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INSPIRATION, Uncategorized

Be Inspired : Bekah Wertz with High Fancy Paper

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Haley George Photography

Bekah Wertz :: High Fancy Paper

How did the name “High Fancy Paper” originate?

I was chatting with my coworkers one day, and was trying to describe something as both “high class” and “real fancy”. The two phrases got jumbled in my head and what actually came out was “high fancy.” We laughed about it, but the more I said it, the more I realized what a perfect name it was for my business.

What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?

I started designing wedding invitations for a few friends on the side of my day job. Once I had a few under my belt, people started referring me to other brides, and I was able to start charging for my services. Weddings turned into parties, showers and all of the decorations that came with it.

My next step was starting an Etsy shop. Doodles turned into prints and cards that I started selling to the public. When I moved to Nashville, I still didn’t know a ton of people, so I started exploring new areas and checking out local shops. My dream was to sell my paper goods in stores around town, so I worked on the artwork and approached some local businesses to gauge their interest. The first order placed with with White’s Mercantile in 12 South. I still remember how giddy I felt, knowing that my product would get to sit alongside other artists I’ve admired for years.

Since then, we’ve expanded our line and increased our orders with shops around Nashville. Back in August, I approached my friend, Sarah Cox, about coming on board with High Fancy Paper to help me run the business side of things. She agreed almost immediately, and has been the most amazing source of encouragement and drive ever since. We have plans in the works to move into new cities, expand our product line, and partner with local shops to create items that people can connect with. I can’t wait to see how HFP grows this year!

*If you have a shop in your city you think would be a good fit for High Fancy Paper, let us know! info@highfancy.com

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

This community has embraced me wholeheartedly! Moving here a little over a year and a half ago, I was unsure about what it would be like to establish myself as an independent business owner and creative in a new place. The people here have blown me away with their generosity, kindness, and support. So many people have been in my same shoes and want to extend the same helping hand that was shown to them when they were starting out. I couldn’t imagine starting a business in a better environment. From shop owners, to printers, to fellow designers, I’ve made meaningful connections with individuals who have rooted me on and taken a chance on High Fancy Paper.

Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

Back in April when the first earthquake struck Nepal, I created a print that we sold online and through Instagram. We donated all the proceeds to Unicef, directly aiding the relief efforts. We are always looking for new opportunities to give back and partner with local or global organizations.

What is special about the way you create your prints and why do you do it this way?

I do a lot of my artwork by hand. It may start out with a picture or a computer sketch, but most always ends with lettering and illustration done with a brush, pen or marker of some sort. I have a strong appreciation for simple and clean, but my work never seems to be finished unless it has a touch of “humanity”.

Is there a certain person or style that inspires you as you create your work?

My grandmother, Mama Doc as we affectionately called her, continually inspires me in my work. She was an amazing woman with an incredibly strong work ethic and generous spirit. She worked with her hands, creating, crafting and cooking for both loved ones and strangers. Growing up on a farm in Western Kansas, and living through the Great Depression, she learned how to be resourceful with what she was given. Mama Doc was into recycling before it was the trendy thing to do! I still remember her pulling out her reusable bags from the trunk before heading into the grocery store.

She was able to make things beautiful out of simple materials. When I’m creating a new design or assembling a set of invitations, I feel like I have a piece of her with me. She put her heart and soul into what she did. It wasn’t about perfection, but embracing the perfectly imperfect that made her so dynamic. I only hope that I can carry on that same legacy through High Fancy Paper.

Watch this sneak peek of the heart behind High Fancy Paper [click on image to play video]:

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Elizabeth Olmstead | Film Maker

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INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS

Mochatern Monday 02.22.16 : #ExtraDay2Give

Happy Monday, Mocha Club!

I hope that everyone got a little bit of sunshine over the weekend! Spring hasn’t sprung quite yet, but we’re getting there. And, I hope we all are taking advantage of the discount, leftover, Valentine’s chocolate that is bulging off of the shelves at the grocery store. Stock up!

Today, I wanted to take a little time to talk about Mocha Club’s Extra Day to Give, and the idea of truly taking advantage of all of the time that we are given.

Leap years are fascinating, aren’t they? They’re one of those events that become sort of special, because they only occur every now and then within a long-term, cyclical pattern. The same anticipation occurs alongside similarly timed events, such as the summer Olympics or presidential elections. These, much like leap years, would lose their luster if they occurred, let’s say, yearly. We would be used to 366 day years and a new president every twelve months. So, I think it’s kind of fascinating that every fourth February we have an extra day of the year.

Aren’t we all a little out of our minds, thinking about time? More time to sleep. More time to spend with family. More time in the morning to get dressed. More time exercise. More time to actually do the things we planned to do. We get so caught up thinking about all the time we don’t have, that we end up wasting time by thinking about it. It’s crazy. Sometimes I get very infatuated with the concept of being immortal, living forever. I’m frankly unable to fathom the idea of unlimited time, because the term is such an oxymoron. I mean, take a moment and think about the idea of just existing. Looming. You’re not going anywhere, there is no ending, and the world will keep turning, and turning forever. Freaky, right? The idea of never ending. Are you running back into the arms of the construct of time? I am.

I think we often characterize time as a negative thing, when really it is quite beautiful, the gift of time. Time is essentially life, if you have time, then you have life. I realize that for a lot of us, the scariest thing about time is that is given to each of us in unknown quantities. In other words, we all have time, but we don’t know how much. Yes, this is sort of frightening, but it’s also good. If we knew how much time we had, we would just live in the anticipation of an ending, rather than living to simply live. The fact that we don’t know has the ability to make us more aware, make us more focus, make us realize what we should but time into and what we shouldn’t. The unknowingness of time has the power to push us to do great things, because if not now, then when? There may come a time when we are unable to do things that we want, so the unknown pushes of to take advantage of every, little moment we are given.

Time is really such a beautiful thing. Time is a motivator. Time is that voice in our heads that tells us to go after the things we want. To sit in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Time is your friend.

And, so, as we inch closer to February 29th, and closer to the rarity that is an extra, specific amount of time, we can allow ourselves the ability to ruminate on the idea of time, on the idea of our own time. What we choose to give or what we choose to do can stand as an example for things that we can do each day, things that will make us realize how precious and sacred our lives really are, and how very much the way we choose to spend our time is up to us. How can we live more authentically, more dutifully? How can we make all of our time count?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” There you go. Everything I was just trying to say in less than 50 words.

Will you join us on February 29th to take the time to do something for someone else?

Use February 29th, 2016 as an extra opportunity to do good. Provide hope to someone else, be positive, give, impact! The opportunities to care for others are endless. Take advantage of your extra day and it could be the best day for someone else.

You were given all the time that you need. Seize it!
Austill

 

INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Be Inspired : Robby with Robby Klein Photography

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Robby Klein :: Robby Klein Photography

1.     What motivated you to start your business and how has it grown since it began?

I grew up drawing and painting, my mom was an art teacher. Art had always been around me and part of my life. When I was 13 I stumbled upon a  very dinky digital camera, maybe a quarter of a megapixel in resolution. Although I never figured out how to take the photos off of the camera, I’ just delete them and keep shooting, I was hooked! Not long after I got a plastic film camera from Walgreens and started shooting film for the next year or so until I got a 1 megapixel canon digital elph for christmas one year. 

My story and evolution as a photographer continues in this smooth natural trend. The older I got the more I would learn and the more I lobed to shoot! In high school I realized I could make money shooting bands and my senior friends and soon after started into the world of editorial, shooting for magazines. My business grew up with me and again very naturally became a sustainable business. Everything changed when my wife and I moved to Nashville, that’s when things got real and I saw the most growth at the fastest rate!

2.     How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

Nashville has been wonderful! I took meetings my fist week in town and still to this day shoot for clients I met with that first week. I’ve also met photographers, much more seasoned than I, who have taken interest in me and given me more wisdom and guidance in how this works than I could have ever asked for! 

3.     Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

I have tried to give back the knowledge and time that those seasoned photographers gave to me. I like to help young photographers and try and set them on the right path. 

4.     What is special about the way you shoot and why do you do it this way?

I like my shoots to be fun #1 and secondly I want them to be personal, I want my subjects personality to really shine through! For me if it isn’t fun then there is no point in doing it! I Shoot because it’s fun to me, I thoroughly enjoy it and I want people on set to feel that and join in!

5.     Where does all of your experience and knowledge of photography come from?

I have had people in my life that have graciously given their time to teach me this and that and give me advice and honest critiques on my work! That played a big part in it! After that it’s trial and error. I shoot ALL THE TIME! If I don’t have a job one weekend I’m grabbing an artist buddy and shooting him for fun and also to try new things. It’s pretty much practice for my client gigs. Always stay sharp and keep learning! 

INSPIRATION

Looking for last minute gift ideas?

Gift a membership to the Mocha Club!

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Gift a membership to a friend or family member in their honor! It’s easy!

  • When you sign up, use the gift recipient’s name + email in the sign up form and YOUR information for the rest of the fields including billing. You will be billed monthly for the contribution & the recipient will receive updates of the work being done in their honor!  
  • Lastly, email info@themochaclub.org to notify us of the gift + the mailing address of the recipient and we will send them the package above!

**Gifted memberships must be submitted TODAY (12/18) for guaranteed delivery by Christmas!

GIVE A GIFT NOW!

INSPIRATION, Uncategorized

Be Inspired : Cadence Turpin with Commontable

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Cadence Turpin :: Commontable

 
1.     What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?

My friend Simoni and I were introduced because we shared a common vision for hosting dinners, and within months of meeting, we were hosting the first Common Table together. When I moved to Nashville in May 2012, table culture was on the rise, and pop-up dinners and supper clubs were showing up everywhere. As someone who loves sharing food and the community that inevitably unfolds around it, I wanted in. But we never saw hosting dinners as an opportunity to create community as much as we did an opportunity to showcase Nashville’s community in a way that invited people to love it even more. We wanted, more than anything, to celebrate what we already believed was so great about Nashville: the food scene, the music scene, the various artists behind it, and the people who show up to appreciate it.

When we started Common Table, we threw 50 people we knew (or knew of) into a hat and drew 10 out. Those 10 were the first guests, and they were all our friends. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to host almost 200 others, many of whom have been complete strangers. With that, we’ve stuck to doing dinners bimonthly, with 10 guests at each one, and we’ve loved it that way. Our team members all work full-time, so we budget to break even, and see our contributions as a way to serve our neighbors in a really unique and meaningful way. We occasionally do private catering for likeminded businesses and organizations, and we’re currently working on a publication that will highlight recipes and stories from the last 3 years, but the heart of what we do is still setting that table for 10, and we’re grateful that Nashvillians keep putting their name in the hat to be a part of it.

2.     How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

As if we weren’t enough already, we’re more amazed than ever at the quality of people living in Nashville. Over the last three years, the amount of name submissions to join our dinners have grown every time we’ve announce one. And our guests are not only friends of friends anymore, they’re a diverse community of people who are drawn to Common Table for a variety of reasons, whether an appreciation for beauty, love of food, the opportunity to meet new faces, or just plain curiosity. We love that we live in a city that is constantly growing and attracting people who value new experiences.

Beyond our guests, we’ve been so honored by the tens of artists, designers, stylists, and hosts in Nashville who have cheerfully offered their talents and time to help make each of our gatherings beautifully unique and special. Every gathering is truly a team effort, celebrating a creative community that values collaboration over competition.

3.     Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

Our hope is that each gathering feels like a gift to the guests in our community. As I mentioned, we don’t make a profit from Common Table, because we never really saw it as a business idea as much as a way to give back. Most people don’t know this, but because we do things this way, it allows us to keep our dinner costs at an approachable price, and we love being able to do that! We all love our full-time jobs, and our team of friends truly sees it as a joy to be able to serve our neighbors together in this really unique way every couple of months. The act is our reward, and we hope that in some small way, it blesses people as much as its blessed us to be able to do it.

4.     What is special about the way you bring people together and why do you do it this way?

Well for one, we kind of let fate choose our guests. We allow anyone who lives in Nashville to submit their name and then we draw 10 of them at random from a hat. One of the things Simoni and I knew we didn’t want to do when we started dreaming about Common Table was create something exclusive—that market was already covered. So that’s when the magic hat idea was born. Our long-term goal was to host as many new people as possible and create a space where all types of people felt welcome. We also keep the size of our dinners down to 10 guests so that the experience is intimate enough for people to relax and be able to bond in a really authentic way. Each dinner is hosted in a different home, which is a blast. It’s fun to always be working with a new space and being able to partner with people who love to host people as much as we do. Again, it’s truly a team effort!

Once people are at the table, we ask them to go around and introduce themselves and share how they ended up in Nashville. From there, we leave it up to them. There are a few conversation starters placed in the middle of the table, and we encourage them to pull one at the beginning of each course if they feel inspired, or to just keep enjoying one another without them. What continually amazes me is that I have never really heard an awkward silence take place. Something about choosing to actively be with one another around the table really makes it easy to connect and oftentimes, they sit around laughing and enjoying each other’s company long after we’ve dismissed them. We think that’s the coolest part.

5.     Where does all of your recipes and food come from, and why do you buy it from these places?

Our chef, Simoni, could inform you in more detail on this, but we buy local anything that is possible to buy local. Simoni is a full-time sous chef at Josephine in 12 South, and even prior to that, has always worked in farm-to-table restaurants, so his knowledge and appreciation for local ingredients is evident in every meal. Some of the farms we consistently buy from are Delvin Farms, Green Door Gourmet, Bear Creek Farms, Hatcher Dairy, and Noble Springs Dairy.

Simoni dreams up every menu, which is usually themed around what’s seasonally available. In warmer months you’ll see a lot of lighter, fresh herbs and produce on the menus, and in the colder months you’ll see a lot of heartier ingredients, like squashes, root vegetables, and roasted meats. But each recipe is innovated by Simoni, and he doesn’t serve a course until he’s mastered it. Many of his ideas are inspired by what he’s working on in the restaurant or reading about in his latest cookbook, and that inspired creativity shines through his presentation of each course. Our hope is that our guests are inspired by his ingredients and drawn to the farms that supply them.

INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Be Inspired: Stephen Rose with The Peach Truck

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for its community and the inspiration from its members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Stephen Rose :: The Peach Truck

What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?

The Peach Truck was started out of a natural problem. I grew up in Peach County, GA, which is where Georgia Peaches are grown. That meant eating fresh peaches right off the tree every summer. Moving to Nashville, I figured we’d have some good peach options during the summer being just a state away. That wasn’t the case at all. I needed to figure out how to get my hometown’s peaches to Nashville. It started as a small side business my wife and I ran, and has now grown to 50 employees during the summer. The vision hasn’t changed, though. Get Fresh Georgia Peaches to people right off the tree, and create an incredible experience while doing so.

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming community to start a business. From the chefs who put us on their menu, to the shop owners who allow us to set up, to the community who supports us by buying our peaches, it’s been a remarkable experience. Nashville wrapped its arms around us from the beginning. We couldn’t be more grateful.

Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

We work with a couple food banks in Nashville to make sure that our peaches get to folks who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. It’s hard to believe, but our town has areas that are literal food deserts, with no access to fresh produce. To be able to donate our top quality peaches to people who don’t have access to fruits and vegetables the way most of us do is an incredible honor.

What is special about the way you sell peaches and how it brings community together?

We always strive to create a memorable experience. Everyone who works with us does so because the believe in what we do and they’re passionate about our product. We’re always collaborating with restaurants and companies around town that we align with. Everything we do strives to celebrate summer and what it means to so many. We hope when people think about summer in Nashville, they think about The Peach Truck.

Where does all of your peaches come from and why do you buy from them?

We are the Nashville arm of Pearson Farm. I’ve known the family that runs the farm my entire life, and we developed the idea of The Peach Truck together. For them, they wanted someone who would treat their peaches the same way they do. It’s almost tragic that they can prune the trees perfectly, thin the peaches perfectly, pick them at the perfect time, and a grocery store who gets them holds on to them for too long and they develop that mealy taste grocery store peaches are known for. It’s much too hard of work to let that happen. We make sure our customers get the peaches within a couple of days of being picked, which is a logistical nightmare, but it’s the only way for people to taste the same peach I did when I was growing up. It’s truly a match made in heaven.

Clean Water, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

Be Inspired : Mark, author of Zen Pig

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

Zen Pig Love w: Stanza

What motivated you to start your book, and how has it grown since it began?

When my wife and I had our first child, Noble, I wanted desperately to guide him away from many of the mistakes I’d made and toward virtues like gratitude, mindfulness, and compassion – ideas and practices that have changed my life radically for the better. But once I was submerged in children’s media (like all parents eventually are), there wasn’t really anything I could present to him that nurtured those seeds.  So much of children’s media revolves around being a prince, or a princess, living in a castle, or being in a mystical land, there’s definitely a place for that, it’s not a knock.  But “Zen Pig” is here to show kids that you don’t have to be a princess, or a prince, or live in a castle to be happy; and that you don’t have to escape to a fairy tale land – there is infinite beauty and wonder to discover in THIS world in THIS moment.

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

I want to be completely clear about this, I am utterly blown away, honored, and humbled by how much support Nashville has given the “Zen Pig” series and myself.  Local residents and retailers are the reason “Zen Pig” is still here and it’s success is all theirs.

What’s the story behind the name, “Zen Pig”?

The title of the series, and name of the main character is simply a testament to the philosophy it teaches and the result of mindful living; peace, serenity, and resilient happiness.

What is unique about your books, and what inspires them?

There is no deficit of children’s books, that’s for sure.  But I think “Zen Pig” has begun to stand out due to it’s focus on ideals that all parents wish for their children, minimalist design, and very specific philanthropic cause which teaches children the joy of giving.  Also, people seem to really enjoy the way the books feel, which I think is funny because I said the same thing when I received my first copy for approval!

Tell us about the good you are doing and your partnerships with local missions?

All the good that is manifesting from “Zen Pig” is 100% because of the readers and retailers, not me.  Releasing less than 5 months ago, THEY have already provided over 8000 people clean water for 1 year…it’s unbelievable.  I could not be more grateful – truly.  African Leadership and Mocha Club has been such a tremendous partner in all of this.  The difference between this non-profit and the many of the others we had considered partnering with is astounding.  They have provided transparency, support, and incredible kindness!

 

**Give to clean water now and buy Zen Pig at http://www.ZenPigBook.com!

INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

Be Inspired: Maddy with Madeline Harper Photography

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Maddy Harper :: Madeline Harper Photography

What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?

            I have always had a passion for stories- hearing the lives of others, stepping in to invest in that story, and then sharing it in an impactful way. My heart is drawn to finding beautiful in the ordinary, whether that be a chance to create or adventure or form a relationship. It was these two loves that prompted me to start a business that was equally about telling stories and creating beauty. I started this business in college as a side project, while volunteering for Young Life and finishing a business degree. I knew that one day I wanted to go full time, a dream that required a lot of faith filled risk and hard work. Every year that I invested in this business it grew exponentially. I started off shooting any and every event I could, from high school ministry to engagements. I had some dear friends who took the first risk of letting me capture their wedding day. It’s actually hilarious to look back at photos from the start of my business over three years ago and compare them with photos today! I took time to learn the craft from others much more accomplished than I, spent hours behind a camera practicing on my ever patient friends and family, and sought to continue learning and telling the stories of everyone I knew. Since then, it’s expanded to become a dream realized, as I am now a full time photographer

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

Mocha Club was actually the first Nashville community to welcome me with open arms! While interning for y’all I met so many wonderful people who would speak life and encouragement into this endeavor. Plus, I got to capture my first Nashville wedding for one of Mocha Club’s very own! Since then, I have met a large number of talented creatives in this city who are promoting collaboration instead of competition who have greatly inspired as well as added to my business’s growth.

Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

I love the wedding industry, it would be easy and natural to be solely focused on that world. But part of my dream for this business is to document stories for non-profits and mission groups. I have had the joy of going to Nicaragua to document medical missions for an incredible organization, Palmetto Medical Initiative, as well as go to Uganda to capture stories of orphan care for The Archibald Project. These two opportunities have only fueled my love and desire for collaborating with businesses who give back and use their voices for the good of others! In addition, I’ve been able to collaborate with Mocha Club on a few occasions and even had the joy of photographing Ellie’s Run for Africa this year!

What is special about the way you shoot and why do you do it this way?

The way I shoot is very organic and natural. I am all about candid photos! I believe beauty is found in the details: spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter between loved ones, a moment of contemplation before a marriage vow, a look of determination when working for a cause bigger than oneself. I try to stage as little as possible, but shoot mainly from a documentary style. Beauty is all around us without any need of manipulation. I also believe that having a relationship with your subject helps you capture their character in a way that is intimate and authentic. I love to learn about whoever it is I am photographing, whether a couple before their big day or a kid in the Ugandan childcare system.

Where does all of your experience and knowledge of photography come from?

I was incredibly lucky to intern under a great friend and mentor, Michelle Boyd, out of Austin, TX. She poured into my education of the art of photography and being a business owner alike. I’ve had the chance to second shoot and learn from an incredible photography community in that city. The main influence on my business, however, is my sister Meredith, owner of Bristol Lane. It is her business acumen and ability to push creative boundaries that urge me to grow the most. I’m in awe of being related to her. However, there is nothing like hands on experience. I learn every time I pick up my camera. I learn from every mistake I make along the way, because being a first time business owner you are always growing and adapting and bound to put your foot in your mouth a time or two. I learn from every shoot, business meeting, and creative friend. There is more enough business and inspiration to go around, seek the spaces and community that help you grow the most and invest in them!

Instagram: @madelineharperphoto

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INSPIRATION

Be inspired : Patrick with “Nisolo”

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

 

 

Patrick Woodyard :: Nisolo

 

The idea for Nisolo was born in 2011 shortly after I took a development job in microfinance in Trujillo, Peru. After meeting remarkably talented shoemakers in the city, I learned that they shared common barriers to growth with micro-entrepreneurs that I had met in other parts of the developing world. In this case, the shoemakers’ greatest barrier to finding consistent work and a liveable wage was gaining access to the global market where they could sell their goods. Learning that the struggling leather and footwear industry in Northern Peru partially employed over 100,000 people, I envisioned the impact that a revitalized shoe industry could have in Trujillo and the impact that could occur in other parts of the world if I started a lifestyle brand that committed first and foremost to ethical production and the wellbeing of its producers. All this, of course, while delivering an excellent product with superior design and quality at its core. This is what we’ve created with Nisolo, and we’re eager to continue encouraging consumers and the industry to move in more of a producer-leaning direction for tomorrow.

 

How did you go on to build your brand?

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned so far is how incredibly willing people are to help you out if you have an impact focused business that they can get excited about. The first thing I did in the ideation stage was create an extensive exec summary and send it out to around 100 peers, former professors, mentors, and friends and family to ask for advice. This helped shape the initial plan a fair amount and from there the following three years has been an insane rush and hustle. I’ve stayed hyperfocused on four things: learning from customers, selling as many shoes as possible to stay afloat, strengthening the efficiency and social impact of our supply chain, and surrounding myself with a team of incredibly talented, passionate, and humble individuals who are Gung ho on taking Nisolo to the moon and having the greatest social impact possible along the way.

 

What is the most difficult part of your work?

Usually when I’ve been asked this question, people expect an answer about balancing social impact with profitability or scale. However, we’ve created a team that is first and foremost here for the social impact we can create, and purposefully, we’ve baked our social impact into our business model. We don’t give a percentage of proceeds off the top or do a buy one give one model; rather, the impact comes in the way our products are sourced and is directed at producers themselves rather than solely altruistic consumers. This way, no matter how many products we develop and sell overtime, our social impact will never be compromised.

Just like many quickly growing start ups, two of the greatest challenges we face include getting the right people in the right seat on the bus–to steal from Jim Collins–and learning to say ‘no’ to noise and distraction and ‘yes’ to what really moves the needle externally and internally within the organization.

What inspires you?

Quite obviously, the social impact that we are creating gets us up and out of bed each morning. That being said, I am also deeply inspired when I am around people who are passionate about what they are doing and are willing to give a task, a project, or even a dream their all. The two places I regularly encounter this inspiration is from my team members at Nisolo as well as peers in our industry. I enjoy watching my team members work. And, I enjoy keeping up with what is going on with the companies of friends within the social enterprise and fashion spaces because nothing is more inspiring than seeing other entrepreneurs–who face many of the same struggles and who identify with your lifestyle–find “success” in one way or another.

 


How do you view your customers’ role in the work you are doing?

Nisolo means not alone for a reason. Our customers are the ones who will build our brand in the long run. Our team could be made up of 10 or even 100s of the smartest people in the world, but at the end of the day, it is the way that our fan base supports us (and brands like us) and shares our stories in the long run that will drive real change.

 

Talk about a moment when you saw the impact of the work you’re doing firsthand.

The idea for Nisolo came to me in the dirt-floored, metal-roofed home of a Peruvian shoemaker. Here was a man with all the talent one could ever hope for yet his talent was juxtaposed with the common barriers to entry of modern day capitalism–lack of access to international markets, capital, education, etc. Nisolo began with people like him in mind. Fast forward a few years, and he is now a manager on our team in Peru. The floors, walls, roof of his house have been replaced and even another floor has been built in his home. His children are in school again, his wife’s small business is steady and growing swiftly, he is becoming more and more of a community leader, he has created a library in his house and is regularly loaning books to neighbors. He is one many people whose life has been impacted–through the work of his own hands–and facilitated by Nisolo.

What are you most excited about as you look towards the future?

While we do not want to divert focus from growing our current product offering, we do see opportunity to expand into adjacent markets (just as you’ve seen Tori Burch, Joie, Kenneth Cole and countless other brands do in the past)while maintaining brand integrity. Potential considerations include other accessories (jewelry), apparel, etc. Again, while our plan is to stay focused on footwear and leather accessories in the short-term, we do anticipate a medium term expansion into adjacent markets, allowing for new product lines and cross-continental social impact via the Nisolo brand.

sevenly mocha club
INSPIRATION, MERCHANDISE, Uncategorized

Sevenly + Mocha Club

We are excited that Sevenly has asked to partner with us again this year! They have been inspired by the work we do at Lizulu Orphan Care project in Malawi and they’ve created designs to raise support for the children.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than a million orphans primarily due to HIV/AIDS. Lizulu is a rural Malawian community where the average family lives on less than $0.75 a day. It is home to approximately 3,000 orphans living with limited or no support.

Go check out the Sevenly site all week long – for each shirt sold, they will donate $7 to the Mocha Club and Lizulu Orphan Care!