It’s back to work after a great mid-day show from the
RiffRaff Arts Collective of Princeton, WV.
More on them here: http://www.theriffraff.net/
Panel of Artisan Entrepreneurs – What do we need to
succeed? Lori Midkiff, Merideth
Young and Brad and Jordie Veneri from Tamarack
Merideth – It’s been around 3 years since I started my
artisan jewelry business and I’m now able to make my living full time (my
husband also recently quit his job and now works for me J). It’s nice to be able to run my business from
home and I wouldn’t want to leave to have a shop.
Brad and Jordi – Right now we’re making steel cut and stained-glass
art from home, but only as gifts… we haven’t started to sell anything yet.
Lori – It would be nice to have a studio near a high traffic
or tourist destination to help increase my sales. I’ve also started looking at regional crafts
shows as another way to drive sales.
Group – The classes that we would like to see community
colleges offer are basic business management classes for artisans. We all have incredible skills in painting,
printmaking, etc., but don’t know how to turn all of them into successful
businesses. Pricing especially… it’s
very difficult to decide how much to sell your work for.
Northeast State CC Team Panel: Dr. Janice Gilliam,
President; Dr. Keith Young, Dean of Off Campus Programs and Services; Cindy
Tauscher, Coordinator of Workforce Solutions
Keith – How to define and develop an entrepreneurial
ecosystem? Our definition is an
"interactive community… composed of varied and inter-dependent actors (which)
interact to promote new venture creation.”
The goal is to map the existing network of service providers who work in
business and economic development and identify the gaps and resources that
exist in the community which can help spurn new business development.
Cindy – Developing a curriculum for entrepreneurs involves taking
the information that entrepreneurs learn and turning it into a curriculum that
we can teach. In our case this meant compiling
a list of the activities and duties that entrepreneurs are responsible for,
developing a needs assessment, and designing a class around it.
Economic Outlook, Tourism Industry Panel Discussion – How
do we fuel artisan and tourism businesses as educators and business owners?
Todd Christensen – Executive Director,
Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation; Leslie Baker – Director of
Operations, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine Complex and Campground; Ron Magruder – Previous
Chairman of National Restaurant Association and previous President of Cracker
Barrel; Jackie Whitley, Southern West Virginia CTC (Shared Vision Project Awardee)
Leslie – Students today haven’t been taught good
presentation and communication skills in school, and as a result businesses are
being required to pick up the slack and teach them on the job. How to look people in the eye, give a good
handshake, come appropriately dressed, work with your colleagues, etc. These things are not being taught by colleges
Todd – The biggest thing that I see is that economic
development agencies don’t have as good a relationship with community colleges
as they should, and there needs to be a lot more collaboration there.
Jackie – I think that community colleges can position
themselves to be the trusted, go-to entity for artisans who are interested in
going into business. We can connect them
with the resources and basic skills in customer service and sales that they
need to be successful. Colleges also
need to take advantage of the partnerships they have with groups like the NACCE,
and all of the resources they offer.