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The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more.  With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Carly Hudson

Like many artists, it starts with the limiting belief that you can’t make a lucrative living as an artist, which caused me – for years – to hunt for something that would just make me money and allow me to be “successful.” My first experience as an entrepreneur was at a very early age when my parents decided to host a weekend yard sale. Now, at the time, I did not want to sell any of my “stuff.” Being only six years old, I was definitely not ready to part with any stuffed animals or favorite toys, but I also wanted to be in on the event. So, I decided to make something to sell. I asked my mom to take me to the store, we bought a bunch of beads and small wire and I began making earrings. I sold each pair for no more than $5 each but I loved the feeling of creating something and feeling that exchange when it sold. Honestly, that’s probably when I got hooked. Read more>>

Kimberley Clemonts

It is difficult to pinpoint when the exact conception of Grounded was. My business is so closely tied to me as a spiritual being that if I was my most dramatic self, I would say that Grounded began when I did. So, I guess a better question for me to answer would be when did I begin sharing what I do through Grounded with the world? Grounded began as a natural herbal and botanical product line in 2017. This stemmed from my love of working with nature’s elements and sharing my creations with those closest to me. The intention from the beginning was always to eventually offer services centered around wellness, alignment, and practical spirituality. As integrity is crucial to the work that I do, I felt called to spend more time dedicated to personal growth and studying my craft before offering these services. After taking some time to do these things, I began offering services through Grounded in 2019. Read more>>

Tabitha Richardson

I am originally from the Bronx, NY and I moved to Maryland in 2002. I moved to Maryland as a single mom with my 2-year-old daughter because I was seeking a different quality of living. The communications company I worked with at the time offered relocation packages to employees. I did not know anyone in Maryland except for the group of 20 people who also relocated during that time. I was fortunate to meet so many new people and grew to love Baltimore and the many friends that are now like family. I also later met my husband, who we will celebrate seven years of marriage soon. In 2004, I decided it was time to purchase my first house since Baltimore began to feel like my home. Although I was not a first-time homebuyer, it was the first house I bought on my own in Maryland. After my purchase, several of my co-workers asked me questions about my experience and the home buying process. Of course, I was happy to help and share what little information I had. Read more>>

Chelsea Mitchell

I began servicing at the age of 12. I was your local neighborhood braider. I knew that I had a passion for doing hair so I later enrolled in cosmetology school @TC Williams Hs. At Tc Williams my mentors Patricia Farah and Mrs Stacey guided and encouraged me through my journey in cosmetology. After I graduated in 2005 from high school, I became a licensed Cosmetologist I was so excited to receive my license. I knew then that this was just the begging. As a new stylist, I did it all. I worked at many diverse salons so that I could be the best version of myself that I could be. Although I received my cosmetology license, I wanted to see what pursuing a career in music would be like. I loved to sing but was not sure if that would be the right road for me to travel. I later found out about 4.5 years later that I did not want to become a performer or teacher for a living. I love to help others. However, I learned that teaching in k-12 was more like being a full-time parent or disciplinarian. Read more>>

Tiffanni Reidy

I became an interior architect after discovering that I had a passion for the form and function of spaces during my undergrad studies. I was in school for computer graphics but ended up wanting to do interiors instead. I thought I could meld the two after graduation, but there were very few jobs where that was possible, so I ended up going to grad school for interiors. I was extremely interested in community-focused design as well as restaurants and residential work but wasn’t sure exactly what I would pursue. I ended up focusing on residential design and hoped to start my own business instead of going the traditional route of working at a firm. After graduating during the height of the recession, the furniture store I had been working at closed and I ended up unexpectedly getting a job more closely related to computer programming. During that time, I had a few clients and also started a lifestyle magazine focused on small businesses within 50 miles from the center of DC. My passion was still interiors, and so when my husband and I decided to move to Baltimore, it was important to me that I got back into my field. Read more>>

Melena DeFlorimonte

I developed a passion for documenting moments very early in life, around the age of ten and received my first camera at the age of 12. I enjoyed taking pictures of my family during family events. We are a close-knit family so family gatherings were frequent and I was never without my camera. So much so that my family affectionately called me “paparazzi.” Documenting life’s moments just gave me joy but I never imagined it could be anything other than a hobby. It wasn’t until 2006, while in nursing school, that I realized that I had a keen eye for photography. I purchased my first DSLR after graduating in 2007 and so the real journey began. It would take five years before I felt confident enough to monetize my craft. I photographed everything from portraits, events, food, products and even a few weddings. I have served the most amazing clients over the years, but it was the pandemic that brought me back to what I love most – food and product photography. The pivot was bittersweet but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  Read more>>

Diana Ross

I was named after the famous singer Diana Ross. Thanks to my mom!! My mom, since she was a little girl, has always been a loyal Diana Ross fan. She has everything Diana Ross in her home. She always told people before I was born if she had a daughter she’d name her Diana Ross. So there’s that! I grew up in Baltimore County, MD. Born and raised in MD. I have been dancing and singing since the age of five. I grew up as a dancer. As a child and throughout most of my life, entertainment and entrepreneurship has always been a huge part of my life. I was trained in all genres of dance since the age of five and started singing at the age of six. I did not start fully taking on singing as a passion until I was about 19 years old. I began writing and performing at different open mics and venues at the age of 20. I graduated from Mercy High School in Baltimore, MD where I was in the high school Dance Troupe all four years and graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Read more>>

Amanda Prophet-Coates

Graduating from a Prince George’s County High School in Upper Marlboro, MD, I headed out to college in North Carolina. A “science geek” at heart, I graduated from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University with my Bachelor of Science in Laboratory Animal Science. Returning back home to MD, I continued my education and received a Master of Science in Biotechnology from the University of Maryland University College. As a management analyst with the U.S Food and Drug Administration, I enjoy working for an agency that aligns with my passion for science. Science has always been a love of mine, but the design has always had my heart, specifically event design. No matter where my adult life took me, I would always find myself in charge of decorating for an office party, birthday party, baby showers, etc. I can’t deny the “eye” I have for the design came from my mother, Angela Prophet. She was known for her exquisite style and gift in interior design. Read more>>

Celeste O’Connor

I am a co-founder of Pedestal. I was raised in Baltimore, and I recently graduated from Johns Hopkins University. My name is Mecca McDonald, co-founder of Pedestal. I grew up in Florida and also recently graduated from Johns Hopkins. Pedestal is a production company committed to using photography, styling, video and film as a tool of empowerment for black people, queer people, and women. Pedestal is entertainment and fashion made by and for people of color. We started this business with the aim of uplifting other marginalized people. As black queer women, it was important to us to create art that empowers other oppressed peoples. Our photoshoots are an experience geared towards building confidence and self-love in black people, people of color, LGBT people, women, students, and other artists. Read more>>

Tracy Brown

My story and passion for photography started in middle school when my teacher, Mr. Helm, asked me for help with the yearbook. I always loved taking art classes and found my true passion in expressing my artistic ability through photography. After graduating from high school, I wanted to be a professional photographer. When attending college, I took a few photography classes but ultimately chose to pursue a career in medical sales. I was a successful medical sales representative for 13 years. When I finally grew tired of the corporate culture, my husband asked me, “Tracy, What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” Without hesitation, I answered.” I want to be a professional photographer!” At the age of 46, I finally followed my dream and started Tracy Michelle Photography. Read more>>

Hannah Schwartzbeck

I launched my business “Growing with Cora Lou” in March 2019. I have always been crafty and enjoy a good DIY project, so it felt natural to take the next step in creating a business out of the growth rulers I was already making as gifts. I began making growth rulers in 2015 for family and friends while I was still working full-time in healthcare. When my daughter was born in 2018, I shifted to the stay-at-home parent role and was able to dive back into hobbies as she grew. I am fortunate to have a husband who was confident in my ambition and also helps me regularly with some of the trickier power tool requirements that I haven’t mastered myself yet. Now, just over two years later, I’ve done about 80 custom growth rulers in addition to the generic rulers I stock for events or have on consignment at a local store. I’ve also expanded my product line-up to include other wooden signs, including leaning porch signs, picture hanging signs, and quotes on reclaimed wood. Read more>>

Elisabeth Yeager

I am originally from Boston, MA, and moved down to Maryland to attend the University of Maryland, College Park for a BA in Communications. A lifelong equestrian, Maryland’s connections to the horse industry (and my first job in Marketing!) made Maryland my permanent home. As my marketing career grew, I started freelancing on the side, supporting small businesses with digital marketing, design, and social media management. After helping multiple boutique real estate agencies with their marketing efforts and purchasing my first home with my husband, I decided to make a career change. I am an exceptionally driven, self-motivated person and the thought of working with people on the biggest investments they ever make while helping them navigate change, combined with having my success be a direct product of how hard I work, was so appealing to me. Read more>>

Amber Kwong

I started my career in the beauty industry 17 years ago as a makeup artist in California. When I had a fire in my apartment and lost everything, I decided to move back to my home state of Maryland, where I discovered my main market to be weddings and quickly grew a loyal following. I started having brides inquire if I offered lash extensions. I had never heard about eyelash extensions before. I researched and quickly realized that lashes were the next big thing! As a salon manager and makeup artist, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation to deliver to the salon owners, asking if they would support me by paying half of my tuition to get certified. They told me no. They did not think it would be successful. I respected their opinion but told them I was still going to get certified and start doing lashes on my own. Read more>>

Emmanuella Antoine

One day I decided to sell dinners in 2018 just to make a few dollars on top of the income I was bringing in. Once I did that, I got reviews from people telling me how good my food was and that I should continue doing it. So the summer of 2018, I decided to sell my food at a big event which was the Caribbean festival being as though I have a Haitian background and that I can cook Caribbean/Haitian foods, why not check it out. On the day of the Carnival, I sold out in no time and wished I had more food at the event because people were looking for more food to buy from me when I ran out. That’s when I decided to do more Baltimore festivals/events for the summer and had people actually following me at different festivals looking for Chicken Kabobs, which is what I started selling at events. Read more>>

Kimberly Ellis

We started doing Farmers Markets and Food Festivals. We then branched out to local businesses for Friday lunch specials. We developed a following and started to get contract work which needed us to have a commercial kitchen. We secured the space towards mid-October 2014 we open with all repairs on Small Business Saturday 2014. We’ve received numerous awards and mentions in various publications include Top 10 New Restaurant our first year, Bet Business for our community work as well as being recognized by The Food Network as the #1 Family Friendly restaurant in Maryland. We are a family restaurant and love what we do and who we do it for. Read more>>

JoAnne Moore

My story into tech is one that is very different from most people in my industry. Growing up in Baltimore, I remember going on many field trips to visit our amazing museums. As a child, I always had a talent for drawing and painting. These many trips to see some of the world’s most famous artists helped my love for art to grow. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist and explore many different creative mediums. I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and it was there that I took my very first web design course. I fell in love with the idea of creating art for the web. As I learned more about my skills as a fine artist I also learned more about my skills as a digital artist. I absolutely loved to code and see what I had written come to life on the computer screen. The idea that my digital creation could be viewed by so many people around the globe was exciting and I knew that this space of technology had stolen my heart. Read more>>

Jenny Vedrani

My best friend Jenn heard about refill shops in Ohio and started looking into them in early 2020. I was on my own low waste journey and thinking about starting an HR/professional services consulting business, Refill Goodness was supposed to be a test run for the consulting business, but I loved the business model so much that Jenn and I decided to take the leap together. She had some space in a shared artist warehouse and I had some money to fill it with products. That was the easy part and the most fun! The rest was a bit of a learning curve and launching the store took longer than we anticipated. Thankfully we had a social media expert and an organizational guru to help us make the push to open. They got us over the hump for sure! When we opened the doors, customers kept coming and they brought friends who brought friends, and on it went. Read more>>

Stacia Epps

I’m a woman from a small water town in Maryland called Havre de Grace. The population is pretty small and the local business has been there for years. I realized I wanted to be a chef at the age of nine, watching the PBS channel late at night with Emeril, Iron Chef Japan, and Julia Child’s programs. However, growing up I didn’t see a lot of African American or female chefs to look up to in my area…or anywhere really. So after taking food class with Ms. Sumers in high school, and purposely failing at the local community college. I mustered up the courage to tell my parents that I want to be a chef. At first, they questioned the lifestyle and its strenuous work. But, they knew my love for the culture and food so they quickly got on board. While going to culinary school at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. I had a quick externship in France and fell in love with the cuisine and their determination to eat well. That’s what created my company! I came home, worked for a lot of headline restaurants and country clubs in Pa and MD to really gain some experience. Read more>>

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