Dec. 21 2016 11:36 AM

A guide to Lansing-area online fundraising campaigns

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Bring Red's Burgers and BBQ to the Eastside

Red’s Smokehouse is working to turn its barbeque stand into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and it’s looking to the community for help.

The business, owned and operated by the wife-and-wife team of Carol “Red” Smith and Jackie Randall, launched in June 2014 as a Wednesday-only pop-up at the Allen Market Place’s farmers market. In September that year, it moved into a booth at the Lansing City Market, and earlier this year the duo launched a spin-off food truck. But the City Market booth closed last month as Smith and Randall prepared to renovate a storefront at 1619 E. Kalamazoo St., just around the corner from the Allen Market Place. They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for the move.

“The Eastside community is where the business started and where it was meant to expand,” states the business’ Indiegogo campaign page. “The new 1,200-square-foot space will include a state of the art kitchen, a small dining area, a deli and a take-out counter. We are converting an old office space from the ground up.”

The duo hopes to open early next year. According to the campaign page, the estimated build-out will cost $80,000, and Smith and Randall are hoping to raise $40,000 of that through the Indiegogo campaign, which ends Jan. 1. It is a flexible funding campaign, so the business will receive all pledged funds even if the goal is not met.

Rewards for backers range from a free order of Deep Fried Mac-n-Cheese Balls for $10 contributions up to a catered party for 100 at the $5,000 level. Other incentives include T-shirts, sandwiches and VIP invitations to the restaurant’s grand opening.

“We want to help the community thrive, and that means keeping our prices reasonable and hiring local employees,” the campaign states. “The Eastside community of Lansing has always supported us and we want to do our part in offering them great food at an affordable price.”

Cerin the Spirit Catcher Plush Doll by Creepy Kawaii

Last year, Lansing-based plush designer Stefanie Shall turned to Kickstarter to take her business to the next level. Her successful crowdfunding campaign raised nearly $10,000 to turn her line of creepy, handmade plush dolls into a professionally manufactured line of products.

Her online store, Creepy Kawaii, offers playfully weird plush dolls like Timmy and Tommy the Two-Headed Turtle and Sweets the Cookie Spider, as well as necklaces, buttons and other accessories. Now she’s turning to Kickstarter again to fund her next wave of quirky critters.

Creepy Kawaii, run by Lansing-based artist Stefanie Shall, is using Kickstarter to raise funds for Cerin the Spirit Catcher, its latest plush doll design.
Courtesy Image

Shall’s latest campaign, which ends Jan. 11, is attempting to raise at least $7,500 to fund the production of a black cat plush doll named Cerin the Spirit Catcher. Shall describes Cerin as “a supernatural black cat that hunts evil spirits in the dead of night and turns them into dead mice to present as a gift.” The doll will be about 12 inches tall and feature glow-in-the-dark eyes and a detachable plush mouse.

The campaign also features three “unlockable” designs that will be produced if the campaign reaches certain targets beyond its fundraising goal, including a plush skeleton that is unlocked if the campaign raises $10,000 and a ghost cat that is unlocked at $15,000. An alternate Cerin design is unlocked at $20,000.

“I'm really hoping we can cover all the unlockable goals that we have set in place,” Shall said. “But it's going to take a lot of work to get there.”

Aside from the plush dolls, contributors are rewarded with Cerin-themed items such as buttons, candles, acrylic charms and limited edition prints. This project will only be funded if it meets its fundraising goal by Jan. 11.