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Show off your red and black in style thanks to artist Melissa Mahoney (BFA ’87)

This article was written by Leigh Raynor Arndt.

All Bulldogs know that Saturdays in Athens are not for sweatpants. For those seeking a more refined gameday look, alumna Melissa Mahoney (BFA ’87) has designed a particularly stylish way to don your red and black. Her beautiful silk scarves have landed in the UGA Bookstore and embody Melissa’s love for her alma mater. The scarves’ combined artistry and practicality reflect the story of Melissa’s career–a path she began as a UGA student.

Melissa

Portrait of Melissa Mahoney (BFA ’87)

With several artists in her family, Melissa comes by her creative streak honestly. An Atlanta native, she now lives in Palo Alto, California. She’s led her own graphic design firm, Indigo Creative, since 1993. The success of her business now allows her to spend more time on another passion: painting.

Melissa’s scarf design uses high-energy swirls that run throughout her latest “Vortices” series, which is a collection of paintings and textiles. In addition to designing for UGA, she’s created scarves for Stanford and tech-juggernaut Google. And she’s been her own boss for more than 25 years. She attributes much of this success to the knowledge and skills she gained at UGA.

The Google scarf Melissa designed.

The Google scarf Melissa designed.

 

Melissa’s graphic design major and fine arts minor gave her practical know-how while allowing her to explore her artistic side. “Not all graphic designers can draw and paint, but these are great skills to have,” said Melissa. “They have helped me stand out in my field.”

After graduation, Melissa pursued graduate studies through UGA Cortona, a program that just celebrated its 50th anniversary. In Italy, Melissa was inspired by seeing in person the art that she’d studied for years. The trip also emboldened her. “Going to Italy gave me the courage to try new things and venture out,” said Melissa. Ultimately, her experience abroad led her to follow her dream of living in California.

After a few years working in Atlanta, Melissa packed up her belongings and drove across the country to the West Coast. With no job offer in tow, the move was risky. But the reward for her bravery has been a long career in California, the state that now “feels like home.”

Melissa continues to exhibit the courage she developed at UGA. A cold call and months of determination led to her Google scarf. A scarf for another tech giant will soon be on the way, too.

“There are so many ways to make a living as an artist,” Melissa said. “I’m lucky to do what I love. And I love sharing my passion. Seeing others enjoy my art brings me so much joy.”

UGA scarf

Melissa’s UGA scarf and more will be available at her pop-up shop at the UGA Bookstore in November.

 

Visit Melissa in Athens on November 22 and 23 for a “Scarf Pop-up” at the UGA Bookstore!

And on Sunday, October 20, San Francisco Bulldogs can let their creative side loose during a workshop Melissa will lead at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara.

 

Georgia’s “Green Girl” is making recycling more accessible

“Hey, Alexa … can I recycle this?”

Thanks to Katherine Shayne (BSENVE ’16, MS ’18) and her all-female research team at the University of Georgia, recycling really is as easy as asking your Amazon Alexa.

One of the youngest honorees named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 2019 40 Under 40, Katherine is the co-founder of Can I Recycle This, an organization working to clean up recycling by providing localized answers to specific recycling questions.

Katherine’s list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. Just this month, the alumna spoke at the United Nations and led a team of UGA student researchers to the Dominican Republic to study marine debris. She’s also analyzed over one million pieces of marine debris collected through the Marine Debris Tracker, worked with Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) and is a proud College of Engineering Double Dawg—all at the age of 26. 

Solving Wicked Problems

Katherine concentrated her undergraduate research and her graduate thesis on the end of life for materials, particularly ocean-bound plastics, working and learning under the expertise of Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Engineering. Jenna is internationally recognized for her research on plastic waste in the ocean and is the other co-founder of CIRT.

“[I chose to study at UGA because] the University of Georgia is one of the top—if not the top—research institution working on this global problem from a waste management perspective,” Katherine said. “We have some of the best researchers here working on this grand challenge of waste management.”

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities here and every single one of them has been an outpouring of support … I think that that’s what is extremely unique to me about the University of Georgia.”

Early Beginnings at UGA

The idea for Can I Recycle This (CIRT) was conceived in 2017 and quickly became a pilot project headquartered in the Driftmier Engineering Building among UGA students.

In May 2018, CIRT went through UGA’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Program, a public-private partnership that aids collegiate innovators and includes an intensive, six-week Accelerator and up to six months of business and product mentoring.

“The program helped us narrow down what our business model was going to be, our customer focus and then how we were going to transition into scaling our model.”

Now, the all-female research team is working to develop this technology into a self-contained app that can answer every day recycling questions without the use of social media.

So, How Does CIRT Work?

It’s simple. First, add @CanIRecycleThis on Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter. Next, send a photo directly to CIRT and viola—you will instantly receive an answer based on your location. Or, simply ask your Amazon Alexa.

“You shouldn’t have to memorize recyclables on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to make it easy and accessible for consumers to utilize,” Katherine says. “Consumers interact with AI where they can ask and get a real-time response.”

When making use of CIRT, you’ll interact with “GG.” The significance of “GG” is two-fold: it’s Katherine’s sister’s nickname and also short for “Green Girl.”

Katherine Shayne holding phone featuring Can I Recycle This

On the Horizon

So, what’s next for CIRT? The team is developing a partnership with an e-commerce giant in order to integrate CIRT into packaging systems.

“Say you get a package from a big e-commerce giant and in that box or email from the company it tells you everything in the packaging that’s recyclable and then everything in the product packaging that is recyclable, too. That information’s based on location because it’s where it was shipped. So, it just accesses our database and provides consumers with answers.”

As for Katherine, she’s continuing her research on plastic pollution as a researcher at the University of Georgia and is involved with a youth leadership group through the Sustainable Oceans Alliance. The group is drafting a white paper on the dangers of plastic pollution that will be presented to 20 governments around the world.

“Even though we might only make up 25% of the population, we’re definitely 100% of what’s going to be the future,” Katherine notes about the role youth can play in solving the grand challenges of our time.

Katherine will be honored during UGA’s 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens this month. Meet her fellow 2019 40 Under 40 honorees.

How Computer Science became one of UGA’s most popular majors

Journalism, business administration, pharmacy, computer science: believe it or not, these majors are in ascending order of total enrollment at the University of Georgia.  

In fact, computer science has the fourth highest enrollment among all majors at UGA. And the graduate degree computer science program is the fastest growing program on campus, having seen a 60 percent enrollment increase from fall 2013 to fall 2018. 

Combine that with the undergraduate program’s 153 percent rise in enrollment in the last five years and you have, undeniably, one of UGA’s most popular departments. We talked with several CS alumni to ask them about their experience and find out more. 

Established in 1984, the Department of Computer Science in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA has expanded to include more than 195 enrolled graduate students and over 1,100 undergraduates. Lori Kittle (BS ’86) was among the first graduates with a degree in computer science.  

“I simply felt like the future would be all about the computer, although I certainly did not envision all the advances that have occurred,” said Kittle. Along with the coursework, Kittle said, “One of my favorite memories at UGA is making lifelong friendships with my fellow CS classmates.” 

Kittle attributes her successful career, including a stint as the Chief Information Officer at Landry’s, Inc.—a $4 billion restaurant, hospitality, and entertainment businessto her education at UGA. She demonstrated her appreciation of the department when she created a scholarship fund for computer science students. Kittle also serves on the department’s advisory board, which provides industry input that helps guide curriculum for the program.  

Like Kittle, Maja Culum (BS ‘19) chose to study computer science because she knew “coming into the university that technology was becoming prevalent within every field,” and there was no way around interacting with it. Culum, who was hired full-time in the UI/UX department at NCR Corporation, believes studying computer science at UGA allowed her to “choose a role within the tech industry that suited her strengths and interests.” 

“That’s what I like most about Computer Science: it’s never limiting, and there’s so much to choose from,” said Culum. My experience in the Department of Computer Science at UGA was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. The professors are knowledgeable and always willing to help, which encouraged me to stick with the major despite the challenges. 

The comprehensive coursework and faculty expertise Culum credits have also led to the growing recognition of the department. Dr. Thiab Taha, UGA Computer Science department head, believes the diversity in research expertise and the increasing number of courses provides students the opportunity to choose the path they are most interested in.  

Students interested in engaging in technology-centric extracurricular activities can join one of many clubs and groups, including Data Dawgs or UGA Hacks, which hosts a hackathon every spring on campus. The UGA Computer Science department also houses the Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy, which was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) through academic year 2022. 

Muhammed Ahmed’s (BS ‘18) passion for problem solving drew him to major in computer science at the University of Georgia, but it was the countless opportunities available within the department that he loved most about his studies.  

“Majoring in computer science helped me secure my dream job,” said Ahmed, a data scientist at Mailchimp. “The program provided me with a strong technical foundation and the soft skills I need to communicate effectively. I had the chance to learn through clubs, research projects, hackathons and many on-campus events.” 

All of the above are reasons a firm like Forrester Research calls Atlanta one of the US’ five elite tech talent markets. As businesses continue to take advantage of this rich market, UGA CS graduates are reaping the benefits, finding positions in global organizations like NCR, The Home Depot and AT&T.  

There appears to be no slowdown in the rise of computer science at UGA, either. Employers and partners of the university are finding new ways to directly engage students through career and internship fairs, UGA Hacks’ hackathon, student organizations and industry panels. And as UGA CS alumni continue their career progression and become the leaders of those employers and UGA partners, UGA’s tech talent pipeline will only become stronger. 

The future of space exploration

This story was written by James Hataway and was originally posted to UGAToday on July 15, 2019. 


Fifty years ago this month, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon – the first time human beings set foot on another celestial body. As the nation and the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the University of Georgia is taking an in-depth look at this historic milestone and the future of space exploration. 

As people around the world prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the extraordinary technological achievements that made human space exploration possible, one burning question still remains: What is next?

NASA project manager and UGA alumnus Roger Hunter discusses the legacy of the Apollo missions and how the same pioneering spirit that compelled humans to walk on the lunar surface will ultimately drive the next great chapter in human discovery.

Hunter was project manager for NASA’s Kepler mission, which used a space telescope to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. He currently serves as program manager for NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

We’re now 50 years out from the moon landing. As you reflect back on that achievement, what strikes you as the most enduring impacts of the Apollo program?

“In my life, I know of two events where time stood still for the human race: Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. I remember how the world seemingly paused from its routine to revel in its imagination; to celebrate, what was once deemed impossible. The ‘Earth-rise’ photo, taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts is reputed to be the most reproduced photograph in human history. My first glimpse of that photo was on a black and white television in my parents’ living room. I was awe-struck even though the image was not in full color. We felt reconnected to the one only planet, so far, of all the ones that we know exists, that harbors life in such abundance and diversity. To date, venturing to the Moon was our greatest adventure; it reminded us of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.”

Why do you think it’s important for us to continue to explore space?

“We are, by nature, explorers. We are descended from those who dared to leave the caves, and to see what was beyond the horizon. Our cave-dwelling ancestors painted, among other things from their world, the heavens on their cave walls.  Thousands of years later, our curiosity led us to better understand our world and those points of light in the night sky beyond that graced those crude drawings. Exploring brings out the best in us; it also represents, in my mind, a willingness to leave something behind for our descendants. I recall reading an article by a former NASA administrator who was also answering a similar question. He spoke of ‘deferred gratification’ as a compelling notion that drives exploration. There may not be an instant realization of ‘return on investment’ but the investment, intuitively, answers a call from our nature—to leave behind something better and to advance our civilization.”

 What do you think the future holds for space exploration?

“We’ve come far since 1957, the year many say is when the space age began. Launching satellites is now a routine activity. Once the province of just the two cold-war superpowers, many companies around the world are exploiting space. There are private companies now thinking of extending their operations to the moon, to asteroids, to the planets.

“The future of space exploration is set on the next horizon; to better understanding our solar system; to understanding the many mysteries of the Cosmos that are yet unexplained; to understanding the prevalence of life in our solar system and beyond. The Kepler mission affirmed what many believed: that there are billions and billions of planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. Many of those billions of planets are Earth-size planets and they orbit in the so-called habitable zone of their host stars—where water might pool on the surface of the planet. Some explorations are going to be aimed, with newer breeds of telescopes, at determining the extent of life on those newly discovered worlds.

“The ‘cave wall paintings’ we leave behind for our descendants will be more sophisticated than what our ancestors left us. Yet, we still are faced, despite all of the explorations that we have accomplished, with more unanswered questions than we have answers. So far, we know of only one life-bearing planet, Earth. We still want to know more about how the Universe works. We want to know more about how we got here. We want to know if we are alone. We explore because the next horizon still beckons; the next artists are yet to frame their paintings.”

More about Roger Hunter

Prior to joining NASA, Roger was with the Boeing Company as Site Manager in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In that position, he directed the efforts of over 250 Boeing engineers and technicians in sustaining the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation and the Air Force’s GPS command and control system.

Before joining Boeing, Roger served in the US Air Force, and retired after 22 years of service. Colonel Hunter’s assignments included Commander, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Deputy Operations Group Commander for the 50th Space Wing, and Program Manager for the XSS-10 microsatellite technology demonstration for Air Force Research Laboratory. He also had assignments with HQ US Air Force Space Command, and HQ US Air Force at the Pentagon.

He holds a bachelor of science in mathematics from the University of Georgia; a master of science in space operations and physics from the US Air Force Institute of Technology; and a master of airpower art and science from the US Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies. He is also a graduate of the US Air Force Air War College, and US Air Force Air Command and Staff College.

JIT for Mother’s Day: Alumni-owned Helmsie offers “modern Southern goods for momma and babe”

JIT (just in time) for Mother’s Day, we’re spotlighting Helmsie, a Georgia-based lifestyle brand that offers “nostalgic and Southern goods for momma and babe.”

Helmsie is the dream child of Sarah Howell (MS ’10), who graduated from UGA’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences with a degree in biological engineering, and her BFF Karla Pruitt, a licensed wallpaper, fabric and greeting card designer. The pair was interested in merging the South’s “rich, timeless culture” with the “renewed interest of uniquely Southern design.”

Today, their business focuses on being well-designed, yet functional–all in an effort to serve today’s “style-conscious momma.” They pride themselves on producing goods that will “add a little whimsy and joy to your day-to-day.” Here are just a few of the products available at helmsiebaby.com/shop:

Not Your Momma’s Alphabet Cards ($15)

Helmsie-Alphabet-Flash-Cards

Photo: Helmsie

I’m MOMMA Necklace ($30)

Helmsie-Momma-Necklace

Photo: Helmsie

Bee Earrings ($20)

Helmsie-Bee-Earrings

Photo: Helmsie

Enamel Pins

Helmsie-Enamel-Pins

Photo: Helmsie

Pink Bee Poster ($34)

Helmsie-Bee-Poster-Print

Photo: Helmsie

Helmsie-Sarah-Howell-Americas-Mart-Booth

Photo: Helmsie

Sarah graduated from UGA in 2010 with a master’s degree in biological engineering (her undergraduate degree is from Furman University) and is an associate adjunct professor at Ashford University, teaching courses in health care ethics and medical statistics. In 2017, she added co-founder and CEO of Helmsie to her resume. This engineer-turned-entrepreneur manages the business side of house for the brand from her home in Atlanta. The wife and mother of two admits to also being an avid collector of vintage jewelry.

In late 2018, Helmsie announced its wallpaper debut with Hygge & West–another woman-owned business.

 

Interested in supporting this entrepreneurial alumna? Visit helmsiebaby.com to order online or inquire about wholesale purchases. Or follow them on Instagram.

Interested in supporting UGA students seeking to follow in Sarah’s business-running footsteps? Consider making a gift to UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program Support Fund.

National Beer Day: Alumnus brewing for a cause

Matt StevensMatt Stevens (AB’03, MPA’14) is the Director of Community and Culture at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in Athens. For National Beer Day we’re asking the questions everyone wants to know – from how Creature Comfort’s philanthropy started to Stevens’ top three favorite beers.

The fact that your role exists is unique. You’re clearly passionate about the Athens community, how did that come about?

My role tries to activate the same value with both an internal and external focus, that value being the question of how to use a company to add value to people’s lives. The external focus is, obviously, the community side. Before we’d ever brewed any beer—before there was Tropicalia—there was this value system. What we know how to do is brew beer. But why we do it, in part, is to add value to the community around us. We hope the city of Athens is better off because we’re here helping to support it.

As for my internal focus, we hope our employees view their work as more than “just a job.” We hope every hire is a lifetime hire. Not merely for retention purposes, but we look to invest in our people, and more than just professionally, but personally as well. It looks a lot of different ways, but that’s the basic framework: The simple question of how our employee experience can add value to our people. Great companies recognize that their employees can work anywhere. The fact that they’ve chosen to dedicate their careers to steward our brand demands that we endeavor to, in turn, invest back into them.

Share a little about the Get Comfortable Campaign.

Get Comfortable started in 2015, and initially it was just a slice of the year—from November to January. One of the first things we did once we had more bandwidth was to extend the campaign duration. We wanted this community impact work to be who we are, not just something we do. So today we launch the program every year in January and wrap mid-November, which gives us six weeks at the end of the year to close the books, to disburse funds, and then reload for the next year.

Creature Comforts SignThe program itself stems from our belief that companies have a role to play in the solutions of tomorrow. We cannot simply outsource social services work to the government or nonprofit agencies. Though both sectors absolutely have a role to play, the private sector has a responsibility as well. John Mackey, who founded Whole Foods, wrote a fantastic book a few years back titled Conscious Capitalism, wherein he makes the argument that companies can be capitalistic but also conscientious in the way they go about it. The Get Comfortable campaign, then, is our expression of this belief, our flagship program to participate in the civic wellbeing of our community.

Specifically, we hope this program helps to align the business community to resource the agencies who do our city’s most pressing work. We hope to make serving as simple, as strategic, and as effective as possible for local businesses.

For a full list of the partners and events, visit GetCurious.com.

What was your favorite UGA memory?

I am going to have to go with a sports memory—my father and grandfather played football here so Georgia football memories run deep. I would say being with my dad in Jordan-Hare back in 2002 when we clinched the SEC East for the first time in years. It was the David Greene to Michael Johnson in the fourth quarter with 15 yards and basically zero seconds to go—I leapt into my father’s arms. It was just one of those classic Georgia sports memories.

Favorite UGA professor?

Richard Neupert. I took his introduction to film course—that’s why I not only changed my major but also why I went on to grad school. I received my masters in film studies from the University of Edinburgh before returning to UGA for a now-defunct PhD. Dr. Neupert and I still cross paths from time to time since he still serves on the board of Cine. He is so community-minded, but he’s also this incredible scholar and I admire him greatly.

What are your top three favorite beers?

creature comforts

Arcadiana, it is a barrel-aged saison. Subtle, juicy, delicious. If you like a saison, you should totally try this one.

The Silent World is one of our lesser known releases. It’s a black lager, which is a very unique style. Given its inky black appearance, our brewers named it in homage to the classic Jacques-Yves Cousteau documentary from the 1950’s titled Le Monde du Silence. As a former film scholar, I obviously appreciated the nod to quirky cinema.

This year’s Get Comfortable IPA is a collaboration with Russian River. It was a dream to have Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo come from California this past January to work with our team on that recipe. The result is staggering, one of our best IPAs to date. And of course, all the profits go toward a philanthropic end.

What’s one of your favorite places to grab dinner post-Creature Comforts?

Got to go with my gut, Seabear. In a city full of incredible dining, it remains my very favorite. 

Creature Comforts has expanded to the Southern Mill, which was previously a warehouse near Chase Street, what’s the future of Creature Comforts?

Opening the Southern Mill has given us tremendous new capacity. Throughout 2019 we are looking to continue expanding our distribution footprint statewide. For context, we opened our doors in April 2014 and from day one we were in only two markets, Athens and Atlanta, until last November. In November we opened Augusta and Columbus. And last month we opened up Savannah and more of coastal Georgia. So we’ve gone from two cities for four years to nearly the entire state in the last six months! The new tank capacity, then, has enabled us to release quite a bit more volume and, just as exciting, to create many new recipes through our innovation program. So both our customers and our brewers are pleased with the recent expansion.

Clementine Creative: Marketing Agency Brings Juicy Storytelling

Clementine

Sometimes big stories start in small places. One of those places: Clementine Creative Agency, a boutique marketing agency based from the first floor of a century-old building on the edge of bustling Marietta Square. Founded in 2015 by Jennifer Minton Nilsson (BBA ’00) and Merissa Corbet Davis (BFA ’03), Clementine Creative has become a wellspring of creative branding, dauntless design and authentic storytelling for a diverse and growing list of clients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

The agency initially sprang from the decade-long professional history of its two founding partners who worked together as part of an in-house corporate marketing and creative team for a prominent Atlanta-based homebuilding company. “I was the Vice President of Marketing and Merissa was our Art Director. We were lucky in that the company placed a value on branding and creative visioning that a lot of others may not. We rode out a lot of challenging times in the industry, but we learned a lot in the process too,” says Jennifer. “As we collaborated, we began to focus in on how powerful our craft could be in terms of creating a brand and a vision and then communicating that story in a way that was unique and genuine, something that people could connect with. That kind of storytelling makes things happen. It is not only fulfilling to create, but it makes a real impact on the business, even in the hard times.”

Clementine

“So much of it became about just taking those extra moments to be thoughtful,

Clementine

having the courage to take a step back and think creatively, look for the fresh approach – then the persistence to follow through the details and get it right,” adds Merissa. “Doing what, in a lot of cases, others wouldn’t take the time to do. Ultimately, we knew we wanted to create an environment built around that way of working and really honor the craft with great design that had an impact on people. And that was the seed of Clementine.” As Clementine’s reach has grown, so has its team – currently rounded out by two more UGA alumnae, Rachel Regal Melvin (BBA ’12) who heads up social media and engagement and Emily Noles (AB ’18), the agency’s client account and marketing coordinator.

With a select team for support, Clementine has been busy bringing stories to life from logo and branding packages to websites, social media campaigns, retail experience centers and more.

Clementine Creative

Highlights of Clementine’s recent work include two national award winners: a creative branding implementation (complete with onsite, web and social media components) for Marietta Square Market, the city’s anticipated new food hall destination opening this spring, as well as a brand experience center for Pratt Stacks, a new condominium destination in Atlanta’s Grant Park. Located in The Beacon Atlanta, the center is defined by a full wall mural, commissioned from a local artist, and combines everything from street art to architecture with video and interactive presentations for an immersive lifestyle experience. “We’ve had the opportunity to work with a growing list of clients from all walks and that’s a part of the challenge and the fun for us,” says Rachel. “We get to create these things and then see them come to life out in the world. When our clients see success, we get to celebrate with them. Everyone has a unique story to tell, so there’s always a new creative challenge for the team.”

And, at least for now, that team is red and black through and through. “There’s always room for another Dawg in the office,” jokes Rachel. Emily, the team’s most recent alum, adds, “When you think about it, it’s fun to have this team where you can see all these different facets of UGA working together. Merissa studied on the fine arts side in Lamar Dodd. Jennifer and Rachel both have a background in marketing from Terry. I was in advertising at Grady. We all have a common ground in the Georgia community, but we also all have different training, different specialties, different experiences that we bring to our work as a team and I think that collaboration really shows in the finished work.” Sounds like the makings for a great story.

Want to see more? Get a taste of Clementine’s work on their website at clementinecreativeagency.com.

Sock Fancy: The Most Subscribable Bulldog 100 Company

The UGA Alumni Association interviewed Stefan Lewinger (AB ’11), CEO of Sock Fancy, the “Most Subscribable Bulldog 100 Company.” The Bulldog 100 celebrates Dawgs on top by recognizing the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni each year.

  1. Tell our readers a little bit about your story. How did you end up starting Sock Fancy?

Our story starts almost six years ago, 2013, in a house that my co-founder and I shared. We were each other’s springboards for ideas, and we were just a few years out of Georgia. We were navigating a challenging job market at the time, and we found it annoying that we couldn’t find durable and good-looking socks. Everything could be delivered to your door, but we were still traveling to department stores and waiting in lines to buy socks. We wanted to change the way people talked about socks. I built our first version of the website, and I cobbled a site together. We wanted to get to market as fast as possible and we knew it would take a while to develop our own line. We started as a curation service and that allowed us some time to learn what customers liked or didn’t like about different styles, etc. We did seven different factories and 20 fabrics before we found what worked. Everyday crew socks that didn’t have the compromises found in the market at the time. We knew we needed to have a really great product.

  1. We know you offer an innovative monthly subscription service; can you elaborate about what other services you provide?

Subscription is our main focus – we wanted to change people’s minds about socks. We get that there are people that won’t subscribe but want to buy in packs or customizable. We do also offer custom corporate boxes – we have created some for companies like Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola. We really like dealing with different companies, their stories, and why they might be interested in this product to show off their brand. They can show off their personality which is really important to brands right now. We had people who were subscribers and asked if we could make a custom version for them. You could say we kind of got pushed into this world and started our own program.

  1. What has been the most surprising part of running your own company?

I think the most surprising part has been the fulfillment or satisfaction from employing really good people. For the first 2-3 years it was just me and my partner. We were nervous to start bringing on employees but it has been nothing but the greatest experience to be able to provide salaries, a great work place, and fun for others. We have seven full-time employees and eight part-time employees – helping them pay for their house and car is one of my proudest achievements.

  1. What’s the number one thing you learned at UGA that has prepared you for what you are doing now?

I really learned the idea of sharpening my networking skills; a lot of it has to do with my experience at Georgia and that it is such a large community. Georgia was a microcosm of the entrepreneurial world where people are all looking for their place and role in the world – it’s allowed me to connect and build community with other entrepreneurs.

  1. What’s your favorite pair of socks right now?

My favorite pair is planetariums; it has a bunch of stars and planets on it – so I am nerd at heart.

  1. What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?

I love being able to employ hard-working and talented people, and I love the idea of being able to create something that people love, use, and enjoy. That you can really shape your own future and brighten other peoples’ lives along the way is humbling and exciting.

  1. What do you think are some of the values that have made you successful or what do you value as a company?

Our motto and our words to live by are “elevate the everyday, every month.” We want both our members and our employees to have a great experience – we strive to make the everyday extraordinary. We aren’t saving the world, but we are making really great socks. And if we can make everything a little bit better, that’s our goal. We really strive to make the mundane a little more magical.

  1. Do you have any advice for future Bulldog entrepreneurs? 

Luckily, you have a leg up if you are going to the University of Georgia. I want to borrow from Nike and say “Just Do It.” There are risks and you’re going to have convince yourself, but you just have to start. Starting is the hardest part. Odds are you will fail, but you can’t let it stop your dreams. Focus on the bigger pictures and get going – if you’re smart and a savvy, hungry person, you will make it work.

Refined Talents: A story of firsts for Bulldog alumni

The University of Georgia and a passion for quality whiskey brought five alumni together to create one of the most successful young distilleries in the country and win the highly coveted Double Gold medal for a whiskey from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This is the first such award for a Georgia whiskey.

Jim Chasteen (BBA ’98) and Charlie Thompson (AB ’99, MBA ’03, JD ’03) met at UGA while pursuing degrees in business and law. Jim and Charlie connected over their passion and interest in whiskey, which eventually spurred a desire to craft their own recipe. They founded ASW Distillery (ASW) in 2011, and eventually hired fellow alumni, Justin Manglitz (BBA ’04) as head distiller, and Chad Ralston as Chief Marketing Officer (BBA ’08), in 2015. Today, five out of six partners (including Kelly Chasteen (BSED, ’00) in ASW hold degrees from UGA.

Since ASW’s inception, it has won multiple awards, including the first Double Gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for a one-year-old whiskey. Their award-winning Duality whiskey was also the first to combine malted rye and malted barley in the same batch.

Learn more about ASW in a recent Garden and Gun magazine feature.

Charlie is breaking down barriers outside of the beverage world, too—most recently by establishing a scholarship to support students in UGA’s MBA/JD dual program. Just like their award-winning whiskies, this scholarship is the first of its kind. Most importantly, though, it will support UGA students in perpetuity.

Godfrey Powell takes hold of technology

This post was contributed by Bridgette Burton (ABJ ’11, AB ’11), marketing and communications chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council.  

Atlanta native Godfrey O. Powell, Jr. (BBA ’00), who leads product strategy for media partnerships at Facebook, delivered a talk at the TEDxUGA event on March 22. Powell majored in finance and management information systems at Georgia, and prior to joining the team at Facebook, he worked in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase, held leadership positions at Samsung and launched a film studio at Marvel Enterprises. His talk, titled “Taking Hold of Our Technophobia,” was about the intersection of media and technology.

Powell spoke about grappling with excitement around new technology and the fear of not being able to control the rate at which we are receiving information. He examines public opinion around technologies of the past, like the printing press and the automobile, to contextualize our fear of and relationships with technologies today. He also offered tips about how Wakanda, the fictional country in Black Panther, can serve as a model for how Americans can use technology as a tool, rather than forming unhealthy dependencies on smartphones.  

We caught up with Powell and asked him a few questions about his favorite things about the University of Georgia.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia? 

I wanted a large state school with a combo of good brand name, strong academics, and great sports programs. The deciding factor was I got a full HOPE Scholarship.

What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that? 

I always loved the idea of being a businessman and entrepreneur growing up.  The specifics I never knew.  Due to the current state of tech, I am fascinated to be in it and feel a high degree of entrepreneurship. At a certain point in the future, I may explore starting my own business.

What did you learn from your TEDx experience? 

I loved, and was quite challenged by, the creating and delivering a TEDx Talk. The basics of this process are obvious but worth mentioning: getting the right topic that matches your credibility and educates the audience, structuring the talk and then being (hopefully) entertaining. UGA was quite impressive in the way they organized the event, making it a large community event, and providing tons of tools and institutional knowledge to guide me in crafting the talk. I know from talking to the other presenters they felt the same way.   

I spent the first six weeks ideating on what topic I wanted to speak on, and how it could resonate. Then, I spent the next three weeks writing an outline, getting feedback from the team and putting together visuals. Then, I spent the last three weeks writing out the full draft and in the process memorizing it. The last week, I practiced it six times a day and each day made slight tweaks. Along the way, I shared it with trusted friends and family for feedback, which was a critical step in mastering the tone of piece and making it my own. I finally felt good the day before after dress rehearsal and getting feedback from the TEDx Talk curator. 

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates? 

Throughout my career I’ve used this same thesis: I pursue things that just seem interesting and unique to collect experiences. Each step, I thought about the potential for growth and learning. Am I joining an area that has industry growth? When you look at industry growth, it matters less the exact role, but just getting involved.