TSC Member Monday: July 2023

Aug 7 2023

by Ellie Watkins

tsc July member Monday
truett designs

Meet Truett Fink Of Truett Designs

Creativity has always been in my DNA. Since I can remember, I was always enrolled in an art class, being taken by my mother to interior stores in the Atlanta area, or observing the art shows my parents would host in my childhood home. 

Surrounded by so much love for creativity, I completed my degree in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production at Auburn University. Nearly two decades later, I found myself with a glowing career in sales and merchandising that landed me in partnership with one of America’s largest private companies and a Forbes Halo 100 company. But I discovered I was missing my first loves: art and design.
Three years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, my daughters found a watercolor piece that I painted as a child: a simple bluebird. Not long after, I stumbled upon a family treasure: a bolster of handmade fabric from England from the 1960s, saved by late grandmother. The fabric was still in beautiful condition, and it reminded me of my grandmother’s and mother’s immaculate style in their own homes.
These found treasures felt like clear messages to pursue the things that have always brought me (and the incredible mentors in my life) joy. I used the extra time afforded by the pandemic to pick up a paintbrush once again. Inspired by my travels, my passion for storytelling, interior design and my love of nature, I started back painting using various mediums. As a person of faith with a love of family, I also wanted my work to showcase the beauty of nature in God’s design and to honor the women in my life who taught me so much about creativity.
These paintings would become the basis for my collections at Truett Designs.  


Why did you join TSC Membership?

I joined TSC so I could be in the “cool” club! Seriously though, I joined to meet and network with other like-minded, hardworking, creative women. Women that I could learn from and that I could inspire. I thrive on celebrating and lifting up other women – so much so that I built my entire business around doing just that! I was also craving the connection with women that could understand the struggles that I deal with on a daily basis because they are dealing with the same. It takes a massive weight off my shoulders every time I have a conversation with a fellow boss babe, and I don’t have to explain what is going on with me because they just get it.

What is a favorite small business you like to shop or support?

OMG so many! Hold onto your boots – incoming!

@theblakeatl, @laurensmithdesignsllc, @eliselyon_art, @alicetrahantphillips.art, @wondermint.goods, @themonicafarber, @shoptaylorreese, @emilyannedesigns, @riddle_oil, @marykkendig, @jkeimstudio, @baublestockings, @kmmcollective, @mignonnegavigan, @scarterdesigns @blairsbelts, @meanwhilebackonthefarm …. and million more that I am sure I am forgetting!

Where do you go to get your inspiration now?

I always tend to be inspired by my travels, nature, estate sale finds that remind me of a fond memory, and interior design.

What is the best business advice you have ever given or received?

I wouldn’t consider this direct advice from one person, but more of something that’s been engrained in me from my past work experiences, which is knowing who you are and your core values, and staying true to those core values.

I think probably the most difficult direct advice I received, but also probably some of the best was from a former CEO “No Excuses”, Define the problem and create a plan for the solution.

tori brinson

Meet Tori Brinson Of Home + Vine

I’m Tori Brinson and I own & operate a lifestyle boutique in the university town of Auburn, AL. I’ve been married for almost 24 years and have a daughter & two sons. I got my BS degree from Auburn University in Apparel Merchandising, Design & Production and worked in children’s wear as a designer up until I became a stay at home mom. I dabbled in a few creative side hustles during those years, including interior decorating and eventually started a floral design business. That venture finally led to my longtime dream of opening a retail shop! Because I love all facets of design, I felt like my store needed to reflect that, so I decided to offer our community a place they could come in and find a carefully curated collection of a little bit of everything! We carry home decor apparel, accessories, gifts & even grab & go florals!

Why did you join TSC Membership?

I joined TSC because I started noticing a pattern of successful creative business women that I followed on IG were also members and quickly saw what a great community of inspiring women TSC represents!

What is a favorite small business you like to shop or support?

My favorite small businesses I love to shop are BURU, WKWD WYFR, Hill House & Hampton Road Designs!

Where do you go to get your inspiration now?

I get so much inspiration from traveling and visiting different cultures overseas. I love to go to local museums and shoppes but my very favorite thing and most inspiring is finding work made by local artists. I almost always come home with original street art from my travels!

What is the best business advice you have ever given or received?

Best business advice I’ve been given is to be yourself & don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Because people are essentially buying YOU, not just the product you’re selling!

Emily trotter

Meet Emily Trotter Of Nothin’ But Fine

Emily Trotter is a college educated theatre major turned wife and mother turned…podcast queen.  She grew up in a (Southern Gospel) musical family that put her backstage in some of the best venues in the country.  Clearly the performance gene is in her blood.  In 2020, when the world shut down, Emily needed a platform for her weekly Bible study.  After a year on Instagram, Nothin But Fine was born and is the home of Coffee Talk, Bible Talk and Let’s Talk.  Emily and her small Nothin But Fine team aim to entertain, inform, and foster community.  We all have something to share!



Why did you join TSC Membership?

For years, I watched as women I knew and admired would head to Sea Island for The Southern C Summit that looked like some of the most fun to be had. I kept saying that I was going to go one day and when I actually had a business of my own I signed right up. The fun was the instigator, the possibility of networking with potential listeners was the motivation, but the connections and friends, even if they are social media friends, made are the reward.

What is a favorite small business you like to shop or support?

Rebecca & Maria’s @rebeccaandmarias

Varnish (of course)

Pop Yoga Studio @popyogacolumbus

Quest Pilates Studio @questpilatesstudio

Fountain City Coffee @fountaincitycoffee

The Columbusite @thecolumbusite

Grey Hall Designs @greyhalldesigns

Park Place Interiors @parkplacemidtown

Highland Galerie @highlandgalerie

Truth Spring, Inc @truthspring_inc

Fields of Grace Flower Farm @fieldsofgraceflowerfarm

**I could literally go on and on about small businesses I love. I’ll just stop now.

Where do you go to get your inspiration now?

I am daily inspired by my husband, Jim and our 4 boys. They all truly make me a better person. They push me to my limits in all the best ways…and sometimes the worst ways if I’m being honest. They for real think I can do anything and encourage me to try.

My extended family is pretty awesome. I am surrounded by people that all have different gifts and the way they use them is magical.

Helen Varner Manderson is my co-host on coffee talk and she makes me laugh so much.

Carrie Beth Wallace is a new friend that has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I will be forever grateful for her encouragement. She has built her business of supporting the arts in such an admirable way. I have learned so much from her.

Carrie and Rob Strickland are a power couple. Their obedience to the Lord is just like no other I have ever seen. Their hearts for the folks that most people overlook are beautiful. I want to be like them when I grow up.

What is the best business advice you have ever given or received?

The best and hardest advice I have been given doing Nothin But Fine is “stay in your lane”. Like Mary Giuliani, I am delusionally optimistic. I have great ideas, but I don’t need to do all of them even if I think I can. (Even if I would 100% rock them.)

Ellie mcnevin

Meet Ellie McNevin Of Birdie Public Relations

I’m Ellie McNevin — founder and head of PR at Birdie Public Relations. I started my career in publishing, working in New York as an editor with Conde Nast and Hearst before moving to the world of PR nine years ago. At Birdie, we focus on helping product-based businesses become household names through personalized PR strategies that break through the noisy media landscape. 

With resources such as video courses, one-on-one consultations and ongoing PR representation available to them, Birdie clients gain confidence in telling their brand story. They are able to reach new audiences through innovative brand positioning, targeted press placements and strategic events and partnerships.


Why did you join TSC Membership?

I joined the membership as a way to stay connected to the wonderful women that I met at The Southern C Summit. They are all so incredibly talented and I love the opportunity to continue to learn from them throughout the year. They have been so encouraging as we launched our video course earlier this year!

What is a favorite small business you like to shop or support?

This is such a hard question because we work with so many incredible small and medium businesses on a daily basis! With that said, I would have to say Poppy Gifting (first timers at The Southern C Summit this year!) as they are so wonderful about curating lovely gifts from our clients and so many other small businesses throughout the year. They are a great resource for business owners and can help keep gifting tasks moving as we know personal gifts are so vital for relationship building!

Where do you go to get your inspiration now?

I know this is quite random, but at the moment, I’m very inspired by the principles of feng shui. It’s been transformative in clearing mental clutter so I can create space for big picture thinking. I’ve just ordered “Feng Shui Modern” by Cliff Tan and Marie Kondo’s new book “Kurashi at Home,” while not specifically about feng shui, is an incredible read and very in line with feng shui principles.

What is the best business advice you have ever given or received?

It was such an important lesson for me to learn early on that it’s okay to say no if something isn’t the right fit or isn’t doable in the allocated time frame. When you’re running a business, I think there is always a fear that the calls will stop coming, but saying no when something isn’t quite the right fit allows us to go deeper with the clients that are a fit and create more compelling work together.

carrie Pittman hill


Meet Carrie Pittman Hill Of Carrie Pittman Hill Art & Canvas!

I’m Carrie Pittman Hill from Birmingham, AL. I found my calling in painting exhausted from the grind of sales and corporate jobs. My work is expressive, fluid and usually fun! I thrive in the creative process and love meeting new people in every project I have. I truly believe that art speaks its own language and I love bringing that message to life for my clients. I have enjoyed hand painting bags, pillows, linens, and clothing in order to share my creations further. I opened a retail store in 2021 called CANVAS! 


Why did you join TSC Membership?

I love TSC! I believe in iron sharpening iron. I want to be a part of something greater and bigger and this is definitely it. There are so many dynamic women and valuable resources in this group. I attended the Summit in 2020 and was hooked!

What is a favorite small business you like to shop or support?

This one is tough! I’m scared I’ll leave someone out! Birmingham and TSC have a lot of small businesses that I love! The owners and the products make it for me! Favor Candles, Truett Designs, Bauble Stockings, Real and Rosemary, Salted, Mary and Wilma, Vine and Branch… I could go on and on.

Where do you go to get your inspiration now?

My inspiration now is coming from me slowing down and enjoying this season in life. With a retail store, you can be so driven by what’s trending or selling or the latest “hot” color. I’m trying to tap into myself and what I feel like creating. I believe in being true to myself and my best work will emerge.

What is the best business advice you have ever given or received?

It may not be the best advice but the advice that sticks out the most in my entire career is “you don’t know, if you don’t ask.” “The worst thing someone can tell you is ‘no’”, from my Father. He has been a successful businessman and taught me to go out and ask and try. This statement has kept me going and believing in myself when I didn’t want to. Believing in who you are and the talents you individually possess is invaluable in discouraging times in your business!


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