From the start, Chris Webley has based his business on feedback from the community where he lives.
Webley has worked with Target, Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret as a textile engineer. His entrepreneurial spirit began in the Twin Cities when he and a few friends put on a fashion show in 2014. After hearing about the needs of the community, he decided to utilize his experience in real estate. He and his board of advisors invested his own money into a shared work-space and event venue for creatives.
New Rules is what he named his establishment at 2015 Lowry Avenue in North Minneapolis, complete with hardwood floors, vibrant colors and three roll up doors taking in the sounds of the neighborhood; the place catches the eyes.
Current members using the space consist of fashion designers, yoga instructors, photographers, food caterers, videographers, animators, illustrators, writers, social justice activists, entrepreneurs and much more. With a growing membership and phase one of the building infrastructure finished, Webley is moving into phase two of three this week.
Phase two will establish an eatery, something the community has wanted since New Rules opened its doors back in 2015. New Rules’ upcoming restaurant will be an addition for members and the community. The restaurant will also increase visibility as a place to go in the neighborhood.
Webley said, “We’re making the space more flexible for the events, embedding the industry standards of amenities.” As an event venue, New Rules has taken the responsibility to house an African-inspired athletic wear pop-up shop, North High School’s fashion shows, and community youth art exhibits. He also wants to continue taking on other member events, such as documentary premieres, gallery openings, food tastings and small concerts.
Webley’s New Rules is available for the neighborhood’s young budding musicians, visual artists, documentarians, etc. “We just rolled out our new membership packages; we aren’t locked into anything except making the space accessible to the community and their needs,” said Webley.
Phase three of the expansion will consist of piloting a food program and testing out what type of foods the community desires. Although Webley says he’s not a food expert, he’s willing to provide the restaurant space. “We’ve had a large interest from caterers and entities who’ve been catering for a while.
Companies who have done pilot projects before are enthusiastic to lead the restaurant space with an appetite for new and creative ideas. Webley said New Rules always plans for worst-case scenarios in the instance that they would have to do the restaurant part themselves if they can’t find the right partnership.
In the day-to-day operations, Webley’s team currently consists of two high school students on internships through the STEP-UP Achieve program. Webley has given the interns entrepreneurial experience and hopes they’ll be able to transfer their knowledge into their next job experience and potentially start their own businesses. He has given the interns the responsibilities to write proposals, raise funds, develop computer applications, organize artists and review membership applications.
Nyah Teobout will be a senior in high school and works on the back-end of managing New Rules. Teobout worked at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP Law Firm in her first year internship with STEP-UP Achieve. She said she likes law but with this internship she was looking for a new experience. “I’m a different brain so this art, entrepreneur, business side is new,” Teobout said. “I thought we’d be cleaning up or printing a thousand copies.”
Instead Teobout has been assisting in the operations of New Rules, speaking with event sponsors about space size, creating applications specific to the careers of new members, handling New Rules social media accounts and more. She plans to stay in Minnesota to attend college; she will visit the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College.
Webley’s other intern, Antonio Bell, is a creative assistant entering his junior year in high school and his first internship. He documents events happening at the venue and creates the verbiage for New Rules social media accounts. “I’m into drawing, painting, photography and music,” and he plays the viola. Bell plans to attend college for photography, but hasn’t visited any colleges yet.
To become a member at New Rules, use the event venue, or invest in coming phases, visit www.newrulesmn.com.
Jonika Stowes welcomes reader responses to email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonika Stowes is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. She can be reached at email@example.com.