Joe Cunningham represents South Carolina’s First Congressional District. The First District encompasses South Carolina’s Lowcountry, including Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Kiawah, and Hilton Head. Joe is a proud father and husband, and is serving his first term in the United States Congress. Prior to his election, Joe was an attorney and an ocean engineer, obtaining a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 2005 and his J.D. from Northern Kentucky University in 2014.

We are excited to welcome Joe to speak on our November topic, LOST.

1. What do you love most about what you do? The chance to meet and work with all different types of people, businesses, and organizations from across the district and then figuring out ways to craft legislation that makes a real impact back at home. 2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)? I followed the 2016 election very closely and was disappointed with the rhetoric I heard and knew that our country deserved better. I did not want to look back decades down the road and tell my children I did not stand up and fight for common decency and the best of our American values. 3. How do you start your day? In D.C., I’m up at 5:30 am and sometimes do a bit of reading or writing before hitting the gym at 6:30 am where I work out with other members of Congress. I’ve learned it is one of the best ways to get to know folks on the other side of the aisle! At home, I get up at the same time and try to do some writing, but Boone has other plans for me most mornings. 4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment. Fulfilling the promises I’ve made to people back home. Two big moments come to mind so far – the first being passing our bill to ban offshore drilling. I’m really proud of the amount of Republican support we had for this, back home and in Congress. Arguing the bill on the House floor, in front of the entire House of Representatives was like nothing else I have ever felt. It was like I was taking the voice of folks in the Lowcountry and spilling it right onto the House floor. Also helping pass H.R. 1112, our bipartisan bill that would close the Charleston loophole. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of standing on the House floor while the votes clicked up to 218, the number you need for a piece of legislation to pass. I looked up and saw Jennifer Pinckney, widow of the late Clementa, who was murdered at Mother Emanuel by a racist who procured his gun through the Charleston loophole. That was a very proud day for me. Do you have a hidden talent? I can mow down half a pack of Double stuff oreos in one sitting. 5. Who or what gives you creative inspiration? I feel it comes in spurts, but I have to get it in the morning. So short answer, caffeine. 6. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order? Pike with splash of half and half. 7. What is your favorite place in Charleston? Kudu coffee. 9. How do you unwind or de-stress? Usually through reading. I do not have much time anymore for recreational reading so I’m always excited to dig into a new book but that is often limited to when I’m on a plane or when Boone is sleeping.
Rapid Fire: morning person or night owl? Morning.
Summer of winter? Summer
Mountains or beach? Beach but I do go back and forth.
Pancakes or waffles? Pancakes
Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction

Sarah Frick is founder of The Works, a sweat studio that’s a dynamic blend of powerful vinyasa yoga, meditation, breath work, plyometrics, core, and strength work. Their mission is to go beneath the asana and to help their clients push themselves out of their comfort zone and open up to their own humanness and connectivity by shedding layers of doubt, fear, and resistance.

Our October topic, FLOW, couldn’t be more perfectly suited to Sarah.

Photo by Taylor Jarvis.

1. What do you love most about what you do?  

The connection of the human experience.  Watching people come alive and come apart and come back together.  To not give up on themselves in the hard parts right before the shift. I also love to sweat, hard work, and good beats!

2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)?  

Honestly what inspired me was healing myself from past trauma and the power of personal responsibility is so damn liberating I had to share it.  

3. How do you start your day?  

With caffeine.. haha!  I have 3 kids 5 and under and run a damn empire!

4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.  

When my son Waylon was born after the loss of our first daughter.  

5. Do you have a hidden talent?  

I know all the 50 states in alphabetical order and can do it in under 25 seconds.  It’s incredible.

6. Who or what gives you creative inspiration?  

Peoples’ stories of recovery - whether its from grief, addiction, love etc. I am a sucker for reciprocity and the redemptive power of grace.

7. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?  

Almond milk au lait (which I thought was an ole’ up until a year ago when I went to France - embarrassing)

8. What is your favorite place in Charleston?  

The Works!  Duh.

9. How do you unwind or de-stress?  

Salt water - salty sweat - salty rimmed tequila -  salty tear stained friends faces - if I get all 4 in one sitting its like the perfect fucking storm.

Rapid Fire:

Morning person or night owl?

Morning!  I go to bed at 8pm

Summer or winter?  

Summer

Mountains or beach?

Beach

Fiction or non-fiction?  

I have 3 kids 5 and under… I don’t read anything but ‘where the wild thing are’ … but in my past life non fiction.  I love a good heros’ journey.  

Molly Fienning, co-founder of Babiators, found her first inspiration on a military base in Beaufort, watching kids squinting into the sun while their pilot moms and dads had protective and stylish aviator sunglasses. That company is now worldwide and she’s gone on to co-found Red Clay Hot Sauce, which also rapidly growing (and delicious), Lil’ Bit Lit and Notra Sunglasses.

We’re thrilled to welcome Molly to our September discussion on the topic Muse!

1. What do you love most about what you do?

Absolutely no two days are the same, and I love that. Every day is a crazy and fun entrepreneurial adventure with new challenges to tackle and skillsets to hone. I’d get bored with too much workday routine. 

2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)? 

My husband was a Marine Corps aviator, and we launched “Babiators” to make aviator shades for babies and kids when I was still an active duty military wife. Ten years in, we’ve sold 3+ million pairs and are retailing in 45 countries, including Nordstrom, Sakes, Dillards and Buy Buy Baby. Also, lots of cool press and celeb fans, including Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Garner, the Kardashians, Ellen DeGeneres, Jenna Bush Hager, Gabrielle Union, Sarah Jessica Parker and more.

In addition, I stepped in to play a more active role as CEO of Red Clay Hot Sauce last year, when I saw an opportunity to scale this well-loved Charleston brand (of which I was a silent equity Co-Founder from the beginning) into a national presence shaking up the current, growing hot sauce space. It’s been a cool (spicy!) ride so far. 

3. How do you start your day? 

One of my boys climbs into bed to wake us up. Then coffee, basically right away. Once I’ve gotten the boys ready and out the door to school, I sit down to a few quiet hours of work. I love those early moments when not too many people are trying to reach me yet so I can get any heads-down work finished.

4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment. 

Becoming a mother is the proudest and most transformative moment of my life. The gravitas of a new lifelong responsibility coupled with pure, unadulterated love you feel for this new Being is like nothing else I’ve known. An immense, intense gift.

5. Do you have a hidden talent? 

Yes, many.

6. Who or what gives you creative inspiration? 

My amazing girlfriends and all their awesome talents, minds and hearts. 

7. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?

Coffee fuels my morning events as well. ;) I make coffee every day at home with my Bialetti, an Italian stovetop espresso kettle I’ve had for over 10 years. I’m not someone who’s into collecting things—but this is legit one of my favorite possessions. 

8. What is your favorite place in Charleston? 

I love our home and the water. I also love The Ordinary for nights out.

9. How do you unwind or de-stress? 

Ending my day with a walk alone along the Battery in Charleston is my favorite way to de-stress – in between my two boys’ bedtimes, so I can put them both to bed (which is important time with them for me). 

My husband and I leave weekends pretty free for family downtime at the beach or cooking at home, scheduling most social stuff for weeknights instead. I always fit in time with my girlfriends for a glass of wine or yummy meal on a weeknight, where I can leave work pressure behind for a few hours. 

Last but not least, Kundalini Yoga with Alex Seamen keeps me grounded week to week. 


Rapid Fire:

morning person or night owl?
Morning if I’m working, night owl if we’re having fun.

Summer or winter?

Fall

Mountains or beach?
Mountains

Pancakes or waffles?
Scrambled eggs, always.

Fiction or non-fiction?
I need both in my life. 

He’s basically the under water Indiana Jones.As an archaeologist with the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, he specializes in artifact documentation, ship construction, and material culture analyses. His current focus is the Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, used during the Civil War. The sub was unearthed from the bottom of Charleston Harbor in 2000.

Prior to his dive into the Hunley’s past, he’s worked with nineteenth century sailing vessels in North Carolina and Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge.

1. What do you love most about what you do?

I think the thing I love the most about what I do is that it provides me the opportunity to combine a lot of different skills I’ve had to learn over the years. Everything from historical research to diving to 3D documentation and model building. My initial love for what I do was simply that it allowed me to experience history in a more physical way, by actually allowing me to view and touch historical objects. I grew up in rural Iowa and spent a lot of time outdoors, so I loved the idea of being able to study history while still being able to get outside.

2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)? 

Like any archaeologist, I loved Indiana Jones. I always joke that there are two types of archaeologist in the world: those who became archaeologists because they watched too much Indiana Jones, and then there are liars. All jokes aside, I grew up with a deep love for history, which I got from my grandfather. I was one of those lucky people that when I first went to undergrad, I decided to study something I loved rather than something I thought would make a good career, so I went with a history major and was able to make it work. I never wanted to be a high school history teacher though (one of the noblest careers, I might add) and quickly learned I needed to figure something else out. I was fortunate enough to have started diving at a fairly young age and fell in love with it. I thought there had to be a way to combine my love of history and love of diving and then fell upon underwater archaeology.  

3. How do you start your day? 

Typically, I wake up early, go to the gym, come home and walk the dog, then kiss my wife before heading to work. 

4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.   

Finishing my graduate thesis definitely has to be towards the top of the list because it felt like the hardest thing I had ever accomplished. Being able to present and defend all that hard work and graduate with my Master’s was a very proud moment because I had done something that only a few years prior seemed like a pipe dream.

5.  Do you have a hidden talent? 

Movie quotes and random movie trivia. 

6.  Who or what gives you creative inspiration? 

Definitely my wife Alison. She does historic preservation so we have a mutual passion for history, archaeology, and preserving cultural heritage. Plus, she keeps me honest. Other than that, just knowing that I get the opportunity to work on something so historically significant. 

7.  Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?

Tall and black.

8. What is your favorite place in Charleston? 

It’s a tie between the Battery and Moe’s. I love the Battery because it’s so historical and on the water, which reminds me why I love my job. And Moe’s because I love a good local bar.

9.  How do you unwind or de-stress? 

Either walking the dog with my wife or the pub with close friends. 


Rapid Fire:

Morning person or night owl?

Morning


Summer of winter?

Fall


Mountains or beach?

Mountains actually or out on a boat.


Pancakes or waffles?

Waffles


Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction

They believe the children are our future…

Inspirational songs aside, Engaging Creative Minds knows that the health of a community is based on the opportunities that its children have. Their mission is to provide every student in South Carolina with equal access to quality learning, increase student engagement and increase the involvement of arts & STEM professionals in the education process.

Robin Berlinsky is the organization’s Executive Director and Andrew McGlaughon serves as its Director of Development, Strategy and Communications. 

All photos by Amaris Photography.

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1. What do you love most about what you do?  

Changing the culture of a school that has self identified as challenging.

2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)?  

When I was teaching 1st & 5th grades I saw how the arts impacted student performance and engagement in school.  I believe every child deserves arts experiences so that is why I have chosen this career path - I’m all about equal access. 

3. How do you start your day? 

For me the day starts the night before so it’s always looking at my calendar and planning my strategy for the next day so I work smarter not harder.  Then I jump out of bed like a fireman - (I’m a morning person).

4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.  

Winning the 2016 NY Life Excellence in Summer Learning award from the National Summer Learning Association.  We were told no other organization had won the first time they applied - AND WE DID!

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5. Do you have a hidden talent?  

I can twirl a baton like a rock star

6. Who or what gives you creative inspiration?  

All the amazing teachers throughout South Carolina doing amazing things in their classrooms

7. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order? 

I’m boring - I drink it black.

8. What is your favorite place in Charleston?  

Waterfront Park (on a cool crisp day)

9. How do you unwind or de-stress?  

Reading 


Rapid Fire:

Morning person or night owl?  

Morning


Summer of winter?  

Winter


Mountains or beach?  

Mountains


Pancakes or waffles?  

Waffles


Fiction or non-fiction?  

Non-fiction

Dos Bandidos Art was born out of an epic trip across Mexico and they’ve been designing and screen printing their way across Charleston since 2010.

Everything they create is done with intention, both hand-drawn original designs and screen printing by hand. The duo behind it, Candace Patterson and Will Kiser were raised on and inspired by Rage against the machine, Obey Giant, and Grrrl Power.

Their designs grace everything from hand-sewn bandanas to small batch t-shirts + tank tops to signed and numbered prints.

Their home and studio is located downtown and they love to ride bikes, walk on the beach, travel the world, eat amazing food, drink the best coffee, play with their cats and make art.

All photos by Kate Thornton Photography.

1. What do you love most about what you do?

We love that we get to work together making affordable art.


2. What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)?

We have day jobs, but screen printing is our passion.  We are inspired by Charleston and life in general.  As far as screen printing goes for Will it was a college art class, and for me it was creating art and screen printing for my friend’s record label.


3. How do you start your day?

Will stumbles out of bed at 5am to shower, coffee and then go to his day job.  I throw back a single espresso and go work out with my friends to begin my day.


4. Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.

Proudest moment: Building our own studio with a little help from our friends to continue to follow our dreams and screen print in our own space.


5. Do you have a hidden talent?

Candace: I can dance, I danced from 3-college and pull it out every now and then; especially at wedding:)   Will: I can drive a 3 on a tree.


6. Who or what gives you creative inspiration?

We both get creative inspiration from the streets of Charleston, surfing, traveling, riding bikes, road trips, music, the arts community and other local artists.


7. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?

Candace: Cortado  (I work at City Lights Coffee a couple days a week and power up on Counter Culture)  Will: Doppio espresso


8. What is your favorite place in Charleston?

Will: Santis Candace: Santis


9. How do you unwind or de-stress?

Candace and Will: Santis Margaritas
RAPID FIRE:

Morning person or night owl?

Morning


Summer or winter?

Summer


Mountains or beach?

Beach


Pancakes or waffles?

Waffles (Candice, but prefers crêpes) Neither (Will)


Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction

Preserve is a special topic for CreativeMornings Charleston for many reasons. We picked this month’s theme, as it is a true theme to describe necessary conversations in our city. 

Not only are we living in one of America’s most well known historical cities, but we battle with preserving not only the infrastructure in the Holy City but the Holy City itself.  

This month’s speaker is food writer and the Southern Forks’ Stephanie Burt. Per her usual style, she thinks about preservation beyond canning vegetables. Join us to discuss the importance of preserving this place that we call home and what’s she’s learned along her journey. 

All photos by Leslie McKellar

What do you love most about what you do?

Creates a sense of community. It’s always different.

What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)?
I have no idea how I became involved. Didn’t set out to be a food writer - it found me. I became inspired by other food writers.

How do you start your day?
Coffee & contemplation. Just like the show Stranger Things.

Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.
I hope it hasn’t happened yet.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Making up songs for my dog.

Who or what gives you creative inspiration?
So much gives me inspiration. If I have a few days where I don’t feel inspired then I’m not paying attention to the world. Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?
The darkest roast, the tallest cup. Black. What is your favorite place in Charleston?
I love driving over the water every day. Being able to see water views.

How do you unwind or de-stress? My favorite thing in the world is a porch swing, so sitting on that with earbuds.


Rapid fire: 


morning person or night owl?
Morning
summer or winter?
Summer
mountains or beach?
Beach
pancakes or waffles?
Waffles
fiction or non-fiction?
Non-fiction

As this month’s theme was chosen by us over at CreativeMornings Charleston, we thought it appropriate to feature the illustrator of Preserve, Charleston’s Chris Nickels!

Below is the Q&A written up by Emerline Ji at CreativeMornings. Thanks so much for making Preserve so beautiful, Chris!

Chris Nickels is an Illustrator who lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina. Originally from Athens, Georgia, Chris attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he earned his BFA in Illustration. He has worked with a number of publications on projects for both print and digital media, but still enjoys taking up a personal project or two in his spare time. When he puts down his pen he enjoys the outdoors, reading, old cameras, and jamming on some video games.

How did you get into illustration work?

I always loved drawing and painting as a kid. Around my junior or senior year of high school, I decided to take it more seriously and apply to art school to study Illustration. Once I got out, the hard work started: a lot of emailing, portfolio editing, and favorable coincidences.

How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?

The biggest growth in my work I’ve seen is from practicing observational drawing. The more I practice drawing from life and studying photos, the more I value certain design decisions over others. It slowly shapes the way you draw. As far as outside influences, I love cartoons and animation. Shows like Avatar the Last Airbender, Cowboy Bebop, and Steven Universe have all had a big impact on me.

I see from your work that you have a love for the outdoors. How does this month’s theme connect to you personally? Why is preservation important to you?

I lived on the coast for the last 10 years and got to see the best and the worst ways that we interact with nature, so much of our trash ends up in the waterways and ocean. It has huge consequences for the different natural environments that we all want to be able to enjoy.

A big hobby of mine is kayaking. I’m definitely encouraged to be more environmentally conscious because I want to preserve the environment I get to experience on my kayak. On the inspiring side, organizations like Charleston Waterkeepers (a recent CreativeMornings speaker) are doing amazing work to protect our natural resources and organize individuals for action.

What are some projects or plans for this year? How do you personally want to grow?

In general, I really want to pursue animation more both in my personal work and as a collaborator. I’d love to sketch more too.

What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?

It’s certainly not a life changing event, but I just started drawing with fountain pens rather than felt tip pens and (🤯) I’m never going back.

What does the future of illustration or graphic design look like to you?

There has been an explosion in resources for learning new drawing, design, and digital skills. I feel like this says a lot about the spirit of the design community and where it’s heading. There’s going to be more collaboration, more mixing of disciplines, and more resources than ever to help you create the work you want.

Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

I have the two best dogs ever: Bishop and Midas. Anything that Google says to the contrary is a lie.

Explore more of Chris’s work on his website, Behance, Instagram, and Twitter.

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We’re so happy to have Vikki Matsis, president and co-founder of Media Reform SC, as our April speaker on “inclusion”. Her organization established Charleston’s only listener-supported community radio station, Ohm Radio 96.3 FM - which focuses on the inclusion of Charleston’s local music and public affairs. 

As the founder of the American Hostel Conference and manager at Notso Hostel, Vikki has actually written the book on what it’s like to run a hostel. (Really..the book is called “Inside An American Hostel!”)

As one of Charleston’s 50 most progressive people (it was voted on!), we look forward to hearing about how inclusivity affects her everyday life.

 We chatted with Vikki to get an idea of how she’s created a media platform for inclusivity and what gets her inspired. 

All photos by Kate Thornton Photography: https://www.katethorntonphotography.com/

What do you love most about what you do?

I love providing a platform for expression. Ohm Radio is a station that reflects what is happening in our community and is not influenced by advertising. I love being part of the solution, creating independent media in an increasingly consolidated and corporate world.  

What inspired you and how did you become involved in your current career(s)?

My advisor Dr. Faye Steuer taught me everything I know about media reform. She is the founder of MRSC and is the reason I became an engaged citizen in this community.  

How do you start your day? 

I start my day with a two and half year old hugging and kissing me and making me laugh. I also usually start my day with a cup of jasmine green tea.  

Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.

Personally, my proudest moment was finishing a marathon in 2008. Professionally, my proudest moment was our first moment broadcasting over the air in Charleston, August 1, 2015 11AM!

Do you have a hidden talent?

I love to write and sing songs and play the guitar and piano.

Who or what gives you creative inspiration?

My husband Lee Barbour. He is the most dedicated and focused musician. He inspires me to be objective, listen deeply and be the best version of myself.  

Coffee fuels our morning events. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?

No coffee for me! I’m a green tea drinker all day long.  

What is your favorite place in Charleston?

Hampton Park, on the branch of the big climbing tree

How do you unwind or destress?

I love to read, especially read cookbooks!

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Rapid fire:

  1. morning person or night owl?

Night Owl

  1. summer or winter?

Summer

  1. mountains or beach?

Beach

  1. pancakes or waffles?

Waffles

  1. fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction

We couldn’t have asked for a better speaker for this month’s CM Water talk. Not only is Andrew Wunderley a passionate surfer, boater, and swimmer, he’s the Executive Director of Charleston Waterkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, promoting, and restoring the quality of Charleston’s waterways. We caught up with him to learn more about his background, why he loves all things H2O, and where he finds creative inspiration. Check out the full Q&A below. 

All images by Amaris Photo: http://amarisphoto.com/ 

What do you love most about what you do?
The easy answer is the opportunity to be on or in the water. But it’s really the water people. The folks that fish, surf, sail, paddle, volunteer, paint—whatever it is they enjoy. There are a lot of really neat and interesting people around here that love our rivers and creeks.

How did you get into your field of work?
I studied science, environmental policy, and law. Charleston Waterkeeper brings all those things together in one place. More than that, I really like to surf. The thought of loosing that to pollution or a lack of access is unbearable.

How do you start your day?
Email. Unless there’s waves. Then I surf. 

Tell us about your proudest moment or accomplishment.
The proudest moments for me are when people get inspired by our work, internalize it, and reflect it back to our community with their own voice and actions. I see that in volunteers, I see it supporters, I see it when folks show up speak at city council meetings. Their stories are always inspiring.  

Do you have a hidden talent?
Building stuff and fixing things—boats, surfboards, computers, furniture. I’d really like to learn to work on cars someday.

Who or what gives you creative inspiration?
An old Waterkeeper once told me: “If you ever get stuck for what to do, go down to river and listen. And, then go do what the river would do if it could speak.” Works every time. 

CreativeMornings events are fueled by coffee. If you’re a coffee drinker, what’s your go-to order?
Black. But, I don’t order out. It’s too expensive. Plus, the best coffee comes from the pot on my kitchen counter.

What is your favorite place in Charleston?
It depends on the wind, tide, sand, and swell.

Rapid fire:
Morning person or night owl? Morning. The earlier the better
Summer or winter? Summer
Mountains or beach? Beach
Pancakes or waffles? Egg and cheese sandwich
Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction

Don’t miss Andrew’s #CMWater talk on Friday, March 15th at Bay Street Biergarten! 

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