We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Merriman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
The basic mission of MomoCon as an event is to make people happy, at it’s core; to provide entertainment to those who might not be able to let loose and enjoy themselves in day to day life. The first time I went to a fan convention, it was like stepping into a world I didn’t know existed, and my life would never be the same. The pure acceptance, unbridled joy, feel of the crowd was palpable. To be able to bring that kind of experience to multiple generations of attendees over the course of 15 years has been one of the greatest achievements in business. Other charity initiatives with Child’s Play, St. Jude, and Children’s Healthcare are meaningful and important, but even the core of our business is creating joy.
What should our readers know about your business?
Starting an event is challenging, but starting an event on a college campus with limited resources and a free admission model for the first seven years is even more so. That’s how we began MomoCon, an animation/gaming/comic convention held annually in May in Atlanta, GA. The biggest takeaways I’ve had from 15+ years of event planning and geek wrangling is to empower and trust those around you, to bring ideas, lead others, and inspire. MomoCon has grown with the trust and understanding from hundreds of volunteers, leadership, and fans. We began small, 700 attendees, and have grown by leaps and bounds by listening to our attendees, growing with them, understanding what they want to see, and always changing and adapting to make that experience better. In 2019 we welcomed almost 40,000 unique attendees to one of the largest venues in the region, but we won’t stop improving and changing and adapting!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Atlanta is an AWESOME foodie city! Lots of folks think about the South as generically southern cuisine, but it’s amazing the international and fusion home grown options right here that aren’t the “meat and threes” type. We’ve also got an incredibly rich history as a city that is constantly evolving! -Our large Korean population has given rise to a plethora of Korean food options, including KBBQ options (Breakers for gas grills or 9292 for charcoal options, cook at your table and all you can eat!), an elaborate traditional Korean course menu (Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl), -Cocktail culture is amazingly strong here, including the artisanal whiskeys at The Pinewood, tiki drinks at Tiki Tango, and crazy elaborate beer menus at The Porter Beer Bar, Wrecking Bar, and Brick Store Pub. -Want to see where the booze is made? Good thing Atlanta has an amazing selection of breweries (Sweetwater, Three Taverns, or my personal favorite sour specialists: Orpheus Brewing), spirits (ASW), or even mead (Viking Alchemist Meadery) -Taking in some history is always interesting, including the Center for Civil and Human Rights, historic Sweet Auburn district (which features a huge mural of recently passed icon and inspiration, John Lewis, as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church), the Atlanta History Center and Oakland Cemetery.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shout out to nerds of the world, who continuously inspire me with unrestrained enjoyment and every day things!
Photos courtesy of MomoCon (photographers: Andrew Michael Phillips, Jaime Munoz, Annie Lian)