4th Annual BOOST Event Showcases Chicago’s Thriving Sustainability Movement

Chicago, IL (November 4, 2015) – In a city with a growing community of entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and venture capital firms, five of Chicago’s emerging green projects took center stage last night to make their pitch for exposure and seed funding. Two entrepreneurs, Octavia Hooks of Octavia’s Natural Hair Care Experience and Roman Titus of Sojourn Fare, won seed funding for their sustainability ventures.

BOOST (Building Opportunities for Original and Sustainable Thinking) is a live, crowd-funded pitch fest in support of sustainability innovations in Chicago. The audience, through their ticket purchases, contribute to the available pool of funding and vote to determine the winners. The event, in its fourth year, provides a platform for audience members to directly invest in inspiring environmental projects.

Five green innovators pitched their ventures last night:

  • Octavia’s Natural Hair Care Experience: The mission of Octavia’s Natural Hair Care Experience is to provide services that promote naturally textured hair while inspiring change and advocating for a green lifestyle in Chicago’s Southland communities. With a goal of transforming a vacant, blighted property into a LEED-certified natural hair care salon, entrepreneur Octavia Hook’s vision is to demonstrate a green social enterprise business model in her community, promote community conversations and education around sustainability and healthy lifestyle choices, and support economic development in in Chicago’s Southland area.
  • Meliora K: Meliora K is a Chicago-based company that sells laundry powder, soap bars, and soap flakes for general household cleaning. As a B-Corp, their mission is to provide families with the information and products they need to have a clean, comfortable home without exposure to toxic chemicals that are known to damage personal and environmental health.
  • Resketch: Resketch creates eco-friendly notebooks with high-quality reclaimed paper. Using office paper, architectural plans, dot matrix printer paper, sheet music, maps and other reclaimed paper, Resketch creates one-of-a-kind notebooks, while reducing waste and demonstrating the case for reuse.
  • The Naru Project: The Naru project is facilitating the design and implementation of a floating garden on the Chicago River. Beyond beautifying the river, the garden will also serve to rehabilitate local aquatic habitats, help clean the river of pollutants, educate the public about native wildlife and habitat restoration, and provide opportunities for scientific research on the environmental efficacy of floating garden installation.
  • Sojourn Fare: Sojourn Fare is an urban mushroom farm that uses waste material, like spent grain, coffee grounds, sawdust, and hulled soybeans to grow high-quality, chemical-free mushrooms. Once mushrooms have fruited several times, the substrate used to grow the mushrooms can be used as a nutrient rich, contaminant-free soil for urban gardens or parks.

The winning ventures, Octavia’s Natural Hair Care Experience and Sojourn Fare, will each be awarded upwards of $4,000 in unrestricted seed funding, and they will also receive a tailored package of in-kind resources.

“We’re excited to apply BOOST funding toward purchasing and transforming a vacant gas station into a unique green awareness and neighborhood restoring Chicago Southland-based business featuring a natural hair salon, urban gardens, green technology and community outreach programs,” said Octavia Hooks of Octavia’s Natural Hair Care Experience.

“Being selected to receive BOOST funds is a huge gust of wind in my sails,” said Sojourn Fare founder Roman Titus. “I will now be able to build out an industry-standard sterile lab for working with spawn and cultures, as well as build out a substrate sterilizing chamber and fruiting chamber. BOOST and Delta Institute will forever be embedded in Sojourn Fare’s story, just as they have been for countless other social ventures, and I’m extremely grateful for the work they’re doing.”

The event was hosted by the Delta Emerging Leaders (DELs), an associate board of the Delta Institute, a nonprofit that works to build both a resilient environment and economy through sustainable solutions.

“This community-driven approach to financing social ventures overcomes a funding barrier for local entrepreneurs and engages hundreds of people to directly invest in the future of Chicago,” said Delta Institute CEO Jean Pogge.

“BOOST allows community members to directly invest and support the innovations that they want to see in Chicago,” said Sam Schiller, DEL Co-Chair. “This year’s slate represents just how innovative and forward thinking the sustainability movement is here in Chicago.”

Sponsors for the event include: New Belgium Brewery, Next Capital, CLIF Bar, Efroymson Hamid Foundation, Walter S. Mander Foundation

About the DELs: The Delta Emerging Leaders is the associate board of Delta Institute that empowers young leaders to advance innovation and sustainability in Chicago.

About Delta Institute: Delta Institute is a nonprofit organization that works throughout the Great Lakes region to build a resilient environment and economy through sustainable, market-driven solutions. Visit online at

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