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Portraits of Nashville

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Nashville.

Marni Truelove

After hearing Scott Harrison, the founder, and CEO of charity:water speak, I felt challenged. Challenged to find a way to weave purpose and generosity into my work. Challenged to make my life meaningful–more than successful. Some might call it a mid-life crisis, but I prefer “awakening”. And so, I took stock of my life:  1) I have an amazing husband.  2) We had just moved to small farm in Columbia, TN.  3) Our daughter was entering her freshman year at college. And…  4) I have a lot of shoes.  Is that really my story? Read more>>

Cameron Hinkle

After graduating college with a degree in marketing and photography, I began working for a real estate firm as their marketing director. Soon after, I started really getting to learn the ins and the outs of real estate, and although I had always found interesting, I never really knew how to get into it. After a while, I decided to move to Nashville, where I had no idea what I would do or where I would end up, but for whatever reason, I just kept feeling like I was supposed to be in Nashville. So, January of 2018, I moved to Nashville with my clothes and a few belongings packed into my sedan and set out to Nashville, where I had signed a lease for a 530 square foot studio apartment. I took a job as manager of Urban Juicer’s brand-new location. Read more>>

Justin Wright

My photography journey started as a teenager. I lived overseas in high school and was lucky enough to travel to several countries in my teens. I started carrying around a clunky film camera on all our family adventures. When I got to college, I took a black and white film class but didn’t start pursuing photography seriously until a few years after college. I have always had several interests and hobbies, but one day I thought it would be a good idea to stop dabbling in so many different things and focus on one…photography. Read more>>

Michelle Gawley

In my 20’s my whole focus was on the music business. I lived and breathed it. So did my husband. Being married and working together gave us the opportunity to share some amazing travel and adventures. Turns out, my husband Will was learning something on our trips and adventures as well! The food! We both shared a love of food and moreover the restaurant business. I’d have to say that my husband is an amazing chef! Read more>>

Cera Bowen

I’ve always been in the kitchen, searching for a beater to lick for as long as I can remember. Baking has always been a passion of mine and creating my own concept has always been the end goal. Creating and testing my own recipes for years finally lead me to join the Art Institute of Nashville, where I received my Associate’s degree in pastry. I then continued to work all over Nashville, stretching my creative legs and learning the dessert world from all angles. While 2020 presented its own plethora of obstacles, it also became the perfect timing for me to do the work of starting my business. I’ve reached way out of my comfort zone to create this business not only to fulfill my dream but to support me and my family. Read more>>

Emily Daniels

I’ve been singing since I could talk. Growing up in Nashville, it was always encouraged by those around me, and I had the opportunity to be around a lot of talented musicians and producers. My high school even had an elite acappella group that recorded a full-length album every year at Black Horse recording studio – the same place that Taylor Swift recorded her first album. I always knew I wanted to sing but also really enjoyed school, so I got my degree in psychology from Pepperdine University and shortly after, moved back to Nashville to start pursuing music as a career. Read more>>

Kay Azna

Where do I begin… I guess the title “art geek” is something I’ve been able to claim for as long as I can remember because I can’t think of a single time in my life where I haven’t had my hands in something creative. When it comes to music specifically, I think the earliest instance was when I was 5 years old, because my late grandfather’s wish was for all of his grandchildren to learn to play piano, as he’d played and built them for people for years. From there, I got involved in school choirs, band, dance- all because as a little kid I decided I wanted to be a Spice Girl since Scary Spice (my favorite) had the coolest outfits and all the girls made performing look like a fun time with your friends. Read more>>

Melissa Mcnabb

I moved to Nashville 6 years ago taking a job as a stylist at a small salon never imagining less than 2 years later, I’d be opening my own place! It had always been a dream of mine to work with the music industry, video shoots, photoshoots, red carpets events, etc., but it all began behind the chair. With almost 15 years of salon experience when I moved here, I spent my first year feeling like I was back at the beginning. I worked as an assistant for $10 an hour and when I wasn’t assisting, I worked crazy hours behind the chair trying to establish a clientele. Read more>>

Kim Buckingham

When I arrived at Woodstock in 1969, I was an artist. By the time I left, I was a hippie folk artist and blues singer who wanted to bring my hippie spin of art and music to the world. I have been creating art since the ’60s, anything from set work for Cirque De Soliel, countless murals all over the west coast to a customized 15 ft mirrored and tile mosaics… the spectrum of work has always stirred my soul and lead to wonderful friendships and adventures. 52 years since Woodstock and now 72 1/2 years old living in Nashville, I’m proud to say that this hippie has is still doing what she loves, which is bringing joy through my art. Read more>>

Diana Duren

Our family has always tried to be good stewards of the environment, from recycling to composting to using reusable bags and bottles. However, several years ago we learned that less than 10% of our plastic is actually recycled – and countries in Southeast Asia were no longer taking our plastic for recycling (I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know it was being shipped to them). We did a deep dive into our family’s plastic consumption to try and figure out how to replace those items with more sustainable ones, and frankly, it was overwhelming. Plastic has become so pervasive that it is in almost everything Read more>>

Kedrin Meehan

Kedrin attended the prestigious Aveda Institute Nashville in 2017, graduating and becoming a licensed esthetician early 2018. Her intention for attending esthetics school was skin health, to later work in medical esthetics after getting a nursing degree. But it turns out God had other plans for her. In addition to annual educational courses, she has Classic and Volume certifications from Borboleta Beauty, Lash Safety certification from Lash Affair, Brow Lamination certification, and training from Lacquer and Claudia Louise of Co Brow Coutur Read more>>

Nora Miller

Hello! My name is Nora, and I am an entrepreneur, based in Nashville. My business is a Social Media Marketing agency, called Radiant Marketing! I decided to start this business because I wanted freedom from the constant 9-5 hustle, and ability to spend more time traveling, seeing family and friends, and working in my church in ministry. I specialize in working with designers, travel and health and beauty businesses. Love it every day! Read more>>

Jacob Marx

Born and raised in Southern California I was raised by great parents that had always instilled hard work into me by experiencing and practicing it by working inside of our family restaurant at a young age. It was a sight to see an 8-year-old running a cash register in the mid-’90s before the fantastic POS systems we have today. Years later I had fallen into a low point of my life by nobody’s fault other than myself. My back history of everything from 15-19 includes multiple run-ins with the law, drug issues, dropping out of high school, and many other immature activities. Read more>>

Mark Mulch

I started working for 12 South Farmers Market 8 years ago as their “music guy”. Booking our live music, running sound and also helping to set-up and breakdown the market each week. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to buy the business side of the market and take over ownership. My first order of business was to make sure our fabulous Market Manager Dottie Beasley would stay on as manager and once she said yes, I decided to take on this new adventure. We make a very good team! Read more>>

Jordan Smith

I was introduced to photography through horseback riding when I was 15 years old. There was always the same photographer at all of our horse shows. When I was done riding for the day, I would go to his booth and bother him until finally, he gave me a camera to shoot with. I’m pretty sure I was more a bother to him than anything, but later in life, I was able to work with the same photographer at horse shows. But this time I was shooting, not riding. Read more>>

Dana Hampton

I have been into health and fitness for as long as I can remember, competing in numerous sports from childhood through adulthood such as martial arts, softball, volleyball, triathlons, various durations of running events, mountain biking, CrossFit, rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking. Filling my weeks with any sort of physical activity, I thrived on anything that would challenge and push me to my limits. I started competing in bikinis in my late thirties and plan to continue to push myself physically for as long as I can. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is properly fueling my body and always have healthy snacks to keep me on track. Read more>>

Aaron Grayum

Technically speaking, I was born during a blizzard in the small town of Ravenna, Ohio. Not long after, my parents bought a pop-up camper and moved to a campground in Florida before settling in Nashville when I was 3. I’ve lived in and around Music City ever since. One of the questions I get asked the most at art shows — besides “so are you FROM Nashville?” — is “how long have you been an artist?” Which is a fair question, but hard to answer because I have zero memories of ever NOT being an artist. I remember sitting in my bedroom on Brookhollow Road just after I’d turned 4, drawing pictures of Donald Duck at my desk. Read more>>

Samantha Ayers

Like most photographers, I am typically the one behind the camera, but I do tend to jump on the other side for family pictures every year! I was born and raised in a small town in Alabama and after high school, I moved off to college. A year into college I dropped everything and moved to Alaska to marry my husband. Talk about a chase!! 10 years later, we now have three beautiful little girls who rule our world. With my husband in the military, traveling every few years is quite common. Although it can be hard, especially since we have children now, I am thankful for the opportunity of being able to travel while also documenting our lives throughout different places. Read more>>

Wes Howard

I started Poppin Off Toys in the man cave of my house in 2016. I named it Poppin Off Toys because I was going to sell an item called “Pops” and also my wife always tells me to quit, “Poppin Off. So, it was a perfect fit.  I never intended to create a business. I really just wanted to sell some Pops in order to buy the more expensive ones for my personal collection. Things changed one day when a wholesale company messages me and asked if ever thought about buying them at wholesale prices in bulk. Read more>>

Emmie Barnett

When I was a young girl, I created a business called “Emmie’s Charmed Life,” where I made clay charms and doll house miniatures and sold them at local craft fairs. When I became an adult, I still had all of my materials but wanted to make something I could enjoy as a young woman. This is where TheEmmieBDesigns came to be: an older sister to Emmie’s Charmed Life. I make and sell handmade jewelry. I started out making polymer clay and resin earrings, but I also make barrettes and even teacher lanyards. Read more>>

Jawuan Williams

I am Jawuan Williams and I am ReelWuan Studios. Honestly, it all started from watching sports and seeing how different shots captured the eyes of many. I’ve always had a passion for the sports industry and wanted to do anything I could to get in. After beginning my tenure at Tennessee State University, I decided to take the initiative and learn more about photography. I pondered on the thought of minoring in Photography but I never actually picked it up. While I was in college, I met two photographers/videographers who had already established themselves on campus, Kola, and Justin. Read more>>

Kristin Alpine

I’m a Registered nurse by education but life kept nudging me towards a love for cooking, wellness, and just being naturally curious and encouraging. I love people and their stories and could (and do) spend all day savoring their successes!  Eventually, I combined everything I love to do; teach, encourage, hear stories. It all came together!  Today I happily help cooks of all levels to reconnect to the simplicity of life through cooking classes. Using locally sourced products, supporting small businesses, and talking about the beauty in everyday life is my thing! Read more>>

Tamasa Easley

Ever since the age of 12, I wanted to design clothes. I was completely obsessed sketching or even recreating looks from some of my favorite celebrities. My mom always encouraged me to go for it. She’s my biggest cheerleader.  In 2013 I decided to create a faith-based t-shirt line called Peculiar People Clothing Co. I designed a logo that was simple enough to be worn with anything but eye-catching enough to make a statement. My t-shirt company has taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur but I always knew I wanted to expand into something that was exclusively for women. Read more>>

Mallarie Wiese

Color Me Monti is a Montessori-inspired lifestyle and interior decorating studio born from my love of color and kiddos. It is a Covid project and launched this summer, June 2021, so it is very new. Still just a babe. I began my post-grad career as an event planner and designer but knew I wanted more when reading all the parenting books while pregnant with our son Bodhi in 2019. I quickly chose to go through a Montessori Education Certification program before his birth. I act on a whim most days, haha! I also earned my license as an Interior Decorator that same year. Read more>>

Charity Blackshear

My name is Charity Blackshear and I am a college student at Middle Tennessee State University. I was born and raised in Nashville, Tn and I am the owner of Crown Elite Co. Crown Elite Co is the product of my growth. When I was seven years old, I started my first company, “Charity’s Love Scrub”. I sold all-natural shower gel and body scrubs. My entrepreneur journey was influenced by my Aunt Valerie, who had her own company, “Silk Body Creme”. Every Saturday we would set up our products at the Farmers Market in Nashville, TN, and sell our products to locals. We sold our products at the Farmers Market for about 4-5 years. Eventually, we were able to have our products sold in Turnip Truck in the Gulch of Nashville. Read more>>

Julia Battistin

My name is Julia Battistin and I was born and raised in a small town right outside of New York City called Dobbs Ferry. I’ve basically lived and breathed music since before I can remember. I started singing lessons when I was 6 years old and piano lessons when I was 7. I began writing my own songs at the age of 12. Music and songwriting became the best way for me to express myself and my feelings. It was amazing to be able to take the passion I had from such a young age for singing, playing, and performing, and be able to also put it into my own creations and songs that came directly from my heart. I focus on writing honest, soulful music that comes from my own experiences and feelings. My main influence since I began writing songs has been Sara Bareilles. Read more>>

Jeff Payne

I’m a full-time photographer/filmmaker. It took a little time to transition from my 9-5, but totally worth the work. It’s been a fairly smooth. Just have to stay consistent, and keep pushing content. I truly enjoy the media I create, and that makes it easier to express through my work. Read more>>

Joyce Roseman

ReThrive Designs, Nashville, is a distinctive guitar string jewelry company. Our small business tells the story of grit, grace, and guitar strings and how our lives have been forever changed by a moment of inspiration.  Glen and I are layered creative artists who spent many years teaching music and this became the springboard for our creative jewelry business. In March 2009, while teaching guitar lessons, Glen had the brilliant moment of inspiration to repurpose his guitar strings into beautiful jewelry. Read more>>

Kimberly Newman-Owens

Kimberly’s Cupcake Kreations was started in 2018. I started the business with the encouragement and well wishes of family and friends. I loved baking and making desserts and they loved eating them. This outlet was a way for me to become creative again and do what I like to do best and that is to put a smile on people’s faces. Read more>>

Stephanie Heeb

At the age of 18, I started my first administrative assistant job and exceeded expectations quickly. After 5 years I outgrew my position and the company and took on a new exciting role with more room for growth. After working my way up to an Executive Assistant role and supporting leaders in the corporate world for 6 years I was told that our division was closing and the entire department would be laid off. I was fortunate enough to get plenty of notice (1 year) but I was still nervous about my future. Read more>>

Harlow Salon

Harlow Salon was opened in 2007 by Eva Clarke and Shana Hoy, two best friends who had always wanted to create a beautiful salon environment for their clients. Chandeliers, champagne, customer service, and gorgeous hair and makeup equals Harlow Salon! Over the last 15 years we now have expanded our services to offer hair extensions, lash extensions, Microblading, and extensive wedding packages- we just love pampering our clients and having what they call an “upscale but not uptight” environment. Read more>>

Clara Belden

Prior to starting The Happy Hour and becoming a Certified Life Coach, my background was in marketing and business. I got my MBA from Vanderbilt in 2014, knowing that I always wanted to start a business one day that would help the community. I worked in corporate brand marketing for a few years, learned a lot, and decided it was time to build my own business.  What preceded all of that was a lot of personal experience with mental health. As long as I can remember, I have witnessed loved one’s struggle with mental health issues across generations. Read more>>

Chasity Hagerty

I started coaching gymnastics when I was 15 – as soon as I could have a job, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I continued to coach through high school, college, and even post-college when I needed a break from my office job. I had a journalism and marketing degree but it felt like there was more I should be doing. I started doing private gymnastic lessons with a little girl with Down Syndrome and her mom asked if I had ever considered pursuing Occupational Therapy. At the time I was unsure of what it was, but she mentioned that the way I was able to connect with her daughter and set up her sessions through a holistic lens was similar to the way occupational therapists view their clients. Read more>>

Sandra Woodlee

My husband and I have always had dreams of owning our own business, something we could bring to our community to enjoy. I knew since I was young that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. We knew no matter what I did we wanted to care for our children at home and I wanted to provide for our family as well. Who knew buying and selling items on Facebook would grow into so much more! My husband and I both watched the hit show “Storage Wars” and loved learning about the history behind the pieces. We started doing a little research and talked with someone local in the business before making the jump. We started out buying storage units online and doing some estate sale cleanouts after the sale had been completed. Read more>>

Taylor Perry

I am a person that actually likes change and the challenge it comes with. I believe that overcoming the challenge of change makes people into a whole new person. Sort of like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. My name is Taylor Perry from the south side of Chicago, IL. I migrated to Nashville, TN in 2017 after graduating high school, to attend Fisk University. I started out at Fisk as a biology major, hoping to one day become a pediatrician because of my love for children and helping someone overcome a challenge they were facing medically.  I’ve been practicing hair almost all of my life. Growing up I’ve always loved to switch my hairstyles up on my own, watching different YouTube videos. Once I realized that becoming a doctor was not my passion, I changed my major to business my junior year. Read more>>

Rhonda Brown

It has been my privilege to serve as the Assistant Manager of the Smyrna Event Center for the past 18 years. While in the midst of searching for a wedding venue, I toured the Event Center and decided this was the perfect location for my wedding and reception. I worked with the former director throughout the planning process and developed a connection with her. –she ultimately offered me a job! I was preparing to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to care for my mother as her health declined. It still feels like fate!  So many relationships have been cultivated over the past 18 years among colleagues and customers. The Town is an extended family more than a place to work. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to me through service on the board of SiMA (Smyrna Independent Merchant’s Association) and volunteering with the Town’s annual Christmas Parade. Read more>>

Courtney Breeden

Photography has always been a part of my life — starting with a simple disposable camera. After taking my first photography class in high school, I was dead set on pursuing a degree at SCAD — an art and design school based in Georgia. But, life happened, as it does, and that certainty turned into ‘maybe one day.’ I went on to pursue a degree in Early-Childhood Education, and shortly after, I made a pivot to instead pursue a degree in Religion with an emphasis on Biblical and Theological Studies and Christian Counseling. Upon finding myself in the midst of some financial hardship(s), I wasn’t able to finish school — and that’s okay! From here, I began a career in the events industry. Working as a Design and Sales Associate for a design company, I partnered with wedding / corporate event planners, brands, and individuals to provide curated services and rentals. While the HQ for the company was based here in Nashville, they had another office in Atlanta, and that’s where I was based out of for about one year. Read more>>

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