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A Community Driven Purpose: The Core of Human-Centered Design

This December, The Center for Creative Economy launched the Momentum Bonfire Encores series as a response to the Beta Bonfires hosted by IdeasCity WS and Wake Forest University. The bonfires feature creative entrepreneurs and their engagement with the world as an editable landscape ripe for intervention. Hosted through our Momentum network, CCE partnered with IdeasCity Winston Salem to continue these conversations and establish a focus on art, design, and technology.

Momentum’s December meetup highlighted human-centered design, a problem-solving approach that empowers individuals and businesses to design products, services, systems, and experiences that address the core needs of people. CCE’s panel was moderated by Karen Wong (Deputy Director of the New Museum in New York City) and included Krystal Persaud (founder of Group Hug Solar) and Winston-Salem based design guru Adam Sebastian (co-founder and architect at Stitch Design Shop). Imen Maaroufi Clark, Chief Strategy Officer of Point Motion, worked with CCE to host the virtual event via Zoom.

Krystal Persaud

The panelists derive purpose from the communities their products serve. Krystal Persaud targets the totality of communities, serving not only people but their surrounding environments. Her company GroupHug represents the intersection of creativity, design, and sustainability and strives to create a world where renewable energy is user-friendly, accessible, and aesthetic. Persaud designed the Window Solar Charger to (physically) get solar energy into people’s hands, establishing a small step to large scale environmental change. “Everything you design is an opportunity to teach someone something,” she said. GroupHug was designed to be “aggressively friendly.” Persaud wanted to associate renewable energy with a smile, to change perceptions of how people perceive energy. Her background as a toy designer enabled her to design an educational yet beautiful product that could help people understand climate change in a digestible way.

Adam Sebastian

Adam Sebastian also understands the importance of community engagement. His work is client-focused and community driven. When asked about the role of designers, Sebastian said “designers have a higher calling.” They must understand the community with which they are working, and have the power to tell a story or teach a lesson with their work. When Sebastian started his company, his partners did not want to pigeonhole themselves into the category of architecture. His team included artists, designers, and much more. Their goal was to be a conduit, to help their community find purpose through design. By “stitching together” elements of design, artitecture, art, and community development, Sebastian’s team decided to name their company Stitch. The business connects clients with dedicated designers to initiate large-scale community projects. One of Sebastian’s most well-known works is the ARTivity On The Green in downtown Winston Salem, which he describes as a “public art project that is a history lesson.” Incorporating elements of Winston Salem’s history and geography into the project, Sebastian pays homage to the industrial past of Winston Salem through his creation of a city park. In developing a project, Sebastian emphasized the importance of understanding a client’s goals from the start. According to Sebastian, designers have a duty to ground a client’s idea in pragmatism. 

Both Persaud and Sebastian believe that design has multiple objectives. For Persaud, good design has an opinion, a stance on how to best creatively tackle an issue. Her solar panels serve as both household decorations and educational platforms, and sustainable energy sources. Sebastian believes designers have a duty to help humankind get through challenging times. His work has enabled his community to realize its own uniqueness and open its eyes to various social issues. He says that the more a company can be inclusive and open minded, the better its results will be.

CCE is grateful to all our panelists for participating in the first chapter of our Bonfire Encore series. Join us next month for a continuation of our conversation, this time focused on racial equity and social action. Our January 21st event will feature entrepreneurs using art and immersive technology to disrupt and inspire change. Register here!

Momentum Highlight: Using LinkedIn as a Creative

August Momentum Highlight

Our August Momentum featured LinkedIn Strategist and Trainer, Teddy Burriss. Most people think Linkedin can only be used by big corporate businesses and professionals looking for employment. However, Teddy knows that creatives have an opportunity to connect and grow with a tool like LinkedIn as well. As Teddy puts it, Linkedin is about all types of people connecting with all types of people. When creating a LinkedIn profile, Teddy suggests focusing on:

  • Understanding why you want to use Linkedin as a business tool
  • Optimizing your profile
  • Growing a relevant network
  • Developing a reputation through engagement 

We’re all a part of  three main network groups on social media and IRL (in real life): 

  1. Family and friends
  2. Business and career
  3. Civic and community. 

We’ve all heard the saying ‘don’t mix business with pleasure’, but  Teddy believes that, if done organically, overlapping these three categories can increase our potential to make deeper connections by staying aware of each other in different ways. 

Teddy mentions that our Linkedin profile needs to be meaningful, relevant, and focused. We can do this by telling our target audience what we do, our accomplishments, and what we enjoy doing – so they can get a better feel of who we are and making them want to connect with us. Your profile should be speaking to your most important viewer and needs to be relevant to who you are now and who you want to become. 

Teddy emphasized the importance of relevance in our profile when connecting with people and building our network. Once you have engaged with someone (in-person or online), immediately connect with them and make sure the level of engagement (a 1 being a message with Linkedin Profile and a 10 being a zoom call) is relevant to the level of importance the person has to your business.

Building a profile and sending out invites are the bare minimum. For your Linkedin profile to have any value to your business you need to make actual conversations. Make and participate in relevant and interesting content. Teddy shared the importance of making different posts (videos, images, articles) for different audiences because something that applies to some may not apply to others. Another tip: put yourself out there because most of the people on LinkedIn were at some point in time, in the same position you are now; and always be consistent with your content. 

LinkedIn is a huge global networking site and the more we invest in growing our presence the easier it will be to discover and get discovered by our target audience, whether it’s business professionals, customers, or just interesting people you might want to work with one day. The more we develop our presence within LinkedIn by making, sharing, or engaging in content, the more our reputation has the potential to grow. Content can be about more than just business because Linkedin is about more than just business. There are conversations going on in LinkedIn right now about family, philosophy, the world, literature, and even art that creatives can be a part of. LinkedIn is helping us connect in all areas of business, bommunity, our careers, friends, and life.

Want to watch the full Meetup? Check it out here.

Female Founders: Women Who Are Pioneering Creative Entrepreneurship

Momentum’s May Meetup featured four leading women in creative entrepreneurship. The Founder Panel + Discussion highlighted female-led businesses who have completed CCE’s Accelerator program. Karen Cuthrell (The Feelings Company), Jenni Earle Hopkins (Jenni Earle), Beryl Young (Momtography/Teentography), and CCE’s own Margaret Collins discussed the obstacles many female entrepreneurs face in the cultivation of their businesses and how they have achieved success while pursuing their passions. 

All panelists emphasized the importance of passion in their work. In overcoming barriers to success, Karen Cuthrell advised entrepreneurs to “take it back to their why,” or the reason why they do what they do. Karen founded The Feelings Company after her six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with depression. Upon discovering that the vocabulary of feelings was not included in school curricula, Karen pioneered an educational platform to develop children’s social and emotional intelligence. When faced with challenges, she focuses on her personal connection to her company through her daughter. Karen encourages all business owners to “love their numbers.” In developing strategies to meet financial goals, she refers back to her numbers as well as her overarching mission: developing tools for children’s emotional development. 

Momtography, founded by Beryl Young, also has a deeply personal connection to her business. Beryl turned to photography as a means of coping following the loss of her unborn daughter. Her business model is inspired by her resiliency and creativity during an especially hard time. Momtography emphasizes the importance of capturing memories and moments through its community of mothers. Beryl had great advice for early entrepreneurs struggling to find a seat at the table. “Make sure you’re at the right table,” she says. Focusing on your own strengths and abilities will draw teammates and allies who will support you in your endeavors. Beryl also encouraged entrepreneurs to think critically about their business models. Consolidating your range of products can simplify your financial roadmap and bring you closer to your mission!

Jenni Earle Hopkins, founder of Jenni Earle, infuses her passion for authenticity into her hand-dyed “talismans of bravery and adventure.” Growing up in West Virginia, Jenni cherished times with her grandfather who encouraged her to chase her dreams. Grandpa Earle’s handy bandanas inspired Jenni’s company which champions empowerment and self-love. Jenni understands the challenges that women face when advocating for their businesses; they are often perceived as aggressive when trying to make their voices heard. Jenni advised her female entrepreneurs to let go of the desire to be complaisant. “If you have something to say, say it. If it is not understood, change the wording. If you believe that you deserve a spot, go get it,” she said during the Momentum Meetup.

CCE’s founder Margaret Collins also spoke to her experience as a female entrepreneur. Unable to find resources for creatives in inception stage businesses, Margaret founded CCE to propel creativity and entrepreneurship. Margaret spoke of her experiences as the only woman in a business meeting: “If you’re able to articulate your position and stay strong, you will be heard.” In developing CCE, Margaret has created networks of creatives who can support their peer’s initiatives. Providing this community uplifts female entrepreneurs and creatives that are not typically represented in large business settings. 

We are thankful to our panelists for sharing their insight in our second Virtual Momentum Meetup. Please join us for our next session during our Virtual Momentum Summer Social on June 24th! 

MeetupHighlight: Growing Your Creative Business When It Feels Hard

Our April Momentum meetup focused on growing your creative business when it feels hard. Taryn Jerez, Founder of One Crafty Miss, shared some advice and resources on how to continue to grow and succeed during this season of uncertainty. 

Taryn Jerez is a creative business coach and blogger. She teaches creatives how to build and grow their business with passion and purpose. Prior to founding her business, Taryn obtained her B.F.A. in Fashion Design and Marketing. Taryn is a creative professional with a background of working for companies big and small, as well as Fortune 500 companies. She has extensive experience with one-on-one coaching, events and public speaking, and connecting and collaborating. 

“You are more in control than you realize and the growth of your business is still up to you.” Taryn says to concentrate on what you can control. Let go of what should be and keep moving forward. It is important to lean into your natural creativity and be innovative during this time. 

Taryn stressed that you have to give yourself permission to sell your business right now. She encouraged us to do this by being selective, intentional, consistent, and communicative. You must offer value, be compassionate, and show gratitude for your audience. 

Now is a time to consider applying yourself to diverse tasks to continue growth for yourself and your business. Do activities that you may not have gotten around to before due to the daily hustle and bustle. Taryn suggests to organize all you can; get physically, virtually, and mentally organized. 

The next tip that Taryn shared with us is to reevaluate your product and your pricing strategy. You can do this by first exploring your current offerings, and then conducting market research. This will allow you to look at your business through a new lens and use the information for development.

Lastly, Taryn recommends doing brain dump exercises for inspiration. This exercise is a low time commitment with a big impact on your creative business. You can either set a topic or have a free space, and just let the ideas flow!

Taryn has compiled a COVID-19 resource list for creative businesses. You can check them out here:

Join us for our next virtual Momentum Meetup on May 21. We will be hosting a panel of founders who are ready to share their why, challenges and successes in their business, and tips that may help you on your entrepreneurial journey.

Support Your Local Businesses During COVID-19

As most of you know small businesses are being negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, there are ways that we as consumers can still support our local businesses. Here are some innovative ways small businesses in the area are adapting to this disruption.

A/perture Cinema: Although we can no longer physically go to the movies, this local indie theater is letting you stream films from the comfort of your own home through their virtual cinema setup!

Bookmarks: This nonprofit bookstore has allowed you to now order online! They have also moved many of their events to virtual meetings.

Buie’s Market: Don’t want to go inside the grocery store? No problem! This grocery store now has online ordering and curbside pick up!

Camel City Goods: This boutique sent their ‘Resilient’ coffee mugs and other goods to Winston-Salem hospital staff members! Check out their shop online!

Camel City Woodworks: They have made inspiring yard signs to uplift the community during this time.

The Humble Bee Shoppe & Bakery: Craving any sweets? This local bakery now delivers!

Jenni Earle: Check out how this brand is teaching you how to use their bandanas as makeshift masks!

Machine Gun Graphics: This screen printing business has been creating special edition products that support other small businesses in Winston-Salem.

The Porch: They are offering a stay at home care package for members of the community who cannot leave their home. You can also arrange to send a meal to your favorite nonprofit shelter, hospital, or medical office!

Swipeby: This Winston-Salem based curbside food pickup service has tremendously helped local restaurants meet the demand for takeout. Read more about their efforts here.

Tea and Toast: Tea and Toast are offering to make tea bundles and will ship them to you.

Navigating Your Business from Home

At the Center for Creative Economy, we understand how difficult it may be to navigate your business and even your personal life during these uncertain times. We want you to feel supported and know that we are still here for you.

Here is a list of resources to assist you:

How to Stay Connected to Your Customers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Small Business Resources During COVID-19

The Essential Business Survival Guide in a Crisis

Resources for NC Businesses | COVID-19

How Women Entrepreneurs are navigating the effects of COVID-19

Momentum Highlights: Finances and Tax Planning for Creatives with Judd Meinhart

Our February Momentum meetup focused on finances and tax planning for creatives. Judd Meinhart of Parsec Financial shared some important tips and tricks to help you manage your business’s finances.  

Judd Meinhart is a certified financial planner who dispenses fiduciary financial planning and investment advice to individuals, families and small business owners alike. Passionate about educating, Judd enjoys distilling the technical and behavioral aspects of personal finance into bite-sized morsels, consumable by even the most finance-phobic individuals. Prior to jumping into his financial services career, Judd served as a small business consultant and spent more than a decade in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Judd leverages his diverse experience and passion for helping others to build lasting relationships with his clients. Here are some of Judd’s tips and tricks to help creative business owners stay on top of their finances.

Judd began by stressing: Do NOT be a “shoeboxer”! Every accountant has horror stories of working with business owners who keep all of their receipts in a shoebox, but it will cost you to be disorganized. Your accountant will likely tack on a surcharge if they have to sort and categorize your receipts, but keeping organized will only take you a few extra seconds per receipt.

In order to give yourself peace of mind for a seamless tax season, Judd recommends utilizing software or financial professionals to keep track of your spending. It is also helpful to develop a regular review routine, such as looking at your profit/loss for the year and reviewing your balance sheet on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

Think about your taxes from both a compliance perspective and a strategic perspective. If you hire an accountant, they will focus more on the compliance side to make sure you’re prepared if you get audited. A financial planner, on the other hand, will help you strategize how to best make your money work for you. For example, it might be worth it in the long run to pay more in taxes one year if tax rates are projected to increase. By prepaying when rates are low, you may avoid paying taxes at higher rates in future years. 

Finally, Judd encouraged us not to ignore obvious deductions. If you travel often for work (beyond driving to the office), you can deduct vehicle expenses using actual expenses or the standard mileage rate. If you work out of a home office as your primary office, you may be able to deduct some office expenses, but only for items exclusively used for your business. Don’t go overboard with your deductions; it is better to play it safe than to mistakenly write off too much. 

February’s Momentum Meetup offered an overview of information that can guide you in actively organizing your business’s finances. Although this information is useful, Judd recommends seeking professional financial advice for your specific circumstances. Be sure to check out the recap video to hear from Judd himself!

To learn more about our previous topics and Momentum speakers, check out our previous recaps.

Want to join us for the next Momentum meetup? Check out our upcoming events.

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