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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.

Alicia Cochran

I was born to teenage parents with colorful lifestyles. My childhood can be described as chaotic at best. My siblings and I witnessed or personally endured our own unique combination of mental/physical/emotional/domestic abuse, addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, and other mental health crises. My mother worked nights and my dad was usually working in his shop late, so from the time I was about ten, I took on a domestic role in my family, helping to raise my younger brothers and housekeeping. Having to grow up fast, I matured very quickly and from a young age, wanted to be the first college graduate in my family. Read more>>

Elizabeth Coratola

I had always wanted to have a career in fashion. When I first graduated high school in 2008, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for Fashion Merchandising Management. I quickly realized that being so far away from home wasn’t the best for my mental health, and transferred back to Ohio. I ended up at Ohio State pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Strategic Communication, not knowing fully what I wanted to do with my career. I loved fashion but didn’t want to limit my possibilities to such a specific industry. Read more>>

Sarah Small

The origins of my blog are rooted in the outings I’ve had with my local playgroup and the adventures I’ve had with my husband and son. I joined a local playgroup when my son was almost a year old. I left the full-time workforce when my son was 3 months old and struggled to make friends and get out of the house with my son. Through my involvement with the playgroup, I became more confident to plan plate dates and explore new playgrounds and indoor play places around our city. At the same time, our family prioritized exploring somewhere new each week. We were rarely home, always off to explore somewhere new in Cincinnati. Read more>>

Annalise Zink

I have always loved being behind the camera. However, I felt unqualified to start my own thing. I felt like I was too late in the game and that there was no point in starting now. At the time, I was running social media pages for my job, and the more and more I took pictures, the more I felt drawn to the idea of starting my own business. I am fortunate enough to have people around me who encourage me and believe in me. The encouragement I received from others gave me the courage to say “heck with it, let’s do this thing!” It has been less than a year since The Well Photography was born, and the support I have received is overwhelming. Read more>>

Sonia Steele

This is my story, and I’m sticking to it. I was born Sonia, but most people affectionately know me as ‘Vegan Vicki’ and the owner of Koncious Kuisine. Vicki is just a “family nickname” that stuck with me throughout the years. In July 2008, I was diagnosed with bronchioloaveolar carcinoma mucinous, a non-small cell form of lung cancer generally found in non-smokers. After having my lower left lung removed and while on my road to recovery, I knew I wanted to make a change. After months of research, my journey started out as a vegetarian the week of Thanksgiving 2008; yup, I went “cold turkey,” pun intended. Read more>>

Lauren Craig

Humble hive Homemade is a one-woman-owned and operated business run out of Lauren’s own home. Lauren began making homemade cosmetics & personal care items when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. She became disillusioned with the products she had been using for herself and her family. The more she looked into the ingredients utilized, the more determined she became to craft a better option. Everything we put on our bodies is absorbed by our bodies, and so Lauren went out in search of a safer solution. Read more>>

Lisa LaBanc

I have been an entrepreneur involved in many different businesses and ventures over the last 30 years. I started my first business shortly after I graduated from college out of my parents’ laundry room. I was inspired by my father, and he has supported me in just about every venture I have undertaken. Business in any form or fashion has always been exciting to me. Today, I still own and run the first business, PSI. Running PSI has had its ups and downs over the last 30 years, but it has been the source that has allowed so many other opportunities over the years. Read more>>

Jessica Lambrinides

Nicholas Lambrinides started Skyline Chili back in 1949. He was my great grandfather. Fast forward 73 years and my brothers, my father, and I are still a part of our family business. Over the years, customers in our restaurants ask the same questions- “What apparel do you sell?” “Do you have anything for kids?” This presented me with another opportunity to get involved with the brand I love. The brand that’s become an intrigal part of Cincinnati and its history. Cinci Cribs started as a kids’ brand with generic Cincinnati chili-themed apparel. Read more>>

Lindsey Deck

I opened Space Three in November 2019. It had been a long-time dream of mine to open my own fitness studio, and the stars aligned in 2019 to make that happen. After looking for a space in downtown Dayton, we found a beautiful space in the St. Clair Lofts. We signed the lease and got to the build-out. My dad is a general contractor, and he spearheaded the process – it was so much fun working with him to build my business! We opened in November 2019 offering a variety of group fitness classes, include barre, TRX, and dance cardio. Read more>>

Lauren Morris

As a little girl, I would always listen to the radio and dream to be a media personality. I would even go as far as getting the cassette tapes of Sunday sermons that my dad would have from church and record songs from the radio making my own mixes. So, I knew at a young age what I wanted to do in life. As I grew older, I had taken a like to all genres of music and loved reading magazines and biographies covering different artists. I began writing at the age of 7, and that passion also followed me throughout the years. Read more>>

Kristine Erwin

My story begins in 2018 when I left the classroom after 21 years of teaching. As much as I loved my job, a hearing impairment was making it progressively difficult to serve my students. After much prayer and many sleepless nights, I took the leap of faith and walked away. Initially, becoming a florist was not on my radar. My knowledge of flowers was minimal. Running my own business was out of my comfort zone. I actually prayed for doors to close on this opportunity because it scared me to death! Well, God had a plan that was so much bigger than anything I could’ve imagined! Read more>>

Alyssa Dotson

From as young as I can remember, I loved styling hair! I would do different styles on my hair every day for school and as I got into middle school was really when I started doing makeup. I would do different makeup looks every day, watch different YouTube videos and just learn as much as I could. So, when I got the opportunity to go to cosmetology school, I had just turned 16, and I was very excited to join cosmetology school and to learn more about the beauty industry. From there, I met a celebrity makeup artist who had been working for many years in New York City and traveling all over, working with different movies and magazines and working in television. Read more>>

Christina Lab

My journey as a content creator dates back to the days before the social media boom! All of this started from documenting my daily outfits. My parents would graciously take my outfit photos, and I would upload them onto Chictopia and Lookbook, which were styling websites at the time. I then decided to start a blog because some of my favorite creators from those sites were creating their own blogs. At the time, I was studying fashion in college, and I thought it could be a great online portfolio for my work. I’ve always had a passion and interest for personal style, so I also used my blog as a way of finding my personal style! Read more>>

Latasha Raines

I started in 2014 as a Certified Wedding and Events planner and was blessed to have planned weddings, vow renewals, baby showers, and milestone birthday parties. After a year of hosting the various events, I decided in 2015 to host a vendor event for small business owners, and that is where I found my passion. Since 2015, I have hosted several vendor events throughout the year I have also added on my service-based business as a Vendor Coordinator and have created my Excelling in Vending program for small business owners to prepare them with tips and tools when it comes to being a vendor at events, in 2018, I founded the Kidz in Biz expo which is vendor event hosted semi-annually for young entrepreneurs under the age of 18. Read more>>

Rebecca Ness

Acupuncturists seem to be lead to this profession either by their own health issues or via martial arts. As a child and young adult, I had health issues that biomedicine was unable to successfully address. In my early 20s, I sought out help from alternative medicines and was intrigued to learn more through the New York Open School in 1998. As my body started to heal from acupuncture, adjusting my diet, and practicing yoga, I became increasingly interested in natural medicine. As my interest piqued, I decided to move away from working in Documentary Film and towards natural medicine. Read more>>

Ayanna Jones

Growing up, I experienced several traumatic events. From physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse to teen pregnancy, homeless and biggest challenge of them all, learning to rebuild myself after everything I had endured. My name is Ayanna Jones, and I am the founder and CEO of Breaking Cycles Inc., An organization designed to bring awareness to the importance of mental health and overcoming trauma amongst minorities in underserved communities. So often, our trauma is overlooked and not properly cared for. Read more>>

Angel Davis

I started as a professional makeup artist. Working in my home, with a small clientele. With marketing, consistency, and word of mouth, it became a profitable business. I made the decision it was time for me to get space. I found space renting from an esthetician that welcomed me with open arms. She worked with my small budget to get me started. I will always be grateful for her kind heart and understanding, for this was all new to me. Shortly after I outgrew the space and found my own location. That is where I truly flourished, grew my clientele, and made the scary decision to quit my corporate job. It was time I bet on myself! Read more>>

Micheline Thompson

After spending 25 years at Corporate America working in the beauty industry. I felt I was ready for a change. Though I was not certain at that time what I was about to do next. I knew my next journey in life had to be about much more than a job and more about making a difference! When I started MishMoccs, it was about three main reasons. I wanted to be able to manufacture a quality product that had a great purpose for the children who are in their early development. I wanted to donate a portion of sales to help support our disabled veterans. Read more>>

Amanda Brisco

Owning a business was never a thought. I didn’t grow up with a camera in hand. My husband gifted me a camera for Christmas back in 2012 to take pictures of our young sons. I immediately fell in love with the process of photographing and editing. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom, wanting something more. I decided to take that new love and go for something more. I took every class I could take to learn the basics. I reached out to friends and family to practice taking photos and to build a portfolio. In May of 2013, I created a business Facebook page and a website and officially started my business. Read more>>

Tessa Wehri

We started as home brewers with a passion for good beer. Both owners homebrewed for almost 10 years prior to opening. We had dreams of one day owning a brewery but thought just that it was only a dream. Then in 2017, we learned that a local family started a malt house in our county. We already had local hops, and Malt is the base of all beer, and we figured with a malt house so close, it is only natural to also have a brewery. From there, our vision grew and expanded. Originally thoughts were to just make beer and distribute it to local bars and restaurants; however, after some market research and many trips to breweries, we decided food was a must and expanded to what we offer today. Read more>>

Liz Martin

I learned about 934 Gallery in 2015 when they applied to be a part of a project I was working on. While they weren’t selected, their mission and vision resonated with me, and I went to check it out. I had such a memorable experience, going to an art gallery randomly in Milo-Grogan and feeling welcome and encouraged to experience art. It felt accessible and fun. Not something art galleries typically are. I offered to help out if they needed anything, and they would ask me for some help here and there with errands and prepping the space for openings. Read more>>

Allison English

My story starts on Mother’s Day 2021. My husband was making breakfast in the air fryer. We lost our home, all of our belongings and so many memories because the air fryer caught fire and then the kitchen wall, then the curtains on the window, then my 18-year-old posted an Instagram story, “Happy Mother’s Day mom” from a safe location outside, watching our home burn. Our entire home was destroyed from smoke damage and the kitchen was a total loss. We were so “spoiled” with GoFundMes, personal donations, and a temporary home we had countless friends and family help us dump everything into a dumpster on our driveway. Read more>>

Caitlin & Gina Miller

We are Gina & Caitlin Miller, two sisters who own Miller Flowers. We are a greenhouse & garden center in Greenville, Ohio. Our story begins 28 years ago when our parents founded Miller Flowers. They started out with a pig farm, ended up replacing it with a flower business. While pigs are cute, we are very thankful for their decision to switch to flowers! After taking ownership of the business in 2014, we added a florist, flower farm, and year-round workshops onto our seasonal business making it a full-time operation. Read more>>

Sandy Harsch

During 2020, I was let go from my former teaching job. No field trips meant no need for teachers. I had been teaching Art for 24 years, so I was devastated. I asked God what He wanted me to do. The answer came to me, “Start an Art Center.” By the time I mentioned it to my daughter, Tommi Lea, I already had found an empty building that I thought would be perfect. She loved it. I mentioned it to my friend, Bonnie Rack. She said, “I’m in!” Bonnie and her husband, Gerry Rack, had been through a tragedy that no parent should ever have to endure. They lost their 2 ½ year-old daughter, Gracie Lynn, to a tragic accident in March 2020. Read more>>

Mia Moore

I come from a family of visual artists. My grandfather did photography, my aunt is an interior designer, and my uncle is an art director so ultimately, I was bound to have some sort of creative bug as well. My focus (magnet) in school was actually music. But after not having art classes for almost 5 years, I switched to visuals I got my masters in Media Arts and Science and focused on filming and editing. I wanted to do more filming, but it was too expensive, so I tried my hand at photography. Read more>>

Amanda Nyx

ListenCLE started as a way to get local music into more local ears via a series of Spotify playlists, compiled by moods and vibes instead of genres, that were intended to be played in Cleveland’s shops and restaurants. Our initial marketing campaign to push these playlists into businesses was scheduled for March of 2020 – predictably, once the COVID shut-downs went into effect, ListenCLE was a bit adrift! Fortunately, the pandemic provided opportunities to adapt and meet new needs with creative solutions. When Destination Cleveland reached out to us with questions about busking and street performance, ListenCLE found a new avenue by which to support and amplify local music! Read more>>

Hannah Cruz

My name is Hannah Cruz, I am a 26-year-old mother of 4, and I have been in business since I was 16. Throughout my life, I have had many business mentors in large industries including my own father and superiors who offered a vast amount of knowledge inspiring me to open my own companies. At the age of 22, I had published my first children’s book, “A life of a Pug,” and I had owned and operated 2 brick-and-mortar clothing boutiques for 4 years in which I had sold to then pursue a profession in the manufacturing and procurement business regarding raw materials, formulation, and production of nutraceuticals and skin care. Read more>>

Kristina Stuller

My fire for makeup came to me in the 7th grade, I created a rendition of Cleopatra for Halloween and fell in love with the Cat-Eye look from then on out. Who knew drawing a black line across my eyelid would make me feel 10x’s sexier? Straight out of high school I attended and graduated from Fremont Academy of Cosmetology in 2000 and began working as a Licensed Advanced Esthetician ever since. I’ve worked for several local salons learning the industry, before deciding to start my own studio with co-owner Joshua Ball. Read more>>

Maureen Walsh

I’m an international visionary artist specializing in large-scale public murals, mixed media installations, and textiles made with natural dyes. I currently reside on the North Shore of Oahu, but I grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, and attended Magnificat High School. I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2005 with a BFA in fibers. After graduation, I moved directly to New York City and worked many different jobs, including several retail positions, babysitting, artist assistant, and custom sewing for private clients. Read more>>

Elizabeth Klingler

I obtained my BFA at the University of Akron in 2011 and continued my education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, completing my Master’s in Fine Arts in Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking in 2014. After school, my husband and I moved to a rural town in Ohio, Ashland, and I began to paint and produce a portfolio. During that time of intense professional development, my sister and I opened up a gallery in Cleveland and began showcasing local artists. During 2016-2019, I began teaching adult art classes at a local art studio; Beginning Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Color Theory, Watercolor Basics, and workshops. Read more>>

Courtney Alexander

I was in college listening to a song by an artist name Anhayla called “UGLY” (You Gotta Love Yourself). It focused on female empowerment & self-esteem. I connected to it so deeply because I struggled with loving who I am & body image. A couple of years later, Feb 8th, 2016, our community lost a dear friend and advocate Marshawn McCarrel to an unbearable pain. That year I struggled from school, work, & living in a faith-based transitional home. While in school, I was taking an entrepreneurship class & we had a project to create a business. Read more>>

Shanell De Arenque

De Arenque Creations is a graphic design business that started in 2020. I got the idea of starting my company when a few of my friends and family members asked me to design logos and other business services. I was working at Nordstrom when I started my business and realized I didn’t want to work a 9-5 job anymore, So I took my last 3 paychecks and invested it into my company by getting everything I needed such as my logo, LLC, business cards, websites, social media handles and more. Read more>>

Melissa Duer

I am the 6th generation to live on my family’s historic Staley Mill Farm, located in Miami County, Ohio just north of Dayton. I have always known that I would live here one day (every generation before me has made this their home), but I had no idea that I would one day own a distillery! Here’s some history- my ancestors were distillers and distilled here on the farm from 1820 until 1920, when Prohibition shut them down. 100 years of a commercial Frontier distillery, selling to locals, groceries, saloons, Civil War soldiers and medicine men, and whoever else traveled by the StillHouse. Read more>>

Erica Simmons

I was always very creative but also had a knack for math and science. Growing up, I always thought that I would go into the medical field. After one day of pre-veterinary school, I dropped my major and really wanted to figure out a career that was equal parts creative as well as analytical. I decided that event planning may be a good fit and ended up transferring to Bowling Green State University to major in Tourism, Leisure, and Event Planning. At Bowling Green, I ended up being very involved in the major as well as other student organizations. I served as Director of Event Planning for Delta Sigma Pi and Vice President for Student Event Planners Association. Read more>>

Missy Krugh

My story starts with having a love and passion for helping others, particularly seniors or anyone who may need a little extra love or care. It started young with my grandma, my dad’s mom. My sister and I would stay overnight with her any chance we could. Since my mom’s mom, passed away at a really young age of 34 I didn’t get to know her, so my grandma Ada got a lot of my attention. She was funny, loving, never had an unkind word to say about anyone. I would brush her hair; she would rub my feet, we’d sing together, talk about life and how things were when she was a little girl, she’d read her old poems to me, and I could kind of see her as a young girl like me through her words. Read more>>

Kelly Shirey

My business started as I navigated my grief journey after the loss of our daughter, Eden Isabella. She was stillborn on August 21, 2017. After her loss, I was looking for something to memorialize her and stumbled upon the idea of newborn footprints turned into a sign. Unfortunately, exactly what I wanted was not available to order. The idea of her tiny little footprints and the chance to run my fingers over them and remember the feel of them was so often on my mind over the next year. Read more>>

Jen Deeter

I think I’ve always had a talent for photography, and I’ve always been a huge nerd. I consider myself a gamer. I love video games; tabletop games and D&D is one of my passions. As a young adult, I fell in love with cosplay and ventured into the cosplay world for quite some time. So, I have spent some time being the one in front of the camera. The nerd inside me started attending LARP events around Ohio and picked up a camera to take pictures of other payers in their garb to gain inspiration for my own character and I realized that pictures I was taking at LARP events were pretty good. Read more>>

Jessica Stern

Hi there! I’m Jess: owner of Three Tree Canine and Three Tree Healing Arts. I started my animal reiki practice 5 years ago, working with everything from guinea pigs to draft horses. While it has been extremely rewarding work, it always felt like there was something missing… One of my current pups is August Wander (aka Auggie Wan Kenobi), a 9-year-old Mountain Cur, and he is why I created my dog training business. Auggie was what you would call a HOT MESS when I adopted him 6 years ago – a wreck physically, mentally, & emotionally…and if I’m being totally honest, I don’t think I was ready for all of that. Read more>>

Erika DeBolt

I grew up with parents that were divorced. My mother moved us from state to state, and we ended up back in Ohio, where I attended Stebbins High School. I had a child a year after I graduated high school and attended Wright State University majoring in exercise biology. I was also a dental assistant in Beavercreek, Ohio. While in dental school, my husband and I found out we were expecting. Toward the end of the pregnancy, I became a stay-at-home mom. A few years later, my daughter, who was 7 at the time, started gymnastics. Read more>>

Salli Swindell

I am an illustrator, entrepreneur, and cat lover. I’ve been in the illustration business for over 40 years! I graduated from The Columbus College of Art & Design in 1981 and had several jobs out of college before landing a wonderful position at American Greetings. I spent ten amazing years working there and eventually become a freelance illustrator after the birth of my first son in 1993. My brother Nate Padavick and I became studio partners in 2000. We didn’t actually have much of a business plan or set of goals, but we each used our strengths to help one another and build our business. Read more>>

Courtney Cannon

The Cannons started their business journey about a decade ago a year into their marriage. After taking a class while they were both students at Kent State University to learn how to properly use their cameras, they launched a few family mini sessions and started shadowing other photographers. They were both full-time music teaching and after a decade of teaching decided to both go full-time in their photography business. This was not an easy decision because they both loved their teaching jobs as well but needed time to pour into the thriving business and continue to serve their clients well. Read more>>

Beth Escudero

My story begins in Centerville, Ohio. My grandfather always had a camera and no matter the reason we were gathered together, photos would always be taken. My love of family and photography came together when I first took a photography class in middle school. I really started to enjoy looking through the countless, well-organized albums my mom put together. Little did I know just how much photography would impact my life and help me through some of my greatest sorrows and joys. Read more>>

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