Inspiration: What Have We Learned So Far?

unglazed ceramic llama mug

Have you ever been at work, stopped what you were doing for a moment and gazed into the imaginary distance, thinking, “You know, if I really tried, maybe I could be good at _____.” Or even, “Man, if I had the guts to do it, it sure would be amazing to make [insert your custom dream here] come true.”

Go ahead, take a few moments and do it. Gaze off into that bright horizon and imagine what your life would be like if you could only jump off the cliff of responsibilities and societal norms, and fly!

When Tim and I first started making YouTube videos, we thought it would be all about us just having fun in the city we enjoyed living in. We planned for videos that showed photography tutorials, cool places to go for a run, maybe a nice place to eat. When we started interviewing local entrepreneurs and artists, like Lacey Sutton (shout out to Sutton Ceramics!) something we didn’t really expect happened: we got inspired in a whole new way.

Over and over again, when we see a cool and intriguing business or piece of art, and we harass the proprietor are graciously invited by the proprietor to make a film about it,  we’re struck by the hard workingness (no, not a word. Using it anyway.) and the powerful imagination of the person we’re interviewing. The thing is, we’re meeting and interviewing all kinds of Knoxvillians who decided to just go for it–and they turned their vision into reality.

“But,” you might say, “I don’t have the training or education to do my dream.” Or,

“But,” you might say, “I have too many responsibilities to make my dream come true. Because everyone knows you have to have a stressful, routine, responsible job to support a family.”

Interesting arguments. But …

  • Lacey is a mother of two tiny people. She and her husband are neck-deep in house renovations. But she runs a successful small business (at home!) making whimsical, gorgeous ceramic creations that make her happy, and they make hundreds of other people happy–as is evidenced by how many folks buy up her whole booth every time she sets up at a craft market!
  • Stanton didn’t go to school to learn the art of distilling. He took an intense curiosity and an innate feeling of “You know, I can do this,” studied, experimented and otherwise worked his bum off, and he and his business partners have made a now iconic distillery and tasting room in the Old City. (Video is coming! Keep your lid on!)

    bottle of postmodern spirits gin

  • Robin did go to school to be a designer, but when she started her own business, there wasn’t a single other woman-owned agency in the city. AND she was a mom, with all the mom responsibilities!
  • Jessi taught herself how to silversmith using YouTube videos. WTF? Nevermind how many times she *might* have almost burned her hair off, that’s a heck of a skill to self-teach.
  • Mark and his partner spent hours tasting, researching, practicing and doing it all over again to craft the perfect cup of coffee. And, no, he didn’t get a degree in coffee, or business, or pop-up shops.
  • Randy has experience in adhesive medical products. But his passion was always music, and he started a venue/music school/restaurant and bar to help grow the music community here in Knoxville.

None of the brave entrepreneurs we interviewed followed a straight path to achieving their dreams. Their lives are all complicated, and they all have responsibilities.

But, when they gazed off into the wild blue yonder, wondering what life could be like if they left the beaten path, they all jumped up without a backward glance at their day job and chased their dreams.

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