Connecting with people in passing is one of the pleasurable rhythms that a small southern town fosters. When I moved to Thomasville, Georgia I learned very quickly that if I wanted to pop into a shop downtown, I needed to add on some time to stop and talk. Time to talk about the weather, about where I’d visited recently, about my children. But almost never did I talk about my business (the one thing I wanted to talk about). It felt pretty lonely.
Luckily I have a sister-in-law, Nan, who also has a business and she’s pretty dang dialed in. As the owner of Firefly she gets to leave Thomasville a few times a year to work – to connect – at gift shows in Atlanta, New York and beyond (ask her about the gift show in Scotland next time you see her)! She mentioned that she would be presenting at a Southern C Summit in Nashville (Fall 2013) with Amy Flurry of Recipe for Press fame and maybe I’d like to come along and share a room and maybe we should take some other friends, like Michele Arwood (Editor and Publisher of THOM Magazine), too? Yes, yes, and yes!
Boy am I glad that I tagged along. Immediately I felt the hum in the room, the buzz (or maybe that was the sugar in the multiple on-the-spot-made pralines that I devoured), the connections and collaborations literally forming in the spaces between presentations. These were my people!
It was clear that Cheri and Whitney had created something very special, something compelling. Something that was much bigger than the room we were in.
We came home and Michele enlisted Bunny Byrne (you may have met her at the 2015 Charleston Summit) to write a beautifully worded and thoughtful article in the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of THOM Magazine.
Later that Spring we also brought Lee Epting to Thomasville with Schermer Pecans to make pralines at Due South (a music festival in Thomasville). That never would have happened if I hadn’t seen that magical copper kettle in Nashville. Those couple of days in Nashville changed my business reality. I was no longer feeling lonely or isolated, I felt a part of something bigger, I felt connected to a creative world outside of Thomasville.
I knew I had to get to the next Summit, to feel that hum again, come hell or high water. So I talked Nan into collaborating on a “Taste of Thomasville” sponsored break at the first Charleston Summit in April of 2014. She styled it and we brought copies of THOM magazine, Sweet Grass Dairy cheese, Schermer Pecans and Blackberry Patch jams and syrups, all clients of mine, all from Thomasville and all part of our shared southern story. That was really just the beginning.
Fast forward to 2016 and…
I’m speaking again in Sea Island (pinch me!) and I’m part of the most fun and rewarding speaker/sponsor, speaker/attendee and sponsor/sponsor collaborations known to man. The best part? I know I’m not alone. I’d love to document the impressive list of connections made and collaborations built around the work that Cheri and Whitney are doing.
Let’s start a list! Leave me a comment if you’ve worked with another Southern C alum, sponsor or speaker and tell me what you’re up to! And for goodness sake, run, don’t walk, to the 2017 Southern C Summit on Sea Island.