E Creative: January’s Small Business of the Month!

The Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month Award recipient, E Creative, has been creating dynamic brands and marketing communication campaigns for the Omaha community since 2011.
As a well-established marketing consultant with more than two decades of marketing
experience, owner Esther Mejia recently relocated their headquarters to the Mastercraft Building in downtown Omaha where her team generates cohesive designs and marketing materials for each and every one of their loyal clients.
For a portion of her early career, Mejia pursued freelance marketing after receiving her degree in Visual Communication.
“Design influences so much of our world,” she said, “and we don’t even realize it.”
She and her team engage with their clients intensively and learn every aspect of an organization in order to maintain an authentic idea of their message to the community.
Their ability to create visually impactful materials for their clients and ability to communicate preserves the many longstanding and trusting relationships that they have built over time.
“Relationships are very important to us,” Mejia said, “and I see this as an ongoing relationship.
We’re not transactional folks; we want to be sure we’re building lasting relationships.”
With their brand-intensive process, E Creative learns the fundamental ins and outs of an organization to produce an optimum result for an individual organization’s brand strategy. By facilitating conversations and posing strategic questions about the organization,
E Creative guides clients through a very thoughtful progression to get to the real heart and voice of the organization. This process allows them to develop cohesive visual communications and content that help each client reach their target audiences.
One satisfied client, Megan Addison, executive director of the Collective For Youth, said, “We were looking for someone who could help us be clearer about our messaging and visually represent it for the community.
E Creative took the time to get to know Collection For Youth. We can now tell our story better and advance our work through the meaningful materials that they developed for us.”
Mejia explained the purpose behind her method.
“There are many voices,” she said, “and our process captures how that organization works in the real world.”
From developing brand strategies to marketing materials and other forms of corporate communication, Mejia says that E Creative seeks to “make sure the clients’ values, mission and vision align with what we create, capturing the true essence of who they are. If we’re being authentic, we know it attracts the right people to that organization.”
Not only does E Creative lead by example with their transparent and relationship-based company values, they want to work with the right organizations for the right reasons.
With a client spectrum including non-profits as well as corporate entities, E Creative “strives to work with organizations that elevate our communities and enrich the lives of others. That’s why I’m in it,” Mejia said.
One client, Executive Director of the Midlands Mentoring Partnership Deborah Neary, said, “In today’s world, nonprofits must deliver effective messaging in a creative format. No matter the communication challenge I have faced, E Creative always provides the solution. It is rare to find such talented people who are also humble and wonderful to work with. I completely trust the E Creative team to make us look good.”
By stressing not only authenticity but also a focus on preserving the community, Mejia and E Creative’s mission seeks to serve and render the community a better place than it was before they started.
Client Emiliano Lerda, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Center, said, “Working with Esther and her texam at E Creative has been fun, productive and effective. They totally get our organization’s culture and their work allows us to elevate our profile in the community.
Ultimately, E Creative is a key partner that helps us achieve our mission and strengthen our capacity for impact.”
Having been a member of the Omaha Chamber since 2013, a huge benefit of membership has been the opportunity to connect with others who are excited to highlight Omaha as a place for talented, mission-driven individuals and to collaborate with several creatives on the “We Don’t Coast” campaign, Mejia said.
“It was incredible to work with folks in my field from the community,” she said. “There was so much talent that I just loved being a part of that process.”
Keeping in regular communication with the Chamber because of their avid support for local businesses, Mejia believes that “they make our community better, and I’m grateful for that.”

Written for The Daily Record: http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84&pid=44

Save the Date Catering: The Little Caterer That Could

Nothing brings people together like a shared meal. This is exactly what Save the Date Catering strives to convey through delectable dishes at every one of their events. “Whenever people want to gather, that’s who we want to work with,” says Kate Duggan, a catering coordinator at Save the Date.

Owned by Pamela Briere, Save the Date has worked over 60 events since their recent opening in October of 2016, including weddings, anniversary parties, and rehearsal dinners. Pam has been in restaurant management for almost two decades and is responsible for operations at multiple restaurants outside of Save the Date. “I enjoy watching my employees excel,” she says. “I have employees who have been with me since day one of ownership.”

While weddings are their primary niche, Save the Date is expanding. Pam is currently in the process of hiring catering coordinators in a variety of markets to serve a wider scope of clientele. Two of these employees, Cathy Ebers and Kate, are catering coordinators who have known each other personally for years. They combine their unique skill sets to create an unstoppable duo. “Cathy is more organized in preparation, and I really like the execution,” says Kate. “That includes things like getting the food on the table, making sure everybody has what they need, making sure the bride is happy and that the toast happens at the right time.” Working at both intimate and large-scale events, Save the Date is comfortable with a party size anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people.

Inside their brand-new location at 1902 Betz Road, in Bellevue, Save the Date houses an industrial kitchen, an elegant waiting area, and a posh new tasting room for potential clients to sample the food before the big occasion. Working with Chef Peter Vanderzyl (“Chef Pete”), Save the Date will be offering a brand-new menu that features locally sourced ingredients with a gourmet flair. Cathy is especially pleased by the focus on local produce. “We’re chopping it ourselves, we’re cooking it ourselves, we’re aiming for more fresh food,” she shares.

Creating comfort food with a gourmet twist, Chef Pete makes mashed potatoes with roasted garlic-infused oil to enhance every flavorful bite. If a more formal cocktail hour is on the menu, Chef Pete can create petite amuse-bouches with fresh herbs and spices—small bites with big flavor. Save the Date provides everything from sit-down dinners to buffet-style meals. They will even recreate Grandma’s favorite lasagna from scratch, if a recipe has sentimental value for your guests. “We want to make sure to get it absolutely perfect for your event,” says Cathy.

 “The thought of entertaining 60-plus people for an annual family Christmas party was overwhelming,” says customer Jane Ford. “I want to thank Cathy Ebers and Save the Date for coming to my rescue. Cathy was in contact with me diligently prior to the event, planning all the details—including the full menu. The day before the event, Cathy came to our house to set up the buffet line and help with decorations. The food was delicious, and we received great feedback from the guests. This was my first time using a caterer for an event like this, and I can honestly say it was well worth the money and peace of mind. I would give Save the Date a five-star rating!”

Cathy and Kate build personal relationships with their clientele, forming a special bond by the time the event itself comes together. “It’s emotional,” says Cathy. “This is their special day!” Whether you are looking for a full-blown affair or a sweet and salty fix, Save the Date can accommodate virtually any request. They offer gluten-free options and can easily cater to specific dietary needs.

To the staff at Save the Date, nothing is more rewarding than their mutual success. “I have been able to watch my team grow and become successful, and that is very satisfying to me,” says Pam. “It’s the best reward I could ever receive.” Her team feels the same way about their work. As they thrive under pressure, Kate stresses that her favorite part of her job is “executing an event where everyone is happy at the end. Even if things have gone wrong, as long as everyone’s had a wonderful time, we’re happy.”

With the tools and leadership of Pam and skillful catering coordinators like Cathy and Kate, Save the Date Catering stands to become one of Omaha’s top catering destinations. If you want to put a fun twist on your next event, call Save the Date Catering at 402-504-4466 or visit them online at savethedatecateringandevents.com.


Written for Women’s Edition February 2019: https://www.womensedition.com/omahaenterprisingideas

Find Your Own Piece of History in the Stacks at Jackson Street Booksellers

Upon entering Jackson Street Booksellers, one is greeted by the familiar, ancient scent of books that entices avid readers and collectors alike.
As the holiday season draws near, attorneys and locals alike can enjoy giving the gift of a well-enjoyed First Edition or a unique addition to any collector’s inventory.
In fact, a history book about the Supreme Court renders a meaningful gift when given to a newly graduated law student.
After more than 30 years in the trade, owner and operator Carl Ashford has rarely come across a title he doesn’t know and can easily assist with finding rare and unusual books from across the country.
Having studied history and political science in college, Ashford said he “grew up in retail,” working at his family’s store, The Nebraska Clothing Company.
After high school at Brownell Talbot, Ashford left Omaha to attend Macalester College, a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota. After college, he moved to San Francisco.
One day when he was still living in California, he wandered into a small bookstore. The owner hired him immediately and began his cultivation of literary knowledge. He remembered, “when I started in the Bay Area in San Francisco, it was such a fluid market … So, I got a good education in the first few years. Here, it’s a much slowertrade but we’ve established a reputation of paying people fairly.”
When Ashford and Amanda Lynch – who would become co-owner of the Omaha shop – left California, they spent months traveling across the country acquiring books, finally landing in Omaha. Ashford had traveled back and forth from California to Omaha often to visit his ailing mother. Her illness finally dictated a permanent move.
While here, they received an offer they couldn’t refuse. The Mercer family, who owned much of the real estate in the Old Market, had a bookstore on their wish list. In 1993, the Mercers offered the opportunity to Ashford and Lynch and they couldn’t say no.
They chose the location at 1119 Jackson Street in the Old Market for their own store that would soon expand to become the massive collection it is today.
“When we opened it was just 5,000 books,” Ashford said. “Now we’re at 100,000.”
They have so many books, they had to expand a few years ago into neighboring space.
While many customers bring in books to sell, others are sourced from a five-state area. Ashford frequently
visits estate sales, some by invitation, to appraise collections for estate attorneys or family members.
Using his vast experience in the trade, he helps families determine which volumes are worth keeping, selling or donating. He coordinates regularly with divorce attorneys as well, to help divide assets.
While this may seem like a tedious and unnecessary task, some clients have more than a thousand books to sort through with the possibility of finding an unexpected asset.
In an article published a few years ago, Lynch recounted a story when a customer offered them a collection of more than 10,000 western Americana books that had been preserved in his family since the 1848 California Gold Rush.
Besides offering consignment services for those larger collections, Jackson Street Booksellers has a range of paperbacks or hardbacks depending on an individual’s needs.
Ranging in a multitude of price points, the bookstore is bound to have the perfect read for anyone who saunters through its doors.
Although the store is ideal for any lover of literature, Ashford sees many attorneys come in for a multitude
of genres.
“Lawyers tend to be readers,” he said. “Some of our best customers are lawyers.”
Among his vast collection, Ashford has a number of rare philosophy books, which seem to appeal to those with a legal mind. He also offers modern first editions from authors such as Stephen King.
Some attorneys have specific tastes and may be collectors of books from Western Americana to mysteries to military history. When asked whether he had a favorite book, Ashford simply replied that it would be impossible to do because, “it’s like naming your favorite kid.”
Like many of his clientele, Ashford had a connection with the law through his late brother, Judge Mark Ashford. While he was an “average reader,” according to Carl, he did have an immense collection of celebrity autographs, which Carl now attributes to his love of collecting.
Carl’s other brother, Brad, is also a lawyer and has served as both a United States Representative and a Nebraska State Senator.
Ashford is no stranger to famous visitors. Many entertainers visit his store while they are in town for a performance. It’s a favorite stop for musicians, especially rock-and-rollers.
The store doesn’t stop at selling only within their walls. They have opened their collection to the world via their website, jacksonstree-booksellers.squarespace .com. While it’s probably more fun to browse the stacks in person, you can let your fingers do the shopping if you are looking for that special book.

Written for the Omaha Daily Record: http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84&pid=31