Friday, April 13, 2012

Citizen: Elle Palmer

Elle Palmer is some kind of hero. Seemingly gifted with comic book powers, her personality isn’t so much observed through social interaction as it is sensed, like a presence, or high voltage electricity. Dressed in knee high boots, a sea foam green dress adorned with lace detailing, and with a shock of red hair, her attire and demeanor scream “energy.” She seems like someone who stays busy.

Busy, as it turns out, is an understatement. 

After getting to know her, one thing is made certain: Elle Palmer does more work in a week than most people do in a month.   

While some struggle to find a job, or take a second one to get by, Palmer has not one, but three professions. If you asked her though, she wouldn’t consider it all “work.” At least, not in the traditional sense.  

A master of self-motivation, with a rare enthusiasm for people, animals and well being, Elle is in the midst of developing an arsenal of small businesses all centered around her true passions; in essence, she’s living the dream of every desk jockey in America.

Elle was one of these types, once. “I was really good at it, but I was like a flower, wilting” she says of her former job, selling light bulbs. Bursting with enthusiasm and contagious exuberance, it’s easy to see why she quit to start her first entrepreneurial endeavor, Dogs In Motion. “I love animals,” she says, sitting in her adorably furnished screened in porch, referring to her pet sitting business.

Born of a year off from the corporate world, Dogs in Motion is a straightforward set up, with low overhead, and an ideal schedule. "It’s totally awesome, there’s no stress,” Palmer says of the gig, which she has been doing for local Charlotte clients, consisting mostly of bankers, for about seven years. For the first few years, she enjoyed the steady flow of referrals and the ability to make her own hours.

After awhile though, despite the success of the business, it wasn’t enough. “It’s not really rewarding enough for me,” says Elle. Cue the entrance of the Urban Gypsy, Palmer’s aptly named “Traveling Trunk Show.”   

You may have even heard of it; Palmer’s passion for fashion has garnered attention from a local TV station, and arose from humble beginnings in her attic and the homes of friends to become a scheduled event not only in Charlotte, but has reached as far as Nashville and Atlanta.

The concept is simple: Elle takes a portion of a wardrobe she has collected over the years, and brings it to the people.  She began small, bringing a few racks of items to small gatherings, and has since turned it into a large production, using vans to schlep the clothes and knick knacks she’s amassed from vintage clothing stores and garage sales.  Judging from the turnout at a recent exhibition, the demand hasn’t let up. “It’s all whimsical and magical…people just love it,” she says.

When asked about how she got into sharing her wardrobe with others, it is revealed that it simply came down to an excess in supply—with her attic overflowing and her husband losing patience, Elle became inspired when her friends began asking if they could purchase pieces from her collection. “From there it just took off,” she says, noting that when she’s out looking for cheap deals at flea markets and local thrift stores she’s able to have all the fun of shopping, but can now consider her purchases “investments.” 

These investments are an outlet for Elle’s creative side—one look at the fashionable Palmer and her tastefully appointed home, and it is obvious she has a talent for style, and an eye for color.

Amazingly though, with everything on her plate between pet sitting and bargain hunting, she still was not satisfied. “I just want to tell people the truth,” she says of what has become her third business, and her true passion. An epiphany for Elle came in 2008, when she attended a ten-day live-in dietary cleanse program in California, at the urging of her mother, who converted to veganism while Elle was young. “She offered this to me,” says Elle of the program. “It’s like $5,000, which isn't cheap by any means.  I knew it was a big deal, so I went.”  From the first day, something clicked in Elle.   “I knew what it was. Someone finally told me the truth. Milk does not do your body good!”  

The rest of the trip would prove to be a life-changing event for Palmer, as she began to firsthand see the benefits of an alternative, plant-based diet, her preferred nomenclature for a lifestyle alternatively referred to as dairy-free, or veganism. “A couple of people had rheumatoid arthritis, and by day four, it was gone, ” she says with an obvious enthusiasm.  Others experienced similarly disbelieving results. “Another person’s diabetes just went away,” recalls Elle. This health makeover was not limited to others though, as Elle tells of her own account. “For me, my cholesterol dropped forty points, and arthritis in my hip was gone.”

Upon returning from her revealing pilgrimage, Elle continued her dietary revolution.  She picked up Kathy Freston’s “21 Day Quantum Wellness Cleanse,” and added herself and a few friends to a long list of people who swear by the book. One of whom, Palmer is quick to add, is Oprah Winfrey, notable for her booklist.   Encouraged by her anecdotal evidence, and out of sheer excitement, Elle attempted to share the knowledge garnered in her studies, going as far as making copies of a food documentary, and mailing it to relatives.  

She quickly realized though that it was not as simple as telling people about what she had learned. With her relatives convinced that she had a few screws loose, Elle came to an important conclusion. “People don’t want to know,” she says, flatly. “I’ve learned that people need to come to me.” Thus, Three Weeks to Wellness, Elle’s third company, came to be.   

Realizing that there were people who were asking her to show them how to undergo a health transformation similar to her own, it dawned on Elle that her true passion in life, dietary wellness, could become a source of not only income, but true self fulfillment. “I get so excited just talking about it,” says Elle.

“Cheese rehab” as she jokingly calls it, takes elements of her own experience with the wellness education she received in California, and combines it with her own research. Three Weeks to Wellness consists of “cleanse programs” that Elle coordinates, supervises, and provides support for. “Someone can come in, and the plan is laid out for them. They learn that this diet is very accessible,” she says of the endeavor, from which she has received very positive feedback. “I have people who have taken the cleanse who just want to return the favor and help me with it.  It’s crazy.”

The community response includes talk of franchising, though the idea of expansion is a bit overwhelming to Palmer at the present. “It’s a bit ahead of me right now,” she says of the possibility of franchises, but she doesn’t rule it out.  Regardless, it’s a good sign for the measure of encouraging success for the business.  Other testaments to Three Weeks to Wellness include a former client’s soon to be opened vegan restaurant, and the conversion of many staunchly rooted meat-eaters to a plant based diet. All of these are at once amazing and yet unsurprising, when one considers Elle Palmer’s approach to life. Accurately described as a wearer of many hats, Elle’s extroversion and enthusiasm for her work are qualities shared by few, and her juggernaut-like abilities not only impress, but also pose the question: can she also leap tall buildings in a single bound?  

Written by Chris Barcelo
Photos by Graham Morrison

Monday, June 13, 2011

Citizen: Scott Weaver

            For many people, local nightlife is a regularly scheduled part of their week. So with a city as diverse as Charlotte, it’s needless to say that not all nightlife venues are the same. In fact, one in particular stands out as quite possibly the craziest nightlife hotspot the Queen City has to offer. That night is none other than Shiprocked at Snug Harbor, a place where drag queens, go-go dancers, and a slew of other outrageous folks can be found. The man in charge of organizing this weekly wild house is Plaza Midwood’s Scott Weaver, a man who’s passion for music and partying have gained him the title of one of Charlotte’s most well known DJs.
Music has been a powerful influence on Scott’s life from an early age. Playing both French horn and trumpet in his school’s band, along with singing in the school choir, he knew that music was a creative outlet he wanted to further explore. “I know what I want to hear and what creates a certain experience in the room.” After moving to Charlotte in August of 1995, Scott was soon immersed into the club scene that was thriving in the mid 90s. “When I moved here we were really the biggest stand out weirdos in town, there was a pack about 20 of us.” The group was known for sticking together, and could be often times spotted at concerts, parties, and other local events dressed in the extreme fashion of the club kid era. 
Not long after, Scott started throwing parties that truly pushed the envelope.  The parties took place at a local bar called The Masquerade, and were known for being anything but tame. His first party was called ‘Cherry’ which he wanted to be, “a totally campy and southern version of The Factory meets a John Waters film.” Different themes allowed partygoers to dress in wigs and costumes, giving them the chance to go out on the town dressed wild without the concern of sticking out like a sore thumb. His influence on the Charlotte nightlife scene grew, and quickly at that. Parties became more and more elaborate with eager patrons, as well as a constant stream of newcomers driving to Charlotte from surrounding cities just to see what really went down at these parties.

Photo by Justin Smith
Despite the success of the parties and events he was throwing, there have been moments that really made Scott take a step back and look at the lifestyle him and his peers were a part of. Since moving to Charlotte he has lost several friends to drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. “There was a period where it seemed like every six months or so I would get a call saying that someone I knew had died from drugs and AIDS.” This is something that bothered Scott, and for good reason. Losing a friend is tough enough, but losing them to something that could have been avoided? He knew that there were ways of deterring it from happening. In fact, Scott even provides condoms to folks in the audience of Shiprocked. “People think I’m being funny, but I’m really just trying to help them be responsible with whatever they choose to do.” A bold and selfless move to say the very least.
Weaver’s influence on the city isn’t merely musical, but also visually artistic in many ways as well. Along with doing the makeup and styling for a multitude of photo shoots shot around town, he has done interior design for restaurants and bars such as The Diamond, Soul, Phoenix and Re:Public. His style is hard to define, however there are without doubt some parallels between his music and design taste. His home in Plaza Midwood is a salute to the 20th century with vintage furniture from every decade. Every room is brightly and colorfully painted with close attention to detail, and his kitchen sports a multitude of eccentric Americana bric-a-brac that one can’t help but gaze at in wonder. There’s also a closet filled from ceiling to floor, wall to wall, with records, CDs, and various tokens of Scott’s past achievements and various memories.
            What does the future hold for Scott? Well, for starters he wants to further the business side of design work. He also has a degree in art, and is interested in venturing down an avenue that will help him further his passion for painting. “The fact that I have a degree in art is something I’ve never really shown people in Charlotte. So I’d like to get a space that is exclusively for me to paint in, just to get away from everyone. I just want to have a coffee pot and a paint covered jam box and just hang out and paint for hours. “
 “Jack of all trades” is almost an understatement when describing Scott’s various passions and art forms. His unique style and one of a kind artistic expressions come from within, and are a pure expression of a man who loves what he’s doing. He has had as much of an influence on Charlotte as it has had on him, and all signs point to that influence only growing more and more in the years to come. You can see Scott playing all of your favorites, and a slew of new jams you can’t help but shake it to at Snug Harbor’s Shiprocked every Thursday. Come join the party, and prepare yourself for a wildly good time!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Citizen: Dylan Gilbert

Dylan Gilbert is not afraid of change. His newest project, a rock opera that's he's funding through fans donating to KickStarter, marks one of his biggest creative changes since the start of his musical career. This will be his 6th solo release, and the first since being joined by Zach Jordan and John Harrell who form Dylan Gilbert and the Over Easy Breakfast Machine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Citizen: Buchanan Moncure

You've probably seen Buchanan Moncure around. Maybe you've seen him serving frozen yogurt at Tasty Yo over the last year and a half, or perhaps you've seen him around town with friends. Perhaps what you didn't know is that the guy serving your frozen yogurt has a bit more going on. For starters he's an author, his first book of short stories, This Was Supposed to be Simple, has been out since November of last year. He also, along with his roommate Mary DeMay, owns a publishing company which they run from their apartment just outside of NoDa. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Citizens of CLT

I am very excited about this new blog. It's been an idea I've had in the back of my head for a while now, and I'm proud to say that it's finally coming to term. Citizens of CLT is going to be exactly what it sounds like: a blog showcasing the talent and creativity of the citizens of Charlotte, North Carolina.

I have been living in this city for over a year and a half now, and it's safe to say that some of the most interesting people  I have ever met live in the Queen City. I have lived in the University area, Plaza Midwood, and NoDa. All of which are home to a variety of diverse and unique people, all with their own stories, backgrounds, and goals in life.

This blog is intended to introduce, inform, and enlighten it's readers on the colorful cast of characters that reside in Charlotte. I will be updating as often as possible, and I will ALWAYS be looking for new Citizens to profile. If you know of someone that you feel would make a good addition to this blog, please feel free to email me their name and a brief description at Thanks!

-Graham Morrison