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Community Corner: Hospitality House

By | Entrepreneurs, Founders, Nonprofits, Startups | No Comments

Hospitality House

“Making the Heart of San Francisco a better place for us all.”

Hospitality House is an incredible nonprofit in San Francisco that serves residents of the Tenderloin, SOMA and Mid Market neighborhoods. They are all about “meeting people where they are” by helping with immediate needs, long-term stabilization, and community culture. The organization believes all residents in San Francisco should be proud members of the community.

More than 20,000 lives are impacted in a positive way by Hospitality House each year. This grassroots organization is changing San Francisco for the better and making amazing strides to create a better community for all.

Meet Jackie, the Executive Director of Hospitality House.

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Here is a glimpse into her life and what it is like running this incredible nonprofit.

What is your favorite holiday tradition and why?

As cliché as it sounds, one of my favorite things about the holidays is being able to just hang out with people. Whether it is traveling to see family or taking extra time out to celebrate with staff and community members at Hospitality House, I just love connecting with the folks I cherish, talking about what is most important to all of us.

I also like making and giving buckeye candies – those little peanut butter and chocolate sweet treats that look like the nuts of the buckeye trees in my home state of Ohio. They remind me of childhood, and people can’t get enough of them!

How long have you been in the nonprofit sector? How long with Hospitality House?

I have worked in community organizations since I graduated from college, though I have spent most of my professional life – the past 20 years – at my favorite place: Hospitality House. I started here as an employment counselor, became a program director, and then assumed the role of executive director in 2001. This is my dream job because I get to both interact with community members on an individual basis and work on changing the policies and systems that are at the root of homelessness and poverty.

What is your favorite thing about running a nonprofit? least favorite?

My least favorite thing is having to confront so much injustice and oppression – seeing so clearly that things could be better if only there was the political will, if only more people took action. It can be soul-crushing to be witness to people’s suffering day after day and to know that suffering could be alleviated if only our society considered all people truly worthy of basic human rights.

On the flip side, I love spending most of my time in a community of people who are focused on changing this reality and fighting against the root causes of the suffering our communities experience. I like being part of a place that embraces and respects every single person, no matter what. I like being a change agent in the world, even though it sometimes seems like impossible work. I love that Hospitality House is authentic, righteous, and resilient, and I have the distinct honor of being a part of its leadership team.

How has Hospitality House changed your life for the better?

Oh, there’s so much! I really have grown up at Hospitality House. I started here in my early twenties, out of college, with minimal experience in nonprofits and no background in a community as diverse, vibrant, and intense as the Tenderloin. Things were pretty wild back then, both in the community and in the organization.

I experienced right away how privileged my childhood had been, and it was obvious the influence that race and socioeconomic status have on the success people achieve in their lives. I realized how my life would’ve been different had I not grown up White and middle class, and that confirmed for me that there is no work more important than turning this reality around. I don’t do charity work – I fight for social justice. I don’t feel pity for people – I feel rage at the systems that keep people down.

Being at Hospitality House dramatically changed the course of my life. I have worked hard and given much of myself here, but there’s no doubt I’ve gained much more than I could ever give to this very special place.

If there was a movie about your life, who would play you and why?

I’m not good at this kind of thing, so I asked a few people who know me the best. Here’s what they said:

“Jennifer Lawrence. In roles like Winter’s Bone, she’s persistent and pushes on against all odds for what she believes in.” (my husband)

“Julia Roberts ala Erin Brockovich came to mind first. Fighting the good fight against The Man.” (my brother)

“Angelina Jolie. She crosses boundaries and doesn’t waiver in her beliefs. She recently turned down the role of a Bond girl but said she’d play Bond.” (my sister)

“Sally Field in the movie Norma Rae.” (my coworker)

Why Officengine Cares

Both of the founders of Officengine sit on the board of Hospitality House and are very involved with the community the nonprofit serves. Here are statements from Jason and Matt regarding this wonderful organization.

Matt: It’s great to be involved with an organization that  cares so deeply for its community. Everyone involved from its peer group to the leadership team is passionately working to achieve a common goal. Hospitality House and all the people who work for the nonprofit have inspired me beyond belief.

Jason: They’ve been incredibly successful over the years making a significant impact, and I’m proud to support them!

How You Can Get Involved

If you are looking for a great non-profit to get involved with in San Francisco, Hospitality House is the one. They are positively impacting San Francisco at the very core and helping them will directly benefit this wonderful city that holds such a special place in so many hearts.

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As we are in the midst of the Season of Giving, we encourage you to learn more about

Hospitality House and give back to bring positive changes to the community this holiday.


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Startup Spotlight: Combatant Gentlemen

By | Entrepreneurs, Fashion, Founders, Startups | No Comments

Meet Combatant Gentlemen

#DressSmarter

We thought it would be the perfect time to introduce Combatant Gentlemen in case you need a last minute outfit or two for all of those holiday parties. This company is based in Southern California, but makes sure men look “smart” all over the place!

Meet Imran, COO of Combatant Gentlemen

Imran Headshot

We had the privilege to ask Imran a few questions about being an executive of a menswear fashion company. Here’s a quick glimpse into his life as a COO of a startup.

1. What is your morning ritual?

My 15 month-old daughter Safia has made every morning different from the last! My wife and I are usually up by 7am, and we’re running after Safia and our dog Jack London (shoutout to Oakland) for the next couple of hours, but I make sure I have enough time for some hand-whipped coffee – a recipe passed down from my mom.

We’re lucky in that we get to roll in to the office around 10am, otherwise God knows how we’d get everything done before work.

2. If you had to wear any LA Lakers jersey, whose would it be?

I’m rocking the 8 and 24 until the day I d-i-e. I have been in absolute awe of how  incredibly talented and hard-working Kobe has been his entire career – I know, I know, the stats show he’s regressing, blah blah blah – but the fact that he has won five rings (count ‘em, Lebron fans) seals the deal.

3. What does your typical day look like when you are in Southern California?

Being in SoCal has certainly been a blessing – while I miss the buzz of San Francisco, there is something very awesome about having consistently sunny days and not hearing 79 people tell me about how their app is about to disrupt everything I know and hold so dear.

Being in the world of fast-moving fashion means my days are filled with Combat Gent – I’ve heard there’s a thing called a beach nearby, and am told that it is nice – maybe I will visit one day…

4. How much travel do you do per year, business and pleasure?

As we are scaling, I find myself traveling more and more – it’s been tough to find time to travel for pleasure, but it’s something my wife and I are planning to do sometime next year. I’m typically out of the office for business 5-10 days out of the month – you can find me in Beverly Hills, New York City, San Francisco, or Vegas (for work, I swear).

5. Why did you join Combatant Gentlemen? and how did the launch process go?

Joining CG was a no-brainer. Vishaal (Founder, CEO, and Creative Director) and I have known each other for over 10 years, dating back to college, when we were co-captains of an Indian dance team (ladies please, not all at once).

There’s something about B2C that speaks to me – although I’m a finance guy by trade, I love having the opportunity to flex my creative muscles. There’s no better place to do that than in fashion, especially when your customer base is primarily the millennial male.

6. In your wildest dreams, where do you see CG in 3 years?

We’re working on our second brand right now (stay tuned), and it would be awesome to see the same lift there as we have seen with CG. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such short time. Everyday we’re getting people telling us how the brand has elevated their style and their confidence – these are the things we live for.

I want it to get to the point where I have to ride in the back seat of a suburban with heavily tinted windows, while wearing shades and a baseball cap really low so you can’t see my face, just so I can get to my local Burger King in peace. Oh God I think I just said I want to be a celebrity.

7. What is your biggest headache of being a COO? Biggest reward?

Surprisingly, there aren’t any headaches as a COO. For a position that is meant to provide structure and process to the rest of the company, I work well without a calendar. Fashion and CPG moves so quickly, I need the flexibility of an open calendar to do my best work. I tend to have an itch to move faster and to do more, but understanding the capacities of your team is very important – I’m learning to plan out projects, rather than barfing every idea I have ever had onto someone’s table and telling them I want this done yesterday. One of my biggest personal challenges, and ultimately the biggest reward, has been learning how to rely on my co-workers. I am incredibly proud and honored to work with this group – it forces me to push my own limits.

8. If you could tell an aspiring entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?

Passion. Passion can’t only exist when you’re trying to raise your first round. It has to burn brighter, day after day, because problems get harder, day after day. When things go sideways (hint: they always do), are you as committed as you were when you first started? You will learn a lot about yourself as you embark on this journey of entrepreneurship – if something doesn’t resonate in your bones about what you’re doing, step back and figure out what does.

9. What is your favorite CG suit, shirt and tie?

I’m a huge fan of our Navy Plaid Double-Breasted suit from our F/W 15 line. It’s versatile enough to double as a power suit and as an upscale formal item. Plus it allows me to shame-eat and not have my stomach stick out as a result of my terrible life choices.  

10. If there was a movie about your life, who would play you and why?

Will Ferrell! He has such an nonchalant aura about him on screen. Funny enough, in my high school Calculus class our teacher pointed to me and said that Will sat at my very desk. I like to think we’re twins, and I’ve been trying to reach out to his agent ever since.

Make sure to check out Combatant Gentlemen and dress smart for any occasion.

CG models

CG models 2

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Meet the Founders of Officengine

By | Entrepreneurs, Finance, Founders, Startups | No Comments

OE Blog Pic 1

The Officengine Story 

   Matt and Jason met a few years back working at a startup in San Francisco. They both saw a need for startups to have an affordable alternative to hiring an in-house finance and operations department, and the budget constraints of a small company should not hold founders back from pursuing their dreams. As entrepreneurs themselves, they wanted to help companies become better and more efficient. Officengine was built to address these problems.
   Jason, an early employee of both Palantir and Yammer, brings over 15 years of experience to their clients. Matt, a CPA who has worked with 100+ startups in his career, is able to deliver unique advisory to each company they work with. Together, they make for a great team.

Meet Jason

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Where do you see Officengine in 3 years?

Supporting hundreds of companies become better and watching them succeed.

What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

This is a hard question, since I love traveling so much. I would have to say, PARIS!

Advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?

Always try to bootstrap when you can and stick to your budget. Also, remember it’s not a race, it’s a marathon.

What’s your favorite 90’s jam?

Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

Meet Matt

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What is your favorite part about Officengine?

Being able to work with a great team every day and helping clients grow their companies.

Where can we find you on the weekends?

At a Raiders game or backpacking around California’s state parks and forests.

Favorite quote?

Don’t sweat the petty. Pet the sweaty!

What’s your favorite 90’s jam?

Anything from Big Willie Style


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