Local businesses were featured in the second season of “Hometown Hustle,” a web series that highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of local small businesses in Southwest Virginia.
Episodes focused on the Collinsville Scuffle Hill Brewing Company, Martinsville’s Ground Floor, Meadows of Dan’s High Country Lavender Farm & Shop, Poor Farmers Market, and Concord Corner Store, and other businesses in nine other localities.
Natalie Hodge, owner of Rudy’s Girl Media and the series creator and host, said the first of the 10, 22-minute episodes was released on April 4.
‘We started filming last July,” she recalled. “July 31 was actually our first-day filming. But of course, with the production process, we started having conversations with people and the development components of Season 2 at the top of 2022.”
The series’ first season premiered on Rudy’s Girl YouTube channel in 2021, with six 10-minute episodes.
For the second season, Hodge said she wanted to make sure there was a diverse array of businesses and business owners.
“We wanted to make sure we had a business that was in the trade area, we wanted to have an agritourism business. So, we had some folks we wanted to target generally,” she said.
After creating that list of the different types of businesses, Hodge said the company started to reach out to chambers of commerce, economic development directors, and businesses directly through social media to get them to apply to be on the show.
“Then after they submitted a letter of interest or a quick form of interest, then we dug a little deeper and asked some more questions of those businesses that fell into kind of the categories that we wanted to feature,” she said.
Rise Collaborative, an entrepreneurial ecosystem development group for GO Virginia Region 3, was an early major sponsor for the second season, Hodge said of the economic development initiative that represents several different cities and counties in the Southside area of Virginia.
Keeping to the agency’s footprint, Hodge said businesses ranged from “as far west as Patrick County, and as east as Brunswick (County). Then our northernmost community is Prince Edward (County), and we have all points in between,” she said.
When filming, Hodge and her team spent about a half day with each business. She said they got to know the entrepreneurs before moving into filming because of the application process and constant contact to discuss what each wanted the world to see about their respective businesses.
Filming includes a tour of the businesses, several interview sections, and then a hands-on experience of what it’s like to work at the businesses, Hodge said.
“That’s really an important part of the production because we want people to see what it’s like to actually walk in that entrepreneur’s shoes to see some of the tasks that they have to handle on a day-to-day basis, and to demystify some of the processes of entrepreneurship and whatever that individual businesses owner is trying to do with their business,” she said.
Of the numerous businesses featured in the season, Hodge said she had the most intense experience at Lawless Welding & Fabrication, Inc. with owner Chris Lawless because she actually put on all the gear and went through a welding tutorial.
“I have the deepest level of appreciation for people who go into welding, because it’s an art form, it’s tough work. It’s hot in all of that equipment and gear, and it is something that is so absolutely necessary for us to have awesome tradespeople and welders to be in our community,” she said.
Hodge added she would give the experience with Lawless Welding a gold star. Her time with Poor Farmers Market and owner Felecia Shelor earned Hodge’s award for the most heartwarming story.
“Because she (Shelor) is this amazing businesswoman who developed her business selling produce on the side of the road into being a force in that community. She not only has a couple of businesses in that space, but she also supports other businesses,” Hodge said.
Hodge said she enjoyed being around Shelor and her family when filming that episode.
“That was super inspiring for me and the whole team,” she said.
Hodge’s company is currently having soft conversations about what it wants the third season to look like.
Entrepreneurs interested in having their businesses featured on the web series may contact Hodge’s team at info.@rudysgirl.com or Facebook.com/HometownHustle.
For more information, go to hometownhustle.tv.