While the company was officially founded in the early days of 2016, the idea for Edison McCarthy had been brewing for a long time. I've always had a fascination with dimmer switches and how adjusting illumination can completely change the mood of a room. Most of my “adult” life was spent moving around the country, working for radio stations, occasionally taking to the air under the pseudonym “Jay McCarthy.”
After radio, I spent a year trying to figure out what was next — writing, tinkering, consulting Pandora.com, and working with some other incredibly interesting businesses. The entertainment business called me to Nashville, and I had the opportunity to work with an artist management company helping to grow the careers of Tim McGraw, Big Kenny, and other Country artists.
What happened next seems like more of a hard left turn than it was; I left the music business to become the first-ever Chief Marketing Officer at the only mortgage company exclusively endorsed by financial guru Dave Ramsey. That’s where things got interesting.
Marketing is a team sport, and when I realized that the members of the marketing team were scattered around the building, I set out on a quest to get all of the players on the same field. We found an unused office suite in the building that we could use solely for marketing and business development (aka "creativity" and "fun") and the opportunity to create a new environment and, with it, a culture. Challenges mean opportunities, and because the office had previously been occupied by an auto parts distributor, the combination of wear and tear and some really “interesting” paint choices presented some big challenges...I mean "great opportunities".
We took a couple of months to completely renovate the space ourselves, and the result was stunning. Red and yellow walls and broken ceiling tiles gave way to barn wood accents, walls covered with chalkboard and IdeaPaint, an eclectic collection of vintage industrial and midcentury modern furniture, some really spiffy industrial light fixtures, and a chandelier made in my kitchen from an old barn ladder. That’s when the light bulb turned on. (Literally.)
People stopping by would talk about the lighting in the space, especially that ladder fixture and, occasionally, the copious use of dimmer switches. When enough people suggested I should sell the pieces I was making, I launched the company that I (only half-jokingly) like to explain as “inspiration by Edison, perspiration by McCarthy.”