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Core Values

Sustainability is my North Star. I believe that we live on a planet with limited resources and that we should do our best to manage our resources so that everyone (present and future) can have a dignified, full, and happy life. Sustainability is built on three legs – social, environmental, and financial.

We should protect the rights of the minority. This core tenet of American democracy means that no majority group should take away rights from groups with less power. But it also means that we all deserve basic human rights and we should strive to understand minority groups and work to ensure their protections.

I’m a lifelong learner. I love school and being in a rigorous academic setting. I’ve received an MBA from a well-regarded state school (and I have the student loans to go along with the degree). But I never stopped learning. I’m naturally curious.

If you want something to change, take the initiative. Volunteer. Pick up trash. Organize an event for your neighborhood. Run for office. You’re the person you’ve been waiting for.

A short bio.

Adrian, his wife, dog, and 4 chickens (Penny, Patty 2, Erin, and Joey) live in West Salem. They are slowly removing grass at their home and replacing it with native perennials, herbs, and vegetables. They “leave the leaves” in the fall, adding nutrients back into the soil and providing important habitat for lightening bugs and other invertebrates.

Adrian grew up on the other side of Peter’s Creek a few blocks from Baptist Hospital. He went to Brunson, Hanes, and Reynolds. His mom taught at Salem College for many years and his dad was an epidemiologist at the Guilford County Health Department. One thing Adrian loves about Winston is that he still has close friends from grade school, and he regularly sees them around town.

Adrian took a gap year after high school and worked on farms in Italy for six months through a program called Worldwide Opportunity on Organic Farms, a work trade program where participants work on farms in exchange for room and board. He worked at Whole Foods and 6th and Vine after he returned. The next fall he started at Warren Wilson College where he studied Environmental Studies with a focus in Sustainable Agriculture and a minor in Spanish. He WWOOFed again one summer break, spending a few months farming in Costa Rica.

After college, Adrian moved home and got a job in landscaping, working for well-known Winston-Salem designer John Newman. After some time, Adrian started his own landscape company, leaning on John for mentorship. Adrian worked across the city, completing many jobs in South Ward, especially in Washington Park.

After a few years, Adrian decided he was ready for a new challenge. He loved the creativity of landscaping, but wanted to have more impact on his community. He also enjoyed running a business, so he looked for business schools that offered sustainability-focused MBA programs. He found  a fit at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.

At Leeds, Adrian focused in Finance and Entrepreneurship. He also received a graduate certificate from the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at CU Boulder. Through this experience, he learned finance as a tool to accomplish his goals.

When he returned to Winston in 2017, he worked in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for 5 years, working at organizations such as the Center for Creative Economy, Mixxer Makerspace, and Flywheel Foundation. He left Flywheel to start Robert Rust Foods, which he runs today.

Small Business Owner

Robert Rust Foods

Adrian started Robert Rust Foods by selling hot burritos out of his grandpa's 1947 Cushman Scooter. He quickly added frozen burritos and bowls, then began wholesaling them to grocery stores. You can find Robert Rust Foods products across NC.

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Village Fabric Shop

Adrian is a co-owner of Village Fabric Shop. VFS specializes in high quality, sustainable, and American-made garment fabrics, quilting cottons, kits, patterns, natural dyes, and notions. Check out their Reuse Shop for gently used items at great prices.

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Equilibrium Impact Ventures

Adrian is a General Partner at EQIV, a micro-VC fund. They invest in Black- and Brown-led companies solving for the social determinants of health. Adrian looks for companies that could return a good profit for investors as well as creating a large and measurable impact.

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Committee to Elect

Adrian Smith