News & Stories about the Creative Economy

Velocity: A New Creative Accelerator

Applications open on April 9 for the Center for Creative Economy’s fourth annual Creative Accelerator, an education and seed funding program that helps creative entrepreneurs develop business models and identify resources for growth.


Hosted by the Center for Creative Economy in Winston-Salem, NC, participants complete a 9-week virtual program, now titled “Velocity,in which the top three startups split a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage investment. Companies throughout the world can apply. Go to to apply by June 2, 2019.

Running from July 30 to September 27, “Velocity” uses a rigorous educational curriculum developed by Professor of Practice at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chris Mumford. His program, titled “Joe Startup,” uses a street-smart entrepreneurial education portal organized around the themes of Create, Tell, Sell and Run. Participants interact with whiteboard animations, a startup plan builder, and a social network to create an immersive learning experience for creative entrepreneurs. “Chris and CCE have collaborated to deliver this revitalized curriculum which combines the startup experience of both parties,’” said CCE Director, Margaret Collins.

Velocity Winston-SalemTen teams will complete 24 modules and case studies over nine weeks, working with professional mentors to guide them through the program. New in 2019 is an in-person kick-off weekend, August 9-11 in Winston-Salem, for participants to jump-start the program and work with their mentors/peers. The five-day DEEP DIVE, from September 22-27, lets teams work with directly global visionaries and creative leaders. The ever-popular DEMO NIGHT returns on September 26 where teams showcase their innovations to funding prospects, businesses, and the media. The Final Pitch Competition will be held on September 26, when the $50,000 in seed-stage funding will be awarded.

According to the 2018 Creative Startups Impact Report issued by CCE, 30 companies have participated in the program and 87 percent are still thriving.Our startups have raised $3.1 million in funding and generated $3.4 million in revenuesadded Collins. We are a program with proven success in creating more than 50 jobs and helping creative entrepreneurs succeed. We’re especially proud of the fact that 70 percent of the founders of the companies in our program are women- or minority-owned.”

Learn more about Velocity and how to apply:

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Meet Joanna Haboon and Liz Simmons

We are all extremely thrilled to have two interns at CCE this spring! Both are driven young women that have contributed to many different tasks in CCE. Whether it is researching new ideas or prepping for our events they are always willing to lend a helping hand. Additionally, their passion for the visual arts is hands on and reflected in their personalities. Please read a little more about each of our interns below, and thank you Joanna and Liz for joining our team!

Joanna Haboon is the new marketing intern at the Center for Creative Economy. She is a student attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), and studies both Arts Administration and Studio Art. She is a second-generation immigrant with three siblings and has relatives all over the United States. Her older sisters taught her how to draw when she was young, and from there she has explored different mediums, both digitally and traditionally, to make art.

A goal that she hopes to achieve in her education includes learning about marketing and its relationship to the creative community. Furthermore, she wishes to learn more about new technologies and how to use them in art. She hopes that her future career will involve providing artists with the opportunities they need to continue working from their passion.

Additionally, conversations in animation, game development and sequential art are areas of interest for her and she intends to place them in the canon of art history. Some inspirations for her personal art include the subjects above, as well as music, architecture, and fashion.


Liz Simmons is the new operations intern for the Center for Creative Economy. She is currently a junior at Salem College majoring in Art History and Economics. Liz is interested in the intersection of art and business and is particularly interested in the global art market

At Salem, Liz currently serves as the secretary and treasurer for her campus activities board where she coordinates events for students in and around Winston. In her free time, she enjoys painting, watercolor is her preferred medium, scouring Mega Thrift and Snob for good deals, and eating Korean BBQ pork tacos at Quiet Pint. While interning for the Center for Creative Economy, she is excited to meet Winston creatives and learn about businesses’ evolution in the Triad.


When you see them around be sure to say hello they would love to meet more of our community!

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Welcome 2019 | Meet the CCE Team

Happy New Year! The Center for Creative Economy is looking forward to another great year in 2019.

For those who have attended some of our most recent events, you may have noticed some very exciting changes to our organization. In the past six months, we’ve introduced two new team members to the CCE family!

We invite you to read on and learn a little more about the CCE team and what makes each member unique and a great resource to the organization and the creatives we serve! Please feel free to reach out anytime and be sure to introduce yourself next time you are at a Swerve event.

Let’s meet the team!

Margaret Collins CCE

Margaret Collins, Founding Executive Director

Margaret Collins, is the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Creative Economy (CCE).

Margaret was recently named a Triad Power Player by the Triad Business Journal and serves on the Board of Directors of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission. Nationally, she served on the board of the National Creativity Network and was a co-founder of the National Creative Economy Coalition. Originally from Shelby, NC, Collins attended Wake Forest University and UNC School of the Arts receiving a B. A. in music from WFU studying trombone and piano. In Washington DC, she received an M.A. from The American University in Performing Arts: Arts Management. Margaret enjoys playing in the Winston-Salem Community Band. She and her husband, Ray, have a son, Michael, currently at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Margaret’s Fun Facts:

  1. I am a big fan of hot yoga! On most Saturday mornings you can find me at the Robinhood YMCA stretching and sweating.  It’s a great stress reliever and I get some of my best ideas in class!


  1. I love books on tape and usually have one going in my car.  Right now I’m reading Brene Brown’s “Dare to Lead” which is really intense.  During the holidays I took a break and watched a few Hallmark’s TV movies. So romantic, sweet, and festive!


  1. I also love travel and this month headed to Singapore and Indonesia.  Ray and I are visiting with CCE board member, Shuyi Mo, and having a blast exploring Southeast Asia including Bali.   

Taryn Jerez Marketing

Taryn Jerez, Marketing and Events Coordinator

Taryn Jerez was added to the team in June of 2018 as CCE’s Marketing and Events Coordinator.  Taryn is a Florida transplant and has called North Carolina home for the last four years. She obtained her B.F.A in Fashion Design and Marketing from the International Academy of Design & Technology in Tampa, FL. Taryn is a creative professional with experience working for Fortune 500 companies and diverse brands both big and small, which has allowed her to receive extensive experience in everything from branding and content marketing to product development, vendor relations, and more. She is passionate about small and women-owned business and her favorite thing about her role is organizing and facilitating monthly Swerve events. When she isn’t working, you can find her watching Netflix on the couch with her husband, cat, and two dogs or doing a craft project.


Taryn’s Fun Facts:

  1. I am actually a small business owner myself. I’m a creative business coach and the founder of One Crafty Miss, LLC, an online space created for female entrepreneurs to fuel the heart behind their hustle. I love working with female makers and creatives to help them make more money, doing what they love.


  1. I am married to my “high school sweetheart”. We actually met at band camp when we were fifteen years old and have been together ever since.


  1. I have a huge love for sea turtles and am really passionate about sea turtle conservation! Every year, I support the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida and one of my goals in the future is to volunteer with them at a sea turtle release.


Kayla Norris Operations

Kayla Norris, Operations and Community Development Coordinator

Kayla Norris is the newest team member with CCE and is the Operations and Community Development Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management of Nonprofit Organizations from Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. Passionate about strategic planning, implementing systems and community development, her favorite part about her role at CCE is getting to connect with individual creatives and learn about their unique skills and passions. Kayla grew up in Winston-Salem and moved back here from Knoxville in 2018 to pursue a career in the nonprofit industry. In her free time, Kayla likes to explore downtown Winston-Salem with her husband, Adam, and golden retriever, Ruby.


Kayla’s Fun Facts:

  1. I was born in Colorado and have lived in Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee, but  will always consider North Carolina my home! I lived in Winston-Salem from age 9 until I left for college. After 6 years in gorgeous Knoxville, TN, my husband and I had Carolina on our minds once again and decided to move back home in the spring of 2018.


  1. My creative outlet is writing! I enjoy journaling, writing poetry and writing short stories. I won a newspaper essay contest, was on a radio show, and spoke in front of a group of 1,500 people all before age 15.


  1. My dream for later in life is to run a bed & breakfast out of a historic farmhouse with lots of land for raising golden retrievers. I love nothing more than creating the perfect environment for people to feel comfortable, important, and loved.  

Center for Creative EconomyThe CCE team is often referred to as “small but mighty”, and we think it couldn’t be more fitting!

While each member of the team comes from different backgrounds and experiences, together there is an abundant amount of passion for creative entrepreneurs and the impact that can be made in the creative community. As we enter 2019, know that our team is here to serve and we look forward to a wonderful year ahead!

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Center for Creative Economy Announced as Grantee of the 2018 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant

NC idea Grantee

“NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization is awarding thirteen grants, totaling over $1.5 million to organizations throughout the state that support the Foundation’s vision to empower North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential.

“Today’s announcement is the Foundation’s largest single funding to date, bringing our total in ECOSYSTEM grants to nearly $3 million to 24 organizations over the past two years,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “By partnering with these organizations, we create greater opportunity for the statewide exchange of ideas, experiences and connections,” Ruhe added.”

Read the full article here.


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Three Creative Startups Are Winners of $50,000 From The Center For Creative Economy

Center for Creative Economy Winners 2018

 The 2018 Creative Startups Winston-Salem Winners Margot and Trevor Toppen of Edumotion, Wendy Hickey of ArtPop Street Gallery, and Kevin Clark of Point Motion


“During the past two months, ten creative enterprises completed an 8-week business educational program and came to Winston-Salem, NC, to compete for a split of $50,000 in seed stage investment offered by the Center for Creative Economy as part of the world-class Creative Startups Southeast Accelerator program. In North Carolina alone, creative industries generate $14 billion in wages, salaries and benefits and are a driver of the state’s economic future.”

Read the full press release here.

Recent news articles:

Yes! Weekly – Three Creative Startups Are Winners of $50,000 From The Center For Creative Economy


Want to learn more about Creative Startups Winston-Salem? Learn More here. 

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The One Relationship Every Entrepreneur Needs


For most entrepreneurs, the hardest part about running a business isn’t starting it, but keeping it going.

Entrepreneurship is a social career path, but it can also be lonely when working by yourself or with just a few others. As a result, the initial rush of starting a business can fade, and is replaced with declining energy and  stagnation. To keep your business alive and on the move, you need a sounding board, someone with whom you can bounce off ideas. This is a critical component for success.

The answer? Find a Mentor.

Mentors occupy the position of both a sounding board and motivator, along with providing needed expertise to help speed you on your way to success.


What makes for a good mentor?

While many people can act as sounding boards, allowing you to pummel them with ideas and questions, the more experience your mentor has, the better informed and developed your ideas will become. Seek out mentors with whom you share some experience, but more importantly, search for guidance from people whose skill sets complement your own. Their perspective should be different enough that each of you is able to provide some value to the other through your differing opinions.

A diverse set of mentors is helpful, as well, because they can and will provide different points of view to help you understand different perspectives and apply to a broader base of people.


Mentoring relationships for entrepreneurs

What are the benefits to working with a mentor?

Mentors will provide helpful and meaningful advice, but it is not their job to run your company. You as the entrepreneur have to do the work, and make the final decisions. Mentors will offer suggestions, but they have the most profound effect on the development of their mentee when, instead of offering advice, they ask questions that lead the mentee to the discovery of a solution on their own.

One of the most impactful ways in which mentors help their mentees is by pointing out common pitfalls that can be avoided.  Creating an atmosphere of trust where you can share both best practices and big mistakes is crucial to a successful relationship. Hopefully this advise steers the mentee away from making an easily avoidable mistake and demonstrates that we can learn a lot from each other. Sharing provides great value.

A recent Tech Crunch article “What Makes a Startup Successful” points out  that “Founders that learn are more successful: Startups that have helpful mentors, track metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders, raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.” Are you ready to walk away from that kind of growth potential?


Clearly, mentorship is important- if not essential- to your entrepreneurial journey.

Join us over the next few weeks as CCE dives into the dynamic roles mentors and mentees play in the success of creative entrepreneurs in our 3 part blog series.

If you’re searching for an opportunity to connect with potential mentors, especially within the creative community, join CCE for our next Swerve event! Social Media Expert, Joshua Moyer will be presenting his key strategies for building your online presence into a robust platform that will connect you with your customers without draining your time and energy. You never know who’s in the room, so come by, plug yourself into the creative economy, and set yourself up for success.

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CCE New Team Member Alert | Meet Jack


Jack Hupper Center for Creative Economy


We are pleased to welcome Jack Hupper as our summer intern for CCE!  He is a fortunate addition to our growing team and in just a few short weeks has already jumped in and started creating a real impact!

Jack is a rising senior at Wake Forest University with a double major in Communications and Spanish. He is involved in Greek life and the music scene on campus. As a passionate creative with a love for the arts in many areas, he fits in perfectly here at CCE!

Since Jack is helping CCE so much this summer, we wanted to learn more about his life and experiences and share that with our readers.  Thanks Jack for all your help and support!


Center for creative economy jack hupper


Where are you from originally and what brought you here to Winston-Salem?

I was born in Concord, MA, just outside of Boston, but I’ve moved around a bit.  I lived in Massachusetts until I finished my sophomore year in high school, and then moved  to Cincinnati, OH for the remainder of my pre-college years. Since Cincinnati, I’ve lived and worked in Los Angeles, CA, Tenants Harbor, ME, and a brief stint in Albuquerque, NM. During the year, I’m here in Winston-Salem at Wake, and it looks like I may be sticking around for a while!

What are you passionate about outside of your internship and school?

My weekends are generally packed with big mural painting projects, making music and writing. I hope to be able to continue to hold on to these passions as I make my way through life.  I’m also the president of my a capella group, the Melodeacs , and I’m excited about growing the group and broadening my own personal horizons both inside and outside of school.

I’m an animal and conservation buff, too.  The way humans and animals have interacted with and changed each other over the years absolutely fascinates me. I love learning about how surprisingly “human” so much of the life that we share this world with really is!

What attracted you to the opportunity at CCE?

Right now, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life; where I want to be, what kind of work I’d like to be doing, who I’d like to be helping.  I’ve already worked a little in finance on the corporate side of the workforce, and this year I was searching for a different kind of experience. I’m a creative guy, so when I found this opportunity at CCE, I went for it.  Being able to work with other creatives in a productive way is an opportunity I’ve never had before. I wanted to see how I personally could influence our creative economy here in Winston-Salem.

CCE offers great opportunities to meet people locally, and more importantly, its amazing programs have real traction and are gaining widespread appeal.  CCE has accomplished a lot to date, but there is such a huge potential for growth. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to help in the development of a company whose cause I truly believe in, and that’s why I’m here!

What has been your favorite part of your internship so far?

Swerve events are the best!  They’re packed with energetic, exciting, hungry creatives looking to build serious value with their unique skills.  These are my people and I’m thrilled to have found them!


Jack Hupper Center for Creative Economy

What is one thing you’ve learned so far that surprised you about the Creative Economy here in Winston-Salem?

It’s everywhere! It seems like everywhere I turn there’s something or someone invested in the creative economy. Whether it’s a young entrepreneur with her own line of style-wear or a retail giant like HanesBrands, Winston-Salem’s creative economy is everywhere.  We range from super small-scale to huge creativity-centric corporations and everywhere in between. I didn’t realize quite how much of a creative hotbed I’ve been living in for the past few years until very recently. I’m thrilled at being able to discover it all now.

If you had deep financial backing, what kind of creative venture would you build and why?

Right now, I’m interested in storage container homes.  Storage containers, like the ones you see on cargo ships or trains, are an interestingly versatile medium, like Lego, and they’ve got a lot of potential as housing and workspaces.  If I had all the money in the world, I’d build out a business focused on designing, constructing, and renting or selling high-quality affordable housing made from storage containers to low-income families.  

I’ve been lucky enough to have a roof over my head my whole life, but there are millions who haven’t been given the same opportunities.  Think about it, there are countless people out there who can’t spend time making their dreams a reality because they’re too busy scraping by just trying to pay for overpriced housing or just get food on the table.  Think about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. These movers, shakers and producers of tomorrow could be some of these people! If I can do something to take some of the weight off of their shoulders by getting affordable housing out there, just imagine how many more people would be able to achieve their true goals and make the world an even better place.  I’m a big believer in paying it forward, both for myself and for future generations, so I view this as both a morally sound venture and an investment in the future. I won’t need all the money in the world to make it happen, either, so keep an eye out for me!

We are definitely keeping an eye out for Jack and know he will continue to accomplish great things here with CCE and well beyond!

Please help us welcome Jack as you see him with the team in the coming weeks and be sure to say hello at our next Swerve event on August 16th!

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How are creative industries impacting the economy?

At the Center for Creative Economy, we define creative enterprises as companies and individuals that combine design, arts, and technology to create a product or service that gets created, made, and distributed into the economy. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis,  creative industries contribute $700 billion to the US Gross Domestic Product and $26 billion in revenues in North Carolina.

In fact, the creative economy is growing faster than any economic sector. Our Creative Startups cohorts are included in that increasing number of creative industry professionals that are revolutionizing education technology, print and digital design, creative R&D, software, fashion, film, music, and countless other fields that specialize integrating arts and innovation.

Hair Styling, Make up, and Prosthetics

Christal Schanes, Creative Startups alum and Founder of MEDwig, is changing the world of possibility for medical patients suffering from hair loss. Her career expertise in commercial and stage wig building, hairstyling, makeup, and prosthetics with UNC School of the Arts inspired a company in constructing high quality, custom, medical wigs. Her approach uses state-of-the-art materials that allow patients to have the look and security of natural hair while still allowing hair regrowth to occur.

Creative Tech

Another alum, Carrie Shaw, works at the intersection of health education and virtual reality storytelling. She is the CEO and founder Embodied Labs, a virtual reality platform for healthcare services workforce training. As a medical illustrator and health educator, Carrie developed an interest in the possibility of using virtual reality storytelling to convey the perspective of vulnerable patient populations. Embodied Labs now specializes in creating interactive VR programs that promote healthcare professionals to share expertise and value patient care.

Embodied Labs has just celebrated 1.5 years and currently have 13 academic institutions and 11 long term care & home health agencies using Embodied Labs for caregiver training and development.  For further context, the academic institutions that have signed with them are using Embodied Labs across MD, DO, PA, PT, social work, and nursing programs.  Here is an article by University of New England on how their medical students are using Embodied Labs.  All of these institutions have subscribed to their software to be used on VR hardware that they house in their sim centers, libraries, or centers for faculty teaching & learning.  It’s great to see the uses for VR-based training continue to grow!

These companies are only a couple of examples of how creatives are building the economy and community through the channel of creative industries. Creative Startups Winston-Salem shares in the vision of stimulating innovation and creativity by providing an environment in which creatives can grow in this rapidly expanding industry.

Need help tackling those difficult obstacles in your business?  

If you are a creative entrepreneur, check out Creative Startups’ high impact business accelerator. Join Creative Startups for an online info session on May 24th, and learn how to launch, grow, and scale your creative business.


Learn More


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Center for Creative Economy awarded Parsec Prize


May 3, 2018 Asheville, N.C.

Parsec Financial, an independent fee-only wealth management firm, announced today it has awarded The Center for Creative Economy (CCE) a Parsec Prize for 2018. The CCE will receive $20,000 to connect and promote the creative industries in the Piedmont Triad.

Founded in 2011, the CCE serves as an advocate for creative industries and entrepreneurs; those businesses and organizations that make or market products and services associated with innovation, aesthetics, design or culture. CCE serves as a catalyst for innovation among creative industries promoting connectivity and job growth in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad; WinstonSalem, Greensboro and High Point.

“Our mission is to Launch, Grow, and Accelerate Creative entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Margaret Collins, founding executive director for The Center for Creative Economy. “This award will fund our 2018 Creative Startups accelerator which focuses emerging Creative Entrepreneurs on the business skill development they vitally need to turn their promising businesses into companies that can grow and scale.”

Locally and nationally, there is a severe lack of resources for creative entrepreneurs. The funds will support marketing outreach to creatives in NC and the Southeast, license fees, books, hotel, food and other course expenses. This accelerator program is uniquely suited to startups scaling not just in their region, but also around the world.

“We are excited to award a Parsec Prize to the Center for Creative Economy in Winston-Salem,” said Daniel Johnson, senior financial advisor with Parsec Financial. “As a small business that has been around since 1980, Parsec and its founders are big supporters of the entrepreneurial spirit. Awarding this prize during Parsec’s first year in Winston-Salem is reminiscent of our humble beginnings in Asheville. We can’t think of a better way to begin our support of the Winston-Salem community, than to support an organization so closely related to our own roots.”

For more information on the Parsec Prize, you can visit

About Parsec Financial:

For over 35 years, Parsec Financial has provided financial planning and investment management services to Western North Carolina and beyond. With over $2.5 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2017, Parsec provides investment management, retirement planning, and estate and trust advisory services. The mission of Parsec Financial is to help clients set financial goals, create an investment strategy in accordance with those goals, and maintain this focus through long-term investment management. For more information on Parsec Financial please visit: MEDIA CONTACT Donnie Funderud Zander Guinn Millan 704.333.5500

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