The Story Exchange, Nicole Balthazar, Dyverse CityYour Name: Nicole Balthazar

Business Name: Dyverse City, a platform spotlighting musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs nationwide

Type of Business: Arts&Entertainment/Social Enterprise/Art and retail Co-op studios

Business Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Reason for starting
After graduating from college, I soon realized that there were very few career choices that were available for me to move into. At the time, my husband and I were going through a very hard time with finding work which directly affected our home stability. We had to do something. We were always very talented when it came to graphic design and art production. I began an online magazine that spotlighted people like us…musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs nationwide. This really began to open some doors, but obstacles still remained, one of which was affordable space for us to continue to expand our business so that we can be successful. So I got to work. I knew that it was so many unused vacant commercial buildings in New Orleans, left over from Hurricane Katrina and I felt that we could use one of those. I found one and with the help of my husband, we turned it into the very first Dyverse City.

How do you define success?
Success is a very personal journey that can only be achieved when that individual is able to do what they love…while making a living doing it. In my case, I get to wake up and work with my family everyday while showing my children that owning your own and developing a business is worthwhile. My oldest son comes and tells my husband and I that he wants to work for himself when he gets older…this is my definition of success.

Biggest Success
Everyday since we started this business, feels like we are stepping through a new door and new opportunities are being given to us but up until this point I feel that my biggest success with Dyverse City has been winning the women in business challenge through the Urban League of New Orleans’ and Idea Village’s inaugural pitch competition. It was a great honor for them to be able to see my overall vision for this business and have enough confidence in us to select our business over the other wonderful business concepts in the challenge.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The top challenge has been finding commercial properties that fit with our concept as well as the renovation processes. Access to capital would also be a challenge. We have overcome these obstacles by researching, really getting into the community and speaking with officials within the city. We have an idea that could change urban, inner-city areas nationwide and beyond so just spreading our message and being open to new opportunities and partnerships have really been the way we have pushed our initiative forward.

Who is your most important role model?
I feel that my role models have changed as I have evolved and I am sure that they will continue to change as I continue to grow into what the Lord wants me to be. When I was younger all the way up until I got through college, my mother was my role model. She exemplified exactly what I wanted to be…a lady, with strength to withstand so many trials and tribulations, with dreams that she would strive to accomplish.She provided me with a strong foundation and would be my most important role model.