The Back Story
Jeremy Cowart has been traveling the world as a photographer for more than a decade, and in his travels he’s stayed at every kind of hotel imaginable. From the one’s lacking safe drinking water in Rwanda to the ones with personal butlers in Tokyo. He’s seen and experienced everything a hotel has to offer. Until one Summer day in LA, checking into a swanky hotel for an important meeting, he stopped and noticed the sign by the room number, it read, “hello, my name is room 1002.” The hotel had personified the room. It was unique, something he’d never seen before.
As a humanitarian who had shot in places of great need, that room number sign immediately made him think, what if every room had a story? What if that was a photo of a child from Compassion International and every room would sponsor their needs. And as he inserted his key into the door knob, he wondered, and what if every room key was made by the folks at The Giving Keys to support those transitioning out of homelessness. And as he stepped inside the room, a stream of inspiration poured out that hasn’t stopped flowing since: and what if the walls were covered with humanitarian art by local artists, and the TV only showed documentaries about social change, and what if the blankets were sewn by women in Africa so that they could earn an income, and the soaps came from organizations like Thistle Farms, and the wifi upgrade fee fought human trafficking. And what if you could purchase anything you loved from the hotel in the lobby’s gift shop to give back even more.
Getting Off the Ground
The ideas kept coming, but Jeremy spent three years ignoring them. Fear told him the idea was too big; what kind of self-employed freelance artist builds a global hotel chain? It was crazy.
It was one Fall day in 2015 when Jeremy was flying over New York City, looking at the hundreds, if not thousands of skyscrapers, when Jeremy thought, every single one of those buildings had to start somewhere, with someone. Why can't we be one of those stories?
But when the nudges refused to relent, he started conversations with Michael Moore, his business manager of over 13 years, and together, they started fleshing out the ideas one step at a time.
They felt strongly about involving the public, knowing this was an idea many people would want to be involved with. So they spent nine months creating a video that would showcase their vision and get people excited about building it together. In the summer of 2016, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and invited the world to become a founding member of The Purpose Hotel.
They hoped to raise $2 million to start the project, but fell short. However, that wasn’t enough to discourage them from trying again because of the incredible response they received from the world. The campaign went viral and garnered attention from Rolling Stone, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, even the United Nations. People were hungry for this kind of impact on the market. So they confidently relaunched the campaign with a smaller goal of $347,000 and surpassed that by more than double.
Where We're Heading
Nashville, TN will be The Purpose Hotel’s first home. We’re actively meeting with investors and architects, brainstorming partnerships and the interior design of the space. We’re not wasting any time because this is something the world desperately needs. Big things are brewing and what we’re seeing come to fruition is inspiring. We’re excited to watch this hotel become the embodiment of what we believe; everything can serve a greater purpose, especially you.