• Lillie Burke

Student-run site Eyes & Ears delivers Nashville culture news in simple format

The first semester of college is often spent finding ways to get involved in clubs, teams and organizations.

Sophomores Kaitlyn Parmenter and Brendan Kennedy did the same, but they went off campus for their organization.

At the beginning of her freshman year, Parmenter, a Nashville native, found herself being constantly asked by people what there was to do around the city other than bars and country music. Parmenter also met Kennedy for the first time and formed an instant friendship.

“We were at the little awkward social mixer that they put on, and we ended up getting bored and went to a concert at the High Watt that night and never looked back,” said Parmenter.

On Nov. 29, 2014, they decided to take on the questions of their peers and create Eyes & Ears, a website that focuses on highlighting what makes Nashville, Nashville – whether that’s restaurants, music or newly-released books.

“I started acting like an unofficial tour guide for half of the freshman class,” said Parmenter. “I got a comment a lot that annoyed me, and it was ‘Is there anything besides bars and country music here?’ Nashville has such a diverse and really unique community, you just have to tap into it a little bit.”

Parmenter attributes the success of their website to her and Kennedy’s competitive natures. After researching what makes businesses successful and how organizations are set up, they came to a conclusion – social media.

“Our generation especially is very social media driven,” said Parmenter. “If you’re constantly seeing it, I feel like people assume it’s something they should see.”

Nashville is already home to many different entertainment magazines and websites, so Parmenter and Kennedy had to find a way to get their website noticed.

“You have things like Nashville Scene and Nashville Guru, and I loved those, but the web world is evolving constantly. Now their design has just become really cluttered,” said Kennedy. “What we wanted to create was someone just comes to the website and bam, you have everything right there, just simply laid out.”

Now, less than a year later, Eyes & Ears still has an official staff of fewer than ten members.

“We just kind of realized that instead of me and him trying to do everything, it would help the company a lot if we split things up.” said Parmenter. “There’s not really a boss. We all know what we have to do, and we just do it. It works best that way.”

One of those staff members is sophomore Jessica King, a journalism major, knew Parmenter since the beginning of their freshmen year as well. When the website was only it its beginning stages, Parmenter asked if King would be interested in writing for Eyes & Ears.

“It started out really casually. Kaitlyn had talked about starting this online magazine, and she really needed someone who could handle some of the writing,” said King. “At first, I didn’t know what kind of commitment it would be. Over the summer is when I really started becoming a concrete part of what we’re doing.”

That’s been the hiring process for Eyes & Ears – finding people who mesh well with the rest of the staff is more important than filling a quota.

“We’re kind of working on the fact that it works until it doesn’t. We want to keep it small, and then if we meet someone that has an incredible passion for what we’re doing, then we would 100 percent want to expand,” said Parmenter. “We’re just not actively looking.”

However, the small number of students has been able to do a lot over the past year. During the summer, Eyes & Ears hosted a concert at the High Watt that nearly sold out.

“That was just really cool. We had bands performing, and we also had people that we featured come in and be part of it,” said Kennedy.

As for the upcoming year, Eyes & Ears already has some big things planned.

“We will be throwing a big birthday party for ourselves,” Parmenter said. “We’re going to be doing another big concert around our one-year birthday. It’ll just be a lot of fun.”

To learn more about the company visit theirwebsite.

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