The mission of THE gumption CONFERENCE is to foster creativity & hospitality in the american south.
Join us on Saturday, March 9 in historic Franklin, Tennessee as some of the leading creative Southerners share with us inspiring and thought-provoking stories about how they are using food, drink, music, storytelling, poetry, woodworking, photography, and even spray paint to positively impact the future of the American South.
2019 FEATURED SPEAKERS
Salemtown Board Co.
A Non-Profit CEO, intentional neighbor, mentor, pastor, and community advocate in the zip-code. For the past 7 years he has worked alongside young men helping them discover their own passions and potential. In 2012 he founded Salemtown Board Co. with a friend. Salemtown Board Co. is a social enterprise that uses skateboard production as a means of job creation for at-risk young men. In 2016 he and his brother Schuyler founded Maple Built Inc., a non-profit woodworking apprenticeship with a focus on mentoring. Will is also involved in leading a program for formerly incarcerated men who are pursuing sustainable flourishing.
Sean of the South
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
A columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, Good Grit, The Tallahassee Democrat, South Magazine, Yellowhammer News, the Bitter Southerner, Thom Magazine, The Mobile Press Register, and he has authored ten books. A mediocre sailor and fisherman, a biscuit connoisseur, and barbecue competition judge, when he’s not writing, he spends much of his time aboard his fourteen-foot fishing boat (The S.S. Squirrel), along with his coonhound, Thelma Lou.
Poet Laureate of Mississippi
Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. She’s the author of six books, most recently Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (W. W. Norton), named by The Atlanta Journal Constitution as one of the best books of the year. She lives in Oxford, MS, with her husband and three children.
The moniker of...well, maybe not. A native of Nashville, TN, forBecks was first exposed to street artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash, Invader, and more while residing in Los Angeles, CA. It was there that his love for street art began. A self-taught artist, forBecks decided it was time to begin to share his work with the world. So, in 2017, he began his work and hasn't looked back. He draws inspiration from iconic imagery, pop culture nostalgia, and the idea that art is everywhere and for everyone.
Entrepreneur + Pastor
An entrepreneur, speaker, pastor and business leader. For the past 15 years, he has helped lead two of North Point Ministries multi-site locations in Atlanta, Georgia - Buckhead Church and Gwinnett Church. Jeff was recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of 20 speakers you shouldn’t miss. Prior to working as a pastor, Jeff started his career in marketing with the Atlanta Braves, Callaway Gardens, Lake Lanier Islands and Chick-fil-A, where he led the company’s regional and beverage marketing strategies. Jeff and his wife Wendy have been married 22 years and have a daughter, Jesse, and a son, Cole.
Honest Coffee Roasters
The grandson of one of the first NASA engineers and the 4th great grandson of the early pioneers of Williamson County, including the 2nd great grandson of the founder of Green’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork. In the last 3 years, Brett has started over 7 businesses in Franklin and invested in many others. He currently owns and operates Honest Coffee Roasters located inside the Factory at Franklin. More importantly, he is raising 3 young children to love their hometown and be the best neighbors they can be. Brett’s goal is to help Franklin become the “happiest, healthiest, most prosperous small town in America.”
A business coach and marketing strategist who empowers entrepreneurs, creatives, and executives with a plan and resources to turn their vision into value and their passion into profit. He is currently the CEO of Junction 32, a brand and marketing consultancy, which helps organizations grow their brand, increase revenue, and impact people by telling stories that sell. Throughout his career, Kevin has had the opportunity to serve influential individuals, such as Tony Robbins, Dave Ramsey, and Oprah Winfrey.
Love Not Lost
After losing her daughter to a terminal illness, Ashley developed a new perspective on success, life, and love. She's the founder and executive director of Love Not Lost, a nonprofit who photographs people facing a terminal diagnosis to celebrate life, preserve memories, and support people in grief. Ashley is passionate about personal growth, healing, justice, and love. In fact, the driving question of Love Not Lost and the question she asks daily is, "How can I love people better?" and she will challenge you to ask that question too.
Tree House Macarons
The macaronologists behind Tree House Macarons. From Kelley’s first indulgence at a dessert bar in Guangzhou, China to Eric’s mission to perfect her favorite treat, Tree House Macarons was born off a single piece of parchment paper in Waycross, GA. Prior to launching our business in June of 2015, we spent time in the kitchen together perfecting our macarons and sharing them with friends and family. After many compliments and requests to order our macarons, we decided to start selling them online and at local markets. That original sweet craving has since spread to a deliciously successful business.
Musician + Activist
Born and raised in Nashville TN, the only sister of eight, has been on stage most of her life. Odessa has served as a multi-genre artist referral entity in Nashville for many years in the areas of vocal and instrumental music, acting, modeling, spoken word, recording projects and short films. As a folk singer, songwriter, actor, lover of 4&5 string instruments, and advanced practice nurse, her mission in life is to minister to the sick, listen, learn, bridge gaps, sing, record, and perform with as many people possible, and teach others the great lessons she has learned from those who have allowed her to share their space.
The Founder and Executive Director of Plywood People, the author of More or Less and Yes or No, creator of Path by Plywood, a six-week community driven, learning experience that challenges ideas and brings them into reality, and co-creator to Love or Work, a project asking the question "Is it possible to change the world, stay in love, and raise a healthy family?" Jeff has the vision to make Atlanta a center for social innovation, while personally engaging in over 350+ problem-solving start-ups. His work has been featured by CNN, USA Weekend, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Coca-Cola, Relevant Magazine, and the Chicago Sun Times.
Cliff Spencer never went to woodworking school, but he would never call himself "self-taught." He learned by working for a lot of talented and demanding people. He built window displays in New York for Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the country. Leigh Spencer moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 2016 to start Alabama Sawyer (Alasaw). The company mills local urban trees for furniture and beautiful objects designed to delight and endure. Under her leadership, the company has since won a grant in the EDPA’s Launchpad competition. They were they overall winner in Garden and Gun magazine Made in the South awards.
Tin Type Photographer
A life-long history buff, Blake discovered wet plate collodion photography in 2010 - a perfect combination of science, history, and art. The meticulous process of creating civil war-era photographs presented a new challenge and medium for his photography. An IT Director by day, Blake enjoys making tintype and ambrotype portraits in his spare time. Originally from Florence, Alabama, Blake currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee.