Meet Jessica!

Next up in the Women Inspire Women series – Meet Jessica! I promise I was not intentional about choosing women with names beginning with the letter ‘J,’ but it just so happened to turnout that way for these first three. Jess and I met thanks to Twitter (true story) when we were early adopters of the platform and were equally nerdy in our involvement in social media club-type things. When we first met in real life at Starbucks in the Loop, we told our significant others that we were meeting our ‘Twitter friend.’ Then, not quite as normal sounding as meeting someone via social media may be today. Ha! We instantly hit it off and knew that we had a special friendship forming. We ended up in marketing classes together in grad school, consistently dreaming up business plans and new ideas (still to this day) and have worked together on another mutual friend’s wedding, Jess and her husband as the videographers, me as the planner. 

Today, there’s a group of five of us (who all met in similar ways) who share in daily and weekly wisdom, latest podcast favorites and so much truth via one very amusing string of group text messages. Jess and her husband moved to Kansas City, but I’m still rooting for a day when they come back home. They are the biggest Cardinals fans you will ever meet, after all. 😉 Jess is an inspiration to me in the way that she manages motherhood, corporate life and never-ending passions with side hustles. She does it with such grace, but she’s also so real in all of her endeavors, providing constant reminders of what’s most important along the way. Now I’ll let her share more of who she is and her story. Enjoy!

Name: Jessica Pryor
Age: 29
Company: Wife/Mom (favorite hustle), Wedstory Films (side hustle) and Cerner Corporation (full hustle)
Title: Owner and Director at Wedstory Films and Senior Marketing Partner at Cerner
Currently Located: Kansas City, Missouri


Photos by Alex Marie Photo Co.

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Survey says: Optimistic, ambitious, transparent (special thanks to all the family and friends that participated in my poll asking for three words to describe me!)

Describe your business and what you do:
I’m a data-obsessed strategic marketer trying to juggle family, corporate life and entrepreneurial passions. 

Side hustles:

I own a wedding video business tailored to couples wishing to capture their most memorable day via a trendy, timeless highlight video. The business is a fun creative outlet that allows me to work alongside my husband. We love working with our soon-to-be-married couples, look forward to the creative process behind designing videos and thoroughly enjoy date day out when shooting weddings. My favorite role within the business is easily the role of entrepreneur and business developer. My husband is the pro behind the camera lens, and we work together on the story-boarding and editing process. We just recently launched a complete redesign of the business, and to celebrate, we’re giving away a few 2019 wedding video packages!

Additionally, I dabble in business coaching, mainly focusing on writing business plans and strategic marketing consulting for small businesses. 

Full hustle:

In my full hustle gig, I’m in charge of creating and implementing a revenue-driven integrated marketing strategy and brand campaign for specific product segments. Some of what I do includes creating the marketing strategy and plan, controlling the budget, owning the brand’s message and support the sales cycle. It’s always fun to see a fully integrated campaign come together to include successful elements of PR, brand, social, digital marketing and sales journey mapping.

How did you start in this field?
I guess you can say I’ve known what I wanted to do for a very, very long time.

My husband and I have dabbled in videography since a young age. When dating, we even directed a few of our own funny videos. I even went through a phase where I’d shoot snowboarding videos when hitting the Hidden Valley hills. By the time we were married, we had friends coming to us asking for us to create wedding videos.

I started marketing myself as a marketer at age 12, literally. I started working on the business and marketing plans of whoever would let me… and it just stuck. Personal brand is everything!

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
Absolutely! I’ve been obsessed with marketing and entrepreneurship since a young age. As a kid, I turned everything into a business. The wet bar in my parents’ basement? I turned that into a restaurant with menus and all. I charged my parents and their friends for meals they ordered from me. Our VHS collection? I put stickers on all of the cases and charged my parents $0.25 for each movie they rented. I kept a check-out log an all! My 250 sq. ft. playroom? Turned that bad boy into a dance studio and dance supply store filled with tons of costumes, pom poms and dance shoes from my many years of dancing. I took that “business” a step further, emptying out my Mall Madness and Monopoly games to fill purses with “credit cards” and “cash” so that when friends came over, we could play legit store! During Halloween, I turned my brother’s bedroom into a haunted house attraction and would charge my parents to walk through it. The list goes on-and-on.

Then, by the time I was 14, I was gearing up to start my first business full of customers that weren’t just friends and family. At age 15, I was running My Sister’s Closet.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As long as I always have time for a passion project (wedding videos, strategic business consulting), family and a full-time job… I envision that my life in five years will look similar to my life now + the addition of one kid! We have baby #2 due later this year!

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
I would love to work for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m a big fan of baseball, so reporting to work at Busch Stadium 5-days a week would be an absolute dream. And an added bonus to that kind of a job is that it would keep me grounded in the Midwest, close to family.

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
Through conversation and encouragement. I am a big believer in surrounding ourselves with people we want to learn from. Surrounding ourselves with people different from us forces us to have thought-provoking conversations and pushes our limited knowledge. Those conversations and encouragements are pivotal to women feeling comfortable working hard, achieving goals and making positive changes. Sometimes, all it takes is a genuine question or a dash of encouragement from an outsider for a woman to take the next step to achieve her dream. I love being there for others, and hope that I can always offer that kind of support to other women. 

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
This one is easy — my mom and dad both!

I don’t give her enough praise, but my mom did and still does it all. She was my biggest supporter, critic, encourager, opportunity provider and challenger. She sacrificed so much to make sure my brother and I had every opportunity to pursue what made us truly happy. We all need a female to latch onto as we navigate adulthood, and my mom has definitely been that for me, too.

And my dad, he’s the definition of a hard/smart worker. Without him, I don’t think I’d see and understand entrepreneurial opportunities the way I do. He came from nothing, and built a beautiful life through hard work masked as an entrepreneur. He also taught me the value of a dollar and the importance of a debt-free personal finance plan. Thanks to him, personal finance is a huge hobby of mine.

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
Barbara Bush. We’d probably go to a super posh and preppy bar so I could sip on wine while she savors her favorite bourbon. Ever since I read her biography as a kid, I’ve been obsessed with the former First Lady. The way she balances sophistication and assertive, opinionated thoughts makes me think I’d thoroughly enjoy a long conversation with her.

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
Oh my goodness, can we please enter the 100% no judgement zone before I answer? 

1. A$AP Rocky’s new album Testing has taken over my Spotify the past week. 

2. It’s not brand new, but ChooseFI is my newest podcast obsession. Though the ideas are a bit extreme for me at times, the concept of financial independence at a young age is an area that tickles my finance-obsessed part of the brain. I’ve gleaned a few solid pieces of financial advice that encouraged me to research the topics more.

3. If you’re a fan of baseball and enjoy geeking-out over the science and stats behind the sport, you’ve got to watch my most recent Netflix obsession — Fastball. The movie came out in 2016, so I’ll admit I’m slow to the plate on this gem, but I promise it’s worth at least a couple of watches. 

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Jess and see more of her daily life, her adorable family and her side hustles:

Website
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn

I hope you had fun getting to know Jess! Getting married (or know someone who is?) soon? Checkout Wedstory Films, and don’t miss out on the opportunity to potentially win a free wedding highlight package in 2019!

I can’t wait to continue to introduce you to more fabulous, inspiring, empowering women in the weeks to come!

Xo.

PS – Know someone who would be great to feature as an empowering women? Contact me HERE, and let me know! I’d love to contact her and learn more!

Meet Jenn!

Welcome to the next featured female in the Women Inspire Women series! Meet Jenn – Jenn is one of my very best friends and sorority sisters from college. I could go on and on about some of the stories and memories we share as college roommates and sharing one of the same areas of interest in our studies, that being fashion merchandising (Jenn’s major and my minor). There was a time when we did a class project on Nicole Miller. There was also a time when we rescued a dog named Maverick. And there was also a time when she may or may not have talked me into skipping our {history} class so that we could instead go to Bread Co. to enjoy a lunch that was better than what the campus dining had to offer, but these are all stories for another day. 😉 Despite having so much in common, we’re admittedly two very different people, and that’s what I love so much about our friendship. There is hardly a day that goes by that one of us is not texting the other to ask about the current TV show we’re binge watching or to ask what makeup or skin product I should be using (because this is just not my area of expertise) or to simply check in and see how the other is doing. I so value the friendship that we have and the fact that it’s one that continues to grow over time, even despite being in varying life stages.

Now, enough for the mushy stuff. I saw Jenn’s passions in college as she would help everyone with their hair or makeup before one of our formals or a night out. Everyone came to Jenn for advice or simply to have her do their eye makeup. She was (is!) SO good. Following college, Jenn continued to advance in pursuing her passion for makeup, hair and skincare and ultimately started her business – Flawless Makeup + Hair. I like to think I was one of Jenn’s first ‘unofficial’ clients when she did my makeup (and the entire…very large…wedding party’s makeup) on my wedding day as my Maid of Honor. No pressure. I’ll let Jenn share more of her story, and how she got started with her booming makeup business, below!

Name: Jennifer Lynch
Age: The big 3-0
Company: Flawless Makeup + Hair
Title: Owner
Currently Located: St. Louis, MO


Photo by Lauren Muckler Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Loyal, passionate, and an introverted extrovert

Describe your business and what you do:

Flawless Makeup + Hair was created in 2013. We provide hair and makeup services for bridal, engagement sessions, senior portraits, special occasion, commercial, and lifestyle. We also provide private shopping lessons and one on one makeup lessons.

How did you start in this field?

After graduating college in 2010 (mid-recession) I decided that I wanted to become a licensed esthetician. I then went to the Skin Institute and finished the 8 month program to become licensed. After I graduated from there, it took me about 2 1/2 years to finally be where I wanted to be– which was starting my freelance business, a.k.a. Flawless Makeup + Hair

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?

100% YES! Makeup artistry was always something I knew I wanted to do but was not quite sure how I was going to get there. I was a competitive dancer from a very young age up until high school, and I loved getting to do my makeup before competitions and recitals. Probably even more than the actual dancing part! I also loved taking any art class I could while I was in school. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I hope I am doing the same exact thing…only stronger. Every year that passes, I learn more and more. I would love to start a training program for other artists! I love sharing my pearls of knowledge, and I know there is so much I can offer to others in this field.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?

Makeup Artist!

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?

I hope in some way I inspire women to see what is truly beautiful about them. I know it seems odd considering my career, but I don’t believe makeup is what makes us beautiful. It is what makeup brings out in a woman that they may have not seen before. The way that a client reacts after seeing her makeup done is truly inspiring to me. And while I hope to inspire other women, they are the ones that are, in fact, inspiring me. 

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?

I do not have one person that has been a major inspiration to me, but the art world in general has been a huge influence on my work. Movies also inspire me; there is something to be said for a beautifully done motion picture with amazing costuming and makeup. 

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)? 

I am currently loving listening to Britt Seva’s podcast on iTunes. She is a social media and marketing strategist strictly for those in the beauty industry and I can not get enough of it! I have a TON of beauty products that are my favorite but my favorites for this week are Verb Shampoo and Conditioner and Mac Pro Longwear concealer!  


Photo by Kelly Laramore Photography 


Photo by Chesley Summar Photography


Photo by Carretto Studio Photography


Photo by Manda Renee Photography

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Jenn and see more of her gorgeous work:

Website
Instagram
Facebook
Pinterest

I hope you had fun getting to know Jenn! Shameless BFF plug – I highly recommend booking her for your makeup needs on your next special occasion. She really does have a way of making her clients look (and feel!) flawless. See what I did there? Also, I’m currently using the Verb shampoo and conditioner she mentions (thanks to her recommendation and because she picked them for me, of course), and I love them!

I can’t wait to continue to introduce you to more fabulous, inspiring, empowering women in the weeks to come!

Xo.

PS – Know someone who would be great to feature as an empowering women? Contact me HERE, and let me know! I’d love to contact her and learn more!

Friday Introductions

Happy Friday! Anyone else have an immeasurable amount of love for the weekend? (Hand raised high!) I thought that now that I’m using this space in some capacity to share the stories of other inspiring women, perhaps I should give a {re} introduction of myself here and on Instagram too for any new followers who haven’t been around since those early days. (And for those whom have stuck around, I commend you.) Here’s a bit more about who I am (interview style)!

Photo by Shannon Duggan Photography

Age: 30
Hometown: St. Louis, MO

What do you do in your day job?
Sometimes it seems so easy to follow along with other bloggers and Instagrammers and instantly assume that blogging and Instagramming is their full-time life, but alas, that’s not always the case (however for some, it is!). Outside of my Instagram loving life, I work in fundraising and alumni development in the world of business and higher education, and I love it!

How long have you been married?
Seven years (this week)! Tim and I started dating in high school, went to college together, were engaged two weeks post-graduation and married a year after that. We have grown so much together since the day he asked me to be his girlfriend when I was only 17 years old.

Do you have any kids?
No kids yet, however we cannot wait to start a family (more on this to come, I promise). In the meantime, we have two furry, four-legged children who we so love. Both Bentley and Emma were adopted; Bentley is an eight-year-old Beagle mix and Emma is a three-year-old Border Collie mix (or so we believe). They keep us very active and busy and sure do have a way of keeping our lives exciting! 

Favorite color? 
It’s always been pink – all shades of it!

Coffee or tea?
An iced vanilla latte or a glass of sweet tea – I love them both (and I have a sweet tooth)!

What’s your go-to when it’s ‘5 o’clock somewhere?’
A glass of rose or a moscow mule (with mint!)

Favorite city?
St. Louis is home, and it’s amazing to see the growth and transformation of our city. I love this place and always will. But, I love exploring other cities too (and I think this is something so important for all of us to do). Chicago makes the top few on my list, being a city I always thought that we would move to (and also where we got engaged!). New York was my dream city since I was a little girl, and I still envision living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, but after living on the west coast, Los Angeles has a very special place in my heart too. I love to travel and learn about the different cultures and ways of life in cities other than my own, and I feel like I can always find a little sense of home in every city that I visit.

If you could share a meal with one woman, who would it be?
Hoda Kotb, Co-Anchor of The Today Show

Favorite musician?
Andrew McMahon (If you don’t know him, you should; he’s a phenomenal storyteller.)

Favorite movie?
You’ve Got Mail forever!

Favorite bingeworthy TV show?
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been a big favorite within the last year on Amazon Prime. This show is my favorite era, has amazing music and costume and is so funny. Highly recommend! As of late, Tim and I are obsessing over 13 Reasons Why. We watched season 1 as soon as it came out while we were still living in California. We started season 2 as soon as it came out, and now, we’re back to rewatching season 1. It’s so real and emotional, but can’t seem to get enough!

Random fact about you?
I am a big germaphobe – hand washing and sanitizing are a constant in my life. You could say I’m a bit fearful of the germs that surround us everywhere!

What has been a dream job that you have always had?
I’ve dreamt of being a magazine editor in NYC since I was a little girl OR of being an anchor on the TODAY Show (I’ve been watching since I was little with my mom and still can’t go a day without having it on the TV while I get ready in the morning). I have always been passionate about the world of journalism (storytelling!). I still dream of bits and pieces of that life. Various aspects of my life and career have had more characteristics of this vision than I think I ever truly realized.

Today’s biggest aspirations?
Seeing women continue to persevere and push for progress, growing as a leader and contributor to my community, and to one day become a mom.

A few of your favorite things?
Fresh flowers ($3.99 bouquet from Trader Joe’s is the best!), local finds, iced coffee, blush pink and gold accents, gluten free pretzels

Words to live by?
“This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?” -Andrew McMahon

Feel free to share more about who your are too! I love getting to know each of you. Stay tuned for the next Women Inspire Women interview coming your way next week.

Happy Weekend!

Xo.

Meet Jenna!

Alas, the thing that I have been most excited about in revamping my blog – the Women Inspire Women series – is officially ready to launch! I cannot think of anyone more perfect to start this series with than my sweet friend, Jenna.

Like many of the inspirational women in my life, our relationship started thanks to the love of social media. It was in the world of wedding planning when our paths really crossed. Jenna was living in St. Louis (prior to her move to Kansas City, and now back to her hometown in Indiana) and working as a graphic designer for a wedding and events company here while I was in the the early stages of my events-focused career. I was enthralled in the world of weddings and special events, and Jenna even designed some pretty stationery products for one of my first styled photo shoots for Regale – the online space that Jenna was running at the time and that I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to write for, thanks to Jenna. (It’s been a few years since such fun things have been the main focus of my career.) Since then, I have followed along on Jenna’s journey as she traveled across the state and began to launch and grow her own business. It has been so fun to see how things have progressed as an outsider looking in. I’ve also used some of Jenna’s products, and I can vouch for the fact that they are indeed all the things she says they are. I also really love paper products, planners and to-do lists, so I feel like she really speaks to my heart. Jenna, I am so proud of how far your business has come, and I look forward to continuing to watch you and your business grow! (Oh, and ‘How I Built This’ is one of my absolute favorite go-to podcasts too…Not surprised!) Enjoy learning more about Jenna and her business – Workspacery – below!

Name: Jenna Murillo
Age: 29
Company: Workspacery
Title: Owner
Currently Located: Evansville, IN

All photos by Shanley Cox Creative

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Resilient, intentional, and curious

Describe your business and what you do:

Workspacery was founded with the mission of helping those who work at home create an inspiring, functional, and productive workspace so they can do their best work in any environment. I design planning and organizational tools to encourage working smarter, not harder, and I aid other businesses with creating their own custom planners, workbooks, and digital products for their clients, employees, and events.

How did you start in this field?

It all started with a love of paper and to do lists — and that love evolved into an entire business centered around productivity, planning, and the workspace! The product world is its own adventure; through months of research and trial and error, I created my very first planner back in 2015 and fell in love with the process of creating and selling a physical product. Knowing that my passion lies in the science behind working smarter and planning more strategically, I launched under the name Workspacery, my online hub for sharing this knowledge and these intentionally designed tools with the world.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?

I always knew I wanted to start and own a business; I thrive in figure-it-out situations and fell in love with the idea of building something from nothing, while supporting others through fun job opportunities. I had no idea it would be in the paper and planning world — but looking back at my love of creating paper books and toys as a child, I’m not surprised! Life has a funny way of building your experiences on top of one another as you continue to evolve and grow as a person.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

At its core, Workspacery is all about creating an inspiring, functional workspace so you can do your best work; I have dreams of creating a beautiful workshop and space, inviting people to come in and create, collaborate, and connect with others. With more and more people working from home for others or themselves as business owners and freelancers, I’d love to help bring them together through a multi-functional space designed for collaboration and growth.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?

Ah, there have been many dream jobs that crossed my mind over the years! I was very into the arts as a child, and for a long time, I wanted to be an illustrator of comics and childrens books. There was another brief moment when I wanted to be a professional voiceover — like those you hear on commercials and infomercials. And then of course, thanks to Jennifer Lopez, I set my heart on becoming a wedding planner for many years. I like to think all of these interests came together to play a role in my business today.

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?

Business ownership can be a very male-dominated world; over the years, however, my eyes have been opened to the vast numbers of women starting their own companies, and I love to think that I’m a part of that, encouraging young women to do the same. One of the biggest reasons I’m excited to hire a team and introduce internships is to share the experience of running a business with other young, ambitious women.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?

Ready for a cheesy answer? I find immense inspiration in the stories and lives of those who have built empires from nothing. All of the “sharks” on the ABC show Shark Tank have incredible stories of how they started at ground zero and built thriving businesses — not without their individual challenges, struggles, and setbacks along the way. I think it’s important to look past the highlight reel and understand the entire journey it took to get them there. I also love the stories of entrepreneurs like Kendra Scott, Sara Blakely, and Kate Spade — all forces of nature that transformed industries through their resilience and innovative thinking.

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?

What a great question! My list is long — but if I had to narrow it down to one person at this time in my life, I would love nothing more than to have a long afternoon with Sara Blakely. Her drive for continual evolution and resilience in business is something I’ve admired for years, and I’d love to simply listen to her, ask her questions, and dive even deeper into her philosophies for life and business. I would fly anywhere in a minute to make this dream afternoon a reality!

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)? 

I’m the biggest business book nerd, so this first one is for my fellow biz readers out there: “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman. This book is packed with brilliant info and nuggets into the world of business, finance, marketing, consumer psychology, and more. It’s been an invaluable resource for me this year.

My favorite podcast on any given day is NPR’s “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” There’s that spark of inspiration I love surrounding myself with on the daily!

I also get asked quite a bit about my favorite photo editing apps — and my go-to for the last two years has been PS Express, the on-the-go Photoshop app designed for smart, consistent editing.

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Jenna and see more of her gorgeous work:

Website
Instagram
Facebook
Pinterest

I hope you had fun getting to know Jenna, and I can’t wait to introduce you to more fabulous, inspiring, empowering women in the weeks to come!

Xo.

PS – Know someone who would be great to feature as an empowering women? Contact me HERE, and let me know! I’d love to contact her and learn more!

Namaste

Photos via Urban Harvest STL

If you know me, you know my love for yoga well. And if you don’t, well then now you do. I wouldn’t necessarily say that yoga is something that I’m particularly good at, but it it something that I’ve grown to love. I started practicing in 2011 – shortly before our wedding day. I was so enthralled in wedding planning, and although loving every single minute of it, I was seeking something to give my mind a break. I grew up dancing competitively, so that was my form of exercise while also being my emotional outlet (and also favorite form of community and socialization) nearly every day of the week and weekend. It was my life from elementary school through high school, and it took shape in different ways in college.

Following college, though, I needed something more. I wasn’t dancing daily anymore, I wasn’t a runner (I attempted – Tim even coached me through a 5K (a Santa run, mind you), and that was humorous at best. Just not something I thoroughly enjoyed.) and I didn’t really know what to do at the gym despite our Club Fitness passes that we had.

Then I found yoga. I wanted to try it so badly but was honestly scared at first. This is when it wasn’t as ‘trendy’ as it started to become. I started practicing at Blue Bird Yoga on Main St. in St. Charles while we were still living on that side of the river, and I instantly fell in love and couldn’t get enough. My practice began to grow, and once we moved into the city, I started practicing at Southtown Yoga in Lafayette Square, which to this day, is still my favorite studio in St. Louis. The overall vibe is lovely, and I’ve never felt a moment of discomfort when I’ve stepped inside those doors.

I started using ClassPass when we were living in California to better help me find a studio that I loved there, and I found several that way. Now that we’re back home in St. Louis, I’m continuing to use ClassPass, and have found a few others that I have really grown to love too – Shanti Yoga and Yoga Six being a couple of them.

I dream of the opportunity to do yoga teacher training one day. Not anytime soon, but one day. I’m still slightly terrified of inversions, though, and my upper arm strength is nowhere near where I would like for it to be, but it sure is a whole heck of a lot better than it once was, that’s for sure. I will give yoga the credit for that. I’ve still got a long way to go in my practice, and I know I need to dedicate more than a couple days a week to it to get to where I want to be, but I’m sure that time will one day come.

In the meantime, though, I will continue practicing in St. Louis and in other cities that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to occasionally travel to, and I will also continue to take advantage of the opportunity to support local organizations through yoga in our city. Just last week, my dear friend, Laura, and I attended Farm Flow Yoga at FOOD ROOF downtown, supporting Urban Harvest STL. It. was. lovely. And was taught by one of my favorite teachers from Southtown too! The views were spectacular, and the sounds of the city were ideal for shavasana at the end of the practice. The combination of yoga at a farm on a rooftop in the middle of the city seems like the strangest of things, yet somehow, it just works. Especially here. This particular event takes place once a month throughout the summer. I’m hoping to be able to attend again, and I highly recommend it. If you don’t know what Urban Harvest STL is, they grow organic food across different platforms in the city and deliver to their food access cluster partners the same day ensuring that nutrient density is optimal – among many other things. You can find out more about their mission HERE.

I now realize that this seems like some sort of a sponsored post. It’s not. I just like to share things/events/opportunities that I love. Not to mention, I am a non-profit gal. It’s my line of work, and I’m all about supporting all things local here in our community and consistently seeking new ways to do so. I hope that you will do the same. St. Louis is continually growing, and there is so much good that is happening here. I cannot wait to see what more is to come.

Namaste,

Women Inspire Women

Well, would you look at that? One month since my first post back in action, and I’m already onto the next. Not too shabby considering my lack thereof for the last year or two, eh?! I’m working on it. I do have quite a few drafts awaiting completion, but that’s another story. (Note – One of those drafts is of a few of my favorite places in Orange County, CA – I’ve had lots of people asking for places to go while they visit OC, so I thought I’d go ahead and put it all in one place…It’s coming, I promise!)

BUT, what I’m currently feeling so excited about is one of the main reasons that I ultimately wanted to bring the blog back – sharing stories of women who are inspiring other women, every single day. I’ve been chatting with a few pretty darn amazing women who are rocking it in their businesses and local communities, and I cannot wait to share their stories with you, and many more to come.

I believe women empower women. I believe in men as our allies. I believe that we all deserve a seat at the table. I believe that our stories can change the world.

Women constantly amaze me with their stories, their dreams, their pursuits. I continue to be encouraged and empowered by the stories I learn of other women and the ways, big and small, that they are changing the world. Some are birth moms, some are business owners, some are co-founders, some are foster and adoptive moms, some are non-profit and community leaders, some are CEO’s and everything in between. I hope that you can relate to some of these stories and that they can encourage and inspire you too.

Interviews coming soon!

Back again

2017 was one for the books. But then again, 2015 and 2016 were too. Of course every year has had its highlights, as well as its lows, but these last few years have transformed me in ways I’ve never quite thought imaginable.
 
If you’ve followed my blog(s) in the past (my how they have transformed over the years), you know that my last post on my most recent blog was from 2017. Actually, it was the first day of 2017. (Blasphemy!) I think that speaks volumes as to what 2017 was for me. It provided my husband, Tim, and I a season of change and a season of being still as we continue to dream of the future. After a very necessary, albeit seemingly short, time living in Southern California, after uprooting our lives and our dogs to the west coast, we felt a calling from God leading us back to our hometown. Life was good in California. Tim’s job was great, I got a promotion and loved my job too. We made some really great friends, got so lucky with amazing neighbors and, well, the weather and the beaches were quite lovely. Sure, there were things that we didn’t always love, like being so far from family and friends back home and the much more appealing cost of living of the Midwest, but really, life was so dang good.
 
When the opportunity arose a few years ago sending us out west, we knew we had to take it. We felt God in every piece of that season. It was challenging but wonderful. We were starting to finally feel comfortable living that west coast life, and I think we were living it quite well (Tim especially). When the plane would fly over the coast of the Pacific Ocean on trips back to the west coast, I looked out the window over downtown LA or the glistening blue water, and would smile to myself, saying ‘I’m home.’ It felt good to finally have that feeling.
Insert God. Again. They say as soon as we start to feel comfortable, He may intervene. He sent us on that West Coast adventure for a reason. For many reasons.
But we knew deep down, prayer after prayer and sign after sign, that He was sending us back home too. As in St. Louis home. In a series of events to follow from the end of 2016 to early 2017, one thing led to another, jobs and opportunities were extremely in our favor (in the Midwest especially), and while some things didn’t make much sense, so many things made seemingly perfect sense. We didn’t ultimately expect it to be so soon, but we knew that it was time for yet another {big} move.
 
And so, I came home in April (almost exactly one year ago now – what perfect timing to finally get that blog revamped, eh!?), Tim came home at the end of July, and we spent those few months in a long distance marriage whilst traveling cross country to see each other and to get our life packed back up to get everything moved back home. Once here, we were fortunate enough to have kept our South City home and had a great family living in it while we were away, but we needed to give them time to find a new place to live too, hence, we stayed at my parents’ house for a good chunk of last year. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Insert our hearts’ strongest desires to start a family in the midst of these last few years of transition, all to no avail.
 
To say that 2017 was a whirlwind would be an understatement. We moved back into our home before Thanksgiving, and now that it’s spring of 2018 (despite it not quite feeling that way outside), we’re just now starting to really feel settled – In our home, in our jobs, with our church, with our community. For those first few months I admittedly didn’t know if we had made the right decision. But now, it’s all making so much more sense.
I’m happy to be back. I’m happy for what’s to come. I love our city. I feel like we are right at home, exactly where we are supposed to be.

Photo by Shannon Duggan Photography

Welcome {back} to the latest run of my blog where I intend to share not only a bit about my life and some of my story, but the stories of others who inspire me too. I believe that women empower women. I believe in men as our allies. I believe that stories can change the world.
I want this to be a space where women can relate to other women with their stories – whether that be about career paths, motherhood, infertility, adoption, foster care and everything in between. That sentence alone may give you a bit of a glimpse of the pieces of my story that I’ve been less vocal about in the last couple of years, but I’m ready to share more with the world and with each of you. I’m hopeful that a very new chapter for us will be opening up soon. 
Much more to come. Thanks for being here. Xo.

Farewell, 2016. Hello, 2017.

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I love the feeling of newness and anticipation that every new year brings. We have no idea what 2017 has in store for us, but then again, who really does? I have a lot of big hopes and dreams and aspirations for whatever may lie ahead. This past year I’ve learned more than most that it’s important to not let what makes you comfortable stand in the way of what you are called to do. Instead of making any resolutions or goals or choosing a word or a theme for this new year, I’m going to let that quote carry me through.

This has been one heck of a transformational year. It’s a funny thing when you pick up your entire life and move it to the other side of the country. It’s a transformational thing, really. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve learned a lot about us. We’ve explored and learned so much new, living in a culture entirely different than what we’re used to. I’ve read a lot and written even more. Not publicly, but personally and privately. As much as I wanted to write more on here, revamp the blog, give it another facelift (and I would love to do all of these things in this new year as well), I have continued to learn that pen to paper is still my favorite way to express my thoughts, even if I’m expressing them to no one other than myself. Maybe someday I’ll share more of those thoughts with the world, but likely not any time soon.

2016 has been a challenge in many ways but an opportunity for growth and learning and adventure more than anything else. 2016 has been a really, really great year.

We came home on Friday night from our two week trip home to STL, and while it was so so good to be home with family and friends for the holidays, it also felt good to come back to our California home too. Isn’t it the strangest thing the way that we can feel so at home in one place and equally at home in another? It’s a complicated feeling, but I think a lot of it has to do with nothing more than the people we are with. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that the months of August – December were non-stop travel for us. Really, it seems like all of 2016 was that way, and it’s been amazing, but this little bit of ‘downtime’ at home this weekend before jumping back into the busyness of work this week has felt so good. I feel rejuvenated and ready to dive right into this New Year. I know it’s going to be another busy one, I know there will be a lot of travel, but aside from that, God only knows what more is in store. Only time will tell.

Farewell 2016, you’ve been good to us.

Hello, 2017.

Xo.
Kasey

The Refresh Weekly Planner

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You guys. The 2017 Refresh Weekly Planner by J.Lynn Designery is here, and I am so in love! It’s never too early to start planning, right? Not in my book 😉 I ordered mine early because A. I really am already ready to start planning for all things 2017, and B. I had the 2016 Refresh Weekly Planner, the first that Jenna had designed, and I absolutely love it. I take it with me everywhere I go. It’s beautiful, durable and fits right inside my purse, so it’s convenient enough to have on me at all times, which is perfect because despite the fact that I love my iPhone, Google Calendar and all things digital, I will forever be a fan of the paper planner. I can’t go to bed without looking at it every night. Call me crazy, but it’s true. My 2016 version even withstood a pretty massive coffee spill early in the year (not uncommon for someone such as me) so that tells you it’s pretty tough too.

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But as amazing as my 2016 version has been, the 2017 version is somehow even better. A couple of things that I love right off the bat – 1. The hardcover and the page quality; even more durability which will withstand a lot being tossed in and out of my purse and work bag day in and day out. 2. The goal planning in the front of the planner. I am a big goal setter, and I especially love having a place to put these goals. Having a place for them someplace that I turn to daily is really ideal for me.

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There are also two planner patterns that I was really torn between – the gray + gold agate pattern and the pink plus pattern. They are both beautiful, each with gold wire bindings and gold plated corners for protection (I love gold!). After much contemplation and going back and forth between the two, I decided to go with the pink plus pattern because it ultimately is the most me.

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There are also inspirational quotes to read each week which has been another one of my favorite features from the 2016 version. I stop and ponder the quote more than once throughout the week as I plan and prepare.

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Not only does the planner feature a beautiful design, inside and out, inspirational quotes, goal planning, monthly and weekly layouts, color coded tabs for each month, inside pocket and a built-in notebook in back, but there are a few other very significant key features as well including:

+ Hard covers with gold plated corners for protection
+ Beautiful gold wire binding
+ Pocket inside front cover
+ Full yearly, monthly, and weekly layouts
+ Notebook built into back of planner for all of your note taking and idea jotting throughout the year, including both lined and grid-style pages
+ NEW quarterly goal-setting feature
+ Includes same popular weekly layout from the 2016 edition
+ Inspiration quotes on every weekly spread to keep you motivated all week long
+ Plastic-coated monthly tabs for durability
+ Small, portable size that will fit in most bags, purses and backpacks

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I hope this has you as excited as it has had me to start prepping for the new year. It may only be October, but the holidays will be here before we know it, and it will soon be 2017! If you’re interested in getting a 2017 Refresh Weekly Planner for your self before the start of the new year, click HERE to pre-order yours today. Happy Planning! Xo.

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(Photos and images by J.Lynn Designery

Waiting for the Fog to Roll Out

“I’ve been in love with love, and the idea of something, binding us together. You know that love is strong enough, I’ve seen time tell tales about that systematic drug. That heart beats as one. It’s collectively unconsciously composed.

I lost my head in San Francisco, waiting for the fog to roll out. But I found it in a rain cloud. It was smiling down.” -San Francisco, The Mowgli’s

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-45-pmThis month we took our first trip to Northern California to visit San Francisco, another bucket list city and another pin to add to our map. Albeit foggy, and much chillier than Southern California, it was beautiful. I can’t say that it tops my list of favorite cities, NYC and Chicago still hold out strong in the top spots, and of course STL for obvious reasons, but I would say that SF makes the cut of top 5. It’s a very unique city, in my opinion, very vibrant, very Liberal, very bright. It’s neat. I definitely want to go back. While we live so close, that’s a definite possibility.

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The main reason we went when we went was for the baseball game, of course. The Cardinals were playing the Giants this month, so we tacked this on to our ‘West Coast Cardinals Tour.’ Since moving out here, we’ve seen the Cards play this season vs. the Padres in San Diego, the Angels in Orange County, the Dodgers in LA and now the Giants in San Francisco. The stadium was beautiful. No Busch Stadium, but I still loved it. PLUS, they had really delicious garlic fries! The stadium sits right on the water so the views are pretty fascinating too, but being right on the water made it that much cooler. We were pretty cold that night and unfortunately, the Cards didn’t bring home a win until after we left SF. Sigh. Still glad we got to see our boys another time on the west coast though.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-57-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-03-25-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-47-33-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-47-47-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-06-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-18-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-32-pmAlthough we were only in SF for a quick weekend, we still squeezed in a lot and did and saw a lot of musts in those couple of days. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge (and of course took a selfie, because you basically didn’t go to San Francisco without doing that). We went to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 and had clam chowder from Boudin in a sourdough bread bowl (well, Tim did, I had chili which was also delicious and warm in the chilly NorCal weather…I’m worried I’m turning into a Southern Californian talking like this. Ha!). We rode the cable cars through the city and made sure we got a spot right on the ledge (I think this was the highlight. So much fun!). We saw the Painted Ladies from Alamo Square and watched the cars drive down Lombard Street, the crookedest street, and walked up and down the city’s hills. My oh my those hills. We had lunch at a little place called Street Taco in Haight-Ashbury and of course made our way to another bar arcade for a game of Ms. Pacman on Friday night called Brewcade. And, we even braved a very early morning waiting in line (4am wakeup call!) for tickets to Alcatraz, and it was worth it too. Even the boat ride over was worth the views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re planning on going, though, I highly recommend grabbing your tickets online early, as in, weeks early. We grabbed a cup of Philz Coffee while we waited for our Uber back to the airport. We still didn’t get to make it to all of the places on our list including Sausalito, Chinatown, Muir Woods and more. There’s so much to see out here. So much in Southern California, the entire state of California and the west coast. So much to take in every single day. It’s fascinating. We loved what we did get to see of San Francisco this time around though. The public transit there is definitely very prominent, but even for being such a small (radius-wise, anyway) city, we found that Uber was our easiest, most convenient option. We typically take public transit everywhere we go when we travel, Chicago and NYC still proving to be the best, most streamlined, user-friendly transit systems, even for the non-locals. SF has a variety of options from buses to cable cars to subway tracks, but for timing and ease, Uber ended up working out best for us, but there were Uber drivers everywhere, we rarely had to wait, and since the city’s radius is is so small and there is not much traffic (not like down here, that’s for sure!), the fares were inexpensive so this ended up working out great for us. We also love to walk a lot but we were bouncing around from one side of the city to the other, and those hills…(insert wide-eyed emoji here…).

Next up on our list? Potentially Vegas. Can you believe we’ve still never been to Vegas, and now we’re just a short drive away? But the trips I’m looking forward to most to finish out the year? Home 🙂 We’ll be back home for the holidays during both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I absolutely can. not. wait. I can’t imagine spending a holiday without family. But in the meantime, we’ve got a busy work and life season ahead of us as fall kicks off and we jump into the holiday season! It’s been weird feeling like we’ve got a bit of a breather right now, but I keep telling myself to enjoy it, because the end of this year is going to fly on by. We welcome October this weekend (and maybe even cooler temps too?!). I put up the fall wreath, but I’m hoping to get the rest of the fall decor out, light fall candles, bake pumpkin bread, you know the drill. I love fall. It would be pretty basic of me to write a post about how much I love it, as I’m sure I’ve likely already done in the past, but if I get around to it, you can expect one in the weeks to come.

Xo.