Shannon Maldonado, the brains behind the popular Fabric Row design shop Yowie, is in the midst of opening a second Philadelphia location, a 3-story boutique hotel and full-service cafe. In her spare time, she is producing and acting in a series of video films.
Titled “A Little Is Enough,” the show depicts the day-to-day process of turning a vision into reality. A 15-minute pilot debuted on YouTube last week, and its creators are looking for fans.
Maldodo, a 39-year-old Philly native, joined executive producers and longtime friends Nathan Nedorostek and Sean Sullivan to create “Little Enough,” which sees what’s missing in small business coverage.
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“I feel like a lot of information is overestimating what it’s like to run a small business, or there are gaps in the day-to-day operations,” he told Billy Penn. “A lot of the stories I see are like, ‘I had this idea, and then it took off, and now I’m here.’
Years of creating her own line and talking to other founders have convinced her that there’s a lot to say about the challenges that can come with making a living from what was once a daydream.
The motivation to take on new challenges
Shot in and around South Philadelphia, Episode 1 features Maldonado in front of her store at 716 S. 4th St. She will follow her to her new location at the corner of South Street and American Avenue.
Along the way, we’ll learn the core themes of “Little Is Enough”—like nurturing intentionality, self-discovery, and building community. Each principle is revealed through conversations Maldonado has with others.
She spoke with Lindsay Scanpico, the managing partner and co-founder of Scout Ltd., which once owned and operated Bock. Scannapieco communicates the concept of adaptive reuse while sharing startup stories like Bock chilling beers in children’s ice tubs while hosting events.
When the conversation is supported by creative vision and pre-existing skills in other areas, inexperience turns into a paradoxical power.
We see Maldonado leaning into the unknown, the boutique hotel she’s coming after the show, which she calls Yowie 2.0. Standing on the skeletons of the scene, Maldodo cracked jokes and flirted with Billy, her lead contractor and business partner.
Billie laughed as she explained how she wanted it to “never be finished”, including a fully-formally renovated room. “Honey, you were powerless, I promise you that!” He shouts.
The drive to take on new challenges is common among the people Maldodo talks to in the show, whose projects and philosophies are often guided by past experiences in established spaces.
“Many of us have left our comfort zone or ventured out on our own to start these small businesses for a number of reasons that we weren’t happy with our previous jobs,” Maldonado said.
Part of her vision for “Little Is Enough” includes making sure entrepreneurs and artists are fair when doing their work. She hopes to add workshops, lectures, training, and an educational aspect that will offer business case studies and frameworks, sample small business plans, and white papers relevant to the small business world.
Intentionally expanding and embracing collaboration
While building Yowin, Maldonado was often asked for advice and gave it to clients or artists or fellow entrepreneurs.
“People ask a lot about business strategy, how to grow their brands, how to increase marketing,” Maldonado said. “I talk to people a lot about brand voice and consistency — and that’s something I’ve learned a lot on the job.”
One of the show’s core concepts, weighing in on purpose, has a direct analogy to Yowie’s early days when she’s given an opportunity to expand and rejects it.
“Maybe 8 months into the business, I was approached by someone who wanted to help me open a second store,” she said. “It didn’t feel right at the time and 6 years later it still doesn’t feel right.”
According to Maldonado, the risks of tokenization can be as high as black creator. But she has embraced the critical skill of saying “no.”
Now, the team behind “Small Enough” is pitching the show, seeking funding to support more episodes featuring small businesses and creative entrepreneurs around Philly. Episode 2 begins production in two weeks, and will have a sharper focus on collaboration — another aspect of Maldonado’s work.
“90% of my job to make a beautiful place is logistics and communication,” Maldonado said. “We thought this might be an interesting angle.”