Omaha has officially been accepted into the CreativeMornings community and has joined 157 other creative cities across the globe. This monthly breakfast lecture series is designed to highlight our creative community and adds to Omaha’s strong arts and culture scene and growing reputation.
After our December event featuring Ruth Meints from the Omaha Conservatory of Music, we caught up with attendee Jamaal Chinn, a creative who believes that entrepreneurship and making noise go hand-in-hand.
Meet Jamaal Chinn
By JoAnna LeFlore
Jamaal is drumming up attention for arts and culture in Nebraska through his creative agency WKND LDRS (Weekend Leaders). What began as an idea to inspire himself in 2014 quickly evolved into a fresh approach toward collaboration, entrepreneurship and a new social movement.
“WKND LDRS is about stepping outside of the box. It’s about leading your life in a creative way. It’s about this Kaizen mentality: about being positive, progressing forward and self-development. I wanted to make personal development and creativity cool again.”
Kaizen is a principle taken from a Japanese business model of doing the greatest good with an idea. Jamaal’s idea to take this framework and apply it to his passions turned into the building of a new brand for establishing cultural development and personal growth. He also realized his strengths were magnified through collaborations with others – so he brought in a few friends, including photographer Michael Garrett, singer/songwriter Todd Zach, Jr., and videographer Christiann Gilchrist.
The agency first started making noise through its soundcloud channel, which features weekly “We Don’t Coast Wednesdays” playlists powered by Nebraska’s own music artists and lyricists. Local music enthusiasts, spreading between Omaha and Lincoln’s college crowd, are taking notice. WKND LDRS recently added event production to its portfolio, hosting a live music event in Lincoln, Nebraska, that showcased over a dozen musicians, producers, dancers and lyricists.
Prior to launching WKND LDRS, Jamaal tried his hand at developing a digital magazine, a clothing line and even an art collective. After experiencing limited success – and receiving his Master of Arts in Management from Doane College – he moved to Austin, Texas, where he found a stride for his passions working for a couple of startup tech firms.
“After doing some traveling I knew, I had to come back. From what I saw in other cities, I realized what Omaha doesn’t have and that’s where my motivation began. Working formerly in other creative agencies and watching how they operate sparked things up. Being halfway between New York and LA, I wanted to be a part of something that my friends could say, ‘Oh there’s some cool things happening here.’ I wanted to make more noise and make people want to come to Nebraska.”
Jamaal hopes to inspire others to create the environments they want to be in and not feel guilty about pushing the envelope for the arts and culture scene in Nebraska.
“We started this brand because we wanted to see things that we liked and be unapologetic about it. … We’re getting together and saying we can create an environment wherever we go. We’re creating a network to help support each other and grow our own ideas.”
Constantly seeking inspiration from others, Jamaal says what he enjoys most about CreativeMornings is the chance to be around other passionate people and gain some exposure.
Photo by Eric Francis
“What stuck out for me about CreativeMornings was that it was not so much focused on tech. It offers a diverse crowd with the monthly themes and I’m glad to hear the storytelling. People are just so engaged when you look around the room. I’ve left each one with more energy and enthusiasm for the day.”