March 14 marked the one-year anniversary of a grassroots effort that set out to highlight the stories of the people and businesses that make up the St. Louis region. Over the past 12 months, STLMade has featured regional staples ranging from Skate King to the Wildey Theatre, profiling those who boost the local economy, including Tony’s Family Farms and Vega Transport, along the way.
The multi-year initiative was started by civic, business and university leaders across the region, including St. Charles and Belleville.
In a conversation that aired on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Leah Wilson, account director at Broughton Brand Company and fueler of the STLMade movement. They reflected on the initiative's past year and plans to expand that unified message of pride to other areas of the country.
What does it mean to be a “fueler” of the movement?
“It is an ever-expanding group of people who are trying to help fuel this movement and spread awareness and get more and more people to be able to share their story … why they're a person who has been able to make a home in St. Louis and make it a place where they can start up, stand out and stay,” Wilson said.
Those stories are published on thestl.com website. Local freelance writers, videographers and photographers come together to curate the pieces.
“We knew it was really important to get those more under-the-radar, untold stories that we just don't hear about of people who really reflect this shared narrative of St. Louis … We strive to share stories of diverse people, but our storytellers are also diverse and come with a diverse voice as well,” Wilson added.
After researching external and internal attitudes about St. Louis, STLMade found that residents had a bit of an inferiority complex.
“We feel like we need to sort of disclaim when we talk about St. Louis, like, ‘Oh, yeah, you know, that's great, but … ’” Wilson explained.
“We have a great story here in St. Louis to tell — we just haven't been telling it, and we need to be able to make that sort of emotional connection, that sizzle reel, to be able to attract new talent to the region, to be able to keep the talent here that's graduating from our higher education ... and also to attract new business investment to the region.”
Listen to the full conversation:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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