National Hispanic Heritage Month at The Greenhouse
In 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month did not exist. What was once a week-long celebration has evolved into an annual, month-long observance. Today, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month each year, from September 15 to October 15, to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans who inspire others to achieve success. The theme for 2023 is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One.”
The Greenhouse joins in the national effort to acknowledge, appreciate, and uplift Hispanic business owners in our community. For National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are excited to highlight Hispanic business owners who have worked with the Greenhouse.
Meet Andrew Winchell with Inside Jobs Design
GH: Tell us a little about yourself and your business!
AW: I am not a Florida native, rather I was raised in rural Michigan and by way of Chicago (and later NYC) made my way to the vibrant and welcoming community of St. Petersburg.
I now call St. Pete home, and it’s in these cobblestone streets and sunsets over the gulf that I’ve discovered my true sense of belonging. My journey to St. Pete began as an exploration of my younger self, searching for an identity that was a mix of Hispanic and white, an education in the arts, and a place within the LGBTQ community.
In 2010, I made the life-altering decision to become a St. Petersburg resident. It was a choice that felt like destiny—a place where my roots could finally take hold. But life, as it often does, had its own plans. A brief hiatus in 2017 took me away, only to lead me back in 2020, reaffirming my bond with this enchanting city.
I wear many hats in this life. Most notably, I am a devoted single father, sharing an unbreakable bond with my amazing son as well as the most incredible co-parent anyone could ask for. Our co-parenting journey is a testament to the power of love, partnership, and understanding of each other, proving that a family is defined by the strength of its connections, not its conventional structure.
Creativity has always coursed through my veins. It’s a force that I’ve harnessed and transformed into a thriving interior design business, Inside Jobs Design, LLC. As the first in my family to graduate college, I earned a BFA in interior design, a monumental achievement I wouldn’t have dreamed was possible without the support of friends and family that set the stage for my flourishing career. My path in the design industry has been an exhilarating one, leading me through diverse experiences and challenges that have sculpted my skills and honed my vision. Now, I channel this expertise into crafting spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but deeply reflective of the people who inhabit them.
In this journey, I’ve discovered home isn’t just a place; it’s an emotional landscape. It’s the convergence of my past in Michigan, my present in St. Pete, and the limitless possibilities of the future. It’s a testament to love, resilience, and the boundless power of creativity. I couldn’t be more grateful for this remarkable journey that has brought me to where I am today.
GH: What inspired you to start your business?
AW: The inspiration behind launching my interior design business is rooted in a lifelong passion for the art of creating spaces that resonate with the human experience. Since the early stages of my career, I’ve been captivated by the notion of curating environments where people can engage, interact, and be inspired—a process that, to me, feels like channeling my imagination into tangible, transformative designs.
My journey in the design world has been an eclectic one, affording me the privilege to explore diverse sectors within the industry. These experiences have been nothing short of remarkable and they provided me with a profound education in the nuances of design. However, as I gathered knowledge and honed my skills, I couldn’t help but envision something more. I wanted to take the wealth of expertise and insights I had accumulated over the years and funnel it into a business that not only built upon this strong foundation but also allowed me to inject my own distinctive flair into the design process. I was eager to redefine how clients, designers, architects, and all involved parties collaborate to craft solutions that transcended simply “existing” in a space. My aspiration was to foster a deeper, more meaningful connection between individuals and the environments they inhabit.
In essence, my business was born out of a desire to share the beauty and artistry of interior design with my clients, infusing each project with my unique perspective and a commitment to enhancing not just the physical spaces, but the lives of those who dwell within them. It’s about crafting spaces that tell stories, evoke emotions, spark inspiration, and ultimately create a harmonious coexistence between individuals and their surroundings.
GH: What advice would you give to others who are looking to grow their business?
AW: Starting a business is an exhilarating journey filled with opportunities and challenges. Here’s some advice that has helped me:
- Self-Assessment: Your insight from taking a personal inventory is invaluable. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is critical. Embrace your strengths and be honest about your weaknesses. This self-awareness will help you make informed decisions and build a team or the know-how to seek resources where you may be lacking.
- Passion and Purpose: Ensure your business is built around something you’re passionate about. It will be your driving force during challenging times, and it will also resonate with customers and investors who can sense your commitment.
- Market Research: Thoroughly research your target market. Understand your potential customers, their needs, and what sets your business apart. This information is the foundation of a successful business plan.
- Business Plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, financial projections, and a clear roadmap for your business. This will not only guide you but also attract potential investors or partners.
- Financial Management: Proper financial planning is crucial. Keep a close eye on your finances, budget carefully, and have a financial cushion for unexpected expenses or slow periods. This was a hard lesson for me.
- Network and Mentorship: Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs. They can provide guidance, insight, and connections that can be invaluable. You are the company you keep, so stay around those who inspire and support you.
- Adaptability: Be flexible and willing to adapt. The business landscape is ever-changing, and your ability to pivot, when necessary, can make or break your success.
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Ensure you understand the legal requirements and regulations relevant to your industry and location. Compliance is crucial to avoid potential issues down the road.
- Customer Focus: Always prioritize your customers. Listen to their feedback, address their needs, and build strong relationships. Happy customers can become your best promoters.
- Continuous Learning: Stay open to learning and improvement. The business world is constantly evolving, so be willing to adapt and expand your knowledge and skills.
- Seek Help When Needed: Don’t hesitate to seek help or guidance when faced with challenges or uncertainties. There are resources, organizations, and professionals who can provide assistance.
- Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. It’s essential to recognize your progress and stay motivated.
Starting a business is a rewarding endeavor, and while it comes with its share of risks, with the right mindset, preparation, and dedication, you can increase your chances of building a successful and fulfilling venture.
GH: Please describe your experience with The Greenhouse.
AW: My experience with The Greenhouse has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially considering the relatively short period I’ve been involved with the organization. While I had always been aware of The Greenhouse, our interactions had been limited to the occasional 1 Million Cups meeting or word-of-mouth mentions. It wasn’t until a close friend introduced me to The Greenhouse’s South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program that I decided to dive in, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted into Cohort 1.
From the moment I joined, I realized the immense value that The Greenhouse brings to the table for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners like me. One of the highlights of my experience has been the opportunity to work with a dedicated business mentor. This partnership has provided invaluable insights, guidance, and a fresh perspective on my business endeavors. Beyond mentorship, The Greenhouse has opened the doors to a treasure trove of resources. It feels like there’s a bottomless well of webinars, workshops, and materials aimed at helping local businesses thrive. These resources have been instrumental in refining my business strategies, improving my skills, and expanding my network.
Reflecting on my time with The Greenhouse, I can’t help but wonder why it took me so long to fully engage with this incredible community of entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts. It’s a decision I don’t regret for a second, and I’m excited for the opportunities that lie ahead as I continue to grow my business. Rest assured, I’ll be an active participant with The Greenhouse in the future, eager to both give back to the community and continue learning and growing as an entrepreneur.
GH: Why do you think National Hispanic Heritage Month is important?
AW: I think National Hispanic Heritage Month holds significance for several reasons.
The month serves as a platform to celebrate the rich cultural tapestry and diversity within Hispanic communities across the United States. It highlights the multitude of backgrounds, traditions, languages, and histories that contribute to the collective Hispanic heritage. I believe it plays a crucial role in educating individuals about Hispanic cultures, customs, and contributions. By dispelling stereotypes and promoting understanding, it fosters a more inclusive and harmonious society, reducing racism and ignorance.
For young people, especially those from mixed backgrounds like me, National Hispanic Heritage Month offers a vital opportunity for positive self-identification and inspiration. Seeing successful Hispanic individuals from various fields can provide a sense of belonging, pride, and motivation, ultimately encouraging the youth to pursue their dreams with confidence and having visibility that matters. By highlighting the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans, we can show that Hispanics have a significant and lasting impact on the nation’s history, culture, and progress. It underscores that there’s a place at the table for everyone, regardless of their cultural background.
By fostering a sense of pride and unity within Hispanic communities, National Hispanic Heritage Month contributes to the development of resilient and empowered individuals and neighborhoods. It strengthens bonds, encourages collaboration, and promotes self-advocacy.
I believe it’s important to recognize the accomplishments of Hispanic leaders in various fields—from business owners to artists to activists—to inspire the next generation. It demonstrates that anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, can make a significant difference and become a role model for others. The celebration of Hispanic heritage encourages cross-cultural exchanges and dialogues. It encourages people from all backgrounds to engage with and learn from one another, paving the way for a more inclusive and interconnected society.
In essence, National Hispanic Heritage Month is not only a time to honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans but also a vehicle for promoting unity, dispelling misconceptions, and inspiring future generations to embrace their heritage with pride and confidence. It is a celebration of the vibrant mosaic that makes up the American cultural landscape and is a step toward a more inclusive and understanding society for all.
GH: What are your future goals/plans for your business?
AW: In the future, I would love the opportunity to expand into larger Commercial Projects. This move would not only diversify my portfolio but also increase my reach and revenue potential. With the resources and support from The Greenhouse and the local community, I believe I have a strong foundation for pursuing these opportunities. I also have an idea of opening a physical location for Inside Jobs Design, LLC. Having a dedicated space would enhance my visibility, professionalism, and client collaboration. It can also serve as a hub for other teams and provide a welcoming environment for clients.
The possibility of hiring new designers is imperative to scaling my business. Expanding my team can enable Inside Jobs Design, LLC to take on more projects, offer a wider range of services, and further solidify our community presence. With this, my goal is achieving sustainability for my business. It would not only ensure financial stability but also provide the flexibility to spend more quality time with my son. Building a sustainable business, creating a legacy for my family and building a brand that stands for quality, creativity, and integrity that can leave a lasting impact on clients, my family and the community.
Continued engagement with the local community, especially through organizations like The Greenhouse, and collaborating with others, sharing knowledge, and participating in community events is also a place I would love to see my business grow into. Now that St. Petersburg is home, I want to grow in a direction that enhances our community and helps support the amazing residents that live here, and what an amazing place this city is.
MORE ABOUT INSIDE JOBS DESIGN
Inside Jobs Design takes pride in creating engaging environments and interactive experiences that become more than just a sum of their parts. Whether you are looking to spruce up your interiors, a new home, or create something custom, Inside Jobs Design is there to help.