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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.

Alysha Wesson

I’ve been obsessed with hair and makeup since I was a little girl. I remember learning to braid on my little pony. I was asked to do hair and makeup for girls at my high school for prom. It was at that moment that I knew I had to go to cosmetology school and make a career out of it. I decided to become an independent stylist and I have my own studio in Franklin. I named it after my daughter, Luna. Read more>>

Julia Lucero

As a little girl, I was collecting Hilary Duff Lip Balms and digging through bags of colored pencils in search of the perfect fit for my coloring pages. To this day, my love for lip balm is just as present and those Crayola filled coloring pages have grown to become faces. Sleepovers with my Middle School best friend were spent getting ready just to watch movies with makeup and snacks scattered around us. Those nights were my introduction to makeup, trying Urban Decay palettes and MAC blushes for the very first time. Read more>>

Selena Polgardy

Hi there! My name is Selena Polgardy, I’m a cosmetics/permanent makeup artist working primarily in Nashville, TN. I also have locations in both Northern and Southern California. My parents, and my sister who is a hair and makeup artist, played a huge role in fueling my creativity. As the daughter of a film producer and nurse, I grew up surrounded by the film and television industry. This served as the key ingredient in setting me on my creative path while still being able to help others. Read more>>

Meagan Johnson

During the 1990s, while working for companies like Quaker Oats, Kraft Foods and Xerox, Meagan often heard negative comments about Gen Xers. Descriptors like “they’re all slackers,” “gold collar workers,” and “it’s the Beavis and Butthead generation” were not uncommon. Being a Gen Xer herself, Meagan knew those terms were unfair, untrue and hurtful so she began researching small and large businesses to debunk generational myths and discover the most effective ways to solve multi-generational clashes. That research gave birth to thousands of generational presentations and to her best selling book” Generations Inc., From Boomers To Linksters Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work”. Read more>>

Jennifer Beck

Three years ago, I was working for a successful corporation in the furniture industry. I had earned a top position at my tier, consistently turning in higher than average numbers, made number one in the company and made a great income. All of that was unfulfilling. I wanted more quality time at home and needed a creative outlet. After a lot of prayer and hesitation, I left my position abruptly in March of 2019. Within two weeks my business partner aka “mom” was on board with me to take our hobby to the next level. We prayed that if we were on the right path, we would know. Fast forward to today – We haven’t gone one month without profit, we have followers from all over the world and furniture in homes all across our nation. Read more>>

Meg McCauley

Hi! Yeah! Well, art has always been a part of my life since I was a child. I grew up in an environment where my parents fostered creativity and encouraged me to just use my imagination. I was homeschooled and after I graduated high school, I attended Henderson State University where I pursued a degree in Studio Art. I never thought about doing photography which is what I am doing now! But, life took me in different places before I picked up a camera. I attended graduate school for a short time but then ended up leaving the program and I moved back closer to home. That was a season where I felt very misplaced and had no idea what I was going to do next. Read more>>

Leslie Cours Mather

I am the co-founder of a boutique entertainment company. Our focus has been on the success of women in the entertainment business. As a songwriter and recording artist who began stepping into leadership roles and speaking up about the way I wanted things to be done, I faced opposition. It wasn’t that women couldn’t fill leadership roles, the reality is most female artists aren’t interested in the technical side of creative projects. I found that my creativity was well received but the specific roles of producer, audio engineer, CEO and label head are still dominated by men. Furthermore, our company has a production and post-production side. We produce music videos, reality shows, EPKs, and other promotional videos. We edit everything in house. The production and post production world is another arena that women are just starting to make our mark in. Read more>>

Brooke Taylor

My journey in radio started in 2011, fresh out of college. I graduated and started working part time at a Urology office at the front desk and hated every second of it. My local radio station at the time in Gainesville, Florida posted a job for the night show host.. and while I didn’t have any experience other than my college radio station, I decided to walk in with my resume and introduce myself to the manager. Her name was Rebecca, and I remember telling her “I know I don’t have any ‘experience’ but I’m willing to learn whatever you’ll teach me.” A day later I got a phone call telling me I could be their overnight host from 12am – 6am while I learned the ropes. So, I did that.. making $11 an hour, living with my parents. Read more>>

Krista Lee Bora

Started from magazine publishing now we’re here! I’m originally from Burlington, Vermont and moved to New York City after graduating high school one month after turning 18 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology where I majored in Advertising & Marketing Communications and graduated n May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree. I spent seven years living and working in the city at various publishing and media companies such as Women’s Health magazine, Crain Communications, and BizBash Media. While working at Crain, I found myself unfilled with a standard 10-6pm work routine so I became a certified Surfset Fitness instructor to infuse my enthusiasm and energy into motivating others to dive into a fun form of fitness. Read more>>

Grace Tseng

I (Grace Tseng), was previously an educator who also led trips to China during my teaching days. For the many trips I took with students, I noticed that the students’ go-to comfort food while traveling in China was dumplings! I started to ponder on the idea of having a dumpling truck at first. However, I didn’t follow through with the idea and moved to New York City in the fall of 2019. I got to experience life in NYC for a short period of time, and eat so many amazing foods! But I found myself still craving and missing my mom’s dumplings. Due to the pandemic, I decided to move back to Nashville. Read more>>

Alyssa Burns

I’ve always had an interest in photography! I bought my first camera at 14 with all my saved up Christmas money. Since then, I have been able to grow my business through social media, my website, family and friends! I absolutely love being able to capture special moments for all my clients, and love the reactions I get once they see their full galleries! Read more>>

Jennifer Liepis

I created Love Local because I want to change the world. When we talk about climate change, or just hear about it, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problems we face. Love Local is my way of giving people hope by offering a real world solution – an easy way to find sustainable alternatives to everyday products. I was living in New York City when I discovered a bodega dedicated to sustainable products. It was then that I realized that big companies were creating sustainable products to appeal to people who wanted healthier and safer alternatives. Read more>>

Jessica Presutti

Phew. Our story is a crazy one. We have learned SO much along this journey. We hope that from our story, it will inspire others to never give up and to chase their dreams. We have been married for 7 years. After 2 years, we decided to sell our house and things and do travel nursing to gain more life adventures and experiences. At that time, we still had that strong passion to own our own businesses at home together. We tried a bunch of ideas, but all ended up being learning experiences to prepare us for our chapter now. The biggest thing was that no matter what chapter of life we were in, we never gave up on our dreams. Read more>>

Sofia Boyden

I first began singing lessons at eight years old just for fun! Music was always something that sparked my interest as a little girl, especially country music. I love storytelling. I played theaters, county fairs, anything I could to get my name out there. From there, I found a love for being on stage and performing and connecting through lyrics with an audience. I was a part of Seattle Talent for a few years and really loved acting too. I auditioned for the spring musicals in my high school and played ensemble members, which was always the most fun! Read more>>

Jessica Tucker

I was born and raised in Nolensville, Tennessee. Art has always been something I’ve been interested in. I used to check out drawing books from the Nolensville Public Library, where my mother worked, and practice drawing. I would go through so much printer paper that my father ended up buying me an entire box of the continuous form paper that was used in the 90s. I was often sick in middle school and high school, and one of the things I would do when I was home from school sick was to watch my favorite VHS movies -usually Disney- and try to draw the characters. In college, I would create paintings and sell them to my friends. As an adult, I often create art-based gifts for my friends and family, though now my art is mostly digital. Read more>>

Carmen Grayson

Carmen Grayson may be a new Publicist to the industry, but she is not new to the industry. Carmen is a Bay Area Native born in San Francisco. She always had an interest in the Entertainment industry since a young age. She was in school plays, landing lead roles. She eventually ended up going to Long Beach State University obtaining a BA in Communications. After returning to the Bay Area Carmen was known as Msbayarea411 doing Bay Area club reports with DJ Backside on 106.1 KMEL. She was also an on-air personality for 94.1 WHAP Radio Where the Hits are Played interviewing artists and playing their new breakthru hits on the show Friday nights. Carmen has also been a host on several Bay Area Podcasts You also may have recognized Carmen as being featured on a WeTv reality show. She was on 2 episodes in 2017. Partnering up with WETv yet again opened more doors and opportunities in the Hollywood Scene. Read more>>

Susan Pogue Winchester

When I was 15, my mother started her career as a real estate agent. I would go with her to showing appointments, and I became her assistant during my summers home from college. I loved viewing properties (especially farms), scheduling appointments, and arranging closing gifts for her clients. My father also became an agent about ten years ago and is now a broker. I initially resisted getting my license, and I pursued a career in environmental consulting. I worked in the commercial side of real estate by performing due diligence and risk assessments for commercial real estate transactions. Finally realizing how much I love the industry, I decided to join them, and I’ve been an agent since 2017. Together, we are The Pogue Group of Town and Country Realtors. Read more>>

Leah Patton

I have always loved photography since a child. I began majoring photography journey in 2019 while in college. I am currently a senior at MTSU and was a psychology major for my first 2 years. I realized it wasn’t something I was truly passionate about and started researching about other majors at school. It felt like I was going nowhere until I thought about my hobbies. “What is something I truly love to do?” I thought about pictures and how I enjoyed taking them from time to time. Read more>>

Kayla Black

Kayla Black is the CEO and founder of KLipsBeauty. She has always been into makeup, fashion, & modeling. Dealing with difficult people and circumstances, she lost her way in the beauty industry. She started to feel less beautiful, less confident, & less capable. In 2020 she decided to start KLipsBeauty to help women across the world with self-esteem. Read more>>

Savannah Leighton

I’ve always had a heart for music. I started singing at age 3 and the rest was history. I grew up singing in church and performing in community theater. By high school, I was very involved with dance, concert choir and show choir. I entered local singing competitions and won. Unfortunately, after high school and most of my adult life, music had to take a back seat. I took the responsibility of taking care of my grandma. She had numerous health issues and required frequent care. During this time I also worked 2 jobs to make ends meet. My grandma was my best friend and biggest fan. Read more>>

Janine Le Clair

I was born and raised in Ontario Canada where I studied music in high school and graduated with 13 extra credits as well as had private instruction. On scholarship, I was the only student (out of just 13 who were accepted nationwide into this one-of-a-kind program) to be offered my choice of either BFA Acting, BFA Voice or BFA Musical Theatre. I chose the latter. Under the instruction of incredible vocal teachers including Elspeth Maynard and Steven Henrikson of Windsor, Ontario, I began a journey that led me down a path of many more years of continued education on the voice. Read more>>

Elizabeth Tudor

I was 28 years old, a wife and mother of four beautiful kids and a medical assistant when I realized I was not really happy with my career choice. It didn’t leave me with much family time, which is extremely important to me and it definitely wasn’t fulfilling my creative side. I have always had a need to be creative whether it was redecorating my house every few months, doing arts and crafts with my kids, or DIY projects. It was around my youngest daughter Aveen’s 3rd birthday when I decided to do a fun Cinderella themed photo shoot for her. So I bought her a pretty blue dress, a crown, and matching Cinderella slippers. I went down to Centennial park in Nashville and used my phone and let the creative ideas flow Read more>>

Sarah Sylvester

I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2018. As part of my assimilation and acclimation process to the community, I began researching organizations in need of volunteers. I heard a story on WPLN about animal shelters in the Carolinas evacuating animals to other shelters across the south because of Hurricane Florence. I connected with Nashville Cat Rescue, which was receiving loads of cats all in need of foster homes. Nashville Cat Rescue is an all-volunteer home-based foster network. We don’t have any paid staff or a facility, just a gaggle of committed, resourceful, passionate people working tirelessly in their homes to rescue cats and kittens and give them a second chance at life. We receive anywhere from five to 20 intake requests per day. Read more>>

Allison Tallman

My passion for nutrition started in college. I enjoyed how it incorporated so many aspects – clinical, culinary, community, etc, and there are so many ways you can go with it! I was learning that food not only connects us to others but it can also be healing. Fast forward from there, I got my Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and built a foundation for my nutrition knowledge. This gave me the opportunity to learn about chronic diseases, how to prevent them, and about our healthcare system. Read more>>

Mikaela Enget

I grew up in Surrey, a small no stoplight town in North Dakota. I was raised by my single mother who was very supportive of a huge dream. I wanted to be on a stage and that dream was brought to life through many competitions and auditions starting at a young age. One thing they never tell you while you’re on this wild goose chase for your “dream” is how lucky you have to be. You can practice for hours a day, sing until your face turns blue, rest, write, perform, and run as fast as you can towards your goal but, if you don’t have patience all of that work will feel like it’s for nothing. After a few times getting told the one word that no one at any age wants to hear: “No”.. I gave up, I’m not shy to admit it. Read more>>

Melissa Paez and Sarah Spilburg

Our story starts at a mom’s group where we met. We soon found out that we both went to the same high school in SoCal but never met until we moved to TN. We both share the love of tea parties and upon looking for a local high tea experience, like we frequented back home, we couldn’t find anything comparable. That’s when we decided that we need to bring the high tea experience to our new home. Our passions for fine tea and making memories with friends and loved ones, drives us to continue creating community with those that mean the most. Everyone loves a great meal, but we want to add an experience to remember. The feeling of being transported back to a time when a meal was decadent and relaxing. Our passion truly lies with wanting to bring community and making lasting memories. Everyone should feel special and take time away from their busy schedules to stop and enjoy “tea together.” Read more>>

Stephanie Flinn

I worked long and inconsistent hours with the Air Force as the top enlisted leader within my organization of around 500 military and civilian personal. I oversaw the “care and feeding” of our Airmen, ensuring they had the tools and education to accomplish their mission while balancing physical fitness to stay combat ready. By the fall of 2017, I began to recognize I could no longer outrun my folk. I was pouring all my attention into work and ignoring my self-care and personal relationships. I was lacking energy and taking a lot of naps at night, on the weekends, and sadly a few under my desk over lunch to make it through the remainder of the day. The final straw, like napping under my desk isn’t bad enough, was when my workouts started to suffer. Read more>>

Cynthea Kelley

I was raised in a musical home, my parents both singer-songwriters and my father a recording engineer/producer. We moved around a lot when I was growing up, and my dad (Nori Kelley) always had a home studio in one part of the house to work on his own music and projects for clients. He and my mom (Barbie Kelley) have a progressive rock/folk band called WIND, and they allowed me some of my first performing opportunities as a teenager to play keyboard and bass and to sing background vocals in their band. Our home environment encouraged curiosity and creativity, in addition to diligence and responsibility. Looking back, I can now see that my parents showed me the path to skillfulness (hard work, practice, patience, etc.) without forcing me down it. Read more>>

Julie Berryman

I started baking and decorating cakes as a hobby in the early 1980s. In 2009, I was enjoying a successful career in Real Estate investing and sales. I had rental properties and was working on a 100 year old house to flip when the market crashed and the economy tanked. People everywhere were losing their jobs and unable to pay rent. Then in 2010, Nashville had a great flood where 3 of my rentals were badly damaged. I suddenly found myself single with no income, 3 mortgages and 3 sets of utility bills. So, I turned back to my passion and I began to bake again. I took samples to local businesses, church events and every potluck I could get an invitation to. Basically, I fed cake to anyone who would open their mouth, lol. Selling cakes and cupcakes helped me pay the bills until I could get a real salaried job again but this time I didn’t stop baking. Read more>>

Colleen Lippert

Hi! Thank you so much for having me! My name is Colleen Lippert and I own Anchor Publicity here in Nashville. I moved here from New York after graduating with a degree in Public Relations from Marist College and opened my company in 2016. My love for music began as a child when I discovered my mom’s old Sonny and Cher records. I immediately fell in love with not only their voices, but also with the way they dressed. I wanted to be as cool as them when I grew up, and still do. Read more>>

Jenny Lingley

2020 was a year of great trials for our family, as it was for many. For us, it was a year of trying to figure out what was causing my Husbands body to fail him. He began to lose feeling in his hands, his muscles began to atrophy and his right arm began to shrink. The nerve and muscle pain became excruciating and the right side of his body wasn’t functioning properly. From the outside, he looks like a healthy man, but on the inside things were slowly falling apart. It’s been months of tests and process of elimination in search of a diagnosis. With advice from Doctors back in February 2020, he needed to step away from home remodeling as lifting heavy things could cause severe damage to his fragile spine. In March 2020 we were thrown into quarantine from a worldwide pandemic. As many, it left us both at home with no jobs. Read more>>

Katharine Hudson

My music is my history. I began singing before I was five years old, and have never stopped. Every time I get to perform, I’m reminded of those that I love. My mother, a talented musician and singer, introduced me to folk, bluegrass, soul, and blues. Her rich alto voice always inspired me to take up space, and never be afraid to be heard. She held my hand and brought me on stage with her from the time I little and encouraged me through my stage fright. She still has some of the first songs I ever wrote, scribbled in childish handwriting and tucked away in scrapbooks and her old guitar case. Read more>>

Julie Delgado

My husband, Manuel, and I came to Nashville, I, as a songwriter, and he, as a third generation instrument builder or luthier, from a deep rooted family business in LA. We did what everyone does when they move to Nashville, start over. Over the years, the guitar business grew and grew from a home studio/workshop into a rental space, into a thriving artisan complex in East Nashville. Also, I worked over the years as a songwriter networking with independent artists & other writers, and creating my own independent singer-songwriter album. We opened the Music Makers Stage in May 2019 right next-door to the pre-existing Delgado Guitars shop. We conducted a well attended songwriter round twice a month with a steadily growing audience. Also, we hosted several showcases and were introduced to the Americana Music Association, considered for their venue list of the International conference event for the following Fall. Read more>>

Sandy Baird

It all started when I fell in love with a dental student. Little did I know I would also fall in love with his profession, and it would become my life career. After my husband, Bruce, finished dental school and four years in the Army, we moved back to where he grew up and I went to college, Sewanee, Tennessee. We set up his private dental practice in 1981 when interest rates were 21% and brokered a partnership, I would manage the business and he the clinical department. At the time, dental schools offered virtually zero training on how to run a successful business, and, being a Forestry major, I had little to no knowledge, either. In other words, we were clueless and it didn’t take long for us to figure that out. To combat our business ignorance, I started reading articles and attending seminars. Practice management in the ’80s was in its infancy, so finding these resources was a challenge. Read more>>

Sarah Smith

Today we are the co-hosts & co-founders of Say it Southern. We both lived in Nashville but did not know each other until we moved to Jackson, TN. Courtney moved for her husband’s job and Sarah moved back home to care for her father who was ill. Although, Courtney did “know” Sarah from watching her on ABC”s The Bachelor (she received the final rose from Vandy ER Doctor, Travis Stork). Sarah was approaching 40 and was wanting to do something creative, something that would connect women like her to the South. She began to search for podcasts about entrepreneurship in the South, best places to travel in South, best restaurants in South but couldn’t find anything that really had it all…SO, she decided to start her own podcast and knew that Courtney would make the perfect co-host and partner in the journey. Read more>>

April Escobar

I started my YouTube channel 3 years ago when my family moved from California to Nashville. My son was only 4 months old and I wanted our friends/family to watch him grow up. I never thought that it would grow into what it is today. Moving from California to Nashville was the best decision for our family but, so hard to leave loved ones. Since moving, we have had quite a few major life events and I am so grateful they are documented on my channel, especially the birth of my daughter. Read more>>

Kristina Sharp

I have always had a creative spark in me with a love for cultivating experiences. As a child, my favorite pastime was drawing cartoons and comic books with elaborate characters. I created volumes of stories but wished I could add another dimension to bring them off the page. Then I discovered my family’s video camera– suddenly I took on the role of director, actor, and editor of silly short films. Now, I could add music cues with dramatic timing, choose camera angles, hear voice inflections in the spoken dialogue, and share a finished product that evoked various emotions! Read more>>

Sharon Coker

Looking back and going through old family photos, there is always a camera in my hand, or my father had one around his neck. I come from a line of creative and talented people and I’ve done some family research and found that photography runs in the family. But, it wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I knew that I wanted to do photography for a living. My oldest brother, who is also a photographer, gave me my first DSLR camera as a gift and it changed my life. He took the time to show me the basics and when I booked my first wedding in 2009 he came and assisted and to this day we talk about that being one of the most chaotic weddings ever. From that point forward I learned everything as I went. I take pride in the fact that I am a self taught photographer, learning from experiences and lessons I’ve learned and that were taught to me by those around me that I look up to. Read more>>

Annabelle Carlson

Even though I grew up in the church, I don’t feel like I had a relationship with God until about 4 years ago. In my earlier adult years, I had my share of behavior that wasn’t very Christ-like. Fast forward to marriage, kids, and a cross-country move to Tennessee, things shifted. We got plugged into a church and met friends that feel like family. God revealed what community, grace, and generosity are really like when they are centered around Him. No shame, no guilt. Just love. I’ve always enjoyed having a creative outlet. Growing up, I loved to draw, paint, make crafts, cook… you name it. I even went to culinary school and was a pastry chef, once upon a time. Read more>>

Fiorella Villarruel

I was a Loan Officer for seven years, and I put my position on hold to be a full-time stay-at-home mom for almost a decade while my husband was traveling for work. I loved being available for my children, so I worked in the school system for a few years to be able to be flexible for my kids. As they grew, eventually I needed a change and I wasn’t sure what direction to go with my life. It admittedly felt very isolating having given so much to my family and wondering where that left Fiorella as an individual career woman… I know this is a feeling many moms can relate to. One day my husband had suggested getting my Real Estate license. It was an interesting idea but didn’t immediately spark to me. He convinced me that with my knowledge of the area, my love of homes new and old, and the people skills that I had honed through the years to give it a try… and it was just one day in and I fell in love with my new career! My husband loves to remind me that it was all his idea. Read more>>

Ashley Walling

In 2017, I started my small business Ash Art in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time, I was attending college at Trevecca in Nashville, TN pursuing a degree in communication studies. My grandmother had passed away in 2015 and I was looking for something to do in her memory. There were a bunch of mason jars leftover that were passed down to me that used to be my grandmothers and instead of keeping them in kitchen cabinets, I wanted to make something beautiful out of them. I painted a few mason jars and it all started from there & I decided to name it Ash Art. In 2017 there was a job opening at a local boutique called Bits & Pieces in my hometown of Nashville. One of the students that I went to school with posted the job opportunity at my college. I started working there as a shopkeeper. The shop was full of antiques, vendor booths, boutique clothing, records & it was so inspiring. The owner of the shop, Aubrey Prosser, had a few students who included their art in her store & sold it as vendors. Read more>>

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