Idea Hatchery Brings Small Businesses Out of Their Shells

When it comes to witnessing the swell of creative energy in East Nashville, Meg and Bret MacFadyen have a prime view. For the past 11 years, their Art & Invention Gallery has perched at the epicenter of the neighborhood’s resurgence, smack in the middle of Five Points.

This summer, the couple unleashed their signature artistic and inventive style on Five Points Collaborative (An Idea Hatchery), a project designed to foster entrepreneurial growth in the district. Bret, who conceived of and constructed the quirky VW-bus-turned-hot-dog-vendor I Dream of Weenie — which he recently sold — dreamed up a series of eight colorful modular structures to fit in the vacant space between the gallery and Wonders on Woodland.

“Bret wanted to build a little community of retail spaces to incubate small businesses,” says Meg, who curates the eclectic collection of art, crafts, jewelry, glassworks and textiles at Art & Invention and is the brains behind the eight-year-old Tomato Art Fest.
“It all grew out of the idea that while we’ve been watching restaurants and bars thriving here, there didn’t seem to be enough retail.”

The key to the project is a combination of high visibility and low rent, with short-term leases available, Meg says. Entrepreneurs who want to start small and get their footing without committing to expensive long-term rental contracts can dip their toes in and see if their business plans have legs. If businesses outgrow the Hatchery, then it’s time to fly the modular coops, which range between 168 and 320 square feet, and make room for other fledgling enterprises.

Furthermore, the grouping of eight likeminded entrepreneurs lining a central courtyard provides an immediate sense of community. Sole proprietors avoid isolation by talking to kindred enterprising spirits on a daily basis and can take advantage of group marketing projects and planned events. For example, on Dec. 3, the Idea Hatchery and its retail neighbors will host an open house along the lines of an art crawl, with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the stores.

As the holiday shopping season opens, the Five Points Collaborative (An Idea Hatchery) will offer a target-rich destination for gift-gathering among its retail and business residents:

Alegria: Long known for its edgy inventory of East Nashville-boosting bumper stickers and T-shirts, Bil Breyer’s boutique stocks high-end leather goods — including custom belts and guitar straps — jewelry, soaps and candles. • 615-227-8566
Bizen: East Nashville resident Jackson Miller’s firm provides business intelligence tools that integrate with the point-of-sale systems of franchises and independent restaurants. • 615-852-5296
East Garden: Founded in 2004, East Garden provides fresh flowers, gifts and vintage home items, as well as floral designs for weddings and large events. • 615-226-6670
5 Points Digital Imaging: Servicing commercial accounts, the fine art community and end users, the digital print service provider launched a storefront in the Idea Hatchery to showcase print products, such as stretched canvas, high-definition aluminum prints, digital wallpaper, and environmentally friendly exhibit products. • 615-591-1557

Glen Miller:
A partner and general manager of L2M, which operates two Plato’s Closet stores and is opening a third in the near future, Miller also sits on the board of Bizen, helps other small businesses and occasionally teaches business and marketing classes. It remains to be seen how he will use his new space in the Hatchery.
Goodbuy Girls: Tanya Montana Coe and Kimberly Davison specialize in contemporary and vintage pieces for all occasions. Their extensive selection of used cowboy boots has already helped catapult the year-old store into the ranks of local favorites. • 615-281-9447
Opened this fall, Melita Osheowitz Snider’s contemporary clothing boutique for women features eclectic styles with a little something for everyone. • 615-973-3440
This Oktipus Printing Company:
Artist and printer Brandon Morgan offers an array of fine stationery, pens and inks, nostalgic ephemera, as well as custom invitations, posters, and stationery made on an antique Vandercook letterpress. • 615-713-0241
Photo by Eric England


leonardo85's picture

It is definitely a commendable and encouraging initiative. If you have the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial skills, then you should consider starting your own venture. It hardly matters that you are starting small, you could grow big if you put the right effort. Get cutting edge equipments like brother ink lc 75 cartridge for churning out best quality products.

When it comes to small businesses they need some help in the beginning. It is great that this initiative is helping them out. As a small business owner when getting supplies for your business you should try to look for places that offer quality products, such as wholesale plastic bags at a cheaper price.

kitapbigi's picture

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Small business ventures have to go through certain risk factors but now that situation is volatile these ventures are facing a tougher times. This is a time to be calculative and taking the right business decisions, to avoid making any mistake. Entrepreneurs should look for new opportunities to make progress.

leonardo85's picture

For a small business it is difficult to go through the initial stages and survive, but with apt guidance and proper support it is possible for small businesses to survive. However, for every business efficient handling of employee affairs is must because of human relations benefits.

This would definitely be providing the support that small business ventures need to grow. But to sustain your growth you need to keep them motivated, organizing an event could help especially if you hire a speaker who can capture the audience’s attention and inspire them.

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It is a perfect example of how business intelligence can help a firm to stay ahead of their counterparts in this competitive marketplace. With such variety of shops they can now attract people from all different zone which in turn will create an opportunity for other shops near the place.

dorra's picture

It sounds like such a great idea, it makes it easy for all the young entrepreneurs to stand a chance on entering the business world. Low costs can also cover for the eventual business mistakes so this makes it all even more appealing to me.

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I have heard about their ideas before. I am so impressed by their hatchery ideas.I am gonna imply this around my home. help with lab report

This is a good initiative no doubt however, the small business owners should try promoting their goods through sites like YouTube.

tchapman143's picture

Great initiative and it helps the small business owners to have progress with their businesses. Having a stickers printing business like Alegria is one of the leading business to start with.

crazysony's picture

I appreciate a lot this quality and well written article! It is very useful to all of us who are planing to run a business as it makes us understand which are our responsibilities and the steps that we have to make in order to have success. I've recently ran a small business in Kansas and I still have to invest some money on stuff like custom tape printers from and computers. I am confident that soon my business will become a successful one.

Alexy's picture

I think this initiative is of great help to those small business entrepreneurs. They have to face so many challenges like setting up a space with small budgets. So, providing a hatchery to them is really a boost.

zane1122's picture

You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more people will read this article!!!
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This project is really going to bring many new positive economic changes to the region and it would help many entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams and ambitions. However, running a business could never be an easy job, sometimes one might have trouble taking their business forward. When I launched my venture I had to face similar issues, but thanks to Innovia Community Management Cooperative, I found them online at

zane1122's picture

Thanks you very much for sharing these links. Will definitely check this out..
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