The inaugural Creatives Meet Business Experience kicked off with three days of hands-on programming.

By Lauren Jones, Photos by David Brendan Hall Photograpy, Hand-lettering by Elle Tse

Creatives Meet Business Experience attendees lounge in slinky bohemian chairs, sipping ice-cold Health-Ade Kombucha and Topo Chico. It’s noon in East Austin, and the sun is blazing, but no one seems to notice. When the next workshop lets out, people buzz about, conference badges in hand, excitement filling the humid air.

The Creatives Meet Business Experience conference, held Sept. 14 through 16, is not your typical conference. Yes, there was some note taking and swarms of inspirational speakers, but what made CMBXP stand out was its uncanny ability to bring creatives together.

“[When you] surround yourself with those in different disciplines or industries, their unique perspectives will ultimately challenge your perspective and inform better decision-making,” says Ashland Viscosi, CMBXP founder and serial entrepreneur.

That belief is the entire basis of the experience. It’s all about embracing challenges and arming yourself with realistic tools to put your creative ideas into action. Throughout the weekend event, attendees were able to choose from a myriad of hands-on workshops, from Intro to Ceramics to Copyright Basics and Registration Tips for Creative Types to In the Venn: Where Story, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Intersect. Each class offered something unique.

Saturday morning began with the Intro to Hand Lettering workshop led by Elle Tse, senior designer at advertising and PR agency LookThinkMake. The basics of hand-lettering were discussed, as were the foundations of graphic design, but ultimately, the workshop stood as a challenge to those who weren’t designers by trade. As the group began uncapping their Crayola markers and tracing the alphabet, a wave of silence washed over the room, as if everyone was deeply concentrating on the task at hand. Tse’s art-deco script and whimsical fonts were, alas, much more difficult to draw than everyone had originally believed.

Next came Your Brain on Stories, a workshop led by the charismatic Deb Gabor of Sol Marketing. The idea behind the workshop was that storytelling engages both the left and right brains, which can be employed as part of a business strategy. When people are able to associate emotions with what you are saying, they are scientifically proven to be more engaged with what you are saying.

Each workshop was equally fascinating and as Creatives Meet Business Experience’s first conference, it was an overwhelming success.

Austin Woman had the chance to chat with CMBXP’s Founder and Programming Curator Ashland Viscosi to learn more.

Ashland Viscosi

Austin Woman: What was your inspiration for this experience?

Ashland Viscosi: My company is Creatives Meet Business, and has been offering small-group roundtable events for just about two years now. These events are themed and bring in industry experts to help the creative and entrepreneurial community with sustainability and making relationships. The driving force behind the CMB events is to better connect the creative and entrepreneurial communities and to help connect people with content and knowledge in a way that’s not intimidating. The inspiration for the experience itself came in a fairly surprising way. I co-produced another conference earlier in 2017, and was driving to a meeting the morning after we wrapped it up. During the drive, an idea suddenly hit me. I’ve been involved in several festivals and conferences over the years, and I wondered to myself, “Why wasn’t I creating something like a conference for my audience?” I decided right then and there that I would do it. By the time I parked for my meeting, I’d already mapped out an experience that would include four different tracks: artistry, business, marketing and storytelling. I knew it wasn’t right to call it a conference. That didn’t sit right with me. It needed a completely different name, something that demonstrated that it was about hands-on workshops, taking action in real time and making genuine and meaningful connections. And just like that, the Creatives Meet Business Experience was born.

AW: What is your best advice for creative entrepreneurs?

AV: There are so many things that I’d like to share! Perhaps the one that I’ve found to be the most helpful is to create a network of peers that you trust and who you can talk to about business or creative challenges. Being a creative or entrepreneur can be incredibly isolating, so finding a community that you can share with is so important. I’m a big fan of getting outside of one’s comfort zone by including folks from different disciplines or industries.

AW: What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?

AV: I love seeing something that I’ve created help other people. Having a vision for something and feeling strongly that it will work is part of the journey. Actually doing it and having people interact with it and make it their own is another. It’s the most magical feeling in the world to include other people in what I’ve dreamed up and created and for them to have their own experience with it.


If you’d like to attend next year’s Creatives Meet Business Experience, head to their website at www.cmbxp.comBadges for the 2018 Experience will go on sale in May 2018.


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