The Localist: A Podcast for Local Businesses (and the People Who Love Them)

The Localist is a conversation with local makers and independent entrepreneurs. Author and local business advocate Carrie Rollwagen invites mom-and-pops, freelancers, side hustlers, and start-up founders to talk about the ins-and-outs of how they got their start, the pros and cons of owning your own business, how they handle the hard stuff, and yes, even the mistakes they’ve made along the way. Carrie and her guests get into the nitty-gritty details: staffing, funding, hiring, and inspiring — and everything in between.

As a former small business owner, Carrie navigates the conversation to get the insider info we all want to know and delivers it with a sense of humor and humility. This podcast has something for everyone, whether your business is already thriving or you’re just now forming your first big idea.

(Showrunner: Michelle Phillips, Sound Engineer: Brad Davis.)

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Saying Goodbye to Your Business: Former Business Owner Derek Brown on What to Expect When You Leave Your Company
April 2, 2020
This week, Carrie is joined by Derek Brown, former co-owner of WideNet Consulting, on what it’s like to leave the business you’ve built. Derek tells us what made him decide to leave the business he co-founded and gives us some insight on how to make a business split a little less traumatic. He then touches on the possibility of forcibly losing a business during this global health crisis, how Derek’s business survived the recession of 2008, and what he thinks it will take for a business to survive this new kind of crisis. View Show Notes
Shortcuts to Self Care: When the Bare Minimum Is All We Can Handle, Let’s Make It Count
March 31, 2020
Carrie is back with another short bonus episode about how to take care of yourself during a global health crisis, even if that seems impossible. Carrie breaks down some of the basic human needs (sleep, food, movement, and yes, even showering!) and gives shortcuts for when changing out of your pjs sounds too daunting. She wraps up with the critical importance of community, especially during this time, and introduces us to the idea of health bingo. View Show Notes
Hope in the Time of Quarantine: A Bonus Chat with Carrie Rollwagen
March 26, 2020
In this short bonus episode, Carrie shares unfiltered thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic. She looks to history and to literature for perspective on our current state of events and shines light on the realities of a shut down of most shops and services (especially for small business owners!). She wraps up with some of the opportunities that we still have that hold hope for the future for artists and entrepreneurs. View Show Notes
COVID-19 Threatens Small Business: Connor Knapp of Piper & Leaf Tea Gets Real about Running a Food and Beverage Company During Coronavirus
March 24, 2020
Connor Knapp, co-owner and co-founder of Piper & Leaf Tea Co. delves into how COVID-19 is affecting small businesses. In this incredibly honest conversation, Connor and Carrie discuss the pros and cons of shutting down a business, what the stimulus plans really offer, and how big corporations are still making huge profits during this crisis. Connor talks about his contingency plan, how they are trying to pivot the business to meet the needs of the community, and the importance of adapting as quickly as possible. View Show Notes
Handling the Haters: Morgan Johnston of Club Duquette on How to Respond When Someone Bashes Your Brand on Social Media
March 19, 2020
Morgan Johnston of Rugged & Fancy and Club Duquette joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist to discuss the ins and outs of pushback on social media and in building a business. Morgan and Carrie kick off the conversation discussing a recent incident that Morgan had on social media that took her back to a previous experience with a troll in 2014. Morgan tells us how that experience affected everything going on in her life at the time, and how she handles negative comments now versus then. View Show Notes
Go Your Own Way: How Questioning Norms, Cultivating Curiosity and Pushing Boundaries Helped Seth Newell Build Ala Grip Co.
March 12, 2020
Seth Newell, founder and owner of Ala Grip Co., joins Carrie Rollwagen on this week’s episode of The Localist. Ala Grip Co. is a Birmingham-based rental company specializing in lighting, grip, and production equipment. Seth tells us about the logistics of storing all of his equipment and the value in having a supportive community in Birmingham. Seth and Carrie get into networking, the barter system, and how Seth’s early entrepreneurial spirit showed itself with dumpster diving. Seth and Carrie wrap up with some great travel tips and a shoutout to some local companies. View Show Notes
Translating Tech: How Newberry Consulting Changed Its Focus to Help Founders Navigate the Changing Frontiers of Technology
March 5, 2020
Trevor Newberry of Newberry Consulting joins Carrie this week on The Localist. We dig into the topics of software products, the necessity of meeting your client where they are, and the surprising amount of creativity involved in web development. Trevor and Carrie then tell us how not to work with developers. Trevor details networking, mentors, building relationship and working with a digital assistant. Trevor and Carrie wrap up with building your team and the merit of some personality tests over others (Enneagram or Meyers-Briggs!). View Show Notes
Come Back Strong: How to Rejoin the Work Force with a Solid Resume after Maternity, Sabbatical, Extended Leave or Side Hustles
February 27, 2020
Susan Rollwagen, owner and founder of Pepperbox Solutions (and Carrie’s mom!), is back on The Localist this week. Susan and Carrie focus on the topic of stepping away from the workforce with the ultimate goal of returning at some point. Susan gives pointers for how to stay engaged during time away from work and encourages anyone considering time off to make a plan for re-entry. She gives us some killer tips for crafting a resume, discusses the power of transferable skills, and talks about finding opportunities for self development. View Show Notes
Start Lean, Dream Big: Craig Hurst of Gearbox Adventure Rentals on Family-Friendly Camping, Planning for the Future and #VanLife
February 20, 2020
Craig Hurst, owner and founder of the Birmingham-based camper van rental company Gearbox Adventure Rentals, joins Carrie on this week’s episode. Craig tells us how Gearbox refined the process of camper van build outs and running business operations: marketing the business at events, deciding which vans to use, and the surprising benefits of not having investors in the beginning. Craig wraps up by giving us the scoop on some of the future plans for Gearbox. View Show Notes
How Not to Make Money as a Writer: Carrie Rollwagen on Freelancing, Fiction and Imposter Syndrome
February 13, 2020
On this week’s episode of The Localist, Carrie is joined once again by showrunner Michelle Phillips. Carrie and Michelle take a deep dive into Carrie’s experience as a freelancer and writer, getting real about the feasibility of making a living as a freelancer, the misleading nature of social media, and whether all the hard work and hustling pays off eventually. They wrap up the conversation with the double-edged sword of being your own boss, imposter syndrome, feeling like a failure, and whether the struggle between making art and making money is worth it. View Show Notes
When to Quit the Dream Job: Stylist Drea Z. Harbin on Creativity, Burnout, and Her New Fashion Venture, Eyes of Wise
February 6, 2020
Drea Z. Harbin, artist, graphic designer, creative entrepreneur, and owner of the vintage clothing and jewelry collection Eyes of Wise, joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Drea and Carrie dive into Drea’s transition from agency art director to independent entrepreneur, how the advice from men can differ from the advice given by women, how change can sometimes feel like failure, and how slowing down and self care are crucial. They wrap up with the sustainability aspect of buying second hand and local, Drea drops some shocking statistics about the fashion industry and then offers tips on how to make the change to more sustainable clothing options. View Show Notes
Communication Is Critical: Aaron Lane of Lane Woodworking on Why It’s Best to Be Honest about Mistakes, Pricing and Expectations
January 30, 2020
Aaron Lane of Lane Woodworking, a custom cabinetry and fine furniture company, joins Carrie this week on The Localist. Aaron shares his approach to Instagram and talks about what he got out of his marketing degree. Then they dive into business operations: how he discusses pricing with clients and how that has evolved through the years, how he manages working on a team with other designers and contractors, and how important it is to know your own limitations. Aaron and Carrie wrap up with the Airstream Aaron purchased as office space for the team — who wouldn’t want to have a meeting in an Airstream?! View Show Notes
Cultivating Networks, Connecting on Social Media and Building Creative Community with Kelly Cummings of Spindle Photography
January 23, 2020
Kelly Cummings of the Birmingham-based photography studio Spindle Photography joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Kelly and Carrie dive into the behind-the-scenes aspects of running your own business: websites, accountants, hard stuff you never thought you’d have to learn, and the joy of finally being able to outsource. Kelly tells us the value in setting boundaries, explains what a styled shoot is, and gives the low down on what a second shooter does. View Show Notes
Working with Family Members: When It Works, Why It’s Tricky, and How to Protect Your Business and Your Relationship (Featuring Susan Rollwagen of Pepperbox Solutions)
January 16, 2020
Susan Rollwagen of Pepperbox Solutions joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Susan is a performance management consultant who works with small businesses to help get their teams aligned. Susan also happens to be Carrie’s mom! So there’s no better topic for them to discuss than the pitfalls and benefits of working with family members (and friends). Susan shares how to go about entering into a professional relationship with someone you’re close to personally: how to tell if you’re making the right hire, how to have difficult conversations, and the importance of deciding on an exit strategy before you begin. View Show Notes
From Side Hustle to Startup: “See Jane Write” Founder Javacia Harris Bowser on Live Events, Facebook Groups and Transitioning from Teaching
January 9, 2020
Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. See Jane Write is a community for writers that offers support, advice, guidance, and so much more to its members. Javacia tells us how she got started with events, how she went about getting those set up, and her goal of doing more events in 2020. Javacia and Carrie wrap up the conversation talking about the hustle of entrepreneurship, work/life balance (spoiler — it’s a myth!), and Javacia’s best tips for anyone who wants to start writing. View Show Notes
Tech to Table: Mary Drennen, Co-Founder of Meal Delivery Service Nourish, on Building a Business in Food Delivery’s New Frontier
January 2, 2020
This week on The Localist, Mary Drennen of Nourish Foods, a meal delivery service based in Birmingham, AL that specializes in providing healthy meal and snack options throughout the southeast, joins Carrie. Mary and Carrie talk about scaling a business, the woes of using new technologies, and the value of designing your products around meeting customers where they are. We wrap up the conversation with how Nourish advertises, a blessing in disguise involving the health department, and what Nourish has in store for expanding their offerings in 2020. View Show Notes
From Barista to Business Owner: Showrunner Michelle Phillips Interviews Carrie Rollwagen, Cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books
December 25, 2019
On this week’s episode of The Localist, Carrie is joined by Michelle Phillips. Michelle is usually behind the scenes as the showrunner for The Localist, but the tables are turned! Carrie and Michelle dive into entrepreneurship: Carrie tells us how she learned how to manage people, how she met her former business partner and how Church Street Coffee and Books came to be, what it was like managing a coffee shop versus a bookshop. View Show Notes
The Machines of Creation: “Timelapse Guy” Paul Bryant on Finding Your Niche, Connecting with a Tribe and Making a Mid-Career Pivot
December 19, 2019
Paul Bryant joins Carrie on this week’s episode of the The Localist. Paul, along with his wife Courtney, own and run Kinora Films, a premier videography and production company based in Birmingham, AL. Paul and Carrie start off with what a timelapse actually is, the technology he uses to create timelapse videos, and how long a timelapse shot usually takes (hint: bring snacks!). Paul then tells us how he got his start with weddings, how he carved out a niche combining film and digital, and just how terrifying it can be to shoot with film on a wedding day. We wrap up the conversation with how Paul found mentors and formed friendships with local photographers, dealing with imposter syndrome, and how everything he’s learned along this journey feeds into creativity even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. View Show Notes
Morgan Mondy of Mae Studio on Building a Business, Expanding a Brand and Making a Graceful Exit
December 12, 2019
Morgan Mondy, owner of Mae Studio, joins Carrie on The Localist this week. Morgan and Carrie dive in with what it’s like to almost simultaneously open a new business and sell a business (it’s not for the faint of heart!). Morgan tells us what she envisioned for Mae, the client experience she wanted to create, how college isn’t for everyone, and how a passion for learning is one of the keys to success. Morgan describes the early days of her first salon and how it differs from Mae, and the importance of company culture. View Show Notes
From Head Baker to Business Owner: Mallory Webb of Daughter’s Baking on the Transition from Side Hustle to Small Business Success
December 5, 2019
Mallory Webb, owner of Daughters Baking, joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Mallory and Carrie discuss when Mallory knew it was time to take the leap and go full-time with Daughters Baking, and how Mallory prepped for that. Mallory then shares how she reacts to feedback and her process for developing flavors. We wrap up with a conversation about the value of making connections, assessing risks, staffing, and how it feels to be a boss. View Show Notes
Shop Small Saturday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday: Is It Too Late to Make Them Work for Your Business?
November 27, 2019
On this special Thanksgiving Day episode of The Localist, Carrie goes solo and dishes out (see what we did there ;) ) some great Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday / Opt Outside tips that any local business could put into practice. While it might be too late to host an event, there are other ways to get mileage out of the shopping holidays, and setting yourself up for success this holiday season is always a good idea. Carrie serves up easy and practical tips for how to handle everything in-store from figuring out what to put on sale, how to strategically decorate, and how to train your staff for the holiday season. She delves into social media, too, covering everything from hashtagging to highlighting gift ideas to telling the story behind your business. View Show Notes
Music Lessons: Will Mason of Mason Music Shares about Teaching Children, Entrepreneurship and the Upcoming Woodlawn Theatre Renovation
November 21, 2019
Will Mason of Mason Music joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Will is a Birmingham native who is making big moves in the local music world. Will and Carrie start off the conversation with Will and Mason Music’s biggest venture yet: opening up a music school AND music venue in the renovated Woodlawn Theater. Will tells us about their process for opening each of the different locations, the weird things you find when you renovate, and how they went about getting investors to really see the vision behind Mason Music’s aspirations through. View Show Notes
Consume with Respect: Nathan Pocus of Domestique Coffee on Global Impact and Community Connection
November 13, 2019
Nathan Pocus of Domestique Coffee joins Carrie this week and jumps right in with how Domestique got started. Spending time in Haiti sparked Nathan’s interest in the rich and varied coffees from the region and inspired him to bring it back to Birmingham. Nathan then gives us a brief history lesson on Haiti, defines a few cycling terms (fun fact: peloton is not just an expensive indoor bike), and breaks down the nitro cold brew process. Nathan and Carrie discuss forming business partnerships, especially when global trade is involved, what surprised him about buying globally, and how Domestique tells the stories of the farms and communities the coffee comes from. View Show Notes
Vision for the Future: Dr. Lori Jasper of NowVision Eye Care Shares How Customer Connection Is Good for Your Health (and Her Bottom Line)
November 6, 2019
Dr. Lori Jasper, optometrist and owner of NowVision Eye Care, joins Carrie on this week’s episode of The Localist. Dr. Lori and Carrie touch on the woes of healthcare coverage and Dr. Lori tells us how she handles tough conversations with patients. They then move into business operations: choosing a location and making it feel welcoming, hiring and training employees, and how Lori handles owning and operating a business while being an introvert (we’re big fans of her suggestions: self care and naps!). They wind up the conversation with how Dr. Lori competes with the Warby Parkers and other big-box retailers of frames. View Show Notes
Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble: Nancey Legg of Better Kombucha Shares the Trials and Tribulations of Fermenting Tea
October 31, 2019
Nancey Legg of Better Kombucha joins Carrie on this episode of The Localist! Nancey starts us off with the basics: What is kombucha?! (Think good ol’ southern sweet tea, but with a little bubbly goodness.) Nancey then gives us a brief history lesson, tells us about fermentation and ABV, and shares what inspired and motivated her to get started in the first place. View Show Notes
Localist Live: Localist Listeners Share Favorite Birmingham Shops
October 23, 2019
On this week’s episode, The Localist goes live! Well, we WENT live at the the Localist Launch Party hosted at Dreamers Supply Company. To celebrate the official launch of the podcast, Carrie’s dad, Mike Rollwagen, interviewed a few volunteers at the party about a whole host of localist topics! We hear from Stephanie first about the best ways to discover new music; Sara Margaret tells us about the magic of goat cheese and eating local; Andrew persuades us to try out Trattoria Zaza (as if we really needed convincing); Mary Katherine gives some local love to Zoe’s Vintage; and Clay serves up some sizzling local coffee recs. View Show Notes
Living the Dream: Husband-and-Wife Team Kaitlin and Alan Slattery Curate and Create at Dreamers Supply Co.
October 5, 2019
Dreamers Supply Co's charming and magical shop owners, Kaitlin and Alan Slattery, talk with Carrie on today's episode. The husband and wife team share about leaving their comfort zones (Stable jobs! Health insurance! PTO!) to pursue an education at Savannah College of Art and Design. The pair also talk about working with your spouse and balancing the need to take time and space for yourself, learning how to communicate and ask for what you need, and starting a business from the ground up. You’ll learn how these entrepreneurs feel about social media (spoiler: Alan hates it), how to give and receive critiques on creative projects, and how to find a mentor. This episode packs a lot of practical information and delivers it with a sense of humor! View Show Notes
Everything Is Networking: Mateo Zarate, Founder of CrowneWorks Creative Media
October 5, 2019
In this episode of The Localist, Carrie is joined Mateo Zarate (@mateozdigital) of CrowneWorks Creative Media. You’ll learn the best way to refresh your content, the right questions to ask to quote a client, and tips for how to get clients to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. These tips are coming straight from a pro, so you know they’re good! The duo also discuss how they hire freelancers, their positions on taking free work or working for trade, and how that can sometimes work out better in the long run (cough-no taxes-cough). They round out the episode discussing the importance of networking in person (yes, it makes a difference!), and Mateo gives us pointers on how to do a pitch. View Show Notes
Meet the Localist
October 5, 2019
Carrie Rollwagen (@crollwagen) is a writer and entrepreneur with a penchant for frequenting — and founding — small businesses. Carrie co-founded a successful coffee shop and bookstore, worked for years as a freelancer for publications like Southern Living, teaches classes on writing and marketing for small businesses, and is currently a VP at a mid-size web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. She spent a year buying only from locally owned stores and blogging about the experience; she turned that experience into a book, The Localist, published in 2014. The Localist podcast isn’t just the next chapter in her exploration of local business; it’s also a how-to manual for anyone who wants to work for themselves. View Show Notes