GA Spotlight

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Irwin Street Market showcases local food vendors

Irwin Street Market used to be home to an old air conditioning and repair facility, but in 2006 Jake Rothschild had the idea of turning the space into an incubator for local food vendors as he was expanding his business, Jake’s Ice Cream.

Rothschild, who is gay, said his initial idea was to offer a space for local food vendors to showcase their wares.

Six years later, some 14 food merchants call Irwin Street Market home – including a coffeehouse, a bakery, several restaurants and a cooking school, which was voted one of the top three cooking schools in Atlanta in a recent Yelp survey.

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A rainbow of fun for LGBT families

Nate Hall

Nate Hall, 27, founded the Roy G. Biv Project almost two years ago when she couldn’t find a social outlet where she and her daughter, now 7, could “meet other families like ours.”

Named after the acronym for the colors in the rainbow, the non-profit launched in April 2010. It has grown to host multiple social events for parents and kids, as well as a lively Facebook page with almost 5,000 friends.

Upcoming events include an LGBT night at art studio Sips ‘N Strokes on March 10 and a cocktail party on April 28. Previous activities range from hikes and picnics to bowling, an Easter egg hunt and a luau.

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AllStar Cleaning provides more than a clean home

jon Wood from AllStar CleaningJon Wood from AllStar Cleaning has seen his fair share of clutter and nasty messes in his nearly 20-year career as a professional cleaner.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve seen it all,” Wood says. “The worst is people who’ve moved out of condos or houses who’ve had pets that haven’t always let them out, if you know what I mean.”

Wood, who is gay, has been in the cleaning business for nearly two decades and in that time he’s worked in commercial buildings and houses. AllStar Cleaning, now three-years old, is Woods’ third cleaning business.

The freedom to be his own boss led Wood into the business of cleaning houses.

“It was the freedom to make my own choices of my time, and not have to punch a clock,” Wood says. “It was really about owning a business.”

Wood, originally from Pennsylvania, has been in Atlanta for 23 years.

“Twenty-some years ago, I was in-between jobs and a girlfriend of mine was getting ready to have a party and needed help with cleaning. While doing that, I thought, ‘Wow, I could get into doing this. I could make money doing this,’” Wood says.

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Piedmont Bark provides a home away from home for your fur family

Piedmont Bark

Serving the needs of Midtown Atlanta’s dog owners is more than a business for Piedmont Bark owner William Campbell—it’s his life’s calling.

Campbell, who turns 50 this year, used to work in corporate banking, but that all changed 10 years ago when he brought the doggy day care concept to Midtown. This year, Piedmont Bark celebrates its 10th anniversary.

“At the time, the concept of doggy daycare wasn’t the norm,” Campbell says. “We set the pace and the expectations.”

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Heliotrope wants to fill your home with sun

Heliotrope's Tommy Barker

After 25 years as a buyer in the corporate world, Tommy Barker decided it was time to set up shop himself. In November 2006 he opened Heliotrope in downtown Decatur. He caters to a community that enjoys purchasing personal and home accessories designed with an out-of-the-box viewpoint.

The motto of his store is “good things for good people.” In 2010, Heliotrope was selected as Atlanta Magazine’s Best Gift Shop.

“The thing that ties our items together is thoughtful design,” says Barker, who is gay. “What I really like to do is find brand new designers with a different take on an item. I also like to support independent designers and local designers.”

One way Barker keeps up with what’s fresh and new is to read design blogs to find items he believes customers will want to give their homes an extra splash of individuality.

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‘Scrappy’ piano man David Reeb takes your requests

Pianist David Reeb

David Reeb is the resident pianist at Mixx, now playing his third year at the Atlanta gay bar. The Mixx Sing-Along and Open Mike night recently moved to Tuesdays and Reeb, who has been playing piano since he was four, also now performs at The Fifth Ivory restaurant on Wednesday evenings. Plus he holds down a full-time piano gig at the Mall of Georgia.

Reeb, nicknamed “Scrappy,” says he is just as comfortable pumping iron as he is playing the piano and invites others to come sing along with him.

How did you learn to play the piano?

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Atlanta-based AIDS Memorial Quilt busy as World AIDS Day nears

AIDS Memorial Quilt

The Names Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt is currently in the midst of “World AIDS Day” season — sending out blocks of the quilt around the country as the annual Dec. 1 commemoration nears.

“This is the time of year we call ‘World AIDS Day season,’” says Jada Harris, director of programs for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which has its national headquarters in Atlanta.

“Most quilts will be off the shelves in the next couple of weeks. We get requests from different countries, but most requests come from the U.S.,” Harris says.

Blocks of the Quilt are shipped via UPS and FedEx from the Atlanta warehouse where the 54-ton quilt is housed. Larger blocks of the Quilt are also shipped via trucks.

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Opposites attract for Jordan Gray Interiors

Jordan Interior Designs

Antoinette Jordan and Mark Snipes make a dynamic duo as business partners and interior designers for Jordan Gray Interiors. While Jordan is a heterosexual female and Snipes is an out and proud gay man, the two complement each other in many ways, they say.

“It’s great working together. We have a lot in common,” Snipes says. And, yes, that includes men, he laughs.

Jordan, who began the company on her own five years ago, befriended Snipes at Joseph A. Bank, where they both currently work. The two have been in business together six months and they hope to eventually make their jobs with Jordan Gray Interiors full-time.

“We met and became friends and I found out he used to have an interior design business in Charlotte, N.C.,” Jordan says.

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Traxx Girls CEO Melissa Scott: ‘The black gay dollar is strong’

Traxx Girls CEO Melissa Scott

Traxx Girls is one of the top party promoters for women who love women. During Atlanta Black Gay Pride each year, it brings in such top entertainers as Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott, Ciara, Amber Rose and, this year, Brandy.

The company’s CEO and owner is Melissa Scott, 36, a woman who readily acknowledges she likes to work hard and party hard. In late October, Traxx Girls was honored as Co-Promoter of the Year at the Second Annual MillerCoors T.A.P. Awards.

Scott, also known as DJM, has owned Traxx Girls for five years.

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AGenda Benda Justice helps Atlanta’s masculine-identified gay women

AGenda Benda Justice is a budding organization started by Cole Thomas that seeks to bring awareness and resources to bullied children, teens and adults; LGBTQ people seeing access to healthcare; single parents of color; and masculine-identified women.

Thomas, who is currently raising funds to produce her play, “Lying in Bed,” says the name AGenda Benda Justice fits with the gender bending she herself embraces as a masculine-identified female. The capitol “AG” gives tribute to women who identify as “aggressives” — women, primarily black women, who prefer to dress in traditional male attire.

Ensuring masculine-identified women get health screenings, such as pap smears and mammograms, is also important to Thomas, who will post to her own Facebook page photos of herself at the doctor’s office. AGenda Benda Justice is also part of The Health Initiative’s “Stud Health Project” geared toward African-American masculine-identified gay females.

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Mary Moore leads The Cook’s Warehouse to delicious success

There are five things everyone needs in their kitchen, says Mary Moore, founder and CEO of The Cook’s Warehouse: a good knife, the right cutting board to maintain that knife, a saute pan, tongs and a whisk.

“You can do a lot with those,” she says.

Of course, you can do a lot more with the thousands of gourmet items sold at The Cook’s Warehouse. In addition to locations in Ansley Mall, Decatur and Brookhaven, the newest store opened a few weeks ago in East Cobb in the Merchant’s Walk Shopping Center.