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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.

Alejandro Castro

In 2011, started electrical school sponsored by a commercial company. Determined to finish my 4 years course earlier, I signed up for summer school and end up receiving an electrical certificate in two and a half years instead. At age of 21 almost 22 years of age, began my carrier as an electrician follow by the title of Foreman and Supervisor in multiple commercial and industrial companies such as CGI electric, Empower electric, Volunteer Electric, Enterprise Electric, ect. It wasn’t ’til I turned 24 when I had the chance to work indecently for a local Residential Contractor, Attkinson Remodeling. Worked under the name of Care Electric for a few years. In 2018, I decided to move to the West coast and resume my carrier as an electrical foreman developing projects with a different environment and regulations. That same year, One week before Thanksgiving, I was back in Tennessee with a new contract offer from Lowe’s and Home Depot as their local electrical contractor for the entire middle TN area. Read more>>

Meg Epstein

Born in California, but today calls Nashville, Tennessee home, real estate developer Meg Epstein has over a decade of experience creating efficient, modern lifestyles for people where it matters most: their homes and neighborhoods. Developing and establishing spaces that support whole living and simplify home and work life for individuals is a personal passion of hers. To that end, Meg founded CA South in 2016 with the idea of bringing to Nashville her sense of design and style of building honed from her days constructing in California. Meg quickly recognized the unique under-supply of residential condos in this market and began by being focused on this asset class. As CA South raised its first dedicated fund in early 2019, the firm expanded beyond residential condos to include multifamily mixed-use, industrial and office projects, as well as opportunity zone funds. Read more>>

Hunter Jordan

I grew up in Mercer, TN with a population of 600 people. I was a late bloomer with music. I didn’t sing in front of anyone until college. The first show of my life I was thrown to the wolves, lol. I played in front of 500 people opening for Dylan Scott at the University of Tennessee-Martin where I attended college at the time. I instantly knew from the rush I got when I hit that stage that I wanted to pursue music. I just didn’t know how to go about pursuing it. I moved home after graduation and formed the band Backroad Therapy. with some friends from high school. Read more>>

Curry McDaniel

I started out in the world of interior design. Interning for one of the most sought-after interior designers in Tallahassee, Fla. Working closely together on several custom private home projects and twice a year on the Governors’ mansion; at that point, I always knew I was creative. I moved to Tennessee in the hopes of a better career and found a passion for the Geriatric community and worked in skilled rehabs for several years. One day one of my closest friends was getting married quickly, due to her finance being in the Airforce and we created something so beautiful in a short period of time. At the end of the night, I was asked for several of my business cards. At that moment, my business was born almost 9 years ago, and I’m proud to still be designing luxury florals to this day. Read more>>

Michael Harvey

Well, I started cooking out of my house. I would sell plates and advertise on social media. Once I and my wife picked up more business, I quit my corporate job, withdrew my 401k and started our restaurant, One Spunky Spud! Now we are opening our second location in Germantown! Read more>>

Justin Devasthali

I was introduced to the arboriculture industry back in 2005 in Akron, OH. In my teenage years, I was known as an “adventurous troublemaker” to say the least. At the time, my older brother was working for a local tree company and offered to get me on a crew and give me something productive to do. I never would have thought that I’d fall in love with trees and the arboriculture industry like it did. I became obsessed! I’d stare at trees while driving trying to identify them, what type of tree it was, and how I would go about trimming or removing it piece by piece. After enlisting in the Army and being stationed at Fort Campbell, KY I saw a great opportunity to build what I’ve dreamt of for years; After nearly 15 years of being in the tree industry, Spartan Tree Solutions, LLC was established. Read more>>

Anna Hamilton

I grew up in small-town Kansas and began writing songs as early as 8 years old. I remember running around and singing them all over the house as my siblings were trying to study…Which I’m sure they LOVED… I knew I wanted to be an artist but also knew that would require a lot of sacrifices- moving cities and leaving my parents and 11 siblings behind. But with sacrifice comes growth. Since moving to Nashville, I’ve had the chance to fully dive into the writing world. Focusing on writing for other artists and sync projects have paved the way for finding my sound as an artist. I’ve spent a lot of time writing alone and keeping my thoughts precious, and this year I’ve finally started giving those songs to the world. It feels so good to actually be releasing music after years of keeping it so close. Read more>>

Kayla Sykes

I was a new mama to six-month-old twins, working full time at a local credit union when I first started my online wellness coaching business. It was quite possibly the busiest season of life for me, but I did not care because I was done ignoring that tug on my heart to TRY. For a year and a half, I had sat back following other coaches’ journeys and admiring from afar. I had been a part of group fitness classes at this point for a couple of years and loved cheering other people on during class! There was a day where while we were cooling off in class where I just thought “How cool would it be to have a job to simply empower others and cheer them on in their health journey?!” Read more>>

James Wigginton

Basically, a hillbilly version of The Partridge Family (young folks, google it…). Growing up in a small town in Western Kentucky, life was centered around music, sports, church, farm, and family. My mom was a phenomenal singer and pianist. You will hear me quote her often when giving performance and singing advice, phrasing in particular. She, my brother, and I were singing tight 3-part harmonies since I was able to form words. With my dad on bass, my aunt on drums, and my uncle on guitar, we performed at revivals, festivals, and church events all over the region. I began piano and theory lessons at the age of 7 and continued through my senior year of high school. Caldwell County High School had great wrestling and band programs, but no choir program at all. And so I started one my sophomore year. I arranged the music, gave voice lessons to my friends and my mom accompanied me on the piano. Read more>>

Kimberly Clo

I am a visual artist gushing little love poems + wisdom teachings in the language of geometry. A language which we all, in fact, speak. Mine is a long and beautiful story about how I went from being a deeply devout Christian leader in my large Southern Baptist Church in Miami to have a sudden shift in consciousness upon the passing of my father when I was 35. I painfully walked away from all of it – my beliefs, my community, my sense of “security.” I left it all behind except LOVE. I began allowing my curiosity about what others had to say about LOVE lead me. Over the years my spiritual adventures led me to study and also lead Goddess Circles. I studied Earth-based practices, yoga and meditation, tarot, and hermetic studies. My psychic and healing abilities have expanded and strengthened, I do reiki, explored Taoism and Zen teachings. It’s been a delicious unfolding and exploration. LOVE as my guide has led me to the most exquisite places within mySelf. My art communicates deeply nurturing LOVE and solid wisdom in the pure language of colors, circles, and dots. Read more>>

Alice Nelson

At the young age of 3, I started singing in church sharing my love for music! I would sing everywhere and anywhere I could! My dad competed in BBQ competitions and there was always live music. At the age of 7, they asked if I would like to sing so I stepped up on my first BIG stage in Tallahassee Florida! Ever since that moment, I knew for sure that was going to be my career! I continued to perform at various BBQ Competitions/Fairs and local venues! Read more>>

Josh Cook

My culinary career started like many, working in turn and burn restaurants cooking for the waves of tourists that come to the city. I began to grow tired of not only the food but the culture of those kitchens. I needed to find a place where I could work alongside people who shared the same passion for food that I did. At this time, my friend had told me about Husk and suggested I apply there, so I did. I knew the first day I stepped into that kitchen that this is the place I needed to be. I started in prep, peeling shrimp, skimming stock, and eventually became executive sous chef. I spent about a year in this position. Then the pandemic struck. After coming back when we reopened, I realized my time at Husk was coming to an end. I no longer felt the same passion as before. It was time for me to cook my own food. Read more>>

Elizabeth Menkveld

My husband, Nathan, and I have a flower farm at our home in Nolensville, TN. We moved back here to be near family at the end of 2016 and found a place with just over 8 acres. It was a bit more than what we were looking for at the time, but everything else we looked at had fallen through, so we decided this was where we were supposed to be. We both had an interest in homesteading and spending time outdoors, and as we were starting to think about having a family and raising children, we thought it would be a great opportunity for them to have lots of places to explore on our own property and also teach them life skills. Read more>>

Samantha Coken

So I started in August of 2020, just like most, this was a really hard year for me. I was living in St. Louis MO going to grad school for social work and excited to start my journey as a social worker. I was living alone in this beautiful apartment close to all that St. Louis had to offer. When the pandemic hit, everything closed down and school became completely virtual, classes were online and my internship was online. This became a really dark time, and something that has always helped pull me out of those times has being art. But I had no time for anything other than school. When everything became virtual, an opportunity presented itself for me to move in with some really close friends of mine in Nashville, friends who just had a little boy, these friends are way more than friends to me, they are family. I have known them for over 8 years and moving in with them has been such a blessing, they helped get me out of a really dark period when I was living alone in St. Louis. Read more>>

Rebecca Grome

I purchased Ears 4 U Hearing Services in July 2018 when the previous owner decided to join his wife in retirement. At the time, though I had a solid graph on my clinician skills, running a business was a completely different animal. With a baby at home and another on the way, I had to figure things out very quickly! After educating myself on all things insurance and making my fair share of bad business decisions, I found there to be a very obvious need for an Audiologist who specializes in hearing loss with musicians. Things evolved and eventually Ears 4 U Hearing Services became the “go-to” for musicians in-ear monitors, custom hearing protection, tinnitus services, hearing evaluations, and hearing conservation. Read more>>

Mimi Phillips

I launched my professional career working in fashion design and production. After a few years, I wanted more. I was eager to get my hands not only on the clothes but the environments they lived in. Naturally, I expanded to Art Direction and took an exciting position with the Creative Department for Ralph Lauren designing and installing their window displays in their flagship store on Madison Avenue. In 2014, I decided to start my own Art Direction company. Working as a stylist and art director is like a big scavenger hunt. Over time, I started fantasizing about the perfect pieces of jewelry for clients and photoshoots. That was when Minnie Lane came to life. I launched my collection in 2017 hoping to blend art history with pop culture. My collection is everything that I looked for, and dreamt of, but could never find. Read more>>

Caitlin Friel

My name is Caitlin Friel, most of you know me as Cat or Bougie__Bites. I moved to Nashville four years ago from Boston, after moving one of my college roommates down here. Immediately upon arriving in Nashville, I felt the lively energy and creativity that this city had to offer and knew I could see myself living here. After my four days visiting Nashville, while moving my friend in, I called my parents and said “I’m moving to Nashville.” To say the least, moving to Nashville felt serendipitous in so many ways. Read more>>

Kendra Stoltz

Born and raised in Middle Tennessee, I grew up like most kids in working-class southern families of the 1990’s-early 2000s. While I did great in school, I found myself much more interested in the arts: drawing, painting, creating, deep-diving into music, movies, and pop culture. I was constantly daydreaming about acting or singing at Juilliard School or becoming one of the youngest fashion designers at FIDM. I always envisioned myself operating independently while expressing myself creatively. Fast forward to 2012 when I graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Merchandising, and Design; a minor concentration in Business Administration. Those four years living just a few hours away from my small town taught me so much about myself and life in general. I learned I was a bit of a wild card, an extroverted-introvert, now recognized as an enneagram 1W9, with so many beliefs and ideas. Those years also taught me how important self-confidence was and how to embrace how unique God had made me. Read more>>

Britaney Parks

I have worked at many spas here in Nashville and decided to venture out on my own, after following my own path to healing. I wanted to create a healing space for massage therapists to be employed as well as a healing space for my clients to visit. Solstice Wellness Company is about connection and healing the body through massage therapy, meditation, energy healing yoga, and one-on-one coaching. The body holds emotions, stress, and pain patterns that can be released through manual therapy and the mind, body connection. Having been through trauma, loss, and health issues myself, I wanted to help other people on their path to healing. And that is my main passion is to spread love and connection through the holistic healing arts! Read more>>

Ava Bardsley

Both my husband (Josh Halper) and I have been in the restaurant industry our whole lives and both are very passionate about what we do. We both began our careers in Los Angeles, Ca. My husband’s early work consisted of being the food and beverage director for the Malibu Beach Inn Hotel, earning his Advanced Sommelier certification, while I worked in fine-dining establishments like Tom Colicchio’s Craft restaurant and Micheal Voltaggio’s Ink. From there we were offered an opportunity to move to Hawaii, where my husband would be the Director of Operations for Peter Merrimans fine-dining restaurant, while I worked as a chef at the Mana Launi Resort Hotel. Eventually, we became homesick and decided to move back to the mainland where we landed in Tennessee where my husband began to consult restaurant groups and I worked private chafing and events. We have now opened our own business where we have combined our attention to detail, passion for cuisine, libations, and wines, to Tennessee where we hope to offer people a truly unique hospitality experience. Read more>>

Nick Jarosz

The Collab Sessions actually started as a local event series in Chicago. I and Collab Sessions co-founder Andrew Dewar had been playing music together for a while, but we wanted a way to get more involved with the Chicago music scene. We began holding these one-day open-house-style events at studios around the city as a way to meet new musicians and industry professionals. The basic idea was to walk into the studio in the morning with something extremely simple- a few chords, a drum beat, a bass line, etc.- and to let musicians hop in the booth and record their takes over what we already had. As the day progressed, the song would fill out as more and more musicians came through the studio. After the event, we’d take the tracks, them down, and arrange the song as a sort of musical collage. We’d try to get musicians from as many backgrounds, genres, and experience levels to participate as we could, and anyone session could see dozens of different musicians show up. Read more>>

Dasia Washington

Being physically active changed my life in so many ways. There was a point in time where I avoided physical activity like the plague. I even ditched PE all throughout my school years. But my life changed once I started working out a few years ago, I had more energy, I was stronger, happier, I had found a global community so that even when I moved to Nashville from Vegas alone for work, I knew that I would be alright. Fast forward 2 years and a pandemic, I needed a new way to get cardio into my day after twisting my ankle on a run had left me high and dry for a few weeks, so I picked up a pair of rollerskates. Read more>>

Harumi Ortiz

My story proves that everything happens for a reason. I’m a 20-years-old and this is how my fencing business started, I have been working for a restaurant for over 4 years but at the beginning of February 2021, I quit my job, I was working six days a week and it got to the point where I was not excited about going to work, very unfulfilled. I knew it was time for something different in my life but I had no idea what to do. New management pushed me away by telling me that they were going to hire somebody else and that I needed to teach them everything that I knew; but I knew that meant that they were going to cut my hours, that was my breaking point. I ended up quitting and had no job for a week. One day my mother, Luz Maria randomly called my uncle, Victor Canales, to check how he was doing and then they started talking about what had happened at my job and my mother came up with a great idea. Read more>>

Josey Depew

My husband and I moved to Clarksville, TN in May of 2020 due to being stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. Being a military spouse, the odds are already against you with trying to have a career, but also trying to find a job during that time, being one of the high points for COVID, was just plain awful. I would apply to so many positions and half of the time not even get a callback. I graduated in 2018 with a degree in Graphic Technologies, which is print and design, and was getting really discouraged. Here, I had this degree that I absolutely love but wasn’t able to use. I am also one of those people that can’t just sit at home all day – I need to be doing something. So, after thinking long and hard about what I really wanted to do and what I could do, in August of 2020, I took matters into my own hands and started my business Graceful Leo Designs. Read more>>

Charlie Eblen

After the pandemic of 2020 and working for major restaurant companies for over 25 years, I decided to start my own brand. When I was a kid, I remember going to my grandfather’s farm in Bell Buckle, TN. When you pulled into the farm and looked up at the ridgeline there was one single tree that stood tall above all the others. So, Papa George, “The Judge” (my grandfather), name the farm Single Tree Farm. We always worked most of the day, whether that was in the garden, with the cattle or horses, fixing fences, or whatever else needed to be done. But, at the end of the day, we would spend time together by the outdoor fireplace, telling stories and cooking dinner. Read more>>

Melissa Raber

I moved to Nashville in 2004 (as an only parent), shortly after my daughter, Adrienne, was born. I was a gymnastics coach for 16 years, however, when she was going to preschool the schedules no longer worked. I retired from coaching and started my own company, Jill Of All Trades. I did everything people didn’t have time to do; landscaping, running errands, bookkeeping, painting, office work, etc. In 2009, it landed me in the office of a landscape supply/install company shortly after it opened. As the years went on, I saw how much potential StoneTree had. I bought StoneTree, moved across town, and in 2013 we became StoneTree Mulch, Gravel & More, Inc. Since then we have become a vital part of the landscape and hardscape industries as well as a community sponsor for many local schools and sports leagues. In 2016, I married Christopher Jennings. Chris retired from the Army in 2018 and came on full-time to work at StoneTree. Read more>>

Teresa Lo

We live on 44 acres with a lake set in the middle. My daughter asked me to build a barn for her to get married 7 years ago. I have always wanted and dreamed about sharing the beauty of this lake with others. So the barn was completed in 2017. We have been in business for 5 years. Read more>>

Keosha Thomas

I started Tall Girls Matter after being out working at the Dove Award Event and talking to some tall women about our everyday struggles with locating shoes, clothing, dating and find men taller, and raising tall kids. At that moment, I came up with the name Tall Girls Matter and started an Instagram page in November 2017. Then I had our first meet-up in LA at All-star weekend and designed our first logo which I printed in LA. I continued to grow the audience with Instagram and FB. In 2018, I had a meet-up in Nashville that went well. Fast forward to 2020 during the pandemic, I rebranded my logo for Tall Girls Matter and came up with the TGM logo; and girl on the logo with a globe to symbolize our reach being global, decided to have brand ambassadors, started doing live interviews on Tall Tuesday where I highlight tall brands and businesses. Read more>>

Victoria Franklin

Currently, I’m a Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator at Tennessee State University, I have a background in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and community advocacy and service. I’m a Creative Strategist, skilled in Photography, Graphic and Website Design, GIS and Data Analytics, Digital Marketing, Email Marketing, Event Planning, Nonprofit Management and Community Outreach. Tennessee State University (HBCU), is like home to me literally. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies with a minor in Nonprofit Management and my master’s degree in Geospatial Information Systems. I’m currently enrolled in the Public Administration and Policy Studies program, with the hopes to complete my Ph.D. by the 2022-2023 academic calendar year. Read more>>

Mikey Corona

We (Brian and Mikey) met in 2004 in Chicago through mutual friends at a house party. We both moved there from Texas to attend art school and supported ourselves by working in some of the city’s best restaurants. Art was our passion, but it doesn’t always pay the bills, hence our jobs in the hospitality world. As most industry people, Sundays were our day off the schedule and we filled them with friends, food, and way too much frivolity. Brian would create a menu and execute the cooking he learned during his time living in Europe and I (Mikey) would be in charge of the theme and curating the invite list of restaurant comrades. Preparing our apartment for these shindigs was always a lesson in dexterity, as we would have to move all furniture to make room for a sit-down meal and musical performance (or drag show depending on the menu motif) for 20-30 people in our small city apartment. Read more>>

Ty Tomlin

I first got started boxing at the age of 9 years old. Originally, I wanted to participate in MMA, as it was just starting to gain traction with the success of the UFC. The only thing in my area was a boxing gym, so I started there and fell in love with the sport. I competed as an amateur throughout my teen years and did well, earning top 10 rankings in multiple weight classes. I continued to work hard and 12 years later it is still my passion and I get to do it full time! Read more>>

Future Crib

Future Crib began as a personal project when I was 17. Bryce and I had a band in high school called Naff Noise, and when the others in the band got busier and didn’t have as much time, I started to make some of my own recordings. That ended up becoming Stevie B. We started playing shows with a rotating cast of members, kind of like a pickup band. Just whoever could play. Eventually, we settled into the lineup we have now – the five of us. Julia, George, Noah, Bryce, and me. We are best friends and love each other very much. A band is a unit now rather than one person’s project. It feels very organic and rewarding. Read more>>

Matthew Schlosshauer

In short, my story starts growing up with the love for cars! It was when my father taught me how to change my own oil, also every weekend we would clean our vehicles for five plus hours, making them amazingly clean. That one thing laid down a solid foundation to learn, obsess and keep my ambitions high. Once I completed my training with the Mercedes Benz factory program, I moved on to my first endeavor as a technician. It was a great learning experience dealing with a luxury brand, Mercedes taught me how to be professional, polite, and punctual. Long story short, I took this training and put it to the test, opening my first business in Brodheadsville PA, as a European repair shop Abeltons Autohaus LLC. I ran this business for eight years before selling and moving to Nashville TN, going back to Mercedes Benz as a technician. Read more>>

Nikki Pazdra

A few years back, I was a touring musician. Eventually, I got tired of traveling and sleeping on people’s couches. When I left the band, I knew I needed to do something exciting, but something that also mattered and made a difference. I’ve always had a strange connection with animals and knew it was something I needed to pursue. I began my dog training journey when I found a dog training position at Petco. Within a month, I was the lead dog trainer at the location. I learned a fair amount from that position, but I knew there was A TON more to learn since Petco can not legally deal with many dogs with behavioral issues. I left there and began working for more renowned training companies. There, I learned how to rehabilitate dogs with aggression, fear, anxiety, etc. I also took a break in my career to work as a vet assistant and groomer. Read more>>

Jenna Rose & Michelle Stone

Michelle (Elle): Born and raised in Nashville, I was writing and creating from a young age. I found myself pursuing many journeys and pathways of finding out who I was and my purpose here. My involvement in the industry came naturally growing up where I did, everyone I knew was a musician. I found myself a part of all types of scenes from EDM to heavy metal. I met Jenna in 2020 and we both fell into the newly emerging rock scene of Nashville together. After working on other projects, we decided to create one of our own and that is how Music City Movement was formed. Read more>>

Jason Day

I was working in S. California running a skilled nursing facility for the past 11 years. Not wanting to spend the next 10 years of my life talking about end-of-life situations and also not wanting to regret never taking that big swing (risk) in my life, I decided to come to Tennessee and take my life savings to open a restaurant that made people happy. Also, I felt stagnant in my former career and wanted to challenge myself by embarking on something I had never done before (i,e. Restaurant). As we started to build out the restaurant it became clear that delays and unexpected costs were going to put me way over budget and, by the time it got to where we could open, I was flat broke. I had spent every dime I had and maxed out my credit cards. Fortunately, throughout the build-out, I was also marketing the store so we had a nice turnout when it opened. Four months in, we had our ribbon cutting with the city and things were looking great. The next week COVID hit and I was forced to shut down the dining room. Read more>>

Nx Flash

Nx Flash Co. is currently made up of two parts, Jovan and Tisha. We both have a long-standing relationship with photography in different respects. Jovan has been actively practicing, studying, and shooting since 2007. His work includes a little bit of everything such as landscape, nature, portraits, and lifestyle but the real ever-growing passion is automotive. Tisha has grown up watching her grandfather photograph people from day one; eventually, that camera always pointed at her turned into a growing curiosity and a camera in her hand. However, besides helping her grandfather with personal family photos, the practice wasn’t seriously picked up until meeting Jovan during the pandemic around March 2020. Read more>>

Ephraim Glick

When I was 9 years old I dreamed of a lifestyle that I really had no idea how it could ever be possible. You see the life I dreamed of was forbidden in the Amish culture/community I grew up in. We had no electricity, no television or radio, and our transportation was horse and buggy. My mom cooked every meal and made all our clothes from scratch. I wanted more, I felt stuck like a bird in a cage even at a very young age. I loved my parents and hated to let them down but at 18 I ran away from home and really never looked back. Read more>>

The Guapo Boys

I and my co-host James Paynelethal have been friends since we were kids, had always talked about doing something together so one day I was like “Let’s do a podcast.” We did our research pooled some money together along with our other friend G.F.I.T. and we went to work. We originally wanted the concert to be about black fatherhood and life but it kind of became a random topic show. Not gone to lie it was rough the first two shows were rough. We had one mic, a computer stacked one some totes in my garage on top of that it was cold as hell while we recorded. Read more>>

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