“I’m a spreadsheet nerd,” Stinson admits. “I have one spreadsheet of about 250 image makers in town and another spreadsheet of agencies and clients.”
Stinson also knows that these two sides — the “creatives” (as they’re called in the ad industry) and their potential clients — can’t always find each other. As a result, local photographers and stylists frequently travel to get top assignments. Local agencies and design firms often bring in talent from out of town.
“There is plenty of opportunity for work in the city,” she says. “Cincinnati has a lot of talented people and I want to keep them here.”
So when Stinson pitched to People’s Liberty her idea to connect creatives and clients, the philanthropic lab in Over-the-Rhine took notice.
People’s Liberty, part of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, believes the $100,000 fellowship it awarded Stinson this year will strengthen Cincinnati’s creative community and foster work for local talent.
“Tamia saw a problem she wanted to fix,” says Jake Hodesh, vice president of operations at People’s Liberty. “She envisioned an opportunity to build something new that will make Cincinnati a better place.”
Since 2015, People’s Liberty has funded civic and cultural projects that aim to transform the city. “We want to make dynamic investments in Cincinnati,” Hodesh says. “We look for great ideas but, more importantly, we look for interesting people to invest in. We want people who could do something new and different for the city if they could quit their jobs and try something big and bold.”
Each year, People’s Liberty bestows three different types of awards: 16 project grants of $10,000 each, three $15,000 Globe grants and two $100,000 Haile fellowships.
“We award the $100,000 fellowships to individuals who identify a local problem and see a way to solve it, or who seek out a unique opportunity in the city,” Hodesh says. Fellows take a year-long sabbatical from their jobs and receive mentoring, marketing support, a network of local and national contacts and work space to develop and implement their ideas.
Stinson’s project, called Tether, started in April. Inspired by the international publication Le Book — a guide to creative talent in Paris, London, Berlin and New York — Stinson plans to develop and curate a collective portfolio of local work. “We’re soliciting photo shoot concepts now,” she says. “On June 26, the concepts will be presented to the creative community, so people can sign on to be part of a crew and start to collaborate on the images that will be in the book.”
The Tether sourcebook will not only showcase talent for prospective clients, but will serve as a resource to educate local creatives about each other. “I want to make sure we show the breadth of what Cincinnati’s image makers can do, from commercial and lifestyle shoots to beauty and fashion photography,” she says. “If you’re a photographer tasked with pulling together a shoot for a client, you’ll be able to build the team you need — the stylists, the models, the hair and makeup artists — from our book.”
Stinson also plans to give Tether a robust social media and web presence and will host networking events to bring the creative community together.
“I held a forum with a group of independent image makers recently and learned the most important thing they wanted was to connect face-to-face with others in the business,” she says. “It’s one thing to like someone’s work on Instagram. It’s another thing to actually talk with the photographer as an individual.”
Stinson brings marketing, networking, styling and social media skills to the project. After earning a marketing degree from Ohio State University and interning in fashion journalism in London, the Forest Park native moved back to Cincinnati, relocating to the West End.
In town, she’s worked as a corporate marketer, a project manager and a magazine stylist. During that time, Stinson developed a blog called Style Sample to showcase local shopping and style ideas and her personal fashion sense, which she calls “downtown disco housewife” — glam rock meshed with urban chic.
“My fashion blossoming happened during the supermodel era in the early to mid-’90s,” she says. “I like Daryl Kerrigan and some of the other New York-type designers, but I throw in a dash of my mom’s style, too.”
In addition to Style Sample, for the past four years Stinson has hosted Creative City, a podcast for Cincinnati artists to discuss their work, influences and visions. It was recognized with a CityBeat Best of Cincinnati staff pick this year for being the “Best Way to Eavesdrop on Your Favorite Local Creatives.” Her show has featured guests like photographer Josh Anderson, digital video director Brandon Faris, music producer Kick Lee and designer Chris Glass.
“I often encounter people in town who are working on really cool and interesting projects, but I can’t explain them because I’m a terrible storyteller,” she says. “I decided to record my conversations with them and the Creative City podcast was born.”
But Tether — the network, web site and sourcebook — will be Stinson’s primary focus until April 2018.
“The biggest thing I can do in the next year is connect people in the creative community with each other,” she says. “I will lay the groundwork for an established network that can grow into something bigger.”
Photographers, stylists, designers and others who want to be part of the premiere edition of the TETHER sourcebook can submit a photo shoot concept at tethercincinnati.com by June 11. More info about People’s Liberty: peoplesliberty.org.