It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken
and it’s here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A. – Democracy, Leonard Cohen
Some days (most days in fact) I just love my job. And some stories just make it so fulfilling. Today is one of those days.
As I was out at dinner with my daughter last night I got an email from Fraport USA detailing a new partnership it has just struck with Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI Marshall) Airport to help start-ups and other small businesses enter the airport retail world. Fraport USA was quite excited about it and once I read the detail I understood why. So was I.
It’s called LaunchPad and I think it’s marvellous. The innovative programme was created not only to champion small companies but also to identify and develop prospective Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) operators.
“LaunchPad is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to maximising local and minority business participation and success at the airport,” said Airmall Maryland (Fraport USA-owned) Vice President Brett Kelly. “Essentially, we are incubating the next generation of ACDBE operators.”
Incubating entrepreneurs and minority businesses. What a brilliant notion.
While I was writing the story this morning, I decided to google the four entrepreneurs mentioned. What marvellous stories each has to tell. How about that of the wonderfully named Newnew Norton, for example, the Baltimore entrepreneur behind New Secrets Tea?
“I’m Newnew and I’m a mother of two, new wife and entrepreneur,” she says on her website. “I want to share with you our journey through motherhood and marriage.” Ms Norton (though I prefer Newnew) promotes holistic wellness and self-care through the healing power of organic gourmet herbal teas. They are blended with ingredients renowned for their positive effects on physical and mental wellbeing. I don’t know about you but I feel well just reading about her and her company, let alone tasting the product. Heck, look out for me in Cannes next week doing handstands like Newnew is below (being upside down comes easily to us Antipodeans anyway…)
Then there’s Fashion Spa House, owned and operated by Cynthia and Ketorus Gooding of Baltimore. It’s described as a lifestyle company offering lash and brow services, as well as clothing, accessories and vegan skincare, targeted at “health-conscious travellers with a flair for glam”. Vegan and glam in the same sentence. You read it here first. Brilliant.
And how about Flawless Damsels Boutique? Besides being about the best-named women’s fashion shop I’ve heard of, I like the fact that its wares are designed to meet the fashion needs of women of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and cultures. As the master Leonard Cohen (R.I.P.) sang, “Democracy is coming to the USA.”
I also admired Roshé Cosmetics & B.E.A.T. School of Makeup Artistry, an outlet offering professional make-up and lash applications; male beard-grooming oils and balms; all from a B.E.A.T. School-certified professional make-up artist.
I liked BWI Marshall Airport Ricky Smith Executive Director Ricky Smith’s comment: “Our customers appreciate LaunchPad because they can support local businesses and experience the best of Baltimore and Washington. The small business owners have an opportunity to expose their brand to millions of visitors in the airport.”
Precisely. Airports worldwide are not only gateways into and from a city. They are also showcases for it. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI Marshall) Airport is a better place for diversity – and so is the great, amazing land that is the United States of America. A real Thurgood feelgood story if ever there was one.
The other story that made my spirits soar this morning was my exclusive on Heinemann being awarded the confectionery concession at Hong Kong International Airport.
It wasn’t the winner’s identity that thrilled me – I am neutral after all – but the vision that Heinemann has brought to play here. The images on this page tell their own story. My understanding is that Airport Authority Hong Kong was totally wowed by the proposal that delivered precisely what it was seeking – a combination of fun, flair and consumer engagement. Space stations, carnival scenes, waterparks, space galaxies and Virtual Reality are all coming to Hong Kong International Airport.
Confectionery is so often sold short in the airports of the world. Frankly it’s frequently boring, template-driven, the result of sound disciplines of category management being taken too far at the expense of retailer flair, gut-feel, risk and vision. Bravo Heinemann, bravo Hong Kong International Airport. I can’t wait to see the end product.
There you have it, LaunchPads and rocket launches from two very different airports for two very different product categories. And both made my day.