“I’ve always loved learning new things … learning is such a good thing to do in the community and to meet people and bond with people.”
–Haley Bohon, SkillPop founder
by Mimi Montgomery
photographs by Jillian Clark
When Haley Bohon graduated from N.C. State in 2012 and moved to Charlotte for a job in mechanical engineering, she missed meeting new friends in college classes. She felt she quickly fell into a rut in Charlotte, going to work, the gym, then home, and eating at the same restaurants with the same people. And she didn’t have any hobbies to fill her downtime: Four busy years studying hard at State had left her with few spare moments to develop them.
At the same time, Bohon noticed a rising trend in online learning and meetups for people with similar interests, but nothing directly tied to developing those interests or learning new skills. She knew she learned better in a physical classroom environment, and saw an opportunity to provide classes with a social component. “It made a lot of sense that (learning) should be something still in a community environment even after you graduate from traditional school,” she says.
So in the fall of 2015, Bohon took a plunge: She left her job to develop Charlotte SkillPop full-time. “It was something I was really excited about,” she says. “The potential was really huge and the first response was really huge … I knew it would be worth my time.”
It was – the Charlotte business has done so well that Bohon opened a Raleigh branch this past August. She is excited to expand her business to her old stomping grounds. “It’s great,” she says. “My hope for Raleigh is that it will feel a little different than the Charlotte (SkillPop). The entrepreneur community is really strong, the design community is really strong, (and) the university presence is big.”
Raleighites can now sign up for classes on hand-lettering, photography, graphic design, marketing, gardening, watercolor painting, sewing, and much more. All classes are taught by local experts, and they’re taught in a way that fosters engagement and connection between students. It’s a successful model: Bohon has even started watercolor painting.
“We’re excited about it,” she says. “The people I’ve met in Raleigh and that are involved in Raleigh are just really phenomenal people … that others enjoy learning from.”
To view and sign up for classes, visit skillpop.com.