Welcome to another edition of “People Pulse.” Always aiming to bring you interesting folks doing even more interesting things in the Orlando and Central Florida area, you’re bound to find this one of interest. Nicholas Smith is certainly a man about town and has not only created events that connect people and foster community, but recently ignited new careers (you read that right) that not only help folks find a permanent place to lay a foundation for their lives (that’s just our fancy way of describing a realtor) but also creates art they can display and enjoy in it (also reads: artist). So let’s get to know Nick….
Q. What brought you to Orlando, and how long have you lived here?
A. The people! I moved to Orlando back in 2003 immediately after graduating high school. I came out of the closet as gay my junior year in high school (2001) and would sneak to Orlando from a small east coast beach town. It was nice to be a part of such a progressive city and feel accepted by like minded people.
Q. What’s one of your favorite things about living in Central Florida?
A. The opportunities. Orlando is a widespread city in terms of territory but it manages to maintain that thriving local community vibe. You want a corporate job? It’s here. You want to work in the arts? We’ve got it. Looking for more that mom and pops speed away from the hustle? You can make it happen here. It really is the perfect place to create your own opportunities.
Q. One thing folks might know you for is starting the popular “Sunday Funday” event Sunday Surrender, at Ember in downtown Orlando (and has since expanded to other venues). Tell us a little more about how that came about.
A. I created “Sunday Surrender” just over 10 years ago. Ember wanted to be more involved with the LGBTQ+ community and didn’t know where to begin. I wanted to create a progressive space where everyone could enjoy – gay, lesbian, straight, trans- you name it. I gathered bartenders from various bars and allowed them to promote their own venues making a place where we all came and played together. Now we’ve expanded to 3 additional Sunday night parties after Ember (Chillers, Cahoots, Latitudes) and rebranded as Situation Sundays – where there’s a situation for everyone.
Q. You’ve recently been focusing a great deal of time on your talents and skills as an artist. What originally inspired you to pursue that path (and where can people purchase your pieces)?
A. I created a lot of art in my teenage years and throughout the rat race just lost sight of my creative side. I left my corporate job as an Event and Sponsorship Director for a major broadcast company two years ago to focus on mental health and growing my creative outlets. I remembered how important it is to let your mind unlock and be free to create. Most of them are mixed mediums with 3d elements including pop culture characters reading their own stories to more recently abstract portraits. To purchase art you can visit Facebook.com/Art.NickSmith and check out the available art for sale gallery.Q. As if that weren’t enough, you’ve also started practicing real estate. What’s that like in the Orlando/Central Florida market? And even moreso, how has the pandemic impacted the real estate scene?
A. The market has been a roller coaster! We’re all experiencing a new world as interest rates remain at an all time low and trying to maneuver through the supply and demand of homes. You’re really seeing sellers make top dollar for their properties right now and it takes a lot of strategy to assist buyers with a market as competitive as this one. I think the quarantine really gave people a chance to evaluate their homes and hometowns leading a lot of them to relocating. If you’re looking to purchase or sell just be sure to pick an agent who will discuss short term and long term goals. Selling your home? Then what’s the next step after you sell? Or if you’re buying, make sure someone is honest and empathetic to your feelings. It’s a challenge out there and it ’s important to have someone who is constantly checking in on your emotional journey. Just know that purchasing a home can definitely be done.
Q. Orlando has “grown up” so much in just a short time. What has been something you’re most surprised about?
A. The ability to keep the arts alive and thriving. Over the years we’ve seen such an increase in street murals, art festivals, performance venues. It’s really become a city to create and let your imagination take the reins.
Q. Do you have any “best kept” secrets for things to do in Orlando and the Central Florida area?
A. It’s not Orlando but not too far would be Cassadaga for sure. Named the “Physic Capital of the World” and located just north of Deltona you find yourself in this charming little town known for their large number of psychics and mediums. Even if you’re not into all that, it just carries a sort of charm in the air that can’t be beat.
Q. What’s one thing you’re always sure to do or share with someone’s visiting from out of town?
A. If someone is comfortable, I think the Pulse Memorial is an important piece of history worth visiting. While a story that stems from tragedy, the communities response was one of strength, love and unity. Whether it’s 5, 10 or 100 years later, I hope it continues to be a place to remember the 49 lost and inspire the world to out love hate.Q. OK – one of our favorite questions: What are your go-to and just-can’t-live-without food places in town?
A. I always prefer to eat local and we’ve seen such a huge uptick in local restaurants and here are just a small number of my favorite: Se7en Bites, The Hammered Lamb, Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria, HÄOS on Church, Chicken Fire, JJ’s Fresh From Scratch, and Kres Chophouse.
Q. What are some of your favorite places in Orlando to be inspired, or just to be motivated?
A. They’re not so much places as much as events. The Orlando Fringe, Pulse Memorial Week in June, and the entire month of October – we have Come Out with Pride, IMMERSE where downtown becomes a city full of live street art and if you like a bit of spook you can’t beat all the Halloween the city and theme parks have to offer. These things always inspire me to be better and continue to create.
Q. What is one thing you personally hope to achieve in 2021?
A. On a business level, I’d love to continue working with the LGBTQ+ centered businesses in downtown on Church Street including HÄOS on Church and Hamburger Mary’s along with the Sunday bars I promote (Chillers, Cahoots and Lattitudes) to create a sort of LGBTQ+ district. On a social level, I want to assist the Zebra Coalition in recouping funds that were going to be allocated to the partial conversion of an unused hotel into housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. If you want to make a donation or find more ways to help visit www.zebrayouth.org. And on a personal level, just keep working on being a better version of myself than I was yesterday for my partner, family, friends and even the people I may never meet.
What did you think? Enjoy getting to know Nick? If you know someone who is “doing their thing” in the Central Florida area and might be a great consideration for an upcoming feature, drop a note telling us who and why using the following form: