Karl Hudson Phillips has always been a team player. It began in college when he played soccer for Charleston Southern University. Now he unites individuals off of the pitch toward a different type of goal: their own.
“For anyone in the tech industry, it’s really hard to stay on top of anything because everything changes so rapidly so you’re constantly learning over and over again,” says Phillips.
“I was scratching my own itch; I saw groups like this existed when I visited other cities for conferences and I couldn’t understand why Charleston didn’t [have any],” explains Phillips, though he jokes he’s still waiting on someone else to come along and run the show. He started everything so he himself could learn.
“Refresh Charleston targets designers, creative types. Providing community for people in the industry to get to know each other and learn,” says Karl, who orchestrates events and brings in influential creatives at the top of their game to speak at meetings.
WordPress Charleston is much the same, though the user group has a more singular focus.
The best part? Seeing people who attend these meetings taking notes, being excited about learning and staying inspired. “Many people come to these events frustrated and leave with the light bulb on.”
In addition to providing inspiration, Phillips works hard to ensure everyone gets their time with the ball.
“I remember someone asking me, ‘Do I need to know a lot of people to come?’ and I knew what he was talking about. The design industry has a reputation for being cliquish, and I do my best to avoid that—and thankfully I keep seeing new faces with each meeting,” says Phillips.
“There’s a saying that iron sharpens iron, and I remember when I was at USC I felt smarter being around smart people who helped me grow and formulate my ideas in a different way,” says Phillips. “Those people helped me go farther than I would on my own. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I just kind of opened the door.”
Words by: Annabel Jones
Photographer: Kip Bulwinkle