Meet Jess!

Meet Jess! Talk about an inspiration. She certainly has been one to me. I had been following Jess on Instagram for awhile and followed along in her journey through foster care and adoption. Timing was almost too perfect in Tim and I venturing through our own (secret at the time) journey of what would soon to be our own future foster care story. Jess so willingly met me for coffee early on in our process and allowed me to ask her open and honest questions about her experience in foster care, and she openly and honestly gave me answers. Answers so real and raw and good that I walked away knowing that we were making the right decision in moving forward with this process. Jess’s story is beautiful, and continues to be so. She’s a mom who has experienced infertility, pregnancy, foster care, adoption, and she’s now got another little foster love in her home and is pregnant with another baby on the way. What a story she has to tell. She is an inspiration to me, and I love following along as she is raising these little ones, each with stories of their own. The pictures of her home are also so lovely! Her words are encouraging, and she brings me hope in knowing that we, too, can do this. Read more about her inspiring story below! 

Name: Jess Stamm
Age: 32

Currently Located: Belleville, IL 

Photo by Clary Pfeiffer Photography 

Describe yourself in 3 words:
genuine, compassionate, introvert

Describe your lifestyle or personal brand and what you do:
I’m currently a stay at home mom to 3 boys (Shiloh is 3, Cedar is almost 2, and our foster son M is 7 months) and also pregnant with our 4th! My life is pretty full in the day to day of caring for my family, but I’m also passionate about child development, education, and foster care. 

What led you to this season of life that you are currently in?
Being a full time stay at home mom is a relatively new season for me.  For the past six years I have worked part-time at our church directing family ministry.  I just recently felt called to step away from that job at the end of June to pursue some new dreams and then we ended up with a new foster babe and also pregnant. So this season for me has been very much about resting in the day to day and figuring out how to use my voice and passions while also being present with my three little ones. 

Did you know that this is where you’d always thought you’d be in life?
Not at all! I’ve always had a passion for caring for children but the ways that have played out in my life have been unexpected! I never really thought I’d be a foster parent! I was definitely one of those people that proclaimed “I’d get way too attached” and not be able to “give them back.” But the more I learned and the more my eyes were opened to the need, my heart just totally changed. I saw how fundamentally important it was for a child to have a safe place, to experience attachment and love, and to heal from trauma.  We began to view foster care not just as a way to gain children for our family, but as a way to give our family for a child. To walk alongside a family experiencing deep brokenness and fight with them for healing and reconciliation.  

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a funny question because my life is so different than I would have imagined five years ago. 😉 I’m also not really a planner or a fan of long term thinking.. ha! (Maybe that comes in handy with the whole foster care thing. 😉 )  But in five years I’d hope to still be in our home with maybe a couple more bathroom renovations completed. 😉 I’d also love to be more involved in the education system in our area in some shape or form…maybe even starting a school someday!

What has been a dream that you have had since you were a little girl?
It’s been a long journey for me to become self aware and confident enough in my own skin to dream big dreams. However, the one thing I knew I always wanted even as a child was to be a mom.  My journey to motherhood looks nothing like I expected but I’m so thankful for the children God has entrusted to me and for the chance to be their mom. Nothing has shaped me more than becoming a mother.  

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
This was honestly a hard question for me to answer, at first. It can be difficult to feel especially “inspiring” as a stay at home mom.  I’m not running a business and I don’t have a huge platform.  There’s some big dreams that I do have that have taken a back seat for the moment to caring for three little ones. But here’s what I hope any woman would look at my life and find inspiring — there’s so much beauty and value in every season. Your life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, or even necessarily how you always imagined it would.  Your purpose doesn’t begin when you arrive at a certain destination.  Your purpose is inside you now, and in this season, it’s just up to you to find the outlets.  How can you use your voice today? What do you have to say that only you can say? How can you add a moment here and there in your day to day to pursue your passion? You can’t do and be everything all at once, but there is something you have to offer the world today. 

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
Hands down, my husband.  He is always pushing his bounds creatively, always dreaming big, and always inspiring others towards growth as well.   He has always been my biggest cheerleader and the first to call out my talents and passions and push me to pursue my goals. He sees things in me that I don’t always see myself, and has just been so amazing at affirming and encouraging me.  

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
The first thing that came to my mind is coffee with Brené Brown! Her books have been so impactful in my life and I think she just has such a beautiful way of seeing the world and the people in it.  

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

I’ve been loving The Next Right Thing Podcast with Emily Freeman. It’s been such an encouragement to me especially in this season of transition! 

I’m currently reading Everybody Always by Bob Goff.  The way he sees and loves people is so inspiring. 

I’m loving following Morgan Harper Nichols on Instagram.  She has the most beautiful way with art and words!


Photo by 
Clary Pfeiffer Photography 

Photo by Joy Michelle Photography


Photo by Joy Michelle Photography

I hope you feel as inspired as I do after reading about Jess and her family and her family’s story!

Be sure to also checkout more inspiring women in the series, and if you’ve got anyone else in mind who you’d like to share their story, send their info my way or contact me HERE.

Xo.

Meet Kourtney!

Meet Kourtney! Fitting as such, Kourtney and I met at a small group gathering through the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis. We instantly connected that morning and knew we would need to reconnect again following that initial meeting. Kourtney’s passion for seeing other women succeed is invigorating. Kourtney is an awesome, fearless female, and she founded the Choice Discovery Movement. Kourtney’s mission is all about helping women to understand that they have control over their choices and the opportunities that lie ahead for them. She is a motivator and an encourager and also a really good storyteller. Read on for more about Kourtney and the ways that she is inspiring and encouraging other women below! 

Name: Kourtney Thomas
Age: 34
BusinessKourtney Thomas Coaching
Title: Founder
Currently Located: St. Louis 

Photos by XOXO Alice/Alecia Hoyt Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Genuine, direct, independent

Describe your business and what you do:
I’m a coach who helps women get really clear on their choices. Then, and more importantly – make them, now, without fear. You can think of me in the “life coach” category, but I work in Choice Discovery, which is the process of uncovering your power to choose. I work with women who are feeling the spark of awareness. Harnessing that restlessness and readiness for what’s next, I help you remove expectations, shift perspective and see yourself in a new light. Ultimately, we move you from the floodlight of social conditioning to the new light of choice.

I do that through virtual one-on-one coaching engagements, anywhere from one call to six months long. In person coaching retreats. In person workshops. Speaking engagements. Weekend retreats.

And I write, a lot.

How did you start in this field?
It’s been an evolution that started in fitness coaching about eight years ago. As I started my business as a personal trainer, I began to see that anything related to the physical body just does not exist in a vacuum, especially for women. How we feel about our bodies shows up in absolutely everything that we do, from work to relationships to friends to school and everywhere in between. So, even though I was coaching people through workouts or exercise, what the majority of our sessions were really about was all this other life stuff. What was going on in relationships, what was happening at work, what they may have been questioning, how they were feeling about their inner selves – and coaching them through that was having the bigger effect.

A couple years ago, I decided to dive deeper into that side of coaching specifically, and over time the writing fitness training programs fell away. I’ve been able to develop a wonderful, and impactful, framework to really help women get to the heart of what’s going on, provide them with tools and framework to take action on the priorities that matter most, facilitate all the direction and clarity, and inspire awareness and confidence in all their choices going forward.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
Not even a little bit! First, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I was always perfectly content working for someone else, climbing the corporate ladder, whatever. But after I got into fitness and worked at a studio for a year or so, I began to see that there was no way that was going to be aligned with my philosophy. It was not going to set well to have to fit into someone else’s business goals. So, I started my own and built it how I wanted to build it.

Even more, I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now. Again, I never even thought I’d get into health and wellness! I wasn’t active as a kid, or really until I was in my mid-twenties. I didn’t know anything about taking care of my health – physically, let alone emotionally or mentally. And as soon as I got into the physical part, I realized that the other elements were equally as important, which is what ultimately ended up leading me to what I do now.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
On Oprah? Ha.

I see myself with a thriving one-on-one coaching practice, leading in-person workshops and retreats in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, traveling for speaking engagements and book signings. Most of all, I see myself settled in Colorado, which is more home than anywhere else.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
I’m not sure I ever had that vision for myself. At one time, it was aerospace engineer, until I realized what goes into doing that. At one time, it was a general idea of a corporate executive, until I realized everything awful about that. At one time, it was manager of an island resort, until I went to hospitality school and realized that was the worst idea ever. Probably the closest I could get is singer, but I will take inspirational speaker just the same!

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
My personal history isn’t remarkable. Really, that’s kind of the point. My existence is relatively average, all things considered. Chock full of privilege too – white, cis, straight, upper middle class. But, similar life experiences are common among many women I encounter, and I think that’s where the choices I’ve made for myself tend to inspire.

There are still plenty of situations and feelings that warrant attention and flare our insecurities, sparking the desire to change things. Maybe not all of it, maybe only one or two of these things about my story or delivery are relatable. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten along the way that show up with only one sentence along the lines of, “OMG, it’s like you wrote this for me.” It’s been my experience that at least some part of what I’ve been through shares a common thread and cuts right to the core and provides inspiration that’s unique for each woman in their own way.

I think my willingness to continually challenge the status quo and go after what I want, what’s right for me, regardless of external expectations or social conditioning or shoulds, is inspiring for other women.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
My husband. I’ve never known anyone who does more to continually push himself and grow and learn. He’s dedicated and loyal and always finds a way to do what needs to be done. His heart is so, so much better than mine, he’s so supportive, and he inspires me every day to be better and do more.

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
This answer used to be Anthony Bourdain, and it absolutely still would be. Maybe street food somewhere in Asia? If my answer has to be a living person, maybe Arnold (Schwarzenegger, of course). A workout at Gold’s.

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
LARK Skincare – I have been told so many times since I switched to LARK that my skin is glowing, and I can’t say I disagree! I love Lisa, her whole shop, and everything she stands for.

Patagonia – Always. I only buy sustainable these days, and there is no better company out there when it comes to high standards, belief, and action better than Patagonia.

The Hundredth Floor series – It’s like The OC, only juicier and set in the future. Cannot. Put. Down.

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Kourtney and the awesome work she is doing to empower women:

Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn

I hope you had fun getting to know Kourtney and the work she is doing to empower other women!

Be sure to also checkout more inspiring women in the series, and if you’ve got anyone else in mind who you’d like to share their story, send their info my way or contact me HERE.

Xo.

Meet Hayley!

Meet Hayley! Hayley is the founder of MADI Apparel based out of Kansas City, MO. Haven’t heard of MADI Apparel yet? Well, you should. Talk about women empowering women. Hayley’s story (and company!) is so inspiring. MADI Apparel is a women’s undergarment brand who is dedicated to making a difference domestically and globally. MADI Apparel donates a pair of underwear for each intimate item sold. All products are designed in-house and sewn by local women in the Kansas City community. All intimate apparel pieces are made with quality, sustainable resources. Underwear is the most needed, under-donated item of clothing. And it’s SO important in our daily lives, no doubt about it. MADI Apparel supports domestic violence shelters, disaster relief efforts, hospital rape crisis centers and more. Hayley and her company are doing some really awesome stuff to empower women, both domestically and around the globe. While I don’t know Hayley personally, her name came through as a suggested female who I needed to feature, and I couldn’t agree more. I hope you enjoy learning from Hayley and her story (and be sure to follow the link below to read the full story of how MADI Apparel came to be!). 

Name: Hayley Besheer Santell
Age: Newly 30 🙂
CompanyFounder/Designer of MADI Apparel. President of non-profit subsidiary MADI Donations
Title: Founder
Currently Located: Kansas City, Missouri

Photo by Ruthie Stark Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Loyal, Empathetic, Adventurous

Describe your business and what you do:
My business MADI Apparel empowers women to be their best selves.  We also focus on empowering the community to never settle on purchasing products that are harmful to the people who make them or the environment.  

1. For any item sold, we donate a pair of underwear to a woman in need (because underwear is the most needed, most under-donated item of clothing.)  We donate mainly in the US but also globally (Haiti, Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, etc – really anywhere that requests it,
we raise funds to travel to them). 
2. We cut/sew all production in Kansas City.  I design all of our pieces and we employ women-owned businesses + train at-risk women to cut/sew our garments in the city we’re headquartered (through our non-profit program MADI Makes). 
3. We focus on lowering our waste as much as possible by creating the highest quality, longest lasting, super soft garments.  Our intimates are made of viscose from bamboo and a few styles made from a combo of bamboo and luxury, long-lasting laces we produce in Florida. 

How did you start in this field?
Read (and watch!) all about it HERE

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
Kinda a crazy and random story.  I never imagined starting a business.  I went to school for Journalism (magazine design) and fine arts.  Painting is one of my gifts and I love it, yet I haven’t painted much over the years as I’ve been so dang busy running this biz :).  Although, founding MADI Apparel has helped me discover gifts inside me that I never really knew I had.  Skills like: Empathy, determination, confidence, business ethics and morals, team builder, leader, etc.  I’m proud of all we’ve grown to, but it’s hard work and is never easy.  Maybe not easy, but totally worth it.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
With a little bit more of a work life/personal life balance.  I am a BIG promoter to friends starting businesses of “keep your personal life first”.  I’m always cheering people on to not feel bad about putting your personal life first.  Although I have to admit, sometimes I have to remind myself.  I’m known to be an “up til midnight on my computer workaholic.”  I had to implement a rule after I married my husband last year. Unless there’s some kind of very rare big deadline, NO COMPUTERS open when we get home.  My goal is to establish even more boundaries over the next few years where I’m able to travel more, enjoy life with my husband and friends AS MUCH as I want to.  Life by design, ya know?

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
Haven’t really had one.  Although – I kind of feel like I’m living in one now.  My current job really plays well to my strengths and born gifts.  It’s every bit fun as it is creative and impactful. Fashion designer + non-profit president + entrepreneur + cutest brick and mortar shop owner + photoshoot director + (one of the best parts) I get to work with my mom on the reg!  She is our non-profit director and PR director! 

Other than the no money thing, I’m pretty much living the “high life.”

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
My goal is to spread as much love and confidence to women as I possibly can.  I’m not a miracle worker, but more of a change enthusiast.  I want to encourage women to weather their storms through opportunities and love that our team works hard to give. This means our customers and our donation recipients and the women we contract employ. Love can work some crazy magic.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
My parents.  Always encouraging, always instilling confidence in my brother and I, etc.  My mom is wonderful at wearing her heart on her sleeve and going above and beyond for the ones she loves.  My dad is very supportive and has always been there for anything I’ve wanted to be part of.  He has the craziest business and investing knowledge.  

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
One of my role models, Roy Johnson, actually just passed away a few months ago.  I’d simply like to be able to call him for advice or meet him for dinner.  He believed in me when I was his family’s regular server and bartender at a restaurant I worked at in Florida and was getting ready to launch my business from scratch.  It’s a daily reminder that life is short and to NEVER stop sponging up knowledge from the wise around you.

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
#1.  Does my doberman count? 🙂  She’s 6 but still my favorite thing!
#2.  I’m more of a simple kinda girl.  The drive-in theatre is my current obsession.
#3. Traveling!  My husband and I went to Malta for our honeymoon.  It’s so under-noticed but such a beautiful tiny island.  We just got back from Dominican Republic, where my husband’s family is from.  We love adventuring and walking the streets of new places.  Santo Domingo was beautiful with an interesting history.

Photo by Tara Shupe Photography


Photo by Tara Shupe Photography 


Photo by Kaleigh Cooper Photography


Photo by Kaleigh Cooper Photography

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Hayley and MADI Apparel and the awesome work she’s doing to empower women:

Website
Facebook
Instagram

I hope you enjoyed reading more about Hayley and her story of MADI Apparel. Thanks, Hayley, for being an inspiration to get out there and do so much more!

Be sure to also checkout more inspiring women in the series, and if you’ve got anyone else in mind who you’d like to share their story, send their info my way or contact me HERE.

Xo.

Meet Jen!

Meet Jen! I’m bringing it back home with this lifestyle and motherhood blogger here in St. Louis. I connected with and began following Jen’s blog(s) several years ago, and I feel like I know Jen so well. After leaving her full-time career with MasterCard, Jen decided to stay home to raise her (adorable!) little one, Hattie, and now Jen runs the lifestyle and motherhood blog – And Hattie Makes Three. Jen and Hattie are always out and about town, exploring all there is to do in this city, and sharing every step of the way. This mother/daughter duo is so much fun to follow (heck, the whole family is so dang cute!). Jen is real, and the honesty and vulnerability that she shares are admirable. I love the way that she loves to share stories too. Enjoy reading more about Jen and her story below! 

Name: Jen Cowan
Age: 36
BlogAnd Hattie Makes Three
Title: Lifestyle + Motherhood Blogger
Currently Located: St. Louis 

Photos by Megh Christine Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Bright, Loud, Optimistic 

Describe your personal brand and what you do:
I have a lifestyle and motherhood blog focused on food, fashion, family and St. Louis fun.

How did you start to build your own brand?
I left my dream job working at MasterCard as the internship program manager when my daughter was born in 2014. I knew with my line of work I would start traveling a lot more to attract the best IT talent across the country and knew travel and a baby wouldn’t jive. I decided to stay home and found myself really lonely and needing to connect with the outside world. I had previously had a coupon blog (when that was trendy) and I decided to pick up where I left off and started sharing my story as a mom.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
I had been blogging since college (remember Xanga?) and I always loved sharing photos and telling stories, it just became a part of my life and how I documented it. I had no idea that others would become interested in what I had to say or the places we went or the things we love. It’s been a blessing to be able to share our story, and I only hope that it could help someone out there make their situation easier.  I did know I wanted to be a mom, and I can’t sit idle, so when we could get out of the house we ran! I have always enjoyed being a mom who plans activities, looks for free fun (St. Louis has so much to offer) and share our nuggets of wisdom with other moms too!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d love to be able to continue blogging full time once my daughter goes to Kindergarten next year. Blogging has been such a blessing for me as a creative outlet while I’ve stayed home. We only intended for me to stay home 2 years, so 4 has been amazing. I hope to be able to continue to grow my brand, be an involved parent and my husband thinks I should run for PTO President. We’ll see about that one.  Our family of three is complete, we hope to potentially do a lot more traveling to see the world. I would love to get back into some type of consulting role with social media or HR again. 

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
I always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher when I was a child. I went to school for elementary education and 2 years in switched schools and switched degrees to marketing. Honestly, I feel like all the steps of my life have used my degree and grateful I switched. 

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
I think we can look at Instagram and “Influencers” and feel like there is level of attainment that we’ll never achieve.  We won’t have the super big houses, closets full of clothes, the perfect body. I am constantly told that I am real and authentic and they love seeing what I have to say. My goal is to encourage moms that living in the grey and the mess is A-OK. Sharing my struggles with my readers lets them know that I certainly don’t live in a super tidy house and cook gourmet dinners. From sharing life hacks, my struggles with weight and anxiety to my amazing end cap Target finds, those are the things I love connecting to the most. I also love that through blogging and using my voice, I was able to help co-found Moms Together STL and connect moms all over the city with play dates. We’ve had an outpouring of support from moms who are just like me and want to find somewhere to belong. Being a mom is hard work, let’s make it easy on ourselves. 

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
My Dad. He had ALS for 18 years and waited to meet his granddaughter and to tell my husband he knew his girls would be taken care of.  He wasn’t the perfect parent, but he gave me nuggets of wisdom I can still hear in my head on a daily basis. It’s been 4 years and I miss him every day. 

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
Can I pick 2? Oprah and Reese Witherspoon. I find these ladies to champion women, lift others up and cheer from the sidelines. Great women I’d love to meet and get to know. 

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
I’m loading up my recipe arsenal now and have been loving Dessert for Two‘s easy and portion controlled recipes. 

Listening to all Rachel Hollis Podcasts, Audio of Girl Wash Your Face.

Reading the entire Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy. I know I’m late to the game, but I’m catching up! 


Here are all of the platforms where you can find Jen and the great content she is sharing in and around St. Louis and beyond:

Blog
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter

I hope you had fun getting to know Jen and the exciting content she’s sharing with her blog! Be sure to give her a follow. She’s got great inspiration for the little ones and for us grownups too. 😉

Be sure to also checkout more inspiring women in the series, and if you’ve got anyone else in mind who you’d like to share their story, send their info my way or contact me HERE.

Xo.

Meet Whitney!

Meet Whitney! I have been so overwhelmingly excited to share this one. Whitney and I went to both the same high school and college, and I’ve always thought she was seriously the coolest (and still do!). She is artistic and inspiring, eclectic and invigorating. I’ve always admired her artistic ability, the way she captures real moments in writing and in photo form and the way that her tattoos tell her own personal story. Although slightly older than myself, it was by the grace of social media that I was able to watch from afar as Whitney moved to Chicago shortly after college graduation. Chicago was always an aspirational city to me, so I followed along closely on Whitney’s adventure as she took on the city, and she did it so incredibly well. So well, in fact, that she truly made Chicago her home, and most recently, she opened The Martin – a flexible events and performance space, aiming for ideas to land, big or small. Already, they’ve hosted community yoga classes, shared meals, small concerts and other opportunities for gathering and community under one roof in its urban Chicago neighborhood. I love everything that this stands for, and I admire the strength and motivation of the women behind it. I hope you enjoy reading more about Whitney and her story below!  

Name: Whitney Currier
Age: 32
Company: The Martin
Title: Founder
Currently Located: Chicago

Photo of Whitney Currier and business partner, Lora Miller, by Nicole Bitonti Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Efficient, Sarcastic, Thinker.

Describe your business and what you do:
The Martin is a flexible event & performance space in Chicago that I founded along with my friend and absolute lady power force Lora Miller. We are both producers that have worked for years in the city- and a consistent and available venue was always the biggest struggle in making the ideal event. So, now we have a space to not only make art whenever and however we want within our own walls, but we have a home that we can open our doors to other artists to create as well. We aren’t just looking for a paycheck, but to rather build a community- so we keep that in mind with every unique contract and offering. It’s a big city with a lot of talent, ambition and drive, and we want to feed as much of it as we can within everyone’s means.

How did you start in this field?
I moved to Chicago in 2009 after graduating from college to pursue theatre. I acted in various storefront theatres for close to six years before I chose to fully step away and see what else was out there for me creatively. I tried my hand at playwriting, stand up comedy, performance poetry and producing events and the events were what stuck. I started a company called Wirehouse Co. which was my first foray into hosting multifaceted art events. It was also my first exposure to throwing gallery shows and featuring visual artists in any shape and form. I met so many talented and incredible people and it felt so natural and easy to support them, pay them, thank them, and continue to work with them again. I knew I wanted to take it a step further so I started aggressively saving money from a sales job I was in and eventually left in order to open more time in my schedule to make my dream happen.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
I’ve known I’ve wanted to do something creative, but that has always been nebulous. I love performing for people- whether that be from a stage, in a conversation or at my job now as a server. I like to be entertained and to entertain- and have always been able to have some aspect of that in my gigs along the way. When I pursued theatre as a degree I didn’t know what I’m doing now was really an option or a path I was aiming for- I just knew I liked to perform and was confident in my ability to do so. Now I get to combine my passion for performance and creativity with my natural type-A tendencies to run this business.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully challenged and happy. More tattooed. Still entertaining. And hopefully over my fear of flying.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
My only dream jobs as a little girl were either a veterinarian or a professional reader because I was a lonely shy girl whose best friend was her dog. I abandoned the vet path when I realized it wasn’t just about petting dogs. Still open to being a professional reader, so give me a call if you need one, universe!

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
My mother often recounts a story about a middle school experience I had, surrounded by a group of girls in a hallway when one of them (whose birthday it was), handed out friendship bracelets to everyone in the group but me. I went home and cried and cried, declaring that I’d never have female friends (which she knew wasn’t true) and mostly stuck to hanging with boys throughout my teenage years. Now as an adult I have cultivated the most amazing female friendships that I could have never imagined as that sad rejected hallway girl. If I inspire women in any way, it’s because I surround myself with inspiring women. Everyone I have around me is endlessly supportive of my ideas and has come out to some of the best (and absolute worst) performances and productions I’ve been a part of for years. I’ve pulled them into projects outside of their comfort zones and asked for their help and support and they’ve always shown up and they’ve always pushed and encouraged me to keep going. Success can’t exist in a silo and I am massively who I am today thanks to the women who I have known over the past ten years.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
Chicagoans. I’ve lived here for nine years and every year I add vastly interesting, hard working, impactful people to my arsenal. Our winters are long and challenging and our summers are hot and brief and the people never stop. We slog through feet of snow for rehearsals and gatherings, we run through the rain to duck in for dinner, we roast in the sun to experience music and art. Chicago challenges us to stay. She’s beautiful and she’s harsh and the people who stay and fight for it don’t have to discuss that because it’s just second nature. The city provides so much and it’s inhabitants are so big in so many ways.

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
I would get blindingly drunk with Annie Clark (St. Vincent) in New York. I’d make her choose every place we go and hope that we’d end up somewhere excellently weird.

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

My summer album is LONER by Caroline Rose – I was introduced to her right as summer kicked off by one of my best friends and I really haven’t stopped listening to it since. It’s mad catchy, silly, and just downright feel-good. Drive around with your windows down to this one and I dare you not to feel so great.

My bicycle is currently one of my favorite things. It’s a somewhat vintage Trek bike that I’ve had for several years now that never got proper use. This year after the weather started to break I got on my bike and never stopped. Riding through the city is magic and a special alone, silent time for myself. I highly recommend cruising around on a bike to anyone, anywhere.

My other favorite thing right now is the Co-Star Astrology App. Same pal who got me into LONER sent this my way and it’s incredibly detailed and gives you daily updates. I’ve gotten a few friends on it as well and you can read about your compatibility to each other. It just feels like a nice little hug from the stars every day to read and I recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested in astrology.


Photo by 
Nicole Bitonti Photography

Photo by Emmy Star Brown

Photo by Nick Gerber Photography

Here are all of the platforms where you can find The Martin and all of the awesomeness going on there:

Website
Instagram
Facebook

I hope you had fun getting to know Whitney and the work she’s doing at The Martin alongside her business partner, Lora! If you’re in the Chicago area, check this place out. I can’t wait to do so next time we’re in town.

Be sure to also checkout more inspiring women in the series, and if you’ve got anyone else in mind who you’d like to share their story, send their info my way or contact me HERE.

Xo.

Empowering Women of Coffee

Learning about inspiring, empowering females and their stories is kind of my thing (checkout the Women Inspire Women series HERE if you haven’t already been following along!). So, when I first heard about City Girl Coffee, I was eager to learn more. Their story (of both the company and their owner, Alyza) is amazing and encouraging. They say they are ‘not just a cute company with cool colors and a chic look’ (Although they certainly have that going for them!), but what they really are is a sustainable company bringing awareness and equality to the women of the coffee industry – speaking right to my own heart! I encourage you to check out this empowering female company (visit their website and ABOUT page to read their full story). And what else? Although founded and based in Duluth, MN, you can now purchase City Girl Coffee right here in St. Louis – now available at Dierbergs Markets! Also, do checkout their social pages because their new packaging and design is. so. swoon worthy (shown below)! Now if I can figure out how to get myself in front of Alyza herself to do one of my blog interviews, how cool would that be!? (Shameless plug?!) Sharing more in stories on Instagram!

 

Meet Shannon!

Meet Shannon! Shannon and I are sorority sisters, however we actually weren’t in school at the same time because, well, I’m a year or two older than she is. 😉 We really connected when I was a few years out, and Shannon was still actively involved in our chapter. We had the opportunity to connect through the world of weddings and events. I have been able to see Shannon’s company grow and flourish in that time, and it’s truly amazing to see where she has taken things today. I could look at her work over and over and over, time and time again. Not only does she take incredible photos of the biggest moments of individuals’ lives, but she captures the everyday moments too. She also travels a great deal, capturing the true beauty in places all over the country and around the world. We’ve been lucky enough to have Shannon take photos for us on numerous occasions, including when we lived in California, and she stayed with us out there for a few days. Shannon knows and loves adventure and thrives in big city atmospheres, but she has also made herself a (lovely!) home in the small town where we went to school. I admire Shannon and her zest for life and the fact that she knows, and shares, the importance of capturing all of life’s moments, big and small. Read a bit more about Shannon, and see more of her gorgeous work, below! 

Name: Shannon Duggan
Age: 26
Company: Shannon Duggan Photography
Title: Owner/Lead Pretty Maker
Currently Located: Um we live in Cape Girardeau but I’m typing from a plane. Aka I go
everywhere. 

Photo by Celine Chhuon Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Crazy, Fun, Creative

Describe your business and what you do:
I’m a Photographer! Primarily weddings but I also do a select amount of lifestyle work with family clients. I also love to shoot travel work since I seem to be doing that all the time. I shoot roughly 25-30 weddings a year. While STL is my home base I do work internationally. The more years I put into this business the more I seem to be on a plane. (Which I’m honestly okay with!)

How did you start in this field?
Funny story, I took a class senior year. I was placed in 2 months late because I’d tried to switch schools (that’s another long story) and returned to my HS in KCMO to beg my new counselor to place me in Photo. Walking into a class with 1 million technical applications 2 months late was a little daunting, and I’ll never forget my first assignment:Frame within a frame. I remember shooting through a mirror in my backyard thinking “This is stupid, I really suck.” I told my dad I was going to drop the class the next day. Thankfully when I went to talk to my professor, Mr. Baker, he told me to suck it up, do the work, and I’d come out with a B. Thank God for that man (who I still reach out to often!) because he was right. I finally got a human in front of my camera and from there I was hooked. I did all of my friends’ pictures that spring and switched my program at SEMO to commercial photography. I had my first bride approach me my freshman year of college. I naturally was clueless about weddings but she was ready to take a chance on me, so I dove in. I never looked back from that point. I went to school while managing my sorority, a business, and student government. It seems a little crazy now but I’m SO thankful I worked my butt off! I’ve worked with so many former classmates during and post college. The networking alone has been an incredible part of my business.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?
No. Literally clueless. My 12 year old papers said I wanted to be Karl Lagerfeld! Ha! But I’ve always been super interested in fashion/art so I don’t find it surprising that this became my path because photography is such a crucial part of those fields. We do, however, have an image of me at my cousin’s wedding at age 12. The photographer was a family friend who’s incredible (shoots the books for Disney and golf courses all over the world). He gave me his film camera and let me run around all night at the reception with it. My aunt got a photo of me- it’s now hanging in my house and is obviously a favorite of mine. Meant to be. 🙂 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oh gosh. This changes CONSTANTLY. I’m always 5 year planning- which I think drives my husband crazy because he is not. Lol. Five years from now I hope to be a mom who is also successfully balancing her worldwide brand with grace and ease. Which also sounds hilarious to me because nothing about this life is graceful. Right now my current hope is to be working out of Chicago a lot more and still of course traveling all over for weddings. I hope to continue to give back to other photographers and help them grow, as this was something that I struggled to find when I first started. And last I just hope to be a good person that other people value and care about (all we really need is love). 

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
Fashion designer. Seriously. I absolutely cannot sketch a thing but I can totally make it happen in my head. I think I subscribed to every major magazine when I was in high school. These days I still love to page through Vogue – but I find my time to do so is very limited.

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
I hope constantly. I’m a 26 year old female that grossed 6 figures from the second I stepped out of school. If you work hard, you can do it too. I live in a small town (Cape Girardeau) but still manage to work with clients all over the world. I make connections world wide too. I think the biggest thing I hope to inspire other people with is that you only limit yourself. Only you can make your box small. Dream big, go big, do big. The world will totally give you back what you put out. Hustle and make it happen and your dreams will come true. When they do, dream bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
My mom. She’ll never believe this because I am also her biggest critic (sorry momma) but she’s it. My mom was the breadwinner in our family and I watched her put in COUNTLESS hours to make a wonderful life for my dad and I. On holidays and weekends. Which I think really showed me that hard work isn’t just 9-5 Monday – Friday. She was also the woman that always told me I could be whatever I wanted and supported every small business I ever had as a kid – jewelry making, a scarf shop, whatever I could dream up. Mommas out there hustling – quit feeling bad that you’re working. Your kids are watching you work your butt off and it’s so inspiring. You will raise incredible children that so admire all you have done for them!

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
Oh gosh. This is so hard. I have like. I would always have coffee. I love happy hour but sometimes I get tipsy after one drink, ha! I would say Peter Lindberg. He’s an incredible fashion photographer that I’ve always admired. I would have to say at Boot Café in Paris- It’s literally the cutest little coffee shop in Le Marais. And it’s basically the size of a boot-so quaint! Can I also say Annie Leibovitz? Anyone that can say no to Kimye is someone I want to meet (the power of no is everything). Also Drake. I just really love him.

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
Yoga. So obsessed right now it’s unreal. I think with my crazy life it brings me serenity. Film- I almost exclusively shoot medium format film unless it’s a wedding (sometimes digital is easier for tricky lighting situations). Anddddd can I just say coffee? I always want coffee. Like all the time. Anyone that knows me knows they can find me at my local fave on almost every weekday morning. 

Photos by Shannon Duggan Photography

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

Website
Instagram
Facebook

I hope you had fun getting to know Shannon! Getting married or seeking someone to document those special moments in your life? Contact Shannon today!

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

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 Ashley!

Next up in the Women Inspire Women series – Meet Ashley! We’re getting off the ‘J’ train for this one. 😉 Ashley is a part of the fabulous five group of gals I mentioned in the last post. We, too, met via the social media world when we were all heavily involved in the digital media space both in our work and personal lives. I later had the opportunity to help Ashley plan and coordinate her beautiful wedding day! Our group attempted real life books clubs a time or two, but despite a love of reading, our get-togethers never consisted of book talk (as book clubs go). Something that I feel has made me feel so connected to Ashley is her love for writing. She studied journalism, and she is so eloquent in the things that she shares. Although originally from the St. Louis Area, Ashley and her husband, Andy, took on a big adventure and made a cross-country move to the Southwest last year (I envy the fact that she is now so much closer to the west coast!). Ashley is an encourager and a truth-teller, and I truly value the insight that she provides. While hustling hard in all the things she does, she has taken her business from side gig to full-time gig back to side gig again. She has taken the time to branch out on her own yet also realizes the value of the things that she continues to learn and the ways through which she can continue to grow within the agency she’s with full-time too. She is stellar. Also, she loves dogs! Read more about Ashley and her side hustle, Short Dog Social, below! 

Name: Ashley Parks
Age: 29
Company: Short Dog Social/Santy
Title: Owner/Social Media Strategist
Currently Located: Mesa, Arizona 

Photos by Monique Seleen, Seleen Snapshots Photography

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Decisive, stubborn, restless 

Describe your business and what you do:
Short Dog Social specializes in social media strategy, content development and community engagement. We have over seven years’ experience managing and developing social media marketing campaigns, digital advertising, content and engagement strategies for consumer brands.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?
I’ve loved writing since I can remember. When I was little, I would mockup stories of Super Bunny – my mom still has them! As I got older, this merged into journalistic writing, and my dream evolved from being a published author to becoming a sports or magazine journalist. Maybe one day I can focus on my blog again and make that dream come true!

How did you start in this field?
From 8th grade on, I knew I wanted a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. I didn’t even apply to another college! As I got closer to my freshman year, I realized that Strategic Communication was a good focus area for me – I’ve always wanted to have a family, and the hours of a journalist were a bit too demanding. I took a few courses in account management, PR and media planning (social media was still just for friends & family at the time!), and took a job at an ad agency after graduation. The first role I had was a terrible fit for me – I was managing media buying budgets for agriculture brands – but my next role was heavily focused on social media, and I loved it. I began growing my client roster with larger and larger brands, so when I moved to Arizona, I felt confident enough to start recruiting clients on my own.

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?
Not every success story looks the same. I first purchased the domain for Short Dog Social in 2013. It took 5 years for me to gain the courage to do something with it, and after six months, I found myself yearning to get back into the agency side of things. At the end of the day, I’m so proud that I took the step to start my own company. And I’m proud that I was able to recognize the need to be surrounded by other smart-minded people. I’m a firm believer that what is meant to be will be, and someday, I’m confident that Short Dog Social will move back into my prime focus.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
Gosh – our girl group has been the best. Jessica (who you’ve featured previously), Libby, Chelsea and yourself have been such an incredible resource to bounce ideas off of, chat through struggles in starting (and continuing!), and providing the much needed boost of confidence to move forward. Everyone needs to have a group like ours!

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?
My long-term goal would be to meet Reese Witherspoon – I’ve loved her since Legally Blonde, and she’s become such an inspiration as I’ve gotten older. From her production company to her clothing line, I’d love to pick her brain over a glass of southern sweet tea! I also have been watching Josh Gates on Expedition Unknown for a few years now, and I’m dying to buy him a beer and hear about his travels.

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)?
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness – my favorites so far have been with Mirai Nagasu (the Olympic skater), Antoni Porowski (fellow Queer Eye host) and Ryan Huber (ethicist).

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero – this book is everything I could ever want as an entrepreneur – it gives you the confidence to move forward with your ideas, no matter how crazy!

Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray – Kristen Ess is a hair QUEEN (and an awesome Instagram follow!). Her Target line is affordable and fabulous.

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Ashley and see more of the work she’s doing and a glimpse into her daily life (and her pups!):

Website
Instagram
Facebook

I hope you had fun getting to know Ashley! Searching for someone to help you with your social media strategy or community engagement? Shoot her a message and see how she can help!

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

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 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!