Tagg Magazine Targets Unreached Women’s Community

April 11, 2016

Washington, D.C., is known for its power players and government workers – they fuel the local economy and drive growth. The lesbian and bisexual women’s community is no different, with a cohort of women that frequent women’s bars and “ladies” nights at gay clubs. Thrown into the mix of D.C. LGBTQ media that includes Metro Weekly and the Washington Blade is Tagg Magazine, a bi-monthly glossy that serves primarily women who like women and the transgender community.

Managing editor and co-owner Ebone Bell had mulled over the idea of creating a women’s magazine for a few years, but it was in December 2011 that she sat down and decided it was time. It took a little over a year for the magazine to launch, with the first edition hitting street corners in January. Before launching Tagg, she worked in the digital strategies department at AARP, and helped put together the organization’s first LGBT page on its website. She also runs a promotion company, B.O.I. Marketing and Promotions, which throws events throughout the LGBT community.

Bell characterizes the magazine under “lifestyle” and says it lists women’s-only events, and reports on everything from home and family life to the social scene.

The publication is currently operating with mostly volunteer writers, with Bell, an intern and another editor – she hopes to expand the business to eventually hire on paid freelance writers and graphic designers.

Tagg caters to a demographic of women who are out and about on the town – from business owners to young professionals, and advertisers are awaking to that.

“As a startup, not everyone is going to run to your door if you don’t have the product to start out with,” Bell said. “Advertising is always an issue, and getting people to believe in the product, but we’ve done well in cultivating our advertisers, especially over the last few months.”

Bell acknowledges it is a volatile time for print publications, but she said she was confident the women’s community would respond, citing feedback from friends that Metro Weekly and the Washington Blade did not have as much LBT content.
“The Blade and Metro Weekly are great publications and I have a lot of respect for them and what they’ve done,” Bell said. “But after being involved for such a long time, you don’t see a lot of the LBT in some of our local and national publications. Sometimes, when you have a certain readership, that’s what happens.” Tagg also is different, Bell said, in that it does not cover as much news events or politics.

The website that accompanies the magazine currently has around 30,000 monthly visitors, but Bell hopes to double that number in coming months.

Upcoming stories include a June feature on lesbian artists and a monthly feature on “Women You Should Meet” on influential women in the area.

Tagg is People magazine meets the lesbian community, as Bell says, and, “if you pick It up and don’t know it’s geared toward women, it’s like any other pub you pick up, there are cool recipes or tips on how to find a date and feature stories. Our goal is to make sure we do a good job in the metro area, couple years to get support, move across the country and have Tagg in other major cities.”
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National Law Enforcement Museum to Open at Judiciary Square in 2014

The National Law Enforcement Museum is expected to open in 2014 in Judiciary Square across from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (5th and E Streets, NW). The museum will be housed in an underground facility, save for two glass entry pavilions and a plaza. Construction on its physical structure is expected to begin later this year. There will be an interactive exhibit space, a theater, a museum shop and dedicated areas for collections, education and research — all spread over three levels and designed to tell the story of American law enforcement. The museum, an initiative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, is expected to attract about 500,000 visitors annually. NLEOMF is privately raising funds for its construction and development and already has collected more than $56 million toward the $80 million campaign goal.

Pets’ Profit

Gus Elfving is not your typical business owner. If a client calls him at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday in a crisis, he’ll come a-runnin’.

His client base of around 750 pet owners, including dogs, cats, birds, hermit crabs, spiders and once, a hedge hog, sometimes demand a level of care that extends beyond normal business hours. “She was freaking out and certain that her dog had a tick infestation,” Elfving said. “I ran over to her house. I was so concerned, and I was relieved to tell my client that her infestation of ticks was actually an infestation of nipples. She hadn’t noticed the dog had nipples.”

The story seems to be one of his favorites, as he ended it with a big, hearty laugh.

Elfving has dedicated his career to taking care of people’s pets, which makes the name of his company, “Pet Peeps,” even more fitting.

Started in 2006, Elfving originally worked in retail, but found he didn’t have his heart in it. A friend offered to get him a job walking dogs, and six years later, he manages over 30 pet sitters and is expanding the Pet Peeps into Baltimore later this year.

“Most of our clients are people who are not fresh out of college, usually they’re post graduates, people who have to work 80 hours or plus a week, and they want the comfort of a pet in their life but they’re not able to take care of it themselves. And when you’re billing $250 an hour, $20 an hour to pay someone to walk your dog so you can work an extra hour is minimal,” he said in a recent interview in Logan Circle, where his office is located.

His approach to care for pets hasn’t changed since the beginning: individualized care with standardized service, which he says, gets harder to accomplish as the company gets bigger.

“People want both, and it’s pretty challenging,” Elfving said. “Whether they realize it or not, it does take a lot of work on our end.”

The boom in neighborhood gentrification also hasn’t done a disservice to his business.

“Our client base follows population of city,” he said. “Wherever there is a dense population, and typically a gentrified neighborhood, we’re there. We don’t have as many clients in Anacostia or upper Northeast, but we do have clients there.”

Whatever the neighborhood, dog walkers are trained to keep dogs out of busy parks and never off the leash because of the potential danger. And dogs are only ever walked one at a time, or with the permission of the owner, two or three at a time.

“Incidents are minimal, but we don’t like to expose our clients to that. Becoming a dog walker you learn to look for grassy spots that aren’t overly used by other dog walkers,” he said. “From the beginning I saw the importance of doing an individual service, because in the city it’s not safe to do multiple dogs. If two dogs get into it, or if a dog gets off the leash, what are you doing to do if you have five dogs tethered to you?”

Elfving’s ultimate hope is to become a regional service with an office in Philadelphia. It’s a long way from where he was just a few years ago, sticking up business cards on bulletin boards and getting clients through word- of-mouth. He also developed his own pricing structure and how pet sits would be designated.

“We’ve reached the preliminary goals for the city. At one time, I had the goal of having an employee, then of becoming incorporated, and then having ‘x’ dollars, and now we’re starting to expand service to outside of the city like Maryland. We follow the path of the burgeoning areas.”

And with a dedication to clients that runs 24/7, there may be nowhere to go but up.

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No Pot Paraphernalia Law Closes Capitol Hemp

January 16, 2015

Capitol Hemp, the tiny earth-friendly store which opened just over two years ago in the basement of 519 H St., will close its doors on Sept. 12 after getting a six-week extension from Aug. 1 so that pending issues between the city and the owner’s lawyers could be resolved. The store sells everything from soap and lotion to art and clothing, all made from industrial hemp. The retailer’s Adams Morgan store will close next month as well. The agreement came after an October raid when the Metropolitan Police confiscated water pipes, claiming they broke paraphernalia laws.

Crunkcakes Adds Booz to Cupcake Buzz

Gourmet cupcakes tend to cater to those who can afford to pay anywhere from $3.50 to $5 for a small cake that might go for 50 cents at a bake sale. They are a trend like frozen yogurt, food trucks and perhaps even yoga, that has caught on quickly and, because of the demand, are not only successful but are pricey. Crunkcakes has something no other cupcake in the District has: Alcohol.

Crunkcakes does not have a store front or a gaggle of trained employees to sell you their product. There are only two women, Faith Alice Sleeper and Raychel Sabath, who bake the cupcakes that are sold throughout bars and festivals. Sleeper has three jobs – running Crunkcakes, working at Rock n Roll Hotel and Dangerously Delicious Pies on H St. NE. Sabath works in booking at Rock n Roll Hotel. Sleeper says her mother baked a lot when she was a child, and she put her own twist on what she learned at a holiday party in 2009.

Some cupcakes, like the Buttery Nipple, Grasshopper and Irish Carbomb, are based off of actual alcoholic drinks, but others are made from experimenting with different pairings. For example, the Fat Elvis is banana cake infused with banana rum and peanut butter Frangelico butter-cream.
Both in their 20s, Sleeper and Sabath say they know there is ample competition for cupcakes in the District, but because both are so busy at other jobs, they don’t really take notice.

“I’m so busy balancing work and trying to start a business that it makes waiting in line for cake seem silly to me,” Sleeper says. “We have a unique product in that we only sell booze infused cupcakes so I don’t really consider us a part of all that. We just want to help you get drunk with cake.”
The cupcakes cost $4 a pop and carry about one ounce of alcohol, so eating one is like taking a shot, though with the balance of carbohydrates, they may not be as big of a punch to the liver. All the cakes are made from scratch and with high-quality liquor. Sleeper admits that her clientele are fairly straight-forward, “People who like booze and cake.”

Sleeper graduated from American University in 2005 and was born in D.C. Her father was a diplomat, so she lived the majority of her childhood in the Caribbean and Latin America. Since college, however, H St. has been her home and because of her relationships with business owners, it’s been easy to forge a distribution through bars in the up and coming neighborhood. She says she can’t imagine not baking, “If I wasn’t working on H Street and doing Crunkcakes I would probably still be at some god-awful desk job.”
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DDOT: Bids for Advertising on Capital Bikeshare Map Panels are Open

Feel like getting creative in advertising? Think Capital Bikeshare. The city issued an invitation for bids on advertising at 128 Capital Bikeshare station map panels in the District. The successful bidder will have the ability to advertise a message on a space 38 inches wide and 56 -3/4 inches tall, in prime activity centers with significant levels of pedestrian, car, bike and transit traffic, 365 days a year, 7 days a week.

In addition to the expected financial return to the city, the District will also evaluate the successful bidder’s ability to maintain the brand identity and equity of Capital Bikeshare and consideration of neighborhood characteristics in the selection of advertisements for display. The Invitation for Bids is posted online at ddot.dc.gov.

Fish Market Ready to Diversify

The Maine Avenue Fish Market in Southwest D.C. is one of the oldest continuing fish markets in the U.S. But a bill approved by Congress might change the fish market by allowing vendors to sell something other than fish. As part of a broader bill that passed this week allowing a massive redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, Congress amended a 1906 law that allowed only fish and shellfish to be sold at the market. The law designated the fish market — which had been established at a nearby location in 1805 — as “the sole wharf for the landing of fish and oysters for sale in the District of Columbia.”

But under the new bill, ushered through Congress by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the fish-only exemption was dropped, allowing D.C. to run and regulate the fish market as merely a “market.” As a parallel to the congressional move, the District Council amended the 1906 law as part of the 2013 budget and clarified what goods can be sold at the fish market: “All types of food and beverage, produce, consumables, organic or ‘green’ themed items, plants and flowers, artisan ware, arts, handmade or handicrafts — and such other similar or related retail and consumer goods as well as any and all appurtenant, ancillary, complementary or co-existing cultural, theatrical, residential, exhibition, office, or arts uses.” When the law was written in the early 1900s, boats would pull up to the market and unload their wares. It’s been a long time since that happened — the boats have been replaced by refrigerated trucks — so a change seemed only logical. Additionally, the waterfront will soon look very different — its redevelopment will see 2.5 million square feet of new hotels, office space, retail space, and residences.

Domestic and international tourists put $6 billion into the D.C. economy last year. That’s a 6.2-percent increase from the $5.68 billion spent in 2010 — and a whopping $600 million in essential tax revenue for the city.

DC Bicycling Study

The District Department of Transportation is wrapping up a year-long study of three bicycle facilities, two of which, the 15th Street cycle track and Pennsylvania Avenue center median bike lane, are located downtown. Researchers found that bicycle counts increased dramatically along the corridors, while motor vehicle travel times did not change significantly. Bicycle crashes also increased along the corridors, and the researchers recommended continued monitoring of bicycle crashes over time. In addition, the project included a survey of adjacent property owners, residents, motorists and bicyclists, who were all generally supportive of the facilities. The report also recommends several design and operational improvements to benefit both bicyclists and motorists. The hospitality industry, the city’s second-largest employer behind the federal government, had 76,000 jobs last year, up 7 percent from 2010, according to Destination DC.

New Soccer Stadium Proposed for D.C. United

August 19, 2013

D.C. government is considering building a new soccer stadium for D.C. United, and on July 25, business leaders and government officials proposed to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest, D.C. Council members are weighing the project, which might bring new jobs and development to an underutilized section of the city.

At-large councilwoman Anita Bonds said in a release that she wants to hear from residents on the cost and feasibility of the plan and on the impact that the development for waterways and environment, its effect on the construction of the upcoming Frederick Douglass Bridge replacement, the transfer of the Reeves Center as well as ramifications on the Southwest and Southeast neighborhoods. Since the first Major League Soccer season in 1996, United has played its home games at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, a half-century-old football stadium with deteriorating infrastructure and outdated amenities. Meanwhile, United have seen its rival clubs build soccer-specific venues of their own as the league has grown. The new stadium would potentially open in 2016. [gallery ids="101422,154879" nav="thumbs"]

DC May Face More Federal Budget Cuts; What Will Happen to Brown’s Cars?

June 18, 2013

Under the proposed House Republican budget plan, the District would face $80 million in funding cuts from the federal government. District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray released a short statement calling the House of Representatives cuts “another serious blow” to the District and signaled potential tax increases to cover losses to local agencies.

“We already have revised our budget by hundreds of millions of dollars and face even more severe challenges as we look to Fiscal Year 2012,” Gray said in a press release. For the District that means potential cuts to key D.C. programs, including public transportation ($150 million), courts ($25.5 million) education ($15.4 million), and water and sewer ($10 million).

However, though the Mayor’s office and City Council are scrambling to figure out how to close the gap, The Washington Post raised questions about expenditures by D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown, specifically, his “fully loaded” Lincoln Navigator L with a DVD entertainment system, power moonroof and polished aluminum wheels.

The legislation, though unclear as to if it would cut these cars, would spare some DC-specific programs, including the DC Tuition Assistance Grant program, a subsidy that pays the difference in tuition costs for DC students who attend out-of-state colleges and universities.

The legislation “is replete with substantial cuts to the small domestic part of the U.S. budget that the average American relies on,” congresswoman Norton told The Washington Times. “The House bill is only the first round in the [continuing-resolution] process. I have been rounding up Senate allies who, along with the Obama administration, are committed to preserving DC’s home-rule rights and dignity as a local jurisdiction.”