Founded by Natalie Franke, a creative and small business owner in Annapolis, Maryland, the Rising Tide Society launched its first Tuesdays Together gatherings in May of 2015. Held in 12 cities across the United States, the meetings were a way to foster community, not competition, and provide a place for entrepreneurs, creatives, and small business owners to gather and exchange ideas in a safe environment full of support and education. The Rising Tide Society is a way to build strong communities and businesses by offering the tools needed to thrive and support local non-profit organizations - enriching those around them.
As an organization, the Rising Tide Society also focuses on giving back. To date, the Rising Tide Society has raised and donated over $60,000 to non-profits and organizations including The School Sessions, U.S. Dream Academy, The Birthday Party Project, Thirst Relief and more.
Jill Gum of Jill Gum Photography founded The Springfield chapter in 2015. Eighteen21.com caught up with the now 31-year-old wife and mother of two who understands all too well the challenges that small creative business owners face. In her search to find solutions and overcome these obstacles – The Rising Tide Society was her answer.
Why did you decide to join the Rising Tide Society?
I was following one of the leaders online and the group immediately spoke to one of the small creative business owners’ largest struggles: isolation. When you own your own business, often you are the only employee, and it can be lonely. These meetings provide a setting to help solve this feeling of isolation and prevent the tendency for competition between small business owners within a local community. Instead, we focus on helping each other grow and supporting each other.
What is the group’s main purpose?
Educating and empowering creatives to thrive in the spirit of community over competition.
Where was the first meeting?
Cafe Moxo downtown in August of 2015
How large was the group when it started?
For the first six months, we typically met with just three to four members, and the Facebook members (to link us together and communicate) started with around 30 members. We were the second group to begin in Illinois after Chicago’s group.
How large is the group now?
Now, we regularly meet with 10 to 12 creatives and the Facebook community has more than 100 members. In the larger urban areas, groups often meet with 50 to 60 plus attendees monthly. There are currently 12 Illinois groups, making it the state with the most groups in the Midwest.
Where are meetings held every 2nd Tuesday of the month?
We rotate between daytime and evening meetings to meet schedule needs and usually meet on the west side of Springfield at coffee shops or lunch locations because we have Jacksonville representation and it is closer to them.
Who is involved in the group?
Photographers, wedding venue owners, salon owners, DJs, a cooking studio owner, and other small business owners usually make up our meetings. In our Facebook community and worldwide, there are also florists, wedding planners, bloggers, artists, etc. It is not specific to the wedding industry, though many small creative business owners do come from that sector.
What does the group discuss?
Each month, there is a new topic and PDF to guide leaders through what we can expand on. Some topics have been: client experience, marketing, using social media to grow your business, accounting and bookkeeping and productivity.
How does the Springfield Rising Tide Society give back to the local community?
The larger Rising Tide Society raises a lot of its donations by hosting various educational opportunities for small creative business owners, and the local group has promoted that. One example is volunteering and serving meals during Thanksgiving.
What events have the group has been a part of or hope to be a part of?
We are very interested in using our creative skills to give back in any way we can, but as small business owners have struggled to find the time or specific need for events. We are interested in expanding this.
What do you believe is the biggest perk of being a part of this movement?
Feeling like you have co-workers who are supporting you and helping you in an industry that didn’t typically allow that for most of us.
Are there any criteria that those interested in joining must meet?
They must be small creative business owners that believe in creating community and helping others instead of being in competition with others.
How would someone interested in joining apply?
Just search for the Springfield Tuesdays Together group on Facebook, and make sure their profile has info about what they do that fits into the small creative business category (to ensure that they meet the criteria).
Photo credit: Jill Gum