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WV Wonders: A Journey Through Morgantown with Biztec

Greetings, readers!

Corey Lambden, Account Executive
Corey Lambden

Allow me to introduce myself – I am Corey Lambden, an Account Executive proudly representing Biztec. The past month has been an exciting journey for me as I ventured into the heart of Morgantown, West Virginia. Armed with curiosity, I set out on a mission to spotlight a handful of local businesses that form the backbone of this charming community.

Throughout November, I had the privilege of conducting interviews with an array of small business owners. From local shops to innovative startups, Morgantown's business landscape reveals stories of passion, resilience, and ingenuity. Follow along as I share the tales of these inspiring local businesses, offering you a glimpse into the spirit of Morgantown.

Mama K’s Kitchen, Star City Nutrition, Tonique’s Trilogy, and Hoot & Howl Artisan Shop shine as standout local gems. Mama K's, in particular, has been the talk of the town since the beginning of the year, with my friends buzzing about it non-stop. So, why not begin our journey at the place everyone has been raving about?

Mama K's Kitchen staff and pasta dish.
Mama K's Kitchen staff & Fusilli Vodka pasta.

Led by the exceptional Kelsey Kirby, Mama K’s Kitchen embodies a profound love for our community. Raised in a close-knit Italian family with a deep passion for food, Kirby's journey began with a desire to share the joy of great food and communal dining.

"Growing up and realizing that this familial, communal experience is unique, I wanted to make that feeling less stressful and more exciting for others. Creating a space where people can enjoy delicious food and come together is what it's all about," explained Kirby.

The team at Mama K’s is dedicated to fostering a sense of community through stellar customer service and delectable cuisine. Whether you choose to dine in, take out, or host your own event, the Italian restaurant offers a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Similarly, at Hoot & Howl Artisan Shop, a commitment to community pride resonates through thoughtfully curated offerings. Established in 2018, it stands as a beacon of West Virginia Pride.

Hoot & Howl Artisan Shop's Stephanie Swaim
Hoot & Howl Artisan Shop's Stephanie Swaim.

Stephanie Swaim, the visionary behind this thriving establishment, shared her perspective on the vibrant community she has cultivated since opening her doors in Morgantown. "I believe we have an exceptional community down here. I've always strived to foster connections with local shops and small businesses to mutually support each other because I genuinely believe that when one person succeeds, everyone thrives."

Swaim went on to tell me, "The most rewarding part about this has been the people... building those connections. I'll see someone who is pregnant, then they bring their kids in, and before you know it, it's been five years—I'm witnessing kids go into school, families growing, and college graduations. It's been a really cool experience."

Recently, Swaim and her team expanded their offerings with the addition of Euphorbia Plant Shop, seamlessly integrated with the already captivating artisan storefront.

After speaking about Swaim’s successful expansion and entrepreneurial endeavors, my attention turned to Star City Nutrition (SCN). Owned by Kortni Henderson, a recent WVU graduate who assumed ownership of SCN in October, has continued cultivating lasting relationships and making an impact in the community.

Star City Nutrition
Star City Nutrition's Kortni Henderson holding a Sunny D Tea and a tea flight.

At SCN, they expertly curate meal plans and weight loss programs while packing your day with wholesome alternatives to traditional energy drinks. Here, you can discover a spectrum of health-conscious delights in the heart of Star City, from refreshing teas to energizing protein shakes.

When asked what advice she would give young entrepreneurs like herself, Henderson replied, “Don’t be afraid to take the plunge! It might feel like navigating a maze at first, but having a supportive crew is the secret sauce. That’s the magic of our Morgantown community: We’ve got each other’s backs!”

Contemplating the landscape of young entrepreneurs in our community, the question arose: "Who else’s inspiring story can I share?" And then, like a sudden revelation, it dawned on me— Jessie McCauley of Tonique’s Trilogy.

Tonique's Trilogy's Jessie McCauley giving a customer a Cooling Cyro Wand treatment.
Tonique's Trilogy's Jessie McCauley giving a customer a Cooling Cyro Wand treatment.

Beyond her exceptional skills, McCauley brings a dose of personality to the table. She's not just any esthetician—she's your beauty confidante. You can practically feel her passion through every interaction. What sets McCauley apart? She exclusively uses an all-organic, natural skincare line to pamper her clients, ensuring optimal results.

“I want people to feel their best selves… The main goal is for them to leave the salon feeling happy and better about themselves,” said McCauley. “I want you to feel like we achieved something when you come here, that your goals were met.”

Tonique’s Trilogy isn't just a salon/spa—it's a haven. When you step inside, you’re greeted by a comforting, tranquil atmosphere that guarantees you'll walk out feeling rejuvenated. Additionally, they consistently collaborate with fellow local enterprises while actively engaging in community initiatives.

From Tonique’s Trilogy to Mama K’s and beyond, each of these small businesses seeks to provide their customers and community with a unique experience.

As I sit here and reflect on the incredible conversations I’ve had during this journey, I realize everyone in Morgantown exudes a genuine desire to see others thrive. The resounding theme I encountered in each interview was the powerful word 'Community’; it’s undeniably the cornerstone of this town.

These interviews have been a total game-changer, making me a card-carrying member of the "shop local, support local, and spread the good vibes" club. Trust me, attending local events and building those connections? It's that ‘secret sauce’ to success – professionally and personally!

This town is a tapestry woven with the warmth of true, kind-hearted West Virginians, and I am so proud to be part of it.

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