100 Creatives 2014: Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (a.k.a. SHER), Culture Gurus

Categories: 100 Creatives

Photo by Trish Badger
Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina, aka SHER
We weren't at all surprised when Shawna Forney asked if she could share this interview with fellow organizer and friend Erma Tijerina. It's in Forney's nature to invite people, to turn everything into a group project, to make everything a party. Tijerina is the same. The community organizers/event planners/media consultants behind CulturePilot, a branding/design company and CreativeMornings Houston, a series of monthly breakfast meetings with imaginative, inventive speakers, Forney and Tijerina are both natural hosts, natural leaders. They're smart, focused, gregarious women with infectious enthusiasm and it's extremely difficult to ever say no to either of them.

A couple of generations ago, they would have made a hell of a pair of Tupperware ladies. These days, they're more aptly described as culture gurus.

Courtesy of Shawna Forney
Together Forney and Tijerina are a third entity: SHER. The three of them answered our questions (we admit we had to color code the answers to keep everything straight).

What They Do:Forney has one of the coolest job titles we've heard lately; she's Director of Delight for Culture Pilot. "I usually receive a weird or funny [look when I tell people what I do] and then I go on to tell them about all of the fun things that I work on at Culture Pilot as well as my passion projects such as I'm number two at CreativeMornings Houston, I'm a curator of TEDxHouston, and I do freelance social media."

Tijerina has a more ordinary sounding job title, but her actual duties are as fun as Forney's. "My primary role is as a graphic designer at Culture Pilot, that I'm also the host of CreativeMornings Houston, on the board of AIGA Houston, and involved in TedxHouston. I also take on freelance design work from time to time."

Why They Like It: It's SHER that answers this: "We are not only inspired by our speakers and performers but by the community that comes together for the events. It's been fun to hear about the people who have met at the events and are working on a project together or who maybe found a job from someone they met at the event.

"Plus, we have been able to introduce some of the speakers to new people, the venues have seen lots of new faces from the people attending the events. some of the community discovered [new musicians who perform] at the events."

What Inspires Them: Forney readily admits one of her strongest inspirations is "a crippling case of control and trying to make things perfect - which never are!"

She goes on to say, "I'm inspired by people, community, art, music and technology. I have had some pretty cool jobs with super creative people and I'm always inspired by my environment. I really try to surround myself with wonderful people who inspire me. My enthusiasm comes from the things that make me happy and from humor. I love a good laugh. Drive comes from working hard and seeing the results."

Tijerina adds to the list: "I'm very inspired by design, art, community - both global and local - and architecture. I find it amazing that I get to meet so many inspiring people. My drive and enthusiasm stems from following my passions, and from the amazing examples from visionaries in the field of design and community building events."

This story continues on the next page.

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