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CSU Alumni-Owned Businesses

August 1, 2023  /  Tag: CSU

The vibrant spirit and strong culture of Colorado State University (CSU) and alumni-owned businesses can be felt throughout Downtown Fort Collins! Which inspiring story is your favorite? 

Peter Vlcek of Farmers Insurance

B.S. in Business Administration | CSU Grad, 2004

You might recognize Peter from CSU football games - for two seasons straight; he appeared on the jumbotron at least once for every home game!

His enthusiasm for CSU football shows in his office as he points out where his seats are at the stadium on a photo from opening day.

Peter purchased his Farmers agency in 2018 and says, "The best part of this agency is that it's located at 262 E. Mountain Ave. in the heart of downtown Fort Collins and has been home to a Farmers Insurance agency for over 45 years! To me, Downtown Fort Collins is the center of our community, filled with support, enjoyment, and activity."

Holly and Bill Wright of The Wright Life

Holly: B.S. Zoology | CSU Grad, 1983

Bill: B.S. Business | CSU Grad, 1980

Bill and Holly Wright are fun and easy going as they chat with us in the store. Bill starts spinning a disc as he’s telling me about freestyle. Before starting The Wright Life in 1981, Bill had been selling frisbees out of his van as he was traveling to tournaments and competitions. 

“We wanted to be a part of the charm of downtown and were encouraged by future development and plans for Old Town Square and beyond. The preservation of the buildings, establishment of Old Town Square, and hard work of Gene Mitchel, Ray Dixon, Ed Stoner, and Jim Reidhead led the way for small businesses like us to get established and thrive.”

Heather Trantham and Jason Hevelone of CopperMuse Distillery

Heather: B.S. Civil Engineering | CSU Grad, 1992 and Ph.D. Civil Engineering | CSU Grad, 1998

Jason: B.S. Electrical Engineering | CSU Grad, 1992

To Heather and Jason, Downtown feels like home. 

“There are bars that we frequented as college students, restaurants that we brought our out-of-town guests to, and events (parades, festivals) our kids grew up going to over the years. We work on different aspects of the business throughout the day, but we almost always eat lunch together, we laugh a lot, and we send funny memes to our kids.”

Diane Findley of Trimble Court Artisans

B.F.A. Fine Arts | CSU Grad, 1976

Diane’s energy and love of all things art are infectious to everyone around her. Spend a few minutes with her at Trimble Court Artisans, a co-op gallery, and you’ll be taken on a wonderful whirlwind exploration of artwork from over 50 local Colorado artists.

Trimble Court Artisans started when CSU professor Martha Scott Trimble made the storefront at 118 Trimble Court available to a group of young artisans in 1971.

“Martha felt we stood out as women of high moral character and wanted us to be successful selling our art. To this day, she guides us in spirit, and we are forever grateful to her.”

Sean Godbey of Old Town Spice

B.S. Human Dimensions in Natural Resources & Tourism | CSU Grad, 2008

Sean loves helping people enjoy cooking, whether volunteering with middle and high-school-aged kids or talking to customers who are exploring the world of spices. 

“I love hearing from customers about what they are cooking and learning to cook at home! This last year people have really been trying to stretch their culinary chops and learn new cuisines and see what they are able to make in their home kitchen!”

Kat Reeves of Bistro Nautile

B.A. English, Secondary Education Endorsement | CSU Grad, 2002

“Good people and good towns deserve excellent cuisine!” says Kat, co-owner of Bistro Nautile.

Along with her husband, a Fort Collins native, they both “love Fort Collins and want to do what we can to support and feed our community. Our people make me smile, everyone from our awesome customers to our friendly local vendors and delivery people to the amazing humans I call my work family. I am lucky to be surrounded and supported by the friendliest people in Fort Collins!”

Desiree Rich of Pinot's Palette

B.S. Business with a concentration in Accounting | CSU Grad, 2015

“I've been going to Pinot's Palette since 2012 and always wanted to have a presence in Fort Collins. When the opportunity to transfer the business presented itself in early 2022, we had to do it. From time spent in Old Town Square to festivals, kids events, and now running a downtown business,” she says she feels this is home.