The Buzz List

 In Culture, Feature

St. Louis’ most influential people, places, organizations and ideas of 2010.


Jordan Nichols 17
Model/Actor, Mother Model Management

Although most would be more than content to claim one entertainment industry title, others rely heavily on the forward slash when describing themselves and their careers. Take Jordan Nichols. A theater actor from the age of 13, he signed with Mother Model Management soon after and has since made waves in both industries; some of his proudest accomplishments include working with Dior photographer Tyen for a Vogue editorial and, immediately following his recent move to L.A., shooting a promising 2010 pilot for an ABC dramedy. Still, he considers his two successful paths to be mutually exclusive. “As a model, you’re taught to be aware of the camera; as an actor, it’s the exact opposite. And you don’t list modeling on your resume, or they don’t take you seriously.” Ironically, behind the camera is actually where his heart belongs; his current crewmate Michael Jacobs has stepped in as his mentor in Nichols’ ultimate goal of directing. So, Model/Actor/Director? Oh, yeah—once a recurring Danny Zuko in the musical Grease, he sings, too.
–Jill Manoff

A Better Life
Kevin Tibbs: 37, Co-founder/Mad-skilled Scientist
Tim Barklage: 36, Co-founder/Cheif Idealist

They may not look like revolutionaries here, but Tim Barklage and Kevin Tibbs spearhead a cause that could reverberate into every little corner of our homes. It has to do with germs and how we get rid of them. Traditionally we wage a war to the death, using lots of petrochemicals, alcohol and ammonia. But when Tibbs, who’d been formulating skincare products for 14 years, got interested in cleaning, he simply didn’t listen to those who said he couldn’t create products with no fumes, no skin irritation and no hazards for young children. If you think you already clean green, think again—Barklage points out that most so-called alternative products really aren’t. That’s why he and Tibbs set out on their own two years ago with the radical idea to completely eliminate, rather than kill, germs. Now the company’s five products are sold in half the U.S. states plus a couple of other countries, and in January a new, larger distribution network comes online. Additional products are also in the works, including a hand cleanser the two hope will challenge the domination of antibacterial soaps. Says Kevin, “The whole cleaning products industry is such a broken system that we have a lot of work ahead of us.” –Amy de la Hunt

Schnuck Markets
Scott Schnuck: 59, Chairmain/CEO
Todd Schnuck: 51, President/COO

One of the Midwest’s largest privately held grocery chains, Schnucks has been a household name locally since 1970 with the acquisition of the Bettendorf-Rapp chain of stores. Its status as a power player in the corporate landscape of this city is nothing new; what is buzzy now, however, is the family-owned company’s talent for remaining relevant 40 years later—a feat Scott and Todd Schnuck attribute to an unwavering customer-focused outlook coupled with the company’s ability to stay nimble, transitioning as customer needs change. In 2009, that meant the construction of two headline-making stores, Downtown’s Culinaria–A Schnucks Market and a new flagship store in Des Peres. In 2010, look for upgrades to existing store locations as well as an expansion to the Columbia, MO store, which will implement many of the services available at the Des Peres location, including the wildly successful Schnucks Cooks cooking school. –Sheniqua Faulkner

The Locavore Movement
Patrick Horine, 37, & Maddie Earnest, 40: Co-owners, Local Harvest Grocery and Local Harvest Cafe & Catering
Molly Rocamann: 28, Founding Director, Earthdance Farms
Andy Ayers: 56, Owner, Eat Here St. Louis
Sara Hayle, 43, & Jamie Cholder, 54: Directors, Fair Shares Combined Community Supported Agriculture
Randy Wood: 54, Business Manager, The Sappington Famers’ Market and Co-owner, Floating Farms

Nobody would travel 1,500 miles for dinner. And yet that’s the average trek our food makes before arriving on our tables. Locavores–people who favor food that’s grown or produced locally–are hungry to change this for environmental and economic reasons as well as in the interest of freshness. At Local Harvest Grocery in South City, Earnest and Horine source more than half the inventory from within a 150-mile radius of St. Louis. Staples like meat and bread line the shelves alongside salsa and ice cream. Fair Shares offers another alternative to farmers’ markets. Every week, coordinators Choler and Hale supply more than 200 subscribers with boxes of freshly collected goods from the bi-state region. “We know we are paying better wages to the hardworking farmers who grow and produce our food, and we know their names, too,” Hale says. The centerpiece of Rockamann’s community venture EarthDance is the farmer apprenticeship program, which shows aspiring growers the lay of the land. Woods is taking the locavore philosophy to daycare centers and the Maplewood Richmond Heights school district. As a representative of the Missouri Farmers Union, he is helping to execute two grants that get local ingredients into school meals. Ayers, the one-man show called Eat Here St. Louis, acts as a liaison between farms and restaurant kitchens. The erstwhile chef and owner of Riddle’s Penultimate Cafe and Wine Bar in The Loop started finding food close to home long before “locavore” became a buzzword. –April Seager

Kaldi’s Coffee
Tricia Simmer-Ferguson: 28, Co-owner
Josh Ferguson: 30, Co-owner

Their passion for coffee—and each other—blossomed in high school, when Josh Ferguson gave Tricia Zimmer rides to school; she returned the favor by bringing him travel mugs of coffee. Now the young couple is riding the third wave ( java-speak for the collaboration of roasters, retailers and growers toward high-quality beans and brews) at Kaldi’s Coffee, the company their family fully acquired in 2007.

Over the last two and a half years, they’ve continued to expand both the wholesale and retail operations—opening locations in Columbia, Springfield and in St. Louis, including partnerships with Schnucks—and brought a national barista competition to St. Louis for the past three years. Expanding in more ways than one, the couple will also add a baby boy to the household in March. With all this going on, it’s a good thing they have easy access to energy-boosting caffeine—Zimmer’s a self-proclaimed cappuccino person, while Ferguson starts the morning with drip coffee and then switches to “multiple” espressos. –Amy de la Hunt

The Do-It-Yourselfers
Tammy Tutterow: 39, Co-founder, STL Handmade
Allyce King: 22, Co-founder, DIY Style
April Tate: 33, Co-Founder, St. Louis Craft Mafia

The DIY culture is alive and well in STL, and much of that owes to the efforts of April Tate, Tammy Tutterow and Allyce King—three savvy ladies who launched businesses based on their passions for creating. Tate founded the St. Louis chapter of Craft Mafia in 2005, which has grown to include 40 indie crafters (from jewelry makers to photographers) whose calendars are jam-packed with profitable fairs and street festivals (including the uber-popular Big Ass Indie Art & Craft Show).

Similarly, Tutterow’s independent venture, St. Louis Handmade, has grown exponentially since its 2008 launch—the website consists of profiles of local artists and a go-to events calendar. It also links to fashion-centered DIYStyle, started in 2008 by designer/instructor/writer Allyce King and her mother, Cindy Cummins—which is known both locally (due to on-site sewing classes and how-to workshops geared toward on-trend twenty-somethings) and nationally (the business’ namesake website houses vodcast tutorials, a project database and an online community). Each fueled by creative communities, new ideas and covetable works of art, it seems making is at its peak of popularity. –Jill Manoff

Living Things
Bosh Berlin: 23, Drums
Eve Berlin: 26, Bass Guitar
Lillian Berlin: 31, Singer/Songwriter/Guitar
Cory Becker: 27, Guitar

After touring around the world and playing the stages of SXSW, Lollapalooza and Coachella, the Berlin brothers and grade school friend that comprise the rock band Living Things still call St. Louis home. Since 2005, when their second album, “Ahead of the Lions,” was listed as one of the top albums by Rolling Stone and Spin, the band has continued to build buzz, from sharing a stage with bands like Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse to appearing on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and in a Cingular commercial to playing a Washington, D.C. peace protest. The band might be known for undertaking big issues and their raucous political debates during performances, but their latest album, “Habeas Corpus” (2009), has proven the band passionate about their beliefs—not just the music. –Jennifer Aull

Midtown Alley
Jassen Johnson: 31, Partner, Renaissance Development Associates
Eric Thoelke: 50, Creative Director/Co-owner, Toky Branding and Design
Mary Thoelke: 45, Director of Operations/Co-owner, Toky Branding and Design

Midtown Alley a next city neighborhood? Nah, it’s definitely a now city neighborhood. The diverse and comprehensive development along Olive and Locust Streets between Grand Center and Downtown is now running at full throttle. In the 1920s, Locust Street, the main drag through Midtown Alley, became Automobile Row. The turf of historic auto houses then fell into a state of disrepair until 2002, when architect and developer Johnson and his team cut the first ribbon. Since then, their efforts, along with those of fellow longtime Midtowners like Food Outreach and TOKY, have turned the area into a magnet for new businesses. “It’s urban, but it’s intimate–you can hear yourself think here,” said Eric, whose team at TOKY developed the branding for Midtown Alley and did much of its marketing. “We knew it was an area we’d enjoy growing up with,” said Mary, who works with the Locust Business District to promote the area. The ever-growing group of businesses opening up there—from restaurants (Triumph Grill, The Fountain, The Good Pie, The U, Pappy’s Smokehouse, Buffalo Brewing Co.) to creative agencies (Touchwood, Spoke) to boutiques and fitness centers (Anatomy of Style, Rock Gym)—continue to make it a Midtown hub. Up next in the Alley (should Eric and Mary get their wishes): a tattoo parlor and a bike shop; meanwhile, Johnson is cruising for a Chinese eatery. –April Seager

TJ Oshie
25, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues

We take our sports seriously in St. Louis—and our players. In fact, when Blues fans fell hard for Washington State-born rookie TJ Oshie, stores not only sold out of his #74 jersey, but one zealous fan wrote in his name on the ’09 St. Louis mayoral election ballot. A little over the top? Maybe, but Oshie certainly earned his cred on the ice. After being drafted by the Blues in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and starting the ’08-’09 season, the speedy winger quickly became an offensive force to be reckoned with, scoring 39 points, 14 goals and 25 assists in 57 games and winning the NHL’s “Goal of the Year” for a play during a March 26 game against the Canucks. Now, as one of the youngest players in the NHL and in his sophomore season, Oshie shows no sign of slowing. As for his future, Oshie says he hopes to stay in St. Louis. Well, he’s got our vote. –Cristy Miller

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Ward Stare: 27, Resident Conductor/Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra
Adam Crane: 34, Communications Director
Erin Schreiber: 22, Assistant Concertmaster/First Violin

This year, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra turns 130 (nationally, only the New York Philharmonic has more seniority), but, thanks to youngbloods Crane, Schreiber and Stare, it’s fresher than ever. As leader of the symphony youth orchestra, Ward turns young locals into master musicians. “They’re already as good as some professionals,” said Stare, who has guest conducted in Berlin, Moscow, Bangkok and New York’s Carnegie Hall. World player Erin Schreiber, a violinist, is currently one of the youngest assistant concertmasters in the country. The SLSO recently scored another new laurel that surprised publicist Adam Crane in the best of ways. (Yes, he’s the same Adam Crane who participated in the real-life story on which the book and movie The Soloist are based.) Last November, The London Times named SLSO’s “Doctor Atomic Symphony” as one of the top ten classical CDs of the decade. “Not best of the year, best of the decade,” Crane said. “I almost fell out of my chair.” –April Seager

Rhonda J. Broussard
34, Founder/President, St. Louis Language Immerson Schools

Class-act educator Rhonda Broussard is doing a good thing for the city—make that nine good things. Last fall, she launched two foreign language immersion charter schools (French and Spanish) in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, and seven more are currently in the works. Says Broussard, a Francophone who has studied in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, “Being bilingual and biliterate is a gift.” While the SLLIS network will eventually contain grades K through 12, columns of kindergartners and first-graders are already applying for seats to learn their lecture, ecriture et arithmetique later in the year–or, as the case may be, their lectura, escritura y aritmetica. –April Seager

The Pedal Pushers
Julie Padberg-White: 39, Project Manager, Bike St. Louis
Mike Weiss: 40, Owner, Big Shark Bicycle Co., and Event Director, Gateway Cup, Tour de Grove & Tour de Missouri
Patty Vinyard: 46, Executive Director, St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation
Patrick Van Der Tuin: 31, Founding Member, Will Cycle for Charity, and Service Manager, Maplewood Bicycle

 Recently awarded a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists, St. Louis is on a roll when it comes to two-wheel transportation for recreation, sport or practical reasons. Patty, Ann and Julie have worked in tandem
to expand the reach of bike lanes both in the city and the county—the tally is 77 miles and counting. “The goal is to have a regional network,” says Julie, whose company, Vantage, along with Great Rivers Greenway, took a leadership role in the design and implementation of the interconnected bike lanes for city riders. Then there are Trailnet’s group rides across the region for family recreation and training and the Bicycle Federation’s efforts to install new bike racks and educate people about cycling at public events. The popularity of cycling as sport is accelerating, too (including the fast-growing cyclocross racing craze, where race track meets obstacle course). “People feel like it’s okay to wear Lycra and ride in a group now,” says Mike, an ardent rider and cycling advocate who has put brawn and brains into organizing three high-profile races: the Gateway Cup, the Tour de Grove (formerly Tour de Winghaven), and the internationally known Tour of Missouri. Meanwhile, Patrick uses bicycles as a vehicle for philanthropy—he co-founded Will Cycle For Charity, which sponsors mobile fundraisers benefiting local charities (such as the annual Cranksgiving canned food ride for Food Outreach). Patrick is also part of the nonprofit St. Louis Bicycle Works, which gives bikes to kids who have completed a class about bicycle safety and maintenance. To date, Bicycle Works has put more than 10,000 sets of wheels on the streets. –April Seager

Antonio French
32, Alderman, 21st Ward

It’s not surprising that Antonio French lives and breathes politics. After all, it’s what he grew up talking about at the dinner table (his grandmother was a longtime St. Louis committeewoman), writing about in his political-newspaper-turned-blog ( and campaigning for throughout his 20s–assisting in 10 local and state campaigns before claiming a landslide victory of his own for Alderman of the 21st Ward. In his first term, French has proven his methods are anything but conventional as he works to gain historic designation for the O’Fallon and Penrose neighborhoods, oversees the construction of a $25 million recreation center and introduces the first “block-by-block” initiative to repair area seniors’ homes and surrounding streets—all while remaining constantly accessible to his constituents on Twitter, online at or at the newly opened 21st Ward office (the first in 20 years).

Shane Cohn
29, Alderman, 25th Ward

Shane Cohn’s fresh, accessible approach to his Alderman position is turning heads throughout St. Louis, and for good reason. As one of the youngest Alderman in St. Louis—and the city’s first openly gay elected official—Cohn is revealing city government to his 25th Ward constituents in a new way, with behind-the-scenes Twitter updates, informative Facebook posts, on-the-go YouTube videos and, of course, the progressive neighborhood-centric platform for which he’s known. Currently, he’s balancing his time between projects securing a grant for a new Justice Assistance Program (to fund additional prosecutorial and police resources to the Dutchtown neighborhood) and creating a professional development curriculum for youth, to name two—and supporting local charities and advocacy organizations like Food Outreach and PROMO. –Jennifer Dulin Wiley
Luke Duff: 37, Retail IT Director
Joel Lewis: 33, Director, shirt.woot
David Rutledge: 35, President, Woot Workshop

Although they just settled into a new office on South Grand last fall, the St. Louis-based creative team behind the wildly popular one-item-for-sale-per-day national e-tailer has already outgrown its space. Finding new accommodations for a growing staff has become routine for these three local high school buddies. In 2004, one year after Rutledge’s brother Matt founded the Dallas-based online store as a way to offload overstock and refurbished electronics at unbeatable prices, Dave and Luke took over design and programming. Over the last five years, membership has gone from 100,000 to 2.5 million with little-to-no advertising or customer service and brutally honest, LOL-funny sales pitches that keep the cult-like following of bargain hunters coming back for more. In addition to recently adding shirt.woot to its portfolio of web stores, has landed on Time magazine’s “50 Coolest Websites” list and Inc. magazine’s roundup of fastest growing companies. “Things just keep growing,” Rutledge says. Better keep those moving boxes handy. –Kristin Stefek Brashares


348_152.jpgJordan Nichols

349_152.jpgLocavore Movement

350_152.jpgScott & Todd Schnuck

351_152.jpgLocavore Movement

352_152.jpgTammy, Allyce & April

353_152.jpgThe Living Things

354_152.jpgJassen Johnson

355_152.jpgEric Thoelke

356_152.jpgMary Thoelke

357_152.jpgTJ Oshie

358_152.jpgSt. Louis Symphony Orchestra

359_152.jpgRhonda J. Broussard and her crew

360_152.jpgJulie, Mike & Patty

361_152.jpgAnn & Patrick

362_152.jpgAntonio & Shane

370_152.jpgTricia & Josh of Kaldis


Photo credit: Photography by Tuan Lee; Living Thing Photos by Jim Morris

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