theCO sees countless new faces every year, and when the summer rolls around, kids start showing up with their parents to participate in camps, build things in the makerspace, or print pieces on the 3D printer. Dave Roberts and his two sons are no different, as they joined theCO this spring. Dave works a physician assistant and also teaches as an adjunct at Bethel University. He says teaching his EKG class is a reason he enjoys theCO, since it is a workspace outside of his home, where his five kids are constantly running and playing.Read More
Kelly Maust was fascinated by the jewelry that her mother-in-law used to send her from Ecuador. The stones were meticulously polished and shone in a variety of vibrant colors—except they weren’t stones; they were made from palm seeds.
Ecuadorians harvest the seeds, dry them out, and then colorize them with vibrant dyes. They then use the seeds to make lovely and eco-friendly beads, small toys, keychains, ornaments, and more.
Two years ago, when Maust and her husband were visiting his parents for Christmas, Maust had an idea.Read More
Tell me about what you do.
I am between jobs right now. Since graduation, I worked at H&M Company, architects and engineers here in town, but then I started having a sense that this just wasn’t it as far as long-term career. It was a great job, awesome company, great to work for, but it just wasn’t fitting. And so, I decided to quit my job back at the end of the year. I’ve always known that I’m very left-brain, problem-solving, that sort of thing—but also very right-brain, creative, and I needed an outlet to experiment with that. So theCO has been a really great opportunity to try some ideas, work on some things that I’ve been thinking about for a while but just haven’t because I never had the time, so I don’t have a business per say, but I am considering trying to mass-produce what I’ve been working, which is a computer monitor stand.Read More
Tell me a little about yourself. I study history at Union University, and [I’m] about to start my senior year. I just got married a month ago. With my job . . . I do a lot of different things. I work for an insurance technology consulting firm that also does operations management consulting Tampa, Florida. I got connected with my boss a few years ago and have been working for [them] since then. I do kind of the website development. Actually, it's all kind of goes with the same idea. . . . We're resale. We do online trainings online, courses, insurance, and insurance technology. My branch and some other stuff.Read More
Tell me a little about yourself.
I have a health and wellness consulting firm that helps people make small changes in order to improve their lifestyle. During my other time when I'm not busy, I am a mother to two lovely boys. One is in college . . . and my youngest is in middle school. I'm married. We are getting ready to be empty-nesters. . . . I volunteer all over the place.
Andre Gist is owner of BG Innovations Safety Systems and MIG Steel Fabrications. He also won our Best in the West competition in 2015 for The Lighting Bug. Learn more about his businesses and how theCO has been a resource to him in the interview belowRead More
"trying to capture things as they happen is a whole other challenge, and making sure that I’m really capturing the vibe of the moment when I’m doing concerts or when I covered the Ferguson protest, making sure I’m capturing what is going on when it’s happening—and really capturing it accurately and doing it justice..."Read More
"being around people that had a little bit of “Why can’t we do it a different way? Why can’t we think of it differently? Why don’t we work together? What can we accomplish if we worked united?”...Read More
Lee Wilson Member Spotlight
Written by Felicia Ingram
Lee Wilson is a Texas native with eight-year-old roots growing deep in Jackson, Tennessee. A bachelor’s in English Literature and master’s in Theology is an unconventional pathway to entrepreneurship, but his years of creating programming and working with college students primed him for an adventure in immersive entertainment that began in March 2015.
Jackson Escape Rooms, his now fully developed business, began as a pop-up shop. After 2,500 eager participants showing for their first event and a continued following, Wilson began to provide the one-time service more frequently. Soon, it became a full fledged business.
Wilson, a husband and father of three, describes his local phenomenon Jackson Escape Rooms (JER) as an accidental success or an experiment gone horribly right. Today, Wilson’s escape rooms are in three cities including Waco, Texas; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Jackson—not to mention the thirty people JER now employs.
Still, Wilson remembers the countless other people who have assisted in his success.
“theCO has been an excellent place for unofficial mentorship,” he expressed concerning theCO’s wealth of resources.
Without theCO, there would be no Jackson Escape Rooms. Wilson mentioned in an interview that theCO’s tools are vital to JER’s operations.
Wilson’s involvement in theCO’s CO.STARTERS program has also assisted in learning important aspects of business. Though his parents owned and operated a business, Wilson still needed his own learning experience. Wilson gleaned important information and built relationships with CO:founders Ben Ferguson and William Donnell.
“As an accidental entrepreneur, CO.STARTERS went a long way to provide me with a foundation in the basics of business with an emphasis on doing business, not just knowing business theory,” he explained.
Wilson also understands the importance of mentorship and uses his very own style with his staff.
“He welcomes feedback from employees, and he treats us like family,” staff member Korey Adams said. “He trusts us to do our jobs ,and we can trust him to make sure we are prepared to do our jobs.”
A man so passionate about building relationships understands that the Jackson Escape Rooms experience is the best place to do so.
“People leave here not talking about the experience but talking about what they learned about themselves.”
To learn more about Jackson Escape Rooms, visit their website at jacksonescaperooms.com. If you are interested in starting your own business or giving your current business a makeover, check out our CO.STARTERS program starting next week: attheco.com/costarters.
Member Spotlight: Ginger Williams
Interviewed and Transcribed by Felicia Ingram
Ginger Williams is the Marketing Specialist at Reed Marketing and is a Jackson native. She has participated in local projects promoting the Jackson Chamber, tourism, and small businesses, and was also part of the team that created a history book of Jackson. She and her husband, Matt, moved back to Jackson to raise their two children in their hometown.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a storyteller, but my title is Marketing Specialist. Whether it’s through an ad, article, or video, I love telling the story of businesses through different mediums. I write copy, create online marketing campaigns, and produce videos that immerse people in the culture and history of what makes a business unique. I love connecting with people and finding out ways I can fill in the gaps in their business.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on some ways to get businesses involved in promoting Jackson and bring new tourism dollars to the area. Jackson has plenty to offer: great music, sports, history, and delicious food. But I’m working on packaging that in a way that will entice millennials and boomers alike to come visit. I’m also working on learning how we can better leverage video in social media for the businesses that we promote. The online landscape is constantly changing, and we see a major shift towards video in marketing campaigns.
Also, I’m always writing books on the side or articles for special projects. One day, I will have my own published book in my hand, but in the meantime, I’m excited to write for other people and help them to accomplish their dreams. I also spend a lot of time thinking about new ideas for how to promote small businesses. Being a member at theCO is a huge catalyst for inspiration. I love talking to the staff at theCO, and I’m also excited to be a part of the Our Jackson Home team (a local magazine, which everyone in Jackson should be reading).
How has theCO helped you reach your daily goals?
like to go to theCO for a quiet place to write and think. . . . Just kidding. While I do get a lot of work done at theCO, I also go there to get a shot of energy. There’s always something happening at theCO, and it continues to be a great motivator for me. can also meet clients at theCO for meetings. They love the atmosphere and the feeling that we are somewhere both exciting and professional.
theCO helps me connect with small businesses and stay in the know on what millennials in Jackson are doing. It’s a great place to network and find answers, too. I’m not afraid to ask if I don’t know how to do something or just want to run an idea by someone.
What’s your favorite aspect of theCO?
Every time I walk through the doors of theCO, I’m reminded that our online community can only go so far. While a Facebook feed may be somewhat informative, interactive and engaging, it cannot inspire me the same way as watching a potter creating a vase, a programmer playing with a robot or a group of people collaborating on a project.
My favorite aspect of theCO is the community. I am constantly inspired and reenergized by watching others work and dream to fulfill their visions. Small business is the core of the community and as a member at theCO, I get a front row seat to see small businesses grow at theCO and make Jackson a really cool place to live.