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Jordan Zwingerman

By MYRON LOVE 

Jordan Zwingerman wants to help you realize your (perhaps) secret ambition and make your dreams come true.

 

To that end, the 28-year-old son of Susan and Ed Zwingerman has created “The Space”, a kind of ideas and development lab in the basement of a rejuvenated old building in the Exchange District. Or, as Zwingerman describes it, a community centre that is designed to bring people together and ideas to fruition.

“We provide the work space, the tools and the equipment,” he says. “One of our goals is to bring back the human connectivity that people miss when they spend too much of their time online. Our focus is on providing the possibility of changing with life with an eye on improving the quality of your life.”

The effervescent entrepreneur – who brims with enthusiasm and ideas himself – provides a perfect example of how one can re-invent oneself – more than once.
Growing up in the North End (north of Leila), Zwingerman from a young age exhibited an entrepreneurial bent. He recalls selling pop caps for a looney on the playground when he was in Grade 2. In first year university, he started a painting company that eventually grew to ten employees.
“Through my painting company, I learned about marketing,” the Asper School of Business graduate notes. “That led to my second business as a marketing consultant. My clients were small businesses in their early stages. I would look after their marketing – but only charge a fee if I produced positive results. After a couple of years, my client base had grown by 80%.”

He expanded into digital marketing – but he was still feeling restless and somewhat dissatisfied.
Seven years ago, he also embarked on a food truck venture. “Stuff It” was based on Broadway near Main Street.
“I was trying to prove a concept,” Zwingerman explains. “That is, it doesn’t matter what you do so much as how you go about doing it. The concept for the food truck came from a conversation with a friend. I was mostly finished with my painting company.
“I could have sold hot dogs, but I wanted to do something different, something that had never been done before.” Zwingerman’s new concept was to market baguettes filled with different stuffing along with deep-fried pickles and banana peppers. “The stuffed baguettes provided the perfect balance of quality, quantity and price,” he says.
“At the time, I was operating three businesses at the same time,” he recalls. “I was meeting a lot of people and building relationships. But, at the end of the day, I still wasn’t satisfied. Three years ago, I sold my businesses.
“I wanted to try a different approach to life.”

 He started “The Space” in 2016 as a result of getting to know a woman whose adult daughter had recently passed away. “I was rife with ideas,” Zwingerman recalls. “I felt that something was cooking, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Then I met Heidi.”
Prior to her passing, Heidi’s daughter had her own dream of opening a retail second hand clothing store. She had amassed a large quantity of women’s clothing and shoes which were sitting in Heidi’s garage.
“I could tell that having to deal with all that stuff was a huge weight on her,” Zwingerman recounts. “I proposed that we recreate a pop-up retail space. W e rented this basement in the Exchange District for a couple of months.
“And something clicked in my mind.”

“The Space” has an eclectic collection of tools, technology and bric-a-brac for all occasions and uses. Zwingerman also shows off a number of other unused spaces in the basement area that can be adapted for different temporary uses.
So - what has “The Space” been used for to date. Well, one example of a satisfied user is a local hip-hop artist who goes by the name of Blaze. The hip-hop artist had heard about Zwingerman and showed up one day asking for help with the creative process.
“We discussed the project, the concept and purpose and broke it down step by step,” Zwingerman says. “I helped Blaze develop his first music video which he shot here.”
Zwingerman has also hosted Comedy Super Nova three times at “The Space”, all of which were sold out.
He has helped poets and artists and has helped six people start small businesses.
Then there was the fellow who came in with the goal of becoming a blacksmith. Zwingerman did some research, helped source a forge and blast oven and helped get the fellow some training.

Zwingerman also does outreach. For example, he spent a couple of days at H.C. Avery Middle School in Garden City working with Grade 7 and 8 students. “The kids were fantastic,” he says. “Some held a bake sale for charity. One student designed an envelope for the backs of flyers. Another designed a pair of shoes. It was all about helping them discover their potential.”
Another of his outreach efforts has been at Pan Am Place – a couple of blocks from “The Space” in the Exchange. Pan Am Place is a boxing club which also offers a drug-free residence for homeless young men in their late teens and 20s.
“We have paint and wood that has been dropped off here that Pan Am residents can use to start projects,” he says. “We also have Space School for those who want to further educate themselves.”

All the projects that “The Space” users initiate are self-directed, Zwingerman points out.
“My principal aim at ‘The Space’ is to bring people together in mentorship relationships or partnership relations or just to share their passions,” he says. “You can lead your own project or help others with their projects. My hope is that you can make new friends here or find a support group. We don’t turn down any projects here as long as they pose no harm.“

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