Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Derek Graziano drew his own crowd, busking during the 2014 Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival. Photo by Kat McReynolds

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up 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.


Asheville residents may recognize musician and frequent busker Derek Graziano based on his unique instrument — a hammered dulcimer with custom-made crystal bridge caps. “Crystals, having a harder density than plastic, wood or bone, allow more frequencies to be projected through the sound box of the instrument, giving each note a fuller depth,” he writes on his campaign page. “As well as improving the tonal quality of the instrument, crystals also emit strong healing vibrations.” After upgrading his own devices with gems for nearly four years, Graziano feels equipped and inspired to help others “achieve an overall more enjoyable and complete musical experience” by upfitting their musical instruments with powerful stones — a goal he plans to fulfill by traveling to craft fairs and festivals with his own equipment. Graziano aims to raise $20,000 by Wednesday, Feb. 18, to obtain a set of adequate tools and a trailer for transporting the new equipment.


“FrankenFoods” are Kristen Taylor’s archenemy — especially the commercial candy that caused her son to have an allergic reaction one Halloween. That’s why the young “mama on a mission” is setting out to create a healthier craving-killer by the name of Mama Bee Chocolates. Drawing on nearly a decade of experience, Taylor cranks out all-natural batches of uniquely shaped treats which are geared toward kids but are increasingly popular among adults as well. “If, like me, you feel passionate about kids’ health and high-vibin’ food and believe in the mood-lifting ancient powers of cacao, I’d love to receive your support,” she writes on her campaign page. The chocolatier aims to raise $17,000 for equipment, commercial kitchen rental fees, ingredients, employees and business start-up support.

Image from Mama Bee Chocolates' campaign page
Image from Mama Bee Chocolates’ 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. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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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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