A creative spark was lit when Rowanne McKnight met Allison Williamson, Founder of the Artist Collective, at the 2015 Southern C Summit in Charleston. McKnight was in sales for a Nashville technology company, but was instantly intrigued by Allison’s business, The Charleston Artist Collective, an online gallery featuring original, affordable work by local artists. “I recognized the awesome potential of Allison’s business model and knew it would be a success in Nashville. I’ve always loved art and the thought of marrying a passion with my sales and business experience was inspiring. I couldn’t help but make a pitch to expand with an Artist Collective in Music City.”
The idea clicked with Williamson. She had recently launched the Atlanta Artist Collective with local Director Laine Kilburn and was eager to expand. Williamson and McKnight hammered out details of their partnership and researched the Nashville market for almost a year. With their vision in place, they kicked off the Nashville Artist Collective in the Fall of 2017 and haven’t looked back.
Both veterans of the Southern C, Williamson and McKnight recognize the invaluable networking opportunities the Summit provides. “It’s a quality group of proven business women,” says Williamson. “You meet interesting people from all industries and the energy and cross-current of ideas is palpable. My city directors (Charleston, Atlanta, Nashville and DC) have attended various Summits, as well as some of our artists. We always leave inspired about how we can make our businesses better.”
McKnight echoes this sentiment, “Access to presenters as well as other attendees is key. The easy interaction and organic exchange of ideas is baked into the Southern C, and the connections remain long after – it’s like having a graduate school alumni network added to your rolodex.”
In addition to their own business partnership, Williamson and McKnight have collaborated with other Southern C connections, including a Nashville Artist Collective + Dear Keaton pop up and a Charleston Artist Collective + Hampden Clothing + Lizzie Fortunato Jewels show in Charleston. Williamson concludes, “Partnering with like-minded people and brands is essential to our growth. We have exciting new projects bubbling up for 2018. Stay tuned and I’ll see you at the Summit!”