Whether it’s fashion, entrepreneurship, painting or cooking, Cynthia Hagedorn has done everything and continues to do it for the good of his community.
She owns The Property in Lowell, which she uses to call Lawn pARTies so the public and community leaders can paint and eat, while also raising money for various programs such as Care on Canvas.
Hagedorn is currently enrolled at Cornell University to obtain certification as a complete food plant-based chef. While she does this, she uses her love of food and cooking as a fundraiser to help children and adults.
The Care on Canvas program is a partnership between Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where Hagedorn paints with children battling cancer.
Hagedorn’s adventure in entrepreneurship was no stranger to him. The Cadillac native grew up in a family where her parents owned a hair salon in the downtown core of the city. Thanks to his parents, Hagedorn was linked to his community.
This sense of community has never left her as she grew older. When she went to college, Hagedorn knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion at Northwood University. However, she ended up studying macroeconomics and went on to earn a degree in anthropology of art from Indiana University at Bloomington.
“It’s about understanding the business platform to thrive in the arts,” she said. “The anthropology of art links fashion and design to economics because the anthropology of art is a study of the arts and how it (creates) bridges for people to understand each other. “
Organization: The property
Position: Executive producer
Place of birth: Cadillac
Family: Daughter August and son Alden
Commercial / community involvement: Partnerships with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
Biggest career break: “When I started Kids Art Fest, it was because it started me in the Grand Rapids community. With Kids Art Fest, I have been involved with so many community leaders.
When she graduated, she started a business called Time Savers, which was a shopping service. She cleaned homes, cooked dinners, and went shopping for families.
After a few years of running his business, Hagedorn started his family. Her then-husband was enrolled at Western Michigan University to become a medical assistant. She was a stay-at-home mom, but when her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, she started selling children’s books and educational books.
After graduating, they spent two years in Toledo, Ohio, where he worked for a children’s hospital. Hagedorn began to home school their children and his teaching method was based on literature.
“Whether we teach French culture or Michelangelo, we always bring books, whether they are story books, chapters, reference books or periodicals,” she said. “The kids and I would take trips. Instead of field trips, we would call them our safaris. We went to the Detroit Zoo, the Battle Creek Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. We would go and study different subjects. We would be gone for a week at a time. Our education process was called unschooling. It was just letting the kids be kids. They played, but also chatted with different professionals. Instead of doing science projects in a classroom, we would talk to college and university scientists. “
While home schooling is important, Hagedorn said she also wants her children to socialize with other children. She decided to start a book club that grew to include 50 to 60 children who were in first grade or younger. They would have different events at least three times a week, including Valentine’s Day parties, St. Patrick’s Day parties, and other gatherings.
Hagedorn continued this tradition of home schooling when she and her family moved to Holland and when her children grew up she decided to send them to school. However, Hagedorn continued a home schooling program for children who were in elementary school.
“They had a lot of programs for kids who were in sixth, seventh and eighth grade and high school, but they didn’t have anything for kindergarten, first, second or third graders and this is really the time when children should have time with their friends. That’s why I started this program in Holland, ”she said.
Even if Hagedorn established her home schooling program, she said she found she still had plenty of free time, so she took her love of fashion to the streets of Holland and started an event called Live Mannequin Night where businesses and restaurants would have individuals a mannequin in their storefront once a year.
“I would work with the stores to get people to pose as models in their window,” she said. “The individual would remain perfectly still like a mannequin for an hour and a half. We made themes. For example, one of the themes of a wine shop in downtown Holland was music. They had a model dressed as Amy Winehouse, standing still while holding a glass of wine in her hand.
“Each year was a different theme, and each store came up with a new idea or concept based on a theme related to what they were selling. The idea was to pay attention to connectivity. When people come by, they can say, “Wow, look at this. “
She produced the event for 10 years in Holland and it still performs in the city now. Hagedorn produced Live Mannequin Night in St. Joseph and also in Grand Rapids, which was called Downtown Live.
During this same period, Hagedorn started a children’s program for the Holland Farmers Market, which included a series of chef demonstrations. She also became director of galleries for the Holland Area Arts Council and started a business called Downtown Ducere, where she worked with the Visitors Bureau to organize tours of the city.
Hagedorn later, she wanted to focus more on children and healing, and through her role on the arts council, she began working with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for a pilot Artist-in-Residence program. Due to construction work at the hospital, she decided to suspend the program. Soon after, she began partnering with other community leaders to produce Kids Art Fest for the first three years of ArtPrize. Kids Art Fest always takes place during ArtPrize.
In addition to producing Live Mannequin Nights, Kids Art Fest, launching Downtown Ducere, and leading home education programs, Hagedorn also started children’s camps, taught in classrooms and lectured in libraries, but when the pandemic started she said she had to “reinvent herself.”
Hagedorn was launching a restaurant fundraiser for her Care on Canvas program, which is an extension of the Artist-in-Residence program she started at the Children’s Hospital.
The idea of the Care on Canvas fundraiser in the restaurants involved Hagedorn in partnership with catering establishments to paint inside their space. The public could pay to paint according to a particular theme.
The pandemic put an end to this program before it even started.
“Everything was ready to go, then everything stopped,” she said. “I had plenty of supplies and was good to go. I had written everything like business proposals and everything.
“So I decided to do a delivery service because all the children were at home. I was at home and I had all the supplies, I delivered them to the people. I made pickups and landings. The kits contained glue sticks, glitter, coloring sheets, paper, and the concept of their theme. It was basically what they would have done in a restaurant. I have probably deposited 200 kits. I delivered 60 Valentine’s Day kits to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Then, Hagedorn decided to create GRASS PARTS at The Property. The Lawn pARTies were based on an artist, like Van Gogh. All the table settings were centered on this theme.
Hagedorn also made other events related to art. Recently she decided to launch tastings, brunches and dinners, where the funds will go to Care on Canvas. These events have utilized his work with full kitchen chef certification.
“I have no intention of doing anything more with this,” she said. “I especially want to improve the experience of the people who come here. I want to deepen my understanding of cooking and especially nutrition. It’s just extra interest in that.