Cape Cod Life / November/December 2019 / Art & Entertainment, People & Businesses, Recreation & Activities
Writer: Allyson Plessner
From local shops and eats to fun events, there’s plenty to do on the Cape even after the last of the tourists head over the bridge. LoveLiveLocal is a driving force dedicated to supporting and celebrating this special region.
“We are very passionate about where we live,” says Amanda Converse, co-founder of LoveLiveLocal, a lifestyle organization advocating for local businesses on Cape Cod since 2013. “Around the time we started LoveLiveLocal, there was a growing narrative that part of the reason young people and professionals wouldn’t want to live on Cape Cod is because there was nothing for them to do here,” explains Converse about founding LoveLiveLocal along with Jen Villa and Kate Sheehan. “We had a very different experience in that we had full, enriched businesses and social lives; the Cape has so many cultural and natural resources, along with local businesses which provide an incredible quality of life for people of all ages.”
LoveLiveLocal started simply with a newsletter—a detailed message aimed at giving subscribers an inside look at all the exciting happenings on the Cape—but it quickly grew from there. In just a few months, Converse, Villa and Sheehan were hosting their own market showcasing local vendors. “Our first LoveLocal Fest featured local makers in little tents along the harbor in Hyannis at Aselton Park. It was just this perfect, picturesque location,” says Villa. That first year, LoveLocal Fest hosted around 50 vendors. Now, LoveLiveLocal works with anywhere from two to three hundred vendors throughout the year, and as a true testament to the boundless beauty and activity that Cape Cod boasts year-round, their most popular event happens in the winter with the Holiday Market.
“The holiday is so great. This December will be our 6th holiday market, and now people just know and plan on getting a lot of their holiday gifts at the market,” says Villa. “They’re meeting the vendors, so they get to go home with these amazing stories about the person who made the gifts they bought. It’s this great feel good opportunity.”
As a seasonal community, staying in business through the harsh winter months can be challenging for local entrepreneurs, and in fact many choose to forgo potential off-season business and close their doors once the last of the summer visitors have crossed the bridge. But those who choose to live and work across the region through even the harshest of winter temps and well into the first blooms of spring find that local support is the lifeblood that pumps through the arteries of the Cape, all the way from Falmouth to Provincetown. As Villa puts it, “We’re all in this together, and it’s important to support your friends and neighbors. Without advocating for each other, we don’t have much.”
“Small business owners have been the economic backbone of this country and our Cape Cod community for decades,” explains Converse about her passion for supporting local businesses. “The money spent in a locally owned store stays in our community more so than if it were spent in a national chain store or online. This is because small business owners employ local workers, and use other local professional services like graphic design, payroll services, printers, accountants and lawyers. They donate to local organizations, causes and fundraisers and help plan community events. They also live here and pay all of their taxes here.”
Converse, Sheehan and Villa all have unique connections to the Cape, and their shared experiences are one of the many reasons that LoveLiveLocal is such a special organization. “I was obsessed with the Cape,” says Villa who grew up as a summer resident, unlike Sheehan and Converse who spent much of their young lives on Cape Cod. “I think all of our different perspectives helped us to appreciate the region in different ways, and for me I was able to bring that ‘glimmer in the eye’ type of feeling to our adventures because I have such a sweet spot for the Cape.” As the three women became friends in their young adult years, exploring and sharing their regional knowledge, they helped each other to fully appreciate the natural beauty and unique intricacies of life as part of a Cape community.
In recent years, Converse and Villa have taken over responsibilities for LoveLiveLocal with Sheehan still an avid supporter. “The other reason supporting local business is so important,” continues Converse, “is because people who choose to start a business on Cape Cod are connected to this place in the same way I am—in a way that a corporation never will be.”
Over the years, LoveLiveLocal has evolved in both its business structure—with 24 local festivals, five print publications and thousands of dollars raised for grants and nonprofits to date—and it’s messaging. “One of the biggest things for us is seeing how the importance of our messaging has changed over the years,” explains Villa. “Our mission has changed from showing that the Cape is cool to saying that the Cape is so incredibly special, and it needs our support.”
“One of the main goals of LoveLiveLocal is to educate the community about the importance of investing in the community,” says Converse, “whether it is with your money, time or intention. We want to share how important it is to the sustainability of our community that people think local first when they are choosing where to shop, dine, recreate, volunteer or promote.” Converse goes on to explain that beyond the incredible natural beauty of the Cape, it is truly the people that make up the region that are so awe-inspiring for her, and she hopes to celebrate that through fun, authentic content and events that put locals at the forefront. “We’ve helped encourage a little ecosystem of local makers,” adds Villa, explaining that LoveLiveLocal also offers the Project Cape Made grant to two local vendors a season, nominated and chosen by the community.
Each of the vendors that LoveLiveLocal supports are real people with real stories. They have followed a dream to craft a business, and LoveLiveLocal gives them a platform to share that passion and inspire others to do the same. “Our vendors and consumers all feel like they’re part of something,” says Villa. “In this day and age, there’s something so special about having those human connections.” Being able to meet the local Cape Codders that have dedicated their time and energy to not only their craft but also their community is a unique experience that serves to emphasize the importance of these stories that become the backbone of Cape Cod. It’s a small world, and the Cape is even smaller, but the beauty of that is found in the hearty locals who are passionate about this coastal oasis and committed to fostering a strong, welcoming community all year long. As Villa puts it, “Amazon isn’t going to be on the back of the t-shirt for a local little league team.”
Find LoveLiveLocal online here and follow them on instagram and Facebook at LoveLiveLocal
Allyson Plessner is the digital editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.