In 2001, John Howkins in his book The Creative Economy helped bring to the public’s attention a new global movement. He notes, “New ideas, not money or machinery, are the source of success today, and the greatest source of personal satisfaction, too. The creative economy is revitalizing manufacturing, services, retailing and entertainment industries. It is changing where people want to live, work and learn — where they think, invent and produce.” As a student of entrepreneurship, I am excited about the opportunities that the creative economy creates. I believe this trend provides an incredible opportunity for Mississippi. The state has an incredible amount of creative talent that can be utilized both in communities and the world.
Leisha Pickering is a great example of a creative economy entrepreneur. She is leveraging her creative talents to make a difference through her new company Musee Bath Inc., which produces natural bath balms. Pickering is a native of Memphis, Tenn., and an Ole Miss graduate. I believe great businesses start with a “why.” By this, I mean that the founder(s) have a clear purpose for the business and are passionate about bringing their product or service to the marketplace to help others.
Pickering shared with me some of her motivations for launching her new business. Her mantra in this phase of life is “social entrepreneurship” — finding unique ways to address the needs of the community through creativity. Musee helped her do just that. She noted, “I believe everyone is called to make a difference wherever you are in life. I have always had an interest in poverty both home and abroad.” She noticed a need for job creation in the Flora area, and she felt led to make a difference in her community. Pickering explained, “I consider Musee to be a cottage business — a small company with grass roots in a kitchen with the employment of local people.” She understands that work creates dignity and seeks to give people that opportunity.
Being a creative economy entrepreneur comes naturally to Pickering. She said, “I have always been creative. When I was young, I wanted to become a writer of children’s books.” I believe in the power of questions. In my executive coaching practice, I use questions to help people clarify their path and focus. Pickering asked herself some powerful questions to develop her own path. She noted, “As you grow older, you must ask yourself questions. Some of these questions are: Where will my creative gift and passion take me as a career — what is your natural giftedness and your passion? How can you take your passion and use it alongside your natural God-given gifts.”
From Mother Teresa to Chuck Colson, Pickering is inspired by great leaders who are motivated by a desire to serve others. For future leaders, Pickering encourages them to have a vision for what you are passionate about and act on it. In a world where we can easily get caught up living someone else’s vision for our lives, she encourages leaders to “be authentic, be yourself.” She strongly believes in the value of doing the right thing the right way and the importance of a life of servant hood. From serving the poorest of the poor in Africa to focusing on helping others in her local community, Pickering is a great model of creativity and servant hood in action. I hope that many more Mississippians will leverage their time, talents, and energy to change the world one small piece at a time for the better by unleashing their creative talents.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.