by Nikolai Wise ‘21
Taylor Fearrington, Southern Energy Management
When Taylor Fearrington ‘08 was an environmental studies major at UNC Asheville, his interests were focused on becoming a botanist. These days, his work keeps him in environmental studies field, but also looking up from plants and towards the sky.
Fearrington is the business development manager for Southern Energy Management, a company specializing in energy efficiency, green building and turn-key solar services for homeowners, builders, and companies. He’s part of a team of scientists, solar professionals, and entrepreneurs dedicated to improving the way the world makes and uses energy.
Fearrington works within the entrepreneurial and business development side of energy efficiency. “I work with builders and developers, trying to help identify what their goals are and how we can better help them build and market more efficient buildings.”
What started for Fearrington as a six-week grant-funded temporary position at Southern Energy Management has evolved into a full time career. “Now that I’m here, I love the work that we get to do,” Fearington said. “The company is amazing and we have a really great culture.”
Though it wasn’t exactly the journey he had anticipated during his botany-studying days at UNC Asheville, Fearrington found that his education prepared him for all the twists and turns of his career path.
“I think one of the things that I enjoyed most about UNC Asheville was definitely the liberal arts and exposure to all the things outside of our main focus,” Fearrington said. “Just keep an open mind and don’t forget to put yourself out there. I felt like what I gained from school here was invaluable, and I’m sure people here today are being set up in a similar manner.”
Sarah Winkler, Trade and Lore
Sarah Winkler ‘14 has been in the coffee business since college. Two years after graduating from UNC Asheville with a degree in sociology, she, with two partners, opened a coffee shop, Trade and Lore.
Located in downtown Asheville on Wall Street, Trade and Lore offers specialty coffee, treats and good from other local businesses, and space for community events. In 2017 Trade and Lore opened a second location in Charlotte.
“I had been working in coffee for a good while and saw the place for another shop in the coffee, and greater Asheville community,” Winkler said. Her goal was to “create a space that holds community events and supports other local businesses as well as offering quality, intentionally sourced beverages.”
Embracing the spirit of the liberal arts, Winkler says, “My education at UNC Asheville plays a part of my daily life in my career. Not only did it create a wonderful community of people for me in Asheville, but I feel I use my sociology degree in many ways. It aids me in customer service interactions, management and general growth and goals for the business.”
Marilyn Ball, 12Twelve Marketing
Marilyn Ball graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in mass communication in 1991; now she owns her own marketing company.
As an undergraduate at UNC Asheville, Ball supplemented her mass communication classes with an internship at WLOS-TV. “I knew I wanted to work in the communication industry as soon as I graduated,” Ball said. “I thought I wanted to go into video production but my path went in a different direction when I had the opportunity to work in an ad agency.”
After graduation Ball worked for a public relations company in Asheville and after two years she became a partner. She began her own marketing company, 12Twelve Marketing, after the owner of her previous firm retired in 2009. 12Twelve Marketing provides “one-on-one consulting and mentoring programs for business owners, nonprofits and people who would like to begin or grow a business.”
Ball has seen the benefit of her education through her experiences as an employer, a supervisor and entrepreneur. “My UNC Asheville experience literally changed my life,” Ball said. “I came away with a level of professionalism and hands-on experience and was able to become an expert in my field relatively quickly.”
Ball has recommendations for developing entrepreneurs, as well. “Believe your ideas and innovations are of use and value to others, and then share those openly, and teach others what you’ve learned,” Ball said. “Remember, the more you give, the more you get.”