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Contest Seeks Next Great Local Business, Offering $100,000 Package Including One Year Free Rent To Winner

flats-2It’s not such a hairbrained plan now, there at 1319 W. Wilson Ave. in Uptown, these days. After all, it’s official: Michael Stejskal is The Public Barber, thanks to now-deceased Jay Michael and Alex Samoylovich and their FLATS Chicago project.

But that came about because of a contest in 2014, when roughly 40 people submitted proposals for how they would turn a mind full of abstract ideas into a sturdy and lucrative brick and mortar one.

Now, #FLATSproject is calling for applicants again, also, this time, in Uptown. The focus this time is the Historic Lawrence House, a 13-story building on the north side of Chicago consisting of five retail spaces below 344 apartments.

It’s the kind of area that might have you filling in Al Capone’s shoes, — briefly, and hopefully, of course, legally — just outside the old jazz haunt The Green Mill, or that might have had you or your friends dancing at the Aragon Ballroom. Both are nearby The Historic Lawrence House, by the way, as are the Riviera Theatre. The space is also a couple blocks away from the Wilson CTA Red Line and from Lake Shore Drive.

The 2016 FLATS project business package is valued at more than $100,000 in benefits, including a year of free rent, according to a press release from the company.

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Cedar Street Photo of Winner Michael Stejskal

“The package also includes support from the City of Chicago, access to our design team, business plan refresh, marketing support, all legal work associated with starting a company, and more,” Samoylovich said. He is also a co-founder and managing partner at CEDAR Street Companies, of which FLATS is a part.

To apply, submit a succinct and thorough presentation about how and why your business will benefit the local community in the 1000 block of Lawrence as well as the overall community of the 46th Ward, represented by Alderman James Cappleman. Applications may take the form of videos as well. For more information, visit www.flatschicago.com.

All applicants are encouraged to be creative and to demonstrate what makes their business special. “We give residents a chance to weigh in on the local business they would like to see in their storefront unit, along with social media engagement,” Samoylovich said. “The other decision-makers include the community, City of Chicago leadership and, ultimately, the partners at CEDAR Street.” 

“Things have been amazing,” Stejskal said. “This first year has really taken off much quicker than I could have ever anticipated.” He said he has hired three additional barbers since opening last year and added one more barber this spring.

“I love that the program puts the choice into the neighborhood’s hands. These are the people that will be supporting whatever business occupies the space, so having their votes counted only encourages the future success of the business,” he added.

As for advice for others seeking to create their own money making space?

“Have a very clear vision,” Stejskal said. “Really picture yourself in the space, what will it look like, smell like, sound like. Having a very clear picture of your business will help to create a map for accomplishing the final result. Taking a risk is a huge part of creating your own successful business, but be prepared for what could be a lean start.”

“#FLATSproject has not only helped me fully realize The Public Barber, but it has also allowed me to create employment for my fellow barbers, and establish us as a trusted source in the community,” Stejskal said. “For all of that, I will be forever grateful.”

The FLATS Project is run by FLATS Chicago who owns and operates several apartment complexes in the Edgewater area.

Submissions will be accepted until May 20. For more information, contact Christine Bachman at 312-399-5822 or email her at Christine@PlanItPR.com


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