By Tammy Schindler
Customers who open the door to the new “buzines” on main street (pronounced “business,” just spelled with a twist) will be greeted by the youngest CEOs in town: Cleopatra, 17; Josephine, 15; and Isaiah, 12.
However, their youth and inexperience don’t deter them; instead they are filled to the brim with innovative ideas and passion for building a business, as well as providing opportunities for others to do the same, with their guidance and help.
The Thomas siblings, guided by their mother and mentor, Amy Salmen-Thomas, have launched a new business venture—actually several, and they are all housed in the building formerly occupied by Amy’s parents and the kids’ grandparents, Dick and Cathy Salmen, as Salmen’s Hardware.
The three siblings’ entrepreneurial spirit has been nurtured by their mother, Amy, and father, Rod, through their home-schooling experience over the past six years.
“I want my kids to know how to be entrepreneurs—which requires them to be self-motivated, self-disciplined,” Amy stated.
A unique opportunity arose when Salmen-Thomas’s dad decided to install a much needed new furnace and air-conditioning unit in his building. Amy saw this as a great opportunity to use the building and offer her kids a real-life experience to turn this space into a new business on main street.
“It also gave us a place, creativity wise, to explore different possibilities, as we’ve always done this from our house.”
However, turning their vision into reality involved a lot of hard labor to redesign the space, which included tearing down walls, painting, staining, and installing new flooring.
“But as entrepreneurs, I wanted them to see what it took to renovate a building from beginning to end; they did the work. They did the gutting, the priming and painting, all of it.”
The Thomases’ ability to transform the space is also the nature of one of their businesses, called “Flipping Main.” Any other business who wants help with upgrading or advice about redesigning their space, can hire the Thomas crew.
Their inspiration for designing their new space stemmed from the various coffee shops they have enjoyed visiting in various communities and states they have traveled.
“So, it’s like a coffee house, minus the coffee,” Salmen said, with a laugh. “I’m not a fan of caffeine. We do offer hot chocolate and cider, though. We want to provide a place where people can come to work, or study or read.” They are also hoping community members will potentially use the space to hold meetings, to gather with friends to play cards or board games, or whatever they like. Even “pop-up vendors” who want to host one of their parties can do so there. They are calling this “The Gathering Place,” and it’s the one non-profit venture they are exploring.
They also intend to use this as their office space, so they dramatically transformed the interior of the building to suit all these needs. However, the process for doing that wasn’t just a physical endeavor, it was a sentimental one.
“I grew up here; I’ve been coming to this place since I was one-and-a-half years old. And then this March, when we lost Mom, it was difficult to decide what was best. We ended a chapter of our lives and we are starting a new one.
“In a lot of ways, our work here feels like a tribute to my mom.”
Initially, the team had been working out of their home, brainstorming ideas and starting their own business endeavors. Cleopatra and Josephine started by sewing headbands, along with their grandmother, Louise Thomas, of Creighton, and were selling those. That developed into what is now their “Faithfull Roots Boutique.”
And now that they have more space to brainstorm, to work, and to produce, they are running a variety of other businesses, like “Brand Melior.” Anyone looking for a brand name for a product, a logo, a business card, or even a tag line for their business can turn to the Thomas trio for help.
For instance, for their grandfather, Dick Salmen, who still runs his flooring business out of the same building, they created the line: “Delivering a smile with every tile.”
The team has also been busy producing videos featuring different business owners in Creighton, which are then posted to social media sites. Right now, they are producing these at no charge for the Creighton “Buzines District.”
Isaiah is the videographer, and he is mastering the use of a Gimball--a camera stabilizer, which he says has 3 axis and a joystick, which “makes it very smooth.”
Josephine goes through all the clips, edits, and produces the videos, and they all work together to get the video cut and produced. This business, “The Buzines House” is the one that also inspired the sign on the storefront.
The team intends to use these examples as a marketing tool to advertise their video-producing skills, which they hope translates into being hired by other communities to do something similar.
Right now , they are producing the videos and daily Facebook posts about SantaLand. They are also open to videotaping a variety of venues. They have been hired to video an upcoming parade, and they are open (and interested) in the possibility of video-taping weddings, or anything else that customers might need.
Also, Cleopatra has authored and published a series of books--romantic novels with a Christian theme. Her experience with meeting well-known Christian author Janette Oke, and being personally mentored by her, helped inspire and guide her in the process of writing her own novels and start her own business: “Faith to Love Publishing.”
All of these ventures, and more--like “The EartHeart Institute,” which offers “yoga, meditation, and life classes,” are a part of the Thomas’s attempts to bring new opportunities to the community and nurture their personal creative and entrepreneurial spirit along the way.