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I had heard Birmingham, Alabama, had a strong, up-and-coming makers scene. And knowing the Time Inc. studios are also there—that just solidified it; we couldn’t wrap up our Southern road trip without hitting up Birmingham.

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After a quick stop at Time Inc. for a tour and Facebook Live chat with Coastal Living, Ellen and I loaded our bellies at authentically delicious barbecue joint, Saw’s Soul Kitchen with a hunk of smoked pork and vinegary greens stacked over thin cheesy grits. There we made friends with a couple from Domestique Coffee Co., who recommended all the next movies—and Ellen and I were off, scurrying about the city on a mission to meet as many entrepreneurs as we could in only four hours.

We stopped in at REV Birmingham for Cliff’s Notes on the scene and where to go. Made fast friends at Club Duquette and Great Bear Wax Co. Stopped for a quick and perfectly piquant pumpkin soup and a glass of mint stevia tea at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe. We left the city full of inspiration, but from a different point of view than any other stop on this 9-day journey. We saw firsthand how businesses, makers, gathers—how they can can really change a community. How their hustle and go can truly inspire a community and add pride to a community. I feel really happy to witness this.

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The wrap up

All the tools we have now at our fingertips are amazing. I can’t even imagine life without them. We live in a social media time, and that’s all good and fine because it brings people together in a way that was never possible before. But these connections, friendships don’t feel validated until you meet in person. That’s why we started this Ice Cream and Apron Adventure in the first place. There were people Ellen and I have “known” for a long time, but now, having met face-to-face, we can call each other friends. I think that Ellen and I had some inspiration to give, but it feels like we got so much more in return in every city and with every person we met.

If a band can go on our, then why can’t a maker? If you’re doing something interesting, then you can get an audience. Maybe it’s not packing in a stadium, but it’s enough to fill a store—and it’s a lot of fun. And we learned there is a lot of amazing stuff happening in America right now, in every town, big and small. Don’t believe anybody who says differently.