The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship (IJ Clinic) gives low-income small-business owners in Chicago a fighting chance to cut through costly and confusing regulatory red tape. By working in partnership with law students at the University of Chicago Law School, the IJ Clinic acts as general counsel for 15 to 20 small businesses each year. When clients thrive and are earning enough that they can afford their own counsel, they graduate from the IJ Clinic. We were so proud to see two such clients—Peter Field and Moon Meals—leave the IJ Clinic’s nest this spring.
Peter Field Alterations and Tailoring
When Nicholas Monterotti was laid off from the financial sector in 2010, he went back to his old job selling suits at a menswear store. He noticed that wedding parties often wanted neckties in quantities or colors that the store could not possibly accommodate. From there, he started Peter Field. Neckties were his business’s core at the start, with alterations on the side. He soon learned that alterations was an industry that had not innovated in decades. By doing simple things, like accepting credit card payments and offering top-notch customer service, Nicholas quickly grew Peter Field into a premier tailoring business. This recent growth allowed him to add two new services: women’s alterations and apparel development and manufacturing. While working with Peter Field, the IJ Clinic has been a vital partner in negotiating commercial leases in each of its spaces, arranging financing, and hiring employees. When Peter Field first became an IJ Clinic client, it had just three employees. The company has since grown to employ 35 people in Chicago and New York City!
Early in his career, LaForce Baker was in advertising. While working late nights at an agency, LaForce felt frustrated that the only delivery options seemed to be greasy fast food. He took that gripe and spun it off into a business: Moon Meals. LaForce began by delivering healthy meals to professionals working late, and his meals are now stocked in grocery stores throughout Chicago. LaForce takes huge pride in his recipes, so when demand exceeded his production capacity, the IJ Clinic was instrumental in shepherding contracts to help LaForce maintain control of his recipes and their out-of-house production. During Moon Meals’ last few weeks on the IJ Clinic’s roster, we were excited to help the company negotiate funding from a local investment group. When LaForce first started working with the IJ Clinic, he was a one-man company. He now employs a team and feeds thousands of Chicagoans each year.