January 2023 marked 20 years for The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City.
Twenty years of helping advertising and marketing freelancers in the KC region and beyond. Twenty years of serving as KC’s premier, free, and easy-to-use resource to find freelance talent.
So, how did FX come to be?
Here’s the story as told by our Founder, Julie Cortés:
“It all started on a whim. I’d been very active and serving on the board of a large industry organization. When my term came to an end, I wondered what was next.
I looked around at the existing professional clubs in town and wondered why no one had anything specifically for freelancers … no discounted rates for membership or events, no programming directed at the self-employed, no nothing.
Even though I’d made these requests while active in the one organization, no one seemed to care. Yet, I knew there was a huge need for it.
So, I decided to do something about it.
I was familiar with an effort that local industry headhunter, Don Dye (may he rest in peace), had spearheaded previously, getting a small group of freelancers together for lunch on a regular basis. I also knew that, at that point in time, he’d had to hang up his hat in doing that when he went to take a full-time job.
Not wanting to step on toes, I called him up to see if I could resurrect the idea. “You have at it, kid!” he told me.
And so I did.
I opened up my Rolodex and industry club roster, and emailed roughly 50 freelancers, asking to get together. In January of 2003, we met at McCoy’s in Westport where about 20 people showed up.
Everyone seemed to love the idea of a community just for freelancers. Ideas were running rampant. “You should do monthly luncheons!” “You should have a freelance directory!” “You should have a ‘company’ holiday party!”
The energy was inspiring. Yet I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I asked for volunteers and was able to quickly form a board of directors. We got to work and wrote bylaws, club policies, developed a brand, planned programs, and determined membership levels and pricing.
Within six months we were up and running as an official not-for-profit 501(c)6 industry organization and, just a couple months after that, we’d already surpassed 100 members!”
Things just took off from there. FX hosted its first Portfolio Showcase that next year, produced a printed and digital membership directory, and held plenty of monthly educational and social events. Throughout the years, it’s hosted award shows, participated in philanthropy efforts, and helped plan holiday parties with other local industry clubs.
The club was founded on a mission of offering continuing education and community for advertising/marketing freelancers, while also serving as a resource to make it easy for ad agencies and businesses alike to find freelance talent they needed.
That mission continues to this day as we continue to find innovative ways to inspire, motivate, and gather. In addition to our monthly luncheons and social meetups, we continue the tradition of the Portfolio Showcase and joint holiday party, while additionally offering a Freelance Bootcamp and other educational, networking, outreach, and promotional opportunities.
We are forever grateful to the volunteers who’ve helped us achieve this big milestone, the sponsors and associate members who’ve helped fund our efforts, and the hundreds, if not thousands, of freelancers who’ve come through our doors throughout the years.
As we look back and reflect on the successes of FX throughout the last 20 years, we can’t help but be excited for what the next 20 have in store.
Not a member? Join today. Need a freelancer? Find freelance talent here.
Want to get involved? Attend an upcoming event or volunteer.
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