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Meet Kelly Marsh of Brookhaven Arts Festival

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Marsh.

Kelly, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My mother was an artist and taught me how to appreciate art, and I love collecting art. When the original Arts Festival director founded the Brookhaven Arts Festival (BAF), I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer. The Festival’s first year was 2004, and I have made several lasting relationships throughout those 10 years of volunteering. As a Brookhaven resident, I was happy to find a way to give back to the community that has been so good to me as a business woman. In 2014, the person in charge of the festival quit and moved away – so that year, there was no Brookhaven Arts Festival. I was so disappointed, because I love this community. I knew a lot about the ins and outs of the festival from volunteering for so many years, so I decided to just bring it back myself. I called Greg Barner and his wife Ida Beth for help; they had also worked on the Arts Festival, and I asked them to help bring it back. They were more than happy to help, and in 2015 and then again in 2016 the Brookhaven Arts Festival was better than ever. For the 2017 BAF in October, we are expanding – we will feature 140 artists (versus the 100-125 in previous years) along with food and beverage vendors, a music stage, a small children’s area, and on Sunday, a classic car show. The BAF is unique in that it is a juried event, so we focus on high-quality artists with a wide array of price options and different art mediums. The musicians we feature are always crowd-favorites – typically singers and bands whose musical style matches the relaxed, easy vibe of the festival. We have been in the same location since the inception of the Brookhaven Arts Festival, on Apple Valley Rd behind the MARTA station. This is such a great location because people can hop on MARTA and come to the festival, Brookhaven residents can walk over from N. Druid Hills Rd or Dresden Drive, and people can drive and park in the MARTA parking lot where there is plenty of space for parking.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The first year we brought the Arts Festival back in 2015 we did not have the support of the previous director, so we had to figure a few things out on our own. We were able to get more sponsorships than ever before and the artists and crowds keep coming back each year.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Brookhaven Arts Festival – what should we know?
Kelly Marsh runs the most successful Real Estate team in North Dekalb County. She has lived and worked in Brookhaven for 20 years which has enabled her to grow her business by hiring and mentoring new agents to reach their fullest potential. Her agents are neighborhood specialists, and know much more about the areas they specialize in than an average agent. Her team gives back to the community by sponsoring the Brookhaven Arts Festival, and supports many other local charities and schools.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My top two mentors are Angel de Para and Shaun Rawls. As for Shaun Rawls, I would say he always sees the good in everyone. This enables him to bring out the best in that person if they are willing to challenge themselves. He is an excellent consultant and can help you figure out where you want to go and how to go about getting there.

Angel is a business consultant who has taught me how to be compassionate with people. When people are prickly, it means there is fear behind the façade. By learning to be compassionate instead of adversarial, a tough negotiation can result in a positive outcome for all parties. Angel also has taught me how to assess any situation in order pull out the very best strategy to accomplish a goal. I would summarize his talent this way: I can now look at a haystack and not only find the needle, but the best garment to make from that needle using the hay in the stack.

Both of these people have helped me with my growth process and I can always count on them to challenge me to sprout and flourish.

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