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Meet Josh Miller of Five Stone Creative in Northwest Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Miller.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a musician and have been my whole life. I was a band kid through and through; that was my community. In school and afterward, I did everything I could to be a part of the musician culture and scene. It served me pretty well; ultimately it’s what led me to this industry. I figured out early on that it’s nearly impossible for musicians to make enough money exclusively by playing music. I started paying attention to the people working the soundboards and cameras, the people on the execution side of things. I thought to myself, “I think I can do that,” and then was fortunate enough to have really good teachers. I become a sponge, absorbing just as much as I possibly could about the technical elements of events and live music. In doing so, I started to see the potential for a career in this world. 15 years later, I’m still making music on a regular basis, but additionally I’ve built a whole life for myself around those executional skills I learned.

During my time in this industry, I’ve filled a lot of different roles. I’ve done the freelance thing, worked for a handful of companies, and then without really meaning to, created my own company. Initially, I created the LLC as a way to legitimize my freelance work. Shortly thereafter, an old colleague of mine reached out about a large project that would be way too much for a solo gig. In order to pull it off, I would need to form a full team; so I did. I honestly didn’t know if it would work or if I was even sure it’s what I wanted, but I saw an opportunity and decided to go for it. Four years later, we’ve been around the world. We work with international brands as well as local businesses and nonprofits. We’re doing things I never dreamed we’d get to do, and I’m just glad I took the plunge when I did.

Has it been a smooth road?
The first three years were a wild and adventurous ride that came with a tremendous amount of difficulty, but an even greater level of excitement. All at once, we were learning how to grow a business, offer great and consistent service, and maintain a relationship with clients that would keep them coming back, but all of the difficulty was eclipsed by how much fun it was. I was never more scared than I was excited.

In the midst of that, one of my biggest learning curves was how to run a business alongside people who were lifelong friends. It’s a difficult balance to strike: doing what is best for both the brand and the people involved. When you’re freelancing, it’s all up to you. When you start involving people you know and care about, it becomes a wildly different thing. The responsibilities change, and the way you have to navigate those relationships changes too. Those were some of my hardest lessons to learn, but I like to think I’m a better leader now for it.

Then came 2020. What a year. I know I’m not alone when I say that this has been one of the hardest experiences of my life, navigating how to continue growing within these circumstances while also being sensitive to the way the world is shifting. It’s hard to see years of growth and hard work come to such a swift halt, but we’re hopeful. We’re doing what we can to set ourselves up to be relevant within a whole new framework.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Five Stone Creative story. Tell us more about the business.
Five Stone Creative does two main things: Video and Live Event Production. On the video side of things, we go in and do all manner of work: training, marketing, storytelling. We love to help brands shape their story and communicate it well. The event side of things is actively and fundamentally changing right now, but for the last four years we’ve been able to serve some amazing clients and help produce events that are a great experience for everyone involved. In both of these areas, we offer services at every stage of an idea: consulting/vision casting, production, post-production and everything in between. I think what sets us apart is that we do it all. A lot of companies specialize in one or the other of these two facets, but we’ve thrown ourselves into both.

The thing I’m most proud of is the way we treat people, be it staff, clients, contractors, vendors, or whomever. We have very few clients that have only used us once and then moved on. We tend to bring people into our culture and systems then serve them in a way that keeps them coming back. We also take very seriously our relationships with the people we work with. It’s a huge priority that we protect their interests. When I call a contractor for a gig, it’s important to me that they seem genuinely excited to work together. Treating people like people is a pillar of our brand and something we’ve tried to do well since our inception.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
This is a huge question and one that seems to change every week. For our video clientele, I see a potential increase in overall business, as people are going to want to leverage pre-produced video content on a higher level than usual in order to replace some of the meetings/large gatherings that they may have done pre-COVID-19. I think the event industry doesn’t have any choice but to adapt to some new normals – much more streaming options, more flexibility with who is on site and who isn’t, etc. Events as we know it will return, but probably not to the scale that we were previously seeing, at least not for quite a while.

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