Jenna Sage: Managing the trendiest 20,000 square feet in Grand Rapids

Jenna Sage: Managing the trendiest 20,000 square feet in Grand Rapids

Leaving downtown Grand Rapids, it’s easy to stop paying attention and focus on just getting home.

Understandable after a long day of work, but a mistake.

A mistake? Yeah, you read that right. There are hidden gems popping up everywhere in the neighborhoods adjacent to the ever-popular downtown. 

One of those, a place I literally just learned about it, is The Cheney Place.

Located about a mile and half north of Devos Place on Monroe Avenue, this venue is not your mother’s, father’s, grandmother’s or grandfather’s event space. It’s an urban boutique space. What Pinterest would look like in real life.

And it’s all run by a Millennial with cool frames, the Jenna Sage.

What makes The Cheney Place keep growing? Let’s hear from Jenna in her own words.

Credit: Studio 6.23 Photography

When TCP first opened, it was family run by a mother-daughter team. An old co-worker of mine was the first non-family employee and when they expanded she recommended me to come in and help with event coordination.

It started very part time about three years ago and has morphed into my beautiful thing I’d call my dream job. I’ve been around through the transition of owners, lots of design changes, employees changes, and growth, so really I’ve been around for it all since the venue is only 4 years old.

Right now, I’m managing the space, working with all of our clients from bookings, design elements (floor plans, vintage furniture, linens) to putting their day of team together. I also oversee our really cool team of coordinators and interns. While I love working with clients, as the venue grows, so does my role so I’ve transitioned a few times to create new jobs and even create new elements of the business.

The Cheney Place is a space truly like no other. The building is a 50,000 square foot old furniture factory… come on, that’s pretty cool! Our clients get 20,000 square feet of event space for ceremonies, receptions, cocktail hour or even just a meeting.

Even just as an empty warehouse, the space has so much potential and our clients can feel it. What’s even better is our second floor is always decked out with vintage and mid-century furniture, chandeliers and cool plants… it basically says cool vibes and take my picture (if it could talk, haha).

Credit: Studio 6.23 Photography

Our real asset is our team, each member is hand selected for their role. We do what we do because we actually love it. We’re in hospitality to serve people… mainly that looks like taking care of everything a bride could worry about on leading up to and on her wedding day!

Credit: Studio 6.23 Photography

I’ve spent the past three years working at one of the coolest venues in Grand Rapids so of course, I’ve met a ton of cool vendors. It’s really being here long term and connecting over and over again with the same cool vendors that allows me to build connections and network. The wedding industry is cool, I’ve made so many connections professionally but at the end of the day, so many of them have become friends! I think those connections lead to mutual recommendations for both TCP and other vendors!

Where are we headed? Haha… for weddings on weddings on weddings is my simple answer. The wedding industry is always changing and we like to be on the front line for new trends and cool designs and we do have a few areas we’re still sprucing up. The whole gang here and the owners, have spent the last few years building an incredible business that’s really taken off. 2017 is about doing what we love, and a whole lot of it!

 



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Camp Geneva: The corporate retreat you’ll actually enjoy

Camp Geneva: The corporate retreat you’ll actually enjoy

It was an unseasonably warm, cloudy day in January and Stacey Yff was walking the historic grounds of Camp Geneva in Holland.

She passed the pool, the Huron cabins, Superior cabins, and Michigan cabins before arriving at the camp’s chapel. When she removed her keys from her coat, they jingled for a brief moment, triggering a sense of anticipation, like something special, something exclusive, something rare was just around the corner. She unlocked the doors and walked through the dark open space until she arrived at another set of doors.

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There was a short delay. This was the end of the tour.

The main attraction.

The star.

The centerpiece.

Yff opened the final set of doors and the darkness disappeared, ushering in a 180-degree view of Lake Michigan. Situated on a bluff high above the lake, the perspective from the long deck outside the chapel was breathtaking. A ridge of snow and ice covered the beach in the foreground, a few hundred yards out, open water.

And best of all it was quiet, so refreshingly quiet.

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A former summer staffer, and now years later, director of retreat ministries, Yff had experienced a similar view from Camp Geneva’s grounds many times before. Yet, in this moment, the magnitude of Lake Michigan appeared just as fresh and new and powerful and filled with wonder as the first time she had set foot on campus.

It was as if Lake Michigan had a way of reinventing itself, so that no two experiences were alike, but the end results, the key reasons people flocked here, remained constant.

Rest.

Relaxation.

Clarity.

Creative breakthroughs.

Motivation.

That afternoon it became clear to me Camp Geneva is truly the place for a corporate retreat you’ll actually enjoy. Why? Because you feel like you are a world away, not in some cookie-cutter conference center replicated a hundred times across the country, but in reality you’re only a short drive from most West Michigan metro areas.

“I think Lake Michigan is huge for a lot of groups,” Yff said, pointing to a recent example of a creative design agency spending significant time walking the beach, discussing ideas. “Not only does Camp Geneva have meeting space, but nature. I think the water brings something unique.”

The meeting spaces

After corporate retreat attendees have enjoyed the 1,200 feet of Lake Michigan beach frontage, they can return to first-class meeting spaces to share, brainstorm and network. Thanks to a renovation completed in 2016, the camp’s Retreat Center now offers modern spaces with wireless Internet, audio/visual technology, whiteboards, and flexible seating to accommodate various group sizes.

Other buildings on campus, such as the Chapel, which was updated in 2014, also provide unique meeting areas for both large and small groups.

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GENEVA 2The investments have paid off. Mixing word-of-mouth and digital marketing strategies, Camp Geneva has maintained its traditional base and attracted other groups from across Michigan.

“We’ve had a lot of new groups and returning groups,” Yff said from the Retreat Center’s lobby, which is illuminated by natural light, and filled with a fireplace and trendy seating.

Resthaven of Holland, the West Coast Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Young Life, Under the Fig Tree Ministries, the Grand Valley State University Psychology Department, and Midwest Energy Group are among the organizations that have recently held meetings or plan to hold meetings at Camp Geneva, Yff said.

The future

The updated retreat spaces, part of the $23 million poured into Camp Geneva since 1999, have also sparked regional collaboration, much to the delight of camp leadership.

Kevin VanderKlok, executive director of Camp Geneva, said it’s exciting to watch groups comprised of different churches plan events and come together, completely unified on the camp’s grounds. Camp Geneva now offers something for everyone, enabling people of all ages to visit.

“To see the local churches partnering … we have the honor to do that,” he said. “Partnerships are one of the keys to our future.”

No matter what the future holds, VanderKlok desires to maintain a sense of awe, the same awe that Yff and I experienced, because it fits into the bigger picture of Camp Geneva’s mission.

“We want people to experience God’s creation,” VanderKlok said. “It’s a place to say ‘let’s disconnect for a little while … and focus on what really matters.'”



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