For the last few months myself and 19 other creative entrepreneurs have have been participants in the Periscope arts and business program through The Arts and Business Council of Nashville. We met at the ECC once a week for 8 weeks to hear a different business focused lecture, which always included group discussions followed by gathering into smaller groups to discuss our business ideas with each other and our small group mentor. There were fun activities throughout the time including a VIP night at the Symphony and happy hour meet ups whenever we could get together. The program ended with Pitch night at Oz Arts center, where all of us talked to the attendees about our companies and pitched our ideas in front of a panel of cool celebrity judges who rated our presentations. Basically it was like “Shark Tank.”
Building a creative business takes time. Everyone’s journey looks different. Officially it has taken me 5 years of of building something, that I fully enjoy and can be supported by. In those years of bartending part time and bootstrapping my way towards full time jewelry work, I have been rejected many times by potential buyers, grants, applications, random strangers I was pouring drinks for, you name it. In that time I have taken bad and good advice, learning all the while what works for me and for my customers. The most difficult aspect has always been, “how do I talk about myself and my company?” The elevator pitch has alway felt so hammy to me. Also, it’s difficult to condense my creative work into a couple of sentences? The simple questions of “how long you been doing this?”, “what kind of jewelry do you make?”, are actually difficult to answer.
Finishing the Periscope program changed that for me. My mentor directly helped me to narrow down that darn elevator pitch, business professionals volunteered their time to give myself and my cohorts advice, information, and guidance. Getting up on a stage in front of over 200 people and a panel of judges to talk about Walker Jewelry for 4 minutes seems like a small thing, but it wasn’t at all. It took months of preparation, deliberation, and it was the best thing I could have done for my business.
Days before the pitch night I signed another lease on an adjacent space next to my current live in studio where I can accommodate my classes better and offer a “community workspace” for local jewelry enthusiasts to return and practice their new skills. With the pitch perfect prize money that I won, I’ve been able to already spruce up the space with improvements and buy additional tools for students to use.
My hope is to build a jewelry community in Nashville/Old Hickory where people can help each other to grow and feel a little less alone while navigating their dreams. Check out the printed elevator pitch below and the class picture of the beautiful and brave artistic entrepreneurs. For more information on Periscope send me a line or link up here. https://abcnashville.org/periscope/