MKE EIP Spring Market


Michell Castillo’s business, With Love, Michelle, displaying her hand-painted canvas tote bags.

Music fills the air, food cooks on the grill, laughter and smiles are exchanged, and vendors promote their businesses.

 We’re highlighting the best that Milwaukee has to offer, and providing that opportunity for in thriving community and being able to have really fun, exciting pop events where everyone has access, ability and can have a good time. There’s a vibe going,” Michelle Barbeyto, an admissions counselor in undergraduate admissions and MKE EIP’s budget manager, said

The Marquette and Milwaukee community joined together at the spring market April 23 on South 37th Street and Pierce Street. This market was hosted by the Milwaukee Entrepreneurs Incubation Program in partnership with Escuela Verde and The Urban Ecology Center.

For the community, 37th and Pierce isn’t just another street or block, it is the Silver City. The Silver City gained its name in the 1890s due to the circulation of silver coins. Stephanie Boedecker, graduate assistant in the Center of Community Services and MKE EIP’s program manager, said that the location of the spring market was intentionally chosen.

“We’re in Silver City, which is on the south side of Milwaukee. A lot of time students come to Marquette, and they might know the surrounding area may be the Third Ward, the lakefront, the north side by UWM, but we’re trying to bring awareness to more of Milwaukee and places that don’t get as much exposure to the student body,” Boedecker said.

MKE EIP is a program that helps Marquette students explore entrepreneurship through pop-up events and mentorship. Barbeyto said they help students put their thoughts and ideas into action.

MKE EIP prioritizes students at Marquette that are low-income, first-generation and/or students of color. When it comes to the community partners, they prioritize Black, Indigenous and People of Color, LGBTQ and women-owned businesses, Barbeyto said.

“We really want to merge those two [Marquette students and community partners] out in the community, make sure we’re highlighting the best that Milwaukee has to offer, providing the opportunity for a thriving community. We want to be able to have really fun, exciting pop events where everyone has access, ability, and can have a good time,” Barbeyto said.

At the spring market, there were about 34 vendors. One of the vendors was Michelle Castillo. This month she started her business, With Love, Michelle, selling her hand-painted canvas tote bags.

“What inspired me was just the art around the world, and then I started because I haven’t been working for a while and I’m not sure when I’ll return to work, so I thought what a better way to start my own business,” Castillo said.

Each bag takes Castillo about an hour to complete, and some of her bags are painted with retro flowers, hearts, cow print and smiley faces. Castillo said she created designs that bring out positivity.

Jamie Cetina, another vendor at the spring market, is the owner of The Wild Ones. Cetina said she loves exploring nature with her two children, so many of her products are in relation to nature. Her products are also organic.

“It’s [organic and sustainable products] important to me as a mom to begin with. You always want the best for your kids, when you have kids, and ensure that you know where your product is coming from and that at the end of the life of that product that it’s not going to harm the environment. You just want to know that your product was made for children in mind and not just what’s going to make the most money or save a company the most,” Cetina said.

Matthew Gutierrez said the market brings the community together. He said that he appreciates everything the MKE EIP is doing for both the Marquette and Milwaukee community.

“I think it’s [the market] just good, especially with a nice day like this. It’s good for people to get out and enjoy the neighborhood and it also exposes people to the neighborhood if they’ve never been here before,” Gutierrez said.

This story was written by Hannah Hernandez. She can be reached at