Utica: The Last Refuge is a documentary film that lays out the impact the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, local authorities, and Uticans have had in building a thriving community out of many cultures.
Immigration is woven into my own life story and a cause at the top of my list. I am happy to help the Off Ramp Films team bring this critical documentary to the foreground of the national conversation.
The film’s release date is upcoming—check out the film site and subscribe to stay tuned.
Utica, a small city in upstate New York, stands as a shining example of successful refugee resettlement, solid evidence that much of the current rhetoric is untrue. Like many rustbelt cities, Utica struggled after 1960, losing 40% of its population. It has reversed its population and economic decline via an influx of refugees that began in the 1980s.
Every culture needs a language and a stage. That was the premise that led Jao, a growing apothecary brand, to open its first physical store in Brooklyn— just a month before the COVID lockdown.
The original intent is more relevant than ever: to offer a stage for locals to find ideas and objects to enrich their lives and our homes—healthy, noble, time-proven, and sustainable objects and apothecary formulations. Yet, the store was made inaccessible by the pandemic. Maybe it was time to bring the concept online?
In just a few weeks, we stretched the e-commerce framework to bring the customer’s own voice and ideas into the mix: customer-curated collections, artist portfolios, and music stations; reportages sharing the makers, craft, and location—all a sign of “more to come‘ once distancing eases up and physical social activities resume.
Sure, in e-commerce today, Prime is king.
But when it comes to the customer, the experience doesn’t end when choosing the free shipping option. It continues through the life of the product and our relationship with those objects in our lives. And that is something that, for the most part, fast commerce continuously fails at.
So what is the source of our satisfaction and enjoyment with a purchase? And what are the roles of the maker, the merchant, and the customer?
Intoto seeks to get the maker, product, and customer closer together. Adopting the principles of Mingei (a post-war Japanese movement that values hand-crafted everyday objects as art), the retailer opposes massive commoditization by sourcing objects made by humans that answer to people’s practical and emotional needs.
The regulated cannabis category is now years old, and we’ve seen cannabis businesses evolve from dilettantes to enterprising startups to public corporations.
While the category is still fluidly evolving, the pre-regulation phase is over, and direction seems set. Looking to get high or micro-dose? Smoke, edible, or tincture? Recreational, wellness, or medical?
And then, there’s OLO—an innovative sublingual strip created to enhance active lifestyles. I worked with Velo to understand the market opportunity, ideate and develop the sublingual format, build the brand, and take it to market.