We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Snyder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
A friend once told me when I was in the heat of proving my point years ago on a Facebook debate, “Erica, you will attract more bees with honey than with vinegar” That phrase always stuck with me. Not only do I no longer get into heated debates on social media which has, by far, reduced my level of stress, I take into consideration this phrase anytime I am in disagreement with someone. When I stop to think that being nasty doesn’t get my point across regardless of what it is, I learn a lot more about myself and the other person’s point of view.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the Event Manager for the Downtown Mesa Association. I love my job and the ability to use my creativity in a positive way. Planning events for the community for the last 7 years has been so rewarding. I am proud of the extra effort I put into every event to make sure that there is something interesting for everyone who attends. Many of our events are attended by children in the community who don’t have the means to do fun things with their family. We offer free events that are exciting and provide opportunities for families to connect with one another. That makes me feel good when I go home at night; knowing that I may have made a difference in a child’s path because of additional opportunities we’ve provided. Getting to this point definitely has not been easy. Putting the extra effort in and making valuable connections along the way has paid off in my career. I’ve learned that the more people you can be of service to, the better. If you want to get ahead, do it by being the type of person people come to when they need advice or help with something important. Experience goes a long way. If you want something or you’re passionate about something, don’t worry about whether or not you’re formally educated in that particular thing, just start doing it and eventually you’ll find your way. Downtown Mesa has had a rough history of not being a place where people go to have fun and I feel proud to have contributed to changing that. Along with the incredible business owners here who have poured their heart into their restaurants and shops, we’ve worked hard to change the view of how people feel about this downtown. It’s truly a magical place where everyone knows each other and people are working together to rise all ships. I hope people take the time to give Downtown Mesa another look because it’s not the one they knew from 20+ years ago.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love to bring people to Downtown Mesa to visit all the fun and eclectic, locally owned businesses. Each one is, more often than not, owner-operated so it’s shopping local at its heart. We’d start for a coffee the first day at the Nile Coffee Shop. This downtown gem has so much history. It started as a theater back in the 1920’s and still has remnants of it that exist today. The cafe also has a fully vegan menu and delicious treats baked fresh daily. That day we’d skip around our incredible antique stores since I’m a huge antique and relic lover (I got it from my grandma!) hitting up Buckhorn Vintage, Atomic Age Modern and Antique Plaza which has two stories of treasures and then onto several others within walking distance. We’d stop for lunch at Worth Takeaway for their famous Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Banana Pudding and slide over afterwards for a beer at Oro Brewing or Desert Eagle Brewing which are both within walking distance. The next day we’d grab a Banana Coffee at Organic Bean cafe. If my friend has never had a Banana Coffee, they’re in for a treat! It’s espresso blended with a fresh banana, coconut oil and chocolate sauce (all organic) poured over ice and your choice of milk. Incredible! I’d pop my friend into My Darling Dragon to visit Meela after our morning pick me up. First off, if she’s not the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, you’ll love the fact that she’s a true psychic and gives a mean tarot reading. I personally love to chat with her about her recent ghost sightings on Main Street. Oh wait… did I not mention that Main Street is haunted?! … another fun fact about our awesome downtown! Once we’re all tarot-ed up, we’d stop for lunch at 12 West Brewing for the most delicious burger with bacon jam and a side of shoestring fries. They’ve got an IPA I’m in love with called Frontside IPA. My friend may want to try the Zona, a light pilsner with a totally Arizona-looking can or one of their specially-crated cocktails. We’d grab a pint or two to go and head out to kayak on Saguaro Lake for the day. The next day we’d make it back to Main Street for an art walk. Downtown Mesa is home to a number of interesting statues, colorful, Instagrammable murals and exciting artistic finds. One of my favorites is the “Melting Building” on Main Street just west of Robson. The building literally looks like it’s melting and has all kinds of fun little hidden gems you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention. The dog that is peeking out the painted door may actually make you think you’re looking at the real thing. We’d head over to the Mesa Arts Center to check out the free contemporary arts museum. The exhibit changes frequently and has some incredible pieces from emerging and internationally recognized artists. My friend can grab a locally handcrafted souvenir from one of our awesome shops like Moondust Farms or the Downtown Mesa Artist Emporium. If we’re still around for dinner, we’d pick up the best Pad Thai ever at Nunthaporn’s. If my friend has kids, we’d take them to the i.d.e.a. Museum one day. This children’s museum combines art and play for a really fun experience for kids and adults. The place is packed with S.T.E.A.M. exhibits and hands-on experiences. Kids get to see and touch art and create their own. For lunch that day we’d check out Republica Empanada, a South American-style restaurant with a hip vibe and a killer Jalapeno Popper Empanada. It’s right next to the Mesa Urban Garden so if the weather is nice, we can eat in the garden and admire the fruits of this community’s labor… along with some more incredible murals done by local artists. Somewhere inbetween we’d have to make our way to Cider Corps, Arizona’s first cidery as well as Chupacabra Tap Room, a fun, little, eclectic joint that makes you feel like you’re right where you need to be. They’ve got a killer list of beers on tap and you’ll always have an awesome person nearby to strike up a conversation with at the bar. We’d also have to schedule a cookie decorating class with the amazing Heather Smith at Smitholator Cookie Shop because who doesn’t love to learn how to turn their basic cookies into Instagrammable sensations?? She’s pretty much famous for her out of the box designs and creative cookies and loves to share her knowledge with others so they can do the same at home. If only they had more time! There’s plenty more to do around this town!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I was a struggling twenty-something server at the Olive Garden in 2005, my mom encouraged me to take a personal and professional growth seminar called PSI Seminars. I was totally resistant; especially because I needed every tip just to pay my rent and taking a whole weekend off of work would surely bust me. I had just been pulled aside by my general manager the week before due to having a negative attitude though, so I figured what did I have to lose? I went and kept an open mind. That weekend changed the whole trajectory of my life. I learned really fundamental things I had never thought about in that way like “Givers Gain” and “To Think is To Create.” My personal perspective changed and I would not be the person I am today if not thanks to PSI. When I returned to work, my manager couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude and I quickly became someone my peers respected. I continued on to take many more of their seminars and met incredible people along the way who have mentored and inspired me over the years to be a kinder, more positive human being.
Dana Gibbons Photography