Made for Knoxville LIVE, Round 1

#MadeforKnoxville LIVE – May 25, 2022 at River & Rail Theatre.

Thanks to so many folks that came out, and a big thanks to our friends at FirstBank, River & Rail, Oak Hill Audio, and Reel Division.

Meet our Speakers

Matthew Cummings | Founder of Pretentious Beer + Glass Co.
At Pretentious Glass & Beer Co., Matthew and his team of creatives of every kind craft delicious beers and hand-blown glassware. But at the core, Pretentious is far more than just a business, it’s community focused and entirely collaborative.

Visit Matthew’s Made For Knoxville Profile

Eugenia Almeida | Founder of A New Hue
Born and raised in Argentina, Eugenia came to the United States over thirty years ago while her husband was at the University of Tennessee, and she would go on to raise five children right here in Knoxville. Her joy, and her passion for building a better tomorrow have always stayed with her, and would eventually lead to founding her own company in 2014 – A New Hue.

Visit Eugenia’s Made for Knoxville Profile

Dr. Angelique Adams | Author, Career Mentor, and Coach
For more than a decade, Dr. Adams has been sought out as a career mentor and coach, especially for women and people of color. Frustrated by the lack of role models, resources, and guidance for the people she advised, Angelique created the You’re More Than a Diversity Hire® book series. Dr. Adams’ work fills the gap left by HR, well-intentioned mentors, and general career books. She delivers proven, actionable advice from people who have overcome the challenges of being underrepresented at work.

Visit Angelique’s Made for Knoxville Profile

Kandis Troutman | Chief Consulting Officer at The Creative Architect, LLC.
Kandis Troutman Burney, MA is a creative thinker and communicator with corporate insight. She completed her undergraduate degree at Howard University before pursing her Master’s in Talent Development at Tusculum University. She teaches women how to transition their mindset from fear to faith, exchange confusion for clarity, and transform their purpose into prosperity.

Visit Kandis’ LinkedIn Profile

Check out a full gallery of photos by Holly Rainey:

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For a full recap:

This article was originally published on You can find the original article here,

#MadeforKnoxville LIVE recap By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Four local entrepreneurs shared their very different start-up journeys during Wednesday night’s “Made for Knoxville LIVE” event at the River & Rail Theatre Company in the Old City.

Hosted by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC), the program drew a much different group of attendees than those attracted to an event featuring tech-based start-ups. As such, it helped showcase the diversity that is the region’s ecosystem just one day before the finale event for the inaugural cohort of the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.”

KEC’s always energetic Chris McAdoo moderated the discussion that featured four other mostly over-the-top entrepreneurs – two clearly in the maker community and two who also are very active in KEC’s programming. They were:

In advance of their presentations, McAdoo asked the four to share their pivoting moment with attendees.

The vivacious Almeida described coming to the U.S. from her native Argentina with her husband and family in 1986. At the time she did not speak English and said she learned to do so by watching the “Young and Restless” soap opera. Today, she has built a very successful company that is well-known for its work with various painting styles including faux finish, texture, concrete overlay, Venetian plaster, and stenciling.

“You have to have faith that you can do it,” Almeida told the attendees. “You need people that work with you, not for you.”

As noted in this September 2021 article, Adams was a long-time corporate executive who experienced her pivotal moment in a conference room during a business trip to Brazil. The experience involved an intern for her employer, his nervousness at speaking with Adams, and the advice that one of her colleagues offered about the meeting with the young man after it had ended.

“What he (the intern) said was you have a way of making people feel good about themselves,” the colleague told Adams. Knowing that helping others feel good about themselves was something she truly valued, Adams left the corporate world to launch her executive coaching service focused on scientists and engineers.

About the transformative moment that she characterized as the “installation of hope,” Adams said, “Open your awareness to how you make people feel.”

Cummings said he started his glass making business as a side hustle to make money to help pay for food. He was in Louisville, KY at the time running a studio for artists, and his goal was to sell 20 to 30 craft beer glasses each month to supplement the family’s income. Fast forward a few years, and his company has both the unique glass business as well as its craft brewery.

Noting that “I did not have much of a plan, it was more very reactive,” Cummings said his pivot point was winning the “Small Business Excellence Award” in the 2020 edition of the Knoxville Chamber’s “Pinnacle Business Awards.” His advice to entrepreneurs was straightforward: “How you get to success is going to be different; your path is going to be the difference that uniqueness makes you you.”

Troutman said there were several pivot points in her life before she realized that she “needed to be building something for my purpose.” Reminding attendees that a pivot is not permanent, Troutman shared one of her pivot points when she was fretting over a big decision, and her grandmother offered some sage advice: “You just make the decision and then you make it right.”

“What we always need is to be pushed out of our comfort zone,” she said, having noted earlier that “pressure comes before the pivot.”

Repeatable Creativity

Repeatable Creativity: How Innovators, Entrepreneurs, And Makers Cultivate Their Most Important Asset

by Dr. Angelique Adams, CEO, Angelique Adams Media Solutions, LLC.

For the past 20 years, I’ve led large teams of scientists and engineers whose mission was to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new products and processes. In that space, I was called an innovator. Now, I have my own business, building the next generation of innovation leaders, as an author, speaker, consultant, and online course creator. In this space, I am referred to as an entrepreneur and content creator.

Large corporate innovation and solo content creation are different in many ways: budget size, team size, project size. But at the basic level they are the same: they require access to creativity on a consistent and repeatable basis. 

Whether you call yourself an innovator, entrepreneur, creator, or maker, whether you’re on your own, in a small team, or in a large organization, there is one key element we all share in common. If we’re going to survive and thrive , we have to harness repeatable creativity.

“Creativity is just connecting things.”

…Steve Jobs

 I have found that there are three pillars to repeatable creativity:

1. Protect your creative environment.
2. Record and celebrate your wins.
3. Build your team of mentors.

First: Protect your creative environment.

The creative environment is your space and your time. In my experience, space is the part that gets the most attention. We creatives seem to have a sense of the area around us where we feel the most energized. Whether it be clear or cluttered, bright or dark, quiet or loud.

four types of creative spaces

In my case, I need two distinct environments. For inspiration and ideation, I need visual and auditory stimuli (e.g. people, music, art, nature, etc). I especially like wandering through international grocery stores for that purpose. For creating content, I need the absence of stimuli. I turn the same jazz playlists on repeat, and I put a giant rolling white board in front of me to block out the rest of the room. I occasionally get up and doodle on it if I can’t find the words to convey my thoughts. Sometimes pictures and flow diagrams help me. 

If you can work well in the space you have, don’t change it. If you feel yourself fleeing your environment, you might want to reevaluate your situation. Consider keeping a journal about the different spaces you work in and how they make you feel. Over the course of a couple of weeks, you can gather enough information to make informed decisions about what you need.

The part of the creative environment that is often overlooked is time. In an iconic blog post Paul Graham of storied startup accelerator, Y-combinator, discussed a time dilemma: managers like short blocks of time to take meetings, and makers (specifically coders in this case) like long blocks of time to be creative.


A manager’s schedule can accommodate task switching, but a maker’s schedule is most productive when long periods of time can be spent on a single project.

Almost every innovator, subject matter expert, maker, or creative type that I know feels deficient in “makers time”. Not enough time to do experiments, analyze data, read, write, paint, shoot video, etc. They complain about not being able to do their REAL work because they don’t have control over their schedule.

Here are a few strategies that have worked for me and my clients.

  • Schedule short duration activities and errands back to back,  in “batches” so you can free up larger blocks of maker’s time. 
  • If you are in a traditional organization with managers, look out 3-4 weeks from now and schedule a 3 hr. block. Name it something professional. Not, “me time”. Make it recurring for 8 weeks. Be flexible, give  up the time, if your boss or colleagues need it.


Record and celebrate your wins.

Creativity is a high- risk endeavor. So much of our efforts don’t work out. The chemistry, physics, or material science might not work as we hypothesized. Costs might be higher than expected. Tastes of the target customers might have changed. What that means is we fail a lot. If we get stuck in failure, our motivation wanes. That is why celebrating and tracking wins is critically important. 

Don’t just take my word for it. According to Harvard researcher Teresa Amabile, of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important thing is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how they feel and perform. She and coauthor Steven Kramer go on to say that the act of writing it down releases mood-enhancing chemicals in our brains.

I recommend that you write these wins down in a list that I call an Accomplishments Inventory. 
The key is to track four important pieces of information:

Accomplishments Inventory

accomplishments inventory

Done right, it can serve as a multipurpose powerhouse. If you work in an organization, it can be used to ace your next performance review and stand out in your next interview.  If you are an entrepreneur, it can be used to wow the media and investors (you don’t always have time to run through your pitch deck).  And it can help all of us bounce back from the inevitable setbacks associated with living a creative life. 

Celebrate your accomplishments, as an individual and as a team. When you celebrate as an individual, decide what has meaning for you and just do it. When you celebrate with the team, be mindful of your choices. As I am doing research for my upcoming book on leading diverse talent, one of the ways leaders inadvertently exclude people is by their choice of celebration rituals. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Time of day. Don’t ALWAYS celebrate during times when the caregivers on your team are helping the very young and the very old. 
  • Location. Don’t ALWAYs celebrate in locations that don’t have the diversity represented within your team.
  • Type of activity. Don’t ALWAYS choose the same activity (alcohol, vigorous physical activity, sporting events). 
  • Cost. Don’t ALWAYS celebrate with activities that require out of pocket expenses.

By taking time to reflect on your celebration rituals, and solicit input from your team, you can ensure that everyone is benefiting from this important activity.


Build a team of mentors

There are many advantages to having mentors. You’ll have the guidance you need to set appropriate goals. ​You’ll gain the necessary tools in time to use them. ​You have access to your mentor’s contacts. ​You receive an unbiased, yet experienced, opinion. When you don’t have mentors,  you set yourself up for frustration or worse. “The entrepreneurs that fail, do so because they don’t seek help. They try to do everything on their own”, said Jim Biggs,  Executive Director of the Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center. 

According to two recent surveys, only 22% of small business owners and 40% of professional employees have mentors,. Given the benefits of mentors, why do so few people have them? 

It’s not entirely clear. I’ve had mentors, not had mentors when I really wanted them, and now I am a mentor to entrepreneurs and professionals in organizations. Here is what I see. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are isolated and don’t know where to find mentors. People inside organizations know who they want to have as mentors. But they think they can’t ask. They think they have to be chosen. 

My work with senior leaders for my upcoming book on women in college athletics helped me figure out how to overcome these two obstacles. They consistently build a team of mentors by assessing what they need, seeking out people to help them (other teams, professional societies, social media, etc.), and then they ask for help. They see mentors as an extension of their professional networking. Sometimes those interactions turn into long term relationships. Sometimes they don’t. But the support and advice is valuable either way. 

It takes a bit of a mindset shift: Don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder, be proactive,  and don’t expect long-term commitments. 

Whether you call yourself an innovator, entrepreneur, creator, or maker, having a great idea is what gets you in the game. Having great ideas over and over again is how you keep playing, and it doesn’t just happen by luck or willpower. Repeatable creativity requires ongoing, intentional practice and attention. When you protect your creative environment, record and celebrate your wins, and build your team of mentors, you nurture your creativity for life.

photo of dr angelique adams on market square

photo by Jennie Andrews

Dr. Angelique Adams is a KEC board member, and CEO of Angelique Adams Media Solutions, LLC a leadership consultancy for professionals in engineering and the sciences. She is author of You’re More Than A Diversity Hire: Women in STEM, Amazon’s #1 career guide for women in technical disciplines. Follow her on social media at