Eddie White: Charleston South Carolina Native and Impact Investor on why he invests in his community

By on April 29, 2015
eddie white pic

Interview with Eddie White:

 

FMMission’s Founder Mike Martin had a chance to sit down for a conversation with Eddie White (Charleston, SC dentist, and impact investor in Awendaw Green, a music production and promotion company) to discuss why he invests in his community. Eddie talks a lot about how and why he invests his time, energy and resources right here at home.

 

PE: Eddie, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me today.

 

EW: Thank you for doing what you guys do and having me.

 

PE: So give me the elevator pitch. What is Awendaw Green?

 

EW: Awendaw Green is a production company that empowers live original music and services the event production side of already existing events basically. Servicing already existing events is really our bread and butter. That’s what keeps fuel in the vehicles and the liability insurance paid.

 

PE: What type of Business Entity is it? For-profit LLC or corp? Nonprofit?

 

EW: Awendaw Green is a for-profit LLC, although we’ve recently partnered with a local 501c3 nonprofit to expand our reach.

 

PE: Could you explain?

EW: Sure, like I said our for-profit division really is the production side that services already existing events, and bigger stuff like Patriot’s Point. But, a lot of times we end up losing money on bringing a great original act to town. There are a lot of people that really support what we bring to the original music scene here and want to support that. This will enable us to build a core audience of supporters that want to help us accomplish that mission in addition to what we do on our production side. Like I said that’s what brings in the money to pay our guys, fuel and liability insurance.

 

PE: Expand upon that liability insurance. That’s something that you’ve brought up twice. Is it expensive?

 

EW: Well yes it can be expensive. It depends exactly what and how much you want to cover, but most serious events and venues want it. It can be a huge deal breaker.  Keeping that paid is one of our main priorities as an event producer.

 

PE: You’re a dentist, how did you end up investing in Awendaw Green?

 

EW: My kids got into music in Jr. High School. That’s what really got me into it. I wanted to be a part of what my kids were doing and it turned into this. It has really enriched my life. So I’m just a regular person like everybody else, you know. Yes, I’m a dentist, but my (expletive) stinks just like everybody else. I didn’t really overthink it either. Just something I wanted to do.

 

PE:  What is the goal with your work with Awendaw Green? Is is profit, is it to give back?

 

EW: Well the goal was never that we were going to get rich doing this. Once we got going it became really apparent that what we were doing was making a difference for the artists themselves. That’s been an inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing. When we see how much sacrifice the artists make just to be able to travel around and perform their music for people. The artists are always so thankful for what we do for them that it’s very inspiring to know that we’re affecting people’s lives that way.

 

PE: Where did you get this attitude of giving back?

 

EW: My father. He was a very generous person, and he helped teach me that generosity.

 

PE: And, this is what grew out of your generosity… Awendaw Green? You just decided you want to help provide musicians with opportunities to do what they do?

 

 

EW:  Well not just the artists, but also the community as a whole. To provide our community with something like Awendaw Green’s Barn Jam. People bring their friends and family from all over on Wednesdays to come see and hear what we’re doing out here and it makes you really proud to be a part of something that so many people love.

 

PE: And, that’s why you do what you do? For the artists and the community?

 

EW: Yes, for the most part. We love doing what we do and being part of the community. I kind of look at it like I’m a music philanthropist. I don’t take this too serious. I love what we’re doing and making more money would be great. But I never got into this to get rich. I’m 55 now. I don’t want to dig any holes I can’t step out of at this point. But it’s not something we really over think. It’s not a hard fast business model. I basically kind of got into this 8 to 10 years ago helping out The Seewee Association and Music Makers for Life. And it just grew from there.

 

PE: You said it’s not a hard fast business model. What is your basic business model?

 

EW: Well, like I said, our main money maker is servicing already established events. We provide stage, lighting, sound, tents and generators. That’s our real bread and butter.

 

PE: So, as a business model the goal has been to provide these services and then reinvest your profits into putting on the events and things that you do with Awendaw such as the Barn Jam?

 

EW: Yes, and as I said earlier we also have now partnered with a local 501c3 non-profit. Now we’re also looking to be able to provide these kind of services to low-income areas and schools. We have a big community of supporters here in the Charleston area, and that’s what we’re looking to do in the future is help utilize our resources to help keep developing the original music scene here.

 

PE: Has there been any benefit to your existing business as a dentist for doing this?

 

EW: Yes, actually. Completely unintended and it kind of surprised me. People see what we’re doing and what we put into it and they choose to support me in my other business which really surprised me. People see that you’re actually investing in the community, and they really want to support that.

 

PE:  Has there been any other surprises like that?

 

EW: The other part that really makes you feel good is the community feedback. The artists tell us thank you so much for the opportunity, but then also the community has really gone out of their way to say thank you so much for doing this. This means so much to have this kind of arts and music community thriving here. When you see the community get inspired it really is an amazing feeling.

 

PE: What’s the coolest thing you think that has grown out of your efforts?

 

EW: Well it’s not just my efforts, but to see artists taking it to the next level who only a couple of years ago were working so hard just to get their art out there. For example, Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope. I remember watching her around here, and her really working hard. I remember when she was first really taking off, and to see that come together for those guys and know that we had them out here. It’s like seeing The Avett Brothers grow into what they have become. I remember Dolph Ramseur selling their CDs out of the back of their minivan in the early days.

 

PE: Dolph Ramseur (The Founder of Ramseur Records) sold the Avett Brothers’ CDs out of the back of a minivan?

 

EW: Oh yeah. In the early days I remember Dolph being there and selling their merch and CDs right out of their minivan.

 

PE: That is so cool to hear.

 

 

Interviewer’s notes: About this time Eddie was getting to Awendaw Green, the venue space. He said just a second I have Jesse and Friends out here doing a program for kids. Jesse and Friends was actually doing a kids’ program out at the venue where Eddie and the crew host the Barn Jam on Wednesdays, the Seewee Outpost. So, I told Eddie hey I’ll let you go, it’s been great chatting and I know you have things to take care of out there. Eddie, being generous like he is, said oh no worries I’m just trying to get some things lined up for tomorrow. So, I graciously let Eddie bow out. He was headed to Costco to get some more supplies to help support the cause.

 

If you would like to reach Eddie White you can get him by email at awendawgreen@gmail.com

 

Purposefulentrepreneurship.com would like to thank Eddie for his time, and also his contribution to the community we also love so well, Charleston, SC. As an artist who has played Awendaw Green events, I can personally say how inspiring it is to see people like Eddie care so much about what we do. And hearing the story about The Avett Brothers selling CDs out of the back of their van, I guess it’s time to get back to practice! I’ve got music to make!


-Mike Martin, FMMission.com – For people on a mission.

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2 Comments

  1. Gena

    October 1, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    I love reading about Eddie White, Awendaw Green and what he is up to! He is such a happy, inspirational guy that breaths community and music. His barnyard jams are what I describe as magical and I hope it continues for years to come.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Gena

  2. Dan Mackey

    October 1, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    What a great interview. It’s great to see Eddie’s continuing success. My first visit to Awendaw was in 2009 when my future oldest step-daughter suggested it as something to do. I was thoroughly impressed with it and with Eddie. A year later after my wife and I got married. I went down and performed between acts one night and had a great time and got a really good response. Since then and over the years I have finally worked my way into the Local music scene and perform with a couple of the local groups. I still have fond memories of that earlier time and need to get back down there one of these Wednesdays.

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