A look beyond the ordinary to what makes these SoIN folks extraordinary
ILLUSTRATION BY ADAM KLEINERT
PHOTS BY JD DOTSON
There is an art to business, whether leading a nonprofit or crafting innovative ways to provide services and goods. When you blend artistic richness and inspiration into strategy, what transpires is an output of meaning. Take a look at these SoIN folks who work hard to put the “extra” into what could be ordinary.
Managing Partner & Culinary Director
MESA Kids Cooking School
Chef Liz Martino is a whiz in the kitchen, where she is adept at nearly every type of cuisine. While her dishes are always delectable – and we should know: Chef Liz is a frequent guest on Extol Live, our 11 a.m. Friday live-streaming show on Facebook and our YouTube channel – what we love even more is her artful way of connecting to others and wrapping them in positivity. At MESA Kids Cooking School, Chef Liz has mastered the art of inspiring kids of all ages far beyond their cooking skills. She leads by example and has a heart for people, which her young chefs often emulate. Our community – culinary and otherwise – is a better place because Chef Liz is in it.
Cheers to Jon Ryan Neace, who is responsible for overseeing Falls City Brewing Company and Old 502 Winery. While the former is and has been a popular spot in Louisville, the Indiana native and Floyds Knobs resident is currently working to open a tasting room for the urban winery, which is located in the same complex as Falls City in the Phoenix Hill/Nulu neighborhood on Liberty Street after moving from its 10th Street location in 2020. An avid supporter of organic, eye-catching marketing, Jon Ryan raises the bar with unique ways to attract those who enjoy adult beverages and a talented team that collaborates to ensure maximum enjoyment by their targeted demographics. Whether you live in the 812 or the 502, you’re sure to fall for what Jon Ryan and his staff brew and produce next. We know we do.
Arts Alliance of Southern Indiana
While Brian Bell often credits his staff and board of directors with his organization’s continued success (and they are truly a major part), since taking the helm of the Arts Alliance of Southern Indiana in 2020, he’s propelled the nonprofit forward with his unmatched ability to think “big picture.” Brian is brilliant at conceiving ideas to further the arts in our community and make them more accessible in ways that have been recognized locally, regionally, and, recently, on a national scale, too. Never one to shy away from an unconventional idea, Brian is committed to the mission of making an impact on people of all ages and walks of life through the arts.
Tracy & Alphonzo Brown
Poppin Flavors Gourmet Popcorn
Husband and wife Tracy and Alphonzo Brown are a lesson in the art of perseverance. When Alphonzo lost much of his eyesight due to health issues and had to leave his job in IT, the couple went to work creating a business of their own to aid in the next chapter of life. After looking at popcorn franchises, they soon discovered there wasn’t one that fit with what they were trying to accomplish. They also were turned down by a company that wasn’t a franchise – but that didn’t stop the dynamic duo. Tracy and Alphonzo taught themselves to make popcorn in the midst of the COVID pandemic, altering their business model on the fly and adapting as needed along the way. They credit their faith in God and ability to think outside of the (popcorn) box for their success, along with the community support of their popping business. Today, they’re known for carrying more than 40 unique popcorn flavors, from savory to sweet to spicy, like Maple Bacon Bourbon to Cookies and Cream to Buffalo Breath — and a host of other distinctive flavors (including Golden Butter). You’re sure to find flavors you love, but once you get the chance to meet them, the Browns will be your favorite reason to frequent Poppin Flavors.
Owner & Designer
Street Hippee Streetwear Co.
Hunter Johnson launched his company after combining his passion for unique threads with his love for the planet. Sustainability is key to the young designer. So is his commitment to helping to reduce the waste of textiles – millions of pounds of clothing are thrown away each year and either sent to landfills or burned. Instead of creating new, Hunter upcycles, reworks, and offers handmade, one-of-kind pieces that become wearable art. Once a designer working in his Southern Indiana home, Hunter recently opened a Street Hippee Streetwear Co. brick ’n‘ mortar shop at Mellwood Art Center, where customers can expect unique apparel and a super chill vibe.