It happened again. I was attending a networking breakfast hosted by one of the key associations that Batch belongs to. It was time for the giveaway.
There would be a drawing of business and nine winners would be picked to each receive a $50 Amazon gift card. There it was, $450 dollars up for grabs. I mean, with Amazon’s ubiquity, those gift cards are basically as good as cash.
Look - I get it. Folks love free stuff and you’re sure not to offend with an Amazon card like you might with a Buffalo Wild Wings (there are vegans out there), Chick-fil-A (politics), or KFC (don’t even get me started on their colonization of hot chicken). But as a small business owner sitting in a room watching this happen (and it wasn’t the first time) a whole lot of good could have been done with that $450.
This association doesn’t have a special relationship with Amazon, so they paid rack rate for those gift cards out of their modest budget, even when several members (again, in the room) could have provided more value, if the association had just dreamed a little bigger and thought to ask.
I could harp on how Amazon hollows out communities, even when it enters a new city and promises jobs and change. Or how their quest for low prices and cheap delivery is subsidized by tax payers while they victimize small businesses. But this isn’t a call to action against Amazon. It’s a call for influencers to think local.
Batch is a member of another industry organization. At monthly lunches, there are giveaway drawings as well. If you bring a friend, your name is entered into the monthly drawing where they give away a series of $5 gift cards to Starbucks. Or at least that’s what they used to do.
When I saw this happen (both that good money was being spent and that a locally-focused organization wasn’t thinking locally enough), I offered to improve their monthly giveaway. I offered up double the amount of gift cards from Batch. Now instead of flinging half a sawbuck at folks from a coffee giant, The Tennessee Business Travel Association now gives away as many $10 gift cards to a local store (that supports 200+ local makers and entrepreneurs) as possible. It’s a win for everyone.
Corporate America doesn’t need to think bigger. It needs to think more locally.
Small Business Saturday is less than a month away. American Express (I can think of no better mascot for Corporate America) does a great job of promoting this day during our collective national seasonal shopping binge, so I’m sure you’ll see ads and banners and popup ads and bus wraps and billboards and social media interruptions all geared toward getting you out for 1/365th of the year after you’ve doorbustered and Black Friday-ed as much as you can before you - that’s right - cyber Monday at - you guessed it - Amazon. (Yes, you can shop other places online but stats show about half of all money spent online goes to those guys.)
I’d love for American Express and others to treat every Saturday as Small Business Saturday. When you shop locally (vs. at a national chain), $68 (of $100 spent) stays in your own community (vs. $43 spent at a chain) to hopefully be further spent at more small businesses like coffee shops and hair salons and on kids sports leagues and at dentist offices. In other words, an entire community’s infrastructure is strengthened. In fact some studies even say that money spent locally is actually compounded and that $1 spent locally actually adds $3.50 in total spending power.
Shopping locally is also better for the planet. But most of all, you’re creating the kind of community you want to live in. Communities get stronger. Choice improves. Diversity increases. Legacies change. All because you wanted to shop local.
So here’s the call to action: While I’d love for everyone to shop locally year-round (and for American Express to spend a bit more of the $6.92 bilion it made in profit in 2018 toward promoting this idea), I’ll keep it simple:
Stop buying Amazon, Starbucks, Visa, and Target gift cards for your giveaways. Put that money back in your pocket and into the local community.
I know you think it’s complicated. That small coffee shops and boutiques and eateries don’t do gift cards. That it’s difficult to go inside and talk to a human rather than to visit the Wall-O-Gift-Cards at Walgreens, pick out something, grunt at the cashier, and leave. But you’re wrong.
Nearly every small, local business can easily produce gift cards and would be delighted to do so. Moreover, while you’re inside, talking to a real person, you may actually enjoy it. You may make a friend! You may - wait for it - have an actual human experience (back to that whole community building thing).
Because when you opt for a gift card from a local business, you’re not just subsidizing someone’s grocery shopping. You’re helping someone else (the gift card winner/recipient) have an experience. They can take their family to the farmers market for an afternoon. They can spend those coffee dollars on catching up with a friend. They can take a date to a different part of town to get dinner. They’re trying on clothes that are made by a neighbor or drinking a beer with local ingredients, deepening their impact with just one visit.
Nashville companies and associations: do better and think locally. We have well over three dozen local coffee concepts and going on more than 200 local restaurants. Local boutiques, bakeries and breweries abound. For your next giveaway, no matter how often that happens, please, please, please skip the gift cards from companies we all know and choose something local.
To prove how badly I want this to happen, and how much your attendees will enjoy a fresh giveaway, I’m making Batch gift cards up for grabs at half price. The first 10 people to send me an email asking for gift cards for an upcoming giveaway can get $50 Batch gift cards for just $25. Send me an email and we’ll work it out. Let’s think locally together.
Over the course of Batch's 6+ years, I've had the chance to meet hundreds of entrepreneurs and probably 100 more aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, each month, Batch hosts Purveyor Pitch Day where artisans and makers get the chance to pitch their products to the Batch team. (Like Shark Tank, but we're way nicer.)
Folks come in, show us what they make, tell us how they started, why they do what they do, share the mechanics of their business (costs, retail pricing, production capability), and then we all chat about if and how their products are a fit for what they do. And in the midst of it all, I get to hear inspiring stories of motivation, ingenuity, and - you guessed it - passion.
Sometimes in these meetings or more often when I travel and speak, budding entrepreneurs ask what advice I have for them. I quickly answer:
DON'T DO IT!
That may be a bit surprising coming from a four-time entrepreneur and someone who believes deeply in the power of entrepreneurship to change families, communities, and legacies, but I tell every entrepreneur this bit of advice because if that's all it takes to get them from taking the very scary leap into the world of entrepreneurship, I've just saved them a lot of time, heartache, money, and trouble.
But, if I tell you how hard it is and you still are willing to take the risk, then you may have what it will take to truly succeed as an entrepreneur.
I was speaking with James Ray, one half of the duo behind Little Seed Farm. He echoes this sentiment, saying, "For dairy farming and manufacturing, passion is really important. It's seven days a week, requires a ton of planning, involves battling the weather every single day, and the supply chain of our business is exceedingly complex as it grows."
He continues, "No one else will ever love your business as much as you do, so if you don't love it a ton, you're screwed. You have to love it so much that you're willing to put in the hours figuring out literally every little thing it takes to make it run seamlessly, smooth, and profitably. Just caring about it isn't enough, you have to thrive in its challenges and be willing to grow and adapt with it. That's the hard part and where the passion and motivation really come into play. It can be really difficult, and only extreme motivation can get you through those times and out of them ahead of the curve instead of buried underneath it."
Or take Klavish Faraj, who started and owns Júwon Enamel, a Nashville-based nail polish company. Her story began as a schoolteacher turned coder, who still wasn't happy. As secure as jobs in those fields are, she chose to go out on her own because of a distinct mission and calling.
In fact, it was what was right in front of her that showed her where she'd be happiest, no matter how difficult that journey might be. She says, "Removing and focusing on nail polish application was therapeutic for me and made me feel a lot better. One night I was sitting in my living room with my husband with my large box filled with a variety of nail polish colors and mentioned how I could’ve started a nail polish business with the money I spent on my master’s and that was how it all started."
Her business connects her with the deepest and most meaningful things in her life, which a traditional job did not. "I created Júwon Enamel which is a nail polish line that incorporates all things I value. It is nontoxic, includes my culture in the name, and is made for all regardless of religion." That deeper sense can keep her motivated to succeed when things get difficult.
(And they will get difficult.)
If you're thinking of starting your own business, be sure you have the intense motivation, passion, and drive to keep at it when the excitement of what's new fades. You'll need that grit and determination to see you and your idea through seasons of growth, change, competition, and challenge.
But you and your business will be better for it. (And we, your customers, will too.)
Upon pulling in, we were greeted by a happy palette of wildflowers, lavender, and Russian sage, and the quaint feeling that we could lounge in the Adirondack chairs and breathe in the fresh, floral air for the rest of the day. After a quick tour, it was time to get zipped into our (thankfully, ventilated) bee suit… and it’s off to the bee-borhood we went!
Most people know just enough about bees to know they don’t want to be near them, but after one visit to TruBee, we think you’ll be just as impressed by these industrious little insects as we are! And the chance to poke your finger into a hive’s honeycomb to taste the freshest honey you’re ever going to eat? Well, that’s just a perk. Here are three of our favorite facts we learned about bees (the rest we’ll leave you to discover for yourself!):
Bees are the Queens of Hostess Gifts
If you grew up in the South, you were probably taught pretty early the unwavering rule of always arriving with a host(ess) gift, but bees, as it turns out, are more savage than even the most devastating “bless your heart” ever muttered. When a bee arrives at a new hive, she is met by the guard bees (bouncers, if you will), and she’d better not be empty-handed. A bee who arrives at a new hive without nectar or pollen--something valuable to contribute to the success of the hive--is turned away and left to fend for herself.
Evil Queens Don't Get Happy Endings
You've heard the adage, "one rotten apple spoils the bunch," or "a bad boss can ruin a good job." In a bee colony, the Queen sets the tone for the entire hive. If a Queen is productive, the hive will be productive. If a Queen is lazy, the hive will follow suit. If a Queen is mean, the hive will become aggressive. The catch is that a hive won’t tolerate a meanie Queenie for long. It’s not in bees’ nature to let anything stand in the way of their survival or success. If Her Royal Highness is a royal pain in the stinger, they’ll stage a coup, kill her, and raise a new Queen. Deserve the crown, or get taken down.
Who Run the World? Girls.
Bees have lived in hyper-organized caste systems run by females since long before #girlboss was a thing. The worker bees (females) outnumber the drones (males) 100:1, and the worker bees do all the… well, work. The first job a worker bee has is to clean her own cell. She is then given the responsibility of protecting and caring for the larvae. As she grows, a worker bee will keep getting promoted through the ranks, and eventually perform tasks like guarding the hive, foraging for pollen, making honey, or attending the Queen. So what do the drones do? The drones’ only job is to mate with the Queen. Sound like a sweet deal, fellas? We should probably mention that only the Queen gets a round-trip ticket on this flight. It’s a rare drone that survives a mating flight, and those who do--along with those who have failed at their duty and are still buzzing around come winter--are kicked out into the cold to die. Don’t do the work? Don’t get the perks. Jeff Otto’s summation? “It’s a just world.”
TruBee Farm offers private tours for $10/person, with a 5-person (or $50) minimum. To schedule a beekeeping tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org (and tell them Batch sent you)! Want to try some of TruBee’s products? Stop by Batch in the Nashville Farmer’s Market, or visit our online store.
DO - Be thoughtful
DON’T - Be unprofessional
Put some consideration into what you know about your boss without risking being inappropriate. Knowing your boss is going through a divorce doesn’t make you the right person to give them a self-help book on getting their groove back. Avoid personal items like clothes, body products, and jewelry, and focus instead on their likes and interests.
DO - be unique
DON’T - be extravagant
Face it. Your boss has enough pens, paperweights, and calendars. If you don’t know your boss well enough to add a personal spin on his or her gift, try to think outside the box without breaking the bank. Keep the value of your gift under $50 (nobody likes an office suck-up).
Contact our Gift Concierge to have a thoughtfully curated collection of local goods put together for your boss. Batch Nashville is open in the Nashville Farmers Market Monday-Thursday 10am-6pm, Friday-Saturday 9am-8pm, and Sunday 9am-6pm.
If you don't have YouTube or haven't been to a business conference in the last 10 years or so, then I get it if you're not familiar with Simon Sinek and his "Start With Why" concept.
For the video version, just hit play below to be the 47 millionth person to watch:
And for the Cliff Notes version, it's relatively simple: companies that focus on why they do what they do, in addition to what they actually do, are more successful. They earn more customers, have more motivated employees, and can reach more people.
Here's our example at Batch:
What we do: Curate gifts for any occasion by sourcing from the best Southern artisan makers.
Why we do it: To understand, support, and champion the local maker.
This is why not only have we packed and delivered close to 100,000 gifts in our six years, but we've also worked with about 300 small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is why when you shop with us (as opposed to larger gifts companies that freeze fruit all year in order to ship it at Christmas) you're doing more than buying stuff in a box. You're helping real humans and families live their dream and change their future.
Speaking of, I was curious about why our purveyors do what they do, so I asked a few to take us behind the scenes and share more of their "Why."
Southern Firefly makes awesome candles that "bring the elegant and simple charm of the south into your home." And when I asked Heather Ainsworth, founder and CEO, about their reason for doing what they do, she told me:
"We created Southern Firefly Candle Co. to pay homage to our southern roots. Through our Destination line we try to capture the memories of home or to set new memories about discovering a new location. The fragrances were carefully considered to evoke connection in your life. We strive to have the highest quality product by sourcing our elements locally and having a connection with the people we work with. The most important part of a candle is the fragrance and we work closely with our fragrance house to provide the most unique and luxurious fragrance choices. Our Why is to provide the best customer experience we can."
In other words, it's not only about the candles. Candles just happen to be the vehicle in order to connect with and work with folks nearby and to delight a quickly-growing customer base.
And as for Teneal Ivery, who created Nashville's first organic cotton candy company, she let me know that she wants "the people I encounter to be able to count on me. As a team we work hard to provide lasting memories and quality along with amazing cotton candy!"
Then she went a step deeper and detailed her company values for me, which include "characteristics like consistency, integrity, uniqueness, and quality. It is very important that we provide a product and service that our community can count on. We want our customers to be able to count on us to deliver a great experience and boastful flavors every time. I do this because I have found there is no better thing to do than be responsible for drumming up nostalgic memories and creating new ones with a puff of cotton candy."
Comment's like Heather's and Teneal's further fuel our "Why" at Batch. When we find great local entrepreneurs focused on deeper meaning and incredible customer experiences, it continues to boost our team and customers, too.
And that's the best thing about a business that's found its "Why": it's contagious.
(If you missed last week's post about why entrepreneurs need more than passion when starting and growing a business, catch up by clicking here.)
It's a common refrain at nearly any business conference: "You can turn your passion into your profession!"
Scour the aisles (digital or physical) of the self-help or business sections of a bookstore and you'll see countless books promising that you can succeed at work and life just by unlocking, discovering, unleashing, harnessing, or embracing your passion.
And judging by the current #hustleculture images on Instagram, if any of us just #hustle and keep our passion front and center, we too can be living the dream while running our businesses from the sands of Bali or our AirBnB cabin in Vail.
I call #bullsh*t.
Any successful business needs more than passion. I know it and the 300+ entrepreneurs we've worked with at Batch know it.
For example, Shannon Bennett, with Creative Crayons Workshop says, "Successful entrepreneurship requires passion, but passion alone will not lead to success. I'm a visual person so I can relate this to a sandwich with passion being the bread. You need bread to have a sandwich. But who would ever eat a bread sandwich without something great in it?!"
So what else is needed? She goes on to say, "Integrity is a key ingredient to mix with passion when it comes to business. I can be passionate about something all day long and attract people with my passion, but the second I don't follow through on my word, work ethic, or the product I stand by proves mediocre and not excellent, that passion leads to a dead end without integrity backing it up. I've heard that passion can spread like a wild fire and I believe that is true, but I believe it needs to be coupled with integrity which will keep the fire burning when present, or quickly bring the blaze to a smolder when in lack."
Passion is only the first step. Deeper values are needed to make a business successful. When I speak to budding entrepreneurs, one lesson I hope they leave with is that passion can get you started - it's what may spark an idea and motivate you to stay up late working on it to get it launched. But you need talent - a great product or service - to actually get to the finish line of success.
This idea seems to be confirmed by Laura Kimball, of TruBee. When asked about passion, she told me, "Passion isn't enough to move an entrepreneur, or any worker, through the challenges of starting and maintaining a business. That's naive. I think passion is the spark that ignites the desire to work hard at something you love, but passion can never be a substitute for the work.
"I had the privilege of interviewing the Indigo Girls years ago (in another life and job), and I asked them how they stay passionate about singing "Closer to Fine" over and over. There was a pause. Then Emily Saliers said that the fans are what keep them passionate about that song, hearing the enthusiasm of the crowd when they strike those familiar chords.
"I would guess that playing that song — hearing how it connects with others — also reminded them of why they were in it, why they wrote that song. I bet some days they just show up, tune the guitars and hope the passion comes. Every time somebody tells me that our beeswax lip balm is their favorite, their go-to, the thing they give everyone for Christmas, it reminds me of why I do what I do.
"It reminds me that I'm a creative person, a maker, somebody who has chosen a different path. Some days I don't feel the passion, and I don't feel creative. I do feel the pressure to finish what I've started, though, so I guess the other ingredient to entrepreneurial, or life, success is the willingness to peck away at the work and hope the passion comes through again in the process."
It's fine, then, to let passion be your compass, your true north pointing to your Why, but don't let it be a substitute for an actual business model, skill, a solid marketing strategy, and great service.
Anyone selling you, the entrepreneur, on the idea that with a little passion you can have a lot of success is a fraud. Run from them.
Instead, run toward your work. Continue to get better. Measure your results and plan your next feature, product, or campaign. Because while passion can get you excited, you'll need more than that to be - and stay - successful.
Who taught you to sew?
My Mom. She sewed and made a lot of my and my sister’s clothing.
What was the first sewing project you ever completed?
I remember making scrunchies (when they were cool the first time). The first big thing I can remember (other than the scrunchies!) is a dress.
What’s your process for creating patterns?
I’m always doodling ideas and shapes and most of the time I’ll jump right into making the pattern. Pattern-making is just a process of cutting out shapes in pattern paper and figuring out how they fit together. It involves lots of math, so it’s a good thing I loved geometry in high school!
What’s one of your favorite items you’ve made that you don’t sell?
The bag I’m carrying right now is a donut crossbody bag! I don’t know why I made it. One day, I was just craving donuts and trying to come up with something new, and voila! Donut bag was born.
Do you still sew for fun when you’re not working?
I do! I’ve recently started making clothing again from store-bought patterns. I was just thinking I need to find another hobby that doesn’t include sewing, but I guess you stick to what you know?!
Do you have any favorite music you listen to while you're sewing?
Actually, I listen to a lot of podcasts. It probably sounds weird, but music is too distracting for me. I’m really into any and all crime podcasts, but my favorite it the history/comedy podcast, The Dollop.
How did you end up in Music City?
I grew up in Dublin, Georgia, but ended up randomly living in Savannah after college. One day I decided to “follow my dreams” and apply to the Accessory Design Master’s Program at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). For some reason, they accepted me! After graduating, I worked in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas for various design companies. While in Dallas, I was able to quit my job and fully invest into Bubo Handmade. It was then we realized we could live anywhere we wanted, and we landed on Nashville after only one visit. It’s close to family, and it’s a good-sized city without feeling too insane. Yes, traffic is bad… but try a commute in LA, and then we’ll talk!
What’s your favorite thing about working for yourself?
Not having to answer to anyone else (other than the customer!).
What has been a surprising challenge for you as a one-woman operation?
Oh man, everything? Right now, it’s keeping up with online trends, and figuring out things like algorithms for advertising on social media. Aside from it being time-consuming, feeling like I have to maintain an active online presence is challenging, because I’m kind of a private person. You have to put yourself out there and promote yourself, which is something I’ve never been good at.
What’s a milestone in the growth of your business that’s made you really proud?
West Elm reached out to me a few years ago about participating in their WE Local program. They feature local artists in many of their stores, and for a few years I was also featured in their online shop. They gave me a lot of valuable advice on wholesaling and making my brand look more professional. They were great to work with, and it really helped me grow in my early years.
How have you seen tactile, skill-based fields like sewing evolve over time in today’s internet-based world?
The internet has changed everything! It has given makers and artisans the ability to present our work and cast a much wider net. It can also be a great educational platform for acquiring the skills necessary to sell our products more successfully. However, major online shopping platforms have also changed a lot about how people shop, and reshaped how makers have to sell in order to stay visible and competitive. There is increased pressure to conform to the practices of larger online stores, and artisans like myself are trying to figure out how to entice shoppers who have gotten used to speed and a quick turn-around.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside in Nashville?
Shelby Bottoms Park is my favorite spot to take a lunch, people watch, and just sit and enjoy the day!
What are some other locally-made, artisan brands you like?
There are so many! I encourage everyone to get out to local craft shows. You’ll be blown away by the talent! A few of my faves are Black Sheep Goods, Garner Blue, Simon and Ruby, and Twigs and Roots—all women-lead!
Follow Kristen on Instagram @bubohandmade! Find Kristen's handcrafted leather products at Batch, located in the Nashville Farmers Market at 900 Rosa Parks Blvd.
Hatch Show Print will host a two-day event on September 14-15 celebrating works on paper in the Haley Gallery. Visitors can witness the printing of monumental wood-block prints carved by artists from throughout the region. During this time, BIG INK will assemble a giant, portable printing press inside Hatch Show Print’s Gallery for the sole purpose of helping artists print these wood blocks, some of which can reach nearly 4 x 8 feet in dimension.
Food & Drink What
Get tickets for Music City Food + Wine festival coming up September 20-22. All weekend long, mingle with chefs and indulge in artisanal food, wine, beer, and spirits from 80+ purveyors at The Grand Taste. This year’s food chefs and celebs include: Aarón Sánchez, Carla Hall, Masaharu Morimoto, Rick Bayless, Sarah Grueneberg, Jonathan Waxman, Cheetie Kumar, JJ Johnson, Tim Love, Deb Paquette, and many more.
Event WhatTune in to PBS to watch what Ken Burns calls “American history firing on all cylinders.” Burns’ 16-and-a-half hour documentary on country music starts on September 15th. To get ready, watch Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating the Film by Ken Burns that took place on March 27, 2019.
There’s an awards show tonight at The Ryman and you can listen to the full awards program will be streamed live online (via NPR Music) and broadcast on the radio (100.1-FM WRLT, 89.5-FM WMOT and 650-AM WSM). Based on past award winners (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit won three of the awards in 2018 and Johnny Cash won three awards in 2003), the voters know what Americana music is when they hear it but that doesn’t help describe it. The sound is broad (country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues) with roots in acoustic music but often played with a full electric band. The genre is an inclusive, mellifluous miscellany of singers, songwriters and instrumentalists. It is a reaction to restrictive, curmudgeonly gatekeepers of country music (just ask L’il Nas X if country is welcoming) who have decided that pop/bro country is the current sound of country. To figure it out for yourself, listen to Americana Music Association® playlists of this year’s performers and go to Grimey’s Americanarama XII on Saturday. To help you decide what shows to go to Nashville Scene created a quick-reference guide to AmericanaFest 2019.
We’ve had so many thunderstorms this Summer, that several of Cinema by JW’s events have been rescheduled to later dates. There’s one last showing of Sleepless in Seattle on Monday, September 16th! The movie starts at sundown on the JW lawn, and tickets are free on Eventbrite. Enjoy popcorn and s’mores on a cozy plaid blanket beneath the city lights and stars!
Street Eats is a weekly food truck feast that lines Deaderick Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. Up to 20 local food trucks will serve a variety of fares from 11am-2pm, so take a mid-day break to go chow down with your Nashville neighbors!
Musicians Corner hosts September Sundown every Thursday in Centennial Park from 5-9pm. This weekly series showcases local artisans, food trucks, and, of course--musicians. The September 19th lineup includes Dylan LeBlanc, Super Doppler, Pet Envy, Amber Woodhouse, and Amilia K Spicer.
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival hosts their Shakespeare in the Park series every year, and this Summer’s last performance will be The Tempest, followed by Pericles. Food and drink vendors open at 5:45pm, and the show begins at 7pm on Sunday, September 22nd at oneC1TY. Summer Shakespeare is always free, but donations are encouraged.