Summer Special Edition Issue
KATHY FIELDER BUILDING A GLOBAL BRAND THROUGH DESIGN AND FASHION
DALLAS POWER 15
Mixi Avenue produces all natural products using premium ingredients to give your hair and skin optimal nourishment.
CONTENTS 72 On the Scene: EPIC SHOW CREATION OF FASHION 2019
7 The Annual BMW Dallas Marathon is Back
Kathy Fielder, Kathy Fielder Inc. Story on p. 36
74 Cheryl Polote-Williamson Talks Her New Film, "Illegal Rose"
5 Letter from the Editor 6 10 Ways to Catapult Your Life Tiyana Jordan 12 2019 Power Mom Kim Stephens-Olusanya 16 2019 Power Mom Elizabeth Scrivner 28 2019 Power Mom Tammy Meinershagen 68 2019 Power Mom DeNita Lacking-Quinn 76 Editor's Pick Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark: Epic Waves
8 MEET THE 2019 DALLAS POWER 15 These 15 moms are blazing trails and leaving their mark on Dallas. CEOMOM | 3
SUMMER 2019 - DALLAS POWER 15 ISSUE
Editor-in-Chief: Vonna Matthews / Contributing Editor: Marcus Matthews / Photo Editor: Krystal Jackson/ Contributing Designer: Taly Melo / Kathy Fielder Cover Photo: Thomas Garza / Amber Gregg Cover Photo: Kauwuane Burton / ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams Cover Photo: Octavia Whitlowe/ Elizabeth Scrivner Cover Photo: Kelly Williams/ Contributing Writer: Tiyana Jordan
Little Elm, Texas +1-972-302-9150/ email@example.com
FROM THE EDITOR When I decided to create an issue exclusively for Dallas, Texas, my plan was to focus on the city as a whole. As someone who was born and raised in Dallas, this city has a special place in my heart. It's where my mom and my grandmother were born. Dallas runs deep in our veins. We have called it home generation after generation, and most of us are still here. As the first Dallas Power 15 issue evolved, I realized that I had something special, something that wasn't just about the city itself, but the women who were making it as beautiful and full of depth as it is. The women of the 2018 Dallas Power 15 have paved the way and set a standard that we are all excited to uphold. They embraced their position and accepted the honor with humility. For that, I am eternally grateful. It is my privilege to carry the torch to a new group of diverse and dynamic women for the 2019 Dallas Power 15. I started this special edition issue in honor of my grandmother, Elinor Taylor, who loved everything Dallas. She embraced this city from every sports team to every tradition to the family and friends who loved it as she did. My grandmother loved to celebrate women. It is only fitting that an issue dedicated to just that would be in her honor. Congratulations to the 2019 CEOMOM Dallas Power 15. For some of you, Dallas has always been home. For others, you got here as quickly as you could. We honor you all. We celebrate you all. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.
Vonna Matthews Vonna Matthews Editor-in-Chief
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WAYS TO CATAPULT YOUR LIFE Tiyana Jordan of Nine30 provides inspiring, yet practical tips to position us to elevate our lives.
Photo Credit: Alex Blăjan
1. DO IT ALL WITH PASSION Have you ever noticed that when you’re super engaged in a certain project or task there's a certain level of emotional drive that stirs inside? That’s your passion working through you! How wonderful it is to be able to do things in complete bliss and takeaway a pure sense of fulfillment. Your purpose is to share your passion and enthusiasm, it’s what makes your life so much more worthwhile. The energy you expel from those things that make you most happy may just generate a purpose and happiness in someone else! Now, that is life at its best. 2. EXTEND YOURSELF Our day to day grind can be hectic on all levels, especially as moms and entrepreneurs. You’re often pulled in various directions to fulfill a multitude of responsibilities. Extending ourselves becomes a regular part of who we are. A healthy extension of yourself is a good habit to practice. Give unto others your quality time, a helping hand, or an encouraging word. The key is to choose CEOMOM | 6
how you want to be utilized without others putting terms on you. Be clear, you’re extending not overextending. 3. POSITIVELY AFFIRM YOURSELF Take a second to say something encouraging and positive to and about yourself. Internalize it and believe it. We are so critical of ourselves; everything from our physical features to our capabilities to what we believe we can and cannot do. We even have deteriorating thoughts about ourselves based on things that have not yet happened. Let’s start a mind shift! When a negative thought creeps into your psyche, change that message to a positive affirmation. Your thoughts have so much power. It is the first indirect intention before you’ve taken a direct action in your life. As lingering as those thoughts can be, be sure to remember “you are who you think you are.” So, think success, competency and power. 4. SET ATTAINABLE GOALS We are now in the middle of 2019. You know those goals you set at the beginning of the year, posted on social media, wrote
on sticky notes across your bathroom mirror…well, let's revisit those to see how many you’ve completed. If you’ve tackled them all, kudos to you! For the rest of us who haven’t completed ours, it’s time to start some reevaluating. Goal setting is necessary. It’s a simplified blueprint of what we need to do to move to the next level in our lives. We all have different goals. Your goals, no matter how big or small, should be attainable and completed in steps. Set goals you can effectively execute. Preparation is key! Visit https://ceomommagazine.com/10ways-catapult-life to get tips 5 through 10. Learn more about Tiyana Jordan at https://www.consult930.com/about.
Take a second to say something encouraging and positive to and about yourself.
BMW Dallas Marathon
Photos provided by: BMW Dallas Marathon
Registration for the 2019 BMW Dallas Marathon Weekend is officially open. The Marathon’s parent organization, runDallas, is excited to kick-off registration for its annual marquee event, which attracts more than 20,000 runners and 100,000 spectators from around the world and benefits the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. “The BMW Dallas Marathon is one of the most cherished traditions in the City of Dallas, and we are proud that it serves as a catalyst to bring together the entire community in the spirit of health and wellness,” said Paul Lambert, president of runDallas, a nonprofit organization. “The Dallas Marathon is a destination for athletes and families of all fitness levels – our 2019 portfolio of events offer something for everyone to enjoy.” The weekend of events is sponsored by BMW of North America and the five DFW BMW Centers. The Health and Fitness Expo starts Friday, Dec. 13 at Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, where participants can pick up packets and have the opportunity to collect information and merchandise from running, fitness and health-related vendors. Admission into the Expo is free for both participants and spectators, and runs through Saturday. The newest addition to the Marathon’s weekend of events is the Friday Night Mile, which will take place Friday evening and feature rolling heats based on age groups starting at 7 p.m. Participants and spectators alike can enjoy music, food and beverages while they witness the fastest mile runners of all ages in Dallas-Fort Worth compete in this event. Registration for this event is $19. For more information, visit www.rundallas.com.
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YASMEEN Don’t ever chase money, chase opportunities. If you chase opportunities things will come your way, because you will have a passion for them. Photo provided by: Yasmeen Tadia
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MAKING LIFE SWEETER ONE PERSON AT A TIME AN INTERVIEW WITH YASMEEN TADIA, FOUNDER OF MAKE YOUR LIFE SWEETER BRANDS Before you call her anything, call her mom. Yasmeen Tadia, founder of Make Your Life Sweeter®, is a woman of many roles including entrepreneur, public speaker, strategist and consultant. Her most important role is that of mom to her nine year old son, Zain. Tadia’s out of the box and innovative approach to business has allowed her to transform traditional carnival favorites, cotton candy and popcorn, into sophisticated treats that are more fun for adults than kids. Her brand includes Fluffpop® Gourmet Mini Cotton Candy, Fluffpop Mini Masons, Hotpoppin® Gourmet Popcorn, The Mini Mason™ and more. Yasmeen Tadia is a force of strength, with immense creativity and a business mind that has built a brand recognized and used by celebrities, influencers, community leaders and other notable figures. Her mission is to change the world by impacting one person at a time. CEOMOM Magazine chatted with Tadia about her philosophies on business, both as a single mother and a jet-setting entrepreneur. Who is Yasmeen Tadia? I am a mom first of all. I am an entrepreneur. I try to be a strategist. The most important thing for me is to leave somebody better than when I got to them. I like to be memorable. Through Make Your Life Sweeter, you have created Fluffpop to give your son a more healthy option to satisfy his sweet tooth. What is Fluffpop? What was the defining moment that inspired you to turn it into a business? The defining moment for me was seeing the client experience. I had an idea. to create
this small version of cotton candy. I thought about doing it for kids parties. I’m thinking this will be great, kids will love it. I started doing events and what a big fail. Kids hated it, because they were like, why is the cotton candy so small. Kids would come up and they would ask, “Why is it so small? Can you make me a big one?” And I would say, “No, no. It’s supposed to be small.” They didn't understand. I realized the parents were looking at it and eating it. It doesn’t taste anything like cotton candy. It’s very robust in flavor. You have intense flavors like guava, pineapple and strawberry. The parents would try it and they would be like, this is so cool, I love it. I started noticing that the parents’ faces were lighting up more than the kids so I started doing more adult kind of events. Then Neiman Marcus found me and that took it to the next level, because they wanted me to be at special events. I am very business minded. I worked in corporate America for years and so when I see a business opportunity I go straight in. I’ve always been entrepreneurial so from day one when I came up with the idea, it was a business. It was never a hobby turned business. In addition to Fluffpop you have created an array of other brands such as Hotpoppin gourmet popcorn and the gourmet cotton candy brands, Sugaire and ModSweets. Describe your process for creating new brands. I do a ton of market research. My market research is really along the lines of hearing what my customers want. Sixty percent of entrepreneurs fail within the first year. Fifty percent fail within the first five years. The problem with that is if you make it
past that first year, you think you’re okay. But then you still have a high failure rate in the first five years. A lot of times it’s because entrepreneurs are creating products they like or products that they think will do well without listening to the customers. Having customers say things like, “Hey Yasmeen, can you go grab popcorn, because I don’t have time to go to the mall and buy it.” I couldn’t see celebrity clients buying popcorn and then trucking it to their cars. So I came up with this idea to provide clients with a service that brings them a level of professionalism with a product that doesn't taste like anyone else’s on the market, because it is really indulgent. My client is the Neiman Marcus customer. So the Neiman Marcus customer wants the best of the best and they don’t want the extra calories. If that’s the case, I need to make sure that it is really indulgent and that they are eating really small amounts of something that is full of flavor. Every time I create a business, it’s around knowing that there will be a demand for it. Right now, I am working on this idea when somebody goes to a party there will be a photographer at the entrance. By the time they get to the bar the photo they took at the entrance is going to be on top of their drink. It’s going to be a picture of them and their friends, a selfie on top of their drink. How cool would that concept be when we translate it to other things like macaroons and have this dessert station that’s actually interactive. I’m working on a chocolate printer so people can come to a party and they can pick the design and a 3D printer prints the chocolate. I like to hear from my clients. They are the ones who are going to pay for it so I have to make sure it is
I TEACH MY SON THAT YOU SHOULD DO FOR OTHERS WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN.
something that excites them. You shouldn’t start something unless you know there’s a demand for it from people that are already paying you. I want to know that I am going to have a sale before I put the product out there. You had an exclusive three month partnership with Neiman Marcus. Do you have any advice for women who want to try to get their products into retail stores? I wait for somebody to come to me. I don't typically cold call or push my business onto somebody, I want it to always be their idea. That has always been my sales tactic. Neiman Marcus coming to me and saying this is something that would be so amazing and so cool, that makes it way better, because now they're going to be a part of the success of my product as opposed to it just being my idea. If it's just my idea, then it’s just going to sit on their shelves and they may not care if it sells or not. Obviously they want to be successful. But the whole thing is if you already have buy-in from your clients and it's their idea as well, you're going to sell even more. Your company name and personal motto is “Make Your Life Sweeter.” What does that mantra mean to you? My entire life is about making life a little better for other people. Whether it's putting a smile on someone's face or putting a smile on a kid's face. It’s trying to change something that is going on in a third world country to make it better. I realized
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Photo provided by: Yasmeen Tadia
Photo provided by: Yasmeen Tadia
when I was young that I would get happiness out of changing something to make something a little better for somebody. Whenever I did an event in college I would tell my team, we can spend all this money and time on this event, but if we have affected one person, nothing else matters. It could be a thousand people and everybody hated it, I don’t care if one person was impacted. Every time I speak or do anything, I ask, can I influence one person and if I can, it was worth my time, because that just made one person's life a little better. So it doesn't matter if it's just being a friend or giving advice to somebody when they need it. It’s leaving somebody better than how you found them. When you list your many roles as an entrepreneur and businesswoman you include your role as mom as a part of that list and you even started Fluffpop because of your son. How has being a mom impacted the way you do business? It impacts every single moment of every day. Like when a client calls and says, "Hey, I need you." A while ago, Neiman Marcus called me and said we need you to do a party for Kelly Rowland. Most people would initially be excited. My first thought was, "Can I
go." I have a son. I’m a single mom. I’m the sole parent for my son so how do I make sure, number one I can go, and he can go. Can we find a way to make this work so that I am not neglecting my number one job which is being a mom. Nothing else matters. I don’t do nannies. My mom is my help and in our language her name is Nanni. Zain’s grandma is Nanni. I always ask her first to see if it works for her schedule. I try not to be gone too long. So if Zain is not with me, I take short trips. Every part of my business is about how this is going to affect Zain. That’s the whole reason I left corporate America. I don’t use nannies, because when I’m in town I try to spend as much time with my son as possible. Nobody takes him to school or picks him up except me. The goal is for me to be in his life as much as possible. Tell us about your non-profit organization, Random Acts of Sweetness. What is your mission and who do you serve? My non-profit is Random Acts of Sweetness. I teach my son that you should do for others without expecting anything in return. If you expect something in return, you're not doing it out of the kindness of your heart. Even if you're waiting for somebody to say thank you, you didn't really do it for the right
reason. If you do something expecting something you will always be disappointed. If you do it knowing that you're getting your own satisfaction from it, that should be enough. My goal is to make billions and to give it all away. I want to create a life for people that never would have been possible. We travel to third world countries. I just went to Bangladesh to work with a school of 200 kids. You are a very successful businesswoman by all accounts with over 10 years in Corporate America and now as an inventor and entrepreneur. What have been your greatest business lessons? What challenges have you overcome? Don’t take this personally. Business comes and goes. Sometimes things are absolutely amazing and sometimes things are not. You will lose business just as quickly as you can get it. Don’t ever chase money, chase opportunities. If you chase opportunities things will come your way, because you will have a passion for them. Be present in whatever you do. I always want anyone I’m with to feel like they have my full support in that moment. I want all of my clients to feel that they are the most important thing to me in that moment. Relationships are so important. Make sure you are building relationships and take care of those who are important to you. It will come back tenfold. To learn more about Yasmeen Tadia, visit her online at http://www.yasmeentadia.com/. CEOMOM | 11
Photo Credit: Marcus Owens
COMPASSION THAT ACTS
Kim Olusanya has experienced the unthinkable in a mother’s life – the tragic loss of a child. But she has used her grief to transform the lives of others. This wife, mom and entrepreneur founded Action with Compassion Dallas Inc. with three missions, to help families going through the trauma of domestic violence, to find ways to prevent domestic violence and to protect families from accidental gun fatalities. Her strength is beyond understanding. Her heart to serve is immeasurable. Olusanya is a woman of CEOMOM | 12
impeccable style and taste as evident in her fashion sense, her immaculately organized events and the way she moves through the world. CEOMOM Magazine chatted with Olusanya about the pain of losing her son, and how she discovered the power of using her voice to transform lives.
Who is Kim Stephens-Olusanya? I am first a mother, a wife and a child of God. I am also a daughter and a sister. I identify myself in all of those roles. I am ever passionate about finding a way to transmute the pain in my life so I can help others. I manage several corporations, which is how I pay my bills. I am the CEO of a company called Texas Bearings in Dallas which I purchased from my dad when he was going to retire. My parents came from very humble means. They were 17 and 18 when they got married on their school lunch break. They moved to Dallas from Marshall, Texas with practically nothing but their meager education and big dreams. My dad started as a delivery van driver for Texas Bearings. He worked his way up, studying at night to get a college degree. He became a top salesperson. By the time the owner of Texas Bearings died, he and my mother had saved up enough money to buy the company, which they ran for 22 years. When my father was going to retire, I wanted to keep this business in the family. So I leveraged my financial stakes in my other company, Charter Hospitality, Inc to buy Texas Bearings. I get my joy in showing women that even when we think we cannot overcome, we can, and we will thrive. I didn't know that I had as much grit as I do until I lost my son on August 13, 2016 at 4 years old from a gun accident. I wanted to die. I told God to just let me lie there. But my counselors, including my husband, my family members and my Bible study leaders spoke life into me, and I was given a new purpose in life to elevate other women. You started Action with Compassion Dallas in 2017 to support victims of domestic violence and to help reduce domestic violence in the community. What was the defining moment that inspired you to turn your story into a ministry? Because I was living with the shame of having been a victim of domestic violence in my own past. I knew there were many women who shared that shame of domestic violence without speaking out about it. In my case, this was combined with the deep hurt of having lost my son through the accidental discharge of a handgun while he was at my parent’s house. I was at an event for domestic violence when I started crying. I asked myself why there weren’t more women talking about the evil of domestic violence and its horrific impact on the lives of its victims. I knew the statistics, 1 in every 4 women has been abused or is being abused. I myself suffered emotionally and had developed an eating disorder as a result of my experience. If I was not strong enough to say this had happened to me, how could I expect other people to do so. Once I felt this pull, I developed a strong conviction to influence others through my story. I knew I had been given the tools to share my story. What are some specific ways Action with Compassion Dallas serves victims of domestic violence? Share a story of how you’ve seen your ministry’s impact manifest? We have partnered with Family Place Shelter to donate clothes and other needy items to victims of domestic violence. We do not give donated clothes. We actually buy dresses, shoes and undergarments and give them to the women. Family Place
Photo Credit: Cyndi B.
I get my joy in showing women that even when we think we cannot overcome, we can, and we will thrive. CEOMOM | 13
provides a space for women who have suffered abuse, where they can feel safe. They also get counseling. Although these women have been through events that are traumatic physically and emotionally, they are still women with feminine needs. They need perfumes, lotions and other things to make them feel beautiful and know they are not forgotten. We also partner with Gift of Love to make dresses for these women. We sponsor hairdos and makeup for them. Our goal is to see even small improvements in the lives and emotions of these women. For what is not measured cannot be checked for improvement. We gave these women diaries and journals to record events in their current and former lives. In doing so, my words to them were, “I encourage you to use these journals because you may not know you are growing until you look back and see where you were in relation to where you are now. And if you are not moving in the right direction, let us help you make some changes.” Many of these ladies had tears of thankfulness in their eyes. One of the ladies said she had been looking for a journal for a long time. The Family Place has asked us to come out again. My plan is to host an event there with my peers. I will be bringing 25 of my friends and associates who are social influencers. Each person will adopt one lady in the shelter. We will go shopping to give them new things, and we want them to know these items are for them. They need to know that we are here to support them. A secondary purpose of Action with Compassion is to reduce gun violence in homes. Why is this cause important to you? It is important to me, because the handgun my son found in his grandparents’ house was the one that I had purchased to defend myself against my former abuser. When I no longer needed it, I gave it to my parents before I got remarried. I did not think about it until I got that devastating call which forever changed my life. I do not want what happened to me and my family to happen to anyone else. In my talks on behalf of this cause, I constantly express the importance of having gun safety measures such as combination lock boxes, not just a key to make guns safe in the home. Even though it is an extremely painful thing to talk and think about, if I can prevent another family from feeling this kind of pain and anguish, I will keep talking about it. It ties into my passion to prevent domestic violence. For gun violence in the home is related to domestic violence. That shadow of violence came full circle to haunt me. I thought I had escaped, and that all that violence and the threat of harm was all behind me. But that ghost from the past came crashing back into my life. One of your personal mantras is, “Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others to tell theirs. Have you always been open about sharing your story? How did you get to a place of unapologetic transparency? After I lost my son, I went through a period of deep depression. Sometimes, the only thing I would look forward to was to let my daughter get old enough to fend for herself, so that I could die, and she would be okay. There were times I would be driving, and I would think that if I swerved off the road and hit
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a wall, the end would be quick. At night, I would wait for my daughter Dara to go to sleep so I could cry. What helped me survive that dark period was the love and support of my husband, Dele, my sister, Kellye and my older step-children, Yetsy and Laide. A friend of mine also convinced me to join dsw.org. a non-denominational Bible study group. I thought God forgot about me, but immersing myself in that group allowed me to stop crying and to start delivering the message. I was freed of much of that pain – though it would never really go away - and I could start celebrating the memory of my son by helping others. It just developed for me that way. One of your many roles is that of an entrepreneur. Tell us about your businesses, Charter Hospitality Inc and Texas Bearing of Dallas. What do they do? With Charter Hospitality, I engage in residential and commercial development. I build from the ground up. I own and manage several duplexes in Marshall, Texas. I take great pride in that, because my great great-grandmother was born into slavery in Marshall, Texas. I am very proud to know that I am a landowner and developer in that same town. I do a lot of low income housing. But I make sure they are very clean and well taken care of. I feel that it is important that these families have a safe home in a good neighborhood. Frequently, I would purchase a whole track of land so that these building will share a sense of middle-class uniformity. My unshaken belief is that if you give families a nice place to stay, they will treat it as their home and take care of it. I have been doing this for 15 years and I have never had any issues. I have only had to evict one tenant. I believe in giving people an opportunity in having a place they can call home. I also manage my physician husband’s medical practice, Charter Medical Center, Dallas. I stay pretty busy. What I do with my life is what gives me joy. We love your style. It shows in everything you do from your events to your fashion. How would you describe your style? How has your style evolved over the years? I think my style is pretty classic for our modern age, but I do like to add some color. I am not into trends. I don’t like to constantly rebuy. I have some nice high waist pants and nice blazers. I do not accessorize a lot, but I like to change my hair a lot. Many years ago, when I was at my heaviest at 320 pounds, the only things I could wear were cute shoes. Now, I have more shoes than most people should ever have. I would describe my style as polished. When I was heavier, I would over accessorize. You could say I was trying to hide under a load of camouflage. But now, I am more polished and sleek. I like to be able to wear a jacket now and then over a pair of pants. I don’t have a lot of one hit wonders. You have an incredible story of loss and triumph. As a wife, mom, entrepreneur and community leader, what is your key to maintaining emotional, mental and spiritual balance? I have a pretty extensive self-care regimen, and I have the love and support of my husband and family. I know that if I don’t take care of myself, what I want to accomplish will not come to
fruition. When I get home every day after work, I stretch, I read and I go through my daily devotionals. I speak life into everything I am doing. I also speak life into my child when I walk her into school. When I dress I repeat my affirmations. They really comfort me. I just did a post recently on Instagram. It was based on Proverbs 16:24. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb.” Using honeycomb honey gives such power and energy, and it is a very rich food. I believe that activities like these allow me to speak kindly to others and honestly to myself. I have to let my words and actions relate to everything I do. Where do you see the Kim Olusanya brand in five years? Apart from showing to the world the beauty of a woman who is grounded in reality, hard work and giving, I have started my very own clothing design line in collaboration with Celebrity Stylist J.Bolin to bring fashionable visions to life for all women! I also want to partner with stores like Ross and Marshalls to give clothes to women in shelters. These would allow them to be presentable at job interviews. I want my charity to continue helping abused women, providing them with basic necessities that make a woman’s life worth living – simple things like toiletries. Women are the mothers of the earth. Even when they are in a homeless shelter, I want to remind them of that. My goal is to partner with stores that have low-budget but beautiful clothes for these women and their children, who may have lost everything they possessed when they fled into the sanctuary of a shelter. Sometimes, these women and children had to leave their homes in the middle of the night in order to escape and start over. If they are strong enough to overcome that, I believe people like me can do more. To learn more about https://www.kimolusanya.com.
visit Photo Credit: Marcus Owens
Women are the mothers of the earth. Even when they are in a homeless shelter, I want to remind them of that.
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Elizabeth S C R I V N E R
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FIGHTING TO REMOVE THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS AN INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH SCRIVNER, FOUNDER OF PARK CITIES COUNSELING
Elizabeth Scrivner has made it her personal mission to remove the stigma that comes with seeking help for mental health issues. From her 20-year career as a Licensed Professional Counselor and founder of Park Cities Counseling to her work with the Fashion Stars for a Cause and the Elisa Project, Scrivner has turned loss into a platform that aims to keep others from experiencing tragic outcomes. Her platforms focus on education and prevention for suicide and eating disorders. Scrivner believes the key is making prevention and education priorities and developing processes that address our modern day needs related to mental health. In an interview with KCBD 11 in Lubbock, Texas, Scrivner states, “We need to measure people by who they are and the space that they’re in and that comes with loving people and showing them the basics of respect.” CEOMOM chatted with Scrivner about why we need to rethink how we see mental health and how she is leaving a legacy of compassion for her children. Who is Elizabeth Scrivner? I am a mother of three. I am the Founder and CEO of Park Cities Counseling. I have
been a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) for over 20 years. As a Christian, my faith is the basis of everything I do. God is a huge part of my life. He is with me through the ups and downs. The past year I have been raising awareness and money for suicide prevention and education. I am a board member of my daughter’s middle school, McCulloch Intermediate School in Highland Park. I am on the Elisa Project Board for eating disorder education and prevention. I was also on season two of The Real Housewives of Dallas as a therapist. I am a writer and a speaker and I do radio and television. I write a lot of articles and spots for Fox News Radio across the country. I do DFW segments as a mental health consultant and specialist when hot topics come up. My most important job is being the mother to 15year old twin boys and a 12-year old girl. What was the defining moment that inspired you to pursue a career in counseling? What is your focus? My focus is to help families. I have helped individuals, couples and teens as well as people transitioning from college to a new career.
I have helped people in corporate navigate relationships with difficult people. I think my inspiration for counseling is my belief that it is possible to help and encourage people to change. I really enjoy helping the people who come to me. They come to me, because they are supporting other people. They may be supporting 15 other people spiritually and emotionally so they come to me for guidance and to get rejuvenated. Not all of my patients are going through trauma. I try to inspire people to be their best selves. I am working to take away the stigma of getting counseling. Many of my clients are smarter than I am, I learn so much from them. Before becoming an LPC, I was a teacher. I knew that I wanted to raise a family. I didn't know if I could be a teacher all day. Counseling in a way is a form of teaching. In my job, I am getting to do all of the things I love which is speaking and writing. I believe that it is possible for each person to live their best lives and I want to help them in whatever way I can, whether it is through deep counseling work, positive reinforcements or coming up with something they hadn't thought of. CEOMOM | 17
18 You are one of the 2019 Fashion Stars for a Cause. Tell us about the organization and why it is so important to you. Fashion Stars for a Cause coupled with the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. Last year I went to their gala after I lost my stepson to suicide. At the gala, board member Terry Bentley Hill spoke of losing her husband and daughter to mental health issues. I was inspired and I knew there was a way to help our schools, families and communities prevent suicide. We can help people struggling with mental health. That doesn’t mean that they have something wrong with them. Our schools and our workplaces are archaic. They need to change. There are better ways to do things. Some of the programs and processes we currently have in place were set up in the 50’s. We are far beyond that. People are stressed out which can lead to mental health issues and suicide. Once somebody is gone you can’t do anything but heal personally and as a family but you can't help. I don’t think suicide is selfish. These people feel hopeless. We can begin to educate people on a larger scale with the awareness that we can do things differently. I also believe in treating mental health before you get to addiction and suicide. I knew one of the leaders of the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas would ask me to help and she did the next day, I couldn’t say no. Fashion Stars for a Cause was created by Yvonne Crum and Margie Wright, the executive director of the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. They met at a charity event and both wanted to make a difference. Each year our job is to raise awareness. It’s about being in public as much as possible and raising as much money as possible. Then we have a huge gala in March. You get to walk a runway. It’s a year of radio and TV, blogging, writing, promoting and having events. For my part, I use therapy as a tool to teach and to let people know that they are not alone and that most people have been touched by suicide. When someone dies it affects everyone. You were featured on The Real Housewives of Dallas as one of the cast mates’ therapist. How did you end up on the show? What do you hope people got from your appearance? I was asked if I would do sessions on the show and I immediately knew I was supposed to do it. I want to destigmatize therapy, that it’s a negative thing if you go. My hope is that people would seek help or support. What are the biggest misconceptions about mental health and therapy. How is Park Cities Counseling working to fight these misconceptions? One of the biggest misconceptions is that the person who goes to counseling is sick and if you go to counseling you are weak or crazy. At Park Cities Counseling, we completely believe the opposite.
Photo Credit: Kelly Williams Photography
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Photo Credit: Gittings Photography
Photo Credit: Kelly Williams Photography
The person who is seeking help is the healthiest person in the family. Many people who choose to come to me realize that they are not alone. They are not crazy. There are answers. I offer psychological, and as people are ready, spiritual solutions to human problems. You use your platform for many causes related to mental health. We mentioned the 2019 Fashion Stars for the Cause and you are also on The Elisa Project Board which provides education and resources for those affected by eating disorders. As a mother, how are you passing down the legacy of service to your children? All of my children have helped with Fashion Stars. My boys help me with the raffle. I never understood what "your children are your legacy" meant. I've started to realize that everything I teach them and everything I do, including how I treat people, will pass down to them. We talk a lot.
Our home is an open book. There is nothing that is off limits to talk about. In schools now there are a lot of issues such as the increase of bullying, the increase of suicide, and the impact of social media. Most adults today cannot understand what these kids go through. I do a lot of work with kids and social media, teaching them about Instagram and that these texts and photos are forever. I want my legacy to be compassion for other people. At the end of the day, how they treat other people is a big part of who they are. What’s next for Elizabeth Scrivner? I’m looking at having my own TV show. I’m also working on a couple of books. To learn more about Elizabeth Scrivner, visit http://www.parkcitiescounseling.com.
We can help people struggling with mental health. That doesn’t mean that they have something wrong with them.
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Photo Credit: Michelle Khan, Visuals by Michelle
J E S S I C A
CHANGING THE WAY WOMEN VIEW THEIR HEALTH CEOMOM | 20
Photo Credit: Michelle Khan, Visuals by Michelle
Dr. Shepherd’s medical practice extends beyond the four walls of the operating room to the nation, as she encourages women to make their health a priority. From appearances on Dr. Oz to Fox News to Good Morning America and the Today Show, Dr. Shepherd is one of the most sought after women’s health experts in the country. Her bold approach to medicine positions her as a top educator and OB/GYN to watch. Dr. Shepherd is relatable and real, attributes she believes are vital to empowering women to take charge of their health -physically, emotionally and mentally. CEOMOM Magazine caught up with this jet-setting mom to discuss why women’s health is so important to her and why she’s not afraid to take the conversation below the belt. Who is Dr. Jessica Shepherd? Dr. Jessica Shepherd is someone who knew from a very young age that she wanted to impact and help people. That's when she also discovered her love for medicine. I didn't think much about the requirements to become a doctor, but as I started to go through
school, I realized that's where my passion lied and so I continued on that journey. Today, Dr. Jessica Shepherd is that OB/GYN, that women's health expert who has followed her dream to impact women. Through medical school and residency, I realized that women are my passion. Empowering women is something that I find beauty in. Looking at all the powerful women that I had around me growing up, that's what I felt like I could be and share. That’s who Dr. Shepherd is today. And now I can continue that legacy as a mom. It’s one of those experiences that you can never describe until you have that title. And now that I am a mom of two wonderful boys, 5 and 4, I've realized how impactful women really are, whether they are impacting other women or they are impacting modern society as a whole.
I want women to be in an atmosphere where they feel that they can talk, especially about issues that are below the belt and considered taboo in society. CEOMOM | 21
What led you to become a doctor, specifically an OB/GYN? It is very altruistic and somewhat a little bit boring. I was brought up in a deeply educated family that valued education. You didn't have a choice. You had to consider college. At a very young age my dad made my older sister and I do a report on what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I actually chose OB/GYN. I still have that report, I think I was in fourth or fifth grade. It’s weird that it all came full circle, because in medicine you can choose to do so many other types of medicine than what I chose. So I actually chose my career at eight or nine years old. You are a minimally invasive gynecologist. What does that entail? I chose the OB/GYN residency which is four years. In those four years is when I fell in love with being in the operating room and performing surgery. In that there is a subset, a very specific type of surgery that we do which requires extra training. So after I finished four years of residency, I did another two years of what we call fellowship. I did that in minimally invasive gynecology which means that we are able to offer women surgeries that can be done with small incisions. That allows women to have quicker recoveries. They can return back to their daily lives much quicker. And if you think about it women really do have a lot to do. They have families to take care of. They have careers to nurture and this allows them to do that without having to have what we call the typical open incision similar to what you would see with a C-Section. Many of the procedures a woman gets whether it’s a hysterectomy or surgery on her ovaries or surgery on her bladder, get those big incisions. The recovery for open incisions can be up to 12 weeks. If we make those incisions smaller, now the recovery could be anywhere from two weeks to four weeks.
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Tell us about Her Viewpoint. What is your mission? What is the one message you hope women get from the forum? Her Viewpoint was founded in 2013. In my medical profession I see women every day, a lot of women. I found that they were asking some of the same questions and I said to myself, “They can't be the only ones asking questions.” I think we need to do a better job as healthcare providers of providing answers that are relatable. Sometimes physicians can talk over patients' heads and they don't necessarily understand the information that we are relaying to them. I want women to be in an atmosphere where they feel that they can talk, especially about issues that are below the belt and are considered taboo in society. Topics related to menstrual issues, menopause, depression or any of those things that we just don't talk about in the open. We want to provide a forum for women to get the information that they need. We want it to be relatable, but also impactful aand research-based. There's a lot of information out there that is incorrect and I don’t want women to have false information. Her Viewpoint has evolved into empowering women in their overall health whether it’s mental, emotional, physical or social. As women we are so complex that we do need to pay attention to all the different platforms in our lives that lead to depression and poor mental health. It’s about mental and emotional health in our relationships and how much we can live a healthy life for those we are taking care of. The one thing I want to convey is for us to be able to create a legacy and leave a legacy for our families that is rooted in health. You serve as a women’s health expert for several national television shows such as Dr. Oz, CBS, Fox News and Good Morning America where you discuss
taboo topics related to women’s health? What was the defining moment that inspired you to bring these taboo topics to the forefront? I think the defining moment was when I was living in Chicago and I was constantly being contacted by outlets. Initially, it was magazines, but then it transpired into radio. I realized that I had a gift for delivering a message. There are many people who are giving information, but it may not be relayed in a way that people can relate. That’s about the time I realized that I have the information and the gift to deliver it. That’s where I find a lot of my passion. You are a champion for women’s health through your many platforms that educate and equip. How has your work as a women’s health advocate shifted the mainstream conversations? I've been surprised by the response. A lot of times you do things, not necessarily for a specific outcome, but because that is what you feel led to do. Over the years I've been to various events where women come up to me and say, “You know when you shared that specific piece, it helped me." "I saw you in this magazine or on TV." There is a lack of representation, specifically for African American women. There’s not many people out there that they can look at and say, “Oh, that is where I am going to get my health information.” Being a voice for the African American community has been impactful, because they want a woman who looks like me and who has the information they need. That in turn has been very inspirational for me. For young women to be able to look and say, “I can do anything I want to. If I want to go into science and medicine, I can do that." That is one of the biggest reasons I continue to do what I do. When you look at the statistics in the
entire field of medicine, only 2% are African American female. We have to do a better job of showing possibilities. We want them to see evidence of what they can aspire to. What is the first step to women taking charge of their own health? The first step is to place themselves in a role of importance. A lot of times we place others in roles of importance and not ourselves, because we’re nurturers. So that means we find roles in being the most important people to our children, our spouses, our partners and our families. It is inviting, but we are forgetting ourselves and how important we are. And in that we lose the ability to take time to invest in our own health. So while we are busy taking care of everybody else, we miss our own health. The next thing I would say is take small steps. I think it's very challenging when women get to that point in life, where they realize, 'you know what, I haven't been taking care of myself or my health.' In order to be at the level they want to be they believe they need to take these monstrous strides and everything has to be done all at once. Small steps go a long way and make big changes in the long run. As a doctor, national speaker, author, a women’s health advocate, wife and mom you wear several hats. What is your personal mantra as it relates to work/life balance? What does balance mean to you? For one, I think balance is definitely an ever-changing platform. What I would feel is giving me balance today could be completely different tomorrow. For example, when there are things that I realize need to take precedence like my kids then that may mean that my workout routine won’t be as great a certain week. For that week, reducing my workout routine helped me to achieve balance. The other thing is finding ways to create balance in small time frames in your life. Sometimes you may only have 20 minutes to do whatever it is, but if you're in that moment for those 20 minutes you can actually accomplish more than what you thought you could and maybe even dedicate a little more time. I also say don't compare your balance to someone else's. Do not ever compare your balance to someone else's balance, because that's not your life. And that's not your dynamic. To learn more about Dr. Jessica Shepherd, visit her at https://www.drjessicashepherd.com.
CEOMOM | 23 Photo Credit: Michelle Khan, Visuals by Michelle
JENNY T H E
Q U E E N
S E C O N D
S H O T S
Photo Credit: Anthony Chiang
JOURNALIST, EMCEE CEOMOM
Jenny Anchondo is a fighter, a survivor, a wife and a mom who is not afraid to step outside of her comfort zone to take her rightful seat at the table. She is an Emmy award-winning journalist who exhibits a boldness that many wish they had. Through her recent transition from hosting a nationally syndicated morning show to co-hosting a podcast with her husband, Jenny is rediscovering her power and affirming that she is more than a TV personality. Her mission extends beyond career to include being number one for her family and giving more than she has been given through her many philanthropic efforts such as her work with Leukemia Texas, In My Shoes, Kidd’s Kids and The Elisa Project. Jenny Anchondo shared her less than orthodox journey to the spotlight and why it’s important to have an identity outside of your career. Who is Jenny Anchondo? I am multifaceted and -- like many people -I’m someone you can’t just put into a box. I’m a wife, mom, journalist, podcaster, content creator and so much more. I would say I’m a little bit of everything. I have been in broadcast journalism for 15 years and just transitioned from doing a syndicated morning show to podcasting with my husband. Our daughter is two years old and we’ve been married for three years, so life has been moving quickly! The next step is that I’m excited to announce I’ll be starting a fitness business. I have a background as a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and over the years, I’ve maintained my certification, because I love to do healthrelated interviews and stories.
The business came about because, recently, I started on a health journey of my own. After several medical tests, doctors found I had high levels of mold and aluminum in my body. There are various methods for getting rid of mold and aluminum but one of the things my doctor suggested was an infrared sauna. I was torn about this added component to the schedule. If I have spare time, I want to spend it with my family. In an effort to multitask, I found a business that actually has workouts inside of an infrared sauna, so I can get the detoxification benefits of the infrared sauna and work out at the same time. I called the Hotworx corporate headquarters and within weeks, I flew to New Orleans to learn more. Now I am going to be opening one in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas. It is a new concept that is totally different than anything I’ve done. I’m addicted and I think people are going to love it! How did your career in broadcast journalism begin? I started out in business school but then, following my true dream and passion, I changed my major and started studying journalism. I got my first job in the small market of Yakima, Washington. During my job search, I sent out VHS tapes galore. They were tapes from my internship work and student projects. My mom and I drove around the country and dropped off tapes. Finally, a News Director in Yakima offered me an interview and ultimately offered me my first shot -- a job behind-the- scenes as a writer and a producer. In order to get “on air” you have to have experience. Well, I didn't have any experience so I took that writing job and worked 14 hour days trying to get “experience”. I shot video, I learned how to edit and I created my own stories before and after my scheduled
I remember having this idea that you can do it all and have it all. We have to let some of that go. The winning game plan involves picking out a few things you want to do and excelling at those. CEOMOM
producing shifts. Eventually, I got a reporter job at that station and later, a news anchor job at a sister station. You are an Emmy award-winning news anchor and reporter with a career that has taken you all over the country. What has been the key to your success? I would say perseverance and not letting the failures get into my head or deter me. For example, before I won that Emmy, I submitted a lot of work but did not get any nominations. I am naturally a very ambitious person but I am also very sensitive and thin skinned. I had to bolster myself and take the criticism to improve. Along the way, I learned to seek guidance from mentors and to persevere, even when critiques stung. My voice was highly criticized early in my career. I would send out tapes and and I would hear, “Your voice is not good.” At the time, I couldn’t afford a voice coach. However, I found out who coached one of the CNN anchors I admired. I contacted her and asked if we could do a trade. I became a copy editor for her website and she gave me access to her online programs. I did her exercises for years. There was no quick fix. If I wanted this to happen I would have to dig deep and be diligent. It was years in the making.
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Photo Credit: Anthony Chiang
You recently had a career shift. What are some of the challenges that come with making a career shift? How does it impact you as a mother? It’s been rewarding but it has also been challenging! I was at FOX 4 for almost five years and I opted to leave, without a job and with no prospects. Thankfully, the next morning, I got an email from an executive with Morning Dose. It was based in Dallas and aired in major markets across the country. It was such a blessing. Late last year, the show was cancelled. If I said that wasn’t a challenging time, I would be telling a fib. Sometimes our career becomes our identity. Now when you ask who is Jenny Anchondo, I look at myself and dig deeper. I’ve leaned into the fact that we are all so much more than our careers. Right now, I co-host the Second Shot Podcast with my husband. I’ve also been working as a host, emcee and public speaker, in addition to creating content on my own website. My biggest challenge in that, is figuring out how to explain what I am doing. A lot of people who watched me on the news have never listened to a podcast so there is some education involved in getting them to make the move to the podcasting world! I will say, this schedule is much more accommodating for life as a mother! I’m taking it day by day!
Photo Credit: J+J Studio
What advice would you give to a mom who is making her own career change? If you are a prayerful person, I always suggest you lean on your faith. Outside of that, I would suggest she only take in the advice of the people whose opinions she really values. Cut out the negative and the people who don’t know your values because not everyone can relate to your unique situation. I remember having this idea that you can do it all and have it all. We have to let some of that go. The winning game plan involves picking out a few things you want to do and excelling at those. If that is being a full time mother or working in a different field or setting a fitness goal, just prioritize, get laser focused and do it. You recently joined your husband as one of of the hosts for the Second Shot podcast. Tell us about Second Shot. What is your focus and what do you hope listeners get from each episode? It is a really fun format. It’s a play on words. Both of us have been through major failures and we love that we have been given ‘second shots’. So, on Second Shot, we talk about news headlines, things that are topical or even stories our listeners send to us. We are not giving our opinions on the news and we don’t get political, rather, it is a second take on a story. So, we pull a life lesson from the news headline we are discussing. It runs the gamut - We talk about business, relationships, career, family and so on. We’ve been pouring so much work into making it really valuable for the audience. We want them to leave the show feeling inspired, lifted up and motivated. It is a great “first thing in the morning” show. You are connected to a lot of philanthropic causes and organizations such as The Elisa Project and In My Shoes. Why is
philanthropy so important to you? Which causes are you most passionate about and why? It’s so important because so much has been given to me. There is a high responsibility when you have been given so much. For me, it started as a child. We didn't have a lot. I remember times when we struggled to make ends meet ourselves, but we were still donating to the food bank. We were still serving in the soup kitchen. My mom instilled in us to constantly give back. That has been the fabric of my life. The more I get, the more I need to give back. In My Shoes is an organization that became especially close to my heart after having a baby of my own. They serve women who are homeless and pregnant. I simply can’t imagine being pregnant and not having a place to stay. I believe those babies have a right to live and thrive. I have a calling toward organizations like The Elisa Project because I struggled with an eating disorder for many years. It almost took me down but I am thankful to have worked hard to make it through that. When it comes to eating disorders, there is a lack of knowledge and resources. It was hard for my parents to get help for me and it was very expensive. It’s hard for anyone who isn’t wealthy. I want people from all walks of life to be able to get help. Locally, I’ve also served on the boards of the Housing Crisis Center and Leukemia Texas. I consider these appointments an honor and a way to give back, in a small way, to a community that has been so wonderful to me. To learn more about Jenny Anchondo and her recent projects, visit https://jennyanchondo.com. CEOMOM | 27
Photo Credit: Beau Bumpus Photography
A CHAMPION FOR THE ARTS
From the time she was a little girl, Tammy Meinershagen has had an appreciation and love for the arts. Her love for the arts continues as the executive director for Frisco Arts and a professional violinist and pianist. She performed her first concert at five years old and is now working to bridge the gap between Frisco sports fans and art enthusiasts.
Meinershagen believes that we are all artists and should embrace it everyday. From her work to get a performing arts center in Frisco to her creation of the Frisco Arts Walk and Run, she is the “champion” for the arts in Frisco and is making sure that the arts are accessible to everyone. Meinershagen shared her vision for the arts in Frisco and why it is so important to the city.
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Who is Tammy Meinershagen? I am a wife, a mother of three incredible girls and a musician at heart. My whole life has centered around the creation and appreciation of the arts. From a very young age, music was my first language before I spoke any English, and it is how I made friends at school. Playing music has really been what defines joy in my life. I received my Piano Performance degree at Northwestern University, and I love the discipline of studying a piece and taking it from zero to a hundred. It’s the lessons I learned through consistent practice that built in me the fortitude to advocate for the arts in Frisco, which is not easy to do in a very sports-centered city. I attribute my commitment to excellence and perseverance to my upbringing and passion for the arts. It has shaped who I am. You are the Executive Director of the Frisco Association for the Arts. How has your passion for the arts led you to a career with the Frisco Association of the Arts? What does your role as Executive Director entail? I moved from Chicago to Frisco in 2004, and there wasn’t much of an arts scene here at that time. I had young kids, and I wanted to find places for them to be exposed to visual art, music, dance, theatre, and cultural arts. With very few options available, I decided I needed to be faithful in the small things if I wanted it to grow bigger. So I offered to play the piano for an art exhibition at the Discovery Center. Only about five people showed up for this incredible display by a talented local artist, and I thought, “This is crazy. Surely there are more people who care about the arts in Frisco! How do I find them and mobilize them?” And that’s how things started moving; my goal was to gather the arts community and support programming that allows for people of all ages to get involved in the arts, breaking the stereotype that the arts are boring or only for the elite. I wanted Frisco Arts to cast the widest net possible for our community to participate and enjoy the arts, making it as accessible as possible. I wanted to cultivate a community where people are inspired by the arts, and the arts are visible and valued in our city. We still have an imbalance in our city right now. If you are a parent of an athlete, you are in the perfect city for your family. Frisco has every world-class facility for sports, including the new headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys and PGA. But what if you are not an athlete and you enjoy concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, and dance? Where can you go? What about our aspiring young artists? Do they feel as valued and celebrated as our athletes? Personally, I think this is an equity issue, not just an arts issue. Frisco should be a city where everyone can live, work, play, and grow. We must be committed to improving the quality of life for all, not just some. If we truly want to be a sustainable, great city, we must have thriving arts and culture as well as great business, education, and sports. My role as executive director of Frisco Arts is to set the vision and execute the mission, which is to advance through advocacy, outreach, and education. To that end, we have created brand new programs that have become signature, sold-out events in Frisco, proving that there is a niche and a need for more arts offerings. We host a monthly Ladies Who Launch luncheon
Photo Credit: Beau Bumpus Photography
I wanted to cultivate a community where people are inspired by the arts.
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where we highlight women in the arts and business. The Frisco Arts Walk and Run is an immersive arts 5k where you get to experience a taste of music, dance, theatre, and visual art while you run or walk through the sculpture garden at HALL Park. Since we don’t have a performing arts center yet, we’ve created a Red Carpet Concert Series, bringing world-class music to Frisco. What I love about my job is that I get to dream up big ideas to showcase the arts, and I get to work with a great team of Frisco Arts Ambassadors and volunteers to make it happen. It’s not easy and there’s a lot of sweat equity, but I know we are making a difference and changing the experience of the arts in Frisco. The arts scene in Frisco is very different from what it was in 2004, and I’m very proud of being part of that change. I can't imagine doing anything else. You have been called the “Champion and “Protector” of the Arts in Frisco community. A part of your vision is to build a new performing arts center. Tell us more about your vision for the performing arts center. Where are you in that process? Thankfully, we have some wonderful private partners that are getting involved. Craig Hall, developer of HALL Park, has offered a formal letter of intent to our city officials and to the school board regarding donating land and funds for a performing arts center. With more than 200 works of art in his development at HALL Park, there is no doubt that Craig Hall is passionate about the arts and wants to help it thrive in Frisco. We have also been talking to a university partner well known for its award-winning music programs, as well as our arts partners in Dallas and Fort Worth who are itching to bring programs to Frisco. There is an opportunity for Frisco to follow the successful model of public/private partnerships all across the country for a performing arts center. Rather than having several isolated arts venues in different areas of the city, it’s more efficient and cost-effective to create a home for the arts to accommodate local, regional, and touring groups. You can have major and minor spaces in one facility that can satisfy the needs of both arts creators and arts consumers. If we work together, we can share parking, lobby spaces, bistro, ticketing booths, and more. With this kind of collaboration, the performing arts center will not go dark but will be alive with vibrant arts activity every day of the week. And wouldn’t it be great to have this in our own backyard rather than having to drive 45 minutes away?
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Within the past few years Frisco Arts has significantly increased its number of events to include the Frisco Arts Walk and Run, Red Carpet Concerts, and more. Where do you see Frisco Arts in five years? In five years, I see Frisco Arts as the leading arts advocacy agency in the North Texas area and beyond. I also see more innovative programs that connect arts to other sectors, which is what we are known for doing well. One area I do want to see more focused attention is the cultural arts. People are moving to Frisco from all over the country and all over the world, and that diversity is definitely represented in our growing membership. However, I would like to see more cultural arts programs in Frisco. The more we embrace that diversity, the more we are welcoming to everyone who wants to come to Frisco. And for sure in five years, I want to see a production in Frisco’s new performing arts center! You are a unique and versatile musician who beautifully plays the piano and the violin. What ignited your love for music? My parents took me to my first orchestra concert when I was four years old. It was a free concert by the Chicago Symphony, which is the only reason we were able to go. I remember sitting very close to the front, and I was mesmerized by the violin, the way the musician’s fingers were moving so quickly and the beautiful sound that engulfed me. I told my parents after the concert that I wanted to play the violin. Since we couldn’t afford lessons, I decided to make my own violin. I used a kleenex box, rubber band, and ruler for the violin, and a chopstick bow. When my parents saw that I was serious about learning the violin, they decided to start me on lessons. The violin teacher told my mother that she had never seen a five year old hang on her every word in rapt attention for an hour! They started me on two lessons per week, and I had my first concert at the Rockford Metro Centre with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra a few months later, in front of a crowd of 5,000. I’ll never forget that first performance, where I experienced the magic and power of music. I loved making music with the orchestra, and I loved giving that joy to others. I couldn’t articulate any of that at the time, but from that moment on, I knew I would never stop playing the violin. And to this day, I have not stopped!
You helped start a program called “Celebrating Music In Our Schools” at the local mall, featuring bands, orchestras, choirs, ensembles, and soloists in grades K-12 from the surrounding school districts. What inspired you to start this program? How have you seen kids’ lives impacted by the program? I was inspired to help create “Celebrating Music in Our Schools” at the local mall because I wanted to feature our talented student musicians, as well as spread musical cheer over the holidays to our weary shoppers! Music is a gift that always brings a smile to others and uplifts our spirits, and bringing performances to the general public was a way for students to have fun giving back to the community with their talent. I worked with my friend who was the general manager at Stonebriar Centre at the time, and we sent out emails to several musical groups and directors in the area to participate. We had a great turnout that first year, and now it has become an annual event with a full month of performances by musical groups from all over Frisco, Plano, Allen, and McKinney. It makes me so happy to see that this musical program is going strong and continues to make the arts accessible to all walks of life!
are all born with an innate creativity. I believe that we reflect the image of our Creator, who loves to create with color and beauty. I also believe that we are physically and mentally the healthiest when we are creating. With that in mind, I have made sure to introduce our three girls to the arts at a young age, and to encourage them to continue pursuing what they love. Thankfully, they do love the arts! Our oldest is going to be a freshman at Baylor University studying Cello Performance and Marketing, and our junior dreams of studying acting, singing, and dancing, and our 8th grader wants to be an author. There is so much research that shows the correlation of the arts and excellence in school, so it definitely benefits children in more ways than one to be involved in the arts. I hope that as our girls and many other talented artists move out of Frisco to pursue their professions in the arts, that someday they will want to return to Frisco because it has become a destination for the arts. Learn more about Tammy Meinershagen by visiting her online at friscoarts.org or find her on YouTube as Frisco Violin Girl.
Tell us about the Frisco Arts Ladies Who Launch. How is Frisco Arts supporting women business owners? Ladies Who Launch was born out of my desire to gain mentorship opportunities and grow stronger connections with other women in arts and business. As women, we are constantly moving back and forth from different stages of life, and none of us have it all figured out. The best thing we can do is to support and empower each other in the process, and that’s the heart of Ladies Who Launch. We invite entrepreneurs, “want-repreneurs”, and anyone in between to a monthly luncheon, where in just 90 minutes, we enjoy a gourmet lunch and learn from a panel discussion of two boss babes in arts and business. We leave the luncheon inspired, refreshed, and with new friends. There are only 3 rules to attend Ladies Who Launch: Come as you are, Be Real, and No Boys Allowed! It has quickly become one of Frisco’s most popular networking lunches and sells out each month, hosted at Crest Infiniti. Our featured speakers and sponsors have seen their businesses grow with many connections made, and we’ve seen many creative collaborations come from Ladies Who Launch. Women are rock stars, but sometimes you just need that extra word of encouragement to help you achieve your goals! As a mom of three how are you passing down a legacy of art appreciation and cultural diversity to your children? I definitely believe it is important for children to be exposed to the arts at a young age. As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist as you grow older.” We Photo Credit: Beau Bumpus Photography
ANITA I believe there is only a Plan A. You don’t get another plan, you just restructure the first one. Plan A is the plan. Photo Credit: Kauwuane Burton
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LEARNING THE POWER OF BEING HER OWN SHERO AN INTERVIEW WITH ANITA HAWKINS OF FIND ONE REASON TO SMILE
Anita Hawkins lives a life reminiscent of all her grandmother taught her, elegance, poise, the importance of serving the least of these and how to strut down a runway. As a serial entrepreneur, Hawkins’s grandmother taught her the power of having multiple streams of income and being your own boss. This Lifestyle Expert Extraordinaire, entrepreneur, model, author and philanthropist, has embraced the power of self worth and unapologetically declares herself her own shero. For the past ten years, along with her husband, former MLB pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, Hawkins has donated and raised funds for several organizations such as Women Called Moses and Minnie’s Food Pantry. With various programs such as Purge with a Purpose, Hawkins has helped over 300,000 people. “I think the world would be a better place if we learn to care for our elders, our veterans and people who need us.” CEOMOM spoke to Hawkins about her many philanthropic endeavors including The Gambia Initiative and how she got to a place of finally embracing her own power. Who is Anita Hawkins? First, I am a child of God who has learned the power of being her own shero. I was lost for a number of years, and regained consciousness of who Anita was. From modeling, to now international author, franchise owner, Lifestyle Expert Extraordinaire, and the Producer of Smiles, I have come to realize that walking in your purpose pays off; not just for yourself, but for the blessings of others. My
grandmother, though she is no longer with us, keeps inspiring me with all she did in the community.
Grooming with a Purpose: With this program I cut hair for the homeless, as well as feed and clothe them.
Tell us About the Find One Reason To Smile Campaign. What is the purpose and who do you serve? We launched in 2014 to help other organizations raise funds and awareness in the fight against domestic violence. After working over 10 years helping other organizations with their non-profits it gives you a true perspective of the work and dedication that goes into it. I launched a fundraiser for Women Called Moses raising 8k and matching those proceeds and presenting Debra Bowles with a check for 16k. My husband felt that after seeing her fight for over 14 years and hearing the stories of the women whose lives had been changed, she needed something tangible so we took it a step further and donated a house in 2017.
Mommy and Me: As a teen mom myself it was important for me to educate teen moms on some of the things that I didn’t know at that age. For example, how important dental hygiene is not just for yourself but for an infant child and how kissing them in the mouth or not cleaning their pacifier properly can transfer diseases that affect other parts of your body.
When giving of your time in the non-profit world helping and investing in the lives of over 360,000 families and individuals, you get to see what is lacking. That is where FORTS comes in to reinvent the smiles of women who have been stripped of that very thing due to domestic violence and sex trafficking. We want to give women hope where most times their faith has been shattered. What inspired you to start Find One Reason To Smile? I wanted to share stories of people like me. I have had the best of the best and have had a time in my life when I was without. Some of my programs include:
Purge with a Purpose: I have cleaned out my own closet over the years to help women. It has always been important to not just give an article of clothing but give something that I would wear. I lived from pillar to post years ago so it’s important to me to treat women and children in a way that they leave with their heads held high. As a part of Find One Reason to Smile you went to The Gambia. Tell us about your work for The Gambia Initiative and how people can get involved. I went to help out with an event and ended up helping so many more In The Gambia, I was shocked to learn that beauty is seen as light skin and straight hair, missing the mark on their God given melanin. While there, I visited a few shelters and non-profits to learn of the vicious cycle of domestic violence, gender based violence, child trafficking, and FGM. Everything is imported so it is twice the cost of what It would be in the United States. With The Gambia initiative I want to fill a shipping container with sanitary napkins, diapers, formula, bedding and a few other items that are
EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO GIVE BACK. I DON’T THINK PEOPLE HAVE ENOUGH EXPOSURE TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE LACK.
needed for the shelters. On average a teenage girl misses 50 days of school due to the lack of sanitary napkins. I am giving myself six months to get the container over there. You have over 50,000 girls that need your help as well as ladies in the prison system. Everyone is extremely desensitized to It because It is the norm. If you want to help, reach out to us at https://www.findonereasontosmile.org. You are a philanthropist who has donated significant time and resources to dozens of causes and organizations in Dallas. What was the defining moment that ignited your passion for philanthropy? What causes are you most passionate about and why? When I was a little girl my grandmother fed the homeless, however I didn't know she was feeding the homeless. She was a socialite and we would often go to banquets. If food was left over she would ask for containers to take the food home. I was confused, because we didn’t need food. One night, I thought we were going home but we stopped on a dark dim street. We got out of the car and she started to unload the food from the trunk of the car. I could hear people say, “Hey, Ms. Elouise. You always bring us the most eloquent cuisines.” They were so humble. I thought, this is philanthropy. There was no social media or reporters, just service to others. I was a candy striper as a teenager. We went to nursing homes and I would often tell my grandma that I didn’t like the smell. She would tell me, “You are going to serve.” Through her, I’ve learned to be a servant first. “For what you have done for the least of my people, you have
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Photo Credit: Marcus Owens
Photo Credit: Gittings Photography
done for me.” I don’t think people understand the capacity of what we hold in us. Expose your children to what it looks like to give back. I don’t think people have enough exposure to what other people lack. I think the world would be a better place if we learn to care for our elders, our veterans and people who need us. I know that Minnie's Food Pantry serves with heart and passion. Women Called Moses pulls women out of abusive homes. I work with these organizations, because they are true game changers and have the heart for people. You’re an entrepreneur who has started many successful businesses including Trokar Industries, LLC and the Fresh Healthy Café franchise master. You even inherited your grandmother’s hair salon. What is the key factor in your business success across your diverse brands? When I started Trokar, I didn't know what it was to be a builder. I just knew that I was upset about how I was treated by someone I thought was a great businessman. How can you be a great builder and not know the business side? When you are building a
brand you have to be strategic. For the Healthy Fresh Café, it took me becoming ill to take that leap and start the franchise in 2012. I did research to get healthy and to help others get healthy. The restaurant became an education center. With modeling, entrepreneurship and mentoring, some things have come at a cost. I am now producing films. I love finding new talent and trying new things. I am always ready and prepared. I don’t think I would know how to maximize my capabilities if I didn’t take on new ventures. I don’t have a lane. There are so many different genres for me. I believe there is only a Plan A. It’s about having a strong foundation for Plan A. With that foundation, you have to build your structure. Within that set of plans you can go in and do whatever you want to the inside. Within that infrastructure, I can do what I want to do. I can add another wall. I can add a closet, because the foundation is sound. I can take that LLC and put a DBA under it. You don’t get another plan, you just restructure the first one. Plan A is the plan. Your journey as an entrepreneur started at a young age when you took over your
grandmother's hair salon. Now you are a wife, mother of two, author, model and lifestyle expert extraordinaire. What do you want your legacy to be for your children? Remain humble. Legacy is everything. I look at my son right now and I didn't think he really paid attention to what I was doing or the things I was laying out for him. I am so proud of him, he has his own business. He gave me credit for that. That meant the world to me. I was in tears, because he finally listened. He called and said I am implementing and using the things that you taught me. Through fear and uncertainty, it is about pulling yourself together and being able to head in the right direction of your dream. It feels so good to be able to build an empire and walk in legacy. There are people who come after you to pursue you and what you are doing. They want to know how you obtained what you have. When you know that your dreams are tangible, you have a left a legacy. Learn more about Anita Hawkins and Find One Reason to Smile at www. AnitaEHawkins.com/ and www.findonereasontosmile.org. CEOMOM | 35
Kathy F I E L D E R
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BUILDING A GLOBAL BRAND THROUGH DESIGN & FASHION AN INTERVIEW WITH KATHY FIELDER OF KATHY FIELDER INC.
Kathy Fielder is one of Dallas’s most sought after and multi-faceted entrepreneurs and influencers. Her career is as diverse as she is creative. Fielder has built an empire after launching her first company at the age of 22, this lifestyle and design expert refuses to be put into a box. Her many roles include social media influencer, blogger, TV host, entrepreneur, manufacturer, philanthropist, wife, mother and proud Texan. For Fielder, family is her number one priority. She works closely with her daughter, Isabella, even naming a collection after her, the Isabella Collection, which proudly boasts one of the longest running bedding collections at Neiman Marcus & Horchow. Fielder believes that hard work combined with persistence, creativity and kindness are the launching pads for success. CEOMOM Magazine talked to Fielder about the evolution of the Kathy Fielder brand and the challenges that come with building a design empire. Who is Kathy Fielder? I recently received an award from the internationally recognized Women That Soar, and they asked me the same question, “Who is Kathy Fielder?” I am a
woman who wears an extraordinary number of hats. Kathy Fielder is a lady who works as hard as she can and is devoted to her family, which is her number one priority. It is important to me that I incorporate my children into my business and teach them some valuable life lessons along the way. It is equally as important to me for my children to see what it takes to be successful and come along with me on this journey. My daughter Isabella is 15, and my son Harrison is 7. I believe it is so important to give back to those around us. Isabella and I recently took a trip to Guatemala with Orphan Outreach where we remodeled an orphanage for abused girls. It was extraordinary to give her that experience. I designed the product, and my manufacturing company, Isabella Collection by Kathy Fielder, made all of the soft goods for the girl’s rooms. Sharing such an experience with my daughter was an unforgettable one. It was beyond life changing for both her and me. I believe good design matters in our lives and does impact us greatly. At the end of the day, most of us walk into our homes and feel secure and happy. You walk out the next day feeling
confident and able to take on the world because you have created a safe and inviting place. Design does make a difference in how we process and proceed through life. Creating this sort of oasis for these precious girls was an honor. How did your career in design begin? I launched by first concept inside a co-op showroom, an interior design / furnishings venture. Studio Interiors quickly led me to many diverse projects. I signed on with a builder to design a $2.5 million dollar showhome soon after, which launched a successful career showhome career all the while doing private residences as well as commercial properties. When my daughter was a one-year old, I fell down the stairs and broke my back, so I was no longer able to go around town making selections and working with clients on job sites. That’s when I launched my manufacturing division in 2005. Currently my career encompasses many facets from design, manufacturing, licensing, retail, to social media influencer. How would you describe your signature style? Classic, elegant, current, and relevant is how I would describe my style. I pride myself in staying with what’s on trend and CEOMOM | 37
18 presenting that in new ways every season for maximum impact. In the world of social media, you must remain relevant to a millennial all the way up to someone who is 60. I design looks that are relatable for varying groups and demographics that are classically on trend. You are an award winning lifestyle & design expert, blogger, TV host, entrepreneur, manufacturer and philanthropist. To what do you attribute such a diverse and influential career? Not quitting. Everyone has challenges and everyone faces obstacles. The way that you continue to be and remain relevant is to work hard and, more importantly, smart. Years ago, you would have set a five year business plan. Now it seems difficult to even set a one year business plan. The same old characteristic that breeds success is something that will take you far. When there are challenges, you don’t quit, you keep going. You work hard, you work smart. When you get knocked down you get back up and figure out a better way to do it. You have expanded your business to include the Kathy Fielder brand lifestyle products, including the Isabella Collection named after your daughter, a retail boutique and successful blog KF Design | Life | Style, and a Kathy Fielder licensing division. What has been the key to successfully expanding your business? In today’s business world, my manufacturing company is very different from my licensing division. Without a presence on Google and followers on instagram, licensing deals are difficult to accomplish. Licensing deals are achieved by building a social media presence that engages opportunities and that is also backed up with successful design talent. The manufacturing realm requires an intense amount of hands on, what one would think of a more “typical CEO”, if there is such a thing. I wear what feels like fifteen hats a day from wife and mom to manufacturer to licensed designer to influencer, I am never bored to say the least! The ability to field multiple things in a day is a very important aspect in growing my companies. I stay focused on where I want to go. It’s very important to understand something. You can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you want to be. Goals are important. It is a fluid marketplace. It changes everyday and you need to be very intuitive on what is happening within your marketplace and within your company and adjust those goals accordingly to be successful.
Photo provided by: Kathy Fielder
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Photo Credit: Gittings Photography
Photo provided by: Kathy Fielder
What have been your greatest challenges when expanding the Kathy Fielder brand? How have you overcome those challenges? Learning how to navigate social media, especially in the field of design is essential. It is time consuming, but growing your online presence and fan base while fielding all of the other things in a day is challenging. Another challenge that I've had to overcome ~ I am an American manufacturer and make my product here in Dallas, TX, USA, and it has been difficult to compete in the marketplace against overseas manufacturers. Finally, I am a mom first and foremost. I still pick my kids up from school everyday, and finding time to manage family and work is always challenging for any working mom. Making sure my husband and my family know they are loved and cared for is my biggest goal. As a wife and mother who wears many hats, what have you given up to achieve work/life balance? Do you think work/life balance is possible? I think work/life balance is possible in moments. As an entrepreneur, it gets
really difficult. There’s mom guilt, something I think all mommies struggle with working or not. We are beating ourselves up questioning whether or not we are doing it right. We deal with feelings of inadequacy that our kids aren’t getting enough time, attention, etc. What we need to remember is the value of what we are teaching them and the principles of success we are instilling in them. Remembering we are teaching them to be strong people who are focused and diligent is important and a gift that will last our kids a lifetime. Sometimes, I feel anxious because I want to be there for my kids every moment, and on the other side of that I have this drive to be successful. I think that we all as working moms give up a little piece of ourselves for the greater good. I may give up a day at the gym to go to an event at my kid’s school because I need to get back to the office. Working moms have to sacrifice in order to keep work/life balance in tact. Learn more about Kathy Fielder at https://kathyfielder.com.
Sometimes, I feel anxious because I want to be there for my kids every moment, and on the other side of that I have this drive to be successful. CEOMOM | 39
Photo Credit: Alex Cerda
C O U R T N E Y PAVING THE WAY FOR WOMEN IN TECH
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Photo Credit: Allyson Rhodes, AIR Designs
To say Courtney Caldwell is a powerhouse is an understatement. She is an innovator who is blazing trails for women in tech, specifically women of color, not only in Dallas but on a global scale. Along with her business partner, Dr. Tye Caldwell, who is also her husband, Caldwell has created a disruptive product for beauty professionals: ShearShare. ShearShare is an app that allows licensed stylists and other beauty and barbering professionals to rent salon space on an as-needed basis. This wife and mom of a son, who will be entering the Air Force Academy this fall, has accumulated a number of awards including her recent recognition as the 2019 Outstanding Young Alumna from her alma mater, SMU Cox School of Business. Caldwell is just as invested in the success of others as she is her own. Caldwell told CEOMOM Magazine why ShearShare is so special to her family and how her love for the digital space has positioned her to be a trailblazer for women in tech.
Who is Courtney Caldwell? Courtney is a woman who is focused on bringing out the best in people. Back when I decided to major in business, I knew I wanted to go into marketing. Others would say I have a gift of being able to pull out the best in people and always helping others to believe in themselves. You have an award winning career in tech marketing and sales that includes being a 2015 Direct Marketing News "40 Under 40" Honoree, a Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year by Texas Military Institute and more. Tell us about your professional background before you co-founded ShearShare. Before tech, I spent almost five years in full-time ministry. I worked for a radio ministry called Insight for Living with Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll while going back to school to earn my MBA. After I graduated, I transitioned to B2B tech and never looked back. For over 20 years I have been in tech on a global scale. Regardless of company, I was always paired with the head of sales.
Our big est goal as a family is to serve as a model of hope for people who are coming a ter us, whether that is a husband and wife duo that wants to start a business together or a parent trying to figure out how to balance it all. CEOMOM | 41
That’s how I got into many different rooms. And I have a love for the digital space because it moves so quickly. I like being able to launch a campaign on Monday and see results by Friday. One of my last roles before ShearShare was at Oracle, where I led the Digital Strategy and Innovation Group. My teams were located in Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the states, and were constantly the biggest earners. I literally worked my way up in digital marketing, starting out as a marketing coordinator, then moved to a specialist, manager, then vice president and head of marketing. I earned my BBA from Southern Methodist University and my MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. I remember being headhunted to serve as the head of marketing for this highgrowth company, but the more accomplishments, the less I felt fulfilled. It was around this time that my husband challenged me to look at consulting. After much consideration and feet dragging, I ended up going out on my own and consulted for large brands like Zendesk, Zenefits, and Qualtrics. I enjoyed my time consulting and figured this was how I could spread the wealth and help more than one company. Then ShearShare came along. Starting a tech startup was a complete accident. We received a phone call from a stylist who was scared of losing her clientele. She didn’t want to sign a long-term contract and just needed workspace for Saturday. To be honest, I laughed at the idea at first, but my husband decided to give it a try because we had suites that were lying dormant. Both the stylist and my husband enjoyed the experience so much that she asked if we could contact a few other salons and convince them to let her rent for a day at a time. When I think about it, it was an interesting time, because the industry was starting to shift, but we were paying attention. No one in the industry was creating an app to rent salon space by the day. Because it’s not the ideal environment for their best work, a lot of stylists and barbers
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look for alternatives to doing hair in the kitchen or the garage. At this time, so many beauty professionals were telling us that they wanted to lease space when and where they needed it. Fast forward three years, and we were manually matching stylists to empty salon space before we decided to look for an app that did what we did. We wanted to help our fellow stylists as best we could, but I was working fulltime at Oracle and my husband was finishing his book. Our plates were very full. We figured there had to be an app for this, but with all the Google searches, we couldn’t find it. That’s when God said, “You have to create the app.” We didn’t know it at the time, but those three years I was consulting and contracting ended up helping to fund our start-up.
though I’m not a licensed beauty professional, I’ve definitely been a salon and barbershop manager, helping my husband to market services, hire new team members, rebrand, negotiate lease terms, price, and scale his 5-star business. It felt right when he came home and said, “This needs to be an app.” Now neither one of us knew how to code. Thankfully God had already put the right people in place to answer our questions. I recall one time when we were in California and cold emailed one of the founders of Airbnb. He accepted and invited us down to the headquarters. In that moment I had to remind myself that people are not as closed off as we think. Fellow startup founders are willing to give you an hour of their time because they have been where you are.
What has been the key to your success in tech marketing, an industry that often does not recognize the accomplishments of women? Simple: it’s results. No matter what pattern matching takes place or what preconceived notions one may have about women in tech in general, you can't ignore my numbers. Every quarter my team always had the highest number in leads and sales. I let my work speak for itself. No matter who is in the room they cannot ignore my impact on the bottom line. This helps set the stage for those who are coming after me because now you’ve seen a model for what an accomplished female in tech looks like.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating your own app? The most rewarding part has been building this legacy with my husband. It is the first time in our lives that we can end our day and not have to decompress, because he knows exactly what my day was like and vice versa. We get to live 100% in the moment, and I don’t take that for granted. For any relationship—co-founder, personal trainer or coach, marriage, etc.—when you set goals together, it makes for a better relationship because you always have your eyes on the prize.
How did your career in the beauty tech industry begin? Walk us through the process of creating your own app, ShearShare. Being married to an entrepreneur, you are pulled in to the day-to-day whether or not you're from that industry. That is just what happens. My dear husband is the most unemployable man I know! He has always been a boss and a visionary. And I was right there with him because I have the gift of execution. So even
What has been the most challenging? Knowing what you do not know. If God had told me what we were going to go through with ShearShare I would have said, “Nah, I’ll just consult and live a comfortable lifestyle.” I am so grateful today that I don’t always know what is around the corner. I used to live my life planning and planning. This time God said, “You don’t have to know everything that is happening.” And because I no longer have to control every step of the way, I trust that where God is leading us is just the next step around the corner.
You’ve spoken about the challenges of acquiring investors and raising capital as a woman of color in tech. You are the 33rd woman of color to raise $1 million winning several awards and pitch competitions in the process. What advice do you have for women, especially women of color, who want to acquire investors? Where should they start? If I had it to do all over again, I would definitely do pitch competitions again. I like those events because they are one hundred percent meritocracy-based. When we are able to walk into a room at the same starting line as everyone there, we are going to kill it every time. Any environment where everyone starts at the same place, put yourself in the room. I would highly recommend entering pitch competitions or getting into an accelerator program. Where do you see ShearShare in the next five years? That's easy. Our vision for ShearShare has always been to create the first B2B platform that helps industry professionals maximize their earnings potential. Space to work is just the beginning of the lifecycle. We started there because it was our own problem to solve. Now that we have built trust, we are coming out with more tools that we wish we had in the earliest days. For example, we’re releasing a finance module that is going to give stylists access to free weekly pay stubs, a free tax savings account, and the ability to file their quarterly taxes via their mobile phones. We are working to provide professional liability insurance for the day. We are also looking to include retail so that stylists can pre-order their favorite products or sell their indie products in an ecosystem that is built just for beauty and barbering professionals.
Photo Credit; Simone White of Blavity
You co-founded ShearShare with your husband? What do you hope your son learns from watching his parents start an innovative and disruptive brand. Our biggest goal as a family is to serve as a model of hope for people who are coming after us, whether that is a husband and wife duo that wants to start a business together or a parent trying to figure out how to balance it all. Our son is headed to the United State Air Force Academy this summer to play football and study aviation, and he has said, “Eventually, I want to be an entrepreneur. I can help provide jobs for servicemen and women once they complete their time serving our country.” I don’t think fifteen years ago he would have thought about that. With Tye being a businessman all these years and modeling entrepreneurship for our family, it’s amazing to hear our son now say, “I know you work hard and put in great effort everyday for the betterment of our family and small businesses. I want to be able to give back to the world in a similar way.” I know he is going to do it, because (1) he has seen it modeled and (2) he is a rock star. To learn more about Courtney Caldwell and ShearShare, visit https://shearshare.com.
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Photo Credit: Simply Madi Photography
I am drawn to the marginalized, to those who have a voice but need that voice amplified by someone else.
FIGHTING TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING THROUGH FASHION & FAITH AN INTERVIEW WITH KIM JONES, DIRECTOR OF ENGAGEMENT OF MY REFUGE HOUSE Kim Jones always knew she was meant to serve the marginalized, but it took a journey of discovery to figure out how. After finding herself on the other side of the world in Southeast Asia, Jones began her journey as a warrior for the fight against human trafficking. As the Director of Engagement for My Refuge House, an organization that restores survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse, Jones acts as the voice for the ministry, teaching and connecting churches and potential partners to its cause. Through her role as Director of Engagement, Jones has realized gifts and capabilities she didn’t know she had. She has embraced God’s calling on her life to help others restore hope in their faith and humanity. As she navigates the severity of human trafficking, Jones makes certain that she enjoys moments away with her family. CEOMOM Magazine talked to Jones about her journey to My Refuge House and what she hopes her children learn from her work. Who is Kim Jones? I am a lover of life and a lover of people. I want to see people flourish and develop. I think most importantly I am drawn to the marginalized, to those who have a voice but need that voice amplified by someone else. I am a mom and a wife and follower of Christ. I think out of those things have come my passion for people. It’s that whole intersection where passion and life collide. It’s the intersection of what breaks your heart and what fuels you. You are the Director of Engagement for My Refuge House. Tell us about My
Refuge House. Tell us about My Refuge House. What does the organization do and who do you serve? We are a 501(c)(3) organization located in Cebu, Philippines. I go back and forth from Texas to Cebu. We provide after care for young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Our girls are 9 to 21. We are the place they come to to receive holistic care to put them on the road of restoration. These girls are on a lifelong journey of restoration. They are restored in their faith in Christ. We provide them with education, psychological help in the form of therapy and spiritual direction. We help the girls in the area of vocational training. Education is huge to My Refuge House, because we know when the girls are educated they will go back to their families changed. It is an important factor for us that the girls leave educated and ready to pursue all that God has created them to be. This year we had two girls graduate from college with social work degrees. Most of our girls come in with less than a third grade education. The families often rely on children to support them financially. A lot of the girls end up dropping out of school. The nature of sex trafficking has continued to evolve since we opened our doors 10 years ago. Our newest MRH girls are younger with the average age being 11. Many of those girls were sold through cyber sex to individuals around the world, many of whom are westerners. People in far off places pay money to watch a girl be sexually abused. The abuse can come from someone she knows, either a mother or sibling. She is told by her parent to perform sex acts for the camera while people watch. We deal with things that are really
dark, but we know in the midst of the darkness there is light. In spite of the darkness the light is always at work. What does your role as Director of Engagement entail? Most of my work is here in the United States. I help to provide education and connection to our donors which consists of a lot of individual companies and churches. I educate them on the issue of sex trafficking on the global scale and talk to them about some of the systemic things in our culture that contribute to sex trafficking. If there wasn’t a demand or need, our girls would not be sold in that way. We have to ask ourselves as Westerners, “What in our culture is contributing?” One big thing I do is a fashion show called Fashioned for Freedom. I come from a teaching background so a fashion show is not in my wheelhouse. This year will be our sixth year. Every year is a little different. We like to keep people guessing. The idea came to me in my sleep over six years ago. From there, it was really crazy. It was truly God. I was helped by Aubrey Mayo, the Creative Director of Seaminx Artist Management. It was such a blessing when she said, “I will do the show for you.” From there, we got the space. We sold out the first year. Every year since we have sold out. God has managed to put it all together. It really is God. It is something that doesn’t fit my background which is education. The whole idea of orchestrating an idea like a fashion show was really outside of what I knew about myself. Through all of that I have learned so much and am still learning. I feel like God has made a way. The creative community in
People want to do things on a grand scale which I love, but I believe real change happens on the individual level.
Dallas has embraced us from Campbell Runway to Willie Johnson who is a local stylist to world renowned bridal gown designer, Esé Azénabor. Everyone donates their time and out of that God has made a way. I love that what we have done with the show has mirrored a lot of what we do on the other side of the world, investing in people’s lives and watching them flourish. Tell us about your professional background and how it led you to a career fighting to end human trafficking. Why human trafficking? I have always been drawn to children who are struggling, because I struggled as a kid. I didn't grow up with much. We didn't have a lot of anything. I remember sitting in the classroom and wondering, does anybody see me. I graduated from Dallas Baptist University and it was there I genuinely felt like God was calling me to teach. I didn't know what that was going to look like. For seven years I taught in private school. I didn't feel like I was connecting to the mission that God had given me. I made the decision to move to the Dallas Independent School District. I loved my new school. Most of my kids were newcomers to the United States. Our school had the highest percentage of homelessness in the district. I loved the families. It was an absolute joy. It was really hard, but at the same time it was where I was supposed to be. I taught for years, then got pregnant with our oldest son. As he was growing up, people told me that you are supposed to be a mom and a wife. The idea of having dreams outside of that was very foreign to me. I began to stay home with my oldest and realized I was not good at it. I actually did not even like it. I wasn’t wired that way. I am not good at taking care of a house.
Photo Credit: Simply Madi Photography
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Photo Credit: Simply Madi Photography
When my husband became a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, I remember thinking, God I’ve married this incredibly smart man yet I don’t know how you want to use me. Then God gave me these words, “You can be a friend.” It was out of that I started working with new moms and coming alongside them. We would have heavy conversations about the world. Those heavy conversations made my heart come alive. I watched a series where Ashley Judd was interviewing the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. She talked about human trafficking so I googled it to learn more about it. I began to consume information about human trafficking, continuously researching it. I started sending out a newsletter. From there, I went to Southeast Asia and spent time in Cambodia and Thailand. I just remember standing in this red light district and laughing, thinking, “God you have a sense of humor. I am a homeschooling mom back in the States and you have put me here in Southeast Asia. Although God kept putting me in places I didn't feel I belonged, I just kept learning and using my story. A few years later my church told me about an organization in the Philippines that was working with survivors of sex trafficking. They wanted me to visit. I had seen a lot of aftercare programs, but when I visited My Refuge House, I
knew something was different. This was really good work. The day I got back from the Philippines, the Executive Director of My Refuge House called me and said I'm coming to Dallas and would love to meet. At that meeting she offered me a position at MRH. The job was everything I was looking for. How can our readers get involved with the fight against human trafficking? First, check out our website at https://www.myrefugehouse.org/. Go to the website and send me an email. Another place to find information is http://www.fashionedforfreedom.com/. People want to use their gifts and money. We always need financial help, but aside from that I want to lean into people and learn how they want to serve. I would love for people to reach out to me and say, "This is what I do. Do you have any needs based on that?” After the show so many people say, “I wish I could have helped.” Ask yourself how you can help and how you can connect. Another way people can help is by asking themselves if there is anything that they are doing in their lives that may be contributing to the issue of human trafficking or anything that they are blind to. I think when people begin to ask themselves these questions they stop looking down and begin to look up. We do a curriculum called, I Speak, where we teach the global issue of human trafficking. Through a series of modules
we talk about systemic cultural issues. We talk about gender violence and violence in media. People want to do things on a grand scale which I love, but I believe real change happens on the individual level. If I can impact one person I believe changes can be made. Our tagline is, "Restoring one life at a time." How do you balance such life altering work with home life? It’s very hard. I’ve had to learn accountability. Often my husband will say, “You have to turn it off right now.” Accountability in the way that I have someone to shoulder the load with me. It’s being able to say, "I have to share what I have with you right now in confidence." It can be very taxing. One of the things I am trying to do, especially with my kids, is be present at that moment with them. Sometimes when I am with my kids my mind is going in a million directions. Sometimes I can’t do things with my kids, because I have to work. When I am with my kids I am fully present. It is putting my phone down and really sitting and showing up with them in those moments. It's about finding moments in my life where I am experiencing joy; doing fun things with my kids like watching a movie, going on long walks, taking silly selfies, and watching goofy YouTube videos...... I think learning to play is really important for women who work, especially women who are dealing with really heavy issues at work. To learn more about Kim Jones and My Refuge House, visit www.myrefugehouse.org.
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HOW HER LOVE FOR FAMILY & LAW IS CHANGING LIVES AN INTERVIEW WITH AMBER GREGG, DALLAS ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY
For Amber Hamilton Gregg, law is her Godgiven purpose. As an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County, she fights for justice for victims of financial crimes. In the past several years, Gregg has also worked to give back to her legal community and fellow lawyers as she served in many positions for the JL Turner Legal Association and Foundation. Gregg is confident in her ability to do it all and have it all, but believes it should not be at the cost of her family. As a wife and mother, and with a baby girl on the way, Gregg has learned to set boundaries that allow her to pursue more than one dream at a time. In addition to being an attorney, she is the organizer of You CAN Sit With US DFW, an organization where women come together to encourage and support one another in and out of the workplace. Through her dedication to her community and philanthropy, this Dallas native is using her love for family and law to leave an imprint that connects and equips beyond the courtroom. Who is Amber Hamilton Gregg? Amber Hamilton Gregg is a dreamer. I grew up in a household with two teachers. They were trailblazers in their families, getting their bachelor's degrees and becoming teachers which was in contrast to their
childhood surroundings. I went to the Law Magnet at Townview where I realized after my freshman year that I wanted to focus on law and the government. That’s when I discovered that I wanted to be a lawyer, although I didn't know what type.
God led me to become a prosecutor. Right now, I prosecute financial crimes. I enjoy it because I love being able to help people in my community, working to make them whole from people taking things from them. I find it to be very rewarding. It is an important job that has purpose.
I love to speak and debate so I joined the debate team. I am very animated and dramatic when I talk and when I move. People would often tell me that I would be great in the courtroom and that I should pursue a career as a trial lawyer. I received a scholarship to Texas A&M University in College Station, TX where I chose the business law track. I did not have any lawyers or judges in my family or circle of family friends, so I didn’t have anyone close to me to turn to seek advice on law school. I had to get guidance from other students and organizations. I had questions like, how much does law school cost? Which schools should I consider? It was the biggest risk I had taken. It was an unknown, but I followed my heart and prayed about it. I went to Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth, Texas. I had no idea that I would end up a prosecutor. I thought I would be a sports and entertainment attorney, but
You organized You CAN Sit With US DFW in 2016 for professional women to encourage and support one another in and out of the workplace. Why do you think an organization like this is needed? Describe some of the programs and events you host to cultivate a community of professional women and community advocates. It is needed, because women sometimes feel there is only competition and not enough room for everybody to sit at the table. We give each other the hardest time, believing that we have to be the youngest, the prettiest, the best dressed and that no one else can be in our position. As women, we have to be more open and accepting. When I was put in a situation where I felt I wasn’t getting the most support, it was sad and disappointing to me. When I talked to my other friends, in some form or fashion, they all had experienced the same thing. We have so
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18 much in common as women in the workplace that if we just opened up we could find those commonalities. I am around people at work more than my own family. We should be kind to one another. You never know what someone is going through and you never know what will connect you. We put on several events, one being the Women’s Empowerment Day at Kendra Scott. We collected toiletries for Safe Haven, a domestic violence shelter. The director told us that they needed basic necessities like deodorant, panty liners, tampons, toothpaste and toothbrushes. We collected those items and we plan on doing that again this year. We are planning to host our next event in West Village. We also did a vision board party at the Coterie where we came together and prayed over our vision boards. Recently, we hosted a Maternity Clothing Drive for Mother’s Day to benefit SafeHaven in Arlington. It was a big success and we were able to donate several items of maternity clothing to those women in need. You are an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County. Tell us about your work as an advocate for victims. I started out doing misdemeanor cases in 2012. I have handled all types of cases from thefts to assaults for people who have been victims of domestic violence. I now prosecute financial crimes. I work with people who have been defrauded or are victims of identity theft, anything that involves money. It is very rewarding, because we have a lot of small businesses and mom and pop shops who have been defrauded by people who have worked for them and have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. These businesses often have to shut down or take out loans to stay afloat when they come to our office. They are devastated financially and emotionally. We do our best to try to make them as whole as possible in their pocketbooks. Through your work as an attorney you are actively involved in various community initiatives. Describe your past and current roles for the J.L. Turner Legal Association. How is the J.L. Turner Legal Association making a difference in the community? I served on the JL Turner Legal Association Board of Directors for several years in the past, including as the Criminal Law Committee Chair for three years. The J.L. Turner Legal Association joins together criminal lawyers and civil lawyers. We don’t see each other very much, because we handle two different Photo Credit: Kauwuane Burton
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Photo Credit: Gittings Photography
out of your control. One thing happens and something else happens at the same time. I definitely think work/life balance is very important. My family will always come first before my career or anything else. The key for me is, I have learned to say “NO” and I had to stop caring what people think about me so much. That was hard for me to do for a long time. I always wanted to please people and be that person who was seen as reliable and dependable. I had to learn to say no and be comfortable and unapologetic with saying that word. Pregnancy with my son and my current pregnancy with my daughter really took a toll on me physically. I battled severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting. I had to learn to say no to heading certain projects or taking on more things outside of work that were not a priority. I found that you are not less than because you say no. You are actually giving yourself more power. Learn more about Amber Hamilton Gregg and her organization You CAN Sit With US DFW at https://www.youcansitwithusdfw.com.
Photo Credit: DLacy Photography
types of caseloads. J.L. Turner works to bridge that gap and make sure the civil attorneys and criminal attorneys get to know each other. They were lacking a chair for years. As the chair, I helped to put on our Annual Civil meets Criminal Law Picnic, CLE trainings for lawyers, as well as mixers for the lawyers. Last year, I had the honor of serving as the chair of our Annual LA Bedford Awards Luncheon which was a huge success. I currently serve as a director on the JL Turner Foundation Board where I will serve out a 3 year term. You’ve said that God has always ordered your steps in the most supernatural ways. What specific ways has your faith played a role in your career? Well, there have definitely been times I had to reevaluate and ask, “Do I want to be a lawyer? Is this the field I want to be in? Do I want to practice criminal law? After I had my son, I didn’t know if I still wanted to be a prosecutor. I always pray about everything I do. I was raised in church, at St Peters Catholic
Apostlic Church to be exact. My mom and dad taught me to pray about everything in my life, I grew up watching them pray. I am now a member of Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church where I served on the media ministry for 2 years. Pastor Karry Wesley speaks to me and my situations everytime I step foot into that church. My answers always come to me what God wants me to do. He is telling me to continue to fight for justice. I am so grateful for my relationship with God and I am in awe of the things that have come to pass for me and my family.
I found that you are not less than because you say no. You are actually giving yourself more power.
You’ve stated that being a wife and mother always come first and you have learned to set priorities. Do you believe work/life balance is achievable? If so, what is your key to maintaining it? If not, what do you think women should strive for instead? I definitely think it is something you are always striving to achieve, however I don’t think you ever have it. Things always come up in life, things that are CEOMOM | 53
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EMPOWERING BREAST CANCER FIGHTERS AND SURVIVORS AN INTERVIEW WITH SHANTAQUILETTE CARTERWILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF PINK PEPPERMINT PROJECT
Shantaquilette Carter is known for her flawless sense of style in everything she does. From her hair to her clothes to her events to her home decor, Carter has built a reputation for helping other women feel and look beautiful in spite of life altering health challenges. In 2017, Carter founded GlamCon, one of the only beauty events designed specifically for women fighting breast cancer and those who care for them. Her mission is to celebrate glamorous conquerors: women who are fighting breast cancer and those who support them. GlamCon provides survivors with a day of beauty resources for their skin, empowerment workshops for their spirit, and networking with inspiring women for their soul. This creator of Style Follows Her and Pink Peppermint Project, has dedicated her life to making sure women know their capability to conquer anything. CEOMOM chatted with Carter to discuss where she discovered her love for fashion and why she is so passionate about making breast cancer survivors feel beautiful. Who is ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams? Shantaquilette Carter-Williams is an ambitious, free-hearted positive maven from humble beginnings. I’ve had a passion
for serving women since I was a little girl. I have allowed my journey through life to help other women through my transparency. I am unapologetically "me". I am a woman who has been through a lot, with no regrets. I have used those tragedies to turn lemons into lemonade and influence every woman I encounter to also live unapologetically and wholistically. You can call me a modern woman of faith. You are the founder of Style Follows Her. What is the heart behind this fashion brand? Style Follows Her actually came about in 2013. At that time, I wasn’t blogging, I was focused on being a mother and on my career. A lot of my friends were inspired by my ability to find creative ways to be a homemaker, all while working a full time job. They would comment on how challenging it was to balance career and family and that moms needed practical tips. So I began to research blogging. My family loves fashion. Every time friends and family would see my husband and children, they would say, “You have so much style and your kids are following right behind you. They are going to be just like you." And
so that’s how I came up with the name, Style Follows Her. I am originally from Denver, Colorado. Being new to Dallas taught me a lot about networking. I wasn't someone who would go to social events. It was usually just me with my family and friends. I started researching Dallas and found Leah Frazier online. Because I was looking for bloggers in Dallas, I reached out to her. She was very open. She invited me to an event. That was the beginning of my blogging career. I attended events for brands such as Belk and Macy’s. I got my big chance in 2016 when Dior Beauty reached out to me. They wanted me to host an event in Highland Park. They hosted this amazing event for me and put my face on a flyer. I started reaching out to people and connecting with major brands. My blog is about being an everyday working woman and trying to juggle life the best way you can, bringing together the traditional and the modern. How did you develop your love for all things beauty and fashion? My mom is a stylish woman who always kept an immaculate home. She started a house cleaning business when I was a child. She would take us with her when she CEOMOM | 57
would go to clean houses. There were two clients in particular, Dara and Libby, who were two of the most fabulous women I had ever met. Their houses were beautiful, and they both had an amazing sense of style. From Louis Vuitton to Vogue Magazines, they were the epitome of style. When my mom would take us to their houses, she would watch episodes of Dynasty. I was fascinated by how Dara and Libby kept themselves up like the women on Dynasty such as Dianne Carroll. When I got older I had received several scholarships, but ended up being a teen mom. I started out in cosmetology and did hair and makeup for a few years. As a single mother, I transferred over to something that would pay the bills so I started working for an insurance firm. After I started working in accounting, I went to Regis University and earned my bachelor's degree in accounting. I still had a love for beauty and fashion, so I started a company called Hollywood Image that would style women. I shopped for high-end clients such as Keisha Whitaker, Barbara Handler, Sabrina LeBeauf, and Amy Irving. The appreciation I had for a perfectly tailored blazer stemmed from the same excitement I would get in finding an amazing wallpaper with fabulous. I’ve also styled my mom, cousins and friends. As a plus size woman I knew how to teach women how to dress for themselves. You’ve expanded your love for beauty and fashion into non-profit work with organizations like the Pink Peppermint Project. What is the Pink Peppermint Project? What does your organization do and who do you serve? The Pink Peppermint Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides programs and resources for women impacted by breast cancer and their caregivers. We focus on holistic care that affects the mind, body and soul. We are beauty focused. We want to enhance the quality of life. We have programs that focus on image. We have a program where we send packages to women. We educate them so they know what nontoxic products are out there. We encourage them to use paraben-free products that are safe. We have campaigns and calls of action to make sure women are doing their breast exams and mammograms. I have lost three friends who were all under the age of 30 when they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Why is Breast Cancer Awareness so important to you? It became important to me when I was personally impacted. I lost a grandma to cancer and chemotherapy. 2016 was a very tumultuous year for me. My friend died of breast cancer. My aunt died of breast cancer. During that time I would talk to them to try to understand how debilitating the disease was and how emotionally taxing it was. Shameka, one of my friends, would share how breast cancer was affecting
Photo Credit: Octavia Whitlowe, For Beauty Sake
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Photo Credit: Gittings Photography
I actually see us touring around the world hosting GlamCon in different cities. I envision it to one day be like the Essence Festival, a three day conference where women from around the world come to connect.
I wanted women to be identified by more than just being a survivor. I wanted them to feel beautiful.
How can people get involved with the Pink Peppermint Project and GlamCon? We have two websites: pinkpeppermintcares.org and the glamconevents.org. We have volunteer opportunities to help prepare for the event and during the event. We have lipstick drives, beauty fundraisers, and packing parties. Universities and local high schools can also get involved in our packing parties. We can send them all of the supplies, including flyers and promotional information to help them set up a date to collect lipsticks. All of the products we use have to be nontoxic.
Photo Credit: Octavia Whitlowe, For Beauty Sake
her love life, emotionally and mentally. I would always work to uplift her. She would talk about how pretty I was and how she loved my hair. I decided to send her something other than flowers or a card so I sent her some lipstick, lotion and earrings. Sending her those things created some of our best conversations. On March 5, 2016, my aunt died of breast cancer. Three days later, I lost my friend Stacy. Six months after that, my childhood friend Kanesha died. I started thinking about a way to go beyond what I was doing and myself. I still had a passion for women, but I had to do more than Style Follows Her. I had always wanted to do a women’s conference. I thought to myself, what if I give breast cancer patients a day to relax and share their stories with other women. I wanted women to be identified by more than just being a survivor. I wanted them to feel beautiful. Your annual event GlamCon works to make breast cancer survivors and supporters feel and look beautiful. Describe some of the ways you accomplish that. One of the things we do is give women a free day of beauty services. As women,
we love being feminine. If we can get a day of beauty at no cost, that is even better. We want women to feel good and share their beauty with the world and not have to be ashamed of what they are going through like losing their hair and eyebrows. We love making women feel amazing. We also have a group of speakers such as nutritionists, doctors and health professionals share their stories and give health advice. Our first year we talked about sex and how breast cancer can take a toll on marriage. How do you please your spouse when you are not feeling well? Things that a lot of doctors and conferences don’t discuss. We do exercises that encourages the women to get up and participate. Exercising while having breast cancer can enhance the quality of life as well as prolong life. Eating the right foods can prolong life as well. We have fashion for women who have had a mastectomy. Your body is not the same. We also have areola tattooing. You’ve had an incredible impact with GlamCon in just two years. Where do you see the beauty conference in five years?
What can we expect from GlamCon 2019? We are in preparation now. We are looking to extend our weekend. This year we are planning to have our event starting Friday night. Friday night we will have a Pink Pajama Party. Women who have lost their hair can actually get hair art. You can take a picture of yourself and then paint the hair on it. We are looking to have breakout sessions in 2019. It will be a little more personal. We will also have a financial course and a workout class. We want all women to be involved not just survivors, I think everyone can benefit from a day at GlamCon. Your children are involved with the work you do for Pink Peppermint Project and GlamCon. What advice would you give to a mom who wants to get her kids involved in charitable initiatives and programs? My daughter does all of our graphic and web design. You will see my 16 year old at the events volunteering. She does a lot of the administrative work. She is very young, but she helps with all of the administration. I think it is important to show your children the foundation of giving back and what it entails. I learned the value of giving back by watching my father. I would watch him help the homeless by giving them money and lunch. We lived near a halfway house. A lot of people would get out of the halfway house and my father would give them money and take them places in his truck. I started out by taking my daughters with me to work at other charitable organizations. It’s all about what you show your children. When your children see you serve, it inspires them to do the same. They see the impact of it. To learn more about Shantaquilette Carter, please visit her online at www.glamconevents.org and stylefollowsher.com.
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Photo Credit: Kauwuane Burton
BUILDING TABLES FOR ALL WOMEN T H E CEOMOM | 60
I M A N
P R O J E C T
When you think of women who are building a table for all of us to take a seat, Bree Clarke immediately comes to mind. She not only builds tables with her hands, she builds opportunities and safe spaces with her heart. Her mission is to create an environment where women of all backgrounds, races and experiences can come together to celebrate the commonalities that bind us. Through her workshops and now Little House on Routh, Clarke aims to connect, and embrace diversity beyond color. Clarke has mastered the art of taking what she has and who she is to create beautiful experiences with lasting impact. Her goal, use her trials and challenges to cultivate better opportunities for others. She does that through her three brands, Lavender & Mint Designs, The Iman Project and her newly opened event space in Uptown Dallas, Little House on Routh. Who is Bree Clarke? A fighter. Bree Clarke is a woman who has a past that she didn't let define her. I continue to push forward. I am a mom of two beautiful twin boys. I am the wife of a man who has made me better in everything I do. I’m a woman who wants to see the woman next to me rise as much as I have or I am going to. Tell us about Lavender & Mint Designs. How did you get into building farmhouse tables? I thought the farmhouse tables out there were overpriced. The one I wanted was $3,500. I thought farmhouse tables should not be over $3,000. We decided to make them on our own. We made ours and all of our friends came by and said, “We want a table.” I would sell them on Facebook garage sale sites. D magazine found us and thought it was the weirdest thing to find on the Facebook garage sale page. The rest is history.
My mom was a stickler for waiting until my dad got home from work to have dinner. That was a big thing, to have us all at the dinner table. As we waited, she would make us go get the mint for the tea. That’s why I call it Lavender & Mint Designs. Lavender & Mint Designs started The Iman Project to bring women of different backgrounds, experiences and races together. What was the defining moment that inspired you to start The Iman Project? The Iman Project was always around, but I didn't know what to do with it. It was my first DBA after Lavender & Mint Designs. We started doing On the Table Workshops with a Purpose. It was about bringing different women together. I had gone to one workshop and upon walking in, I felt like I didn’t belong. Everyone there knew each other. No one talked to me. I felt out of place. I felt everyone looked the same. I felt that there was nothing in our community that screamed diversity and I am tired of that. I knew there would be moms who lived past 635, of all backgrounds who needed a safe place to feel welcome. That's what made me want to do The Iman Project. How does The Iman Project bring women together? Give us a glimpse of some of the events you host? We host a variety of workshops around the city. We do calligraphy, floral design and painting, anything you can do with your hands that you never thought you could do on your own. We make it easy and affordable, like calligraphy classes which are expensive. I offer workshops that are under $70. I want people to feel like they can do it even if they don’t know how. We also do Mama Mode, a complimentary workshop for moms. As moms, we always check on ourselves last. When it comes to doing something that involves self care, we put that on the back burner. I wanted
I think sharing who I was and where I was allows me to give myself a little pat on the back. I am able to look at the story I’ve shared and say, Yes, you can get up. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. CEOMOM | 61
to give people enough of a change to experience On the Table at no cost. Congratulations on the opening of Little House on Routh, an event space to host social and business gatherings, workshops and more. How does Little House on Routh fit into your overall brand? The Iman Project was about the workshops. I was all over the place hosting these workshops. It was sort of this thing where I was always waiting on a place. Sometimes it would hold me back from hosting the workshops. I wanted a place where I didn’t have to ask or wait to host a workshop. I always wanted a place in Uptown. Three or four years ago I drove through Uptown and thought how cool it would be to have a little house to host all our events. It just kinda worked out. The name of it is the address. I made it more than a place for the workshops. It is a place where other people can host their events. Because I had a hard time finding places to host my events, I want to make sure Little House on Routh is affordable and is a prime location. It is not only for The Iman Project. What were some of the challenges of opening your own event space? With everything that Carlos and I do, we look at the challenges that we have and try to take those challenges away. We went though a time when we were homeless and started our business from nothing. We had to figure it out and do it on our own. We didn't want to see that for other people. At times, we didn't have people pay deposits. It’s been a learning curve. We’ve had to find the balance. I had opened as a place where anyone and everyone could come. That is my main goal in everything I do. At the same time, I’ve had to pick and choose. “Hey Bree, you can’t have a rap video here. That’s not going to work.” You’ve been very candid about some of the trials you’ve overcome to get where you are today. To what do you attribute your ability to succeed against all odds? I am a fighter. I used to hold back who I was and what I’ve been through to save face and keep a certain look. To be honest, that was more exhausting on me that other people being affected by it. Sharing my story has helped others to push through. People say, if she can get through it, I can get through it.
Photo Credit: Kauwuane Burton
I think sharing who I was and where I was allows me to give myself a little pat on the back. I am able to look at the story I’ve shared and say, “Yes, you can get up. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.” I’ve shared that I didn't have anything. I’ve shared the judge I appeared before. I shared that I went to jail. I want to make it clear, I get backlash just as much. I get people who say, “I knew you were like this.” You take all the good which outlasts the bad. I’ve had people say, “I am going to put your mugshot on a billboard on 75.” I tell them, “Please do so I can direct them to Little House on Routh.” As we’ve discussed, your businesses, events and programs attract a diverse group of women. Why do you think you’re able to connect to so many women? I think it’s because I just get it. You see so many women empowering groups, but you still don’t see diversity. There's usually women from one group represented. I focus on empowering through true diversity. So many people think diversity is just about race. It’s ethnicity. It’s style. It’s shape. It’s opinion. It’s location. Every event I do, I make sure it’s diverse. I think it shows in my work that I am so passionate about it. The other people you are able to show it to they end up getting it and they connect to it. It’s about being real and being transparent. Before I am a woman with children, before I am a woman with a man, I am a woman. I think that is my true secret. Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due everyday. It’s not success, it’s being able to connect. You work closely with your husband in business from Lavender & Mint Designs to Little House on Routh. What do you want your family legacy to be for your twin boys? They work really close with us, too. Kai and Kael go everywhere with us. We want them to have a choice, you can work on your own or with someone else. I want them to see what can come out of hard work and building something together as a family. Everything we do, we do for those boys. We are so blessed that we struggled so much without them. We work 10 times harder now so they will not have to struggle like Carlos and I did.
Photo Credit: Kauwuane Burton
Learn more about Bree Clarke and The Iman Project and Little House on Routh at https://www.theimanproject.com.
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WHEN ROYALTY MEETS ART
La Toya Jones creates unique and beautiful art that is not only pleasing to the eyes, but ignites emotions. She designs from the heart, embracing her God-given gift and combining diverse stones and gems with fire to produce ethereal pieces you will not see anywhere else. CEOMOM | 64
Jones is a highly sought after contemporary artist who has won numerous awards and recognitions for her artistic works and design collaborations. Her work has been featured nationally on HGTV, Good Morning America and Sotheby’s NYC.
Photo Credit: Isaiah Jones
With signature pieces shown across the globe in places such as New York, California and Dubai, Dallas is blessed to call La Toya Jones our own. She believes that we were all created to be Royal and it shows not only in her work, but in how she relates to her clients and those who support her. Of all of her accomplishments in the art world and her community, Jones considers being a wife and a mom of three young men among her greatest. It was an honor for CEOMOM to interview La Toya Jones, one of the most important figures in luxury art in Dallas. Who is La Toya Jones? I am a wife and mother of three handsome sons and I have been married to my husband, Michael, for 24 years. I’m a southern girl born and raised in Mississippi. Growing up in Mississippi, I never knew that I could have the lifestyle I have now doing what I love. Being a mom and wife for so long, I had to find myself. I had to ask myself, “Who am I?” For years, my life was dedicated to my family, so after my boys grew up, I worked to discover me all over again. I had to get to a place of not feeling selfish because I wanted to do something for myself. I love to inspire and encourage others to dream. What ignited your love for art? I have always been creative. The beauty in nature ignited and continues to ignite my love for art. My mom tells a story about my younger sister and me. She says that when my sister was three or four she wanted to look at the bones of a skeleton and all I wanted to do was play with crayons and markers. I have always been attracted to color; I see the beauty in everything. I encourage people to stop and look at the eye of a dragonfly under light and you will see millions of colors. I feel I have always had the ability to look at things that others may consider ordinary or mundane and see the beauty in it. I consider any and everything as a potential work of art. My husband jokes that he could give me a twig and tile and I can create something; he is analytical, so he helps keep me focused. What was the defining moment that made you turn your love for contemporary art into a career? I never knew where to start, but the passion to turn my love for contemporary art into a career was always there. For me, it was being encouraged by family and friends. A friend of mine came to my home one day and encouraged me to show my work. She asked me, “Why are you not showing people your work?” She told me that the world needed to see my pieces. This was not the first time someone had mentioned this to me. However, this time was different. I guess you can say that conversation started it all. Every night, once I put my sons to bed, I would find my peace in creating and designing. Later, someone with a showroom saw my work and asked if I would like to show some of my pieces, one thing led to another and I looked up one day and asked, “Lord, how did I get here?” I don’t mean to minimize the journey as there were a lot of closed doors and a simple lack of interest from many would be showrooms. Of course, you have to have the passion, discipline and effort, but it found me instead of me chasing it. For me, it has been about having the faith to take the first step and letting God lead me to the next step.
Photo Credit: Isaiah Jones
I see the beauty in everything. I encourage people to stop and look at the eye of a dragon ly under light and you will see millions of colors. CEOMOM | 65
Your combination of precious materials and use of color and fire makes your work gorgeous, regal and unique. Where do you draw the inspiration for each piece? When I am creating a collection, the inspiration comes from an emotion or time in my life. I often use crushed gemstones and jewels as a medium in my work. The gems are not only meant to provide embellishment and bling if you will, but at times they are also intended to be sentimental. The use of jewels and precious stones in design is ancient. I have found that specific colors connect with and even inspire certain emotions. The primary goal in my use of gems and jewels in my work is to make an emotional connection with the client. I can recall unveiling a piece to a particular client in which the wife started to cry upon seeing it for the first time. The husband remarked that he had never seen his wife that emotional. That reaction happens very often when I am revealing a collection.
What’s next for La Toya Jones and Forever Royalty? New York, Dallas, Dubai and San Francisco are next on the books for exhibitions. My canvas print line was recently launched in Dallas and New York and I am focusing on establishing the line in other major metropolitan areas. I have a newly commissioned collection with Ritz Carlton, so stay tuned. I have been truly blessed in my art career; it has afforded me the opportunity to meet some amazing people and travel to some beautiful places. The gift that God has placed within me, being able to create with my hands, has bought me in front of so many people and I say, “Wow.” Every day I am in awe and give thanks! To learn more about La Toya Jones and Forever Royalty, visit https://www.LaToyaJones.com.
I would say you are one of the most important figures in the upscale artistic scene in Dallas. Why do you think your work has connected with so many? First of all, thank you for that beautiful compliment. My hope is that my work not only speaks to the audience but sparks conversation. I believe that life imitates art and all the experiences and emotions we have, even the hard ones can be used to shape us into the best person we can be. To me, art speaks. It has a way of communicating and speaking so that words are not necessary. I believe I have found a way to create works that transcend time and speak, Forever Royalty. You started your art career when you were a mother of three and a private school teacher. What inspired the transition? What advice do you have for a mom who feels she can’t pursue a career until her kids are adults? I always had the desire to be the CEO of my own business. As a mom, I quickly found out that a family is a business. I would not say that I transitioned from one to the other but rather; one, due to the time, patience and love given to it now allows me the luxury to give a little more time, love and patience to the other. I would have to remind myself daily of my ultimate goal. Before I became a recognized artist, I always wanted to be a mom and wife; these were not a burden for me. I loved and continue to love being a mom and a wife. YES, it was tough and I had many crying days but I made it! By putting what was most important, my family, first while not losing focus on my passion for art. So, mom, you can too! My advice to moms would be… TO BE BOLD! Have the courage to be different, the courage to believe that anything is possible. Being an entrepreneur is not easy; it does not lend itself to procrastination, doubt, and unbelief. As important as creativity, inspiration and style are; these cannot and should not take place or serve as substitutions for professionalism, friendliness and sure ambition. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL and REFUSE TO SETTLE. You must visualize what you want to achieve. It may seem like forever, but if you’re willing to stand forever then you won’t be standing for long. CEOMOM | 66
Photo Credit: Isaiah Jones
DENITA T H E
C O M M U N I T Y
A C T I V I S T
Photo Credit: Sederrick Raphiel
PUBLIC RELATIONS POWERHOUSE CEOMOM | 68
DeNita Lacking-Quinn has been one of the most transformative and impactful voices of southern Dallas for over two decades as a powerhouse publicist, community activist and agent for change. She has founded many companies and initiatives that work to make Dallas better. From her work with the revitalization Dallas communities through the Southern Dallas Progress Community Development Corporation to the development of the DFW Black Bloggers, Lacking-Quinn initiates change in every project she tackles. As stated in a 2018 interview with Voyage Dallas, “I hope that the City of Dallas can show more empathy for the poor and less fortunate and find solutions that will work with communities to help them grow from within…“ Although Lacking-Quinn is an award-winning publicist by trade, she has proven that her reach and impact extend beyond public relations. Who is DeNita Lacking-Quinn? I am a mother first and a community servant. I do whatever I can to help and make my community better and serve southern Dallas. I am an entrepreneur who develops businesses driven towards community service. I am a former foster kid. I was in the foster system when I was very young and have wonderful foster parents. I come from a community of love. You do a lot! You are the founder of DFW Black Bloggers, The Golden Circle and Achieve PR. Tell us about Achieve PR. What type of clients do you target? What is your focus and mission as a leading PR firm? Unlike most public relations firms, we are in five different industries including the nonprofit space, transportation, entertainment, corporate communications, and individual PR.
That is different from most PR firms, because they specialize in one area. I do everything except for fashion. Our mission is to evaluate, educate and elevate our clients. We try to evaluate where they are instead of jumping into telling them what they need to do. We groom and educate them on the process which may include classes. We have local partners that we send our clients to that will help them build their business model. The last step is to elevate them higher than where they have been when it comes to brand exposure. We don’t blind pitch our clients to people. We like to build a relationship with the entity. We don’t advertise our services, because we practice the right of refusal. We don’t want to take on a client whose only goal is to become an overnight success. We will have a client who wants to be in a certain publication when their brand has no connection to that particular publication. I will tell them when it’s not their target audience. If the goal is just to be seen, we will usually write them a refusal letter. Our mission is to evaluate, educate and elevate, a model on which we have created our brand. I founded Achieve PR in high school. I have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I began with Elite News in Oak Cliff when I was 17. I was ghostwriting for the owner, Mr. William Blair Jr., and his son, Jordan Blair. Being a ghostwriter for them, I was helping businesses with print while developing my writing portfolio. I had friends who were going to school for journalism but had no tear sheets. I would pay them $20 to write an article. They would, in turn, get tear sheets to use for clients. I began to do that for Elite. Mr. Blair said, “You need to start a company.” I was making too much money. His son, Jordan paid for my DBA. I was providing a service on both sides.
I do whatever I can to help and make my community better and serve southern Dallas. CEOMOM | 69
You are an award-winning powerhouse in the public relations industry garnering celebrity clients and changing the landscape of Dallas. What has been the key to your success? What challenges have you overcome? The key to my success is staying true to what my clients’ needs are. We've had clients from Fortune 500 companies to transportation companies. We work with DISD and large nonprofit organizations like United Way and the American Diabetes Association. We have worked in the entertainment realm with celebrities like DJ Spinderella. It’s been fun. By finding our nitch we are able to say no to clients who don’t fit our brand and we are able to listen and hone in on what our clients’ actual needs are, not just giving them what they see on Twitter. That has separated us from other PR firms. I am quick to tell a client that a publication or media outlet is not a part of their brand. If they give us pushback, it makes me leery of why they want to be in that publication. We have retained clients for 15 to 20 years because they trust us. What is the process for someone who wants to become a new client? Before we do a consultation, we send them a client intake form. It tells us what their goals are and where they are in their process. We seek to answer several questions. Do they have collateral on social media and their website? What are their goals five years from now? Where have they marketed in the past? Who do they feel their competitors are? We often find that the people they think are their competitors are not. That’s the first part. The second part is doing a consultation. We go over the client intake form. We give ourselves enough time to do research on the person so when we meet with them we already have a guide. That consultation is a working meeting and we go over our price structure and rates. If they agree to our rates we move forward with our proposal. Once the proposal is accepted we send them a final contract. If they don’t want our services or we feel that they are not a good fit we have a list of other PR firms that may be a better fit. If someone doesn’t match, I let them know that we have other PR firms that can meet their needs. I try to be as open as possible.
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Photo Credit: Cormeshia Batty
One of your many awards includes the 2018 DFW District Women's Small Business Champion of the Year! You were honored for launching a women’s network to educate startups. What does recognition like this mean to you? Why is it important to you to help other small businesses? That meant so much to me because it was one of those awards that had nothing to do with public relations. It was all about me personally helping people. My biggest goal in life is to help as many small businesses as I can because we are at such a disparity. It is hard when you hear of a business that fails. You know they didn't have a solid foundation when they started. To see a business flourish beyond that five years and having a helping hand in that means so much to me. It’s like watching someone birth her baby and that baby starts walking and talking. That is the highest award I could have ever gotten. For that nomination, you have to show them proof of everything. It meant more to me than anything. It was about the work I have been able to do partnering with other organizations and keeping them thriving. You are the mother of a teenager and a toddler. Is your approach to work/life balance different now than it was years ago? If so, what have been the main factors in that shift? Why or why not? I have 3 beautiful and active children, a 17-year-old daughter Chloe, 10-year-old son Andrew, and 2-year-old toddler Elias, they keep me very busy. My work/life balance is very different now because my older kids are very active in school and we have to keep a tight schedule to ensure downtime for fun and family time. The main factors in my work/life shift are including my kids in the scheduling of my week. Chloe, Andrew, and Elias are my first priority and I develop my schedule at least two weeks in advance if not more to have downtime filled with laughter, cooking, and mommy moments. If I have a weekend event to attend I will ask them for "permission" to attend because my weekends belong to them. It means more to give them security and quality time to keep a strong foundation. To learn more about visit http://achievepr.info.
Photo provided by: DeNita Quinn Pictured with DeNita, DJ Spinderella
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FASHION & PHILANTHROPY
FASHION SHOW HELPS KEEP FAMILIES CONNECTED EPIC SHOW - CREATION OF FASHION 2019 - GARNERS CELEBRITY ATTENDANCE, RAISES $23,000 TOWARDS CHARITABLE CAUSE
On Saturday June 1, 2019, Keeping Families Connected, a Dallas-based non-profit organization providing transportation and resources to children with incarcerated parents, hosted its 3rd Annual Creation of Fashion designer show presented by The Securus Foundation. The “Epic” themed spectacular was hosted by TV personality and author Phaedra Parks (former Real Housewife of Atlanta) and talk show host Michael Molthan (M2 The Rock Show), with appearances by Scrapp Deleon (VH1’s Love and Hip Hop Atlanta), Jamila T. Davis (CBS’ Pink Collar Crimes), and the Real Housewives of Dallas costars LeeAnne Locken and D’Andra Simmons. America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru Steve Kemble emceed the show, which featured runway looks by Bravo TV’s Project Runway Season 17 stars Venny Etienne of Levenity and Lela Orr of Ferrah. Additionally, Galleria Dallas provided seasonal sportswear, womenswear and menswear looks by Guess, Forever 21, GAP and Banana Republic.
"I want to treat people the way I want to be treated. If I take them first class I make them feel good. I have fun with those kids and I believe in treating them first class, because I serve a first class God," said Scott. The EPIC SHOW aimed to raise funds to purchase a new van to transport families. In addition to transportation lunch is provided for families that take the trips. Through ticket purchases, raffles and a silent auction, $23,000 was raised to benefit Keeping Families Connected. The 2019 Awards of Excellence were given to criminal justice reform organizations such as Tina Naidoo of the Texas Offenders ReEntry Initiative.
Photography provided by: Crystal Chatmon
CEOMOM Magazine was excited to be in the house for a cause that is often ignored. Keeping Families Connected, founded by Letitia Scott, works to address the need of families to maintain communication and close ties even when one is incarcerated by providing luxury transportation to impacted families at no cost.
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Photo Credit: Wenjie Yi
BEHIND-THE-SCENES WITH CHERYL POLOTEWILLIAMSON CEOMOM Magazine spoke with 2018 Dallas Power 15 Honoree, Cheryl Polote-Williamson about her role as Executive Producer for "Illegal Rose."
Tell us about the upcoming short film by Deborah Riley Draper, "Illegal Rose." Whose in the film? What is the film about? "Illegal Rose" is about an unlikely friendship between Rose, a tired, disengaged, almost retired nurse's aid who accidentally kidnaps Sylvie, a 7-year-old ICE Detention Center runaway on the 4th of July. It explores topics of respect, decency, and kindness through the eyes of two people of different generations, ages, race and legal status. You are one of the Executive Producers for the film? How did you get connected with this project? I became connected with the project through Deborah Riley Draper, who has been my childhood friend since we were seven years old. We reconnected at a conference in Atlanta where I told her of my hopes to be CEOMOM | 74
involved in film and an idea that I had for one. She supported me from that moment and soon offered me the opportunity to be involved with "Illegal Rose" as a production assistant to help build my experience. As I began to fulfill my PA duties, it soon became apparent that I needed to be an Executive Producer on the project. Becoming an EP on "Illegal Rose" has been such a blessing, and I cannot wait for those who see it to be impacted. When is the film coming out? What do you hope moviegoers get from watching this project? The film will be officially released in the Fall of 2019, and it is currently in the process of being submitted to multiple film festivals such as BronzeLens Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, Urbanwood
Film Festival, MIRA- Latin American Independent Film festival, and so many more! I hope moviegoers are impacted with the ideals of kindness, love, and respect. "Illegal Rose" speaks to immigration and how in the end we are all humans who should be treated the same. What’s next? Any upcoming film projects you’re a part of? For my books, I will be releasing Soulful Prayers in June 2019, Soul Talk Vol. 3 February 2020, and Soulful Prayers Vol. 2 March 2020. Currently, I am the Executive Producer on the film "Season of the Witches," and I am working on several upcoming pictures with Deborah Riley Draper and Coffee Bluff Pictures. In addition to those features, I will be releasing a film entitled "Saving Carissa" in Winter 2020.
KNOW THEIR STORIES FIGHTING TO END MODERN DAY SLAVERY Help us raise funds and awareness to end human trafficking around the world BE A PART OF THE CHAIN REACTION
EDITOR'S PICK: EPIC WATERS INDOOR WATERPARK: EPIC WAVES
Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark in Grand Prairie, Texas continues to be one of my family's favorite spots for summer fun. Epic Waters is an 80,000 square foot indoor/outdoor waterpark with family fun for every age. The roof is retractable, making it a suitable family attraction all year long. Its latest addition, Epic Waves, is the 10,000 sq. foot outdoor wave pool. My six year old daughter did not want to leave Epic Waves. It's calming and large enough to enjoy without being overcrowded. It boasts large enough waves that are inviting and fun without disturbing its peaceful nature. There's food (purchase with cash only), lounge chairs and restrooms available so you don't have to go back inside if you prefer the outdoors. What we love Waterpark:
1. The life jackets and inner tubes are free. This makes it convenient and easy to stay safe. There are also several lifeguards on duty throughout the park. 2. For one great rate you have a plethora of options for the entire family. From Rascal’s Roundup for toddlers to the tubes for the more adventurous visitors to the new Epic Waves, no one is left out. 3. The Lazy River is by far our favorite activity at Epic Waters. I will warn you, you may fall asleep due to how soothing and relaxing your trip around this 3 foot river is. We did receive complimentary tickets for our visit to Epic Waters. All opinions expressed are my own. Vonna Matthews, Editor-in-Chief Get your tickets today at epicwatersgp.com/.
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Photography provided by: Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark
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