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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.

Natoshia Haley

In 2016 I started my modeling journey with runway! I had no idea there was a network for plus models and events on Ohio and once I secured a spot in the show, the rest is history! I met an insane amount of women from different walls of life wanting to embody who they were and unapologetically flip off the fashion industry with representation of fat bodies! #curvetherunway I did this along with print modeling for about 5yrs! I have modeled in NY Fashion Week, been published in The Curvy Con Newsletter, and built a platform that empowers and supports the positivity of body imagery. Read more>>

Meredith Piccin

I began my career in corporate America as a visual merchandiser and later as a wardrobe stylist and entrepreneur. After meeting my husband and starting a family, I discovered my love for creating jewelry while playing with my Grandmother Honey Rosenkranz’s vintage pieces. I began to see that breathing new life into old pieces was a better way for the environment and the fashion industry.  Read more>>

Whitney Fowler

I have always loved weddings and have always been in them and apart of them with family and friends. I would help design and make sure their day went exactly how they wanted it to. I knew I always wanted to be in the wedding industry I just didn’t know where I would fit in. I was modeling for a styled shoot and recognized the planner of the shoot and instantly connected with her. I assisted her with weddings for a summer and instantly fell in love with the planning process. Read more>>

Kayla Fuller

A few years ago, when I purchased my first home, I came across some bloggers/influencers that I was easily influenced by and helped me get an idea of what kind of decorating style I wanted to go with. At that time, I had no idea an influencer was a thing and thought that it would be cool to start posting lifestyle and outfit photos. So, I did it, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it; I still really don’t. I just have fun with it, and it’s super helpful that I have a supportive husband as well! He is such a trooper, if I bribe him with coffee, then he is content taking photos of me! Read more>>

Jessica O’Connor

Oh man! Where do I begin? I felt called to Hollywood and the entertainment world for as long as I can remember. When I was really young, I dreamed of being an actress. I loved to write plays and act them out for my family. Even as a kid I was very creative and expressive, a free spirit. However, there has always been a duality to my personality. There is another side of me that is extremely goal oriented and business minded. The same little girl that would sing, dance, and act was also an entrepreneur. Read more>>

Nicole Barille

Sam and I met in high school, but it wasn’t until after we graduated from college that we began playing as a two piece. We put our first EP out in 2005 and started touring the following year. Since then we started our own record label, El Marko Records, and have released two EPs, five full-length albums and have toured the country for over a decade. We’ve had to take the last few years off of touring after the birth of our son, but we’re currently in the middle of wrapping up our sixth album and gearing up to get back on the road again. Read more>>

Hannah Clotz

I started at Kent State University in the latter half of 2019 after graduating from high school. I had my heart set on going into Visual Communication Design, which is KSU’s version of graphic design just beefed up. I have loved art and design my whole life, and I was excited to make it into my future career. But college was a struggle for me from the beginning. I struggled to live up to my professor’s expectations while struggling to keep up with the rest of my classmates. Read more>>

Catherine Lang-Cline

I knew very early on that I wanted to be an artist or creator of some kind. (Thank you, elementary school teachers, for labeling me an artist.) Growing up in a farming and factory community, my destiny was practically decided, so to even think about a career beyond a small town made you a very odd individual. My calling was strong, so I waited tables and worked at one of those factories during the summers to save money. I also applied for every grant, loan, and scholarship that that I could find. My hardworking and saving paid off because I did get out of my hometown and got a BFA in art and design. Read more>>

Jahanna McGowan

I started off in 6 grade as a way to put food on the table turned into my passion I just took off. I’ve been providing for my little brother & myself since sophomore year of high school. Started working I shops at 17 I have a lot of people with faith in me so I was taught along the way on ways to keep it professional. I’m really blessed to grow up with nothing but have so many people around me that loves me & supports my dreams none of this would be possible without my support system. It’s only going to go up from here. Read more>>

Dana Seip

I was in the medical field for 17 years and was always obsessed with skin care. In 2011 I decided to go back to school for Esthetics. I started out in a high-end salon as well as worked for a plastic surgeon and a few other docs doing laser hair removal along with skin care. I just felt there was always more out there for me. I am trained in many different treatment areas and was always limited to a few in each place. Read more>>

Jennifer Ettinger

Fit Your Style Inc & Pink Dreams Inc were born from personal experiences, passion, and grit with a mix of serendipity. Fit Your Style Inc: I work with women across the globe (remotely) to embrace self-acceptance and body image. For example, building around “body confidence” on television as a guest expert and magazine contributor through my past TV shows and with my best-selling book, “Find Your Inner Goddess.” Read more>>

Samantha Hairston

I am a wife, a mother to a precious little girl, dog mom of 3, artist, and Photographer. I started this business 4 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. I love capturing the authentic and meaningful moments of life. I love all art forms, but photography spoke louder to me over the rest. Photography found me when I was at a strange place in my life. What started out as an outlet to escape reality soon became a passion. Read more>>

Rachel Kissel

In 2015 I was very much struggling with what to do with my life. I had a ton of interests and ambition and passions but wasn’t sure on the direction of my life career-wise. In late 2015 I had my second child and then got thrown into post-partum depression – makeup became a huge distraction for me, and I started a YouTube channel since that was all the rave. It didn’t take long for me to realize though I loved makeup and the creativity behind it, that doing makeup on myself was unfulfilling to me. Read more>>

Shailah Maynard

Sew Valley was founded in 2017 by myself and Rosie Kovacs. We both have backgrounds in fashion in different ways (mine in corporate retail buying, and Rosie’s in fashion design.) We both owned/ran our own small businesses. for several years prior to our formation and what both of us noticed was there is a huge void in our region (and the U.S. as a whole) of resources for small apparel companies to build and grow their brands locally. Read more>>

Melanie Fritz

I began my career in cosmetology 20 years ago by first settling in with a salon family in Maumee, Oh. I remained working here and establishing a clientele for 12 years until I became a mom and decided to search for something closer to my residence. I moved to a few different salon locations, building my business accelerated by social media, specifically Instagram. I’ve worked in large salons and small salons. I’ve become and instructor and taught cosmetology. Read more>>

Whitney Peek

My love for hair began as a child. Growing up, my passion for hair escalated really quickly but I never thought I would succeed because there were so many beauty salons throughout the city, so I gained interest in the health care field. After 6 long years, I finally went to cosmetology school and successfully completed as the Platinum Stylist, also known as the top stylist of the school! Upon completion, I had 6 job offers! Read more>>

Ashley Luke Jessica Harvey

We had been friends for years, actually meeting through our husbands. In 2017 Jessie got engaged and wanted flowers that would never die. We went looking for the perfect flowers that would last her forever, and couldn’t find the right style for what she wanted. So we decided if we couldn’t find them, we’d make them. We’re both very crafty people and we figured why not try! Turns out that this was the right move. Read more>>

Monika Veliz

Margie’s Hope was founded by Jacob Nash, in 2010, it began as a small resource platform, mainly focusing in the Akron area. Focusing on Affirming Peer-Groups for Trans Adults, and Trans children, With our most recent Claim to fame, Margie’s Closet, an Affirming clothing resale shope in Lakewood, Ohio, we were able to extend resources into the cleveland area. Monika Veliz, joined the Margie’s Hope Board in January of 2020, instantly investing in the Margie’s Closet platform, devoting upwards of 50 hours a week, unpaid just to create a safe Affirming place for trans folks to find clothing, that suits them no matter the area of transition they come from. Read more>>

Michelle Otten Guenther

The Literacy Network was founded in 1986 as an adult literacy services organization and evolved through the years to serve both children and adults through tutoring, book distribution and literacy outreach. I personally joined the organization as a volunteer in 2012. My mom introduced me as she had been volunteering as an adult literacy instructor for some time. As a former teacher, I was interested in helping anyway I could and soon after was hired to coordinate one of the children’s programs in 2014. Read more>>

Lauren Stamegna

Art has always been part of my life in some form or another. I hold a degree in design but didn’t actually end up (at the time) working in an art-related industry. A few years after I graduated from college, I was really feeling the absence of creativity in my life so I happened to find a makers space where I lived in Wilmington, DE. They had all kinds of classes you could take and then have free range of their woodshop, laser cutter, etc. I started making signs as gifts for people and for my own entertainment. It slowly caught people’s attention and it blossomed into a nice side-job for me. Read more>>

Tina Thompson

I began hosting a daily talk radio show called, Talking with Tina, in 2010. It wasn’t exactly how most people end up with a talk radio show, but I did. As a matter of fact, I was robbed in 2007 while working at a bank. I had a tough time feeling safe again and it lead me to working part-time at my church as the church secretary. That was when I met a co-owner of a local radio station. I had shared with her my dream of having my own television show. Read more>>

Hannah Bryson

I grew up baking with both of my grandmothers. I have always enjoyed baking & creating. In September of 2021, I leapt into my own cottage baking business. I started with breads & pastries. In December I started taking custom cookie orders and haven’t looked back since. I love that I get to be creative while making something tasty. My favorite is seeing how people react to their cookies once they receive them! Read more>>

Alissa Geyer

I’ve wanted to be a hairstylist since I was 4 years old; I thought it was the coolest thing ever to do hair and get paid for it!! I never imagined just how much I’d LOVE making people feel beautiful and more confident within themselves though. I went to beauty school fresh out of high school to make my dreams happen; unfortunately, my chronic illness spiraled during that time; I had to drop out and was practically bedridden for 5 years. Read more>>

Mona Jenkins

I’ve always been active in the community since I was a child. My grandfather was one of the original leaders of the Matthews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club in St. Louis, Missouri which meant we all volunteered in some capacity, whether at the Club or in the neighborhood. On Sundays, my job was to drop off meals that my grandmother prepared to some of the elders on their street. Knowing that many of their neighbors didn’t have families to regularly check on them, my role included doing a wellness check. Read more>>

Rebekah Del Matto

My mural business is just under a year old so my story has been a whirlwind. I went to DAAP at University of Cincinnati and have always been creative, but I never thought I could and would be running my very own mural company. My old co-worker and friend Chef Kayla Robison really put the idea of going into business with what I thought was my hobby. When she saw the bathroom mural I did in my recently bought home, she very confidently said, “do one in my kitchen!” Read more>>

Jennifer Kootstra

I’m a military wife and I began my business when we had just moved to New Mexico in 2017. I had a busy toddler and had experienced a string of miscarriages that led me to start looking into potential disruptive or harmful toxins in my environment. Another military spouse and dear friend introduced me to the brand. I was hesitant to get involved with “one of those companies,” but Beautycounter stood out in the crowd for me, and I was intrigued. Read more>>

Angel Swanigan

Growing up in a single-parent home with three siblings was challenging for me. I didn’t always get the attention or support necessary. I started out in business in 2012 after having an abortion. This pained me terribly and haunted me with guilt. I refer to this instance as my awakening moment. It was the moment that birthed my purpose because it took me off of autopilot and made me become a conscious and deliberate creator. Read more>>

Erin Hansen

I have always lived in Iowa. And for the longest time, I never appreciated the Midwest. I had went through a life-changing event in 2017 and started traveling around the Midwest. I realized how much beauty there is. I started hiking everywhere and fell in love with nature. After a few years of hiking and traveling, I decided to start a Facebook group called Midwest Hikes & Hammocks. I started this last November, and we are now at 2k+ members. Because of the amount of growth and passion for this. I decided to turn this into a small business. I really enjoy sharing my love for the Midwest and hiking all over. Read more>>

Brittany Hatchette

My name is Brittany Hatchette, and I am a 28-year-old entrepreneur born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I started my sleepover party business right after the pandemic happened around May 2021 I wanted to create and bring something refreshing and exciting to all of Northeast Ohio. It all started when I was searching for some out-of-the-box ideas for my daughter’s birthday that would be accommodating for the indoors and Covid-19 as well. Read more>>

Sandra Bothia

I am Sandra, owner of The Top Lashes & Beauty. It all started with a dream, an idea and a want. I dreamt I would own a business again and proudly be my own boss. I would think about the beauty industry a lot but it was about 20 months ago when lashes found me. I was living in Colombia where I was born and raised, when I got the opportunity to come to United States and work as a manager receptionist for a beauty salon in Naples, Florida. Read more>>

Melissa Winters

As most creative people would probably say, I have been creating my entire life. I was very fortunate to have two grandmothers from the depression era. They both were creative in their own ways. The best thing about creating with my grandmothers was the fact that they would find new uses for old things. I find myself doing that often. Little scraps that I find on the ground or items that are not meant for jewelry that I repurpose into jewelry.  Read more>>

Emily Vermeer

2021 I was working a retreat as an assistant to a Female Business Coach. Surrounded by 50+ women in an atmosphere of acceptance, community, wealth, connection, and eagerness to learn and be poured into my heart expanded. After watching these women grow in such small-time frame, I came home searching for something similar in my area that I can be plugged into. I was craving community, business mentorship, friendship a network for referrals and accountability, and a place that felt safe to praise and worship God. Read more>>

Audrey Simper

Art has long been a main interest in my life. Growing up I was bullied by my peers and as a result, I had low self-esteem. I used art as a tool to escape that, to be able to express myself freely & I enjoyed the feeling of being able to create something out of nothing. I started with drawing portraits & anime, then eventually transitioned into photography and digital art. Before I became a portrait, boudoir, & wedding photographer, I was fascinated with creating whimsical, surreal self-portraits. Read more>>

Barbara Rosene

Barbara Rosene is a committed, dedicated and self-taught painter who has also been a jazz vocalist for many years. She lives and works in New York City and in her small town in Ohio and has drawn on her life in the jazz clubs of New York for inspiration and also in the countryside and historic buildings of Ohio. For many years her art took the form of folk-art expression, but after nursing her mother through the final stages of dementia and a subsequent escape to an artist’s residency in France, Rosene emerged with a penchant and passion for abstracts. Read more>>

Ny’Asia Taylor

My name is Ny’Asia Taylor. I’m a 27-year-old regular girl from Mansfield, Ohio. My journey started in 2012, my senior year of high school, when I received my cosmetology license. Although I had my cosmetology license, I knew that I wanted to go to college, and that’s what I did. I went to Central State University, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in accounting. After graduating college in 2016, I worked in corporate for about 2 years and quickly realized that the lifestyle was not for me. I knew that I had a lot more to offer than to work behind a computer forever, so I chose to tap back into my passion which was hair. Read more>>

Hannah Partsch

I have always loved podcasts, and my husband, Jarek, has always had always tried to push me to pursue the things I love. So, for Christmas one year he bought me a Yeti microphone, and from there, everything fell into place. Doing spooky/creepy stories was a given (I’ve always loved the stories that give you a thrill!), and bringing in Katy as a cohost felt natural (we’d been friends for a couple years, and Katy and I always bonded over podcasts). The hardest part was finding a name, and in the end, Jarek suggested The Tales We Tell, and it fit! Read more>>

Angela Natoli

I became a chiropractic patient as a young child. My parents were always supporters of holistic health care, owning a health food store themselves. As I was growing up in grade school, I developed a sudden case of severe vertigo that never really went away. After seeing many specialists, I noticed chiropractic care seemed to be the most beneficial without the side effects of medications. So, I decided to get a doctorate in chiropractic and study healthcare for myself. Read more>>

Emma Masur

I have been an artist of sorts ever since I can remember. As a product of a Cincinnati Waldorf School education, I grew up surrounded by gifted creatives from my early childhood years-years that I believe have profoundly impacted my passion for visual communication and shaped me into the woman, entrepreneur, and creative I am today. Art has always been a means of self-expression for me, and growing up in the digital era has opened doors to limitless opportunities to hone my digital design skills each and every day. Read more>>

Laniah Brown

This question is complex for me because my story is still writing itself. Finding inspiration in the obstacles, I faced over the last 3 years led me here. After I graduated high school in 2019, I had no idea who I was. I had a lot of internal conflict, mostly due to growing up in an unhealthy environment. My plan to find myself in a college far far away didn’t see the light of day because I developed medical issues. But in the midst of that, I sparked an interest for haircare. Read more>>

Amanda Lott

I’ve always had a passion for photography and can usually be found with a camera on hand ready to capture the moments. I started Studio Lott in 2011 as a side business while working full-time as a Graphic Designer and balancing a family and ministry. It was quite the juggling act for many years, and though exhausted, I did not want to quit my business because it was my passion. Read more>>

Deanna Jackson

Like most people, I have had some ups and downs in life… My story is its own unique one, just like each of yours is, too. What we each go through in life is what makes us- the ideas and behaviors shown to us during our formative years before we grow to an age where we can implement our own ways of being, plus the parts of us that come forward to help us through hard times. I left my small-town life at the age of 20; having only a few small family trips under my belt, I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I would end up; I just wanted to explore what else was out there. Read more>>

Brittney Wienken

Growing up in Spencerville, OH, with a population of only 2K, I was a frequent shopper at the local deli – the only store within 15 miles to sell fresh deli meat, salads, chicken, beef, and pork. I understand the value of having quality food options within my own community and when the opportunity literally fell in my lap to purchase the Deli in 2019, I didn’t think twice. The previous owner contacted me, whom I worked for over 8 plus years, and he knew with my previous business experience and passion for cooking that he offered me the opportunity to purchase the Deli. Read more>>

Lauren Virden

My journey as a business owner started in December of 2020. I put in my two weeks at Medvet Columbus where I worked as a CSR in the Cancer Center for 4.5 years. I have always had a passion and love for animals, and at one point in my life, I saw myself working in the animal industry forever. Until COVID hit. When COVID hit, and the hospital went into mandates and new protocols, something inside me changed.  Read more>>

Patty Mitchell

HOW WE STARTED In 1998, Passion Works began as a collaborative community studio housed within a sheltered workshop where people with and without developmental differences made art together. The studio became a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2018, and it remains a trailblazer in creating integrated settings where people investigate their own talents and interests while participating in community-based programming and creative employment opportunities. OUR VALUES: Passion Works creates opportunities for all people to explore and socially connect through the process of making art. Read more>>

Nicole Laber

Before my husband, Joe, and I adopted Chewy, we had no idea that there were animals out there like him – he needed hundreds of dollars of vet care and weeks of rehabilitation before he could be adopted to a new home. Chewy was found with a severely infected eye that had to be removed in order to save his life. After we fell in love and brought him home, we began to volunteer for the organization that saved his life, the Shelby County Humane Society. Read more>>

Ben Ewell

The book I have written “Sunday afternoons and other times remembered” is a memoir of my life’ experience including times of both tragedy and happiness. The book’s first chapter is “murder on Easter Sunday” which details the murder of my brother Dale, his wife, my sister in law and their daughter my 24 year old niece. Through the pages of this first chapter are the details of the murder investigation, the arrest of the participants including my nephew, dales own son, and the conviction of those responsible. Read more>>

Candace Tell

Well where do I start? I am an Akron native born and raised. I graduated from Firestone high then went on to get my nursing license as a LPN(licensed practical nurse). I didn’t have good luck with that career. So after working in the healthcare and customer service field I decided I wanted to do something I was passionate about. So in 2015 I started a small cupcake business called Hidden Treasures Cupcakery. Read more>>

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