Create Appalachia Offers Arts@Work Series Panel: “Diversifying Before Disaster: Pandemic-Proofing Your Creative Business”

May 13, 2021
6 PM (online, interactive)

Panelists:  Rodolphe Pierre-Louis (ActionVFX), Jenny Kontos (Hillhouse Creative), Margie Kendall (MargieFoodie.Com), Victory Harbin (The Social Brand)    
Tickets: $20



Create Appalachian invites creatives and creative entrepreneurs to this informative interactive panel, designed to offer ideas for keeping and arts-based business flexible and financially sound during tough times. The panel will feature four dynamic panelists, regional creatives who will share some insight into how they retooled their businesses during the pandemic and created new opportunities for themselves in spite of the challenges of the shutdown. Each panelist will speak briefly about his/her business and about the changes wrought by COVID-19, also offering advice about how to weather adversity. A Q&A session will follow. This panel is part of Create Appalachia’s Arts@Work series, which offers professional development for regional creatives. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear and learn from creative entrepreneurs who have come through COVID not just intact, but with flying colors.

To register, please visit Arts@WorkSome scholarships are available; email for information.

Margie Kendall, one of the four panelists, has recently gone viral on TikTok with her cooking videos. She says, “I started MargieFoodie at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to help others still feel connected during a time of being physically distant. It worked well for me and my family and allows me to have flexibility while still doing what I love: teaching others how to make delicious food at home. Being ready and able to adapt to provide a service that fits both my world and the greater world around me has been key to building a successful business.”

Kendall is the creator and owner of, a virtual cooking class and recipe development business. Her passion for sharing food with others came to fruition 4 years ago when she began dreaming up a cooking class business in the Tri-Cities, TN area, and eventually partnered with Serenity Knoll Farm to make this dream a reality. Margie served as the Director and primary class instructor at Serenity Knoll for a few years before departing to launch her own business in the spring of 2020. Today, Margie keeps herself busy wearing multiple hats in the food world, serving as the events and promotions manager of Jonesborough Locally Grown, consulting with local businesses on food marketing, developing recipes and content for small food brands, and teaching private cooking classes virtually to groups from all over the world.

The panel also includes Rodolphe Pierre-Louis, an award-winning filmmaker, visual effects artist, and entrepreneur from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Rodolphe is the Founder and CEO of ActionVFX, the film industry’s leading source for visual effects stock footage. Because of his work at ActionVFX, he was awarded the StudioDaily 50 Award, which honored the top 50 creatives and technologists of 2017. Rodolphe currently resides in Johnson City, Tennessee, where ActionVFX is based.

Panelist Jenny Kontos serves as president and creative director of Hillhouse Creative, is an award-winning designer with more than 15 years of strategic communication and design experience. Her passion for producing both strategically focused and aesthetically pleasing communications is what drives her to create. Jenny is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and The University of Tennessee. She is a Leadership Kingsport graduate, 40 under Forty recipient, and is active in the community, serving on various boards and committees. Jenny has lived on the West Coast, East Coast, and several places in between before settling down in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

The founder of The Social Brand, Victory Harbin is a digital marketing expert who partners with organizations to get their messages online and speaks on digital marketing topics all around the area. Victory is passionate about helping organizations speak to the right people, on the right platform, in the right way. She believes that keeping marketing strategies about people is the most effective way to grow an organization. Victory started as an entrepreneur at the age of 22 and is now running her second company at age 27. She now leads a team of 8 talented creatives from all over the country. She holds over 30 certifications in various areas of marketing from Google AdWords to social media marketing.

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Create Appalachia strives to make the Appalachian Highlands a better place to live and work by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship centered around the arts and creativity. We work to sustain an environment that will generate new businesses, provide jobs in arts-based businesses, and highlight the important role that creativity plays in the region’s economic vitality.

The Arts@Work Series supports entrepreneurial and self-employed artists and makers who wish to develop their professional business skills. Topics include business strategy, marketing, communication and promotion, pricing, and client relations. The 2021 Arts@Work series was curated to meet the particular needs of small creative businesses dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Arts Commission has provided partial funding for the 2021 Arts@Work Series, including this panel.


Katie Hoffman
Executive Director
Create Appalachia
(423) 329-4742


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