Being an accomplished stonemason requires an understanding of physics, geology and geometry, while also having a keen eye for art. And sometimes, brute strength is needed.
Nick Johnson, 28, is a local stonemason, following in the footsteps of his father. “My dad always did a lot of brick work. As I grew up, I started doing stone masonry as a hobby and I really liked it.”
Football though wasn’t his future; stone masonry was.
At NC A&T, Nick majored in Construction Management and studied the management of people, processes and materials. After earning his degree, Nick accepted a job in Maryland with Hensel Phelps Construction Company, one of the largest firms in the US. After a stint with Hensel Phelps and a year in Arizona, Nick made his way back home.
“I had some good friends from high school who owned their own landscaping company. They began referring masonry work to me and then they started encouraging me to start my own business, so I did.”
Nick now does brick, stone and concrete work with a small crew. “I want to focus on quality, so I don’t take on a lot of projects at one time. I prefer to focus and give my all on any project I take on. Business is great. So far I haven’t had to advertise. Word of mouth and referrals are keeping me busy.”
After graduating from Page High School, Elizabeth Wicker, left Greensboro for NC State en route to earning a degree in apparel design.
The fashion world opened up for Elizabeth as she studied abroad in Spain and worked at a popular clothing boutique in Raleigh while taking all her design, sewing and textile classes. This led her to New York City where she worked with famed American fashion designer, Nanette Lepore.
After nearly six years in the big city, Elizabeth found her way back to her Greensboro roots. “Though NYC certainly has a piece of my heart, this is definitely home. I love living in Greensboro—my parents are here, I’ve got a great network of friends and it helps that I like my job.”
Elizabeth has been working with Bradshaw for over seven years now. “Working for a small company allows me to see all sides of this industry. I naturally love the creative aspects of the job, but I have had to learn the business side as well.” Though Elizabeth has her hand in the commercial projects, she mainly works on all of their residential projects.
The relationships that they form with their clients are very important. “There is a certain level of trust that is made when you work with someone on their personal home or business. I really value all of those working relationships and many have turned into great friendships”
During Furniture Market in High Point, Elizabeth will be shopping for clients. “Furniture Market for me is fun and exciting. I really enjoy sourcing for items that we can use for our current or future projects.”
Outside of work, Elizabeth has been involved with many organizations like the Future Fund, Junior League and synerG. “I’ve met so many amazing people through my involvement with these organizations. It has really opened up my eyes to everything that Greensboro has to offer and it gives me a strong sense of community pride.”
ANDREW NORMAN, 28, HEAD DISTILLER AND BILL NORMAN, 57, MASTER DISTILLER
Distilling spirits at Greensboro’s Fainting Goat Spirits is a family affair as dad Bill Norman serves as the Master Distiller and son Andrew serves as the Head Distiller. Together, this father-son duo is serving up Greensboro’s first legal spirits since Prohibition.
There were several ideas for the name of the new company, but Fainting Goat Spirits won. According to Bill “this describes our family dynamic. The fainting goat is our family mascot. When a goat faints, it’s funny as hell, but on the other hand, they are odd and okay with that. Just like our family, when we try something and fail, we deal with it and get right back up.”
The family has been part of the Greensboro community for years as they also own Kneaded Energy, where sister Lesley manages the practice, step mom Shelley oversees the laws and legalities of all the businesses and manages the massage school.
“We specifically chose the West Lewis Street location because of all the innovation and other businesses that are on this end of town. We love the renaissance of the community and wanted to a part of it,” said Bill.
“I was born and raised in Greensboro. It’s exciting to see the growth in Greensboro and be a part of it, especially in downtown,” added Andrew.
Fainting Goat Spirits currently offers its Tiny Cat Vodka and Emulsion American Gin for sale. They’re also working on a single-malt whiskey, rye whiskey and bourbon that will be ready for sale in the coming years.
“Once our single-malt hits the shelf, we will experiment with things like tequila and rum,” said Andrew.
Before starting the company, Andrew was a mortgage banker and sold property insurance, but was ready to trade in his suit and ties for overalls. I enjoy making a product that people like. “This is a labor of love that I get to give to people. The taste testing isn’t a bad way to spend the day either.”
Bill added “Whether you realize it or not, this is a chemical process and it’s an art. Andrew is an artist at this. He is able to slightly alter or tweak a product and make it his own. Our family is full of entrepreneurial spirits. We love doing what we do every day.”
“People ask if we are Fainting Goat Spirits or Greensboro Distilling Co.; we are both. Fainting Goat Spirits is our brand, but it is important for us to let everyone know that we are a Greensboro product.”
Each bottle proudly displays that it is distilled and bottled in Greensboro, NC.
A T-Rex with sinus issues, a sheep with social anxiety and a clumsy llama.
The stuffed animal creations made by Greensboro’s Jenny Maj, 31, are far from ordinary.
Jenny created Fluffmonger – a collection of stuffed animals– when she was diagnosed with Lupus 6 years ago. She started sewing after she had to leave her job as an art teacher. She found a pattern online for a stuffed animal elephant and was hooked.
“It wasn’t until I started sewing that I found what I really wanted to do,” says Jenny, who is currently learning how to build her business by participating in the Triad Startup Lab.
Jenny makes each animal by hand using all organic fabrics and fiber reactive dyes, all bought from fair trade manufacturers. “I like organic fabrics because they’re definitely better for the people that get them, but also better for the people working in the mills,” Jenny says.
Each animal can take anywhere from 6 to 20 hours, depending on the stuffed animal’s size and number of pieces. Fluffmongers can be bought on Jenny’s Etsy shop and are typically $100-150 due to the extensive time and high-quality materials Jenny puts into all her creations.
The nicknames Jenny has for her cat, Buster, have been the inspiration behind many of the unique names Jenny gives her Fluffmongers, including Falafel and Love Monster. “Every name of the animals is taken from what I’ve called my cat at some point,” Jenny says.
Jenny’s animals all come with lovable traits, including her favorite animal, the T-Rex Snert, who has a habit of storing “fat dinosaur snacks” in his hoodie. But Jenny wants the people buying her creations to have the freedom to give each creature its own personality. “I don’t make any of them smile because I want children to be able to assign their own emotions to them,” Jenny says.
Drop what you are doing and eat:Crafted – The Art of Street Food
By: Alexa Powell
For close to a year, I followed the flurry of articles in the Triad City Beat, Greensboro Magazine, and Yes Weekly! about the opening of the new restaurant, Crafted – The Art of Street Food. Their theme was a closely guarded secret until only a few weeks before the restaurant opened. As a world traveler, I was intrigued and hopeful about the unique concept of offering street food from around the globe in a single place; I imagined that I would be transported around the world, minus an expensive airline ticket, to the sights and smells of simple, but decadent delights. The anticipation finally got the better of me and I decided it was time to check it out.
The first obvious thing we noticed about the new Crafted was the complete lack of practical parking. Fortunately, there is some, albeit limited, on street parking in the little neighborhood behind the restaurant and it’s a short walk. Suggestion Box: I wonder if Guilford County Schools would consider a joint use agreement for the parking lot just behind the restaurant (currently only GCS employees can park there and towing is enforced).
On my first adventure to the new Crafted, business was booming and the place was in full swing with more than an hour wait for a table; even the full service bar was packed. Undeterred by the wait, I did what any millennial would do; I grabbed the cocktail list! They have an amazing selection of artisan cocktails, and a modest selection of beer and wine.
While sipping a potent $9 Pomegranate Habanero Margarita (complete with Hornitos Repasado, Cointreau, fresh lime, and Habanero Bitters), on the open air porch, we enjoyed a delightful mix of conversations with other diners also waiting for a table. While engaged in people watching, I also noticed the restaurant attracted not only the expected middle aged foodies, but also various eclectic young people, and a diverse group of folks from all different age groups, and cultures. The restaurant was buzzing with conversations and laughter reminding me of leisurely evenings in Spain where friends gather to enjoy tapas. I’m not sure if it was the heat from the drink, the balmy summer air, or the warmth of the restaurant’s atmosphere, but I definitely had a sense that I was about to eat at one of the hottest restaurants in town!
After an hour and fifteen minutes, we sat down at our two-top table in the main dining room; we were ravenous and everything looked and sounded amazing. We each decided to each pick two different things on the menu from two continents Asia and South America; the idea was to create our own sampler plate to share in small plate style. I choose the Bao – a HOT spicy kimchi topped braised pork served over a Chinese steamed bun, and the Jerk Chicken – well cooked thighs served on top of traditional yellow rice and beans with a back of the throat, slow and low heat.
My dinner companion ordered the Bahn Mi sandwich – a traditional Vietnamese street food with chicken and pork belly in a crusty bread roll topped with an amazing assortment of crunchy, fresh, pickled vegetables, and the Korean BBQ – beef short ribs covered with a sweet and savory red dragon sauce, that in my opinion, was Iron Chef worthy (see below for pictures). My favorite dish of the night was the Bahn Mi. The pork was flavorful, tender, and juicy and the pickled vegetables added the perfect sweet vinegary crunch. The ample serving portion was enough to bring home leftovers had I been so inclined.
Fast forward three days, and I found myself returning to the new Crafted for the second time in less than a week (yes, I liked their food). This time I accompanied a few people I met at the non-profit board mixer hosted by synerG. The event was a great tie-in to the earlier lunch and learn session about getting young professionals involved as board members for local non-profits (watch out Gboro we millennials are coming).
Anyway, there was a 30 min wait for a table at Crafted, but we made the most of it by going next door to Preyer Brewing. If you like beer, this is totally the right move while waiting for a table at Crafted; Preyer Brewing has some very comfortable seating. I tried their strawberry wheat beer. Personally, I am not a beer aficionado, but I enjoyed it. Some of my other companions, at the bar tasting the five glass beer flight, were not as impressed by that particular combo.
Once we got the “your table’s ready” call from Crafted, we walked next-door and sat at the long, central community table. Community tables, like the one at the new Crafted, are my favorite features in restaurants these days because they encourage and invite casual dialogue between strangers in a friendly neighborhood setting.
We were served a bowl of complimentary paprika spiced popcorn which was gone almost immediately after it arrived. I wanted to try another signature cocktail, so I went with the Cackalacky Grapefruit Cosmo – featuring local NC vodka, Cointreau, lime, grapefruit, and cranberry. It was the perfect, refreshing, citrus infused drink for after a long day at work. After much deliberation, I decided on the Cubano sandwich; it was the best version of a Cubano I’ve ever had, without exception! The pork was sweet and tender, the Swiss was creamy and melted, and my favorite pickled veggies were layered on top! This is definitely my go to dish for future meals here. I shared a bit of my sandwich with my table mates, and they agreed, they would return just to order the Cubano. Before leaving, we met the chef who seemed to be both as down to earth, and just as edgy as the graffiti that adorned the restaurants walls.
My final reflection, as I was sitting enjoying the company of new friends, was how much the downtown parts of G-boro have changed in the past six months. More new restaurants and breweries have recently opened than I can recall in the past few years combined. Greensboro is going through a transformation; a transformation that is an encouraging sign of a strengthening economy as well as a much needed revitalization of our city. After listening to some of my peers, it is increasingly apparent to me that the one thing my generation is looking for most is finding diverse places to connect with other people. I’m not talking about networking events, or social media forums which are good for the less shy among us but it can be intimidating. What I mean however, is actual physical spaces where people can congregate, meet each other, and engage in organic conversations. Having a vibrant, high quality, locally sourced, locally owned, and moderately priced food scene, where people from all walks of life interact, is a vital part of the equation when it comes to keeping young, vibrant, creative, engaged and motivated professionals here in Greensboro. For this reason, we need more gathering places like Crafted – The Art of Street Food to setup shop to help sustain, and encourage the forward momentum they started.
Alexa Powell is a Planner with PART (Piedmont Area Rapid Transit) and active young professional in Greensboro.
When I first received the notification that I was accepted to Leadership Greensboro for the 2015 class year, I was beyond excited. In my mind, I imagined how the year would go, visualized what my classmates would be like and thought of how Leadership Greensboro would change my life for the better.
I also had a moment of anxiety in thinking about the task ahead. What would I be learning? What qualities can I contribute to the group? Would the class have a bunch of buttoned-up business people with type A personalities and no sense of humor? Would I be accepted among my peers in the group? I thought about all of the things one would expect when embarking on a new adventure without knowing what was ahead. Well, I’m here to tell you that my anxiety proved to be false.
It is even hard to put into words the joy, excitement, and life lessons that I have learned so far from my experience in Leadership Greensboro. Leadership Greensboro has been above and beyond anything I could have imagined in the few short months that I have been a part of this year’s class. On the first program day, it was clear that our group was going to bond and work well together. We represent a diverse group of individuals from all facets of life and all areas of business and industry. And yes, many of my classmates have a sense of humor too!
There are many experiences from this year that I could share regarding the work we have done so far. Our program days challenge us to think about leadership from a variety of perspectives. I have learned that leadership isn’t just about being the leader of a group or the one in complete charge of everything at an organization or company. Leadership is also about collaboration and consensus building.
When we spent the day at Team Quest, an outdoor experiential learning program through UNCG, it gave me the opportunity to put my leadership qualities to work. I found the supporter element of my leadership style coming into play as I supported my team in the various tasks that we accomplished that day. I learned that even as a supporter, I was still functioning in the role of a leader. I didn’t have to be out in front dictating to exhibit the multidimensional qualities of leadership. I have continued to build on what I have learned at Team Quest while being in the leadership class.
Leadership Greensboro has afforded me awesome opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise received had I not taken the initiative to seek a place in this year’s class. As I continue to grow in my personal and professional journey, I will be taking all that I have learned in Leadership Greensboro and applying it to future goals and my life.
-Ciara Marable Associate Director UNCG School of Education