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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Lisa Caprelli

I created Unicorn Jazz as an entertaining way to teach children about reading, writing, music, dancing, and imagination using social-emotional learning concepts. Unicorn Jazz represents the importance of being unique, belonging, believing in others, kindness and happiness. As a Latina entrepreneur and author of 19 books and counting, I am grateful to realize my dream of being a writer and creative director, and songwriter of over ten songs. Growing up poor and shy, my grandmother encouraged me to get an education and inspired me to grow up and help others. I have a soft spot in my heart for teens and children, after all, they are our future and we were once them. Read more>>

Jessica Hyde

Ever since I was a little girl, I was always fascinated with Art. I started painting at the age of 10 and my passion for painting grew into a passion for constructing beauty, as I began Cosmetology school in 2011. I was the small-town girl with big city dreams. I took an opportunity to work for MAC Cosmetics immediately after graduating and I was instantly placed in fashion events, working backstage as a makeup artist. Right away, I felt at home and knew this was exactly where I was meant to be. I continued to work onsite with other photographers, and fashion events and would take my own photos of makeup looks that I did along the way, completely unaware that this would eventually develop into a business all of its own. Clients began requesting photo shoots along with makeup and that’s when my whole experience pretty much branded itself. Read more>>

Connie Bernal

Nacho Bisnez was just a dream for years. It was a concept of delivering great authentic Mexican food without the Americanising it. My family has been my backbone in this adventure. My husband Moises and Dario Melgar my adoptive son. These two men have helped grow this business and been my hardest critics. Today, we have learned giving back to the community is what makes us thrive. We have been blessed to meet many people with great hearts on our journey. Our food is based on Mayan recipes in the Yucatan. Our main seller is Cochinita which is a slow cooker with sweet pork. Our menu focus is on some of the favorite foods that Mexico has to offer. Like Tacos. Nachos. Quesadilla. Burrito Bowls. Walking Tacos and Street corn just to name a few. Read more>>

Micah Nelson

In the past, I’ve been a dance instructor, science teacher, barista, and cook, and at one point, I considered becoming a professional stuntman. My degree is in international business, and I am seriously considering a career in data analytics. But now I’m a photographer. Photography, to varying degrees, has been part of my life since middle 7th grade. Photography is good medicine for the introverted, nature-loving soul. Often in stressful times of life, photo walks were a source of solace. In my high school years, I grew fond of cooking. Nothing made me feel better than getting to make someone something that made them feel happy, present, and seen. If anyone needs a recipe for Monster Energy jello, I got you. Read more>>

Elijah Tiernan

I first started my videography career when I received a Canon Sx540 HS for Christmas. I used that camera to record and take pictures of my high school basketball team and created “highlight tapes” after the games. This is where I developed the idea for my name, ETP, meaning “Elijah Tiernan Photography”. Following that season, I was hired to cover the high school’s football team during the fall. This is where I was able to meet many athletes across the state, as well as many other creatives in the business. I started receiving messages from athletes from other schools, asking if I could come out to their games and film them. The more athletes I connected with, the more athletes that saw my content on their social media, driving them to contact or follow me. Read more>>

Trevor Staples

I began playing live acoustic music in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 14. I am originally from Marietta, Georgia. I moved to Knoxville in 2005 and got back into playing more live shows. I’ve enjoyed playing in venues all over Knoxville. Hops and Holler and Pour Taproom have been great experiences and recently I have started picking up more private parties etc. I’m a big fan of supporting local breweries, so selfishly I would love to strum it around town while enjoying a pint! My preferred style of music is jammed-out songs that people are not expecting to be presented as such. Outkast > Tom Petty to Phish? Sure – let’s do it. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to start playing and collaborating with local musicians such as Bill West and Steph Cabell. Read more>>

Elizabeth Clanton

I am Elizabeth Clanton founder of Mindful Moments Healing Services. I am a Certified Doula, Sound healing Practitioner, and Celestial Blue Star Energy Master. I began my journey with Sound Healing in 2014 while studying Sound waves in college. It all started with one set of Solfeggio frequency tuning forks and over the years has led to me working with a variety of instruments including gongs, drums, and singing bowls. Sound healing became my focus after experiencing its healing power personally through treating my PTSD. I was then divinely guided to provide this type of healing to as many people as I can. My Birth Doula journey began shortly after having my first child in 2015. I am certified through Birth Arts International. The birth of my daughter didn’t go the way I had wanted and it really motivated me to help other women so that they could have more empowered birth experiences. Read more>>

Jessica Wang

Jessica Wang (the brand), was born out of a love for jewelry, design, and a passion for creating & sharing. Back in 2017, I started to play with my own jewelry designs, I started to sketch, talk with factories and put a plan together to bring this idea to life. Over the next two years, I also started to work within the industry supporting other jewelry brands with design and sourcing and I learned the intricacies of how the industry works. Then 2020 happened… I won’t say any more. Thankfully during this time, I reconnected with my co-founders Sean & Malcolm who I have known for many years and are experts in brand and marketing. We then embarked on a 3-month exploration of what we wanted to create with Jessica Wang and what we wanted to represent and bring to our local Knoxville community. This culminated in the brand, product catalog, and visual identity you see today. Read more>>

Giti Tehranchian

I started shooting in the summer of 2019, in the simple pursuit of having fun with friends. I would see photos I liked on Instagram or Twitter, collect them into a photo album on my camera roll, & call up some friends to see if they would be willing to model for me. At the time, it wasn’t anything serious at all no serious equipment, no serious sets, no pricing for shoots. All the pictures I took would just get posted to a “dump account” I had on Instagram called “”, which had maybe 30 followers. It didn’t need to be serious, I was having so much fun exploring the creative side of myself that I actually hadn’t seen in a while. Not only that, but it was also so wholesome and energizing to spend time with friends, driving around looking for locations, bringing the speaker along and listening to music, and creating something together. Read more>>

Laura Ter Beek

After more than a decade in this industry, it’s funny to think I pursued cosmetology as my backup plan. I graduated in 2011 from the AVEDA Institute Orlando. After graduation, I worked as an independent hairstylist for about four years until I was introduced to eyelash extensions in the salon where I rented space. I watched the owner’s business blossom for over a year, decided to see what lash extensions were all about, and booked my first training with her. When I picked up my tweezers, I knew lashes were my future and almost immediately contacted all my clients to let them know a change was coming. Within 30 days of my training, I was lashing full time and within six months, I opened my first studio.  After years of exclusively offering lash extensions, I fell in love with training other artists and helping them grow their businesses. Read more>>

Rachel Dickson

I’ve known about and been a huge fan of Card My Yard since my friends started this business years ago in Austin, Texas. My family and I lived there for ten years and I saw when my friends began this biz! I’ve always thought it was such a great idea and would be a fun business to be a part of! Fast forward to the past few years and my family and I moved to Knoxville for my husband’s job and to be a little closer to our families and the opportunity arose to purchase the local franchise here! Needing and wanting something to call my own, and contribute to my family and our local community, I reached out to the then owner of CMY West Knoxville and asked if she was hiring or needed help. Read more>>

Jennifer Blessing

Dance has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up dancing throughout my childhood and into college and then played a large part in running my home studio in Texas after college. When we moved to Knoxville 10 years ago for my husband’s job and I had absolutely no intentions of opening a dance studio. I had enough experience to know that it becomes less about teaching the dance and more about managing parents which I had no interest in doing. When my own little one started asking to take dance, I couldn’t find what I wanted for her. I knew and had experienced high-quality dance training along with high-quality standards and values, age-appropriate choreography, and costuming. I still would have told you that there was no way I was going to own a dance studio. Jump forward to 2018 and it was like God spoke to me out of nowhere and asked me to take a leap of faith and open a studio. I knew in my heart that it was to be called “Makers Ekklesia” which means ‘the called out ones’ and was to be a safe space for dancers of every kind to learn and grow. Read more>>

Xandria Cross

I’ve been making music for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was young songwriting has been a coping mechanism for me. Looking back it’s so special having notebooks to look back on almost as a time capsule. Being able to bring a new song into the world is such a cool thing and it’s even more meaningful when you see it impact people in a positive way. Read more>>


Founded by Subaye Adu Mantey and Jasmine Terry Okafor, two college roommates turned life-long friends, Nta-woven seeks to connect the tapestry of women’s lives across the globe through the vibrant colors of African fabric and fashion. Our name derives from “Ntama” which means “fabric” in the Akan language of Ghana. Just as the fabric is woven, the lives of all the women who make our brand special are interconnected and woven together. Nta-woven was born out of our passion for fashion, love of sisterhood, and our deep familiarity with and appreciation of the rich cultures and struggles of Black people across the African Diaspora. In college, we became not just roommates, but sisters. We learned to think globally, act locally and develop creative ways to engage the social issues of our times. We grew to understand the importance of educating the full woman and the power of economic opportunity for women. When a woman is empowered to be her best self, the whole community is better. Read more>>

Melissa Ellis

Like many musicians, I got my start singing in the tiny old-fashioned Missionary Baptist Church I was raised. My mom could sing and had a natural ear for harmony as well, so I picked up a lot of “ear training” sitting next to her in church. I cut my teeth on my mom and dad’s music as well–the 50s, 60s, and 70s. My grandmother introduced me to the music of Frank Sinatra and I became an instant fan. Growing up, I’d always find a musical outlet whether it was through choir, talent shows, band, or piano lessons. Then at 15, I got involved with the Cumberland County Playhouse and I never looked back. I fell in love with stage performance, gave up sports and other extra-curricular activities, and went ALL IN with musical theater! Read more>>

Jonathan Darling

I became passionate about leadership and leadership development after experiencing the negative effects of poor leadership. When I started my journey, I began writing articles and blogs discussing sales and leadership, when I was met with lots of hostility from a previous employer. The CEO and CFO at the time, would make up fake email addresses and write really derogatory comments on my blog and articles. It really hit me hard, but I was determined to push forward to show the others what true leadership looked and felt like. After a few years of dedication to writing, I was asked to come to speak at a local networking event. That day changed my life and showed me what I was truly created for. Communicating and encouraging positive action in others. Read more>>

Kathryn Perkel

My name is Kathryn Perkel, and I am a Clinical Psychologist presently living in Knoxville, TN. I currently work in private practice with the most sensitive, loving, and wise human beings that I have had the privilege of walking alongside on their journeys to healing their most broken and vulnerable parts of selves. My intuitive ability to see into and experience another person’s emotional pain has been present in me since I was a small child. I used those skills early on in my practice as a Clinical Psychologist. From my first practicum experience seeing clients, I seemed to effortlessly connect with and share in my client’s most painful human experiences. What I continued to struggle with, however, as an intuitive empath and healer, was my ability to shed my client’s life experiences when coming home at the end of my day. Read more>>

Katie Grubb

A lot of hardships, mental issues, perseverance, and strength got me to where I am today. Read more>>

Stefan Arnwine

My name is Stefan Arnwine, I’m 22, and I was born in Knoxville Tennessee. I started doing makeup when I was around 15 years old. Let’s just say, I went through a “phase.” Part of that phase came from me hiding the fact that I was Gay for so long. I didn’t really get the chance to come out Gay to everyone until early 2017, I was 17. By this time I was almost out of high school, Living with my Mom, three siblings, and grandmother. I had a hard time in school, I was bullied, harassed, and called names every day. After a while, I started to fail classes because of the bullying, I wasn’t paying attention, and I wasn’t taking school seriously. Eventually, I was transferred to a different school that helped me learn more, and Graduate. I graduated later on in 2017. Read more>>

Mason Lowe

I started making music back in 2021 during the period of Covid-19 lockdowns. I had always been a rather musical person anyway so I thought I’d make myself an artist. In August of 2020, I founded my music label, Hot Issue Entertainment (@Hotissue_ent on Instagram), and have ever since been expanding. As of now, I manage a total of 8 soloists and three groups all by myself with little help. I do enjoy it alot but sometimes wish for some support. Read more>>

Raven Hill

My story started when I was about nine years old. My grandmother Vivian Hill, Mother Latina Hill, & sister Zion long all influenced my passion for hair. I remember they could all braid hair and do their own hair I was very infatuated so I asked my grandmother to teach me how to braid and she did. I was nine at the time so she would demonstrate on my Bratz doll and then have me execute the style following her demonstration, after a few lessons I could plat hair! Although I could plat hair, I was more infatuated with hot tools so I would constantly curl my Bratz doll hair and put plats in her hair. After playing with the brat dolls for years, I began experimenting with my own hair and doing my own sew-ins. When I began doing my own hair, I was about 13 years old, I would do my own sew-ins with Weave. At the age of 14, I begin doing hair for my friends and my classmates as I went through middle school and high school I continue to do hair for my friends and myself. Read more>>

Samuel Newton

Vision has been my solo name for 10 years as I played throughout the southeast. About two years ago, I reconnected with an old friend. We started playing together with the idea of combining two of our favorite bands (AFI and Social Distortion). It has been a whirlwind from the start and we continue to create music that we love. Read more>>

Beth Kines

I can remember that ever since I was a little girl, I was always making something and trying to sell it to someone. I’ve always wanted to own my own business and be my own boss. That was my dream growing up. I started out making hair bows and friendship bracelets when I was little. As I got older, I wanted to try other things that I could make and sell, so I started making candy and baked goods. I had my son when I was 19, so many of the things that I wanted to do were put on hold. He just recently graduated from college and he has a mindset like mine and wanted to start something that we could run together. Here we are running an up-and-coming business together. Read more>>

Brandalyn Howard

I have always wanted to be in the beauty industry. At 30 years old and with three kids, I was able to attend and graduate from the Tennessee School of Beauty in Knoxville. While working at a large high-end salon, I started taking wedding gigs with a couple of my cosmo school friends. Things took off and after a few years, it was just me running the company. As sole owner, I opened a full-service salon in the Bearden area of West Knoxville. It’s a beautiful salon with a laid-back, Indie vibe. We offer a wide range of hair, skincare, and eyelash extension services, with a special emphasis on in-house and mobile weddings. Read more>>

Thomas Wilson

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a deep love for music. My great grandfather bought me my first guitar when I was only 6. My grandmother would tell me how I would tune the guitar until it sounded okay and strum as hard as I could. Around 7, I started taking guitar lessons and picking up how to play little songs. I continued playing all throughout my elementary years and into my middle school years. Around that time is when I fell in love with the art of hip-hop/rap music. I always played sports in school so, through high school, I was still trying to figure out who I was. Right after high school, I had a very tough decision to make. Play it safe and further my education at a trade school, or start working. I got a job delivering pizzas when I was 18 and delivered pizzas to make ends meet up until my 19th birthday. Read more>>

Marcus Chesney

The Iron Legion was created on August 17th, 2019, my 25th birthday. For the past six years, I had been struggling with alcohol addiction. I was faced with the hard choice, keep drinking and spiraling out of control and drink myself to an early grave, or give it all up and start living again. That week, I started my fitness journey. I bought a gym membership and I committed to going. I started my journey at 105 pounds. This week, I weighed in at 175. I got clean, and healthy, and started living life. At 26, I started training as a powerlifter. At that point in time, I knew I wanted to create a brand that everyone would recognize, and that stood for something. I began to drop shipping merchandise from Amazon. I had logos made, and got my product out there. Now, we have over six shirt designs, hoodies, and even blender bottles. Currently, I have taken a break from powerlifting to pursue Bodybuilding. I want to show the world there is life beyond addiction. I Strive to inspire anyone and everyone I can. Read more>>

Brandon Schramm

I have always been amazed at the natural beauty of this planet, even as a child. To this day, I can clearly recall the exact moment I was hooked on traveling. My “first” (I say first because I’ve flown before this, but don’t recall. I was born in Germany on a US military base where my parents were stationed) flight was September 7th, 2001 nonstop from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Orlando International Airport (MCO) on a United Airlines Boeing 737-300. My family of 4 consisting of my Dad, Step-Mom, sister, and myself were going to the “Happiest Place on Earth”… Walt Disney World. None of us had ever been and we were all filled with excitement.The flight was absolutely amazing. The flight attendants were observant and courteous and the breakfast that was served was very good. However, at 13 years old, everything about this trip this far was amazing. Read more>>

A Long Story Shor

A Long Story Short Co. is the brainchild of owner Kerry Hodge. It is an eclectic used bookshop in the middle of Pigeon Forge, TN (specifically in The Old Mill District) and it is unlike anything else in the whole town. Mr. Hodge had wanted to create an unusual bookshop for a while and in 2016, A Long Story Short Co. was born. Not only does the shop carry used books at great prices, but you can also find unusual and unique décor items all through the shop. At any given time, you may find steampunk creations, handmade pieces, live plants, crystals, tarot cards, stained glass, old cameras and typewriters, antique collectors’ books, and much more. The inventory is constantly changing and we try to carry something for everyone! Read more>>

David Morgan

It is remarkable to think that global, disruptive technologies might be first conceived in a basement, but this was the inception. Carbon Rivers (CR) was founded in 2017 by entrepreneurially-minded engineers and scientists from the University of Tennessee with the intent to develop advanced materials that will lead to a more sustainable and technology-driven future.

All members have in the past worked with or at both Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee (UTK), mostly centered around polymer composites. We make up a team of maverick material, chemical, electrical, mechanical, and various engineers who simply desire to make common materials far superior to what they are. Imagine a boat with a graphene coating that never needs to be dry-docked to remove marine growth. Read more>>

Cory Dickson

At the age of 16, I was introduced to Radio Broadcasting. I spent the weekends working at my hometown radio station, Brownsville Radio. Playing country music, reporting local news, airing UT Football games, and taking song requests from my friends was the beginning of my love for the industry. I attended the University of TN focusing on Communications and Broadcasting. During college, I started interning at Dick Broadcasting Company. After graduation, I began working for Dick Broadcasting (WIVK, WNML SportsTalk, and WOKI Newstalk Radio) in 1998 and held numerous positions throughout the company. Responsibilities included developing creative advertising strategies, campaigns, and promotions for client businesses local and regional. Read more>>

Sarah Johnson

I was born in the Đồng Nai province of Vietnam. I was then adopted when I was about one year old and brought to America. Growing up, I would look through the magazines whether it was at the dentist’s office or at the hair salon. I would see these gorgeous models wearing these clothes that looked absolutely amazing and so I fell in love with the fashion industry. Recently, I was selected to model for the Fleurish fashion show in Knoxville, Tennessee. The fashion show consisted of many designers whose fashion was sustainable. From this, my modeling career kind of kicked off. Once the show ended, I started applying to a few modeling agencies to see if this was something I truly could do as a career. So far, I have received multiple offers from local agencies as well as MMG in New York. I also have been able to work with local photographers, makeup artists, and companies to further my modeling career. Read more>>

Leticia Fernandes

I was born in Brazil, graduated in Business with an MBA in finance, and worked for 12 years in a Fortune500 company. Coffee was always part of my life, as it is to most Brazilians. But during my college years, it became essential to me when I started hanging out at coffee shops with my friends, discussing life, and drinking good coffee. A tradition we kept throughout my life and helped me develop a passion for the coffee itself, more than just as a gathering spot. Whenever I traveled, both within Brazil and also around the world, I would seek the best experiences and brews possible. Eventually, I got tired of the corporate world and decided to pursue de art of coffee in depth. I took barista classes, worked in the area, read a lot about coffee techniques and theory, and drank even more coffee! Read more>>

Haden Winokur

Growing up, I was always a fan of fantasy and spent most of my free-time playing pretend, consuming whatever fantasy media I could get my hands on, and then playing pretend about whatever fantasy media I could get my hands on. (There was a lot of Lord of the Rings role-play happening on the playground. Real nerdy stuff.) Then, when I was twelve, my father suddenly passed away. I was devastated. My father was my world- my role model, my best friend. I felt like all the magic in my life was gone. I didn’t want to play pretend anymore. I didn’t even want to get out of bed. As a teenager, I discovered the world of cosplay, a hobby in which people dress up as their favorite characters and attend events, sometimes partaking in light-hearted improvisation in character. Read more>>

William Walton

I have been passionate about music for longer than I have memories. I became one of the biggest Beatles fans in the womb, and on my fifth birthday, I got my first real guitar and started teaching myself chords. The next year, I found the right notes to play John Lennon’s Imagine on the piano. I’ve continued to teach myself to play any instruments that I can get my hands on, at the detriment of proper form! In fourth grade, I started writing my own songs, some of them still hold up today surprisingly. That was also the year that I first played my own music for an audience, even though I had crippling stage fright at the time! Fourth grade really was a turning point for me musically because it was also when I got to record one of my songs in a professional studio. Read more>>

Amber Schultz

I always had a love for music, and I started singing at around four years old. My family traveled around a lot and my dad would have me ‘perform’ in different churches we were in as he was looking to raise money for various things. At the age of 9, I took my first piano lesson. I took to it instantly, constantly annoying my poor teacher with memorizing the notes and playing by ear. After about six months, my parents could no longer afford lessons so those ended… but my passion did not. I would sit in my room with my little keyboard and plunk different songs out. From there, I grew my skill to start playing for myself to sing, then I grew to play for churches and choirs. I have now been self-taught for 25 years and still love the piano. Read more>>

Kevin Gordon

Hi! My name is Kevin Gordon also known on social media as @xoxofinessing. I’m a 19-year-old high school graduate who chose against college, to pursue an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Right now, I work full-time hours but still make time to make music and do modeling on the side. When I was younger my father used to rap to me, so I was experimenting with music from a very young age. As I went through high school, I met other people who motivated me to take my goals seriously and helped me branch out into fashion. My friends making clothes, eventually led to me posting on the social media platforms to build a portfolio, which led to me becoming a brand ambassador for Habana Heights Clothing Co. I’m also looking to further my career right now and start getting into clothing design. Read more>>

Eugene “Blacknerdninja” Willis

Eugene Willis Jr. a native of Athens, GA. Currently working in the technology field. I started as desktop support and worked my way up to Linux Systems Administrator to now an Application Analyst. I have two associate degrees from Athens Technical College. One degree in General Business and another in Marketing. I also am a touring emcee by night and moonlight as an author on weekends. I have voted in 2015 Athens, Ga Best Hip Hop Artist. Under the BlackNerdNinja brand, I have been a support opening act for legendary acts like Third Big Star, Blackalicious, Nappy Roots, OpenMikeEagle, Kung Fu Vampire, Locksmith, and Turquoise Jeep. I have collaborated on songs with Crooked I, Kung Fu Vampire, MARS, and Linqua Franqa. Read more>>

Jessica Cole

When I was in school at the Tennessee School of Beauty, we were asked where we saw ourselves after graduating. There was nothing definite in my future that I saw for myself, except that there were two things I did not want to do whatsoever.

Those two things are specializing in brows and owning my own business. After graduating from the Tennessee School of Beauty, I started my first job at Natural Alternatives as a front desk associate and then eventually as an esthetician. As an esthetician, I mostly performed facials and brow waxing. While working here, I learned to really hone my skills for brow waxing and learned to enjoy it and eventually love it. I worked at Natural Alternatives for about a year and then I was introduced to an opportunity from a local business owner. This was something that I never expected to happen, especially to me. I was invited to be the newest booth renter at Beauty and the Brows. Read more>>

Amber Woodhouse

I’ve always had a passion for all things music from the time I was very little. Whenever the neighborhood kids and I were playing “make-believe” I frequently brought my keyboard with me to play music to help “set the scene!” As I got older, I started playing clarinet in band class (around 4th grade). One day at church, I saw someone playing a “golden clarinet” as I called it, and approached him! He let me know that the “golden clarinet” was ACTUALLY a soprano saxophone and he actually let me try it! I was hooked on saxophone ever since and it has taken me all around the world! My journey started in St. Paul, MN, but saxophone, and eventually, my voice took me to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then eventually to Nashville TN, where I began to officially pursue my career in music industry. Read more>>

Zac Ribblett

It all began when Brandon, Justin, and I reconnected in mid-2020, way after knowing each other back in high school. Brandon reached out to me through Facebook after hearing some of the music I’d made myself. Brandon said he was serious about getting a band started and, since he knew I could play and write, asked if I would collab with him. Even though it had been years since we’d marched together in the Seymour High School band, we still shared a passion and desire for making music, so we joined up and got to work. With Brandon on drums and myself on guitar, our playing styles clicked immediately, and we started laying the foundation for several future songs in our first jam session. Read more>>

Carly Baskette

In 2020, I was furloughed from my job and spent the first few months thinking that life would return to normal pretty quickly. However, by July, I realized there was no end to the pandemic insight. I had started doing some secondhand shopping at estate sales and thrift stores for a little retail therapy. It occurred to me that others might be interested in decorating their homes with vintage items or using vintage furniture, so I started buying items that caught my eye. I started an Instagram account to sell my finds! I eventually even started refinishing vintage furniture to its original glory so that it can be loved for many more decades to come. I now sell a lot of items from my home, to locals as well as shipping across the country. Read more>>

Marc Rotman

With a BA in Interior Design from Kent State University, Marc has enjoyed creative outlets most of his life, whether generating Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs in paint, as floor treatments or devising intricate designs for stained glass compositions. The college curriculum while design-oriented was also focused on architecture and fine art, including numerous drawing, visual organization, and construction technology courses, which have all added to the depth of Marc’s design acumen. In the mid-1990s, Marc fulfilled a longstanding desire to learn Stained Glass techniques. Early on, Marc’s secondary career as a Stained Glass artist took the turn toward the utilization of repurposed and reimagined materials and he has never looked back. In fact, many of his commissions feature unusual glass items or materials as their focal point, and it is these reimagined elements that serve as the inspiration for a given piece. Read more>>

Erica Shipwash

Mae’s Boutique And Gifts is unique and unlike most local boutiques. Our business was founded as a small Mom owned tee shirt business. It grew quickly to add home décor, drinkware, and keychains. As time went on, the customers grew an interest in boutique clothing items. Slowly, we added a complete line of high-class boutique clothing for women and children. With added time, we have managed to add several products to our inventory such as accessories, and custom products that include several types of drinkware and tees. We strive to offer our clothing at exceptionally affordable prices. Our main focus is offering all the latest and trendiest quality items. We are always adding new merchandise styles to equip a larger customer base and always staying on top of the latest trends. Read more>>

Ally Manno

I am an autistic woman who has been getting support from the Chattanooga Autism Center in the past. It was through them and the adult transition program I was in that I got a teaching gig at the Hunter Art Museum. I teach abstract painting techniques for adults and teens on the autism spectrum, but they are open to everyone. I also discovered the Hart Gallery via an overheard conversation from one of my students, and I sell and make a lot of art at that Gallery as well. Read more>>

Andi Worsham

I am a mom of 4 – 3 boys ages 11, 9, and 6, and a little girl who’s 3. I worked as an ICU RN for seven years and then in Labor & Delivery for three years. When my second son was turning 1, I was invited to be a part of an online fitness accountability group. I had no idea what that entailed but I was frustrated with the postpartum extra weight I was carrying around and honestly, had never felt successful in implementing a healthy lifestyle before, so I took the chance and said yes! Just a few weeks into this positive, uplifting community, I was feeling great! The quick and effective workouts I was doing from home were helping me to gain strength and confidence. I was excited to work out for the first time in my life. The physical and mental results I was getting were addicting!! Read more>>

Joshua “Tito” Wilson

I was a 19-year-old college dropout struggling to find direction and purpose in life. That’s when a small local coffee shop announced it was opening up in my town. I had always gone to Starbucks with friends, but never thought I’d work at a coffee shop. I went for an interview, got hired, and started from the ground up. Literally helping install wood flooring and putting together chairs for the new shop. During that season in life, I discovered the love and passion for community development and coaching individuals via the coffee shop culture. It was then my dream became to own a coffee shop business with the goal of changing communities around the world with coffee, tea, art, and other fun ways. So, in 2005, I went back to college to complete my degree and in 2009, I went to go work for different coffee companies across the Mid-West. I wanted to learn more about “how” to run a coffee shop so I managed for small companies and large nationally known companies. From Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas now to Hardin Valley, Tennessee. Read more>>


My name is Cassandra, my nickname is Cass and my foodie Instagram account is @casserolebites. I work as a data engineer by day, and often I say that it helps fund all my foodie adventures! Nice to meet you all! I was born and raised in New York City and lived in Queens for the majority of my life. With NYC being the “melting pot” of America, I was surrounded by a lot of different ethnicities and cultures – and with that, a lot of different types of food! Read more>>

Ariel Lavery

I am a mother of two who began as an artist. I was teaching Sculpture at Watkins College of Art in Nashville when I became pregnant with my first child. My husband and I had been working and living in two separate cities and decided to move back in together two raise our family, which meant me leaving my job. In that first year of being a new mother, I felt immense awe and inspiration at this new transformation in my life, but also frustration at not having an outlet through which I could express this incredible feeling. Read more>>

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