The Koffman Southern Tier Incubator showed First Friday participants that the artistic process is quite similar to the entrepreneurial one. Friday night’s show, “Art @ INK,” featured work by student artists, musicians and entrepreneurs.
The incubator, which is dedicated to fostering the growth of new businesses, hosted the event in association with Binghamton’s First Friday Art Walk. The night was co-sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships at Binghamton University, Harpur Edge and Broome Community College (BCC). The first two floors of the incubator were decorated with art by BU students, while the third floor was reserved for BCC’s “Innovation Celebration.”
At the event, over 20 BU students displayed work of various media, including photography, drawing and painting. Many students took the exhibition opportunity as a chance to promote themselves as artists. Lucy Wong, a sophomore majoring in business administration, displayed her “#instafamous” collection alongside stickers she was selling for $1 and Cassie Armon, a senior majoring in English, showed a few pieces next to copies of the Free Press, a campus publication for which she is an illustrator.
Taylor Hayes, a senior majoring in art, showed work inspired by a surreal interpretation of nature.
“A majority of them are pieces that I did on my iPad, digitally — I drew them out,” Hayes said. “Others are India ink prints of insects that I observed from a dead form or an alive form. I really just love insects, in general. I really like, sort of, anthropomorphic shapes and humanoid things.”
Hayes said she also found the event to be positive in terms of advertising.
“I’m putting my business cards out and a lot of people have picked them up so, I think it’s really beneficial for people to get their name out there for future career opportunities and everything,” Hayes said. “I feel like, even if you’re not showing your stuff, you can also meet other people.”
Although the new business incubator has only been open since April 4, it has not taken long for the facility to expand its reach into the community with events like this showcase.
“We have a variety of different companies in the building and we wanted to expand that to the art world. We wanted to give the students a place to showcase,” said Laura Holmes, assistant director of entrepreneurship and innovation partnerships at BU. “As much as they have that on campus, the community doesn’t make its way to campus a lot so, we’re trying to match those two things up.”
The incubator looks for companies that can “come in, grow, hire people and move out into the community,” Holmes said. In order to foster this, the facility has a series of mentors and a three-phase program for growth. In addition, the incubator creates networking opportunities for students and community businesses.
“We have, we call them mixers, once a month, where it’s just, kind of, a social networking event for business owners to come in,” Holmes said. “This is the first one we’ve ever done across the art world. I can’t imagine we wouldn’t do it again, it’s such a huge success, but I don’t think we’ll do it every month.”
Kathryn Cherny, a fourth-year graduate student studying biology, has used the incubator to help establish her small business. Cherny began the process of creating microBELLA, a cosmetics and “natural AF skin care” company, in January. Cherny brought two different soap prototypes to the First Friday event and took the time to educate her audience about her product and even offered free samples, using the occasion as an opportunity to promote her small business.
“I’m doing natural, prebiotic skincare,” Cherny said. “I’m doing a startup, so this is my first prototype. I’m trying to create skin care that enhances bacterial growth because bacterial health, like, you know, for your gut — the same sort of situation is on your skin. So, having bacteria on your skin, healthy bacteria, you tend to have healthier looking skin and behaving skin.”
Cherny said that the incubator has been helpful in securing her lab space and offering her connections with faculty, who have aided her in combining her love of skin care and knowledge of bacteria.
“I have lab space where I’ll start to put together and start making my soaps and my lotions,” Cherny said. “I’m still kind of in the learning stages. But, I use the resources here to help put together my small business and understanding how you start a business, as well as, the lab spaces, to be able to create these wonderful things.”
Kat Catus, a junior majoring in art, was one of many students and community members in attendance at the event. Catus remarked that this type of art scene was especially appealing due to its appreciative nature.
“I think it’s extra cool because you actually get a chance to buy the art and see that and actually support them, as opposed to, kind of, nebulous exposure, which is often synonymous with exploitation,” Catus said. “I think events like this really, kind of, showcase the worth of the art, as opposed to just a means to an end.”