Last year may have set you off course when it came to your business or creative venture. While many of us were trying to figure out how to tread water, a prolonged season of transition and change has taught us that we need do more than stay afloat. Our goal is to help you find and take steps that build stable and steady operations that can survive changes during this challenging time.
Build a Boat is a mini-conference designed to meet the moment of 2021 by offering conversations and workshops that will help you identify where you are in a sea of turbulent entrepreneurship. As we navigate the waves of life, we want to encourage, empower, and equip by creating community and conversation. Save the date to set sail with Create Birmingham from March 1-5, and let us help you navigate your journey.
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The conference is FREE! It includes five days of conversations, workshops, and tutorials that will help you get a handle on your next steps and build something sustainable for the next leg of the journey. We know you can’t make all the sessions, so you’ll have access to all our videos and recorded sessions even after the conference.

Want a little extra? We are offering a VIP Option. In addition to providing a stipend for our speakers, we’ll send you a tee shirt and a notebook printed by one of our CO.STARTERS graduates, HM Prints, a sticker sheet, an acrylic pin, and a couple other little goodies. Want everything except the shirt? Try our support pack for $15. Cost includes shipping. 

VIP Early Bird: $29
VIP after February 15: $39
Support Pack: $15




9:00 - 10:00 AM

Hosted by our Director of Programs, Jessica Moody, via Zoom, this meeting helps local artists, small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs start the week off with coffee and brainstorming. This is a time to allow you to share recent challenges & concerns and discuss how to continue adapting your business, organization, or idea.

10:00 - 10:10 AM

Learn more about how Create Consults is providing a tailored approach to guidance and growth for entrepreneurs using subject matter experts and small group support.

11:00 - 11:10 AM

Meet the small, but mighty, crew that keep the Create ship afloat!

4:00 - 4:30 PM

Join us as we discuss the purpose of BAB and how you should navigate your journey throughout the week.


9:00 - 10:30 AM

A 90-minute workshop looking at how you and your customer have shifted. In this workshop you’ll work to identify problems your customer may be experiencing and brainstorm new ways that you can solve them. 

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Autumn Sanders Foster has worked with Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and non-profits, helping them grow their businesses by understanding their customers. She launched Quire Consulting in 2017 to provide clients access to ethnographic research and design strategy that brings real people into the center of the design process. She leads clients through experiences with end users to develop effective, scalable solutions to the challenges clients face. She has worked with clients across a range of industries including education, arts, health care, retail, human resources, CPG, consumer electronics, and food.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

2:00 - 2:15 PM

Hear more about how you can use our online community calendar to promote your event or find your next online or in-person happening.

6:00 - 6:45 PM

Rebekah is the co-founder and Director of Programs & Operations at CO.STARTERS. She thrives on simplifying complex ideas or systems to make them easy for anyone to understand and use. At CO.STARTERS, this skill primarily takes the form of developing programs and supports, but also helping partner organizations find the best way forward. Her passion is helping communities solve their problems more efficiently and effectively, so they can focus on what’s most important and what they do best—serving their community well.

Jose Alfaro is Director of Growth for CO.STARTERS. He works to build strong and sustainable business models to support work at scale. He loves the creative approach to helping individuals and communities thrive through entrepreneurship. His first business was a catering company, but his dream is to build a sustainable food accelerator that supports minorities by expressing their culture through food.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 


9:00 - 10:30 AM

A 90-minute workshop looking at how your product has changed with your customer. Whether your adapting a current offering or launching something new, we’ll identify potential roadblocks and decide if this offering has legs beyond the pandemic. 

10:45 - 11:45 AM

Kristen Farmer Hall is the Executive Pastry Chef + co-owner of The Essential and Bandit. Her journey to culinary success is as unique as her sought-after creations, and she has quickly emerged as a source of inspiration for aspiring bakers, chefs, and female entrepreneurs. Alongside business partner and Executive Chef Victor King, Kristen brings a creative edge to traditional baking. Her work has been featured in an array of culinary and lifestyle publications, including Birmingham Magazine, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Good Grit, Style Blueprint, and The Locale Palate.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Reginald D. Smith is the Economic Development Strategist for Sabre Finance. Having spent nearly a decade working in the banking and finance industry, Reginald discovered that he truly has a passion for helping entrepreneurs start and grow profitable and sustainable businesses. He is an experienced finance professional with extensive training in loan structuring, underwriting, business operations, and overall loan pipeline management.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

2:00 - 2:10 PM

Sometimes, you just need a one-on-one. Learn more about how you can meet with a member of the Create staff to get some guidance or feedback as you continue to build your boat.

4:00 - 4:15 PM

For those who may be standing on the shore trying to decide if your idea will float, Get Started may be the program for you. Learn more about this interactive workshop in this session.

5:00 - 5:15 PM

You’ve heard how easy it is to get caught working in your business and not make time to work on it. Learn more about our goal setting workshop that helps you plan 60-90 days or more at a time to keep you on track.


9:00 - 10:30 AM

A 90-minute workshop focused on your costs, breakeven point, and sales projections. This is often the scary part of business. But don’t shy away because you hate numbers. This is where we figure out how to make sure your idea is profitable and not just a hobby. 

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Stephanie Gilbert is a social media marketing & online business expert. She’s worked with national brands like Urban Outfitters, Sweaty Betty & Eileen Fisher and collaborated with online platforms like Later & Kajabi. She’s your go-to CEO when it comes to scaling a service-based business to six figures and as the founder of The Social Media CEO, she teaches womxn how to build profitable, sustainable social media businesses from home. The SMCEO provides resources & expert advice to help frustrated freelancers transition to a successful social media agency owners in less time & with fewer questions and doubts!

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

2:00 - 3:00 PM

Edward T. Bowser has a heart for storytelling and a passion for serving his community. Edward honed his social media, marketing and media relations skills as a member of local advertising agencies Luckie and Co. and Big Communications, and spent several years at where he worked as a social media manager and comments moderator, as well as writing an award-winning column that focused on faith, social justice, and the African-American community. Edward was recruited by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s administration in March 2018 to serve as Senior Storyteller, where he creates content for the mayor and City of Birmingham’s website and social media platforms, as well as producing the city’s Magic City Mondays podcast.

Edward is founder of, a music and pop culture site that boasts a readership of 50,000 pageviews each month. It’s a one-stop-shop for hip-hop and R&B album reviews, commentary, career analyses and even relationship advice. 

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

6:00 - 7:00 PM

Entrepreneur and all around foodie, Eryka has been playing in the kitchen since she was old enough to reach the stove. She has had the opportunity to travel a small part of the world experiencing the craft of others and honing her own. The combination of having a diverse family from different parts of the world coupled with her military travels have greatly influenced her style of cooking. She began her education as a bio-premed student which expanded her love and knowledge of the human body. By traveling a small portion of the world in the USAR, her love, curiosity and knowledge of the diversity of regional and cultural cuisine broadened prompting her to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts. She soon learned to combine those passions. Eryka has had the pleasure of being on the team of influential and landmark hotels and restaurants across the US in positions varying from line cook to executive chef. In 2010 after working for several notable chef’s and restaurants, obtaining degrees & accolades, and experiencing rapid growth in personal clients, she founded Not Just Catering. Her mission from day one was to bring smiles by providing delicious whole healthy meals and 100% personalized service. As this journey continues her experience & passion, the vision, the company and the mission have continued to grow and evolve.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 


9:00 - 9:45 AM

With over ten years of experience managing professional staff in both the public and private sectors, Cornell is a seasoned executive with in-depth expertise that includes personnel staffing and management, oversight of complex organizational budgets and management of technical and policy teams, as well as a proven track record as a skilled negotiator. He has extensive knowledge in regional coordination and planning and is adept at setting and achieving priorities. He has a proven ability to manage multiple projects in tandem without compromising the quality of the outcomes.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Cornell’s education is as varied as his work experience. A Morehouse College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, he also holds a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University and a Master of Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center of Atlanta, Georgia. He also holds certifications in management, economic development and entrepreneurship from a number of universities and economic development institutions across the United States.

This session is set up as a webinar. We welcome comments and questions. 

12:00 - 12:30 PM

We would love to wrap up and chat about your journey through BAB and where you think your boat is headed next! Join us for a closing session.


Build A Boat is made possible thanks to the generosity of Create Birmingham’s supporters.

Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation   |   Alabama Power Foundation   |   Daniel Foundation of Alabama   |   Regions Foundation   |   Welch Group Foundation   |   The Ruby S. & John P. Ansley Fund   |   Caring Foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama   |   Vulcan Materials Company Foundation   |   Protective Life Foundation   |   Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham   |   Jemison Investment Co.   |   BBVA   |   Hugh Kaul Foundation   |   Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust   |   Wells Fargo Bank   |  IBERIABank | First Horizon   |   Brooke & Daniel Coleman Charitable Fund   |   C. Eugene Ireland Foundation