Today’s post is the first in our new Townies Takeover series! In this series we’ll tap other Townies to share their personal experiences living, working, playing in and around Winston-Salem, North Carolina, through their own words and snapshots.
First up! The lovely Anna Keller of the Ardmore neighborhood. Anna and her husband, Kevin, moved here for graduate school at Wake Forest University and decided to stay to build a life (and business). Today Anna is an account supervisor for The Variable, a passionate Pure Barre instructor and prolific blogger at Curiouser & Curiouser. Kevin recently left the corporate world to launch Fulton & Roark, a high-quality grooming product line for modern men. Fulton & Roark is rooted in Winston-Salem and has already earned national press from GQ, Fast Company and Forbes (among others).
Without further ado, take it away Anna!
When my husband, Kevin, and I moved to Winston-Salem from Atlanta in the summer of 2011, we knew very little about this small-ish city. We knew North Carolina was an amazing state, and we knew we loved Winston’s proximity to both the mountains and the ocean, but our Winston-specific knowledge was slim (although we did love both Krispy Kreme and Texas Pete). We’d moved here for Kevin to pursue an MBA at Wake Forest, and assumed we’d be here for the two years he was in that program and then head back to Atlanta, since both sets of parents lived there at the time. After all, we were accustomed to the breadth of big-city offerings – from ethnic food to a vibrant music scene to a bigger market in general that always seemed busy and bustling – and didn’t know if smaller-city life was for us.
Little did we know how much Winston-Salem would lure us in with its charm.
Five years after moving here, we’re still happily residents of the Camel City, and don’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon.
Here are some of the things we love most about our adopted hometown:
- Ardmore: We’ve lived in Ardmore since moving to Winston-Salem, so we’re certainly partial to this part of town. We love the old homes, each with its own element of character. Our home was built in the 30s, and it has its quirks (and a lack of closet space), but we can’t see ourselves anywhere else right now. Perhaps Ardmore’s best feature is the fact that it’s most definitely a neighborhood, but it’s SO close to downtown, making it both quietly residential but also so convenient to just about everything we do locally.
- “Doer” Mindset: Winston-Salem, Kevin and I have found, includes a lot of residents who are committed to making sure this city thrives. These “doers” – people who show up and who make things happen and who support things locally – are the ones who are not only at the epicenter of the cool things happening around here, but also are the ones who make a point to be the foundation to Winston’s growth. In addition to getting great new things underway themselves, they consistently patronize the new restaurants, turn up for shows by local bands at The Garage, and participate in other community events that are doing some serious heavy lifting when it comes to making this city even more awesome.
- Pure Barre: I started taking classes at Pure Barre Winston-Salem not long after the studio opened in Reynolda Village in 2012. I soon became hooked on the workout, but also grew to appreciate the strong community of amazing women that Pure Barre is comprised of. It’s become such an integral part of my life that I decided to transition from client to teacher this past spring, and have loved gaining even greater respect and appreciation for Pure Barre in the process. Come join me for a class at either the Reynolda Village or Clemmons location!
- Thriving Downtown: Kevin and I were impressed by Winston’s downtown area when we moved here five years ago, and have only grown in our love for the city center ever since. In such a short time, we’ve seen major transformation happen, from the emergence of delicious (now-staple) restaurants like The Honey Pot and Mission Pizza to expansion (e.g., the Innovation Quarter) to even more foot traffic virtually any day of the week. I met someone about my age early on in our time living here who grew up in Asheville. She made a comment that she loved Winston-Salem so much because it reminded her of the Asheville she grew up in, when it was in the midst of its growth and expansion. I think about that conversation often, and am grateful that Kevin and I have gotten to experience this version of Winston-Salem as it continues to grow into itself and evolve.
- Small Business Community: During business school, Kevin and a classmate started a men’s grooming company, Fulton & Roark. They launched with a solid cologne in three distinct scents, and have since grown their line to include products such as face wash, shave cream, bar soap, and aftershave cloths. Kevin and his business partner, Allen, have worked hard to make this business grow, to be sure, but Kevin has also frequently commented on what a great place Winston has been to establish a company. The community is intent on supporting entrepreneurs of all kinds, from tech to retail to, as it turns out, men’s grooming. Kevin and Allen have run into situation after situation where someone helps them get in touch with someone else to help meet a need or solve a problem – often before they’ve even asked for the help. (Wake Forest has been an especially strong resource for Fulton & Roark.) This is a city full of nurturing citizens, mentors, and businesspeople, and we’re so glad Fulton & Roark has made its home amidst such welcoming neighbors.
- A Thriving Wellness Community: I mentioned Pure Barre earlier, but that’s just one example of the ways Winston is an ideal place for any wellness-minded individual. Organizations within the city host several races each year, and year-round workout communities – Pure Barre, CrossFit, Metabolic Effect, Paz Yoga, several gyms – make this a place where you can find a workout you love among a community of like-minded individuals. Then, go get your healthy eating on at places like Village Juice or Organix Juice Bar – full of delicious goodness!
- Many Ways to Plug In: Even though Winston-Salem isn’t a city the size of Atlanta, I was encouraged to discover that there’s something for everyone here. And if you don’t find what you want? Get something started, and you’re pretty well guaranteed to have others show up to get in on the action.