Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Hendersonville photographer Walter Arnold juxtaposes the dirt and decomposition of disused spaces with saturated colors that hint at former glory — a strategy that brings hauntingly evocative results to each canvas. Braced for Impact (Scranton Lace Company) by Walter Arnold

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 Art of Abandonment

For five years, Hendersonville photographer Walter Arnold has been traveling the country with a camera in tow, but it’s not famous landmarks or gorgeous landscapes that appear in his visual keepsakes. “I focus on historic places and things that have been abandoned or forgotten and showcase the beauty that remains,” he explains in his crowdfunding video. “I also research and document the stories and histories of these buildings.” For his next project, Arnold is writing, designing and self-publishing a 128-page coffee-table compilation of his favorite images, along with their accompanying backstories. Arnold has already exceeded his $7,500 goal to complete the production of 1,000 hardcover copies of the Art of Abandonment, but he will continue to raise funds until the project’s deadline on Friday, Sept. 4.

Mudhoneyz kiln

To the untrained eye, a handmade mug may simply appear to be a vehicle — albeit an aesthetically pleasing one — for coffee or tea. The three founders behind Monhoneyz Studio, however, call their potted creations “the vessels we want you to gather around in moments of togetherness, because this is what they’re a tribute to and where they’re at home.” After receiving considerable support from the community during the building of their studio space, LeElaine Comer, Molly Walter and Missy Batten are reaching out to their so-called Mud-homiez once more for a wood- and gas-fueled kiln. They believe this model, which uses salt and soda during the 8- to 14-hour firing process, will provide the best combination of “distinct atmospheric effects on the pottery” and community collaboration (to keep the wood fire going). The trio has already exceeded its $15,000 goal to build the kiln and kiln shed and cover campaign costs, but the women will continue their crowfunding efforts until Thursday, Sept. 10.

Sweet Spot Hammock Hangers: Dorm Room Edition

“When people are comfortable and relaxed, they tend to be less stressed and more able to focus and do their best work,” says Sweet Spot Hammock Hangers founder Derek Plumb. That’s why the local entrepreneur is transforming sterile college dorm rooms into more inviting venues for creative thinking with his vibrant dorm room edition hammocks. His product — a custom size hammock with a bracket mount — fits under the lofted dorm beds provided on 31 campuses, including UNC Asheville, Appalachian State and several other N.C.-based schools. “This is not another company making hammocks, but rather a new company creating more opportunities to chill in a hammock, by putting them in places that have traditionally been overlooked,” Plumb writes on his crowdfunding page. “We’re tackling the college dorm room first.” He aims to raise $15,000 by Wednesday, Sept. 9, to cover patenting costs and design and manufacturing costs for additional product models.

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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