Category Archives: Holiday & Seasonal

‘Muse Squad’ on the Rise in Ridgefield

A Ridgefield mom and business owner tells the story of how her unique writing program helps youth in the community to hone their craft.

RIDGEFIELD, CT — Our Small Business Spotlight shines a light on local businesses that we may not know that well. This feature highlights Ridgefield Mompreneur Brittney Richardson who is the founder of the newly launched Muse Squad, a youth writing program.

To a beginning writer, finding a time and place to channel creativity is key. With that in mind, Brittney Richardson designed the online course for aspiring young writers. By the end of completing her unique program, Richardson said, students should have the start of a novel, a short story, or several standalone pieces to put in their writing portfolio.

How did you come up with the name?

Coming up with a name was a bit of a process. I wanted it to appeal to kids without being childish, and it was very important to draw in all genders. My incredibly talented husband did the logo.

Why start a business in this town?

We moved to Ridgefield five years ago, and obviously, fell in love with the town. I was researching creative writing for kids and couldn’t find much in our area. That’s when I got the idea for the program. I’ve always loved kids, and I’ve always loved writing. I knew that if something like this was offered when I was a teen, I definitely would’ve been a part of it!

What business are you in?

I think of Muse Squad as more of a writing club than a business. That being said, I intend to pass on and make accessible, the literary techniques and wisdom of outstanding teachers. I also plan to demonstrate several of my own unique strategies for generating inspiration. I can say firsthand, that the people I met in workshops during grad school, were some of the most gifted individuals I’ve ever come across, and I found mentors in my instructors. So why not offer this experience sooner than college?

What’s the most difficult moment or challenge you’ve faced as a business owner?

Writing is kind of a niche hobby for middle schoolers, because it doesn’t really become mainstream until they get older. But that doesn’t mean kids this age aren’t just as talented or creative as students in MFA programs. The most difficult challenge is having to do this online, rather than in person like I was intending. There is a certain energy when a group of creative people are in a room together, and I will do my best to achieve this same experience in a virtual world.

Were there any challenges that made you second guess your decision to be an entrepreneur?

I consider myself more of a tireless writer, and an advocate of kids. So no, I never second guessed it. Once I came up with the idea, I had to follow through.

What’s been your proudest achievement since opening?

The overwhelmingly positive feedback I have received, and the anticipation of our winter launch, which begins January 27th, 2022.

How does your business give back or get involved in the community?

I hope Muse Squad can be the start of a local community for young writers. This innovative class is not about graded assignments; it’s about honing your craft. My goal is to run meetings where kids can tune into their creativity and bounce ideas off their peers. This program will give
anyone who joins a chance to showcase their ability and express their point of view, and supply them with the space, tools, and confidence to explore their artistry.

Photo: Brittney Richardson.

Muse Squad business logo by Brian Richardson.

CT Veteran Owned Company Carries on in Marine Father’s Mission

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” ― Ronald Reagan

BROOKFIELD, CT—A local Marine who served in Afghanistan is following in his late father’s footsteps and honoring him not only in serving the country but also keeping the “mission-first mentality” that he learned while on active duty. Brookfield resident and business owner David Alger said that today and every Veterans Day is special to him because it gives him time to reflect on what his father’s service meant to him and how he is working diligently to keep his spirit alive.

“My father Jack Alger was in the Marines and passed away when I was just 17-years-old,” Alger said. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps and always thought of the Marines as the ‘elite’ branch of the military who would be pushed the hardest. “

The late Mr. Alger was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in the Vietnam era. He retired after 35 years as a licensed plumber and was an active member of his community. He was a member of St. Francis Xavier Church Men’s Society; the Knights of Columbus, Housatonic Council 40; the Catholic War Veterans Giuseppe Leto Post 61; the Brookfield Lions Club and the Concordia of Danbury. Like his father, David Alger values giving back to his community and supports many local charities through his business, including Brookfield Football & Cheer, the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation, and more.

“Ultimately it’s all about being mission minded, going above and beyond, and being honest. I want to set a good example for my children just like my father did for me,” said Alger.

For more information, visit eliteegroup.com.

Bug Obsessed Kids Can Observe Insects from a Safe Distance with Keyachi Bug Remover

FAIRFIELD, CT—Do you have a child who is obsessed with creepy crawlies? Want to teach your children about nature in a fun way from a safe distance? Then you need to check out the Keyachi Bug Remover. The prototype is already taking nature lovers by storm with an easy to use, simple design that allows kids and adults to catch, observe and release bugs from a safe distance.

According to Entomologist Dr. John Guyton, encourging a child’s natural curiosity about insects is beneficial and should not be stifled.

“Parents and teachers often err on the side of caution, discouraging this curiosity by suggesting that insects are dangerous and will bite or sting. This is unfortunate because children grow up without essential knowledge, experience, or understanding of the animals they will have the greatest contact with throughout life. All it takes is an insect or two, introduced with questions from teachers, environmental educators, or parents, to ignite a passion for scientific discovery,” Guyton said on Green Teacher’s website.

The Keyachi Bug Remover allows bugs to be observed from its clear chamber for hours of learning and fun. Created by Connecticut M.I.T. graduate Mark Ortiz who now lives in Ohio, the device attaches to a vacuum to allow users to safely catch bugs in their homes and then release them outside after observing for a short while.

Live collecting is useful with young children, Dr. Guyton stated, and said that kids should release the insects they collect within a few hours after they have made observations or sketches.

“Providing the opportunity and a few rudimentary tools for young investigators will help them along in their bug investigations,” he said.

Organic landscape designer Dennis Leahy, Mark’s cousin, said, “One person using Keyachi to free pollinators will not save the world.  But many of us, together, choosing to catch and release bugs rather than spray them, can improve our home and yard’s environment.  We will use less toxic chemical sprays.  We will return more pollinators and beneficial bugs outside.”

The duo is seeking backers on a Kickstarter campaign they’ve created to fund the project.

“We have Keyachi Bug Remover nearly ready for release,” Mark said. “We’ve designed and tested it extensively over the past two years. Now we need your help to get us up over this last hill:  scaling and product release. Your backing will help us automate the manufacturing process and scale production by purchasing tooling, a commercial grade manufacturing equipment, and component molds.”

The product is made in the U.S. and all manufacturing and assembly will be done in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.

To learn more and back their campaign, visit Keyachi’s Kickstarter campaign. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/keyachibugremover/keyachi-bug-remover

Photo: John Pasden via Flickr Creative Commons

“EGG” Your Friends This Easter with a Custom Lawn Sign Package or a Unique Gift Basket from Salutations Custom Greetings!

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT—A local mom has created a new business that’s geared towards helping children and families celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions while still remaining socially distant. What started as ‘Veggie-Grams” this past summer, Advent deliveries for local church kids this past Christmas, as well as sympathy, birthday, get well, and general pick-me-up baskets had one entrepreneur thinking that this surprise greeting is a welcome idea during difficult times.

Salutations Custom Greetings was born out of the owner, Wendy Mitchell’s idea to bring her vegetable surplus to family and friends during the early months of the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then turned into customized cards and gift baskets for her family who she could not visit due to lockdown, and packages for her friends and neighbors. This past month, Wendy she created a highly successful “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED!” fundraiser at a nonprofit where she volunteers and soon after decided to launch her own business.

The business is a women-owned, mother-daughter venture in which Wendy’s 20-year-old apprentice, Ruby Mitchell, helps with buying, packing, delivering, and shipping packages. Ruby said, “I’ve worked with my mom for the last few years with her kids events and I’m a creative person so this is something that’s fun for me to do. Plus aI can go to school [at WestConn] and help out with this when I have my free time. I think it’s a great idea and people really seem to like the baskets. We have ones for pet owners too!”

All food items are from U.S.A. Mom & Pop businesses whose quality and safety standards are second to none.

Salutations Custom Greetings, states on their social media pages that they are “Super EGG-cited” to bring their very FIRST lawn sign/gift basket offering to the local community….”You’ve Been EGGED!” is an Easter lawn sign package that brings the holiday spirit from your hearts to your loved ones’ homes.

Those who purchase the package(s) can surprise their kids, friends, teachers, a local hero, and/or loved ones with a colorful lawn decoration set that says, “You’ve Been EGGED!” The package includes a festive lawn sign with two egg smaller Easter signs, a dozen candy-filled eggs and a personalized poem. Additional offerings include a gourmet Easter candy basket with gourmet chocolate-peanut butter bunnies, chocolate-dipped Peeps, chocolate covered Oreos and more. Another option is a candy-free toys only basket that includes a mini sketch journal, colored pencils, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a cute pink, purple, or blue stuffed bunny.

While Salutations Custom Greetings’ website is under construction, they’re asking you to HOP on over to their Eventbrite page to peruse their one-of-a-kind gifts and goodies. Order by clicking here before they’re all sold out!

QUESTIONS? Call, text, or email (203) 501-7424 SalutationsCustomGreetings@gmail.com.

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