Community business incubator opens this week in Crosstown neighborhood
COMMUNITY BUSINESS NEWS
By Jeff Hulett and Mark Fleischer
Owner and entrepreneurs Carla and Gil Worth are no strangers to trying new things. Carla with her recent experiment with Launch Process Coffee and other small businesses, and Gil with his OAM Network.
With a grand opening set for Saturday, February 8, Ixora is set to open in the Crosstown neighborhood at 416 N Cleveland and aims to become an outlet for small businesses looking to try out their products and ideas. It will also be home to several familiar businesses. The Worths hope this launch’s a collaborative family brand that also builds on the successes of Crosstown Concourse.
“Ixora is a community of small businesses teaming up to continue what Crosstown Concourse started back in 2016,” said Carla Worth. “The idea of better together is more relevant today than ever before and I can’t wait to get started.”
Ixora will be coming out of the gate strong with unique and sturdy brands like the OAM Network and Spillit Memphis. While the OAM Network will have two studios, one for recording and one for live events, Aunt Key’s Apothecary will use this as their home office. Spillit will be rounding out the space as they come back to Crosstown after a year of putting on their series at different venues across the city.
“We hope to hold live shows and bring in popular podcasts from around the country, as well as hold local and private live shows,” said OAM Network founder and producer Gil Worth.
“We’ll be set up for audio and video at all times and we’d like to be a spot for the out of town podcasts. We’ll be working with Spillit to create content, with Spillit workshops, different curated events, more spoken word and improv groups, comedy and comedy festivals. We’re excited to be here, excited to have our (OAM) studio here, and excited to start bringing in new shows and hopefully developing the live-streaming aspect of our podcast network a little more and developing more featured content of our own.”
The couple has divided the 2200 square-foot space into multiple spaces: one for the OAM Network studios, another for a makers’ product shop front, and another that will serve Spillit’s needs and be an adaptable space for other events.
“We’re also going to curate some family events,” said Gil. “We’re going to have art teachers come in to teach art classes and try to figure out a way to create events so that older kids – like 13 or 15-year olds – can come and the whole family can go out and have fun. Sort of like with a game night or something.”
“We definitely built this to be kid friendly,” said Carla. “Kids can do their own thing, we’ll have the art classes for kids… it’s nice to have everything in one place.”
The newly imagined event space will seat around 80 people comfortably, making it another viable space for artists and musicians to utilize in this growing creative district.
In the shadow of Crosstown Concourse, across the street from Black Lodge video, the Ixora shop front sits right next door to Hi-Tone’s live music and cocktail bar space and a couple of doors down from the Urban Art Commission. However a couple of anchor store fronts remain empty, including the large space to the north of the strip that was home to the Cleveland Street Flea Market.
“By being here we hope to help this entire strip,” said Gil. Regarding the vacant Flea Market space, he said “a great idea would be something like the Puck Food Hall (at 409 S. Main).” There, entrepreneurs can experiment with smaller, shared restaurant space.
Ixora will also be a home as a makers’ market.
Illuminati Bath and Body, another business of Carla Worth’s, will use the space to create products and hold open critiques for other makers to bring in their products for feedback with other makers. Other makers set to use the space include Somersault Designs, Latha, Fox Glove Pharmacy, Heart Over Hand, Shelda Edwards, and more.
No stranger to creating space for makers, Carla was part of the team that started Launch Process Coffee in the Broad Avenue Arts District. Now closed, Carla said Launch became an experiment in creating a makers’ collective. She’s putting her experience to use in the new Ixora space.
“99 percent of everything that’s in here is local. We are always looking for more makers to come in. We pay for all the fixtures for the displays – makers can just bring their stuff in and every time an item sells we take 20%, which goes toward paying for the space to be available for other makers. But we want the makers to make as much money as possible. I was a maker myself, and we feel like it’s a very good deal.”
As for the name Ixora, Carla said it has a special meaning. “Ixora is a tropical, flowering plant. But for us specifically it’s the name of an album we really like. It’s from our favorite band Copeland – we named our daughter after a song by the band, our first dance was to a song by the band. It’s something special for us. And the flower – for the logo it gave our designer something to run with.”
Already the shop/studio/event space feels like a family affair. And the Worth’s have a strong sense and passion for the community. “We are a collection of makers, podcasters, storytellers, musicians, coffee-roasters, and visual artists, comedians and more. Together we share this space with one goal in mind – to create,” said Carla.
Store photos by Mark Fleischer