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Cornelius News

Young entrepreneur sets his sights on multimillion dollar business

Case Warnemunde


From November 2012:

Case Warnemunde is an eventful guy

A 26-year-old has set his sights on creating a multimillion-dollar business in Cornelius. Case Warnemunde, an Ohio transplant who waits tables at Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails, is the mover and shaker behind a burgeoning events management business and an art studio in downtown Cornelius.

A 2008 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Warnemunde moved to the Charlotte region fresh out of college to capitalize on the region’s national reputation for high growth, business opportunities and good weather.

He got himself out of Ohio pretty quickly.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve had big things in store for me…I did not want to be surrounding myself with everyone who knew me when I was growing up. I knew the world was going to meet me in stunning fashion, and of course Charlotte was known as the No. 1 place for young professionals and entrepreneurs,” said Warnemunde, who has a bachelors degree in business marketing with a minor in Spanish.

Indeed, Warnemunde (pronounced Warn-e-MUN-de)  came out of the gate in stunning fashion October 19 with the “Tawba Art Crawl” in downtown Cornelius. Several hundred people from all over town visited more than three dozen artists’ and vendors’ booths and shops on both sides of Catawba Avenue from 7 to 9 p.m. It was a busy and lively event, complete with live music, wine and picture-perfect weather.

Merchants were delighted. “For over 20 years, we artists and merchants have tried to get an art crawl to be successful in historic Cornelius.  Thanks to Case, we had a great event,” said Deborah Young, the owner of Deborah Young Studio on Catawba Avenue.

Warnemunde took the opportunity to open his own art gallery, Bella Love Studios, in one of the live-work units in downtown Cornelius. Of course, he lives upstairs.

While the art crawl basically broke even, Warnemunde hopes future art crawls will help create a cultural arts district in downtown Cornelius, as well as encourage Cornelius residents to spend their money locally.

Warnemunde said “what we are doing is developing a name brand in supporting your local community…find out who your local artists are, and local businesses are, and have top-notch local entertainment.”

He partnered up with the Cornelius PARC Department on the art crawl which helped get the word out, and further relied on facebook and email to drive attendance. “As we develop our following, any business should be interested in participating,” Warnemunde said.

He has created other events, including the “Sound of Love” at the old Palace Theater—timed for Valentine’s Day—and open mic nights at Kadi Fit studio.

Warnemunde, who grew up in a typical suburban family, hopes to do four art walks a year in Cornelius; the next one is Dec. 8, in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Ultimately, his goal as a business owner is to create, market and manage the biggest event in Uptown Charlotte.

Right now three employees (see box) volunteer their time to help get the business off the ground. “These three people who have done all this work for free, are going to be millionaires,” Warnemunde said.

Warnemunde’s parents came in from Ohio to see the art crawl and finally understood what their son was up to. His father had been gently counseling him to consider a career in the hospitality business. “I said, ‘Pops, you gotta trust me…I’m an entrepreneur, I don’t need to look for another business. The obscureness of this business is the best thing it has going for it.”

He said launching Bella Love is better than trying to be a salesman or working in a cubicle in a big corporate setting. He tried the salesman route, selling office supplies for through a multi-level marketing organization

“I was getting my soul stomped on walking in with tote bag and walking out with a signature. The whole kind of industry had these rah-rah meetings…and everything was this mind game…there were only a certain amount of objections the business owners might have, and we had answers to all of them,” Warnemunde said.

“It was an experience you couldn’t get anywhere else as an entrepreneur.”

Volunteer staff at Bella Love

Emily Parry, 27, communications director and an artist, works at a steakhouse in Charlotte

Joey Burnette, 22, marketing director, works at a pizza restaurant

Allen Sharpe, 25 director of development, works at Alton’s