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Stephanie Pruitt

Poet & ARTrepreneur

Stephanie Pruitt is a working artist (poetry & social practice) and ARTrepreneurial expert. In addition to numerous awards, magazines, and anthologies, her literary work can be found in vending machines, on walls, in concrete at a baseball stadium, and as large-scale, multi-sensory/social experiences.

As founder and Chief Strategist of Mind Your Creative Business, Stephanie works to solve the art + business equation. She applies her expertise in marketing and organizational innovation to help companies and institutions solve problems and mine opportunities through fine art. The TEDx speaker also provides professional development services to individual artists and the organizations serving them in order to banish starving artist syndrome.

Pruitt earned a bachelor of business administration in marketing from MTSU, and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Vanderbilt. Over the past two decades, she has managed an art gallery, social science research center, and owned a publishing & talent booking firm, and event planning company. Most recently, Pruitt has taught or served as an artist in residence at the Sewanee (University of the South) School of Letters & Young Writers Conference, The Entrepreneur Center, Vanderbilt University, and as a visiting workshop leader in over one hundred community spaces. When not traveling as a speaker and facilitator, she can most often be found in her Nashville home with her husband, Al, and soon to fly the coop daughter, Nia, along with their two 70lb lap dogs.

Q. What excites you most about the Wond’ry?

A.The majority of my work sits at intersection points. I’m constantly flipping from the art world to business to science to community building to academia to technology to….all sorts of wonky spaces. The Wond’ry is a hub that brings them all together. This is a place where ideas can thrive. Plus the furniture is cool and there’s easy parking for off-campus folks. 

Q. What do you feel are the most important skills you have to offer in your role as a mentor?

A. Critical and compassionate listening skills and the ability to connect seemingly disparate dots towards a strategic big picture. 

Q. What has been your proudest moment in your career?

A. Every single time I complete a poem is a wondrous moment. In the big picture, however, I was proud to realize that my creative work could indeed pay my daughter’s college tuition. And more importantly, transforming my personal aha moments and strategies into systems that can catalyze the success of many, many other artists who were told their work would never be more than a hobby.

Q. What has surprised you most about your job?

A.  I’m constantly hitting reset and trying to flip a new facet, so curiosity, surprise, and discovery are baked into everything. (Also there are a surprising number and range of people who long(ed) to be artists.)

Q. If you could do everything over again, would you make the same career choices?

A.  Overall, yes. But I would hire a coach to help me travel the same creative path, with fewer business belly flops.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most important quality for success?

A. Self-knowledge, empathy, resilience, and good communication.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. A mermaid and a lawyer.