RICHMOND, VA – I stopped in front of an empty building I pass practically every day walking to work. “This is it?” I think to myself, not sure if I’m at the right location. I stepped into the building, looking up at the high ceilings, paint buckets on the floor and stray pieces of furniture. It’s definitely a work in progress.
“This is a space for creative survivors,” is how Sean Powell describes The Workshop, an upcoming place in the River City for people to collaborate together and learn from one another.
The Workshop will help fund the Young Business Builders Program, which is part of Engage The Foundation (ETF). “Engage The Foundation helps to develop successive generations who understand their individual identity, purpose, and direction for a successful life within society.” The Young Builders program aims to mentor and tutor youth in the hopes of helping them become successful in their passions and careers.
Powell, the Executive Director of ETF, says “Turning passions into profit,” is the goal of YBB and The Workshop will help facilitate that.
In a busy city like Richmond, there are many entrepreneurs opening up their own businesses, restaurants, clothing stores and art galleries. People seem to be doing their own thing all the time or having a side-gig that they are passionate about. Our current generation is pushing back against the 9-5 in the age of social media, influencers, and entrepreneurs. Being able to manifest your own dreams as an entrepreneur can be difficult, especially when you are young and aren’t being pointed in the right direction. Powell believes that for creatives, it can be even more of a hurdle to get over when you feel like you can’t express your ideas or don’t know how to.
“Often times creatives are limited in their awareness in their regards to their career development… .in being able to see that you have a career in that field. One of the biggest things you notice as a creative is that your net worth is your network. If you don’t associate yourself with folks, it’ll make it harder for you to be successful. Speed up your success by surrounding yourself with people who are successful in your lane. Older folks can help you avoid those mistakes and open doors that were closed for them.”
The Workshop will be a place for youth to learn from mentors in the community, such as college students and entrepreneurs. “It’ll show them a way to make money and feed themselves and their families through education in a less traditional sense. It’s delivering them education through creativity, through mentorship,” Powell says.
The space will also give small business owners and experts of today’s culture an opportunity to network, collaborate and educate one another on how to grow their small business. It’ll give college students a space to practice their craft and pass on their knowledge to others while continuing to learn for themselves.
The Workshop has been a work in progress and has come together through “experiences of transitional growth,”, Powell tells me.
“The older generation is all about getting a stable job. The middle generation is about getting a stable job because the older generation told me to but I’m a rebel so I want to have a side hustle. The younger generation learned what was cool from us, the middle generation, which was rebelliousness and they ran with it, full on rebels that want to make money on their own. In the middle generation, we knew how to make the transition to entrepreneurship because we know how things are from the corporate side. So we’re delivering elderly wisdom, sort of like a funnel, giving advice to the younger generation.”
“Over time we noticed the different barriers that hold folks back from being successful in creative culture, not getting a job in the career that you want to and not thinking there is a lot of money is being an artist, kids not having exposure to certain programs, and who don’t have the educational support going to college. We’re trying to mesh economic development and creative expression to reduce those barriers so that they can have their successes academically and passionately.”
The Workshop is open to anyone who wants to further themselves in life and they will be having a soft opening on July 3rd at 420 W Broad St.
By: Brianna Scott
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