James Briggs is the co-founder of Carroway + Rose, a creative public relations firm that focuses primarily on the intersection of art and business. Briggs brought Carroway + Rose to St. Petersburg earlier this year, but he has made a home for himself and the business in a short time. Prior to the founding of Carroway + Rose, Briggs spent more than 20 years working with some of the largest clients in the world, including Pfizer, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo and AT&T. Now he specializes in working with smaller organizations that make up the fabric of communities, including the Carter G. Woodson museum and the Brenda McMahon art gallery.
Years in St. Pete
This is our first year.
Organizations involved in
We're launching a foundation in January called Noble Roses, which will partner 11 percent of our earnings with fundraising done through our artist clients. We're also involved with the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, with Brenda McMahon's art gallery, Operation Regroup post traumatic strength development. Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce.
What gets you out of bed every day?
The people I work with. When you are aligned with people professionally like Terri Lipsey Scott, or with Brenda and you see Brenda's vision and leadership, genuinely trying to raise the level of artistic accomplishment. Jane Bunker is another one. She has a scholarship program where she did nothing but paint lilies for two years. And she sold them for $50,000 and gave all of those proceeds to a scholarship program through the Woodson called the Woodson Warriors. So when I'm associated with these people and see what they're doing, it gives me plenty of cause to get up and so what I can too.
Why St. Pete?
I came to Gulfport around the first of the year on a professional fact-finding mission. Both worked out well. I've never been in a place where the collective intention of a people is so positive and inspiring, really, to be a part of. There's a certain community aspect to Gulfport and I think a lot of people who have visited will comment on that. At the end of the day everyone wants what's best for the town and the arts and the businesses there. Through Gulfport I've become aware that that is the case in St. Pete as well, and I should say across Pinellas County. It's a really interesting and inspiring place to be.
What is one habit that you keep?
I studied in a monastery for a long time and I kept coming upon this word, it's a Hebrew word and it's Selah. I didn't know what it was and I came across it 74 times in the book I was reading. I studied the etymology of it and it's "pause and reflect" in Hebrew. And so I wrestled with this in the monastery and since then and I thought not only from a personal mindfulness, which is absolutely necessary. But I knew when I came down from the monastery that that mindfulness was also important from a professional sense. There's a lot of creativity in that pause, there are a lot of answers in that pause. So I try to do that professionally as well as personally.
who are some people that influence you?
Terri Lipsey Scott - when I met her at the Carter G. Woodson, it really showed me that all of these ideas that I had about how art could effect positive change and make a real tangible difference in people's lives, when I saw what she was doing and met Jane Bunker and Brenda McMahon, I was just really inspired. They came into my life at the right time.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I would go back to pausing and reflecting. Slowing down is OK. We're all in a rush, especially in what I do for a living. Dealing with journalists with deadlines and clients want a reporter to have this news immediately. We want that too and we want it to come from the right place. We can get news out all day, but we can't get out you, and what you're trying to say to them. So taking that mindfulness to each client and to each organization we work with is where we approach that from.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
The professional and the personal don't have to be enemies of each other. Art and business are not enemies, if you look at most of our branding it says, "We navigate the crossroads between business and art," and we do. We think that artists should be recognized and rewarded for the work they're doing. We think that businesses have an interest in saying that it's not all about profit for us, we want to contribute to the positive vibe of St. Pete or Gulfport. We're sort of a bridge between the communities we serve.
We're looking at expanding in the springtime with a brick and mortar in the St. Petersburg area. We'd love to stay in Gulfport if we can, but there are not as many office options. We're equally excited about our foundation launching in the spring.