Unlocked Nashville, founded by two Vanderbilt ‘18 classmates, is a jewelry company helping individuals in Nashville transition out of homelessness. Their work goes beyond the product - leveraging partnerships with non-profits - to build a community for their employees and change lives.
CoverWallet sat down with co-founders Alexis Cook and Corbin Hooker to hear more about their business and learn about their experience getting insurance with CoverWallet.
Tell us a bit about your business. When was it founded?
We started Unlocked Nashville when we were in college at Vanderbilt, and we just graduated this spring, so it’s still very fresh. Our mission is to create opportunities for people transitioning out of homelessness - to help get them back into a home and in the job market. We do this by creating jobs through jewelry making, and we are planning to expand our services and products to include more products soon.
The idea is that we serve as a jumping off point, providing a job and income, and through our services and partnerships, employees also get access to resources like resume reviews, interview tips, and practice for their next job.
What is the story behind your business?
I (Alexis) unfortunately got lyme disease when I was in college, and I had to take some time off. I’m from Nashville and once I started feeling better, I decided to start walking around the city, and I got to know some homeless people and developed friendships with them.
Once I returned to school, Corbin and I started talking about that experience and got the idea for Unlocked. The two of us sat outside on a curb one day and wrote out a business plan. It really started to take shape. But one thing that we were initially lacking was funding, and then we had a crazy thing happen to us.
A friend of mine - a homeless man who I became quite close with over a few years - ended up passing away of cancer, and he named me in his will. I felt honored, but I didn’t think he would have anything to actually leave behind.
It turned out that he had a storage unit, and he left me the keys to it. Corbin and I went to the unit, unlocked it and there was a duffel bag of cash. Using some of that money, we were able to start an LLC and got the equipment we needed to jump in and start making jewelry.
What does your day-to-day look like right now?
A lot of our work is doing the management, website, branding, marketing, and everything else that is required when you’re starting a business. But something that we really believe in - and what is most important to us - are the human relationships we establish with employees.
Unlocked is about teaching skills to set people up for long-term, lifelong success. We help our employees establish rhythms for working. For example, one thing that we hadn’t considered when we first started was how employees would get to work and move around town to buy things like groceries. It was a hurdle, but now all of our employees get monthly bus passes so that they can get where they need to go.
How did you hear about CoverWallet?
We wanted to start doing some pop-up shops in downtown Nashville, and we needed to have General Liability insurance. We Googled it to learn what we needed, got some quotes, talked to a sales rep for a quoting company, and then we talked with a few different other insurance companies. None of them were the right for us, and they didn’t have the specifics we needed for our business. Actually, through an agent at another company, we found out about CoverWallet. CoverWallet had everything we needed, and we felt comfortable from the beginning.
What was the process like with CoverWallet?
It was seamless for us. We got a quote online and then I called in to discuss some of the details. I felt really comfortable with the advisor on the phone. He was nice, and fun, and engaged. After that, he connected with us with Leila, our Account Manager. Leila has been great at accommodating our needs and she is really on the ball. It’s been a personal experience and really high touch.
Unlocked Nashville has been rapidly growing. If you are in Music City, be sure to look up their shop and keep an eye out for them at local pop-up shops! You can also find them online at www.unlockednashville.com, on Facebook (@unlockednashville), and on Instagram (@unlockednashville).