Simeon Talley – Guns X Butter EntreFEST Preview Snapshot

Simeon Talley 1What is Guns and Butter?

“It’s a thought-provoking t-shirt line inspired by politics, art, and contemporary culture. What I wanted to do was basically two things. First, to make the most creative, cool, political t-shirt line, one that’s really artistically driven and fashion forward. And the second thing I wanted to do is create a line that does real good in the world.”

“So, my model is that I focus on a political issue or idea. I’m not an artist, so I find an artist to create with, to bring the concept to life. And then I find a partner to collaborate with, to create more of a campaign. I’ll find a nonprofit or an advocacy organization so that when anyone buys a t-shirt, a certain percentage of that purchase will be donated to an organization we really believe in, that’s doing real good, that’s making people’s lives better.”

“That way people are not just buying a really cool, interesting-looking t-shirt, but also they have this sense that they’re a part of something bigger, that they’re making a difference in the world as well. That’s Guns and Butter.”

What are you doing here at EntreFEST?

“I’m the lead organizer for a couple of new events this year at EntreFEST. The “Work Hard, Play Hard Fashion Show” Thursday night is a fashion show that will put forward looks of what we’re calling the modern entrepreneur.”

“The fashion show is a fun social event. But I think it really goes much deeper and is more personal than that. Because [entrepreneurs] are people that get up every single day and they’re grinding, they’re hustling. […] But to live life and to not have fun is not really to live a fulfilled life at all, right? The music we listen to, the people we hang around, the social functions we’re involved in. That really adds to the creative process and the overall creativity of an individual. You can’t do cool, interesting, compelling things unless you’re exposed to that stuff as well. So they’re really like two sides of the same coin. And it’s a very personal thing not only to the people attending EntreFEST but also the people putting this show together, because most of the people who are participating are people who are looking for an opportunity, for a chance, for a break. Take their brand, their line, their store to the next level. So that’s the fashion show on Thursday night.”

“The very next day, we’re putting together the EntreFEST Popup Showroom. It’s an opportunity for people to creatively display their brand or their products to EntreFEST attendees and to the general public, and to sell their products, make a little bit of money. So, on Thursday night you’ll see the fashion show, all these creative, wonderfully curated looks and clothes. And then the next day it’s about giving people an opportunity to learn more about those brands and actually buy some of the things they saw the previous night.”

How did this all come about?

“This started because I wasn’t able to attend EntreFEST the previous year, and I made a decision that this is something I have to plug into. Someway, somehow, I have to figure out a way to gain more exposure for Guns and Butter, for myself, and to connect to other creative people that I can learn from and grow. So, it’s me coordinating, me producing a couple of events, but also it started because I just wanted to plug in more and learn from people.”

“I didnt’ even know it was going to be a fashion show. I just wanted to do something for my t-shirt line and work with others to gain more exposure. It started off as an unsolicited concept. I pitched it to EntreFEST, and it was like, “Please, please, please let me do this at your event.” Now it’s turned into an official EntreFEST event, and they just sent out an email with the top ten things to look forward to during EntreFEST. The fashion show was number five. To me that means a great deal, because really I was like a nobody, you know, who was really hungry and passionate about plugging in and doing something. And now it’s become this event that I’m working on with so many other creative people, talented people. To me that’s really cool and very rewarding, and it doesn’t happen in another place. I feel like because of the people here and their commitment to helping anybody, whoever you are, get your ideas out, make ’em something real you know, I’ve been able to do this.”

What have been some of your most positive experiences from plugging into this community?

“From the outside looking in sometimes it’s a little bit intimidating, but truth be told, once you really start to try to connect to people and talk to people about what you’re doing, people are so very approachable. Tons of resources, and everybody’s willing to help you. People are genuinely, sincerely interested in supporting people, enterpreneurs, whomever, make their ideas something tangible, something real. And that’s the most rewarding thing.”

Tell me about some of the relationships you’ve created through this.

“I think we’ve got really talented people in Iowa, in the Creative Corridor. Andy Stoll, Amanda West, Samantha, Katie, Jessica, that entire team, it’s been such a rewarding experience to work with them on these things, but also learn, you know? It’s been cool to learn, befriend, connect with, and be a part of this. I feel like in these past two months I’ve grown and developed. My capacity has increased so much by working on these things and networking with these people.”

Where do you come from? What drives you? What’s your joy?

“I’m originally from Columbus, OH. I came to Iowa to work in politics on the 2008 Obama campaign. I decided to come back to Iowa after the campaign to finish my degree in International Politics. I decided to stay because I never really felt a sense of community in Ohio. And I guess that’s been something, even if I didn’t realize it, I was looking for. So I decided to stay in Iowa. But even after I finished school at Iowa I thought, like, Oh, you have to go elsewhere, you know? I should move to Denver or Chicago or further west. Cool, creative cities where real opportunities exist. But at some point it just clicked that you don’t have to go elsewhere to do something cool. People are doing really amazing things here, and I wanted to be one of them. So that’s sort of the path I’m on right now. Just trying to plug in and do something cool and rewarding.”