I spent a lot of years working for magazines and to be honest, I often miss assignment editorial work. My favorite thing about those days was on-location environmental portrait work of business and cultural leaders, artists and artisans, and really anyone placed in the context of how they make their way through the world. I learned a lot of the skills I use now--walking into a strange location, quickly figuring out a concept, choosing a location and designing a lighting setup. So, I'm really excited to be producing a series of portraits and articles for the NoDa News about the people who live and work in Charlotte's NoDa Arts District.
The first in this series is below. For my photography readers interested in the process, this image was made using a mix of off-camera strobes and ambient light. It's not technically a headshot, but is composed so that it can be cropped that way. I also really like how the subject, Bold Missy-owner Carol Waggener, is framed between two strong diagonal lines and is layered among the brewing apparatus.
My article is below.
Bold Missy Founder, Carol Waggener is about to celebrate the second anniversary of an incredible entrepreneurial journey.
Waggener’s relationship with beer began in Saint Louis with behemoth brewer Anheuser-Busch. “Even though they are the ‘Evil Empire,’ I learned a lot from them, especially as regards quality and relationships.” Then about five years ago, while working for Snyder-Lance in Charlotte, inspiration found Waggener on aSouthEnd pub crawl--she realized she wanted to step away from the confining cubicles of the corporate food and beverage world and build a small brewery of her own. She attained a certification in the Business of Craft Beer from Portland State and studied brewing at Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, got a Small Business Loan from Wells Fargo, and cashed out large parts of her retirement to invest in her new venture.
With lots of skin now in the game, Waggener settled on NoDa, a quarter-mile from the neighborhood center in an old cabinetmaker’s shop. The area near Craighead and North Davidson wasn’t very developed retail-wise at the time, and the first time she saw the future brewery a man was urinating on the exterior wall. But it fit the required zoning, had high ceilings and the sort of water access she needed. Oh, and parking. “We love being in NoDa, which fits the personality of the brewery perfectly – it’s a little off-beat and bit quirky, which is what NoDa is all about.” She greatly enjoys that so many women come in and find inspiration in the beers named for heroic women.
The transition to entrepreneurism is usually a trial. Construction and road closures challenged the startup early on, but they are getting better. Like most small business owners, Waggener wears lots of hats—helping in the kitchen, cleaning the kegs in the back, and spending late nights and weekends in the brewery. “I’ve always had a huge respect for anyone who wants to start their own business, but now even more so. Starting something from scratch is unbelievably rewarding but is also an incredible amount of work.”
There is more brewing in the area these days--Protagonist being the newest kid on the block and Devine Barrel opening last year just a stone’s throw away. According to Waggener, craft brewers tend to have more collaborative relationships as opposed to competitive ones. She loves having Devine Barrel as a neighbor. “People will come here and check them out, or they go there and then come see us.”
That synergy is great for beer fans and also homeowners. The University of Toledo, using Charlotte as acase study, found that the opening of a brewery raises single-family home values 10% within half a mile, being that they are perceived favorably as amenities, unlike bars and liquor stores.
Ryan Sumner is the creative director ofFenix Fotography, and specializes in artful portraiture of business and cultural leaders, corporate headshots and other advertising images. He can photograph you and your coworkers at his portrait studio at the Colony in NoDa and is available for location work too. His fine artwork is available through his gallery at the Charlotte Art League.