LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The landscape of downtown Las Vegas and the Arts District has changed dramatically in just a few years. Jen Taler is one of the people behind that movement and still making plans and cultivating change. She gives credit to her mentor, the late Tony Hsieh. But, it’s what she’s been able to accomplish and her vision for the future that continues to inspire growth.
“It’s really cool, she’s actually a synchronized swimmer for “O,” Taler said of one of the soaps displayed on her shelf inside Akin Cooperative. It’s nestled in the Arts District along Commerce Street. Taler said, “This for me, Akin, there’s so many layers of what it means to me.”
The brick-and-mortar celebrates creativity and empowers local designers. “There are 50 artisans. If you want the story, I can tell you all about them.”
For Taler it’s all personal. “This is where I get to come every day and cheerlead and champion my friends,” she said.
She opened Akin Cooperative as a way to further grow an idea that started years ago when she launched Market in the Alley.
“Let’s lift up our local community financially, collectively, creatively,” Taler said. “The more you spend locally, that money goes back into your local economy.”
Taler came to southern Nevada in 2009 to work with the late Tony Hsieh at Zappos. Together they opened Fergusons Downtown; a gathering space to eat, drink, shop, and connect. “That was kind of my way of driving people down there, connecting with the community that we eventually wanted to see within that whole city block, bustling within the stores, you know pop-ups and all those different kinds of experience,” Taler said.
Visionary might not be the title she uses for herself, perhaps that’s because she’s a thinker and a doer. She said, “You just kind of have to take the risk. You know it’s like spaghetti. You just throw it at the wall and hope it sticks.”
And it has.
“It was awesome to just walk around the corner once and see the streets filled with people. It was like, oh, OK. This was a moment when I realized things have shifted,” Taler explained.
“I’ve been able to support thousands probably at this point, definitely hundreds of small businesses.”
At just 38 years old, Taler has certainly made a name for herself and already has more projects lined up. “I have a bar opening up down the street with two friends within the year called The Dustland.”
As for the future though, Taler only said, “I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Her entrepreneurial skills can now be seen dotted throughout the valley as Market in the Alley has expanded to both the Uncommons and The District at Green Valley Ranch. Market in the Alley is the first, third, and last Sunday of the month depending on the location and there are plans to expand to other parts of the valley in the future.