Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding campaigns

Designer Rachel Weisberg sells her wares at boutiques in Asheville, New York City, Miami, Chicago and Portland, in addition to her online store. But dissatisfied with her current garment factory options, the fashionista wants to launch her own production facility right here in Asheville. “We will produce locally and create a community based factory where the sewers, cutters and others will make high quality products in a socially responsible work environment,” she writes on her Kickstarter page. “This means appreciating the time, energy and materials that go into every product for sale.” Image from Weisberg's campaign page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise startup capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Rachel Weisberg collection and living wage garment factory

Garment, accessory and home goods designer Rachel Weisberg moved to Asheville after increasing demand for her products at independent boutiques across the country necessitated production through a garment factory. “I realized I needed to do something different,” she says in her campaign video, “something that would make me feel comfortable in how my work was produced. … My plan is to create a factory where all workers receive a living wage and quality working conditions.” This, she says, would represent a departure from the clothing industry’s unethical practices and fit well with Asheville’s local business culture. Weisberg, who creates her pieces “with social consciousness and timeless style,” aims to raise $25,000 by Monday, May 11, to present a collection at New York City’s AXIS market this fall and launch her ethical garment factory locally.

David Holt’s State of Music episodes

Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt isn’t the only local who is working to preserve Appalachian music traditions, but he’s certainly among the most dedicated and outspoken. Earlier this year, his one-hour television show “David Holt’s State of Music” premiered on North Carolina public television, featuring talented artists like multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, singer Josh Goforth, fiddler Bruce Molsky and bluegrass group Balsam Range. “The program showcases these great performers doing what they do best on location in the very landscapes that nurtured them and their music,” reads the program’s campaign page, “and now, UNC-TV has invited us to make it into a series for national distribution!” At about $80,000 per episode, independently producing the televised series would require considerable support from donors, says co-producer Will McIntyre, calling the project a “labor of love.” He and his production partner Deni McIntyre aim to raise $20,000 by Thursday, May 21, to fund the next episode and share more Appalachian music with a national audience.

A playground for the youths of Hot Springs

“The children of Hot Springs NC need a playground!” reads a crowdfunding campaign page by Western North Carolina resident Tammy Shelton. “All our families will appreciate a wonderful, safe place to run, swing, bounce, and race!” Shelton says she’s got her eye on a disused playground area adjacent to a Hot Springs school. “There you will see [a] swing set with no swings, rusted out climbing sphere and tether pole with no ball. And when it rains, it’s all a giant mud puddle,” she writes. “Please contribute whatever you can to help give this play ground new life!” Shelton aims to raise $30,000 to restore the space.

Photo from Shelton's campaign page
Photo from Shelton’s campaign page

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress‘ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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