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The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more. With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Maya Tkachenko

I already had experience in the beauty industry in another country. When my family and I moved to the United States, I simply did not know where I could start at all, I really wanted to do what I loved. I just did not know where and how to work. I met Bryan, he is the owner of Mia salon studio. He was very supportive in my career and offered to rent a studio room from him. I am very happy that I work in this place. We have a very friendly and cool team. I am very glad to come to my favorite job, I love to make women even more beautiful, to emphasize all their advantages. Read more>>

Kate Smith

It was November of 2020 and it was starting to hit me that I would be turning 30 come February 20th of 2021. I started wondering what I was doing with my life. I flunked out of college, worked many types of jobs, and was currently a stay at home wife. I just got to thinking about how I hadn’t accomplished anything. Or at least what the high school me thought I would. Our local Plant shop closed during the pandemic and it hit me. We don’t have a plant shop. So, I started brainstorming and creating. Read more>>

Shonda Ramsey

My love for stationery began back in the 90’s when I was an awkward teen, cell phones had not yet been invented and the way you communicated with your friends was through writing letters with gel pens on colorful paper folded up into the most creative way you could muster. The first time I ever created a greeting card was back then and I never stopped loving it. Like most card makers, I went through the rubber stamp phase, learning how to create unique backgrounds and textures with household items like shaving cream, ink and rubbing alcohol.  Read more>>

Jessa Plante

Photography has always been something I’ve loved, something I’ve taken notice of. When I was about 16, I took these black and white photos of trees while laying on the ground, looking up. I thought they were so artistic that I framed them and gifted the trio to my older sister as a birthday present. She still has those framed pictures 20 years later. Fast forward to 2018 and a new family at our church was inquiring about a family photographer.  Read more>>

Jacquelyn Hoffman

I’ve been painting and drawing for most of my life…while most kids wanted to play with toys, all I wanted to do was get my hands on markers and paper. I decided in high school I wanted to be an art teacher hoping to spread my creativity and a love for art to others. When I graduated college in 2010, I had a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education but I couldn’t find a job anywhere. Instead of finding something out of my field, I took a risk with a close friend and we started a children’s art studio together called The Art Spark: A Creative Classroom.  Read more>>

Katie Hansen

My husband and I moved to columbus in 2019 when we purchased 3 blaze pizzas. We had 3 Jimmy John’s back home in Erie PA and wanted to try something new. We worked really hard and made great strides turning sales around through 2019 and we were excited to see what 2020 would bring. We certainly didn’t expect what was actually coming. Our wedding was set and then canceled for March 2020. We struggled to keep our doors open throughout 2020 and eventually had to close 2 of our 6 restaurants leaving us with 2 blaze pizzas and 2 Jimmy John’s.  Read more>>

Gathering Grounds

We first opened the conjoining coffee shop in 2014 and started offering Pop Up Shops to local makers every Saturday morning. Our Pop Up Shops were loved heavily by the community and makers. When COVID hit, we closed the inside of our coffee shop and canceled all scheduled events. The space next to us became open, and we saw an opportunity to support our local makers once again. Our little shop promotes small batch, sustainable, locally made goods that you can not find on Amazon. All our brands follow the best practices or are fairly traded. We wanted to offer an unique experience for our shoppers. Read more>>

Brittany Todd

After my mother passed away at the end of October 2016, I was in a dark space for a while. Life seemed to be moving slowly. I would try to keep myself extremely busy (working 12-16 hour shifts, no days off) so I couldn’t think about the fact my mother, my best friend was no longer physically here. As time moved forward, I notice the extremely long hours were catching up to me. I started to work “normal” hours and having time off. Read more>>

Megan Mitchell

Photography has always been something I’ve been interested in. When I was around 10 I won my first digital camera at a volleyball camp. I took it everywhere and took pictures of everything. Fast forward to last June I gave birth to my baby girl. I took some amateur newborn photos of her. I knew I wanted her to know she should follow her dreams as cheesy as that sounds. I knew the best way to show her that is by doing. So in November I took the leap and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Leilanie Flores

I was born in Puerto Rico, moved to Hartford, CT, and since the age of 12 have lived in Cleveland, Ohio. At a young age my mother was always an example of beauty to me. She always had her hair, makeup or nails done. Her style and creativity is what eventually sparked my passion in beauty. After having children and choosing a different career path, I always found myself wanting to explore being in the beauty industry professionally. Read more>>

Lorenn Douglas

Growing up I’ve always had a love for any and everything art related. As you can guess art was also my favorite class/subject growing up, and in art class I always did exceptionally well with any project given. I also was the kid who at 11pm at night would stay up and rearrange and redecorate my bedroom every other month (giggles). I guess you can say I was very artistic. Even though I’ve always had a passion for art I never contemplated on making a career out of it. Read more>>

Dawanna Jones

Sunrise breakfast began during the winter of 2019. At a typical family gathering destiny ( co owner) came up with the idea of a breakfast truck since Dayton is missing one. After months of working together and collaborating with other local businesses. On the 8th of may in 2021 we were able to run sunrise breakfast food truck. After a few set backs with locations we found our current location at the United house of god. It’s been a blessing to be able to serve our community. More importantly supporting other local businesses bringing the community together through food. Read more>>

Tashell Johnson

Hello, my name is Tashell Johnson I am 23 years old and I was born in Elizabeth New Jersey., currently residing in Cincinnati OH. I’ve been in the business industry for 4 years now and I’ve went through multiple stages to get to where I am now let’s start from the very beginning because I feel like every thing I’ve been through in life contributed to who I am today. As a sophomore in high school I took a graphic design class and I loved it! I loved that I could be creative with the buttons and people loved them so much I used to sell them for $1 around school.  Read more>>

Karie Youngeberg

I am a single Mom to two kids, ages 21 and 12. I work full time processing medical claims for a job that I absolutely adore, but I love meeting new people and knew that there had to be more in this life for me. I started in direct sales in the beginning of 2019 with a jewelry company and used my profits to give back to local fundraisers and organizations. It touched my heart knowing that I was helping others. Read more>>

Emily-Rose Santamaria

My story begins with a passion for mental health. I am 25 years old, a Master’s level Social Worker, with a love for travel and photography. I am currently working at the therapist in teenage boys group home for those with behavioral and psychiatric needs, as adolescent mental health quickly became my niche in graduate school. I was sent to Cincinnati to become a trainer for my agency, for Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and I had every intention to turn this “business trip” into an opportunity to grow more within my career and outside of it, as a professional and an individual. Read more>>

Tamara Flora

I graduated from Indiana University in 2007. I published my first novel, Remembering Mary Jane, shortly after. I began working in pharmaceutical sales soon after graduating and found success in that industry, but my passion had always been writing. I went on to publish my second novel, At Your Darkest. My success in the pharmaceutical industry has allowed me to pursue so many things that I had never thought possible. It has provided me the opportunity to travel with my family, make a second career in real estate investing and give back to my community. Read more>>

Natasha Johnson

I began making shea butter as a hobby for myself. My friends and co-workers would always ask me what I was wearing because I always smelled good. Soon, I was making shea butter for people regularly in various scents. In 2016, I decided to start selling it to make some extra income and that’s how Mama Aswan Butters & Oils was born. I started doing craft fairs in the Dayton area to get my brand out in front of more potential customers.  Read more>>

Asia Wheeler

I have suffered from dry, easily irritated skin and eczema for my entire life. I’ve tried product after product to find something that didn’t cause a reaction. In January of 2020, I became fed up and researched ingredients specifically for my sensitive skin. Although I started researching just for myself, I figured that I couldn’t be the only one out there with this problem, so I got the idea to start a brand and Simply Sol took off from there! Read more>>

Lexi Annis

While I’ve always loved the art of photography, my crazy journey started in high school when I decided to take a journalism class. Knowing I was not an avid writer, I went to my teacher and asked if there was a position open for design of the school newspaper versus writing articles! He offered to send me home with his Nikon D3000 and told me to learn how to use it! I started from the ground up, researched, practiced, and refined my work into what it is today!  Read more>>

Kristin Maile

When I lived and worked in China, I found my two great loves in life: my husband and bubble tea! When we moved back to Ohio we found that there were not any bubble tea shops that could compare to the authentic flavors we loved and grew accustomed to in Shanghai. So, we decided that we would open our own bubble tea shop! I am not a business oriented person, but luckily my husband is. The most important lesson I have learned along the way is that if you are completely “ready” when you begin, you waited too late! Read more>>

Stephanie Holtzapfel

My name is Stephanie Holtzapfel. I am owner of You in Bold, LLC in Columbus, Ohio. I started You in Bold fall of 2021. As a self-starter and go-getter I have always wanted to own my own business and had not found which of my passions would fuel it until I came upon permanent makeup for eyebrows. Permanent makeup for eyebrows may sound like a silly thing to most but for those that it caters to, trust me, it is not. Read more>>

Holly Bright

Hi! I’m Holly and I’m the owner/cookie artist of Cookie Lady Columbus! I specialize in highly decorated sugar cookies that look too good to eat – but you should because they are delicious! I also make other cookies and sweet treats because dessert is LIFE. I’ve always loved baking. Some of my happiest memories are of me and my mom in the kitchen, baking up a storm at Christmas time. Read more>>

Katelyn Chef

My name is Katelyn. I have been working as a freelance, self-employed writer since graduating from The University of Mount Union where I earned my BA in English: Writing with honors. Post-graduation, I felt frustrated with the corporate job hunt & had a lot of ‘pent-up’ stories I wanted to write that I really didn’t have the creative freedom to do so in college. Shortly after graduating in 2013, I started my blog, The Yellow Spectacles.  Read more>>

Alyssia Morris

When I was 16yrs old, I was very determined to make my own money. One day my mom took me to her bi-weekly nail appointment at Nails 11. That’s where I met the owner Wendy and developed a beautiful friendship. Under the guidance of a very talented nail artist, I started nail school, my sophomore year in Colerain High School. Before I graduated from High School, I already accomplished passing my Ohio Cosmetology Board test and Moler-Picken Academy.  Read more>>

Jessy Rice

I’ve dabbled in art and photography since I was a young child. As I became an adult, I put that part of me aside to focus on a different career. When my life circumstances changed, I decided to revisit my more creative side. I returned to school to study at Kent State University. While there, I tried out as many different media and approaches to the arts that I could manage to fit into my schedule. Eventually, I graduated with a dual degree in Photography and Studio Art with minors in Design and Jewelry Metals & Enameling. I consider myself to be a multi-disciplinary artist and photographer, and I am always open to exploring new ways to create. Read more>>

Erin Trease

I have always been into fitness and recovery. I owned a CrossFit gym for several years and competed pretty competitively. Cryotherapy was part of my recovery processes. I moved back to Ohio and sold my gym with intentions of opening a new one. However, during covid that focus shifted to recovery and pain management. How I could use Icebox to make such a big difference in people’s day to day life seemed like my calling and here I am. Read more>>

Belinda Gordon

The Lady Writers began as a critique group adjacent to our local writers’ group, the Pocono Liars Club. From exchanging monthly chapters for review, we progressed to lunch out once a month to discuss writing and to just hang out. Writing can be a lonely pursuit. We’ve always been a great source of inspiration to each other, but during the lockdown of 2020, the companionship of our fellow lady writers became even more important to the creator in each of us. We’re friends as well as colleagues and have helped each other maintain perspective during such a difficult time. Read more>>

Tracy Petrekovich

I am Tracy Petrekovich and I own Hoop & Stitch Embroidery LLC in Warren, Ohio. Hoop & Stitch has been in operation since 2012 when the first home embroidery machine was purchased. It is my business but I do have someone working with me every step of the way. My husband has been an amazing support since the beginning and is the best partner I could ask for. As of today, I still have a full time job as an electronic technician but hope to focus solely on Hoop & Stitch soon. Read more>>

Amanda Rowoldt

This entire journey started when I first became a mom in 2014 with my first son, Max, who’s turning 8 at the end of June. I was working part time from home during my pregnancy with Max. At around 3 months of age, I returned to working part time from home. My husband was working full time in a traditional office, so I was the primary caregiver. Childcare never really seemed like an option because of the cost, and I also suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety, which meant I was extremely scared to surrender control of my child over to anyone out of fear that he would be harmed in some way. Read more>>

Ariana Cucci

The idea for Female Partnered Health and the mother-daughter partnership was inspired by Kristina’s relationship with her mom. For a long time, Kristina and her mom have taken an active role in one another’s health and individual well-being. Some examples of this are they were workout partners until Kristina moved to Cleveland and following that she now sends her a monthly workout plan, they make and share healthy recipes with one another, and beyond just physical health they constantly empower and support one another in their creative pursuits, positive self-image, and ongoing self-discovery. Read more>>

Susan Kaczorowski

It all started in December 2017 when my husband and I were hanging out with a friend and local comedian Dhawk. He started telling us how he wants to expand his merch options but the shirts he was currently getting were too expensive and he just wasn’t impressed with them. My husband Dan said we can do that! The next day he bought me a cricut cutting machine and we started our journey. We got our LLC in June 2018 and expanded into sublimation after we attended a expo and purchased our first Sublimation printer. Read more>>

Cassidy Phidd

I started Carpe Vitam in February of 2022. The name came to me in a dream and at that season of my life I was trying to figure out my next step as I’m transitioning from high school into college. The term “Carpe Vitam” means to seize the life. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the now when we should really be learning from our mistakes and seizing the rest of life. Not only is this a clothing brand but it’s a movement to inspire everyone to seize life and every moment especially after dealing with this pandemic for the last two years. Read more>>

Alison Crilley

I started screen printing shirts in 2018. I had no experience and had never actually seen it done. With the help of Youtube videos and a lot of trial and error I began to teach myself the process. I set up a screen printing press and a make shift dark room in the garage of a duplex I was renting. In the middle of winter I would load my screens (covered in sticky ink) and take them to a self serve car wash to be able to clean them properly with their water pressure.  Read more>>

Tawnya English

My love of photography began at the age of 13. My grandmother gave me a kodak 110 camera. Then in high school I took photography classes and art classes. The photography was just always their from shooting for the yearbook and journalism class to becoming a mom and having a camera. During my children’s high school years. I again took on that roll of shooting their sports and school activities along with their senior pictures. Before I knew it I was photographing other high school senior kids from the local school.  Read more>>

Desirae “The Silent Poet” Hosley

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known for being the quietest person on the scene, it’s astounding to see such a little lady with such a big voice that packs a powerful punch. Poetry has always been a second hustle for me even while working full time jobs and raising my daughter. At the age of 36, I am a Spoken Word Artist, Motivational Speaker, Actress, Community Organizer and Author. I served for AmeriCorps Volunteers of America and my first assignment was with the Urban Appalachian Council (currently known as the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition) in Lower Price Hill.  Read more>>

Tiffany Cunningham

From my early teens, I began building on my passion of hair and beauty. Initially, it was just family and friends. The thought of being creative, free to design styles for others, and the purity of seeing them smile after, was an amazing feeling for me. For 11 years, I worked a 9 to 5 for the sake of stability, only performing my true love of hair, as a side job. But in 2010, I took the big step of truly pursuing my hearts desire and enrolling in hair school. Read more>>

Amy Bauman

My undergraduate degree is in Education. I always knew I was meant to be a teacher, but after three years of classroom teaching, I realized it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I tried a couple of office jobs and did well, but found myself in a toxic work environment, not conducive to having a great personal life. I was fortunate to become a stay at home mom when my oldest son (then only son) was 10 mos. old. Read more>>

Tracy Updike

I have been an artist and maker my entire life, but my journey to own my own creative business started in 2007 with Tracy Alice, artisanal handbags. I handcrafted one-of-a-kind purses using a technique I developed while working in the packaging industry. While preparing for a busy art show season, I purchased a couple of button makers to create small affordable accessories to compliment my bags. I quickly fell in love with the process, and a new idea was born. Read more>>

Stephanie Alice

During my sophomore year of high school I began to start filming videos for YouTube. At the time I was attending an online school called Ohio Connections Academy. I started filming videos where I would share information and try to help other students plan their days and have the best experience. These videos did extremely well when covid first hit and everyday during summer 2020 I was getting new comments to answer.  Read more>>

ShaDonn Stewart

I call myself a late bloomer. I started at Morris Brown College, an HBCU in Atlanta GA, right after high school as a Biology Pre-Med major. I had dreams of saving children’s lives as a pediatrician. However, after 2 years I had some financial issues which prevented me from continuing on with my education. I ended up having children before returning to school as a non-traditional (or adult) student at Xavier University in Cincinnati Ohio. Read more>>

Mary Sterenberg

Kristie Sigler and Mary Sterenberg teach in the School of Communications at The Ohio State University, and they are both moms of tweens and teens. In 2018, they realized they were struggling to find the time and opportunities to give back with their families. They founded SALT effect, which stands for Serving and Learning Together. SALT effect helps moms of tweens and teens build stronger families with good communication, gratitude, and a focus on giving back. Read more>>

Chelsea Gibson

Most of my adult life, I was unsure of a career path that suited me. I am definitely right-brained and have always been very artistic, into singing, drawing, painting, but never really expected to make a career in the field. I have worked in the restaurant industry, at auto parts stores, in the cosmetology field, but nothing ever really stuck or kept my interest. After I had my children, my daughter in 2015, and son in 2017, my interest peaked in photography. I enjoyed taking photos of my kids, and found a $60 DSLR camera for sale online, and started learning everything that I could through YouTube videos. I loved how much you could change your image with the different functions. Read more>>

Emily Egner

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, but always knew I wanted to move to New York and pursue a career in entertainment. I took the leap after I graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, and wound-up attending college in the big apple. I was having the time of my life – learning, growing, finding myself, and pursuing the things I love. Flash forward to junior year and there’s a global pandemic. My school went online and I was suddenly back in Cincinnati in a matter of days. Funny thing is, I haven’t left since I’ve returned home back in March 2020. I’ve reconnected with so many incredible friends and mentors, and have found a new love for teaching. I work 3 different jobs and couldn’t be happier. Read more>>

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