Best of Creative Bakersfield experiment
I was in a corporate job with work that left me stressed, depleted and completely uninspired. I stayed in that corporate job for 7 years. I should have left earlier but being a graphic designer and marketing professional, I believed the lie that my talents wouldn’t be needed in town because “there aren’t a lot of opportunities for creatives in Bakersfield.” You look at the listings and you can't find a place for us creative types.
Freelancing for most of those 7 years and after several obvious signs, I knew it was time to leave. I decided to take a leap of faith and quit to start my own business. While I was scared out of my mind, I knew something could happen if I focused 100% on my dream. I met a group of like-minded folks who were passionate about reshaping the view of Bakersfield in many ways. They saw what I was about, what I could do and took a chance by hiring me. If it wasn’t for them I would probably feel the same desolate way and be stuck in a cubicle using my talents to move forward a company that my heart wasn’t in.
Instead, my heart is now in this community. A community that desperately needs to be reinvented and rebranded. I’ve had the opportunity to work some of the most innovative minds in Bakersfield over the year and it has been inspiring to say the least. I’m in the trenches with these folks day in/day out. The biggest difference is that I’ve only been doing this for a year. They’ve been trying to make a name for themselves for many years with bigger businesses not grasping why they should hire them, let alone pay them a fair wage.
This year as I viewed the BEST OF KERN COUNTY list, a yearly awarding system that most businesses and community pay a lot of attention to, I was dumbfounded as I scrolled. I was looking for places that my new venture and fellow small businesses, namely in the creativity and innovation space could be written in for. There wasn’t a spot for us.
Not seeing any spot for me and my fellow creative innovators stirred something in me - not just the “let’s make a support group” type of action… it needed to be something bigger. Something that others can jump on and get involved with.
My idea quickly morphed from sharing a rant into a concept action - let’s make our own BEST OF list. Let’s show how many people in this area are in the creative class, how they spend their days giving to the community, making others look great, and fall within all qualifications to be classified as a small business.
We first launched the idea asking for nominations, and it was clear, the creative community was ALL about it. By day’s end, there were over 20 submissions adding up to about 100 categories. Reposts, shares, comments, a ton of “amens," the creative class has spoken - it’s time that we share we’re here and we’re ready to be recognized for what we do. We are professional businesses and should be treated as such.
When we looked at the categories in order to compile nominations for businesses, we wanted to think strategically about them, allow for growth as we move forward, and be creative while doing it. We decided to curate categories that were a bit wide and open to interpretation. Things like "best at taking risks," "best at dreaming big," "best at capturing moments," were some of the most engaging and interesting to see who was nominated under.
We have since completed the nominations portion and will be launching the actual voting March 1st. Nominations wise, over 5,000 businesses were mentioned by their peers.
Honestly, It’s ok if we never make it into the Best of Kern’s list. We’re happy to do our own thing with the unbridled support of our community. I’m positive it’ll be a wild and fun ride that we can own and build.