CORBIN – You can learn a lot about a person by sharing a cup of coffee. Kevin Flora, Ph.D. and Josh Coppock found their intertwined interests and goals aligned at a cafe in Corbin in 2017. Three months later, they were in business together as co-owners of The Holler Creative.
For four years now, Whitley County entrepreneurs have created a successful digital marketing business with the common goal of making Appalachian businesses thrive in communities across the region.
“It was amazing how well our desires and our mission aligned from the start,” said Flora. “God really brought us together to achieve a bigger global goal – and we chose digital marketing as the starting point to conquer that goal of bringing hope and opportunity to Appalachia. “
Flora is a transplant from Ohio with Eastern Kentucky roots. Coppock is from Corbin. Together, they made their way through these Appalachian hills and use their talents, education and life experiences to help redefine the way people perceive their residents and the way business is conducted in the region. .
The Corbin-based business is a full-service marketing company providing services such as business consulting, marketing plan development, website design, e-commerce setup, media creation, advertising , video production, graphic design, analytical dashboards and more.
Some of their clients include Grace Health, Appalachian Wireless, Addiction Recovery Care, AdventHealth Manchester, and Kentucky Organ Donor Association. And the list continues to grow.
Today, they have 15 employees, including eight full-time employees and several interns.
They have partnered with the University of Cumberlands at Williamsburg to develop a paid internship program for students interested in careers in marketing. The internship program allows them to identify new talents for their team.
In 2019, The Holler Creative launched Lachian Clothing, an Appalachian-inspired clothing company, and in 2020 launched Forged Sign Company to create personalized signs for Appalachian businesses.
Holler Creative’s most recent venture is Explore Appalachia, a collaboration with Shaping our Appalachian Region (SOAR) and Ale-8-One aimed at bringing attention to the beauty, diversity and experiences of the Appalachians to increase tourism and bring showcasing the attributes of the region.
The company was named one of SOAR’s Top 10 Appalachian Kentucky Companies to Watch in 2021.
“This is a full service marketing company providing services such as business consulting, marketing plan development, website design, e-commerce setup, media creation, advertising , video production, graphic design and analytical dashboards, ”SOAR officials described.
In early 2021, with the company’s booming staff and projects in full swing, the partners determined their next step was to renovate and modernize the 10,000-square-foot, two-story commercial building they they own at 500 S. Main Street in downtown Corbin.
Funding for the project has become a challenge.
With a pandemic on the rise, traditional lending routes were limited, so they turned to a nonprofit lender they had heard of called Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED). Like the founders of Holler Creative, SKED shares a similar mission of uplifting residents of Southern and Eastern Kentucky by helping them finance their small business dreams. They have been doing this for 35 years.
A few days later, The Holler Creative secured a loan to help finance their latest project, and the renovations began within weeks.
Coppock called SKED’s loan application process “efficient” and said he was pleased with SKED’s communication and staff’s encouragement and understanding of the challenges of owning small businesses.
“It’s rare to find a lender who wishes to have a relationship with you,” said Flora. “Chris (Coldiron) and Karen (Minton) were so easy to work with on a daily basis, and we also had the opportunity to meet other members of the organization along the way. This relationship will last well beyond our loan agreement.
SKED’s Director of Loans, Chris Coldiron, worked with partners to secure financing for their needs.
“Kevin and Josh have combined their talents and skills to develop and implement a successful business with a great mission at the heart of our service area,” said Coldiron. “It’s a pleasure to see their project move forward and SKED is proud to have played a small role in its growth.
Learn more about how SKED helps small businesses grow and finance their businesses to www.skedcorp.com.