Lisa Toro // City & State

Lisa Toro is the co-owner of City & State, a retail and coffee concept store on Broad Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. She does everything from crafting coffee drinks and determining brew methods to sourcing and purchasing handmade and Made in USA goods from all over the country. She also oversees the team that makes City & State all that it is every day. Let’s dive in and learn a bit from this powerhouse entrepreneur, shall we? When did you know that you wanted to call the shots? Early out of college, I remember my frustration working at large corporations and wanting to take on more responsibility, or seeing opportunities that a person in my position wasn’t able to act on or affect. However, I didn’t really equate that frustration and my overall interest in the macro and micro elements of business until my first foray into entrepreneurship as a partner in the founding of RocketFuel. From there, that taste for entrepreneurship never quite left me, even with the lure and ease of a big team and title at Hilton Worldwide. Those same frustrations quickly returned, and it was then that I recognized my need to step away and focus on creating and driving my own enterprise. Why this business? Although I’m much more business minded, I’ve always had a massive amount of respect and interest in people who have chosen creative pursuits. Through travel and study, I was able to identify the growing interest in a return to quality over quantity and handmade over mass-produced. In the same vein, coffee was also undergoing a shift in approach, and both things truly fascinated me. It seemed natural to combine both the hand-crafted coffee and quality goods under one roof, and it would give me enough variety of responsibility that would allow …

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Jake Meeks // Tattoo Improvement Network

Today I bring you an interview with Jake Meeks, a tattoo artist and painter who works out of a creative coworking space I helped launch in Memphis called Studio688. That’s how I met him and saw his amazing work… but now I’ve learned even more about his impressive entrepreneurial drive! Jake owns and manages a fairly large real estate portfolio of single family homes and commercial buildings. He’s also the founder of the Tattoo Improvement Network whose focus is art and technical education for tattoo artists and collectors. When did you know that you wanted to call the shots? Working as a CSR for an insurance agency in the mid ’90s. All of the agents made their own schedules and I was stuck doing data entry from 9-5. Why this business? I began buying real estate because I didn’t see myself with great retirement options as a full time artist. The Tattoo Improvement Network evolved from a lack of quality educational tattoo related content online. Please describe your typical day. My days are broken into two parts. For example, Wednesdays are dedicated to real estate until noon and the rest of the day is spent in the painting studio. I am pretty structured and keep lists for each subject/business. The lists are prioritized into ‘next action” items so that I am never left wondering what to do next. What’s the best decision you ever made that moved your business forward? Hiring a business coach. There was a point that the real estate business was taking over my life. I hired a coach to help me develop systems and processes that I was then able to spin off as I could afford to hire help. I could have never started the Tattoo Improvement Network or traveled as consistently as I have …