Story Gatherings | Nashville, Tennessee

Jeremy Cowart on Criticism, Fear, and Taking Risks

Kellyn Robison
Written by Kellyn Robison

Jeremy Cowart on Criticism, Fear, and Taking Risks

We sat down with Jeremy Cowart to talk about how he deals with criticism, his daily schedule and rhythm, his fears for the future, and what it’s like to attempt to raise $2 million on Kickstarter for a hotel that could change the world.

We wanted to learn more about what he was trying to build by using crowdfunding, so we asked him out of the gate, “What is the Purpose Hotel?”

“We are trying to build the Purpose Hotel where everything that we sell is connected to a cause or nonprofit. By choosing this hotel in the future, guests would be changing the world in their sleep. You would be serving over 100 people with a single stay. Every room would sponsor a child and everything is connected to a cause.”


We love this idea so much and we wanted to find out how Jeremy came up with it.  The creative process behind an incredible idea is always fascinating.

“I was doing a shoot in LA and I remember walking through the hotel and seeing a room with a nametag to label the room. I loved the idea and got to thinking about what it would look like if every room had a story. I instantly thought of how powerful it would be to have a picture of a child with their story on every door. It then progressed to the idea of encouraging guests to watch a social documentary rather than pornography. When you pay for the film, you support the fight against human trafficking. Guests can use a desk built by a homeless man. I had this “Aha!” moment when I realized how many non-profits I work with that are doing amazing things, and what it would look like to bring them all under one roof. I told my wife, and she started crying. Over time, I let fear stop me for about 3 years but this past Fall I got all of these green lights. I had to start.”

Starting.  Isn’t that the biggest step sometimes? Jeremy has a lot to say on the subject. We also got to dive into his daily routine, his advice to young photographers, and the role that imagination plays in his work. He also talked about life – work balance and how to live maintain a strong one in 2016.

We really enjoyed this conversation, and we learned a ton from this creative veteran. We will leave you this quote from him that really challenged us as a team:

“I wasn’t ready but you never are. You just gotta jump.”

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Kellyn Robison
Kellyn Robison

VP of Everything at Istoria Collective.