Entrepreneur and Chattanooga native J.P. Cisco has a business background and a creative streak, and he’s combining those talents to start a new business called Palletz.

The company is in its infancy, and it aims to showcase creations from local artists who use wood pallets as their canvases.

Artist Shannon Ragle painted a colorful abstract design on wood pallets that were donated from local business Worley’s Pallets, Crates and Recycling. Artist Mike Wilson also participated in the recent photo shoot, along with Cisco. (Photo: Lea Carter)

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“This is home and I have support here,” he said. “My dream since I’ve been small is to start my own business.”

The Hixson High School graduate went to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and got a degree in business administration with a focus in supply chain and international business.

He started his career at Amazon in California’s San Francisco Bay area.

From there, he worked for startup Blue Apron, which was worth more than $2 billion last year.

After about a year and a half with Blue Apron, he felt the urge to start his own company.

So he sold everything that didn’t fit in his car and moved back to Chattanooga.

He had been hearing about the growing entrepreneurial spirit in his hometown and admired the culture at some area startups.

Through his new business, Cisco (right) wants to feature artists such as Shannon Ragle (left). (Photo: Lea Carter)

“I love the mindset, and the people that are in startups are just amazing,” he said. “Chattanooga is really booming.”

And as he started to settle back down here and buy a house, he thought about art.

Cisco has always had a passion for art, and he has many creative friends. He likes rustic elements of art and had long-envisioned using wood pallets as canvases, he said.

The more he thought about it, the more opportunity he saw.

He envisioned sports fans having a personalized Vols painting or specialized piece with the Mocs logo (also known as the “power C”).

There’s potential for colorful creations for kids’ rooms or pallets with quotes or Bible verses, he said.

He pictured families who might want pallet art with their last name on it, and he saw opportunities for businesses to put logos on the wood-all this combined with the idea of supporting local artists who don’t get much attention.

“The ideas just started to boom in my head … and I got really excited,” he said.

Artist Mike Wilson painted this Chattanooga Lookouts Palletz. (Photo: J.P. Cisco)

He’s self-funding the startup and getting a little help from his artist friends.

The plan is to secure the pallets for artists to create on, and he’s working with a local designer to get his website launched.

He’s aiming to get the pallets sanded and ready for painting, and then recruit area artists to help build up an inventory.

He’ll sell the creations online, with a percentage of the sales cost going back to the artists.

Although things are preliminary and each price point will be different, he estimated that the creations will start at about $150.

“Artists aren’t paid enough,” he said. “There are some people out there who can do amazing work, but they are never featured.”

He’s hoping to help solve those problems while bringing unique, handmade art to area customers.

But he is also aiming to run a successful business.

“I’m a very creative person, but I do have a business mindset,” he said. “Obviously, I want to be profitable.”

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