Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy & Benoit Malphettes at Jammin’ Bread, my favorite lunchtime eatery. They had just moved to the city of Riverside after retiring from extremely successful careers in the fashion and portrait photography industries. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had admired their work for years. As a sought after fashion and portrait photographer, Benoit was responsible for photographing the images that graced some of my favorite issues of Essence Magazine. Kathy worked behind the camera as both art director and re-touch artist. Anyone who has been fortunate to witness them at work can clearly see why their work as a team is so exceptional.
Since that time we have become great friends and professional collaborators. I even convinced them to come out of retirement, of course for the good of the community. So after working on small projects for clients and portraits for VOICE newspaper covers, we are pleased to present our first exhibit, The Merchants of Riverside, large scale artistic portraits of 16 of our favorite small businesses in the city in partnership with the Riverside Art Museum & Rotary International Riverside and sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank.
I recently read a post on a friend’s Facebook page:
When you support small business
You’re supporting a dream.
Yes I agree most small business owners are dreamers, many are visionaries, and all have a fierce independence. They take their dreams and turn them into realities. But they are so much more.
Small business owners employ half of the private sector, create two-thirds of new jobs, and their companies account for more than 40 percent of the private sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product. When you support small businesses in your community you are contributing to its general health because studies have shown that local businesses put more money back into the local economy. When you buy from an independent locally owned business, rather than a large retailer, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses and service providers. Non-profit organizations in your community receive more charitable contributions from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses. Local businesses create more good jobs and local business owners are less likely to leave and more likely to invest in the community they call home.
While working on the Merchants of Riverside project, we discovered that while small business owners started their businesses for different reasons, they all share similar attributes. They are passionate about what they do, clearly understand why they do it, and find joy in sharing their special skills, talents, or creations with others.
I invite you to learn more about some of our favorite small businesses in Riverside by joining me May 1st at the Riverside Art Museum at 2 pm in celebration of Small Business Week. By supporting them you’re not just supporting a dream, you’re supporting a more prosperous community for us all.