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Conversations with Thad McCullough

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thad McCullough.

Hi Thad, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started at B-Vogue Salon & Gallery in 2004 and started not only my professional career but also started a philanthropic career! Being Brand inspired by Paul Mitchell, we strived to live locally and care globally. We initially started with adopting an elementary school. We did back to school haircuts, bought a new kiln, clay, glaze, choir risers and more, all funded through the arts! We hang art for a cause. 25% of the art sales in our salon support whatever cause we may be working on in the moment. We evolved from here and started a non-profit called West iNd Connection. The West iNd Connection is a Community focused organization geared at creating fundraising events that support and create programs that fall into four key areas. Arts, Community Care, Animal Welfare and the LGBTQ+ Community.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes and No. WE are connected with amazing people that continue to support our endeavors and they make it smooth and fun! Of course, there are always challenges. I think the most challenging things is when people fall out of alignment, from board members to supporters, it happens. I think that is just part of the process. It’s all in how you recover from any hurdles or roadblocks that make a success story.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The Art of Drag has been something that I’ve always been attracted to! As a hairdresser, I feel it helped give me a good knowledge base of what it takes. I was inspired by Adam Lambert after I read an article about how he utilized his birthday to create an event that gave back to his local LGBTQ+ Community! I was stealing that idea! I created Thadapalooza, which has evolved into a Drag variety show that supports the LGBTQ+ Community of Independence, Missouri! Thadaplooza has also given me an outlet to create Leona Noel, my Drag persona! In the past eight years, we have raised over $27,000 which has helped support the Gay/Straight Alliance Clubs and Gender/Sexuality Alliance Clubs of all the High Schools in Independence. We also help support an Independence satellite meeting of PFLAG KC. Beyond that, we have big dreams of creating an LGBTQ+ Community Center and even some sort of transitional living home as well!

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
We are located in the Arts District of Independence and there is some wonderful energy in the community right now! The new Englewood Arts non-profit is working on opening an Arts Center that will bring Visual, Culinary and Performing Arts to life in the District! We are very excited to be partnering with EA and look forward to developing programs for the performing arts! The Englewood Business Association continues to sponsor 3rd Friday Art Walks! There is also a Community Improvement District for the Englewood area that was recently established that collects 1% of the sales tax which gets reinvested back into the area! There are some really exciting things aligning! We are grateful to be a part of an Arts community that continues to grow and blossom in Western Independence! In the next 5-10 years? To quote my friend and co-founder of the West iNd Connection, “What Else Is Possible!” Did I use enough exclamation points to express the excitment?

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