Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design on how the coworking environment at Forge revitalized her business

Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design on how the coworking environment at Forge revitalized her business

Another feature from Bham Now focuses on Forge member Suzanne Humphries of Suzanne Humphries Design. Read more about how Forge has revitalized her business!




Suzanne Humphries recently made the move back to Birmingham after a few design stints in Atlanta and New York, just to name a few. She and her husband, a successful chef, both grew up in North Alabama and heeded the call of Magic City, where they are now pursuing personal projects.


Humphries used this move to set out on her own and create her own Interior Design company, Suzanne Humphries Design. Only a year and a half in, the company has had large success in the Birmingham area and beyond, but Humphries was feeling like she needed a change of pace. She had worked from home (and coffee shops) since setting out on her own, but was feeling like she wanted a place to go where she could get work done.




Forge to the Rescue


Humphries actually credits the team here at Bham Now for introducing her to Forge (#humblebrag). When I asked her how she found out about the chic coworking space in the Pizitz building, she said she was scrolling through Instagram one night and one of our posts about Forge caught her eye. She called in for a tour and was a Forge member the next day.


Perhaps you remember Humphries from a previous Forge article for which she gave the following testimony:


“Working at Forge has reinvigorated my business. I am more motivated, productive, and fulfilled now that I have the balance of self-employment and workplace culture. The best professional decision I have made was to move to Birmingham and start my own company…the second was to develop this company while working at Forge.”


Let’s Back Up


What Is Suzanne Humphries Design?


Humphries has worked for several different design firms since her graduation from grad school with a Master’s in Interior Design. These jobs took her from Washington D.C. to New York to Atlanta, and she finally branched out on her own in Birmingham. These opportunities gave her experience in an array of different design styles. In New York, she worked with Ralph Lauren in commercial design. In Atlanta, she gained experience in residential design through her work with Suzanne Kasler and in hospitality design with Smith Hanes. As you can tell, her portfolio is quite varied and broad. With her experience in the different design styles, Humphries has been able to move confidently throughout them, and has empowered her in her current project: opening a restaurant with her husband, Chef Adam Evans.


A New Birmingham Restaurant


There is no doubt that the space will be beautiful. Evans, who formerly worked at The Optimist in Atlanta, has plans for the space to serve gulf-caught fresh seafood and other local ingredients. The restaurant, whose name has yet to be revealed, will be in the Lakeview district. Humphries and Evans are hard at work designing and preparing the restaurant space, which is expected to seat 160 people, for an opening.


Stay tuned for more information on the restaurant!



Humphries’ Focus


While her focus is currently on hospitality, Humphries enjoys each different style of design and is open to projects of all kinds.



“I want to build my business to be open and accepting and excited about any type of project that comes my way. I want to be able to pull from my past experiences from the different places that I’ve been and use that skill set to work with whatever client is a good fit.


Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator


With her degree in Interior Design, Humphries went through a curriculum in which she learned about construction and building, enabling her to understand the architecture component of the spaces she is working with. I had no idea that interior designers had to know all of the structural ins and outs of the building. When I thought of an Interior Designer, I was under the impression that she was choosing paint colors and focusing on the surface level of the home. However, it’s much more than that. Humphries explained to me that there are three main titles: Architect, Interior Designer, and Interior Decorator; and that each one is different.




Because Humphries’ title is Interior Designer, she has a broad list of responsibilities to the space in which she is working:


“The true Interior Design process includes everything and anything that goes on inside the walls of a home, a restaurant, a hotel — any sort of structure, permanent or temporary. I enjoy doing the full process, but I am also happy doing parts of the process.”


Spaces Shape Experiences


Have you ever walked into a restaurant, a hotel, or a store and it feels impeccably designed, yet effortless? That is the work of an Interior Designer. The layout, the colors, and so much more impacts the way we move through a space. Almost even more so, design impacts the way you live in your home. Of course, we never think about this, but the design of our homes impacts our everyday experiences. This is one of Humphries’ favorite things about what she does.


“It’s almost like you are creating this space that shapes the family, person, or couple’s day-to-day life. I think that’s a way in which design is so much more than picking paint colors and fabrics. And that’s why I like it. That is my favorite part.”


Humphries’ work experience is vast and varied. Check out her website and her Instagram.



Meet Two Ravens: a new Birmingham-based consultancy that aims to draw out the human in all of us

Meet Two Ravens: a new Birmingham-based consultancy that aims to draw out the human in all of us

We are highlighting another article from Bham Now about a team at Forge. Learn more about the Two Ravens team!


Among the many talented companies that work at Forge, the coworking space located on the second floor of The Pizitz residence building, is Two Ravens.  Two Ravens is an “innovation consultancy,” “research and development,” “problem solving” company. Their team consists of six people, and they are always looking to a wide range of individuals in order to come up with the best ideas and constantly improve their business.


But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.


Who Is Two Ravens?


First, why the name “Two Ravens?” The team referenced Norse mythology and the two ravens of Odin when I asked about the origin of the company name. Mythology has it that the two ravens of the god Odin were responsible for flying all over the world and bringing information back to him. These ravens were responsible for bringing Odin information about the goings-on of the world from a third-party perspective. Two Ravens, the company, feels that this is similar to their business strategy. Their job consists largely of working with companies to be a third-party observant of issues or programs that the company may want to change or address. They bring an observant nature to the gathering of information, then they formulate action steps for those issues.


I sat down with three of the partners to discuss the company: Marc Beaumont, who has a background in Marketing, Donne Garvich, whose background is in tech and team building, and Dr. Lindsay Sutton, whose background is in Psychology, Behavior Analytics and Research.



Business Approach


The team at Two Ravens is quite varied. The best way to describe them is that they are a supergroup. Beaumont shared that the company is truly made up of people in different disciplines that have often worked together in some way in the past. He described them each as having their own unique “superpower” to bring to the team. Many of them worked at the same company previously, but quickly realized they generally had one common goal, so they decided to work together at their own company.


“The common core element that drove us is this really strong internal drive to improve the lives of other people. And what we were finding is this: we had these talent sets that were really complimentary but we weren’t combining them anywhere we had worked before to that end.”  – Garvich 


The following is a brief description of the company from Garvich:


“Two Ravens was created to help organizations better understand the problems and opportunities ahead of them, and to help them quickly develop solutions that they can bring to the world. We do this by p​roviding research and development-based innovation services that blend expertise in behavioral science, marketing, technology, and operations.” 


This thinking is one of the things that makes the company so special. Their approach focuses on research, development and ideation, yes. But the three words that each member used to describe Two Ravens came down to the following: ‘Empathy’, ‘Human’, and ‘Innovation’.



Empathy And The Human Element


A large part of the Two Ravens strategy is something called “empathy mapping.” This is what ties in the empathy factor to the human factor. They describe it as being the outcome of a sum of different observations the team has. This includes “collectively gathering as many different perspectives as you can. [Perspectives] that you’ve heard expressed through conversation, surveys and interviews.” Empathy is introduced strongly into this process. This is the point in which the team at Two Ravens starts to collect information about what the humans want.



They have noticed that a lot of top business men and women in corporate companies eventually become identified AS that company.  The downside? Losing the human element. That’s where Two Ravens steps in. Dr. Sutton describes it like so: “Other companies may not dig into why a CEO thinks he needs an app. But we do. Who is it for? How are we changing a behavior or a process that people are engaging in? How are we changing the way they’re experiencing it? And there isn’t a single bit of tech involved in that.” That is purely a human process.


Though they realize that this process takes time, they believe it is worthwhile. The human relationships they are able to help their clients make through the empathy mapping process can be invaluable, as well as helping to find the root of the customers’ wants, needs and pains.




Two Ravens bills itself as an “innovation consultancy.” They know that many established companies have a sense of fear attached to the term ‘innovation,’ and are working to change that for the better. Beaumont sums it up nicely: “Innovation is a byproduct of our process. Innovation can sometimes feel scary when it is attached to disruption. Change is not always seen as the best thing, and innovation implies change.”


As Two Ravens’ clients go through this process, they find that those fears are usually unfounded. Dr. Sutton notes that behavior change often happens in small increments. She states that a company might move in small steps but that the output can be powerful: adding value to their clients’ and customers’ lives.


“It’s not scary and unattainable and unreachable. It’s here and approachable and can happen today.” – Dr. Sutton




The Forge Advantage


So what is the best thing about working from Forge?


Of course, the fruit-infused water and elegant, clean bathrooms are nice. The unlimited lunch options available at the food hall are also a nice perk. Overall, though, the community wins. Here’s what the Two Ravens team has to say about the community at Forge:


Dr. Sutton: “Community drives energy. We’re all hustlers in a way, and we are figuring out who we are as businesses. So there is that shared experience in a way. All the businesses are so unique, but the energy that is put out is so productive and positive.”


Beaumont: “The energy. It facilitates interaction. There is an energy dynamic that helps feed the office here at Forge.”


Garvich: “I love the fact that we have community, so we have external viewpoints. They are like coworkers, but they’re not attached to one particular silo, so we have access to people who have viewpoints and conversations, etc. talk to people that are in a whole different world.”


In addition to community, there was an overwhelming gratitude for the way that Forge founder, Kim Lee, has set up the co-working space. The team at Two Ravens notes that as a start-up, the last thing they were thinking about is office furniture. Or a printer. Or anything other than their business plan. They are thankful to Lee for creating an environment where they can come into work and be able to focus solely on their business growth.



Coworking at Forge means networking with lots of movers and shakers (and spinners)

Coworking at Forge means networking with lots of movers and shakers (and spinners)

Our friends at Bham Now featured Forge member Tiffany Martin and her new spin studio! Read on and find out why Tiffany chooses to work from Forge and what her studio has in store!


Ever been to an exercise studio in Birmingham that’s dedicated solely to spin classes? Not yet? Ignite Cycle owner Tiffany Martin wants to change that.


The Cycling Life


A University of Southern California graduate, Martin has always been into the gym scene and has worked in gyms and boutique studios all over the country. Before moving to the Birmingham, Martin and her husband lived in Boston. While there, she started teaching group fitness classes and cycling classes. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for cycling and how fitness can change lives.


“I fell in love with being an instructor and also being a rider. I love being able to create this amazing experience for people.”


Creating Her Niche


When Tiffany found out that her husband’s work would be relocating them to Birmingham, she decided it was time to find her niche in the job world. After some market research, she discovered that Birmingham has plenty of spin class enthusiasts, but no boutique cycling studios that are dedicated just to cycling.




“When I found out that there were no boutique cycling studios in Birmingham, I realized it was something I really wanted to create and bring to the area.” 


Doing The Body Good


Tiffany’s studio will be named Ignite Cycle. Tiffany said the mission is, “to be a community for you to discover and become your best self, and cycling is how we do it.” Classes at Ignite will be full of music and fun! So fun that Tiffany describes the classes as a “party on a bike”.



“It’s a party on a bike, but it’s also a lot more than that,” Tiffany said. “It is that feeling where you’re somewhere and you’re dancing with a bunch of people—some you know— some you don’t. There is just this amazing energy among everyone because you are all moving together. Everyone is together feeling free, and with that feeling, you are doing something really good for you and your body.”




No Shame In This Game


Positivity is a huge aspect of Ignite Cycle. While working at other gyms and spin boutiques around the nation (Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle), Tiffany found that there is often a sense of shame, rather than pride, present among fitness centers.


“The environment at Ignite Cycle will be positive,” Tiffany said. “It’s all about living your best life, appreciating your body’s ability to move, choosing the best things for you and enjoying what life has to offer and not feeling guilty or shameful about it.”


It’s this emphasis on positivity that Tiffany hopes will set the “Ignite experience” apart from other fitness experiences in the city.


“Instructors at Ignite will go through a six-week training program on safety, our method, and keeping the culture and brand consistent for everyone,” Tiffany said.


Tiffany plans to carry over her mission of positivity and motivation to her instructors as well.



When And Where


Ignite is set to open late this year or early 2019. The location will be announced soon, and we will bring you that information! Stay tuned for more information regarding when and where.



One thing is for sure, when you take your first Ignite class you’ll wonder if you can take a class everyday — and you totally can!


The Perfect Workspace At Forge


After completing her market research and coming up with the idea for Ignite Cycle, Tiffany began planning. She has spent the last year creating and developing her business model and brand while working out of Forge, a place she says she fell in love with because of its physical space and also the idea behind it.


Tiffany has worked out of the Forge space for a little over a month, and said that she feels like she can be very productive in the space.

What’s an ideal day like for Tiffany while working out of Forge?


“It’s a lot of community, coffee, and skittles,” Tiffany said. “The community is so great, it is really fun being aware of what other people are up to in Birmingham, and it is much more motivating than sitting on my couch with my computer. Forge also has a really great playlist, which is great to work to.”


Check out the original article here!





Local filmmaker Brandon Loper has big plans while working out of Forge

Local filmmaker Brandon Loper has big plans while working out of Forge

We are reposting this article from Bham Now- check out the original article here!




You might know who directs your favorite TV shows, but you may not know the mind behind the commercials! Enter Brandon Loper, a local filmmaker and commercial director working out of Forge in Birmingham.



Born and raised in Alabama, Loper graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2005 with a degree in entertainment media production. He lived in San Francisco, California for almost eleven years before moving back to Birmingham with his wife and two kids.


For a creative like Loper, Forge is the perfect spot to manage his projects. From directing his own films to working with big-name advertisers, Loper does it all from his spot overlooking Downtown Birmingham. We hopped up to the 2nd floor of the Pizitz to find out what Loper has planned for the future.



How do you define your work?


I’m a commercial director as my day job, so I partner with advertising agencies, production companies and directly to brands to execute a concept or flesh out an idea. A lot of times, I get a script and they’ll say, “Hey, we’d like you to put your spin on this. What can you bring to the table?” I’ve been lucky enough to do that for brands like Nike, Google, Twitter, Comcast, Starbucks… a lot of brands that have a lot of national recognition.





The heart of it is storytelling, which is why I’m pushing more towards narrative filmmaking. I just finished my first short narrative film that I submitted to Sidewalk. I also submitted the documentary I did for Nike last year, “Still KD,” on Kevin Durant and his run-up to winning the championship.


Where did you get your start?



When I moved to San Francisco, I got an internship in a large advertising agency called Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. I had a boss there, James Horner, who started a young director’s program. This was pivotal in my career because I’d always wanted to direct, but I viewed myself as the guy editing, shooting, writing, and making everything.





I got my first gig outside of the Goodby world directing with producer Dalia Burde exclusively for five years, and her production company produced my feature documentary, “A Film About Coffee.”



When I moved here, I went nonexclusive in an effort to work more with people here in Birmingham. It’s been fun to travel and see the world, but I really want to be home at night.



How long have you been working out of Forge?



Since January. I toured it in August of last year, before it even opened. If I’m in town and not hanging out with my family at home, I’m usually here. It’s great being downtown.





What does a typical day look like for you?



I’ll get here after I take my kids to school, have my second or third cup of coffee, and then go settle into my spot. When I’m not co-working, it’s a headphones-on situation.



Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll take advantage of the phone booth, or one of the conference rooms that you can use for phone calls. I don’t take my phone calls in the middle because usually, I can’t really talk about what I’m working on, so I’ll go there to chat.





How is networking with others at Forge?



Kim Lee, the founder and CEO of Forge, is a major networker. A few weeks ago, we were having coffee in the kitchen, and I was telling her about everything going on. She says, “You’ve got to meet this person! You need to work together.” Later, we were meeting about me directing her TV pilot. There are a lot of cool connections. Working at Forge has been great because we can just pop into a meeting room and whiteboard it out.




What are you up to now?



I’m launching an online film workshop called On Set Prep, and I’m working with someone here at Forge who is helping me do the marketing and sales funnels. I’m really excited about that because I enjoy teaching and being a part of education. My course, On Set Prep, is a boot camp for people to learn to be a production assistant. We’re going to be launching it this month. I’m also looking to partner with local high schools and the Film Birmingham coalition. I’m very excited about what’s happening in the film community in Birmingham.



Loper is just one of the very creative people working at Forge.

Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Jacqueline Jones is a well-loved Forge member and today we’re reposting this valuable post from her personal blog! Jacqui started her company One Degree MMM which focuses on marketing and branding for small businesses and organizations. We loved this timely post as we change our mindset entering into spring!



Finally, Spring has officially arrived.  Never mind the, still, bi-polar weather.  It’s here, so says the calendar.  Newness in any form is something we as human beings thrive off.  We love to start fresh, launch new, and get rid of the old at the beginning of… well, anything.  Spring is one of those times of newness, renewal, and restarting.


Many equate spring with gardening.  Spring is the time to sow seeds, turn over soil, and create room for new blossoms and growth.  Your branding shouldn’t be any different.  So, let’s prepare your brand for growth and new heights in 3 steps!


Pick Your Flowers


Take a moment and decide how you want your new garden to look.  Landscaping is an art.  Marketing and landscaping are very similar during a time of transition.  The goal is to take what exists and alter it in a way that makes it more attractive.  To prepare our brand for greater things, we must start with a renewed vision.  Now is the time to do some benchmarking and decide how you want your refreshed brand to evolve.  Don’t just start implementing new things with no forethought.  Let’s take a moment to create a full picture before we attempt to start painting.  If you’re a One Degree FIRE Starter, you know how important goal setting is to me.  I practically mention it in every email I send.


Prepare The Soil


You know how the new grand and fantastic brand will look.  GREAT!  What groundwork needs to be done for this transition to be successful?  Just like in gardening, you may have to take some time to research what you’re putting in the ground.  Many skip this step in their business in general.  This process is commonly referred to as “investment.”  Invest in yourself and your brand.  Take that class, hire that service provider, or buy that packaging. Set yourself up for success from the beginning of this new season.  Don’t just go plopping stuff in the ground with your fingers crossed and your eyes squinched expecting a miracle.   Do the research.  Do the work.  Do what it takes to see a clear and positive change in your brand.  Invest the time, money, and resources you have into your brand and yourself.


Commit To Watering Your Garden


One of my favorite phrases in life is “start out how you plan to hold out.”  As you prepare for these new things within your brand’s marketing efforts, commit to seeing them through.  You have to be realistic with yourself.  No one requires anything of you for your brand, but you.  Whatever you choose, be sure you can stay motivated (or employ whatever tactics necessary) throughout the entire season.  Your dreams, visions, and plans may get the seed in the ground, but your daily commitment to them are what make them grow into your beautiful garden.


It’s time to get going.  March is nearly over.  The 2nd quarter of the year is just around the corner.  Ready, set, GROW!