Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Wonderland of Innovation #MIN93

Each Mass Innovation Nights event is different. This month's event (MIN93) was a first: an event within an event! Boston Winter is a new thing this year, meant to enliven City Hall Plaza. It features a holiday shopping market with vendors in cute little chalets, food stalls, heated tents with various attractions, and the centerpiece, a wonderful custom designed ice skating path.  MIN93 fit right into this winter wonderland with a holiday shopping themed night in the Vinopolis tent.
Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza -- Amazing Setting for MIN
The Vinopolis tent was really crowded. It's nice to see such a good turnout for local shopping on a really cold night.
Vinopolis Tent Looks Pretty Full Already
Because of space constraints in the tent, the presentations happened via live video before I got there. No I wasn't watching Facebook Live or whatever while sitting in traffic on I93 (disabled truck at the Government Center exit -- huge delay).  See the presentations on Youtube with the handy dandy links I've provided. Presenters for the night were:
Amooti had lots of beautiful African art/craft/fashion items for sale at their table including the beautiful giraffe-patterned bowl shown below. Amooti is an online market place for designers, artists, and other sellers of African-inspired products to sell their wares. It struck me as a kind of Etsy-like or even Amazon-like site.
Amooti's Table
I didn't know giraffes ate Hershey Kisses :-)
One Savvy Mother curates and sells fashion accessories that are ethically sourced and earth-friendly. If you're looking for high quality and stylish fashion items like jewelry, scarves, socks, handbags, and such and you want to minimize the impact on our planet, this is your place to shop. I tried on the soft, cozy alpaca finger-less gloves. I decided I didn't need them, but they were definitely stylish and comfortable. It was tough choosing between One Savvy Mother and Made Organics for my vote for Audience Choice.
One Savvy Mother with Some Warm Gloves
Made Organics produces a moisturizing body butter handcrafted from all natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients. They pride themselves on the short list of high quality ingredients and on the light and fluffy texture. The body butters and balms come in a variety of scents/blends. I tried a sample of the white mint cocoa, their most popular blend. It felt nice on my skin and the scent was subtle and pleasant. I gave them my vote.
Made Organics
Kyu by Kesi is on a mission to put humanity back into fashion. This luxury brand is not only stylish but also socially conscious, with great attention paid to ethical production. The table was getting lots of attention and  Audience Choice votes.
Beautiful Clutches from Kyu by Kesi
And so, the Audience Choice winners for the night were in ascending order: EventHues, Made Organics, Amooti, and Grand Prize Winner: Kyu by Kesi.

I didn't even come close to visiting every table, but despite the crowd, I did manage to meet and photograph a few more of the entrepreneurs and check out their products.

Unleash Possible is a how-to book for marketing and sales people that takes on the practical realities of B2B marketing.
Unleash Possible (Dig that Led Zeppelin shirt!)
I remembered Jade Robot from MIN90 and was pleased to see him again. He was selling his appealing robots and again emphasizing that they appeal to both girls and boys -- no need for special girly robots. Also he was rocking an MIT T-shirt. Therefore, I award him Best Costume of MIN93 because the Institute at the Center of the Universe (it's a family thing) is even cooler than Led Zeppelin (well, maybe that's a stretch, but still...)

Jade Robot Repping the Institute at the Center of the Universe
Konenkii  fearlessly curates gift boxes for women "north of 40" (I tried to insert a joke here about plowing the back 40 or living north of I495 but couldn't come up with one) who want to age fearlessly and have some fun fearlessly. This month's theme box is "warmth" and that shawl looked mighty warm, so maybe I should give her Best Costume.
Un Mundo is a Boston-based community selling bracelets to raise money for charity and encourage good deeds. They also offer social impact and marketing consulting for startups. Half of all proceeds go to charity. The bracelets on sale at MIN93 benefit Resilient Coders, a Boston-based organization that teaches coding to young people from traditionally under-served communities. I bought a really pretty orange and white bracelet, which I love. Maybe I should give her Best Costume for the Santa Hat, but I guess that counts as Best Hat :-)

Un Mundo

American Bench Craft had cool leather wallets and warm knit hats for sale.

Checking out American Bench Craft
The Look Book scavenger hunt seems like a really fun way for kids to get to know a destination. They were selling the Boston Look Book and introduced me to their plush owl mascot, Hunter. They had some Boston postcards too. By the way, they did develop a Look Book of Lowell for the Kindle some time back, so if you want to do a Lowell scavenger hunt, check it out on Amazon.
Team Look Book with Hunter the Owl
The crowd really got to me so I set off to explore the winter wonderland and get a hot pretzel (yes, with mustard) and a hot chocolate. I loved watching the Zamboni groom the skating rink between shifts of skaters, visitors taking selfies with the huge lighted BOSTON sign,  and kids pedaling like crazy to light the human-powered Christmas tree.

Zamboni Grooming the Ice
Human Powered Christmas Tree Lights
The holiday market had all kinds of stuff ranging from gadgets from The Grommet to nativity scenes. One of the cute chalets was full of items by several Boston-based Etsy artists.  Another one was full of those Russian nesting dolls. Oh and I spotted an olive oil chalet too.
Entering the Holiday Market

Cute Chalet Full of Art
Watching the skaters glide along the ice path brought back many happy memories of skating on the Charles River at Ware's Cove when I was a kid. Sure, a carefully designed refrigerated track is not the same as  the winding Charles from Auburndale Park to the Moody Street dam, but ice is ice and skating is skating. So instead of an Expert Looking Expert this month, I give you Skaters Looking Nostalgic, plus as an added bonus, a beautiful poem by Gail Mazur, which makes me wonder if our skate tracks ever crossed on the Cove's ice: Ice by Gail Mazur

Skaters Looking Nostalgic

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