Join in celebrating community-supported arts

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council cordially invites Lafayette County and Oxford residents to attend the CSA (community supported arts) program’s culminating exhibit and reception on June 24 at 6 p.m. at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center for the four small businesses which participated in the incubator program this spring. Creative entrepreneurs and startups can also network and learn about free small business resources within the community.

KasinoKustomz, 5 Lights Candle Company, Kei Gourmet, and Quasar participated in small business workshops through the Big Bad Business Series as well as individual professional development sessions. They also piloted new ideas in order to achieve a business goal and help them grow their business. 

C.J. Cook of KasinoKustomz creates personalized apparel and shoes. Using special paints, he turns shoes into a canvas to create wearable works of art that reflect the wearer’s personality. Themes are heavily focused on cartoons and animated characters. Cook’s goal was to purchase better equipment to paint his custom artwork. He is raffling off a customized pair of tennis shoes as his CSA share. 

As Cook grew his social media presence, he has sold raffle tickets across the country and is exploring opportunities to sell his wearable works of art at high end retailers. Cook is an Oxford native and graduate of Oxford High School. 

Erin McDonald founded Five Lights Candle Company and has used the program to grow her social media and website presence and to raise funds to purchase bulk products and equipment. Her shares include sample candles that she has created. Keiona Jackson of Kei Gourmet is the first black executive chef in Oxford and has worked to develop a line of sauces, which are available as one of her share items. 

Quasar has worked on establishing their nonprofit status and to raise funds to re-establish a biannual printed magazine and to expand Quasar’s programs in the community. Their shares include a copy of the newest edition of their literary magazine. You can see all the shares and learn more about each entrepreneur at oxfordarts.com/csa.

“Starting a small business, particularly in the creative arts community, can be a lonely, challenging journey. There are resources in the community to help you work through obstacles, and there are great people who are on the journey themselves. The Arts Incubator, the CSA, the Economic Development Foundation, and the professionals at Lyceum Brew are all great resources for our entrepreneurs,” explained Meghan Gallagher, coordinator of the CSA program and Arts Incubator.

The creative economy generates nearly $11 million each year to Lafayette County’s economy and draws over 200,000 tourists and visitors each year. It just makes sense to continue to grow these local, creative small businesses.

The CSA exhibit and culminating reception are free and open to the public. Learn more at incubator.oxfordarts.com or contact YAC staff at 662-236-6429 for questions related to a disability.

 

Wayne Andrews is chairman of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.