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Jacksonville's Startup Economy: Benefits Of One Spark Exposure Extend Past Crowdfunding

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Lindsey Kilbride
/
WJCT

One Spark is a festival for creators to get funding for their projects, but as one local business can attest, being a One Spark creator isn't all about dollars and cents.The goal of most creators is to be noticed by as many people as possible. More votes equals more cash to put toward project development. 

2013 was One Spark’s inaugural year, and Rethreaded was the top winner, bringing home more than $6,000. But what about the projects that didn’t quite get as many votes? Was their participation in the festival a complete waste of time?

Sylvia Walker is the owner of Natural As I Wanna Be, or N.A.I.W.BE, an eco-friendly organic skin care product line.

Walker entered N.A.I.W.BE as a One Spark 2013 creator project. She only won $647, but she credits One Spark for a lot her success. 

A registered nurse by trade, Walker used her medical knowledge to create the home-based skin care line just over three years ago. Walker and her husband Reggie began selling her products at vendor events. In 2013 they signed up for One Spark.

“We were very excited about the opportunity for people to vote on us and to potentially win some money,” Walker said, “to further our initiative to become a business with a brick-and-mortar storefront.” 

Walker was grateful for what she won, but what happened after One Spark was a surprise. She and her husband continued to set up booths at events like the Riverside Arts Market, but people’s perception of her business was now much different.

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT
N.A.I.W.BE owner Sylvia Walker holding one of her skincare products.

“They would walk past us and give us a thumbs up or even purchase product and say, ‘Hey, I remember you, you guys were at One Spark.’”

More people started liking and adding N.A.I.W.BE on social media. They were following up to buy products and the business skyrocketed. Walker said that the exposure and branding from One Spark was priceless. 

Meredith O’Malley Johnson, public relations and volunteer services manager at One Spark, was not surprised by Walker’s reaction. 

“The number one thing that most creators said that was most valuable that they got out of One Spark was actually the feedback and validation from the general public about their ideas,” said O’Malley. 

Walker was able to open that brick-and-mortar storefront. N.A.I.W.BE is now located in Jacksonville Landing. The location is a store that sells her products and also doubles as a spa, offering massages, facials, manicures and pedicures with N.A.I.W.BE skin care products. 

This year Walker is participating in One Spark again, only this time her storefront is serving as a venue to host a new batch of creators.

You can follow Lindsey Kilbride on Twitter @lindskilbride.