Category Archives: denver

Pakems: Conveniently Packable Sporty Shoes

The Pakems + Kid Project Giveaway ends today! Go over and enter to win a pair of low-cut Pakems now!

Wearing my high-top pair of Pakems this past winter.

Wearing my high-top pair of Pakems this past winter.

This post is part of a series of Support Local pieces on my blog. To check out other posts in the series, check the category “support local”

I don’t quite remember how I came across Pakems late last year: could have been another random Twitter find. Pakems is a Colorado-based company that makes portable shoes for after skiing/snowboarding and general travel for outdoor sports. From the Pakems website:

Pakems are lightweight, water-resistant, packable shoes engineered to take anywhere. They feature lightweight rip stop fabric, rubber soles for traction, and a strapped bag for packability.

I got myself a pair as an early Christmas present and I certainly have enjoyed this purchase. I’ve worn Pakems during the snowstorms earlier this year and they held up with their waterproof promises. The shoes are also good for slick sidewalks since I hadn’t slipped in my Pakems when I wore them. The high-top shoes are great to keep my ankles warm, although I may cave and buy a low-top pair for other reasons, hehe.

High-top Pakems in Lumberjack Plaid.

High-top Pakems in Lumberjack Plaid.

Pakems has shoes both for men and women, which come in a variety of colors and patterns. Each pair comes with its own carrying case so you can store away the shoes after you use them. Super fun!

Might be cute to see Pakems make kids’ shoes in the future. For now, I say buy a pair for yourself and check them out. Ski season may be winding down in Colorado, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying a pair for summer vacation hiking and other outdoor activities.

Pakems are currently sold in-stores at only a few locations, but you can always order your own pair on their website! Heck, why don’t you take a stab at the giveaway ending today? You just might be the lucky one.

***DISCLAIMER: I received a discount on a pair of Pakems, so in no way did the company offer me a free pair. This post is written from my own free will, so it is not a paid advertisement from the company. :)

Cafe Max: Bringing Europe & the US Coasts to Denver

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis

I first discovered Cafe Max back in mid-March on my way to get a pedicure. I do not remember what was there before the cafe; I just know I walked by and looked up and realized the cafe was there. I went on to my pedicure and asked the staff if they knew of anything about their new neighbor next door. “Oh, it’s a nice place; they have sandwiches, coffee, and other things.”

After the pedicure, I decided to scope out Cafe Max…and the rest is history (haha). I met Max on that first visit, and since then, we’ve become close friends along with his partner, Yuki. There was a period of time in late summer/early fall where I was at the cafe nearly every evening, doing work or keeping company with Max and his employees. I have joked that I am Cafe Max’s “biggest investor” because of the cash I have spent on the cafe’s offerings.

View of Cafe Max from the back table.

View of Cafe Max from the back table.

When people first walk into Cafe Max, they immediately feel transported to another place in the world: I have heard patrons call Cafe Max a “European-style cafe”, or “This reminds me of San Francisco/New York City.” Max will take any of the above: he wanted to bring a different concept of a cafe to Denver. Raised in the Bronx, Max has lived all over the country doing public relations and working at restaurants, so he has experienced a lot of different business environments. Cafe Max’s mission is to “provide nourishment and inspiration, inside a stylish environment that balances eclectic worldliness, with a welcoming sense of place. ”

At Cafe Max, patrons experience a cozy, almost “living room”-like environment: there are magazines and books available to peruse while patrons wait for their food or drink. The menu itself is different from what folks would expect in Denver: instead of the same ol’ pastries, Max has all unique desserts, either made in his kitchen or from local businesses (e.g., Humble Pie). In addition, Cafe Max’s menu has breakfast items (served all day!–my favorite!), continental plates, and coffee products (French Press, Cappucino, *authentic Cafe con Leche, and strong, bold cold coffee from La Colombe). If coffee isn’t your preference, there are also teas from all over the world to choose from; both caffeinated and herbal teas are available. Cold drinks include San Pellegrino sodas and sparkling water, organic juices, and unique offerings of beer and wine.

prezzolini prosecco at Cafe Max; what a cute little glass!

prezzolini prosecco at Cafe Max; what a cute little glass!

Cafe Max’s menu items are also accommodating to those with a gluten intolerance, having dishes and desserts gluten-free. Some items are also lactose-free.

I have practically eaten my way through the whole menu over the course of the past nine months: my favorite dishes are the Frittata w/organic greens, the Organic Salad w/goat cheese, and the Prosciutto Panini (also served with organic greens). The entrees are light and prepared to order. Cafe Max is not a place to grab-n-go quickly; Max and Yuki want patrons to linger, take some downtime at the cafe between business meetings, errands, etc.

Cafe Max is open on Mondays thru Saturdays from 8:30am to 10pm. On Sundays, the cafe closes at 6pm.

When you get the chance, Denver, come visit Cafe Max and experience the place firsthand. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to meet Max; he is very approachable and kind with an interesting sense of humor. You can visit the cafe on the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Josephine Street: 2412 E. Colfax Avenue, Denver 80206.

Caveman Cafeteria, Feeding a Revolution Paleo-style

Besides the incredible taste, did you know that Caveman Cafeteria's lamb is also 100% GRASS-FED?!

Did you know that Caveman Cafeteria’s lamb is 100% GRASS-FED?!

I first came to know about Caveman Cafeteria from their mobile food stand at 16th and Larimer back in May. I was on my way to the Market Street Station to ride a bus to DIA and saw the stand firmly anchored on that corner of the 16th Street Mall. I took a kale and wagyu beef dish with me to Market Street Station; satisfyingly much tastier than any food I could grab n’ go at the airport.

Since then, I have been following the Twitter account, @DenverCaveman (now @FeedARevolution) and have learned a lot about the Paleo Diet through the business. When they first announced their meal plans, I was intrigued: Monday thru Friday lunch and dinner for a full month? Sign me up (because I am lazy, ha). However, I did not want to commit to a full month without trying out some of the meals first. So, I waited…

And then, Caveman Cafeteria announced 1-week trials of their meal plans. I immediately signed up, justifying the cost as almost equivalent to a week’s worth of groceries (the meal plans cost a little more than my usual grocery trip).

Delicious 100% #grassfed WAGYU steak w/ #Organic golden yams, brocolli & demi-glace.

Delicious 100% grassfed WAGYU steak w/ Organic golden yams, brocolli & demi-glace.

I tried the Cavemean Meal Plans out during the week of October 14-18. First things first: pick up my lunchbox for my Monday and Tuesday meals (then I went back for my second lunchbox on Wednesday for Wed-Fri meals). Members have a choice of where to pick up their meal boxes at several Crossfit and other locations in the Denver area. I opted for pick-up at the Corepower Yoga on Grant/13th.

From the first bite, I was definitely enamored with Caveman’s meal preparation. I went with the 3-block medium portions and that was just the right amount of food for me that week. Grass-fed, organic meat with steamed vegetables was on the menu for the week; of course, various meat and vegetables were in each separate meal. My most favorite offerings that week were the wagyu beef (so tender! so juicy!), lamb, and the roasted yams and radishes. Yum yum.

Also, during my trial week, I had two delicious paleo salads–so many delicious nutrients with a light dressing. With the hot dishes, all I had to do was microwave them (or I had the option of baking the dishes, too) for a few minutes and voila~ meal, complete!

Alas, during my one-week trial, I forgot each time to take a photo of my meals for this post; instead, I contacted Will White, the Founder of Caveman Cafeteria, to get me some photos from his own collection.

100% #GrassFed Wagyu beef meatloaf w/ #Organic criminis, broccolini, fresh herbs & demi-glace; YUM!

100% GrassFed Wagyu beef meatloaf w/ Organic criminis, broccolini, fresh herbs & demi-glace; YUM!

After my trial week, I had the option of signing up for my monthly fill of meal plans. The smallest (medium portions) option is $499 for four weeks of meals during weekdays. This is the plan recommended for most women. There are also options of 4-block (large) portions for $599/month or 5-block (XL) portions for $699/month. The fees vary depending on how you pay for the plan. There are also options for couples and families.

Now here’s a disclaimer: I myself do not subscribe to Paleo principles, but I thoroughly enjoyed my meals from Caveman Cafeteria. Their meals are well-balanced and filling, no matter the size and no matter which diet (outside of Paleo) you work with. I would like to sign up for monthly meals sometime in early 2014; as of now, my funds are tight so I have to forgo the monthly option for the rest of this year.

My interactions with Will have been nothing but kindness and accommodating; Will built Caveman Cafeteria with the philosophy of being a YES company: whatever the customer wants or needs in meals, the business will get that request fulfilled. For example, with the meal plans, Caveman Cafeteria is willing to work around travel schedules. Don’t see many businesses like that doing the same thing. Will is very approachable and always willing to help and answer questions.

I highly recommend Caveman Cafeteria meal plans for those of you who have busy weeks/no time to cook! My weekdays are usually not too busy, but I admit that I usually avoid cooking meat for myself as the process always seems too laborious for just myself.

Try out a week and tell me what you think!

(And follow Caveman Cafeteria via FB or Twitter!)

Pressed Juice Daily: Denver’s Juice Source

 

Colorful bottles of delicious juices.

Colorful bottles of delicious juices.

Remember that post I wrote about my 3-day cleanse? That only happened several weeks ago; anyway, yes, I got all my juices, chlorophyll water, aloe water, and DELICIOUS raw almond milk from Pressed Juice Daily.

Pressed Juice Daily opened its doors in Denver on September 20th; the kiosk/store is located on the 16th Street Mall at Court (near the World Trade Center). I had only heard of PJD from their following me on Twitter; I was intrigued by the name and the concept. So I began following their Twitter account and pounced on the chance to check PJD out on opening day.

I was promised that I could sign a $1 bill for being the first to arrive; alas, I was second to arrive, but that was okay. The owners, Adam Cianciola and Christian Davis, are both so kind and accommodating. They make the juices daily (heck, apparently they did not get much sleep the hours before their grand opening; they were bottling and pressing their juices for the big day!) They let passersby sample some juice before they buy; kids and adults love the various kinds of juice. Sure, a bottle averages about $8 each, but I can imagine pressing so many juices daily takes a lot of time, energy, and money (especially for organic, natural fruits and vegetables).

Raw Almond Milk & Clarity 2

Raw Almond Milk & Clarity 2

Now, with the 3-day cleanse, I got 27 bottles of all the different juices (you can see what the cleanse includes on their page). At first I didn’t believe I could be successful with the cleanse (ah, my darn mind & its limitations). But throughout the first day, I found that I was not missing solid food. It helped that I was keeping track of my hours to space out the juices evenly throughout the day.

My favorites out of all the juices? Energy 2, Detox 1-2, and Clarity 2. One of the juices I had during the cleanse was seasonal: it had watermelon in it as well (I think that was in one of the Clarity bottles). Of course, I cannot stop raving about their raw almond milk; SO creamy and delicious. I could hardly believe that the milk was not sweetened with sugar, but with nature’s goodness. At the end of each day of my cleanse, I savored the raw almond milk, sipping slowly and mumbling “Mmmm” each time. Yes, it’s THAT good.

I succeeded in completing my cleanse by the end of that weekend; so thankful that I had PJD to guide me along with what to drink and when. Definitely felt cleaned out and ready to reset my diet.

While I know I can easily buy juices from national brands at Whole Foods, or hit up a well-established juice bar in town, I prefer the trip downtown to get cold pressed juice from PJD. I am all about supporting local, and I can see that the owners and their staff work hard to get the products out daily!

Check Pressed Juice Daily out when you’re wandering around on 16th Street Mall!

(Oh, and by the way, they do deliveries!)

Celebrating Small & Local Businesses.

Baking French macarons, my next business.

Baking French macarons, my next business.

I attempted to do a month of this last year, but then fell off the wagon with writing.

This time, I am concentrating the efforts over several weeks, depending on how much material I can get together.

I have a few businesses already in mind — I will those a secret for now, though.

If you are a small, local (Denver) business and would like for me to write about you, let me know.

I am all for supporting local; more action, less talk.

Denver Startup Week: How to Make 2014 Better

Fund your brains out, really! Check out P2B Investor.

Fund your brains out, really! Check out P2B Investor.

It’s Denver Startup Week (DSW) here in town. So far, I have attended the kick-off luncheon w/Seth Godin, Tech Cocktail, the Leadership Panel at Basecamp, and Ignite Denver 15. Of course, being the #HashtagHustler, I have also been following the Twitter feed to see what kind of conversations will pop up on the hashtag.

While I am happy to see that this year’s event is bigger with more tracks (Business, Design, Manufacturing, Tech, and then some ), Basecamp (WONDERFUL pop-up coworking/mingling lounge on 16th Street Mall), and a streamlined events calendar/agenda, there is still room for improvement for the next year (and beyond).

My mind came to these thoughts mainly from Andy Vuong’s article, “Could Denver Startup Week eventually rival SXSWi festival?” Sure, Seth Godin gave us some blessings about how DSW is the largest free event of its kind in the world; we have that going for us as compared to SXSWi. However, the quality of DSW sessions are not at the same caliber as SXSWi sessions; we may boast 125 free sessions this year, but how many of them are worth attending? There’s a reason why people pay good money to attend SXSWi. If we want to be competitive with SXSWi, we need to do the following:

  1. If we’re going to have the tagline “Celebrating Everything Entrepreneurial in Denver”, we will have to move past the tech scene. Despite what many attendees may think, the events are not as diverse as they can be: tech is laced in with design & business, oftentimes being the focal point of those sessions. In fact, the most-tweeted/publicized events so far seem to be highlighting only Tech-related events. Unique offerings this year do include a manufacturing track and more food-related sessions (also some spirits-tasting). If we are going to celebrate EVERYTHING entrepreneurial in Denver, it is time for us to also think of the small business community here. Let’s bring in some cafe/coffee shop crawls and sessions on how to start your own local thriving restaurant, bakery, etc. We may have ‘separate’ food events/festivals happening throughout the year in town, but many of our favorite neighborhood eats are also entrepreneurial. Just because their focus is not on tech does not negate them as being entrepreneurial.
  2. Work with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Mile High Business Alliance, and other organizations in town. This point goes along with above: the problem we have in Denver is that we are all stuck in our silos, our comfort zones. This year, Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association, and Chase are the top sponsors of Startup Week. What about asking the Denver Metro Chamber to sponsor as well? The Mile High Business Alliance? Perhaps these other organizations can provide more resources/sessions for years to come. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to expand our events past downtown and showcase other great neighborhoods for our out-of-town guests to Startup Week? This could encourage them to consider moving to our beautiful city.
  3. Use the #DENStartupWeek hashtag for more conversations and meetups.  This may just be a general problem in Denver and not just DSW. I have attended several conferences this year (Launch festival, Inc. Leadership, SXSW V2V) and there I noticed attendees utilized the hashtags to connect in-person, create pop-up parties, etc. Not only that, people were using the hashtag for plain ol’ conversation on Twitter regarding the events. So far, I have seen a lot of retweeting the same tweets and not much conversation going on with the #DENStartupWeek tag. If we’re trying to rival SXSWi and other conferences/events, we should be using our hashtag more effectively.
  4. Where’s the New Tech? Where are the true innovations? We hopeful attendees got to select the proposals for DSW a month ago; not sure if the organizing committee had some input on the final decisions or not. When the final schedule was released, I jumped onto the calendar to see which sessions I could attend. What I saw on the schedule were many hackneyed topics: funding options; how to deal with failure; programming; and the same monthly events that Denver always holds (Denver Founders Network, New Tech, etc.). The monthly events are fine, but the sessions? Most of the lessons from these sessions can be found online through an article, blog post, TED Talk, etc. I had a friend tell me, “It’s much different to hear the advice in-person than via video,” and I do agree with him on that. However, instead of having these tried-and-true sessions, why don’t we mix things up? What about having someone present a new concept in solar technology that can then be made into the next great startup? What about new restaurant concepts? New design thinking, mapping, etc.? Let’s be innovative and have sessions that are quirky, unique to Denver and Colorado. Let’s make DSW worth the time for out-of-towners visiting us.
  5. What about all the other great entrepreneurs/founders out there? Let’s move past the local stars, i.e., Jim Deters, Bart Lorang, and Brad Feld, and get other founders up on stage/leading sessions for inspiration; let lesser-known (yet successful!) entrepreneurs have the spotlight for once. Don’t get me wrong: I admire and respect the aforementioned people. However, if we continue to focus on only these major players, how can we innovate? Also, would be nice to see more female entrepreneurs on the main stage/bigger sessions instead of silo-ed off to a one-night session.

What do you think could be improved upon for next year’s DSW? Do you agree or disagree? Would love to hear your insight.

An Entrepreneur Lending Library

My bookshelves; so many books!!

My bookshelves; so many books!!

I have a lot of books, as you can see from the picture above. Those are all the books I’ve had sent out to me from Virginia/bought/accumulated. Don’t even ask me how many books I have left in Virginia; our family’s collection at home is pretty much a library on its own.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed over the years is how many books are getting published, especially with the option of self-publishing/e-publishing these days. I find myself inundated with book recommendations and not exactly enough money to go out and purchase all the books. This is especially the situation with entrepreneurial/leadership books.

I know I have a good bit of entrepreneurship/leadership/business books. I wonder if anyone would be interested in having a lending library amongst us entrepreneurs? Would be fun to keep us lean and share knowledge easily.

What say you?