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Michele Towne

Michele Towne was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, grew up in Memphis and attended Memphis State (now University of Memphis) where she met her husband, John. They moved to Little Rock shortly after they married. Michele was 21.

She worked in several sales jobs including office equipment and medical sales and advertising sales. Prompted by the magazine RSVP Memphis, in September 2001, she began Inviting Arkansas. It was the first Little Rock publication that covered the city’s social and philanthropic life. She then sold ads for the magazine and assembled a staff of industry people that were stay-at-home moms. Her staff is still all woman.

She attributes her success to Willie Oates and Cindy Murphy, both businesswomen and philanthropists. Because Inviting Arkansas covers non-profits, Michele is often in attendance of fundraiser. She has noticed an increase of young people at these events that reinforces the perception that the millennials are a service oriented generation. She was awarded the Hope Award from the Twentieth Century Club, which provides housing for cancer patients in central Arkansas.


Listen to the podcast to learn:

  • How to establish yourself in a new town
  • How to start a magazine
  • The secret ingredient for a great pimento cheese recipe

Podcast Links

Behind the scenes at KABF 88.3 with Michele Towne

Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com

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EPISODE 103 TRANSCRIPT

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:08.5] CC: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show offers listeners first-hand insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people. Connect with Kerry through her candid and informative weekly blog where you'll read and may comment on her narration of life as a wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur.

Now it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

[INTERVIEW]

[0:00:42.8] KM: Thank you, Chris. Like Chris said, I'm Kerry McCoy and it's time for me to get up in your business. Before we start, I want to introduce the people at the table. We have who you just heard from Chris Cannon my co-host –

[0:00:52.9] CC: Hello.

[0:00:53.4] KM: - who will be managing the board, taking your calls and keeping it real.

[0:00:56.5] CC: Absolutely.

[0:00:57.7] KM: Recording our show to make a podcast available next week is our technician, Jason Malek from Arise Studio in Conway, Arkansas. If right now you're sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. I'm waving to everybody. It's fun to see what goes on behind the scenes and at the breaks it's real-time reality radio. If for some reason you miss any part of today's show, or want to hear it again, there's a way and Chris is going to tell you how.

[0:01:29.6] CC: Listen to all UIYB interviews by going to flagandbanner.com and clicking on Radio Show. There you'll find over a hundred of our previous podcasts with resource links from each episode. Stay up to date by joining our e-mail list, or liking us on Facebook. Day of the show, you'll get a reminder notification and sneak peek of upcoming guests. Back to you Kerry.

[0:01:54.0] KM: Thank you again Chris. This show Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy began as a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would appeal to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but it seems to have a wider audience appeal, because after, all who isn't inspired by everyday people's American-made stories?

It's no secret that successful people work hard, but another common trait is underneath their exterior is the heart of a teacher. They're good at communicating and love paying forward their knowledge. Another discovery I find interesting is that most of my guests have a spiritual bent. They believe in a higher power. I guess, this enables them to be risk-takers. Last, this next discovery really caught me by surprise and that's business in of itself is creative.

My guest today, Miss Michele Watermeier Towne is about as hard-working as it gets, and she is a great communicator. Everybody loves her. Her work nights and days all run together as she writes photographs and publishes her monthly magazine, Inviting Arkansas. As I mentioned in the opening, hard-working is a common trait among many successful entrepreneurs and Michele is no exception.

She began by babysitting at the age of 10. At 16, she landed a job waiting tables at Shoney's Big Boy. As a college student, she continued to juggle work and studies. Some of her early jobs were that of selling office equipment, medical supplies and advertising. She jokingly says she got an MRS in college because it was there she met and married Mr. John Towne. At the early age of 21, Michele, a Tennessean having been raised in schooled in Memphis, married John Towne and moved with him to Little Rock, Arkansas where they began their family.

After years of being a stay-at-home mom, Miss Michele Towne decided to jump back into the workforce by founding and publishing Inviting Arkansas, a successful magazine that photographs and features fundraising events and its people behind the fundraising events and the nonprofits of Arkansas's very varied nonprofits; there's a lot of them.

This year in recognition of her hard work, the 20th Century Club gave Michele the Hope award. Last May, Michele was on the cover of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s high profile section, which I just happen to have a copy of. Here if you need another one, Michele.

[0:04:33.2] MT: Thank you.

[0:04:33.9] KM: It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the hardworking and personable, Michele Watermeier Towne. Thank you for coming on.

[0:04:40.5] MT: Thank you for having me.

[0:04:41.5] KM: Am I saying your maiden name right? Watermeier.

[0:04:44.0] MT: Watermeier. That is it.

[0:04:45.2] KM: Well, Chris and I were trying to figure that out earlier.

[0:04:48.4] CC: We were.

[0:04:49.3] KM: Early in life. Let's just talk about your early life. I read where you said your parents were divorced.

[0:04:54.4] MT: They were.

[0:04:55.4] KM: Though, they were – you had a great childhood.

[0:04:58.3] MT: They shared custody. My parents divorced when I was four. Therefore, it made me become a very independent young woman, I guess if you want to say. My mom worked, and so I was pretty much took care of me and my brother when need be. I thank her for that, because it certainly made me strong and it certainly made me very, very independent.

[0:05:20.5] KM: Strife builds character.

[0:05:21.8] MT: Absolutely.

[0:05:22.9] KM: It sounds you have a great work ethic. You went off to college.

[0:05:26.5] MT: I did. I went to the University of Tennessee. Believe it or not, I was a chemical engineering major.

[0:05:32.6] KM: Really?

[0:05:33.6] MT: I always wanted to be in sales. I think it comes back to that trying to please daddy thing. My daddy was an engineer and I thought – I knew I always wanted to be in sales. Would have thought, “I'll go into engineering just like my dad,” I loved chemistry. I quickly found out that there had to be a much easier road towards sales. I immediately switched majors from that to communications. I had so much fun that I got to come home and I got to go to Memphis State as I date myself. I got to live at home and I got to help pay for school and get a job.

[0:06:04.2] KM: You had so much fun, you got to go home.

[0:06:05.8] MT: Uh-huh. I had so much fun, I got to go home. I started going to the state. I was waiting tables and selling office equipment and going to school, all the same time.

[0:06:14.1] KM: Well, it was a blessing in disguise.

[0:06:15.3] MT: Yes, it was. That's where I met John Towne.

[0:06:20.1] KM: What'd he say to you when he asked you to marry him?

[0:06:22.6] MT: Do you love me? Do you love me and Little Rock?

[0:06:25.9] KM: Do you love me enough to move to Little Rock?

[0:06:27.6] MT: I did as I say when I made it here, I made it to a city, with a strange man and had to get a new strange job.

[0:06:33.6] KM: How long did you all date before you got married?

[0:06:35.1] MT: Not very long. Our first date was June 26th and August 24th he told me he wanted to marry.

[0:06:41.5] KM: Really?

[0:06:41.9] MT: Mm-hmm. I got a ring a couple of months later and then we didn't marry then until August of the following year.

[0:06:47.8] KM: You were only 21 when you got married, right?

[0:06:49.3] MT: I was.

[0:06:51.6] KM: I think that's unusual.

[0:06:52.5] MT: We've been married 32 years last week.

[0:06:55.6] KM: Wow. Your grandmother was important in your life, right?

[0:06:59.7] MT: Oh, she was the best. She was absolutely the best. She died on her 60th birthday, where we buried her, excuse me, on her 60th birthday. She had high blood pressure, but she was I Love Lucy 2IT. She was at Love Lucy. She'd drive around in that convertible with that blonde friffed up hair with the air conditioning on in the summer and the heat on in the winter. She was the best cook ever and she was a Greek. Very strong, very independent type of woman.

[0:07:30.2] KM: Where'd she grow up?

[0:07:32.0] MT: She grew up in Massachusetts.

[0:07:34.0] KM: She moved to Little Rock?

[0:07:35.6] MT: She moved to Memphis.

[0:07:35.9] KM: She moved to Memphis.

[0:07:37.2] MT: I’m from Memphis.

[0:07:38.7] KM: She moved to Memphis to, I guess help your mother? You grandmother on your mother side of the family?

[0:07:43.0] MT: She is the grandmother on my mother side of family. My grandfather was traveled a lot. He was a labor lawyer and he traveled a lot and they ended up in Memphis, and where my mother was actually born in New York City, but they all ended up in Memphis. I think my mom was probably a freshman in high school when they moved to Memphis.

[0:08:02.5] KM: Oh, okay.

[0:08:03.2] MT: She lived her life there forever.

[0:08:04.9] KM: She didn't move to Memphis to help support her daughter after her daughter's divorce?

[0:08:08.6] MT: No, no, no, no, no.

[0:08:10.3] KM: All right. When we come back – I think it's a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Michele Towne, founder and publisher of Inviting Arkansas. We'll talk about the business of publishing a monthly magazine. That's got to be harrowing, I would think off time.

[0:08:24.2] MT: Never a dull moment.

[0:08:26.2] KM: With all those deadlines and about the subject matter of her magazine and who she features, which are Arkansas's nonprofits. We'll be back after a break.

[BREAK]

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[0:10:05.7] KM: Boost morale and patriotism with a new flag or flagpole from Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. We have poles, hardware, accessories, maintenance support, installation and custom flags. We have flags of all kind; for the sports enthusiast, the world traveler, or history buff, we have them all. Bring in your own flag and get $5 off a new one. Consult the experts at Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. Come shop at our historic location at 800 West 9th Street in Little Rock, or visit us online at flagandbanner.com.

[0:10:38.8] CC: You’re listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed, starting with door-to-door sales, then telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales, and now a third of their sales come through the internet. This past year, Flag and Banner added another internet feature, live chatting.

Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her weekly blog. Then in 2009, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and in 2014, Brave Magazine, who’s next publication is lately for October, that was when it was launched in 2014. Today, she has branched out into radio with this very production, podcast and live stream on Facebook.

Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you'd like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send an e-mail to questions@upyourbusiness.org. That's questions@upyourbusiness.org, or send her a message on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:12:06.3] KM: Thank you, Chris. You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Miss Michele Towne, founder and publisher of Inviting Arkansas, a magazine that features people and fundraising events of nonprofits in the great state of Arkansas. Before the break, we talked about how you've always been in sales, that you love sales, which is not really an easy profession. A lot of people are scared to death of sales.

We talked about how you've got a great work ethic. You've always worked all your life and how you met John Towne in Memphis in college, when you were in college and quickly got married and moved to Little Rock. For those of you who have just – for those that are listening who have just recently moved here, what advice can you give people about moving to a strange town and how you managed to fit in and did you – how did you make friends and how did you find a community? Was it through your church? Was it through volunteering? What did you do for it?

[0:12:57.9] MT: My first job here was Datamax. I worked for Barry Simon. It has been a long-standing community supporter and I met him and I'm one of those – I don't make friends with everybody. I sit back and feel my crowd and who I want to be, but they were very open and very supportive and very warm. I'll never forget, we were getting ready, I was having all of John's family for Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving, I was 21. The whole 18 people were coming over to my little apartment and the girls from the office invited me out for happy hour the day before Thanksgiving.

I called home. I said, “They finally invited me out. Can I go? Can I go?” He said, “Well sure. I'll have a drink and I'll be home to take care of Thanksgiving dinner.” Well, we probably all know how that ended up. Those girls became my dear friends and Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch the next day when my family arrived.

[0:13:53.5] KM: Oh, it did. John worked while you were gone, I guess.

[0:13:56.4] MT: He did. We got it all together. We pulled together as family, but we did get it all together, and it was those girls that and guys that I got to be dear friends with, and some of them are still my friends today 32 years later.

[0:14:07.3] KM: You melded into the community by getting a job, going to work and get a place that you happen to like other people.

[0:14:14.3] MT: Right. I worked at Datamax for about a year and I left there and went into medical sales and traveled the state.

[0:14:21.8] KM: Do you have a college degree?

[0:14:23.0] MT: I do not.

[0:14:23.6] KM: How did you get into medical sales without a college degree? I thought that was a requirement.

[0:14:27.7] MT: Kerry, I'm Michele Towne.

[0:14:29.0] KM: Ain’t that the truth?

[0:14:30.6] MT: It's not what you know and so you know. I have always said, take advantage of every opportunity that's put in front of you and they were looking for a sales rep and I told them, just give me a chance, just give me a chance. I said, “Pay me a $1,000 a month.” I said, “And give me six months. If I can't do it at the end of six months, then let me go, we shake hands and go off.” I stayed with that company for five years, until I started my own medical distributorship and then later, decided to have children.

[0:14:56.0] KM: You started your own medical distributorship?

[0:14:57.8] MT: Mm-hmm. I had about four lines. Did it until Hayden was maybe not quite a year old. It was very difficult. My husband sells orthopedics. He was usually down in the Eldorado area. Most of my business was in Northwest Arkansas. Both of us had to be in surgery at 7 AM, so something had to give. Rather than –

[0:15:18.1] KM: What do you mean had to be in surgery?

[0:15:20.6] MT: We both sold implantable devices. I sold barred vascular grafts at the time and my husband sells orthopedic implants.

[0:15:29.6] KM: You had to be in surgery. What do you mean? You had to be there to hand it to the doctor or something?

[0:15:32.8] MT: No. You just can't watch. You just watch, moral support, just good job.

[0:15:37.8] KM: You not only sell the products, you have to be there to see them used?

[0:15:42.6] MT: You just make sure that they're opening the right types of things.

[0:15:47.0] KM: Michele, you're smart.

[0:15:49.1] MT: I don't know about that, but I have managed to reinvent myself several different times.

[0:15:55.6] KM: That's the creative part about business I think is you just cannot stop creating and that's the part that's I've found to be true since I started this radio show. You have your children.

[0:16:09.2] MT: I do. I have two boys.

[0:16:10.7] KM: Did you sell your business?

[0:16:12.0] KM: No, I did not.

[0:16:12.9] KM: You just closed.

[0:16:13.5] MT: I just closed it.

[0:16:14.9] KM: Then you're living completely off of John Towne’s income and you stay at home with your two sons.

[0:16:20.9] MT: I did for about four years and then I went to work my next – my next reinvention was I went to work for the entertainment book and it was that big thick coupon book, buy one get one free. Friend of mine did it, was the manager out of Memphis and she said, “I've got a great full time job for you.” I said, “No, I can't go back to work fulltime. He won't let me.” She said, “I'm telling you, this is going to be the most part-time, fulltime job you've ever had.”

It was wonderful. It allowed me to again, calling on more restaurants and that type of thing, so again, it introduced me to a whole different set of people. Then I would go to different areas around the United States starting new entertainment books.

[0:17:02.6] KM: You travel?

[0:17:03.2] MT: I did. I was very lucky and that my mother was able to come over from Memphis and help take care of the kids.

[0:17:09.0] KM: You would go and start new travel entertainment books in new cities. Dallas was the first one, I guess?

[0:17:15.7] MT: No, no, no, no. Dallas is long-established, but I started El Paso, I started Jackson, Mississippi, I would go and help in Tulsa.

[0:17:23.9] KM: How do you start a new magazine? You start selling door-to-door?

[0:17:28.3] MT: With the entertainment book, that is an international company. They are very, very well established and they would hire reps and just go in, but what they would do was bring in people, seasoned reps that would go in and we would just get in the car and go door to door to door to restaurants.

[0:17:43.2] KM: You train to people then basically?

[0:17:44.7] MT: I did.

[0:17:45.6] KM: You were basically training people to start new books in new cities.

[0:17:48.3] MT: Right.

[0:17:50.0] KM: That is hard to do door-to-door sales. What year was this?

[0:17:52.6] MT: This was 1990 – probably ’93 or ’94.

[0:18:00.6] KM: Can you still sell that way door-to-door like that?

[0:18:03.6] MT: Well, you know what? I think that all of us that are in sales that are selling advertising, I think we're all selling door-to-door. I mean, that that's how you become and stay successful. You can't sit behind a computer all day, and you can't just depend on your telephone. It's a matter of getting out there, knocking on doors and turning doorknobs and going in. People want to see face to face and I think that that's one of the things I have several clients now that have been clients of mine for 17, 18 years and they say, “I can't believe you still come in and make sales calls.” I said, “Well, that's what I have to do to let you know that your business is still important to me.”

[0:18:35.3] KM: You make sales calls, you go to events, you publish the magazine. We're going to talk about every step of that and how much all that is. What happened next? You decide you're going to get out of the entertainment book and you're going to start your own business, or what happened?

[0:18:47.7] MT: I did. That was exactly what happened. On the entertainment book, they were going to – had done it for five years. Every time John and I would go home to Memphis –

[0:18:59.4] KM: There were quotes around that. People that can’t say home to Memphis.

[0:19:03.3] MT: Every time we would go home to Memphis, there was a magazine in Memphis called RSVP that he and I picked up and we would look at from cover to cover. We wanted to see people that maybe we went to school with, people that we had known a long time ago. At that time, we had nothing like that here and we looked at each other and said, “We can do this. We can do this.” Came back and started a business plan and badabing, badaboom.

[0:19:27.3] KM: He helped you start the business?

[0:19:28.5] MT: Absolutely. Absolutely.

[0:19:31.2] KM: You just really filled a niche.

[0:19:34.1] MT: We did. We started right behind us. It’s where I came out behind us.

[0:19:40.7] KM: How much farther behind?

[0:19:41.8] MT: They're about four to six weeks right behind us.

[0:19:43.1] KM: Oh, really close.

[0:19:44.3] MT: Yeah, they were very, very close, but it was the best thing, Kerry, that could have ever happened. Competition is a great thing. My husband always says that I'm secretariat. As long as I've got a horse to run against, it keeps me going. That was a great thing and I think that it really drove me to be successful.

[0:20:05.5] KM: What was the very next thing you did? I mean, what was the very first thing you did to get started on your magazine? You came back. You decide you're going to do it. You put a business plan together. I guess at the kitchen table you sat there one night.

[0:20:14.0] MT: We do. Every night I would go, “Are we ready? Are we ready? Are we ready?” The first thing we did is that we wanted – we created a full mock issue. I didn't want to go out and hand people a piece of paper and say it's going to be like this, or it's going to be like that. We actually did – we did a 16-page mock issue complete with cover.

[0:20:38.0] KM: You went out and took photographs of events?

[0:20:39.7] MT: We did. We went and photographed several events in that November-December timeframe. We put that mock issue out in December and that was what I used to sell from. Sold December and January and then our first issue, official issue came out March 1st of 2002.

[0:20:55.5] KM: When you say you put that out, does that mean you went ahead and printed a bunch up and distributed them around town?

[0:21:02.0] MT: We printed about a thousand.

[0:21:04.2] KM: Which is about a $1,000 probably.

[0:21:06.4] MT: Just had – got some feedback from people. I can tell you, I remember talking with Cindy Murphy, happen to just stumble into her, didn't know her from Adam. That was when Brandon's market was open.

[0:21:19.0] KM: What’s Brandon market?

[0:21:20.2] MT: It’s no longer here. Long, long, long time ago. It’s gone.

[0:21:23.5] KM: You ran into her.

[0:21:24.1] MT: Ran into her and she said, “I love what you're doing.” She said, “May I make a few suggestions? You don't know me from Adam.” We sat down and to this day, I still try to visit with Cindy once every 12 to 18 months, just to say, “What do you think?”

[0:21:40.0] KM: She’s a mentor.

[0:21:40.8] MT: She is. She's a very smart woman.

[0:21:43.7] KM: You put your money upfront through December, January and February. Then March – then those three months, you were selling ads. You were knocking on doors selling ads.

[0:21:53.5] MT: Absolutely.

[0:21:54.6] KM: By the time March came around, you had a magazine with ads?

[0:21:59.0] MT: We did. Magazine with ads and parties and bills and all kinds of things.

[0:22:04.4] KM: It seems simple. You buy tickets to all these events, I guess, or you just go to events, and then you take photographs of everybody and then you put it together and then you distribute a thousand around town, you do that December, January and February. During that time, you're also selling ads, and then by the time March comes around, are you making money? Did you make money on your March one?

[0:22:29.4] MT: Dear God. No. Did you make money your first month in business?

[0:22:32.0] KM: No. Well, I know you’ve lost money December, January and February. By March?

[0:22:39.0] MT: No. No. Starting a magazine, there's a lot of investment that goes into starting a magazine.

[0:22:44.6] KM: Really? Like what? Where you got –

[0:22:47.0] MT: Thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars it takes to start a magazine.

[0:22:52.6] KM: Do you uh do you pay for postage, or you just set the magazine around town?

[0:22:55.8] MT: We are a free pick up.

[0:22:56.9] KM: Free pick up.

[0:22:57.6] MT: We are a free pick up. We strategically planned it that way. I think about how many Victoria Secret catalogs you get in the mail. Do you really look at them, or do you not? I don't. They just come to my house and you might look through one, but I don't need the other eight that come.

[0:23:14.3] KM: My husband looks through the catalog.

[0:23:15.8] CC: I do too.

[0:23:18.2] MT: I think we all get a lot of things in the mail that we don't necessarily pay attention to. If you pick up in Inviting Arkansas, you have sought it out. You've picked it up, because you want to read it.

[0:23:26.8] KM: Yeah, I like it. Knowing what you know today, is there something you would have changed about the original startup?

[0:23:34.8] MT: I really couldn't say that I would. I think that I was a little naïve. When we first started, I hired a lot of stay-at-home moms that wanted to go back to work part-time. Little did we know that it would take every part of their time. I always knew that I would be working full-time, but I think I didn't really understand the amount of work that was going to go into it for the part-time people that I hired.

[0:24:04.3] KM: What were they doing? Selling?

[0:24:06.8] MT: I had one girl that started. She's my first sales rep. I still have some accounts that were hers from day one.

[0:24:13.9] KM: What were they doing these stay-at-home moms? Selling, laying out?

[0:24:17.3] MT: Writing, laying out the magazine, art directing.

[0:24:20.4] KM: Did they go to parties and take photographs?

[0:24:21.7] MT: Absolutely. We all went to parties and took pictures. That is part of your job requirement. We go to parties, we all deliver magazines, we have a delivery man, but we each have our own delivery route as well. We wash windows, whatever it takes.

[0:24:38.6] KM: How many employees you got now? You said, you had how many? Three or four back then, now you've got how many?

[0:24:45.3] MT: I have one, two, three. I have three – four full-time, one part-time in the part-time delivery.

[0:24:57.7] KM: You were about right then in the amount of hires that you did. It's just you thought they’d all be part-time and designed a full-time job.

[0:25:04.9] MT: We have gone from having more people on staff at certain points at the time, but I have learned a lot that if we all just go to work and work, put her head down. Sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot of Indians. It takes three or four chiefs.

[0:25:22.5] KM: That's well said. That's almost tweetable ain’t it?

[0:25:26.2] CC: Absolutely.

[0:25:29.7] KM: What are your current challenges? In the beginning, it’s money, getting people to understand how long does it take to get people to say, “Hey, this is inviting Arkansas. It's here to stay.” How long did it take before you had street cred, and then what are your current challenges now?

[0:25:45.2] MT: I think that when making it through in the beginning because I was independent, I'm not Arkansas Business, or the Arkansas Times that have all been in business for a long period of time, that had several publications under their belt. I think that in the beginning, I was probably not looked at as a very formidable competitor. Here today, she'll be gone tomorrow.

I think when we were able to make it through that 2007, 2008, 2009 recession, I think that it let people know that we were here to stay and we did make it. Those weren't easy terms and I can't tell you how many times I thought, “Let's just throw in the towel.” Supporting the nonprofit community was very important.

[0:26:33.1] KM: That's not how it started. It was really just going to be about parties wasn’t it?

[0:26:37.5] MT: Yes. In the beginning you’re right. Probably in the beginning, was just going to be social. You know what Kerry, people start calling you for birthday parties and –

[0:26:46.1] KM: Anniversaries.

[0:26:47.2] MT: All of that. It didn't take very long. Within the first few months, I realized that no, we need to concentrate on the nonprofit community. They need the help. They need people to know what's going on. That's what we did.

[0:27:01.7] KM: Do you want to expand that even more? Are you just happy the way it is right now?

[0:27:05.1] MT: I'm happy with the way it is. We talked about some expansion, as far as distribution in Northwest Arkansas and that type of thing, but they have their own publications. I'm a small office. I can't cover the parties to just be – I want to concentrate on Central Arkansas. People that are spending their advertising dollars with me, the advertising money that they're spending are staying right here within Central Arkansas, which is more or less where people are going to read or get a shot.

[0:27:35.2] KM: Yeah, I think it's – I published a magazine and one of the problems that I think I have is that my magazine is so broad. I think when you narrow your focus, it's sometimes easier to get advertisers, because they go, “This is all I really want to concentrate right there.” If you were a wedding magazine and be easy to go get all the bridal floor shops and bridal gown shops, because they'd be very focused market. Your market then I guess it's just going to be –

[0:28:03.0] MT: We're just a niche market.

[0:28:03.6] KM: Central Arkansas.

[0:28:04.6] MT: More Central Arkansas. Little Rock, North Rock, Conway, Benton, Bryant, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff.

[0:28:08.9] KM: I think I know what your street is, but what do you think it is? In running your business, you wear a lot of hats. It sounds like you go to the events, you’re a photographer, you’re a publisher, you’re human resources for the four employees, you have your cell advertising, you're the visionary. What do you think your strength is?

[0:28:27.9] MT: I think my strength is that I have hired good people.

[0:28:31.7] KM: That's a good strength.

[0:28:33.1] MT: I'm not a micromanager.

[0:28:34.0] KM: That’s another one.

[0:28:37.3] MT: I am very blessed in the people that we have hired that they truly give their heart and soul and want me and the magazine to be successful, and for them to be successful. I'm very blessed through the people that I have that work for me, quite honestly.

[0:28:54.1] KM: I would have thought your strength would be selling.

[0:28:57.0] MT: That's the thing I like to do most. Although I have others that sell, I still sell.

[0:29:06.0] KM: A lot. That's so unusual. That's what makes you unique. Most people don't like to sell.

[0:29:11.7] MT: I say those of us that don't know how to do anything else, we sell.

[0:29:15.5] KM: It’s so true. That is so true. That's why I sell. I can't do anything else.

[0:29:20.6] MT: I'm not detail-oriented. I'm a salesperson through and through.

[0:29:24.8] KM: You are smart. You went to school to be a chemical engineer.

[0:29:29.0] MT: I did.

[0:29:29.9] KM: You sold for Datamax.

[0:29:31.4] MT: I did.

[0:29:31.8] KM: You sold medical supplies and went to surgeries.

[0:29:34.1] MT: I did.

[0:29:34.6] KM: You are smart.

[0:29:35.8] MT: I'm smart.

[0:29:36.8] KM: All right, this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Michele Towne, founder and publisher of Inviting Arkansas. We'll talk about some of her favorite memories from the past 17 years of attending events and meeting the people of the nonprofits that her magazine focuses on.

First, I want to remind everyone we're broadcasting live every Friday afternoon at 2:00 PM, central time on both KABF 88.3 FM, the voice of the people and flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. That after one week of every shows, airing a podcast is made available on all popular listening sites and YouTube. We'll talk more after the break.

[BREAK]

[0:30:14.1] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.

Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.

Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our state.

I am Adrienne McNally, Manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner Showroom and Gift Shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety; open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 to 5:30 and Saturday 10 to 4.

[0:31:32.9] KM: Flag or flagpole from Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. We have poles, hardware, accessories, maintenance support, installation and custom flags. We have flags of all kind; for the sports enthusiast, the world traveler, or history buff, we have them all. Bring in your own flag and get $5 off a new one. Consult the experts at Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. Come shop at our historic location at 800 West 9th Street in Little Rock, or visit us online at flagandbanner.com.

[0:32:04.4] CC: Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. This weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners firsthand insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people shared in a conversational interview with Kerry.

Along with this radio show, flagandbanner.com publishes a pre bi-annual magazine called Brave. First published in October in 2014, this magazine teaches every day people’s real-life stories of bravery. It’s goal, to inspire you to celebrate your own bravery and challenge you to recognize it in others.

The Department of Arkansas Heritage recognized Brave magazine’s documentation of American life and micro-fishes all additions for the Arkansas state archives. Brave Magazine will be in your mailbox and hitting newsstands, October 2018. Free subscriptions and advertising opportunities available at flagandbanner.com by selecting Magazine, where you can read previous stories and learn about advertising opportunities.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:33:10.5] KM: Thanks Chris. I thought I brought you a Brave Magazine, Michele. I'm going to show it to you since you're in the business and I'm a newbie into the business.

[0:33:17.6] MT: I'd love to see it.

[0:33:18.6] KM: I thought I brought one. I'm going to mail you one then –

[0:33:21.3] MT: Please do.

[0:33:21.9] KM: - of an old edition, I’ll send over to you. I want to take this time to give a big shout out and thank you to Centennial Bank and Kim Pruitt for partnering with the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom and sponsoring this year's Dancing Into Dreamland, which is Friday November the 2nd. I think it may be our first set up, thanks to Matthew and Annette.

Before the break Michele, we talked about how ambitious and hardworking you are, what an opportunist you are, how you love selling, how everything that's in your life has really helped you to get to where you are and how you started your magazine, Inviting Arkansas. I love your strengths, which are you hire good, you don't micromanage and you love selling. I mean, if that's not a winning combination, I don't know what's a winning combination.

Let's just hear what a day in life of Michele Towne looks like. I can't imagine what it looks like. What time did you get up this morning?

[0:34:16.8] MT: Well, this morning I was up at 6:30. I had a photo shoot at Pleasant Valley Country Club at 8:00.

[0:34:26.1] CC: You set early.

[0:34:27.7] MT: For me, that's very – Usually, I go workout first. We did a photo shoot this morning at 8:00. We're a little short-handed today. I've got one on vacation and one leaving for Paris, so I'm juggling a bunch of different hats right now. Then typically, I go to the office. I make a few sales calls, probably work through lunch, go out make a few more sales calls. A lot of times if it's a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, I'll be heading out between 4:30 and 5:00 to work an event.

[0:34:57.8] KM: Yeah. That's the part I don't get. You get up in the morning and workout, because that's the only way.

[0:35:02.8] MT: Only way to get it in.

[0:35:04.9] KM: It's such a great stress reliever. Then you've got your endorphins going, you go to work, you make your phone calls, you make your sales, and then your afternoons are spent –

[0:35:16.1] MT: It depends. If we've got events, sometimes we try to divide and conquer. When I'm interviewing people, I let them know that you will be working at least one day a week and at least every other weekend night you will have. A lot of times it's just, you're only there an hour, hour and a half, unless you want to stay. Most of the nonprofits are so generous that they will invite you to bring a guest, they will invite you to stay and have dinner, have drinks, whatever. The nonprofit community has been very generous towards us as well.

[0:35:50.7] KM: How many nights do you have to work?

[0:35:53.7] MT: Usually 2 to 3.

[0:35:55.1] KM: Are they always weekends?

[0:35:56.8] MT: Not always. This week we had something on – two things on Tuesdays, something on Wednesday, something on Thursday and something on Saturday.

[0:36:06.8] KM: Oh, my gosh. How many people cover those?

[0:36:10.1] MT: Three of us.

[0:36:11.6] KM: You run with your camera around your neck. Would you probably have a crick in your neck from carrying the camera around all the time? You're running with your camera around your neck, you take pictures, run out, because a lot of times all the events are on the same night.

[0:36:22.7] MT: Exactly.

[0:36:23.6] KM: Then you run out and you take another event, you write down names, then you go back. All we've done is sell ads and take – now we've got to make the magazine. When does that happen?

[0:36:34.2] MT: I don't know. I think it's magic. I take the camera back to the office and I put it on the desk. The next thing I know, they hand me pages for me to proof. It's magic.

[0:36:43.6] KM: I worked in the office that does it all and I don't know what software they use, Photoshop or something.

[0:36:49.2] MT: I have an editor and I have a production manager and I have an art director and I take it all in and then I help –

[0:36:55.1] KM: That’s more than three or four employees.

[0:36:57.1] MT: No, that's not. Those girls, it's amazing.

[0:36:59.2] KM: Well, now you've got people though that go to events.

[0:37:02.0] MT: Those are the same people.

[0:37:03.5] KM: Those same people that do that go to the events also?

[0:37:06.6] MT: Absolutely. And deliver magazines.

[0:37:11.1] KM: Wow, people love you. They like working for you.

[0:37:14.5] MT: We have a nice time.

[0:37:16.2] KM: All of you work out of your home?

[0:37:18.2] MT: Oh, no. We have an office. We've always had an office. We started it in my house, but we have an office. We're at 1512 Macon Drive. We're over in West Little Rock.

[0:37:28.5] KM: Are your sons all, I guess are all grown.

[0:37:30.2] MT: They’re grown. I have a 26-year-old that's getting married. He lives in Memphis and he's getting married in April. Then I have another son that works here at FIS. He's a –

[0:37:39.9] KM: What’s FIS?

[0:37:42.0] MT: Fidelity Information Systems. They are the old Systematics. He's there. The world's largest banking software company and he is a project manager and he is 23 and moving into his first big boy apartment today.

[0:37:58.4] KM: Michele, thanks for coming on. You got a busy day today. She came in so haggard and I said, “Well, we’re going to be on Facebook Live.” She said, “Oh, my gosh. I thought it was just radio. I’ve got to go in the bathroom and fix my hair. Throw in some lipstick, fluff.” You had a harrowing day already, at least that you worked twice today on the radio today, because you are busy. You keep up a big busy pace. What do you consider to be fundraising season?

[0:38:23.6] MT: We are in it. Starting September 6th, that is Dancing with the Stars, which is one of my favorite events.

[0:38:30.6] KM: You were in it. You were in it weren’t you?

[0:38:31.7] MT: I was in it. I was in it. It’s just one of the most fun events and I know that dates came through the dreamland ballroom is –

[0:38:38.7] KM: Not to be confused with that. You’re right.

[0:38:41.1] MT: Are very similar. Then gala for life for the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute, that is on the 7th, as is the Prostate Cancer Foundation Gala. Starting in September, it's just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. I think we have six or seven events on September 20th.

[0:38:59.7] KM: When does it quit? After Christmas?

[0:39:01.8] MT: It'll die down in December, and then it will pick back up the beginning of February. Then we will continue that through May. December is pretty slow for us, believe it or not.

[0:39:13.6] KM: Yeah, I'm surprised. Yeah, you Dancing with the Stars, actually benefits the Ronald McDonald House?

[0:39:20.7] MT: Dancing with the Stars benefits the Children's Tumor Foundation.

[0:39:23.8] KM: Children's Tumor Foundation. That's actually you were a star. They were considering you a star.

[0:39:28.7] MT: They must have been having a really slow year.

[0:39:32.9] KM: Whereas, Dancing in a Dreamland is actually a dance competition and it benefits the dreamland ballroom. We are there just competitive dancers.

[0:39:42.4] MT: That's all.

[0:39:43.8] KM: You all hear Michele's phone going on? I did that a couple days ago, or a couple weeks ago and I’ve been doing this for two years.

[0:39:50.4] MT: Sorry. That’s all right. That’s no problem.

[0:39:52.7] KM: Do you have a favorite event?

[0:39:55.4] MT: Dancing with the Stars is one of my favorites that I love Dancing into the Dreamland Ballroom. I love the ones that have some activities. Spectacular is a great event. It benefits UA Little Rock.

[0:40:07.1] KM: What is it?

[0:40:07.4] MT: It's called spectacular. It is –

[0:40:10.5] KM: University of Arkansas at Little Rock?

[0:40:11.7] MT: UA Little Rock.

[0:40:13.4] KM: Yeah, UA Little Rock.

[0:40:14.1] MT: UA Little Rock.

[0:40:15.4] KM: Then their name. Got a new name.

[0:40:16.2] MT: Got to get the new name out there. UA Little Rock, and it benefits their athletic programs.

[0:40:22.2] KM: What do they do? I mean, what’s the event about?

[0:40:25.0] MT: It’s just they have food. It’s on the basketball court at the Jack Stephens Center. It's a little bit different group of people and it's casual and –

[0:40:35.6] KM: Well, it's on the basketball floor you said?

[0:40:37.1] MT: It is.

[0:40:37.5] KM: Well, you love basketball.

[0:40:38.7] MT: I do love basketball.

[0:40:39.2] KM: Because you're on the dance cam I hear. Can you imagine? I’ve wanted to do that when it comes around every time. I’m like, “I should just get up and dance.”

[0:40:48.0] MT: Hey, I went down at the Sunbelt tournament in New Orleans, I won a $50 gift certificate to Acme Oyster House Bar.

[0:40:57.2] KM: What dance do you do? Michele Towne dance?

[0:40:59.9] MT: I don't know. Whatever just happens to hit you.

[0:41:03.8] KM: That is so fun. You talked about Cindy Murphy was a mentor to you and your grandmother was a mentor to you. It's very close, because you drive a convertible like your grandma.

[0:41:13.8] MT: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.

[0:41:15.6] KM: I love that. I hope my grandkids talk about me like that. Then, but you had another mentor.

[0:41:20.8] MT: I did. I’ve had several mentors. Willy Oates was a great mentor.

[0:41:24.8] KM: Tell everybody who Willy Oates was for those who don’t know.

[0:41:26.5] MT: Willy Oates was oh, my goodness. She was known as the hat lady here in town. She always had a hat on. She was a Razorback cheerleader back in the –

[0:41:34.7] KM: I did not know that.

[0:41:35.9] MT: - early nineteen ot-ot-something-or-other, but she was just super. She was truly a social inspiration for me, and took me under her wing. A man named Rick Fleetwood introduced me to her. He was again another one of those great philanthropist here in town that everybody knows and the organizations, he's been so very, very generous to. She was just wonderful and she would say, “Okay, you need to go to this one and go to this one.” She was an eighth lady. I was very blessed to have gotten to know her.

[0:42:12.3] KM: She hooked you up with the nonprofits, didn't she?

[0:42:13.8] MT: She really did.

[0:42:16.4] KM: You have a story from one of your events that you've been to that was just outrageous.

[0:42:21.8] MT: I've done a lot of outrageous – a lot of outrageous events. I will tell you that my big fear has always been going up the escalator at the Marriott, going up to – I've always just been fearful –

[0:42:36.3] KM: At the Marriott.

[0:42:37.4] MT: The Marriot, into the Marriott ballroom. I have always, because if you have on a long dress I've just always thought, oh, and I'm all what, you know, to have to think about a couple of times before you get on and just thinking about catching your long dress. It happened to a lady one night. Going up the escalator, her dress caught at the top of the stairs and said all of these people were coming up behind her and I mean, they were they were falling bowling like bowling pins. They had to hit the emergency stop button to try to get – that was – I'll never forget that. That was quite interesting.

[0:43:07.9] KM: Like the Marx Brothers slapstick comedy.

[0:43:10.9] MT: Thank God it was her and not me, but it was one of those.

[0:43:14.4] KM: Did your phobia about this happen before, or after you saw that event?

[0:43:18.0] MT: It actually was before and I thought, “See, this is why you have to be scared.”

[0:43:21.9] KM: Well, and you have to schlep around with a big camera and a dress. Do you wear flats? I hope. Please tell me you wear flats.

[0:43:27.4] MT: Never. I never wear flat. I never wear flats.

[0:43:31.9] KM: You're carrying all that stuff around. I'm really impressed. I want to take this opportunity to tell everybody that we're listening – that you're listening to Up In your Business with me Kerry McCoy, and then I'm speaking today with Michele Towne, founder and publisher of Inviting Arkansas, a magazine that features people and fundraising about fundraising events of nonprofits in Arkansas.

This year, you've been honored by the 20th Century Club. They gave you the hope award. You were the recipient for the hope award.

[0:44:02.0] MT: I was.

[0:44:03.0] KM: It’s really nice.

[0:44:04.2] MT: I was very, very humbled and honored.

[0:44:06.3] KM: What is the 20th Century Club’s nonprofit? What do they do?

[0:44:09.9] MT: They do the Hope Lodge, which is there on – I always say, it's behind Children's Hospital, but it's really behind UAMS. They house people that are going through cancer treatments that couldn't otherwise afford to stay in a hotel, or to be able to – for traveling expenses and that type of thing. They just recently built a new house. I'm going to say the new house is probably, or the new lodge, I should call it, is probably – it all runs together. I’m going to say five, six, seven years old, but it's a beautiful, beautiful facility.

[0:44:44.8] KM: That is a big problem, because a lot of people come to UAMS for cancer treatment.

[0:44:51.2] MT: Exactly.

[0:44:52.9] KM: Where do they stay?

[0:44:53.9] MT: Exactly.

[0:44:54.5] KM: I mean, they already can't work, they’re on a limit to probably already strapped for cash and the Hope Lodge puts them up. That was really sweet. Why do you think you received that award?

[0:45:05.7] MT: I don't know. I've worked with them for several years. I'm going to say I've probably worked with them for the last 10 years through promoting the hope ball that they held every – usually it's right – right now it's always in March and they have the hope angels, which are junior-aged high school girls that go in and they donate. I forget how many service hours it is Kerry, I’m going to say but 50, 60 service hours that they go and they actually work in the lodge, working with helping provide meals, entertaining, playing cards, helping with the children that are there.

[0:45:43.2] KM: Sweet. Nice. The executive director, the 20th Century Club said that what you do in focusing on nonprofits is immeasurable.

[0:45:55.4] MT: That's nice.

[0:45:56.3] KM: That’s nice. You were also high-profile in May.

[0:46:00.7] MT: I was.

[0:46:01.4] KM: I brought you a copy, I told you earlier. If you want it.

[0:46:03.9] MT: That was quite an honor as well.

[0:46:05.5] KM: Were you nervous?

[0:46:06.3] MT: I was scared to death. I thought, “What in the world? I'm not interesting. I don't have anything to talk about.”

[0:46:11.9] KM: You are.

[0:46:12.9] MT: It was very, very nice of Rachel to do that.

[0:46:16.9] KM: I did my stint on high profile probably 20 something years ago. It was Phyllis Brandon. She did the interview and when she left, I was so nervous I called her up and said, “I want to do the interview again.” I said, “I just sound like an idiot.” She said, “Have you not read high profile? We do not put stuff in there that makes you look like an idiot.”

[0:46:42.3] MT: I was too. I was like, “God. What did I say?” He called back and I was like, “Oh, did I say anything?”

[0:46:47.6] KM: She’s like, “I’ll make you look good. Don’t worry about it.” Because I just – It’s nerve-racking.

[0:46:52.6] MT: It is nerve-racking.

[0:46:53.8] KM: It's there forever for the rest of your life.

[0:46:56.4] MT: It's much easier to be on this side than to be on that side.

[0:47:00.7] KM: The interviewer instead of the interviewee.

[0:47:02.8] MT: Correct.

[0:47:03.5] KM: What's next for you?

[0:47:05.6] MT: Keep on keeping on.

[0:47:07.3] KM: Keep on keeping on.

[0:47:09.7] KM: Are you going to have an exit strategy? You think some one of your kids are going to want to take over what you're doing? Think one of your employees are going to?

[0:47:16.9] MT: I don't see – if one of my children would be the one to take it over, it would be my son in Memphis. When he was living here, oh, my goodness he worked parties. He loved to work parties. He's never met a stranger. He's just a super, super great kid, but he doesn't live here anymore. My other one I don't – that's not his –

[0:47:38.8] KM: It’s not his cup. He wants to be behind a computer, right?

[0:47:41.1] MT: He could run the business aspect of it, but he could not do – not that he couldn't do. He would not enjoy doing the effort of it.

[0:47:47.8] KM: I would get tired of going to so many events.

[0:47:50.9] MT: Well, we're very lucky that we don't all get burned out at the same time.

[0:47:54.5] KM: It comes in cycles.

[0:47:55.6] MT: It does go in cycles. Like I say, we're just blessed that we don't all get go, “Bluh,” at the same time.

[0:48:01.6] KM: Yeah. I would, because the thing that bothers me about fund raisers and really almost any party now that I'm older is the small talk. Some people love that. I mean, some people just absolutely can't wait to hear what your kids are doing and where they're going to school and if you're a new grandmother. I can't remember what you told me. It's just small talk. You like it.

[0:48:24.0] MT: It doesn't bother me. I have always – my husband and I, we've always laughed. We can walk into a cocktail party together, we both go like this and we both leave together and that way, it makes it fun and interesting that you've got different stories to tell each other.

[0:48:36.3] KM: He goes with you?

[0:48:38.1] MT: No. He picks three events a year that he goes to. He always goes to the Hope Ball, he always goes to Dancing with the Stars.

[0:48:46.7] KM: Your two favorites.

[0:48:47.7] MT: He usually goes to Opus.

[0:48:50.9] KM: What's Opus?

[0:48:51.7] MT: Opus is the Symphony? It’s for the Symphony. It’s the Symphony ball. That will be in October.

[0:48:56.9] KM: How about the basketball one?

[0:48:58.7] MT: Basketball, he's all about. I'm talking about black tag. Black tag events, he picks about three, three a year that he likes to go to.

[0:49:08.8] KM: I heard you have a great pimento cheese recipe.

[0:49:11.2] MT: I have the best pimento cheese recipe.

[0:49:13.6] KM: Is it a secret?

[0:49:14.9] MT: It's not a secret. It's funny, I took it to my bible study luncheon yesterday and the girls were like, “Did you make this?” I was like, “Well, of course I made it.” The secret is celery seed.

[0:49:27.4] KM: Really? What is it, just cheese?

[0:49:31.3] MT: Cheese. A few different types of cheeses. You have to use Hellmann's Mayonnaise, have to, jalapenos.

[0:49:39.3] KM: Jalapenos.

[0:49:41.2] MT: Cayenne pepper.

[0:49:43.6] CC: A little spice.

[0:49:44.3] MT: The secret is celery seed.

[0:49:48.6] KM: Okay, everybody. You've got the secret.

[0:49:50.8] MT: Got the secret.

[0:49:51.7] KM: To Michele Towne's famous pimento cheese. Are you a good cook?

[0:49:56.1] MT: I love to cook.

[0:49:57.0] KM: You're never home.

[0:49:59.4] MT: I’m home Sunday's. I always cook on Sundays. I usually cook Mondays and Tuesdays, if anybody's home. I love to entertain. I love to set a pretty table and like I said, I don't work every weekend. We divvy those chores up, but I do love to entertain, I love to throw a party, I love to set a pretty table and I love to cook.

[0:50:20.7] KM: That's what your grandmother's doing ain’t it?

[0:50:22.5] MT: It is. My mother is a good cook, but that wasn't my mother's. I didn't learn that from my mom.

[0:50:29.9] KM: Is it true that you wanted to maybe be an actress?

[0:50:33.2] MT: I would have loved to have been a star of stage and screen. Is it too late?

[0:50:41.6] KM: No, it's not.

[0:50:42.7] MT: I think it's a little late.

[0:50:44.7] KM: What happened to that dream?

[0:50:46.6] MT: I don't know. I think that whole John – getting married, that whole John Towne thing and I had to go to work. I had to get a real job.

[0:50:53.0] KM: Did you ever think about moving out to California or New York?

[0:50:55.5] MT: I did not. I was in plays in high school, but my brother did. I have a brother that has, I don’t know, 65 films under his belt.

[0:51:02.6] KM: Get out.

[0:51:03.7] MT: He went to Emerson for a year and he said, “I'm out.” He packed up and moved to LA when he was 19-years-old. Didn't know what he was going to do, or how he was going to make it. He actually interviewed and got down to the last two on Blue's Clues.

[0:51:23.9] KM: What a great show.

[0:51:25.4] MT: He has ended up – he stayed out there for he’s in New Orleans now, but he's got 63 films under his belt.

[0:51:32.9] KM: He's still acting?

[0:51:33.9] MT: He's not an actor. He was behind the scenes, but he is – but he's in the movie industry. He's a producer.

[0:51:40.4] KM: Oh, so he wasn't going to be the guy on Blue’s Clues.

[0:51:42.0] MT: No, he was going to be the guy on Blue’s Clues.

[0:51:43.3] KM: He was?

[0:51:44.0] MT: He never made it as a – he was more of a – he has more of a character look about him. Didn't have that George Clooney look.

[0:51:53.4] KM: It takes all kinds though.

[0:51:54.2] MT: Yeah, exactly. He has so enjoyed it. I got to go visit him in New Orleans back in March and he was shooting with Tom Hanks, a new movie called Gray Hawk that will be coming out and that's the name of it, and it was neat to be able to go on scene and to see what actually goes on in the movie industry and the sets that they build and everybody goes –

[0:52:15.9] KM: He’s not an actor. He's behind scenes. What’s he doing now then?

[0:52:17.7] MT: No, he’s behind the scenes.

[0:52:18.4] KM: What’s he doing now then?

[0:52:19.7] MT: He is independent, and so as he gets through with Gray Hawk, then he'll go to work for another.

[0:52:25.0] KM: Doing what though?

[0:52:26.1] MT: He's a producer.

[0:52:27.1] KM: Oh, he’s a producer.

[0:52:27.8] MT: He’s a producer.

[0:52:28.6] KM: Well, can’t he give you a part?

[0:52:30.3] MT: That’s a great idea. I'll have to get with him on that one.

[0:52:35.3] KM: Really though.

[0:52:36.8] MT: I'll have to get with him on that one as an extra, or something.

[0:52:41.0] KM: Oh, you know though the thing about acting that's cumbersome to me is there's so much sitting around waiting.

[0:52:46.9] MT: Yes. Absolutely. I'm not a sit around, waiter person.

[0:52:51.1] KM: I can't see you doing that.

[0:52:52.1] MT: No.

[0:52:52.6] KM: You're going to have to be doing something all the time.

[0:52:54.2] MT: No.

[0:52:55.2] KM: How do people get in touch with you if they want to advertise with you?

[0:52:58.3] MT: They can call me on my cell phone. They can send me an e-mail.

[0:53:03.7] KM: You want to give those out?

[0:53:04.7] MT: Sure. You can call me at 960-4196.

[0:53:08.4] KM: Say it again.

[0:53:09.1] MT: 960-4196.

[0:53:12.4] KM: That's from my people back there at the office writing it down, so they'll put it on your podcast. All right, and then what's your e-mail?

[0:53:18.7] MT: Or they can e-mail me at mtowne@invitingarkansas.com.

[0:53:25.7] KM: That’s mtowne@invitingarkansas.com. We’ll put all that up on your page with your podcast next week, so people can call you.

[0:53:33.4] MT: Thank you.

[0:53:34.0] KM: You're welcome. You publish every –

[0:53:37.0] MT: Every month.

[0:53:37.8] KM: Month.

[0:53:38.3] MT: Once a month. If you have any events.

[0:53:41.1] KM: Yeah. How do people tell you about events?

[0:53:42.4] MT: The same thing. They can call me, they can e-mail me, they can e-mail events@invitingarkansas.com. We are the month of October, that issue will actually have our printed calendar in it, as well as an insert. It's an insert that will be – but it's a printed calendar of events from October of 2018 through September of 2019. I have Dancing Into the Dreamland Ballroom. It’s already on there.

[0:54:07.2] KM: Good. I was just about to say I need to send it to you.

[0:54:09.4] MT: It's already on there.

[0:54:10.9] KM: Good. You also have that calendar online, I think don’t you?

[0:54:14.1] MT: Correct.

[0:54:15.0] KM: Is it stay up-to-date?

[0:54:15.8] MT: It does. We update that at least once a week. If we're very – I will say the girls in the office are great. If you'll call us and give us the information, they're great about getting it up online.

[0:54:26.4] KM: Inviting Arkansas, if you want to just go find out what's going on to go to an event to find out, because nonprofits are wonderful events to go to. They've got great food and even though, and when you give your money to buy the tickets going to a great cause, do you think many of them make any money? Because I know a lot of times, the events are more public relations to bring awareness to the foundation, but all the money almost – but the putting on the event actually almost takes up all the ticket money. You think can you ever make money?

[0:54:57.3] MT: I think a lot of them. I know that a lot of them make money. I think that some of the organizations, I think that the newer organizations, they probably have a little tougher time making huge profits. Yet, I think that they all make profits. I think some of the larger organizations, because they've been doing it for so long that they have really connected with their resources. One of the things, I'm a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and that's a big thing that we do every November. I think that it teaches –

[0:55:33.2] KM: Is it a class or something?

[0:55:34.3] MT: No, it's an organization here in town and it's all of your professional fundraisers. It's a great organization, but the one thing that we've talked about is that to let your resources know early. Everything is about planning and –

[0:55:48.3] KM: Interesting.

[0:55:49.5] MT: - even when people come to me and they say, “Oh, we've got an event in two weeks. Can you do a story on it?” There's only so much free editorial that I have. You would be surprised at the number of people that have been doing it for a long time, that really do pre-plan and say, “Hey, Michele. Next July, can you do a story on us for dat, dat, datda.”

[0:56:09.9] KM: It's probably August of the year before.

[0:56:11.6] MT: It is.

[0:56:12.0] KM: They're that far in advance.

[0:56:13.3] MT: Exactly.

[0:56:14.7] KM: I think that's very important for our listeners to hear that if you've got a nonprofit and you want to plan an event, you need to plan it the year before and let everybody know the year before.

[0:56:25.2] MT: Exactly. Contact early, I think that that's a big deal.

[0:56:27.9] KM: I also think it gets on the calendars, your calendar and downtown partnerships calendar? In that way, if you are planning an event, you can go on your calendar and see if there's a conflict.

[0:56:39.2] MT: Exactly.

[0:56:39.9] KM: Because I think that’s important. Do you think there's more nonprofits there's ever been? I had no idea. There weren't until I started Dreamland Ballrooms, Friends of Dreamland Ballroom and I'm shocked at the amount of nonprofits there are.

[0:56:52.2] MT: There really are. It's so hard, because I want to say yes to everybody.

[0:56:57.6] KM: It seems like there's more than there’s ever been. Or am I'm just thinking that?

[0:57:00.2] MT: I think that there are tons, but I think that the need is there. I think that we as a community are becoming more aware of the special needs that people have. Not only do we have – there's lots of food insecurity nonprofits now. There are –

[0:57:17.3] KM: What does that mean?

[0:57:18.3] MT: Food insecurity? Hungry people. People that don't know where they're going to get their next meal.

[0:57:23.5] KM: Really?

[0:57:25.4] MT: That's a shame. Think about the amount of food that we all throw away as we – you put the vegetables as we call it in the rotter and you don't end up eating them, you end up throwing them away. That’s something that's near and dear to my heart, food insecurity. I think that it's a shame, but people go hungry.

[0:57:42.6] KM: Then the homelessness that seems to be, I don't know what the answer is to that.

[0:57:47.2] MT: I don't know either.

[0:57:47.9] KM: It seems to be more, or at least I see more homeless people. I don't know if there's more or not. It seems like I see more of them. We had George

[inaudible 0:57:56.5] from our house, who's very passionate. She's one of my favorite nonprofits.

[0:58:02.0] MT: They are awesome.

[0:58:02.9] KM: They are unbelievable. All right, it's time for your gift. Are you ready?

[0:58:07.4] MT: I love gifts. Yay.

[0:58:10.2] KM: Let’s see if you can recognize this desk set.

[0:58:12.0] MT: Where did that come from?

[0:58:13.7] KM: Flag and Banner.

[0:58:14.5] MT: Thank you so much.

[0:58:15.8] KM: That’s a desk set. For the people that are listening, that's a Tennessee flag?

[0:58:20.6] MT: Love it.

[0:58:20.9] KM: US flag and your new home Arkansas –

[0:58:23.0] MT: Thank you.

[0:58:24.2] KM: You’re so welcome.

[0:58:24.8] MT: I appreciate you having me.

[0:58:26.0] KM: Thank you very much. Who's our guest next week?

[0:58:27.7] CC: That's going to Bob Robbins from The Wolf.

[0:58:30.7] KM: Bob Robbins has been around for so long. Everybody probably remembers when he was on Kissing. He's opened up BJ's honky-tonk and one night got hit with a baseball bat and damn near killed me, damn near got beat to death with a baseball bat. It was the wild, wild west in the 80s, let me just tell you. I lived through them. Thank you. I’m still alive. He was also on Kissing. He ran Kissing forever and now he's on The Wolf and I go out every year and hand out flags with him on Flag Day. We've been co-conspirators on Flag Day for 20 years probably.

Chris, Michele, thank you all for joining me on the air.

[0:59:09.5] MT: Thank you.

[0:59:10.5] CC: Thank you.

[0:59:11.7] KM: With my listeners. I also want to thank again Centennial Bank for partnering with us for the Friends of Dreamland Ballrooms event and sponsoring Dancing Into Dreamland, which is Friday November the 2nd.

You all heard how to get in touch with Michele. If you want to advertise with her, or if you want to find out about events, or let her know about your events. If you have a great entrepreneurial story that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to questions@upyourbusiness.org.

Finally to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you're right, but it's also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring, or enlightening and that it, whatever it is will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[1:00:13.9] CC: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you missed any part of the show or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on Radio Show or subscribe to her weekly podcast wherever you like to listen. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show. Kerry’s goal, to help you Live the American Dream.

[END]

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