About a month ago I got a message from my friend, Daniel Lozada. Daniel lives in NYC but is originally from Cleveland. We met for the first time when I was in NYC for NYFW in February. In his message he told me he was going to be in Cleveland in the next month and asked if I'd be willing to host a creative meetup with him and wanted to know if I thought this idea was even possible. I said we'd make it happen.
We got started by having conference calls where we brainstormed. What did this meetup look like to us? What did we need to make this possible? What connections did we have that we could use? What do we call this? What is our purpose?
We then assigned tasks to keep each other accountable. We were constantly checking in with one another--asking for progress reports and updates.
What is Creatively Speaking:
A bringing together of the Cleveland creative community, from amateurs to professionals to independent artists, to hear from others who are still in the process of the challenging journey of pursuing a creative life. The first event will focus on the photography community. A live panel discussion with photographers, model and stylists will offer insight and inspiration to not wait for the right time to create but to just do it. A few of the topics highlighted will be how to get started, etiquette when reaching out for collaborations and safety of models in a working dynamic. (Pictured to the right was our first draft of the event flyers)
Short story, because no one else has done anything quite like this in Cleveland. Long story...we want to bring back the true meaning of community to creatives in the NE Ohio region. Community is about collaboration and not competition. By shifting the culture back towards helping each other along in many ways and capacities, we can inject the midwestern heart that we are known for into the up and coming talent that Cleveland has to offer.
What differentiates this event is that it will provide a voice and a platform not only for those who are professionals and have reached, by traditional standards, a “successful” level in the creative world, but it will include the young man or woman who has a very special eye and style that is not being widely recognized.
Photo below by Juan C Barroso of myself, Daniel, and our fam of panelists
How did we make this a reality?
The first people we reached out for this event were our panelists. We assembled a "dream team" of panelists for the event with a good variety of skillsets who we felt offered a unique perspective. A perspective that would be valued by attendees. Our dream team included: Ashley Monique professional model, Danny Murtaugh generalist photographer, Emily Bender artist, Mallory Morris social influencer and content creator, and Natalie Colwell makeup artist.
They all agreed to be on the panel.
We then reached out to potential sponsors for the event. We didn't ask for money from anyone. We just needed some things to make this event a reality. So we reached out to businesses and people that could loan us these items in exchange for being a sponsor and their business getting exposure at the event.
Who were our sponsors? And how did we get them to sponsor?
All of our sponsors were people and businesses that we had personal connections to for the most part. For example: YM Camera is run by one of my friends from college. Wild Cactus Boutique is walking distance from my apartment and I have done several shoots for them. I originally got my connection with them via reaching out direct message style on instagram. We reached out to all our sponsors in the way that we normally communicate to them by. Some I texted, some emailed, some dm'd on instagram. We knew them well enough to know a preferred method of communication--which is very important when you ask something of someone. Another important aspect when asking things from others is to eliminate all uncertainty. Be as clear as you can about why what they have is of value to you, what exactly you need it for, how you will be benefiting them through this, etc.
List of our sponsors:
The H: The H is a online creative community that both myself and Daniel are a part of. They created our flyer and sent it to all their members so we could have a broader reach.
King's Church: I go to King's Church and Daniel did too when he was in Cleveland. They were generous in allowing us to use their office space in the Artcraft Building for the event.
YM Camera: They let us use a backdrop stand, backdrop, and a ProMaster 1000D Specialist 2 LED light kit. We wanted, along with the panel, to have a creative space set up so people could create together while being at the event. People could work together and learn firsthand from one another.
Wild Cactus Boutique and Emily Roggenburk: They both contributed to wardrobe. How could we amp up the creative space area? By offering wardrobe options for models to be styled in, supplied by local businesses.
Room Service Boutique: They gave us some items to use as a giveaway at the event. They also let us borrow a clothing rack so we could properly hang all of the wardrobe options.
Because of all of our sponsors, we were able to put on this event for zero cost. We were also able to make this event free for attendees.