In light of my most recent post, I thought it fitting to answer this question—-what have I been doing???
It’s so interesting to me that minus the year I wrote the book, these last couple of years have been my most creative…and I’ve barely recorded it. So what I have I been doing?
I’ll take you back a bit. When we opened Factory South in Opelika, Alabama, I’ve gotta tell you. It was just a God thing. The places, the town, the people. Lord have mercy, the people. You know how you just meet people and know they’re going to play a bigger role in your life than you are prepared for at the time?
That’s John & Ashely for me.
I met the Marsh’s that fall of 2014, and my partner and I just clicked with them. They’re totally down to earth, and love people right where they are. They welcomed us into Opelika with open arms, and we began to work with them, not only as landlords, but with their marketing team as well. Meetings with them, which happened about once a month, were a highlight, and to be honest, I always felt like John just got me. As a business person, a wife, a mom, a weirdo…I’ve joked with him since the beginning and told him he could straight up see into my soul. And he kinda can. ( I cannot wait to tell you more about their personal story). More on them soon.
I digress. After the store had been open about 8 or 9 months, we decided it was going to be too difficult to keep it open living so far away, and the Marsh’s bought the brand. I remember Ash saying she wanted to steward what we started, and that if I ever wanted it back, it was mine. Who knows what will happen in the future, but their support and goal to care for what we began meant everything at the time.
Shortly before April (when we closed on that deal), I told them I wanted to work with them. I didn’t know doing what or how, but I just knew I was supposed to…or it felt like that anyway. I started by working about 20 hours a week, driving up twice. I’d spend my time doing all kinds of things that I would be doing for PI, too. We were setting up websites, and working on marketing materials, social media content, etc.
Back to them…so Marsh Collective is a bit of an empire (just makes me laugh to call it that). The companies involved are real estate in historic downtown Opeilika, an event warehouse, business and town planning, retail, restaurants, and a whole bunch of stuff. We describe it this way….
“We are a collective enterprise of people dedicated to making a generational difference by adding value to people and places. We are makers. We are visionaries. We are a family. We are a group of entrepreneurs, visionaries, space and place makers who work collectively to bring about redemptive purposes into the world. We help people and companies bridge the gap between their objectives and implementation. We make connections. We design with passion and serve with purpose. Lastly, we love what we do – and that’s most important thing.”
And while now, the collective is made up of many of us (guess I say that now?) that are entrepreneurs and business people who have a passion for transformation and design and connecting with other like minded people, it all started with John & Ashely.
I honestly want to get them in front of a camera to tell you a little bit of their story, but I’m gonna give you the gist. It’s a doozie, so stay tuned for that…
So that’s what I’ve been doing. My days are spent in that office up there, or out shooting for Factory South & Ampersand Wine Bar, & MC in general, helping Ashely with the Southerly events, or making a quick trip to market, helping guide the direction for social media, and of course, design.
It’s really incredibly interesting (and challenging) for me to continue building my own brand, and yet working with other people who do what I do on a larger scale, and hopefully in turn, helping them grow theirs.
So several weeks ago, when the opportunity came for me to be there full time, I took it. I’d set some goals for my physical location in Troy, and while it’s been really bittersweet to close this chapter of retail in my life, I recognize it was great. Great for a season.
And now PI has really come full circle. My focus is design, and helping other folks in their homes or businesses, and writing. Sharing this messed up, random story of mine. I’ll give you details along the way, but there you go.
That answers the question. I think.