Dan Davis and Hillary Harrison contemplated renting a theater.
If they were going to start a speaker series, they would need plenty of seating, maybe a projector, and definitely a good sound system. But renting a theater or conference room, they decided, wouldn’t be the Curious Chatter way.
Curious Chatter is about real life. It’s about real people – creative go-getters, rabble rousers, freethinking outsiders – waking up every morning and doing work. So rather than looking at venues to rent, Dan chose his own shop on Charleston’s West Side, Kin Ship Goods. This is the place where he and Hillary go every morning with their dog Sammie. It’s the place that’s held his sick, exhausted body as he worked into the night trying to print more T-shirts in time for the holidays.
“We’re showing you where I’ve sweated, and cried and failed a bunch to tell you that you can do those things and make it,” Dan said.
Kin Ship Goods, owned by Dan Davis and Hillary Harrison, and Base Camp Printing Co., owned by Emily Sokolosky, are partnering to launch Curious Chatter, an ongoing speaker series aimed to inspire. Think of a more casual, jargon-free TED talk based in Charleston and meant for the young people across West Virginia to hear.
“We want it to be real talk so that you can really be inspired,” Dan said.
After meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Dan and Hillary chose to move to West Virginia, so that they could be closer to Hillary’s family. Since they launched their screenprinting apparel company, the two have experienced tremendous success, selling their clothes across the country and gaining recognition, praise and press across the state.
Dan and Hillary aren’t designing sweatshirts for the accolades and they’re not doing it to try to save Charleston. They’re just two people who had an idea and the drive to make it happen.
“I’m a high school dropout. I didn’t go to college. We come from very poor families,” Dan said. “We bought a T-shirt. Printed a T-shirt. Sold that T-Shirt. I never really think about it in those terms, but that’s a good story, right? We just willed all of this. We’ve obviously had lucky breaks and stuff, but the lucky breaks came from just doing it.”
Dan is well aware of the struggles Charleston and West Virginia face, including the large numbers of young people exiting West Virginia to start their careers or pursue their passions elsewhere.
Curious Chatter is aimed to offer fresh perspectives on creating opportunities where you are. It’s aimed to help show and inspire the state’s young residents to find ways for their talent to work for them in West Virginia. Curious Chatter plans to host people from varying fields and backgrounds who are all self starters.
“It’s not snake oil. It’s going to be no bull sh*t,” Dan said. “It’s going to be: ‘Here’s someone that looks like you or is your age and acts like you that has done a thing.’”
Dan likened it to a favorite Netflix documentary. “We watch those kinds of documentaries,” he said, “to be inspired, to see that human will is out there.”
Whether you’re an aimless 20-something or a 45 year-old teacher, Curious Chatter hopes to serve a similar role.
“Come take in some more knowledge about a thing to help you on your road to wherever,” Dan said.
And as for his own road, Dan said he’ll share that too. You’ll just have to wait for the next Curious Chatter.
Anna Patrick is a proud member of the UpThink team. A journalist by trade, she is currently based in Charleston writing for a handful of magazines and helping nonprofits, like Generation WV, tell their stories. When she isn’t hunched over a keyboard pecking away, she’s probably hunched over her puzzle table trying to find that next piece.
Like party favors, but for your brain. Enjoy these weekly goodies including viral videos, interesting articles, curated playlists, and more! Curated by Dan Davis of Kin Ship Goods
- LISTEN: Dan was kind enough to send us an EPIC playlist, give it a listen.
- WATCH: Design shapes the world. Don’t believe us? Watch this.
- LISTEN: Mystery, and old Hollywood history wrapped up in a perfect podcast. “You Must Remember This” is a must listen.
- READ: Patti Smith “Just Kids”
- SPREAD THE WORD: Know any young, talented professionals looking for a new challenge? Check out Impact WV – a new yearlong fellowship by Generation WV Applications are due March 13th!