Ideas ‘Hatching’ in Bellingham

By Katie Linton

Ideas are hatching in downtown Bellingham.

“We want to create more opportunities for people to get involved with each other and network” said Dylan Green, Hatch co-founder.

Hatch is an “idea incubator” that aims to fill vacancies in downtown Bellingham, by making the necessary changes to create an attractive space and hosting community-involving events to get people in there and aware of the space until it’s filled by a long-term tenant; they then move on to the next empty space.

The term “idea incubator” came from his family raising chickens when he was younger. The chicken lays eggs that are moved into an incubator to stimulate growth. “Hatch is basically the incubator for people’s ideas.” Green said.

Hatch was founded in Bellingham by Dylan Green and Nick Hartrick. Green is a 23-year-old student at Western pursuing a public relations major and an entrepreneurship minor. Hartrick is the former Executive Director of the Downtown Bellingham partnership.

The two “were introduced to each other due to [their] similar styles in leadership and creativity.” Green said.

This introduction initiated a partnership between the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and the IDEA Institute at Western; leading to the birth of the Hatch concept which was finalized in June 2015.

Downtown Bellingham Partnership is an organization that works to integrate all aspects of downtown Bellingham: tourism, businesses, and residents; by organizing a variety of local events such as “Bite of Bellingham,” “Downtown Sounds,” and the Downtown Art Walks.

The IDEA Institute, “InterDisciplinary Entrepreneurship in Action,” at Western Washington University is a program for students pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship in combination with their main focus of study. The IDEA Institute aims to set-up students with the right tools to “successfully engage in entrepreneurial and innovative behaviors in new and existing organizations,” according to the Western website.

The goal of Hatch is to “change the paradigm of starting a business” said Green. “We want people to feel like they have resources and access to resources; we want people to try their ideas out.”

Green said he sees the “enormous amounts of opportunities in downtown Bellingham” and as a Western student himself wants Hatch to get students down off of the Western campus and into the Bellingham community.

“I don’t want it to seem exclusive.” Green said Hatch wants to reach out to Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College and “provide some opportunities for them, not just Western.”

When Hatch was first set in motion; Green said “there are over 800 businesses downtown and 35 to 40 vacancies at any given time.”

Hatch launch 1.0 was on Sept. 4, 2015 during one of the downtown Art Walks at 1302 Commercial St. They housed a DJ and wall art as a way to get people into the space and aware of Hatch and the project they’re setting forth with in downtown Bellingham.

Since launch 1.0 Hatch has been hosting numerous community events such as a competition where participants were to make works of art by reusing items to make something worth more than the original pieces a.k.a. “upcycling” materials costing no more than $20; an event that Renee Sherrer of Social Fabrics took part in and therefore found out about Hatch.

Hatch filled that space on Prospect St. by welcoming in Social Fabrics, “a textile gallery, boutique, and learning facility” owned by Sherrer, who is also an evening sewing class teacher at Whatcom Community College.

Renee Sherrer with some of her products at Social Fabrics.
Renee Sherrer with some of her products at Social Fabrics.

At Social Fabrics Sherrer teaches classes ranging from sewing to needle felting to paper making; and aims to promote textile arts and fashion design in the Bellingham community.

“It’s beneficial because it’s like a gallery that teaches you to make what’s in the gallery,” said Sherrer. Which is what sets her business apart from most other fabric-type stores in Bellingham.

On Nov. 20, 2015 Sherrer obtained the freshly renovated space through leases with the city of Bellingham, and Social Fabrics was opened on Dec. 4, 2015.

Sherrer said if it wasn’t for Hatch’s original touch-ups “I wouldn’t have even looked at this space” due to it being too expensive for an up and coming business.

Which is what the people at Hatch are looking to hear; they want to provide people with opportunities in renovated spaces that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“We want to create environments to inspire people to envision their businesses there,” Green said.

When looking back on working towards her business idea of five years, Sherrer said Hatch has “been really helpful, supportive, and excited,” and they were happy to have her business occupy the space because it’s “about creating arts and creating, period.” Sherrer said “I want Bellingham to become an arts destination community, that’s a clean industry.”

Hatch launched for the second time on Jan. 8, 2016 at their current location at 221 Prospect St. and as for the future of Hatch?

Green said “we’re looking to switch the model. We expect a significant shift between now and June on how we do what we do” and “long term we’d love to expand” into other college towns to get students involved in the communities.

Things are definitely “hatchening.”

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