Community Highlight: Creative Connect Seattle

This week, we spoke with the founders of Creative Connect Seattle - Ashley Hoffman and Chris Gallegos. We first learned of the community through their active Facebook group and loved the friendly, inspirational vibe. We talked to Ashley and Chris about how they got started and what's next!


1. What was the inspiration behind your community and how did it all start?

Creative Connect Seattle was inspired as a less formal alternative to the professional networking event. There was always a high anxiety and lack of meaningful communication present among the high speed exchange of elevator pitches and business cards that turned us off.

Ashley Hoffman and Chris Gallegos started Creative Connect Seattle after going to many networking events. As creative professionals in the marketing and design industries, they shared many business cards but felt something was missing - that true connection between creatives (especially in a city where "the Seattle freeze" is a thing!).

Creative Connect is actually a decade plus old fixture in Phoenix AZ, started as a creative round-table for industry leaders in the still young Arizona advertising industry. Ashley and Chris had attended these events and, after moving to Seattle, thought this would be the perfect place to start a new chapter in this city of creatives. With permission from Dan Semenchuk, the original founder in AZ, and a solid community of supporters, Creative Connect Seattle continues to grow.

2. How were you able to grow your community and inspire others to take part?

One thing that we're proud of is the grassroots effort that we've used to grow this community. Although the numbers aren't anything particularly huge, we have about 210 creatives following our community and between 20-40 people showing up to any one event. We've been 100% organic in how we've grown our community primarily through word-of-mouth both in-person and on social media. We use Facebook and Instagram and usually have thousands of views on each event without the use of boosting or advertising of any kind. I think people really connect with the idea of: come hang out with other creatives, see cool spaces around Seattle that you probably wouldn't see otherwise, and have a beer or two.

3. How would you describe your community culture? How does someone join?

Like I mentioned above, it's as simple as: come hang out with other creatives, see really cool spaces around Seattle that you probably wouldn't see otherwise, and have a beer or two. RSVPs aren't required (although people often will, on our Facebook event page), business cards aren't required, and the normal formality of regular networking events is certainly not required. The idea is to leave each event fulfilled and inspired by

  1. Getting out of your comfort zone (hey, a lot of creatives are introverts!)
  2. Meeting like-minded people outside of your regular field, and
  3. Seeing and exploring really cool spaces throughout the city. We jokingly refer to it as the "anti-networking event," although I know that also tends to bring a lot of rolling eyes! Haha. 

Joining our community is as easy as being aware of it. We have a Facebook page and a Facebook group where creatives can come together and collaborate and engage with each other. Anyone is welcome to join, as we firmly believe everyone is a creative - not just the designers, photographers, and writers of the world!

4. Can you tell us more about any events, questions, or ongoing goals you have for your community?

We meet every second Tuesday of the month so keep an eye out for what events we have coming up. Our goal is simply to continue being a space for local creatives to meet and get inspired with each other. We're all about creating that connection (hey, it's called Creative Connect, after all!) between people and really watching it grow. We've already had a few great opportunities come out of these connections, which I'm super excited to be a part of!


5. What is your community buzzing about?

Recently, our community has been sharing and discussing creativity, Seattle, and social media. In this article published by The Drum titled “How Seattle became a magnet for creative minds,” Doug Zanger discusses possible reasons for why Seattleites are known to be so creative and what draws creatives to our city. Not only are we as individuals creative, but the big brands who have made their home here are as well. 

Another article titled “Stop Trying to Be Famous and Build a Body of Work Instead” by Jeff Goins discusses the concept of focusing on building up work rather than chasing fame. In this day of likes, retweets, shares, reactions, and the like, it’s easy to get sucked into unimportant metrics and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Finally, there’s a 2009 TED Talk that especially resonates with our community called “Your elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She discusses the “genius” expectations we place on creatives and “having” a genius rather than “being” a genius.

6. Who's someone other people should know about or follow?

We’re particularly excited about the efforts from Ladies Get Paid to empower women to advocate for themselves at work so they can get paid fairly, get treated fairly at work, and overall advance in their careers. We’ve partnered with the Seattle chapter on a number of projects and are excited to continue to do so in 2018. 

Of course, we also love supporting our local creative community here in Seattle! A few of our particularly influential creatives include Michael Ellsworth, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Civilization; Kate Harmer, Founder and Creative Director at Hum Creative; Ben Graham, Principal and Co-Creative Director at Turnstyle Studio; and onesevennine who is a great local mural artist we featured on our Instagram a while back!

7. What are some exciting things that folks can look forward to from your group this year?

This year, we’re continuing to meet every month in some great venues that we’re excited to explore! Our goal is to open it up to more creative studio-type work spaces and the like and expand our reach to various parts of Seattle’s many great neighborhoods.

Are you part of a community that you think we should highlight next? Let us know!