Next Nashville speaker

Vivek Surti

More info

January 31, 8:30am • Studio 615 • part of a series on Roots

← Load previous

Location Spotlight: The Skillery

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein

If you’re looking for a space and creative group of people to help awaken and cultivate the creative expression in you, the folks at The Skillery are on your side. We at CMNSH are truly fortunate to call The Skillery ambassadors for our global conversation. We also find ourselves very lucky to hold our team meetings out of their amazing office spaces!

Not only is The Skillery one of our favorite places to meet and create but we can now call them a great Location partner as well! In September, we all visited The Skillery and Stoke.d Studio for our event on COLOR. Take a look below as Matt Dudley, Managing Director, tells us more about one of Nashville’s best places to create & learn:

1. Tell us a little about The Skillery and what sparked you to create it?

  • The Skillery began in 2011 as an open marketplace for local, offline classes. I started the business because I was (and still am) inspired by what happens when you put an expert in a room with a bunch of people who are inspired to learn. Over the last few years, The Skillery has evolved into a more focused resource for the community that naturally grew up around us in Nashville: creative entrepreneurs, freelancers and independent professionals. We’ve launched in-depth programming for entrepreneurs (including a nine-week business development program, CO.STARTERS at The Skillery) and a flexible coworking space in Germantown, and we maintain a robust schedule of classes and workshops to help creative professionals broaden their abilities and grow their businesses, while highlighting the work they do and the brands they’re building. Our mission is to be the premier resource to help Nashville’s creative entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

2. The Skillery recently opened a physical space in Germantown to not only house some of the classes it offers, but to be used as a co working space for the creative community. If you were to take a step back and see what all you have created thus far, what is most exciting to you?

  • Without question, the part of The Skillery that excites me most is the community of smart, talented and supportive people that have sprung up around it. Every day, we see Skillery members and non-members reaching out and responding to other members of the community to ask and answer questions, engage in paid work and lend a hand where needed. The coworking space and classes and workshops facilitate that by giving like-minded folks an easily accessible place and/or reason to connect…. but the spirit of community that fuels the collaboration between creative Nashvillians is profound and palpable.

3. The Skillery seems to be a big supporter of the “creative entrepreneur.” How exactly would you define that person?

  • From where we stand, the definition is really broad, but it tends to encompass the types of entreprepreneurs who engage with and thrive at The Skillery. Part of it is the types of work they do — from writing to design or jewelry making to building products that serve musicians and writers and artists. But beyond that it’s their approach: They’re passion-driven, innately creative, and building something without an immediate or overall focus on scaling. That’s not to say that the people in our community are building businesses that can’t scale, it’s just not generally their primary concern, which is why we don’t offer classes or services related to investment. Instead, we focus on helping those folks answer some of the early-stage questions, like how (and whether) to turn a passion or a hobby into a business, or how to grow that business into something that can replace a 9-to-5 job.

4. What do you feel are some of the needs of the creative entrepreneur community in Nashville and what can The Skillery help provide these folks?

  • We’ve been very intentional about listening to that community, and we hear several needs on a regular basis: 1) both broad and topic-specific entrepreneurial education, 2) opportunities to connect with local experts in the community for feedback and consultation, 3) a low-cost way to test the market for a given product or service, and 4) opportunities to connect and collaborate with a supportive community of like-minded creatives. We built our coworking space at The Skillery with the intent of facilitating all four of those needs. Down the road, we’d love to expand the way we can serve creative entrepreneurs by offering things like micro-funding, in-house legal and accounting services, and permanent work space for companies that want to serve our community of entrepreneurs.

5. What was your introduction to Creative Mornings? What are your thoughts on it? (good ones we hope!)

  • Love it! I attended Nashville’s first Creative Mornings event back in the Spring, and was moved by Ruthie Lindsey’s inspiring story of survival and success. Any opportunity to come together with local creatives and to celebrate one of our own… I’m in!

6  If you were to speak at Creative Mornings, what would you talk about?

  • I’d talk about what I’ve learned along my entrepreneurial path…. a path that has included an attempt to land work as a Ghostbuster, an ill-advised stint at The Jerry Springer Show, and a gig at Saturday Night Live…. as well as an explanation of why I turned down those (and other) opportunities to teach middle-school math, and how that has made all the difference.

    Looks like we have another future speaker in the running! Follow Matt & his team along online at + twitter + instagram + facebook

    If you want to show even more love, The Skillery is a part of the Mission Main St. Grants this month to help support their journey in our creative community! If you have an extra minute send over a vote!

Park(ing) Day Nashville 2014

Hello all, Alicia here! Last Friday, September 19, CreativeMornings Nashville had the joy to be a part of Park(ing) Day! Organized by our friends at the Nashville Civic Design Center (Workplace of our very own Ron Yearwood, CM Speaker on Minimal), Park(ing) Day transformed over 30 spaces around the downtown core into small pocket parks and parklets!

Below are a few photos of what our Speaker Wrangler, Stephen, and I created for our first Park(ing) Day!


Our space was open to anyone who wanted to take a load off in the shade, or join us for some afternoon doodling. As freelance designers & illustrators, Stephen and I re-found our joy in taking an afternoon “off” to relax, talk to new people, draw new ideas and let the pressure of work fly away.


The man with the plan, Ron Yearwood, was our pirate park neighbor!


Our space was on 2nd avenue and we got to enjoy the shade of downtown’s very limited supply of trees. This guy became our new best friend by 3 o’clock. Hey Nashville, let’s plant more of these!



CMNSH Community member M. Kelley stopped by to lend her own creative thoughts to the day!


On top of the open space, we wanted to bring in a fun piece for this month’s global theme on COLOR. Thanks to Turnip Green Creative Reuse for the donation of fabric swatches, we asked people to look through the pile to find a color/pattern they could associate with a memory.


Next, they would pin the swatch to the board and underneath they would write the memory. We were really surprised and thankful to all the people who stopped on the sidewalk to inquire and participate! 



In a nutshell, that’s our Parking(day)! We will have our color/fabric memory board with us This Friday at our Next event so everyone has a chance to participate! We will document and post not only the finished piece but a video with associations as well, so keep checking back!

Park(ing) Day was a blast and if you cannot participate in making your own park I recommend you take time to explore the ones that are out there! Now that we’ve been through the ropes my team and I are excited to start planning for next year!!

Location Spotlight: stoke.d

Big shout out to stoke.d for letting us use their space for our next CreativeMornings in Nashville!

The stoke.d studio is a creative space for teams to collaborate. At stoke.d, we have traveled the world teaching teams better work behaviors through design thinking. In our travels, we noticed that most teams try to tackle their biggest problems in pretty uninspiring places. We have opened the stoke.d studio as an experiment in how space can influence behavior and as a resource for all teams trying to solve the world’s gnarliest problems.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of our next event inside the stoke.d studio! Being in their space tempts you to draw on every wall they have; brainstorm, create & collaborate! Learn more about stoke.d on their website & follow their creative journey on twitter!

Studio Spotlight: Gear Seven

1. As we all prepare for our upcoming CreativeMornings Nashville event on “Failure” with Micah Smith, tell us a little bit about what Gear Seven does and when have you turned a failure into something great?

Gear Seven is a collective of story tellers but in short, is a production company based out of Deavor. We are a full scale creative team ranging from cinematography, animation, and graphics. We face failure every day. No amount of planning for any video shoot is going to stop the weather, or someone’s health or something as small as traffic. 

We shot a feature film called The Polar Bear Club this past winter in Minnesota during the Polar Vortex. The temperature was 40 below 0 the majority of the time we were out there and our actors were in their late 60’s. We were pretty sure the whole film was going to fail as none of us were prepared for this kind of weather. As we sat with the director and screenwriter, we realized that we needed to show these conditions because the reality of life in northern Minnesota was what we were selling and it would make our story believable. Despite the cold we powered through and ended up with what we believe is some of the best filmmaking we’ve ever accomplished. 

2. How did you folks start the company, how did you get on your feet?

Gear Seven was started during Kirk’s college career at Belmont. Interning and capturing anything and everything he could during his time there. Slowly began freelancing and working with other mentors, eventually getting his own projects. Those projects quickly grew too big for just a one-man band, which allowed Gear Seven to grow and become a team. It was slow growth for are a while, but I now believe we are doing the best work we ever have. It is crazy to see how far we have all progressed in the last 3 years. 

3. Explain your relationship with Deavor, our location sponsor. What are the benefits to having your home base within a co-working space?

Despite having an incredibly cool office environment which truly fuels the creative mind, Deavor is full of people who are looking for more than just a way to pay the bills. We have successful entrepreneurs and freelancers using their creative talents to make a living for themselves. All of whom bounce clients off of one another. If a graphic designer needs a photographer, it’s there. If the Ad Agency rep needs a branding video, it’s there. It’s kind of a one stop shop powerhouse of intelligent, hardworking people. 

4. Many of us have heard about Small Batch Presents. Give us a little insight to what Small Batch is and how it got started.

Small Batch Presents is a short film series that was created by Connor Carroll and Greg Frank (two of Deavor’s members). It pairs hand made (small batch) brands and emerging bands with each other in an effort to help expand an audience and foster relationships within a community. Artists and artisans do much more for each other than what we see of the surface. It started as an effort to showcase how cool Nashville is and use Gear Seven’s unique story telling style to create a piece of current content that was more insightful than “which cast member of New Girl are you”. Just an excuse to show amazing artwork, whether it’s a light fixture or a really good song. 

5. What type of video work are you at Gear Seven most excited about? What would be a dream project?

We work on a lot of music videos, shorts, and features so in all honesty, we are living our dream in a sense. I think if we had to pick something though, we would love to make a short film for a full length record. A music video for every song on a record resulting in one short film telling a full story. 

We want to say Thank You again to Gear Seven for graciously offering up their services for our event this month. If you want to learn more about Gear Seven check out their website, twitter, instagram, facebook & vimeo.

July 25th: Our Town

We are so excited that The Our Town Crew will be joining us to celebrate our Global theme of “HERITAGE” on July 25th!

Our Town is inviting Nashvillians to participate in a public art project. The goal of which is to create a portrait of Nashville through a visual conversation of portraits made by its citizens. For one year the Our Town mobile cart will travel around Davidson county helping people to create their own self-portraits for the project.

Many of these portraits will be turned into letterpress prints at our shop – Isle of Printing. These prints will then be traded out to other people who subsequently make a portrait with us on the cart.

Make a portrait – take a print!

As the project progresses, the images will be collected on the Our Town website and in a year used as a group to help create a piece of public art for our city. Art for Nashville made by Nashville. Thanks for your support and participation!

Follow Our Town online:, instagram, twitter

Thanks to our Sponsor: CREMA

If you don’t like coffee, then you’ve probably never been to a Nashville CreativeMornings. Ok - so maybe that’s a stretch, we accept all coffee & non-coffee drinkers alike! However, if you don’t like coffee then you probably don’t know how good CREMA Coffee is and that’s a shame! It’s r-e-a-l-l-y good. So good in fact, they actually win awards for their wonderful taste. 

CREMA became the first Nashville coffee shop to secure an award in the Brewers Cup or Roasters Choice competition, which are held during the annual meeting of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). The event draws competitors from every corner of the U.S. and brings together farmers, roasters, coffee shops and vendors to meet, share and sip.

We definitely want to give a BIG Thank You to CREMA for providing some of the best coffee in Nashville for our CreativeMorning! You can follow all their amazing roasts and awards online at as well as their instagraminess, tweets & facebooks

Parking Info for NCDC

Our next event is coming up fast & we want to get parking info out so everyone has time to spread it around!

This month we’re taking you Downtown! With Creative Mornings being an early morning event, there will be ample metered parking along 2nd Ave, Gay Street and also “The Square” Parking garage with entry on James Robertson PKWY for only 4$. Metered parking is ample early and encouraged, being the most cost effective option for car commuters.

Our theme this month is Minimal and we want to encourage everyone to take alternative methods to the event. I.E. Bike, Bus, Walk. The free Green and Blue line buses run throughout most of Downtown, the Gulch and Farmer’s Market from 6:30am to 11pm so that is a great option for our workers downtown. You can see a schedule here. We look forward to seeing you! 

You will see this image being passed around the next few weeks because we’re very excited to launch a Supply Drive for the Underground Art Studio at the Oasis Center who is hosting our next event Friday, May 30th with Ndume Olatushani. So mark your calendars, bring a donation & tell a friend!

Thanks to our Sponsor: Bongo Java Roasting Co.


Nashville knows coffee and some of our best shops are ran by Bongo. One of the perks of our next event being held at The Building in 5 points is that Bongo East is located directly across the street! Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Bongo is a small yet world-famous company supporting communities by expanding the definition of quality to include how stuff is produced, purchased and served.

Therefore, they buy as much organically produced foods and coffee from regional producers as is practical. 100% of their coffee is organic, bought almost directly from small-scale producers and they likely buy more organic and regional produce, meats and cheeses than any restaurant group in town. They hire a professional staff who are focused on customer service. They have a large group of SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and BGA (Barista Guild of America) trained baristas and barista trainers.

Bongo currently has 5 locations in Nashville, plus the roasting company and an online shop. You have no excuse to miss out on their coffee no matter where you are! If you really want to get your fix in Nashville, each Bongo shop also has their own list of specials created by the baristas who work there, so you’re guaranteed a unique experience at each location!

We love Bongo and are very happy to have them as a sponsor this month as we know all attending will be happy too! See everyone around the coffee pot Friday morning! Be sure to tag your thanks with #bongojavaeast

Find out more about Bongo & all their locations on their site!