // Kim of Sober in Vegas

#rootedincommunity

Meet Kim from Sober in Vegas. For more community profiles, visit www.fergusonsdowntown.com

You know that feeling when you instantly connect with someone?

It’s a rare moment, but one I experienced upon meeting Kim for the first time. Kim is the woman behind Sober in Vegas, a blog that explores the sober-friendly side of our dear home of Las Vegas. Because, yes, you can be sober in Vegas and do amazing things!

Our connection goes back to Instagram. I believe that Las Vegas’s Instagram community is one of the most strongest and open communities out there (sure, I’m biased, but it’s true). I met Kim through her Instagram where she shares her personal story and path through her art and creativity. She is someone who lifts up other women when they need it most … on Instagram and in real life.

We messaged back and forth a couple of times about art and then she asked me if I would be interested in talking about the sober-friendly side of Vegas. There was not a moment of hesitation! I knew I needed to have her on the podcast.

So, I brought her into the Tiny House at Fergusons! On this episode, we talk about some real, human things like coming to terms and facing your demons to problematic marketing and personal growth. Kim is originally from Vegas, but spent a good amount of her adult life in Chicago. Since moving back to Sin City she has embarked on a journey of sobriety. She now writes about about sober-friendly and alcohol free options in the city on her blog, Sober in Vegas.

Meet Kim from Sober in Vegas. For more community profiles, visit www.fergusonsdowntown.com

Get ready for a eye-opening experience around navigating the city and it’s sober-friendly options. This podcast is also an interactive one because Kim was kind enough to mix mocktails for us!

I am so lucky to have met Kim and had the chance to get to know her better. Listen to the full podcast episode here.

Megan Victoria is the beautiful, illuminated woman behind Jupiter Lala. She is a gemologist, fine jeweler and artist of many mediums. Her work primarily explores the metaphysical harmonies of all life, through delicate, detailed jewelry, glasswork, and more recently, the experience of “energy events” – a portraiture experience that incorporates biofeedback to explore the relationship of light, color and life.

What inspired the creation of Jupiter Lala?

To tell you what Jupiter Lala is, I need to give you a little history.

For 20 years, I worked concentrically around, and in, nearly every field of gem and jewelry from mineral shops up and down the California coast, fine jewelry on Rodeo, diamond and estate jewelry dealers, a tourmaline mine, even QVC gem sales . For real, I kid you not.

I am a trained gemologist and goldsmith, which was after I went to school for studio art. I have always created alongside learning and living, it is my reciprocal breath of life if you will; what I take into my heart and mind I create out of my heart and mind. Rather than thinking of Jupiter Lala as a brand, I relate to it as a sort of satellite for transmitting all these creations of mine through. I work utilizing an amalgamation of materials (gold and gems of course, stained glass work, ceramic and now aura photography) to express out to our universe.

Color frequencies and metaphysics play a huge role in your work, can you tell us why, and how the two are interconnected?

Metaphysics is a very broad philosophy that studies the essence of a thing; it continues to ask “why” where science leaves off. I.e.:  Science says this green photon is resonating at 525 THz (terahertz), metaphysics asks what does it mean for a photon to resonate to 525 THz? Specifically in the case of my work, what is the relationship between all things emanating that frequency?

Looking back to when I was an art student I worked in metaphysical shops. I would read the given “properties” of gems, as I was being asked about them every day, all day. Quite honestly, I began to question “why and how”, if I didn’t fully understand the “why and how” I felt funny just repeating it. I began studying “the everything” about the minerals I could; the crystal habit (atomic shape), the chemistry, refractive index, the frequency range they oscillate to, what other minerals and plants are found in the ground near them …

What I discovered now seems so obvious perhaps everyone knew it. Color —  the “thing” that generates the color in a crystal is commonly the same “thing: that has an affect on us humans. For instance, tourmaline is known to have soothing qualities, people often keep it near to ease depression. What creates the resplendent color range in all tourmaline’s beautiful varieties is lithium, which is used to treat depression and bi-polar. Color is the truth, and the essence of all earthly and cosmic matter. The curiosity that compels my study is barely a reflection of all the beauty I am permitted to see in my work. It is this spirit in inquiry the frequency of human atmosphere. Aura is my next horizon with Illumine Being (my newer satellite, aka brand), binding an understanding of human energy to all I have discovered in earthly matter.

You brought quite an experience to Ferguson’s Market in the Alley earlier this year with an installation to capture auras on film, in a yurt (it was epic)! Do you have an experience planned for Life is Beautiful?

Yes! I am really excited to be bringing my Aura-cam to Life is Beautiful this year! This is an exquisite piece of equipment fitted with biofeedback sensors on hand-plates. It operates by measuring the energetic resistance between meridian points in your body. The result captured on Polaroid of an ephemeral moment, mystical, numinous, your energy in an ethereal colorful cloud about you. I am currently building a slightly smaller tent this time – actually a portable astronomy dome – based on the concept of geodesic domes. We’ll see how it feels. Let me know what you think! I am so looking forward to seeing all the beautiful auras!

Outside of your creative work, what is something you’re very passionate about sharing with the world?

Oh wow, I wonder if I am ever not in ‘work’ mode! I built my creative ‘work’ around everything I feel dynamic about and care profoundly for; it’s my life’s work and I am bonded to it as a integral part of me. I would say I feel deeply invested in the future of our human civilization, in facilitating creative means for us to endeavor what it means for us all to be here; how we can relieve much of the burden where we’ve placed it and discovering emotionally innovative means of healing and raising one another up.

What would you say you are rooted in?

I am rooted in staying curious, in philosophy, integrity and in being open. I am rooted in humanity and futurism and I am rooted in the mystics.

Megan can be found at IG handles @jupiterlala @illuminebeing , on her website, and (rarely) on Twitter 

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people who make Las Vegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

Kelly Bennett is the Creative Director and co-owner of VegeNation, an award winning, community-based vegan restaurant that began in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. She is a passionate, social-cause-focused entrepreneur who shares creative, positive insight through her media channel @withkellybennett (on Facebook and Instagram) and her co-created business workshop series, @theworkshopdowntown (Facebook, Instagram). Although she’s originally from Long Island, Kelly is a true Las Vegas local and pioneer in the conscious consumer movement, wholeheartedly invested in “change for good” in our city.

Photo by Brittany Lo Photography

Tell us about your life as a Creative Director! What does your day to day look like?

My day to day life as a Creative Director can be sometimes insane, not going to lie. But it’s always really fun. I have to say at the end of the day, with the ups and downs of just being a co-owner of a restaurant that’s growing — woah, two restaurants now —  it can really be exhausting. I have to say this is, like, a dream come true. I’m just so grateful. That’s more of the feeling side of it, and the practical side of it is a lot of project management. I never realized how much creative directors have to just literally project manage. You’re really taking people’s ideas that are in their brain, and then you’re responsible for bringing them to life.

So for myself, it’s the concepts of creating a brand, creating a brand experience, how to curate it, how to document it, how to tell those stories and then not just to consumers, but to a team. So … how to put that all together. It’s a lot of sitting in front of the computer. I just redid my spreadsheet (which I’m very excited about) and I realized that I’ve officially become a nerd because I am so excited for my new spreadsheet!

And yeah, it’s also about really documenting and keeping things organized. The Creative Director is that person between artists and makers who helps concepts come to life. Then, they’re the person who is coming up with ideas as well and really managing all the different sides. Being able to explain why you’re doing certain creative things to say, a COO, and like, understand it financially, but also then creatively. So it’s a lot of living in the gray and using both sides of your brain, which can be exhausting, but I have to say – it’s what I love to do.

How did you get started?

I never knew what a creative director was until I Googled it about three-and-a-half years ago. For myself, I always knew I wanted to be a business person. I always wanted to own businesses. I always wanted to be creative. My dad used to own a manufacturing company in New York and he did all the packaging for perfume companies there. So, I grew up checking big print sheets for perfume boxes and my job was to go around and check for imperfections and circle it and give it to my dad to then have the print redone. What kid does that for fun!? But I loved it. And my mom was very entrepreneurial, too. She always had different companies. She had a preschool and she had a catering company, so I grew up in a very entrepreneurial hustle, but also a very creative family and so I always wanted to be creative.

I went to school for business, then I also studied fashion merchandising and interned in London at a really huge European retailer. Then I studied marketing, advertising, social psychology, randomly lived in China and I was just putting all the pieces together of the impact that marketing has on society and how advertisements have an impact on how people perceive things and influence their behaviors. And I was like, “wow, if I figure out how to positively impact people to make better choices we could use our consumerism for good.”

I didn’t have those words at the time, but that was basically the journey I set out on when I was 18. To figure that out. I don’t even know how I had that idea. I never even had anyone talk to me about that, I just had this concept – this thesis – and then I spent over 10 years trying to put different pieces of the puzzle together. And three-and-a-half-years ago when I met Chef Donald, he told me the concept for VegeNation and I was like, “yes”! This is something I could really sink my teeth into and put all the pieces that I’ve been collecting over the years into one project. And I Googled “what do you call someone who does a lot of creative things and they’re part of the business, but they’re also a creative?” And then Creative Director came up and I read the bio and I was like, “yep. That’s what I am. I’ll be the Creative Director.” And he’s like, “okay, cool.” I just made it up and I put it in the context of doing it for socially conscious brands.

And you also live at Fergusons now?

I do. I live at Fergusons. I live in an airstream and I love it. It is all my minimalist living goals and I love it. I love how it’s all green and efficient and I feel like I’m camping, but I don’t have to be in the woods. And I love that I love it. It’s just very unique and I feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Like, nowhere else in the world, something like this is happening and I truly am inspired every day by people who live around me and like living on a construction site as well. It’s really cool. I love seeing stuff come to life and it just keeps me very grounded.

And the original VegeNation is downtown, just up the road?

Yes. Now we also have Henderson and we’re working on another location in the Southwest, as well as some spinoff concepts – a burger place and a pizza parlor.

So it went from one little idea that we were crossing our fingers, crossing our toes that it would work, and now it’s really becoming a whole bigger thing. We’re working on actually a vegan restaurant group that all of our restaurants could be housed under which is really cool. And for myself as a vegan, I started out more as an activist blogging, telling people why they should go vegan and now I use business as my activism to make cool products, to make a cool space, to make it fun and social, so much that people don’t even realize they’re eating vegan food, but they just feel really good. That’s how I came up with the tagline: “Eat here and feel damn good.” So that people would be more open minded to just trying it. I mean, we serve hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of meals every year and it’s just an incredible thing to see people come up to us, tears in their eyes, like, “I changed my life and VegeNation helped me make it happen!” One lady came up to me the other day and she had had stage four breast cancer; she put her cancer into remission by going vegan! Just incredible stuff. To have a small hand in making a big impact, that feels really good.

What are you most excited about seeing when the front of Ferguson’s opens later this year?

I’m excited to see the underground bar. Hopefully something that we (VegeNation) are working on will go in there. I’m really hoping that will happen! But yeah, the underground bar sounds very cool. And the maker spaces. I want to have a studio in there, hopefully an office. That would be goals!

Okay now, I know these answers because we’re friends, but do you utilize the co-working space in the residential area?

I do. I co-work in there A LOT. We have a really good time. Sometimes we’re like, “okay, we’re not going to talk for an hour” and we’ll set a timer because we just all want to talk to each other. It’s fun because a lot of ideas and projects that we’ve just talked about, just casually, have happened or are starting to happen.

And I like community living as introverted as I am. I like how my airstream is in the corner in the quiet area, but I truly love living around other people. I don’t have to go out anywhere! There are jam sessions, there are different events. It’s so cool. I truly LOVE living here.

And what keeps you inspired?

I would say the growing community of people who truly want to buy things that make a positive impact. And the journey of creating those products and services for that community and then also helping bring up the community of these small business owners and creatives who want to fill that void as well. Seeing both sides of it, working on the consumer demand and supply. I really love economics and just as simple as that may sound, working on both sides. Like today, going to Market in the Alley and seeing one of the members of the Workshop Downtown starting her small business serving tea; Market in the Alley, being something you and I have co-curated before and then seeing people at that market who follow us or read the blogs we produce and now they want to shop more local and support small businesses. To me that’s literally what I’m about and it’s just so cool to live and breathe and sleep in a space that’s curating that.

Okay, so you mentioned the Workshop Downtown. How would you describe it to people who are reading and aren’t familiar?

Yes! I tell people that you and I co-created The Workshop Downtown as an educational hub for local creatives who seek to learn different tools and insights to start or grow their small business. And that we are doing it in a very community-based way where everyone’s welcome! All ideas are welcome, our only requirement is that you seek to make a social impact. It’s really cool, the people that we attract and people who are interested. Our community is growing and people want those types of resources and connections. I’m really excited to see it grow.

What is your favorite system or tool that’s helped take your business to the next level or a tool that makes your life easier?

I’m really about Google spreadsheets right now. Google Docs, making a spreadsheet and then sharing it with my team so that everyone can see what I’m working on. If they have questions, they can go to the spreadsheet first. Or if they have an idea, they could see what’s on the docket and submit it to me. That’s been really helpful … that’s been really good for my brain to get organized. All my spreadsheets are broken down into three simple components: Am I Building a Brand?; Brand Awareness/Curating Brand Experience; and How Do I Bring Someone Back to the Brand? and literally all my spreadsheets are organized like that.

What’s your favorite book, author or podcast?

I’m going to go with podcast because I’m dyslexic and I don’t read much, but I love Socialista Podcast. Also, Wild Mystic Woman Podcast. Her podcast is about ending white feminism and speaking up about white supremacy and hers is very heart opening, mind opening, holy-shit-I-didn’t-even-realize-this-was-even-happening. And I’ve been feeling a lot of intense feelings. Like, wow, I didn’t even know that this was even happening. Or that even some of my actions that were subconscious were contributing to this. So yeah, I signed up for her Patreon and just have been listening. I think that’s a big part of it, just listening. It’s big part of my RE-education of ending white supremacy. So I listen to her  in the evening when I want to educate myself and just kind of think about a topic that I don’t necessarily talk about in my day-to-day work, but that’s very important and that’s a responsibility for me – and to do the work. And if you know me, you kind of probably know that I am obsessed with Gary Vaynerchuk. I really, really do love him. And like that’s like a whole other interview, but I listen to the Gary Vaynerchuk Audio Experience when I need like, a kick in the pants because he’s really blunt New York, which I love. Sometimes I just put his podcast in my ears and I’m like, “YES. I AM GOING TO DO THIS. IT IS HAPPENING!”

Yesss! What are you rooted in?

Creativity. Because I really feel like creativity will heal the world. When you create the right things and you create things that nourish people, nourish the planet, nourish animals and nourish goodness, I feel like you can change the world.

Find Kelly Bennett on Instagram and Facebook @withkellybennett, @vegenation and @theworkshopdowntown, www.theworkshopdowntown.com, and soon at www.withkellybennett.com

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people who make Las Vegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

Featured Socialista Podcast Guest // Justin of the Jabbawockeez

 

#rootedincommunity

Meet Justin David, a member of The Jabawockeez. For more Las Vegas profiles, visit www.fergusonsdowntown.com

MAJOR TALENT ALERT!

If you live here, chance are you are familiar with the Jabbawockeez. Need a reminder? The Jabbawockeez is a hip-hop dance crew, that won the first “America’s Best Dance Crew:” in 2008 (happy 10th anniversary!).

Justin David is one of the members of this troupe of dancers. It may seem like being a part of such an inspirational and popular dance crew seems like a dream, but for Justin, his dream became a reality.

Justin is currently a crew member of Jabbawockeez, Full Force, and Super Cr3w. But that’s not all. This past year, he also helped with the Billboard Awards.

This talented performer has a compelling story of coming full circle.

Born and raised in Guam, Justin talks of the peaceful and quiet life the tiny island of Guam offers. At the age of 11, he began dancing and quickly realized he had a passion for it.

Later, in high school he began competing and winning competitions. The year before graduation, The Jabbawockeez made a tour visit to Guam and needed an opening crew.

Enter Justin’s crew.

A year later, at only 18-years-old, Justin moved to Las Vegas where he enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas an an architecture student. When that didn’t work out, he enlisted in the military and ended up leaving there, too.

But, his passion never waivered.

In 2012, he joined Jabbawockeez in Australia on their international tour.

 

Meet Justin David, a member of The Jabawockeez. For more Las Vegas profiles, visit www.fergusonsdowntown.com

Now, Justin dances with America’s best (and masked) dance crew! They currently preform at the MGM six days a week, as well as touring. Hearing his story gives me so much inspiration! From practicing hip-hop at school to becoming one of Las Vegas’s best dancers, I can’t believe how amazing his journey has been.

 

I am excited to see where his passion takes him next. Listen to the full episode here.

Image 1: Courtesy of Justin-Emmanuel David
Image 2: Courtesy of Jabbawockeez

Featured Socialista Podcast Guest // Jessica Manalo

#rootedincommunity

 

“There’s magic in the world!,” says indie soul singer and song-writer Jessica Manalo when asked what advice she would give to other aspiring artists.

It’s an instant connection when we meet. Jessica’s down-to-earth, authentic and compassionate, which makes talking with her so easy and fluid. She graciously came over to the tiny house at Fergusons Downtown to talk more about her new song and music video Far Away From Home, and what I got was an unadulterated, real conversation.

On the podcast, we cover everything from life in California, the movie Hot Chick, and songwriting based on emotions and experiences. She views her songwriting as a do-or-die situation, but one that is inspirational, writing songs in 15-minute spurts when she gets a spark of emotion.

Jessica started getting into performing when she was a teenager, covering various bands and posting them on YouTube. Her biggest musical inspirations include Paramore, Adele, and Amy Winehouse. Between the ages of 13-18, she started covering various bands and posting them on Youtube.

As a young adult, she branched out into playing at coffee shops and open mics at Human Experience(she went every Monday for two years straight — talk about commitment!).

Shortly after more opportunities came her way, which has allowed her to become a turn her passion into a career. The most beautiful thing about Jessica’s music is that it begs you to look beyond the cool beats, each lyric shows a bit of her real emotion. She explains that she is someone who loves love, a connection to another person. This is why her music has so much soul and authenticity to it.

Learn more about Jessica’s new single “Far Away From Home”, as well as our views on social media and phone addiction and more on The Socialista Podcast.

United Kingdom native Mike Buckham is the face behind the Mike’s Recovery, a carefully crafted line of natural, restorative soaps and mineral bath soaks. If you’ve ever wondered about the incredibly fragrant hand soaps at Fergusons Downtown and PublicUs, meet the founder: massage therapist, lover of thoughtful self-care and natural healing along with his sweet dog, Deepack.

Mike Buckman

What inspired the making of Mike’s Recovery?

I’ve always been into taking baths. It was a kind of nurturing as a way of self care. It’s more common in the UK to do that than in the US. When I was working on The Strip as a massage therapist and working 10-hour days, I started experimenting heavily with aromatherapy oils and different types of salts to help with my body’s physical pain and being emotionally drained from working on people who may have been out all night the night before. Doing that started to take its toll emotionally on me and that’s when I really started looking at something that was natural and that could shift my perception of reality and help me.

How long have you been a massage therapist?

I’ve been a massage therapist for 20 years, which is a really long time in a career where 80 percent of massage therapists leave after two years. I feel that people in general sometimes lack self care – that’s my observation over the years – and so I’ve just learned this protocol that works for me. I don’t like taking anything that has side effects so I’ve worked out how much of each ingredient I would need in order to create a physiological change for each of the recovery blends. I literally sat in bathtubs for years with one single note of aromatherapy oil on my body until I felt that it would give a change, and that’s how I created the formulas.

That’s cool! Did you ever intend to sell them or was it primarily just for you?

It was totally for me. The first aromatherapy oil I tried, I think I was about 21. I went to a massage therapist in the UK because I was having severe anxiety and she suggested Ylang Ylang. I put it in the bath water and I sat in there. It was supposed to induce euphoria and a sense of wealth. It had all of these things it was supposed to do. And I was like, “I can’t feel shit. It smells nice but physiologically, like, there’s nothing!”

I’m very much a scientist like that. If you tell me something, I’m going to find out whether it works or not for myself. And so it took me actually about 15 years to really feel the physiological benefits of that one oil. I remember the first time I felt it. As I was getting into the bath water, this wave of euphoria just came over me and I’m like, “Oh my God, this is what it does! It’s taken f*cking 15 years!” It’s one of my favorite oils.

It’s really cool when I get to that point where it’s not just psychological, but it’s a physical thing. That’s why I created the blends. I would go to the store and I would buy stuff and it wouldn’t work. I have no judgment about what we can get in the U.S., it’s just the quality just wasn’t as good as the UK. [In the UK] if you say something has aromatherapy in it and it’s natural, it has to be that. It would be monitored for that and here, you can say aroma therapy and it can be a synthetic blend.

Do you source your oils then from the UK?

We source them globally. Rose grows really well in high altitude in Bulgaria, so we get the rose from there. Frankincense is from West Africa. Wherever they grow best, we source them from. My business partner is really good.

So I know Ferguson’s carries Mike’s Recovery, as well as PublicUs, are there other places in town that carry your products?

Not the soaps, not yet. We’re primarily a bath salt company – that was the intent for it, but my business partner is American and he was like, “we need a shower gel because people are not going to take baths.” I said, “but it’s about baths!” So we created something that’s good for us both. That’s when we came up with the soaps. I love PublicUs – I would go there when it first opened and their hand soap was sh*t, so I was there one day (and their bathrooms are so beautiful) and I was like, this needs our soap. So I literally bombed their bathroom. I put my soap in there. I made a formula and it’s what I felt would be good for them.

I meditate. And I as I create something, I work in a frequency of like, okay, what do I want to feel after? What do I want from this product? And that’s what I created for their bathrooms. There’s a male and female component and they’re meant to merge and make the whole. That was the intent behind creating that blend. I was like, can I just put this in your restroom to see if people like it? And then two hours later Kimo came to me like, oh my God, this amazing!

And for Ferguson’s, you are working with them to put different products in the hotel, right?

Yes, we are coming up with a custom blend that’s just for them that will be packaged and labeled for them as well.

Very cool, so are you working with them on the scents? And are you allowed to give us any clues?

Yeah! So we’re looking at something with grapefruit, a very light cedar, juniper berry. We need something more solid to anchor it in. If it’s too high, the frequencies will just evaporate very quickly so we need something to molecularly keep it in the air; I’m working on that.

Do you remember the first blend you ever made for your bath salts?

Yes! It was frankincense and clary sage. It reminds me of looking at my mother as a little boy on a summer’s day. She had a white dress on and it was a hazy room and was just purity. When I smell it, I’m like, oh my God, it’s my mom.

What are some of your favorite scents?

Clary, Ylang Ylang, Petitgrain – that one is really good for trauma related to sexual abuse. It is really healing. That’s in the Rest Blend because honestly, from working at Encore, I could be touching somebody that could have been assaulted the night before. You just don’t know what you’re working on sometimes, but I could feel it. That would really help my brain after that.

That is so interesting. Do you have a favorite book or podcast that inspires you to just think outside of the box and keep you creative?

I love spirituality. I love studying the self; I really enjoy Dr. Wayne Dyer. He kind of teaches spirituality for the average guy. You know, he just humanizes it. He was an author and he passed away about two years ago. I remember working at the spa at Canyon Ranch at the Venetian and my friend that was in the break room and she was like, “oh, I’m massaging Wayne Dyer.” And I was like, “WHAT!? I love him!” I was so excited. So as I went to pick my guest up, he was walking toward me and I must have been beaming like a Christmas tree – all lit up – and he looked at me and he was like, “you must be Michael.” I was like, “how do you know me?!” He’s like, “no, she told me that you really appreciate my work.” He was amazing.

Oh, and then my little dog, Deepack is my inspiration. His name means ‘light’ in Hindi and he inspired me because I had a pretty rough childhood and couldn’t feel very much as an adult, I had pretty destructive behaviors. But Deepack, I would hold him when he was a puppy and he would just let go. I was like, oh my God, this is love, this is love. He is my inspiration. You know he’s old and blind and deaf now, and he can barely stand to walk, he sleeps 20 hours but I love him. He’s a pure frequency. I feel frequencies. I think that’s how I create things as well. I’m an empath, so I perceive the world through frequency rather than through thinking, which can be, again, like I said, in a massage therapy world in Vegas – it can be a lot.

Ahh. I figured that because when you said you would pick up on their energy, I was thinking, he must be really intuitive that way.

I am very much so. I mean, I could tune in with my next guest or a guest three hours later. I would know what I’m getting, and then I would be like, ohh, this is coming. Okay. I would really bunker down and ground myself and really, really stay detached. Because I can pick up on somebody else’s stuff and they can almost become my reality. I can go unconscious really quickly to other people. It’s the curse of being sensitive.

And so you work with athletes now for the most part doing massage therapy?

Yeah, I quit my job at Wynn. I was working at Encore and my mom was dying in the UK.. I just couldn’t be in a dark room anymore, so I went to work at the gym. This five star, entitled world that I was living in, I just couldn’t deal with it. It was bullshit. And my boss (at the time), I was telling him about my trip to be with my mom who was passing and I could see he was just looking through me. I was standing so I just detached from him was like, “what’s going on, God? Like, show me like the truth.” And then he just looked at me, he’s like, “you need to trim your mustache. You need to tidy your facial hair up.” And in my head I was just like, I’m so f*cking done. That was it. Thanks!

So yeah, I messaged the owners of the gym where I work out and had traded with them for years. I was like, “Hey, do you mind if I give out business cards?” And they’re like, “well, we have a better idea. Why don’t you just work here?” It was a great. It was challenging though because working for a company like that (Encore) on The Strip that’s like, ‘you’re never going to get a job as good as this ever again,’ it becomes a belief! I was just this little sensitive massage therapist trying to go out into the world on my own with the perception and the belief that I had to work somewhere like that, and that’s so not true. I’ve proved it to myself. I keep my costs and my fees down so it’s accessible to everyone; I’d rather work with real people and see transformation in people as well. And that’s a beautiful thing. So working with athletes – it’s honed my skills a lot because you know, they can injure themselves during the workouts and be like, what do I do? It’s been really challenging and I love it. It’s been good fun.

What are you rooted in?

My spirit. That’s my driving force for everything. I moved to the US 20 years ago to be with my partner that I fell in love with while I was on vacation. I literally had to live here illegally for many years to be with him. But I’ve always, always followed my spirit. And it usually means that I have to go the opposite direction than everyone else. It’s interesting. It’s painful pushing against things like that. And you know, relationships don’t always stay, but I stay with me. I think that’s been the lesson.

How can people follow and find you?

Mike’sRecovery.com, and we’re also on instagram @mikesrecovery. To book a massage, contact Mike here.

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people who make LasVegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

 

Meet Melissa Flaxman

Melissa Flaxman, M. Ed., is many things.

She’s an educational specialist, a children’s special education advocate and the creator of Future Makers LV, a conscious and engaging workshop series for kids. Her heart beats for children in the Las Vegas community, bringing wonder and creative learning to our city’s Future Makers.

Melissa of Future Makers

 

Tell me a little bit about Future Makers!

Future Makers is events and classes for kids, as well as [provides] resources for families. It encompasses a lot of what I’ve learned about creating the best place for kids – including everything they would need to create the future. Future Makers really means “we make the future”. The makers movement (which I love) is all about making, and kids are making their own future.

I love it. Is your background working with children?

Well, I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education. I began working with kids when I was in high school at a daycare center and have been working with them on and off ever since.

I was a teacher for Clark County for 13 years doing special education. There, I was working with some students with autism who couldn’t speak, some children who couldn’t care for themselves daily, as well as kids who maybe just needed a little extra help with reading and writing. I was lucky enough to provide service to kids of all ages from all different backgrounds. I also taught Downtown at JD Smith for 10 of the 13 years, so that’s where my heart really lies.

After that, I moved to Faiss Middle School, which is kind of in the suburbs, and from there to a private school. The reason I eventually moved away from teaching was because I felt like I was living in a box.

Future Makers is designed to bring resources and workshops to the underserved, or the kids that maybe wouldn’t have these opportunities otherwise. At the same time, I want to create opportunities for all children so we use the funding that we get from workshops in outer areas of the city to fund the areas where underserved children are living. Future Makers is created to do all of the things schools don’t do, and then to help the schools learn to do those things, too.

Do you work with kids in schools?

I’m trying to stay outside of the system, but actually, a lot of people have been suggesting that to me. What I’ve done in the past with Future Makers is worked with school clubs, so it’s not in the school. We had Mariachis from JD Smith at the first [Fergusons] Market we did, and then we have students maybe from a science club coming to the events. That’s another thing – the children that live Downtown and go to these underserved schools maybe don’t go to Container Park; they maybe don’t even know it’s there. Another part of my heart strings is making these opportunities known and available to kids and then helping their parents either find ways to bring them or make it close enough for them to walk.

That’s amazing. What are some lessons you’ve been learning along this journey, or some challenges you’ve faced being out of CCSD but still trying to reach local children?

Definitely the heat. That’s been a challenge lately. Before summer, it was very easy to pop up anywhere, but in summer it’s very difficult. And the longterm goal is for Future Makers to have a space, so it’s challenging not having one yet. In the meantime, I’m trying to create a Future Maker’s Family. That way when the space opens, the families are already there; they’re already established and ready to move into the space. And then maybe the space will be created more around what’s needed for them.

One of your popup locations is Fergusons’ Market in the Alley, and you’re now also doing Kid’s Brunch for the residents, right? Is it the same program that you’re doing for both?

I always try to do different programs so that maybe we can draw people from the Brunch to also come to the Market. Recently though, I’ve been learning about tinkering with the Exploratorium (I’m taking courses), so the two workshops I’m doing this month are within that series. There are the ‘light up circuits’ and the ‘scribble bots’ so tinkering is kind of where I’m going.

And why do you like making and tinkering as opposed to teacher-led instruction on how-to-make a craft?

Okay, so the Constructionist Theory of Education … what that means is that students are given the tools to create their own knowledge. I’ve always tried to do this in the classroom – especially with students in Special Education. You have to draw the kids into whatever they’re doing. Even if you give them your instructions, they’re going to need to do it their way.

That’s another thing that I’ve found, because teaching Special Education and learning what I learned there, as far as individualizing instruction, is what I’m trying to do now with all of my workshops. What is easiest to do is make. Having a set curriculum and a set of instructions? They go out the window almost immediately. I have to be able to work with whatever student I have in front of me and whatever they might be drawn to (themselves).

You’ve built something recently for Fergusons, right?

The water table, yes. Having 15 years of experience can be overwhelming, so what I have to do is think about the situation. MARKET = HEAT. Okay, so it’s hot. Let’s frame everything around water. How can kids interact with water? And then that’s where the conscious part comes in. Because back in the old days, we would just have a hose, right? We’d run the water all day! So a water table recycles water. That’s the conscious element. What I call consciousness (coming from being a child in the late 70s is like, the consciousness movement): think about what you’re doing. Think hard about what you’re doing. Think about why you’re doing it. How can make it be better? So that’s what I mean when I say, “conscious kids workshops”. It’s thinking about the environment, thinking about how kids are learning and then creating. Like the water table – that encompasses all of that. It’s perfect for the market. I have to consider all of those things when I create and develop ideas. And can I say something about Ferguson’s?

Yes!

They are so open. They were another reason why I was drawn into this tinkering! I think seeing this robot they have here, being in this environment and seeing these rad makers take it to a whole other level. My thought was: how can I get kids to also take it to that level? And then my ultimate goal is to get these local makers to see what we’re doing and want to teach the kids too.

Woah! So community makers working with kids?

Absolutely. We work with a couple of artists from the Workshop Downtown, and then I work with a science teacher now. It’s just getting these people who have experience in a certain field to share it with kids. As teachers we can’t know everything. The kids think we do sometimes but we don’t. We need to pull in the right people. We need to pull in the experts. And that’s the other goal – to take it to a whole new level – maybe create a light installation, a huge scribble bot! It’s finding makers that want to help kids take it to the next level.

And what would be your ideal vision for Future Makers in five years?

Having a space for the Future Makers Family – a place for workshops and classes, a place to bring the experts and makers to the families and then having resources for the families. That’s another big part of it. I also do consulting and advocacy. I’m an advocate for students in Special Education. I can work with CCSD or whatever school they’re in to make sure they’re getting what they need. I guess Future Makers is really just making sure kids get what they need to then make the future.

And regardless of income, social status, all of those factors, right?

Yes. Regardless of anything. All children. Leveling that playing field. I was a Women’s Studies minor in college, so we learned a lot about that. You know, we’re not born into a level playing field. It’s just not. There are people like us who want to level it though.

What would you say you are rooted in?

Inclusion. We make the future together. We each bring something special and unique to the table that is needed and should be valued. Leveling the playing field increases all of our chances.

“..being in this environment and seeing these rad makers take it to like, a whole other level. My thought was: how can I get kids to also take it to that level? And then my ultimate goal is to get these local makers to see what we’re doing and want to teach the kids too.”

If someone wants to get involved with Future Makers, donate their time to teach the skill that they have- musicians, artists, etc., how would they get in touch with you?

Absolutely! They can reach me on Instagram @futuremakerslv (I meet A LOT of makers on Instagram!), Facebook or by email @futuremakerslv@gmail.com

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people at make LasVegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

Jillian Minter is a yoga and pilates instructor and owner of local studio, Pilates + Yoga, which offers classes, workshops and yoga/ pilates teacher training. She is also the curator of the health and wellness workshops offered at Ferguson’s Market in the Alley. 

What originally prompted your interest in yoga?

I was doing obstacle course racing and running actually and I kept getting injured. A girlfriend wanted me to go to yoga with her, so I tagged along and then I realized once I started doing it, I stopped getting injured. So I started it as a kind of rehabilitation.

That makes sense. Like a way to stretch your muscles! How long have you been practicing yoga? And do you have a favorite style?

I’ve been practicing yoga for eight years, and yes, I practice mainly Vinyasa and Yin. I also love Ashtanga.

What are some other things you enjoy when you’re not practicing?

I enjoy pilates, running, Crossfit, cooking and traveling.

Can you tell us about your studio, Pilates + Yoga?

Pilates + Yoga has been around for just over six years and I’ve had the studio for a year-and-a-half. We do pilates on the mat, then we also do Reformer Pilates. We have yoga as well … so a little bit everything!

You teach pilates as well then?

Yes.

What is Reformer pilates?

Reformer Pilates is pilates done on a spring-based apparatus machine that uses resistance. It’s a lot of fun and the most popular class at the studio.

Very cool. And what would you say to someone who’s interested in trying yoga or pilates, but is intimidated?

I would say that everyone’s a beginner at some point! You have to start somewhere and really, everyone’s focused on themselves, so not to be worried about it!

What are some life philosophies that you’ve learned through the practice of yoga?

There are many things! Yoga — for me and I think for most people — really starts as a physical practice, but it’s so much more than that. And really, the spiritual journey is kind of what led me from not just practicing, but to teaching.

And do you teach at every Market in the Alley at Ferguson’s?

I do, yes. I always instruct a class but then we try to bring in other instructors as well. So whether we have pilates, yoga or kids yoga — we do a little bit of everything. This month (July 15th), we’ve got yoga and beer inside of the Bunkhouse at 9:30 a.m.!

“Yoga for me and I think for most people really starts as a physical practice, but it’s so much more than that.”

And what are you looking forward to as Ferguson’s expands into opening the motel side as a Market Square this year?

I just think it’s exciting to see the growth throughout the last year; I’m excited to see the continuation of that and all the people that are coming and learning about it and being excited and just watching the community grow.

Have you been working with them since the market started last year?

No, we started incorporating a health and wellness aspect in February and added yoga then.

Oh wow. And what are you rooted in?

I would say self-care. I think that everyone really needs to take care of themselves to be able to be their best self for others.

I agree, 1000%! Where can people find you/follow you and learn about the classes you’re teaching?

The full studio schedule for Pilates + Yoga is online Lasvegaspilatesyoga.com and the Market in the Alley schedule is always posted on Facebook- the time varies and sometimes we have different classes. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook.

Our Community Feature series is led by Ashley Ayala of Sister House Collective. We’re so excited to have her be a part of our Fergusons community and crafting stories about people who make Las Vegas so incredible! Our partnerships are so important to us and we take a lot of time to really dig into the amazing talent right here in our backyard to connect them to us … and you! A big part of our vision is supporting our community and sharing people’s passions and dreams, and doing what we can to help further them! We’re #rootedincommunity and it shines through every decision we make, every person we meet and every idea we work hard to highlight.

Featured Socialista Podcast guest: Josh Molina

This is a story about family, tradition, and following your passion.

If you are social coffee drinker or connoisseur, then chances are you have heard of Makers & Finders in the Arts District (and another location in Downtown Summerlin).

It’s easy to frequent this welcoming café, nestled on the burgeoning Main Street, every day. As someone who found Makers to be a great place to meet friends for breakfast and stay for the Lavender Lattes, I was intrigued by the story behind this latin-inspired coffee shop.

When I first reached out to Josh Molina, the co-owner of Makers, he was excited to come on the Socialista Podcast. We sat down in the tiny home and talked about everything from growing up in Queens to his family’s big move to Las Vegas.

Josh moved to our beautiful city of Las Vegas when he was around 12 years old. It was very obvious to me that he is an extremely hard worker — he put himself through college and pursued various jobs that taught him leadership skills. But, he had something pulling him to the restaurant business — his upbringing in Colombia and later, New York City.

In fact, that Latin cuisine he grew up on was instrumental in bringing the neo-traditional Latin food to the community.

He talked more about his memories as a child, recalling that cooking was a special time when eeryone would get together and craft traditional Columbian food. This familial love of culture and food transcends into Makers’ menu.

It all started with the arepa. Being able to share Latin culture and meals with our community is Josh’s and Makers’ goal. I would say he and his business partner are doing a great job of doing so!

Late last year, Makers & Finders opened its second location in Downtown Summerlin. Head over there and check out the new gorgeous spot and show Josh and the Makers team some love by visiting the café (you must try the Lavender Latte and Mango Arepa!)

Listen to the full episode here.