Creative Class: William Thomas, Derrick Braziel, and Allen Woods, MORTAR


For our April 2017 issue, we examine how creatives are remaking the Queen city.

Ages: 31, 31, 40

Company: MORTAR. “What we do is so closely related to community development. We wanted to connect to that feeling of ‘building,’” says Woods. “MORTAR represents the people, because they are what hold this structure of community together.”

Jobs: Business development manager; managing director; chief vision caster and branding gladiator

The goal: “Empower neighborhood residents. We are building communities through entrepreneurship,” says Woods. MORTAR runs entrepreneurship classes and teaches the basics to fifth and sixth graders at Cincinnati Public Schools, too. “We have the opportunity to help create a more equitable city and help dreams come true,” says Thomas.

William Thomas

Portrait by Aaron M. Conway

Allen Woods

Portrait by Aaron M. Conway

Derrick Braziel

Portrait by Aaron M. Conway

The gig: Thomas mainly works to expand what they do into new communities, and to find opportunities for their students. Braziel is the relationship builder and helms fund-raising and development. Woods tackles the big-picture vision, keeps the team on that track, and creates all branding and messaging.

On necessity: “We knew intuitively that there are smart people in OTR and in communities across America who have great ideas and concepts but aren’t connected to the tools and resources needed to start businesses and participate in the rejuvenation of their neighborhoods,” says Braziel.

Their advice: “I started my entrepreneurial journey almost 30 years ago, and every mistake, misstep, and success made me who I am today,” says Woods. “Find a great network of other entrepreneurs who have been where you’re going. There’s so much that you can learn from a great circle of driven individuals. That’s one of the things that we’re really building with our MORTAR alumni group.”

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