Big Bad Business series welcomes new cohort of entrepreneurs

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council launched the second round of its Big Bad Business incubators and welcomed their new cohort of local entrepreneurs during a reception on Sunday night at The Edison in the presence of their first round of participants.

The BBB series is a partnership between YAC and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation that gives artists, business owners, inventors and startup enthusiasts the chance to develop their budding businesses into sustainable and long-term ventures through monthly workshops and access to valuable resources. 

The series is perfect for any business owner from the food industry to photography and art to fashion.

It is a rare occasion that all the participants could get together and mingle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so everyone was eager to finally get together after a year of virtual meetings and sparse events.

YAC Executive Director Wayne Andrews said this next round will take notes from the previous round and focus more on collaboration.

“There is a definite need for group gathering,” said Andrews. “[Working] individually worked, but getting together as a group and helping people feel connected as they saw other people moving forward helps them feel a part of it. They see someone else succeeding and they think, ‘That’s going to happen for me, too.’”

The second round participants are LaChel Holland of Ms. Queenie Closet, Joe Stinchcomb of Bar Muse, Danny Klimetz of Danny K Photography, Angee Montgomery of Angee Montgomery Studio, and Lavender and Natoria Foster of Foster’s Sweeties.

Natoria and her husband Lavender said they had no idea about the BBB series before signing up through the help of a friend, but now they can say it was one of the best decisions they ever made. The duo wants to take their business to the next level and BBB was the best fit for them.

“We really need that next step of a commercial kitchen, so that we can branch out and grow the business,” said Natoria. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s unbelievable that something like this exists in Oxford and I love the initiative of putting Oxford on the map for a good reason.”

Participants will be mentored and coached by local and successful entrepreneurs and previous lab participants and they will receive the opportunity to network and build connections. Founder of Collegiate Tutoring Lee Ingram will not work in an official creative-in-residence capacity, but he is still going to do all that he can to help the program in the future.

“It was an honor to get to mentor other entrepreneurs in the community as a creative-in-residence and I do look forward to the next cycle where we take what we’ve learned here and make it better,” said Ingram. “I’m still going to be hanging around in the background and giving advice. I just love entrepreneurship and I’m excited to see it growing in Oxford.”

The lab will provide nine months of studio, performance/exhibition/retail, and interactive work spaces for two cohorts of 4 to 6 supported entrepreneurial artists in all media. They will be linked with the community, including potential clients and customers, through open studio hours, knowledge exchange sessions, community gatherings, and arts-focused events — all within the safety constraints of Covid-19.

YAC is set on taking entrepreneurs and business owning in the LOU community beyond the limits that were set before them.

“We’re just really excited for entrepreneurs of this newer set of creatives to get started on their projects and to connect with the previous cohort,” said Meghan Gallagher, YAC Outreach & Education Coordinator. “It just helps to know people and to bounce off each other.”

YAC free workshop series starts up in January 2022 and is open to the public BBB lab participants will also be in attendance.

For more information on the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s Big Bad Business series and their programs, visit www.oxfordarts.com/programs/arts-incubator.