Sitting on the corner of Seventh and Harrison streets, The Launchpad is part art gallery, part pop-up sales space and part kitchen.
At the moment, the new home of West Side Grows Together’s Launcher Entrepreneurship Program showcases “From Survival to Recovery,” a photography exhibition featuring 15 small businesses. They’re all Wilmington Strong Fund grant recipients, including Code Differently, Milk & Honey Coffeehouse and Gallery, The Sold Firm and The Fun Dept. The photographers, including Raina Stokes, Corri Hickman, Braheem Wilson and A’Cora Hickson, are members of FourYouth Productions, a nonprofit that offers arts and science education to under-resourced students in grades K-12.
“We looked for Wilmington Strong awardees that didn’t have a big online presence,” said Jaqueline Castañeda, small business coordinator for West Side Grows Together. “In the end, each business got 10 to 12 images they can use to promote their business on social media and their websites.”
From each batch of photos, three or four prints were curated for the exhibition, which includes pieces from The Original Coloure Collective, founded by Andre’ Wright Jr. and Sara A. Crawford in January as an initiative to showcase Black creatives, minority-owned small businesses and the city of Wilmington.
“They would work with these small businesses to show how beautiful the city of Wilmington actually is,” said Castañeda. Wright’s high fashion photography brings out the beauty of nearby places, including Lucky Star Laundromat on Fourth Street.
The show will be on display through June 17, and open to the public on Thursday the 10th and 17th from 6 to 8 p.m. Local vendors will also be featured.
The “pop up” potential of the space was part of the draw for Cornerstone West CDC and West Side Grows Together when it came to looking for a location for its Launcher program — a resource that has been serving local entrepreneurs such as Sold Firm founder Nataki Oliver, Levitea founder Tynisha Lomax and Markevus Gideon of NERDiT NOW since 2016.
As an incubation space, The Launchpad has a working kitchen that cohort members will have access to, as well as the pop-up space where they will be able to showcase and sell products or services. Participants meet twice a week in the evening.
The first Launchpad-based Launcher cohort is currently being selected. For information on applying for the program at on the West Side or at another Launcher location in Dover, Claymont, Bellefonte or Edgemoor, go to LauncherDE.org.-30-