Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

“I think there are several obstacles that keep people from pursing passions as work,” Amber McDermid says, determined to help people overcome these barriers with her new venture the Wander Trees. McDermid's network of artists pools marketing and distribution resources to support one another's businesses. Photo of McDermid, smiling near top right, and fellow Wander Trees creatives from the project's campaign page

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.

The Wander Trees

“The mission of the Wander Trees is to inspire others to live full, colorful lives by blurring the lines between work and play,” founder Amber McDermid explains in her startup’s campaign video. Some would-be creatives, she says, “simply don’t believe in pursing passions as a living. They think it is some fairytale that only dreamers would chase after. I think the top obstacles are self-doubt and not knowing how to turn passions into a stable income.” By creating collective distribution outlets and providing other business support services for makers, she hopes to remove some of the major obstacles that prevent individuals from pursuing art as income. McDermid’s team will pool the costs of marketing and showcasing various artists’ wares at vendor events and online, collecting a portion of revenues to cover operating expenses. “Like true nomads, we will be popping up all along the Appalachian Mountains, attending farmers markets, craft fairs and festivals to sell our goods,” she says. McDermid aims to raise $5,000 to cover startup costs, including website development and maintenance, marketing expenses, supplies, transportation costs and professional service fees.

Youth serving in Nepal

What the people of Nepal don’t need, Asheville youth Adam Wagner says, citing April’s devastating earthquakes, “is a lot of volunteers with nothing to do. That’s why we’re going with a purpose.” Wagner and fellow high school graduate Dawson Mims are partnering with nonprofit Medic Mobile, a communications service that helps dispatch aid to rural locations. They’ll work with the organization for several weeks during a service trip to Nepal, also bringing along affordable lighting solutions provided by the Light Foundation. “But the most important thing for us is to document the people’s struggle and help tell their story,” Mims adds. For this, the two will draw on a collective skill set that includes photography, videography and other mediums of artistic expression. They aim to raise $5,000 by Wednesday, July 29, to cover airfare, vaccinations and supplies. Additional monies will be donated to Medic Mobile and the Light Foundation.

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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