Meet Oregon’s ‘Gen E’

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KAYIN TALTON DAVIS

by Mike Green

It’s a simple economic formula: Gen X + Gen Y = Gen E

Call them “Generation Entrepreneur.” Gen E is comprised of innovators, inventors, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, multimedia content providers, branded bloggers and crafts makers who range in ages from seasoned Gen Xers to adolescent Millennials. They are self-selected Do-It-Yourself  risk-takers who believe pursuit of the American Dream is a journey through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Members of Gen E are smart, creative, critical-thinking, problem-solving, tech-savvy, resilient and passionate innovators who seek to turn their dreams into goals with timelines and profit-driven deliverables. You can meet them at pitch competitions, incubators, accelerators, Hackathons, Startup Weekends, Maker Faires and BlogWorld conferences. Inside, they all burn with the fuel of inspired ingenuity.

Despite a broad range in Gen E ages and multi-cultures, a common thread unites them: They don’t subscribe to a 40-hour work week replete with repetitive robotic ritualistic tasks. Each day is a new opportunity to apply their skills, knowledge and teamwork to overcome challenges that have measurable results.

Portland’s Kayin Talton Davis is one of the many faces of Oregon’s Gen E.

Talton Davis, 33, is a mother of two and founder of Soapbox Theory, a boutique shop of greeting cards and merchandise primarily based on black culture and the idea that everyone has something to say. She started her business in 2001 as a student in college pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, which she achieved at Portland State University in 2005.

“I was looking for a job and realized that a lot of the traditional mechanical engineering jobs were not going to be a good fit for me,” Talton Davis said in a telephone interview. “Because I had always been on the creative side; even in the engineering classes, the designs I did looked more like a designer did them, as far as the rounded corners and user-friendliness, as opposed to just working properly. They worked properly, as well, but more toward the user experience.”

Talton Davis credits Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) with assistance and mentoring that helped transition her talent and passion from profitable hobby into a full-fledged startup business. After launch, she met her husband, Cleo Davis, owner of Screw Loose Studio. Together, they’ve juggled two side-by-side enterprises, two small children and two fulltime workloads that defy proverbial banker’s hours.

Talton Davis is determined her daughters will follow in the educational pathway that provided her with the foundation upon which she has built her business: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“I’ve always enjoyed science and math. They were my favorite subjects, even as young as elementary school.” Davis said. “Having a more analytical background has helped me to be able to see what kinds of things are working and changes that need to be made.”

Talton Davis represents a rapidly growing landscape of lifestyle entrepreneurs across America who approach today’s smaller, stagnant job market seeking opportunities to create their own jobs.

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