Meet Five West Michigan Creatives with a Mission to Drive Change
The Grand Rapids Chamber is proud to serve the creative business community throughout the Creative Chambers program, which includes professionals in the following industries: advertising, architecture, art schools, artists & agents, creative technology, culture & heritage, design, fashion, garment & textile, film, AV & broadcasting, literary, publishing & print, music, performing arts & visual arts & crafts.
Here at the Chamber, we wanted to take time to recognize some awesome creatives in Grand Rapids, so we put out a call for people to share their creative journeys with us. We received tons of amazing entries, and we picked our favorites to share with you!
Plus, to add a little fun, we chose one of the individuals highlighted below to receive a beautiful painting by Erick Picardo, which was painted during our Creative Chambers mixer at the beginning of 2019!
Meet the Creatives
John Hendershot, Founder of iNFable socks4cause
About John Hendershot
John F. Hendershot is the founder of iNFable socks4cause, where they create socks and other apparel that spread messages of hope, love and gratitude to the world. Their socks bring awareness to a variety of social issues, including foster care issues and the opioid epidemic. The name of the company, iNFable, is a take on the word ineffable, meaning too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. The company is a family effort with John’s son, Courtland, doing much of the design work for the socks.
What’s Your Inspiration?
I have always had a passion for both socks and social causes. Our lives on this earth are short, but I believe that we have a responsibility to leave the world better than we entered it. We hope that regardless if you choose to buy a pair of our socks – that you make a commitment to helping, caring and loving those around you.
Sara Jeffries, Communications Specialist at Mel Trotter Ministries
About Sara Jeffries
Sara kicked off her design career at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she worked for the yearbook and at a local promotional print shop. She then attended Grand Valley State University and worked in their University Development Office, where her supervisor became her mentor and encouraged her to pursue a career in the non-profit world. After a yearlong job hunt, Sara’s mentor connected her with Mel Trotter Ministries, where she has worked since 2016. She also proudly does volunteer design work for organizations fighting human trafficking in the community.
Why are you passionate about the work you do at Mel Trotter Ministries?
My heart has always broken for social injustice. Since I moved to Grand Rapids in 2012, I’ve done outreach throughout the community, and have worked to make an impact in the lives of inner-city youth. Working in the non-profit world is the perfect middle ground for me. I can use my God-given design talents to rescue and restore lives of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. My creative work drives change in the community by raising awareness and funds for Mel Trotter Ministries, which means our advocate staff can then reach more people experiencing homelessness and help them overcome the barriers that brought them to homelessness.
Travis Atkinson, Consultant at TBD Solutions
About Travis Atkinson
Travis Atkinson has worked in the behavioral health care industry for the past 15 years. partnering with providers and payers across the country to find meaningful solutions to some of health care’s most challenging issues. Travis has sought out opportunities to infuse mental health treatment and music, bringing musical self-expression and songwriting groups into psychiatric hospitals and crisis homes. A native Michigander, Travis enjoys writing and performing music, coaching his daughters’ basketball teams, and attending concerts. He has recorded four albums with his band Deep Greens & Blues, serving as the lead singer, rhythm guitar player, and primary songwriter.
Create Great means doing more, working to drive change, and making something special. What do you do to Create Great?
I have initiated a couple music programs for people with mental illness or those in crisis at psychiatric hospitals or other locations. I’ve done songwriting with victims of human trafficking or eating disorders where I take their stories and bring it into a context where they can heal through music. I serve on a human trafficking taskforce and do a lot of work with mental health. My mantra is: We are worthy, we belong, and music can help make people feel heard.
Megan Murray, Principal Interior Designer at Megan Murray Interiors
About Megan Murray
Megan Murray has been practicing Interior Design for 15 years in the Commercial Design space. She grew up in Missouri but moved to Michigan in 2007 for work. Since then she has met and married her husband, Craig, and they live with their son (Trent) and dog (Lucy) in Alger Heights. She ventured out on her own in 2015, creating Megan Murray Interiors. She specializes in Commercial Interiors and some small-scale project management for all sizes of clients. She offers services ranging from space planning, finish selection, and furniture specification to a full Interior Design scope offering. She is also part of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Michigan Board of Directors, as the Social Media Director.
What inspired you to start your own creative business?
I wanted the freedom to work on a variety of projects and with a mixture of clients, while still having the flexibility to enjoy my personal life. I get to do what I love and love how I do it! I pride myself of creating quality work. This doesn’t just go for the design work I create, but also the relationships I build on projects, with both my client and the other subcontractors on a job. This takes a great deal of time and some consider “faster” better. I think that creating quality work and relationships is what lasts and what people remember you for. This is extremely important to me!
Gricelda Mata, Owner of Lindo Mexico Restaurante
About Gricelda Mata
Gricelda Mata is the owner of Lindo Mexico Restaurant in Wyoming, a family owned business established in 2000. Lindo Mexico currently has about 38 employees and is an authentic Mexican restaurant that serves fresh food with real Mexican flavor. From working in the fields in her native Michoacán, to owning her own restaurant business, Gricelda Mata has persevered to become a dynamic business owner who has used her successes for the enrichment of the community. Gricelda proudly incorporates a variety of art into her restaurant space, much to the enjoyment of her patrons.
The way you incorporate art into your space is very interesting, what inspired you to do it?
Prior to moving to our new space in 2015, we had to consider what type of Mexican restaurant we wanted to be in the new space. We wanted to incorporate part of our culture and show more of where we came from, and this is when we started looking for an artist to put our vision into a drawing. After meeting with Elton Monroy (the artist who put our vision into murals), I decided to turn the space into a gallery and start working with local artists. At that time, Erick Picardo started as our curator. My goal from the start has been to be inclusive and provide opportunities for all local artists.
So, which of these creatives are we recognizing with the beautiful painting by Erick Picardo? The winner is Travis Atkinson, for his incredible marriage of health care and music. His passion to drive change in undeniable, and he is a prime example of why creatives are essential to the West Michigan business community. Congratulations Travis!