Each month we feature a woman in business who personifies what it means to be a Business Betty- she is confident, smart, stylish and successful. Do you know a woman that you consider a Betty? Tell us about her by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you follow our blog, you’ll probably remember us posting about our trip to Miami in January. Before we left, we connected with these super cool ladies but because of scheduling weren’t able to meet up with them while we were there. I’m happy to say that we’ve continued to connect with each other since our trip and we’re excited to share not just one Betty this month, but four!
Please meet Sara Read, Heather Read, Laraine Hart, and Kerry McLaney of Miami’s Independant Thinkers.
“Miami’s Independent Thinkers is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the unity, development and promotion of Miami’s flourishing art community. Their assemblage embraces established, emerging and young artists, visionaries and intellectuals.
MITs mission is to provide a sustainable support base for Miami’s creative community including: painters, photographers, filmmakers, sculptors, animators, writers, musicians, performance, and new media artists.”
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT EACH OF THE FOUNDERS
(SR) I have always been into the arts, music and technology and have been very fortunate to work in my dream fields since college. I have worked in the mobile marketing/telecommunication arena for over 12 years and have 14 years of event production experience. My background with event production and lighting is what sparked my invite to the initial Miami’s Independent Thinkers concept meeting. I am currently the Founder/ Director of production at Miami Thinkers and the Director of Business Development for Red Fish Media.
(HR) I’ve worked in the event industry for 13 years and owned/managed beach clubs on the sands of Miami Beach for 5 years.
(LH) I earned my Bachelors in Business Administration from Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. During my undergrad I was afforded the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland and Belgium. I was lucky enough to travel the World before the age of 21.
I decided to move back to Miami to continue my education earning my MBA at Nova Southeastern University. I am currently the Director of Marketing and Social Media for Red Fish Media and also a founding member of Miami’s Independent Thinkers.
(KM) I was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photography was my first love. I attended Savannah College of Art Design for undergrad and graduate school. Been fortunate to travel around the world, mostly by myself. I am the Founder/Creative Director of 305 Creative Group, a boutique branding agency. I sit on the advisory board for FEAST Miami and am actively involved with most of the local cultural institutions.
HOW DID THE IDEA COME ABOUT FOR STARTING MIT?
(SR) The Idea for Miami Thinkers came about when Miami Beach became the US host city for Art Basel. Art Basel stages the world’s premier Modern and contemporary art shows. We wanted to create a platform to give Miami artists a voice in the art scene and have their worked viewed by the international audience that was here during Art Basel. So in 2009 we launched a satellite fair called Miami’s Independent Thinkers held in Wynwood, Miami Fl. Wynwood used to be the warehouse and manufacturing district of Greater Miami, developers have rehabilitated neglected warehouses, shuttered factories, and other unused buildings, transforming them into the numerous art complexes, galleries, performing art spaces, restaurants, cafes, and other creative businesses that are seen here today. Originally there were 12 founders and after the first year only the 4 of us survived and made MIT what is today.
(LH) The idea was born out of the fact that a lot of our local artists and friends were not being shown during Art Basel in Miami. So we decided with about 13 others to create a satellite fair during Art Basel that would only exhibit local artists. Our first show showcased 100+ local artists, musicians, sculptors, filmmakers, etc.
HAS RUNNING THIS BUSINESS CHANGED YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER?
(SR) Running the business has brought us closer because we did not know each other before we started this company.
(HR) We have learned to understand each other and respect one another.
(LH) We are extremely close group. We act and definitely fight like family. LOL. Running a business together brought a new level to our relationship. We had a lot more responsibility to one another. We have had some great times and some trying times but we know we can always count on each other.
“Never give up your dream, work hard everyday, and be humble/gracious”
– Heather Read
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED WITH GETTING THIS BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND? HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO DEAL WITH THEM?
(SR) Where to begin – what challenges didn’t we face? When we first started we were a new organization that had not been formed or introduced to Miami before. We had to raise money for our first show, source locations along with getting the word out to any artist who may be interested in joining our organization. We immediately had to hit the ground running and leverage each others skills and strengths to make it happen. When we first started we didn’t own a gallery so we would rent abandoned warehouse and completely transform them into a gallery/event space. We had over 100 artists show with us during our first fair. Throughout the 4 days every hour or so the mood/environment of the show would change because we had live performances, poetry reading, DJ sets and bands. Anytime you came through the doors it would feel like a different show. Managing the production schedule was a challenge in itself.
(LH) In the beginning, we lost more than half of the people we started the organization with, which meant a lot more work and responsibility for each of us. The organization is still going because the 4 of us really put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money into it. Pretty much what every business goes through in order to get it off the ground.
DO YOU HANG OUT TOGETHER WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING? WHAT KINDS OF THINGS DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
(SR) Yes we do! We typically will meet up for breakfast, events or join each other in Wynwood for Art Walk which is held every second Saturday of the month.
(HR) Yes we do…celebrate holiday and birthdays, dinners, vacations, social events.
(LH) Yes we do. We love to brunch!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
(KM) Miami’s multi-cultural communities and people.
(HR) Nature, music and art
(LH) We inspire each other. Art and music definitely inspire us. Also, challenges also inspire us.
WHAT’S THE ONE TOOL YOU EACH COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
(SR) I hate to say it but it is my iPhone – all of my business is conducted through it and the camera is always useful in helping me capture all those precious moments, well, except when the battery runs out.
(KM) My iPhone (eek)!
(LH) Our iPhones
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
(LH) Sara is the mother two and still finds time to get everything done. Kerry can fluently speak Haitian Creole. Heather once owned a beach club on South Beach. (That was really fun!) Me? I went to acting school.
WHAT’S THE NICEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE RECEIVED ABOUT MIT?
(HR) People have told us they are very grateful that there is an organization in Miami that supports local and emerging artists.
(LH) It’s not the compliments it’s the thank you’s from the artists. Those are the nicest things to hear. They really appreciate what we do and they believe in the cause.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS?
(SR) You should also ways surround yourself with the best people you know and with people who are better then you because you will be able to learn from them. The ultimate thing is to never take NO for an answer – you can always find a way to get it done.
(HR) Never give up your dream, work hard everyday, and be humble/gracious
(LH) Things aren’t always what they seem. When you really want to give up because you feel like you can’t go any further, sleep on it. Give yourself 15 minutes to freak out then get back to work.
Photography by: Mayleen Gonzalez