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Portraits of KC

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around KC.

Roy Harryman is an idea that was hatched during the pandemic lockdown of 2020. Nearly all avenues of recreation were closed – except the great outdoors. I’m a lifelong hiker and Kansas City resident and had lots of knowledge of local trails. But I knew there was much more to be discovered. As I set out to explore nature in my community, I was flummoxed. I found a patchwork of shoddy government websites, incomplete information, and very few maps. Many “trails” listed on these sites might have existed decades ago, but had long since returned to nature. Read more>>

Johanna Bro

I was recently asked when I was a child, what did I want to be when I grew up? The obvious hit me hard. I have always said an artist, and here I am making that my reality… which is pretty rad because not everybody is doing what their 6-year-old self imagined. In high school, I filled up my schedule with as many photography & painting classes that I possibly could until I went off to attend The Kansas City Art Institute to get my BFA in Digital Filmmaking, never actually having made a film before. I graduated in 2014 and took a small break from art. Around 2015 I stepped on my first commercial set and was hooked. Read more>>

R$had Da Lyricist

I am a 23-year-old American singer/songwriter/lyricist named R$had Da Lyricist. I was born in Valdosta, Georgia which is a small city located in lowndes County where I lived 21 years of my life before deciding to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia. I have been on a journey ever since I was in Middle school to fulfill a successful career in the music business. I have always been heavily influenced by music ever since I was a child hearing different creative sounds of music from almost every genre. I started actually writing and recording my own hip-hop music in my bedroom myself at the age of 15 years old. I was inspired and influenced heavy by true lyricism with authentic storytelling to describe my life and tell my story from my point of view and the Hardships That I had to overcome in this life that made me the man that I am today. Read more>>

Anna Valdivia

When Trisha and I began working together it was clear we shared the same work ethic and passion for skincare. There was such an easy flow of sharing ideas and clients in a way we had never encountered with other estheticians. When the pandemic hit, we had a chance to sit down and not just talk about opening a spa but actually doing it. We truly started from the ground up. The space we found and fell in love with is located in East Brookside at 63rd & Rockhill road. The building has been completely renovated and filled with like-minded entrepreneurs! We took on suite# 440 and began our buildout last May. Read more>>

Devin Strause

As a new business owner in Kansas City, my story is very short; however, I have always been obsessed with crafting. It was a hobby I had stumbled upon while spending time with my grandmother many many years ago. Two years ago, I dove in headfirst and started selling to friends and family members. Perfectly Pine by Design launched on October 1, 2021. Since then, we have had numerous sales and have signed up for several craft shows. We will be a featured vendor at the Tomahawk Holiday Mart in Olathe Kansas on November 13th. As a new business, we aspire to bring high-quality modern home decor to the Kansas City area. Read more>>

Josie Alexander

I remember I always loved having a disposable camera in my hand when I was younger. I still have lots of those prints kept in photo albums. Eventually, as a teen, I upgraded to several little point-and-shoot cameras and it wasn’t until later after college when my husband bought me my first DSLR Canon camera. The journey began there, I loved to drive around the backroads of western Kansas and capture His creations. The sunsets and sunrises were and still are my favorite. I will drive around or walk around to find a good silhouette. Read more>>

Tommy Capp

I have been around music most of my life, I played drums/percussion in school. My mother is a band director and a musician herself. My younger brother is a musician as well and we grew up playing music together in different settings over the years. When I was 13, I got a drum set for Christmas and naturally started a terrible garage rock band with friends. I played drums in several bands, sometimes at the same time, throughout high school and college. I had a guitar that mostly collected dust and I fiddled with occasionally when my brother was trying to teach me how it was done. Music was something that I loved to do, but it was just something I did more recreationally than passionately. Read more>>

My name is Jessica Lester and I’m an artist, creative, and marketing professional in Kansas City. I have a BFA in graphic design and lived and worked in Chicago for close to 6 years. During my time in Chicago, I gained the experience of on big-name client projects including the USO of Metropolitan New York, NJoy Electronic Cigarettes, Wrangler, Church’s Chicken, Levy Restaurants, and more. Read more>>

Jenna Monreal

I didn’t always know, I wanted to be a photographer. I attended my brother-in-law’s wedding in 2015 and was amazed by the photographers, and how they were moving around, directing one another to what shot they were headed for next, and the thought of being the ONE person that gets to get those once in a lifetime shot…the look on the groom’s face when you are coming down the aisle…the first kiss as husband and wife…and all the smiles and tears in between. It put a little bug in my head that, hey I could do that. That was it. I started looking into cameras, researching how to start a photography business, started doing little sessions here and there of family and friends, and absolutely fell in love with this craft. I feel like I am able to express my energy in my sessions and I freaking love it! I feel like this is what I am supposed to do and I will continue to pursue this dream!! Read more>>

Jillian and Jeremy Hinskton

eremy and I have an unusual and wonderful story!  First, we’ve known each other since we were small children. In fact, our moms were good friends in the US Air Force and each mom babysat the other kid regularly. We attended the same elementary, middle, and high schools. A few years older than Jeremy, Jillian lost touch with him in high school.  After high school, Jeremy moved to California and Jillian to Boston, and then Seattle, where they each led very different lives. Read more>>

Jamie Conover

Well, it’s been a wild journey with lots of plot twists and turns. While the idea for SkEye Hi took root a couple of years ago, it was something I only did on the side for friends and family. I didn’t ever think it would become a full-time gig. After 14 years in the insurance industry, I left at the end of last year in order to help care for my son who has Autism and is a Type I Diabetic. By May of this year, Jack had made tremendous strides and was doing great at his therapy school. It was at this juncture that I asked myself what it was I truly wanted to do. Read more>>

Katherine Jianas

When I was very young, my dream job was to become a National Geographic photographer. I went on to become a yearbook editor in high school, archivist/historian for my sorority in college, and took various continuing education classes and workshops over the last ten years. I was a seasoned paid search marketer at one of the largest independent advertising agencies in Atlanta, but I always thought to myself “what if” I could make photography my full-time job. I went so far as to take a career change workshop several years ago just to hear someone tell me it was ok to think this way. At one point, I even put together a spreadsheet of all of the things I thought I could do on the “side” in addition to photography to make an amount of money that wouldn’t me cringe. This included dog walking, freelance marketing, to name a few. Read more>>

Shweta Jain

KITABE Club was an idea that was born many years ago in my mind but it only got materialized in July of 2019 as a not-for-profit women’s reading club. The primary purpose of the club is to promote reading among women in India. Due to my personal and professional experiences, I realized that women are so involved in their daily activities that they spend little to no time for themselves and thus I felt reading can help them recoup some of that time for themselves. Communication and ease of commitment were key drivers when we started promoting the club first. Read more>>

Barry Meitler

My whole life I have enjoyed building and creating things. When I moved int to my travel trailer in 2018 to travel for work, I lost a place to build. That is when I picked up a camera. I bought an entry-level body and started learning and carrying it with everywhere I went. It wasn’t long that I realized that entry=level isn’t where I was so I started to upgrade my gear. Every chance I got I would be out capturing a landscape or wildlife shots. I could express my artistic side again. Now I have moved on to concert photography. The energy, music, and love at a live show is like no other. I love being able to share that experience with other people. Read more>>

Laurine Le Man

It all started due to a mistake made in registering for a computer class back in the ’80s. After my second child was born, I came to realize that if I didn’t learn about computers and how to use them, I wouldn’t be able to help my two children decipher the changes to the education system when they went off to school. I thought I had registered for a basic computer use class but instead, it was for computer programming. Even though I told the professor/teacher that I was in the wrong class, he asked me to stay and decide after I had completed the first class. To my delight, I managed to program a sailboat to sail across the screen. I was hooked and then changed my career path from wanting to be a secretary to anything to do with computers. Read more>>

Tara Booth

I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan. As a kid, I was always interested in tactile play. Things like building sandcastles, digging for worms, painting the palms of my hands, and playdough. I went to an arts school for elementary but didn’t stick with visual arts until I started college. There, I changed my major a few times and decided on graphic design. I noticed I wanted to reach into the computer and physically change things around, so that was clearly not the path for me. Read more>>

Christine Faltynowski

I was interested in bees after listening to my boss in 2015 talk about her bees. I then met a beekeeper in Kansas and we started The Kansas Bee Company. I was brand new to beekeeping when I started the business, so I made a huge effort to learn as much as I could about bees, as fast as I could. I found that it was easy to learn because everything was so fascinating. Bees are such amazing creatures. My previous co-partner and I went in different directions 2 years ago, so now it’s just me! The queen bee! After 5 years, I feel like I understand bees a lot better. I also feel like I really relate to new beekeepers because I still remember what it’s like to be a new bee parent. My passion is teaching beekeeping. I enjoy selling bees and honey, but seeing someone’s amazement at something they just newly learned about bees is the bee’s knees! Read more>>

Marcy Lally

I suppose I’ve always taken the creative path in life. There were things I wasn’t good at in school but art wasn’t one of them. I’ve always felt as far my creativity goes there’s plenty to feed off of. I look to nature for inspiration and within that inspiration, I find a deeper sense of meaning and purpose to life. Having had many positions in the horticulture field and floral Industry it felt right to correlate these interest within my work. Flora and fauna, in namely clay flowers and animal skulls, have become my signature works of art Each piece signifies different portraits on nature, character, and places in time. Over the years I have found success in various art galleries with collectors and clients across the country. I hope to continue to expand on these ideas and concepts while staying loyal to my vision. Read more>>

Huss West

1/3 of LGC, 1/2 of the Finesse gods Huss West from Kansas City, Mo. Started music in 2015 after formerly being a road manager for LGC and also barber known as “Huss the barber” started with EP “Husstle Westbrook” and joint album with AyeJay Freez “Finesse gods” started gaining buzz through Kansas City and surrounding areas off those drops and following mixtapes and single releases before gaining national recognition and streams with “Vibezzz” and “Vibezz2” album releases. Huss is working on yet another awaited album (Not yet named) set to be released early 2022 Read more>>

Candice Saenz

I am a Kansas City area transplant and immediately fell in love with the area when my husband, Michael, and I relocated here because of his job. I had been a stay-at-home mom for years while my husband was an active-duty pilot in the military. So, when we moved to the Kansas City area, I saw an opportunity to reinvent myself. I knew quickly, once starting a 9-5 job in the insurance industry, that I needed something more with a deeper connection to clients. My soul craved the ability to get out of the office, talk with people and cultivate deep relationships while helping them get to a place in their life they wanted to be, I believed the real estate industry would check all those boxes, and I was right. Read more>>

Meeka Hunter

How it all began and where I got the name for my business. Growing and being raised by my grandmother Doris Jones aka TDoll, who instilled in me everything I know about the kitchen. My grandmother was a cook all her life in which she retired from Perkins family restaurant in Shawnee Kansas. In October of 2019, I start writing in my journal of what I wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about doing it. So, I started googling and reaching out to other in the Restaurant/Food chain and a lot of feedback came from Mr. Gary Wilson owner of Wilson’s Pizza, everything he told me I wrote it down. Read more>>

Lily B Moonflower

I’m Lily B Moonflower, a Musician, Artist, Human, sister, daughter, friend, gardener, chef, healer, activist, dancer, photographer, conductor, producer, designer, geologist, scientist, astrologer, yogi, animal whisperer, fun seeker, social butterfly, mermaid, rainbow warrior, stardust, & at the core of it all, I am presence. As a child, my grandpa gave me my first guitar at 8 years old. He also made it possible for me to have guitar lessons & participate in music camps where we would get together for a full week & perform the songs we learned at the end of the camp! I made my debut performance at 10 years old. Read more>>

Mariya Slipych

I was born in Ukraine and migrated to the US when I was five. After a few years, I went back to Ukraine and returned to the US when I was ten. With so much back and forth between two different countries, it felt like I was growing up in two different cultures at the same time for as long as I can remember. Though I’ve lived in the US for the majority of my life, I have not forgotten the culture I was born into. It’s dear to my heart and I really miss it. A small piece of Ukraine was brought back into my life when my older brother moved to the US with his family about four years ago. Read more>>

Kartel Stylez

My name is Kartel Stylez, I mostly go by Stylez. I am a local tattoo artist/custom artist. For the last couple of years, I have been transitioning from a tattoo artist to a custom celebrity fashion designer. Towards the beginning of my custom art career, I linked with local rapper Tech N9ne. Soon after Tech N9ne, I linked with the Mahomes family, I did custom paintings for Pat Mahomes, custom jackets for Mia and Randi Mahomes. Soon after, I got a call from HyVee Arena to paint the Olympic weight room for Olympic star Muna Lee. Read more>>

Bethlehem Kelecha

I have always been curious about the modeling industry. I remember wanting, so badly, to be signed and working as a model as a kid. I got as far as landing an interview with a local agency here in the Kansas City area when I was younger, however, it was decided then that it was best for me to hold off at that time. I turned eighteen during quarantine and my desire to work as a model did not go away. Again, I reached out to an agency and ended up getting signed this time around. Read more>>

Jeremy Fyler

Fyler Farms is a family-owned 5th generation farm that was homesteaded in Barton County Kansas around 1902. The farm was homesteaded by our great great grandfather Frank Nordman and was designed to be a self-sustaining farm with a barn for livestock, chicken coop to raise chickens, smokehouse to smoke and preserve meats, icehouse to preserve ice, and a grainery to store grain.  Recently we expanded operations to include land in Johnson County Missouri, however, the homestead still stands as the center of operations for our family farm, and it shows how we have adapted to keep up with the ever-changing world of farming. In 2020 we started milling and selling fresh wheat flour milled from wheat grown on the homestead. Grain crops are grown on the original homestead in Barton County Kansas and transported to Holden Missouri where they are milled and packaged. Read more>>

Jason Jefferson

I started out managing a group of musical artist that were childhood friends including my main artistic collaborator B. Cobb. I’ve always enjoyed music whether it was making it in church choir or in the school band/orchestra. I just needed to be more hands-on in the creative process so when the group broke up, I decided to start making my own projects. I’ve always been comfortable performing in ensembles but being a solo act took a little adjustment period. Read more>>

Kristen Wolf

Zack and I started City Roots in 2017 as a way to engage more with native plants. He had nursery experience and was currently running a landscaping business where as I was exiting out of a meat distribution business and looking to sell native plants as food. The landscaping business always needed more native plants for designs, so we decided to start growing plants for the landscaping business. We started with a few varieties from seed, realized we really liked growing plants and it took off from there. Read more>>

Ashley Castro

My business started in 2018. I became a stay-at-home mama and wanted to be able to share my love of art with others. I started with one machine and full support of my family and friends! Now we are growing at a rapid pace with 4 machines and an overwhelming support from people across the United States. My heart is truly happy when I am creating and each item is handmade with love. It brings me so much joy that customers have a piece of my heart in their home. Read more>>

Natalya Knoke

From a young age, my mom got me involved with volunteering. This built a sense of community to me and I fell in love with the idea of making a different and being the best version of myself possible. This really took off my sophomore year of high school when I won my first local pageant through the Miss America Organization. From there I got involved in numerous organizations in my community as well as in my school. Throughout high school I held leadership roles in the following organizations: VP of Community Service for National Honors Society, Greenhouse Coordinator and Community Service Organizer for Spanish National Honors Society, VP of Community Service for KEY Club, JAY Crew member for LINK Crew, and Executive Council Member for Breakfast Club. Read more>>

Kate Acton

It’s hard to describe ‘how I got started’ since it almost feels like opening this business is simply the newest chapter in the entire story arc of my life! So, in an effort to keep it semi-brief, I’ll just say I have always been an emotionally intuitive, abstract-thinking, deeply feeling person and I feel most alive and in a state of “flow” when I get to use all of those parts of myself.  Being a therapist is the perfect Venn-diagram overlap in using those cherished parts of myself in a professional way! I truly love the field of therapy and mental health. I love the process, I love the clients, I love attending therapy for myself… It has truly shaped me in so many ways. When I realized I wanted to (and could!) pursue it professionally, it all clicked. Read more>>

Tara Dunbar

Hi, my name is Tara, and my art is very strange. I paint and draw in a very surreal and unique way that seems to bury emotion deep within it. As a young child, I remember being mesmerized by creativity with only crayons and markers. I believe the inner drive to create is within us. I have had a passion to view art and create it as well my entire life. I am a bit shy about showing my art, and have only recently this year stepped out with it. Before this, only a couple years ago it was in closets and under beds. Many people over the years had encouraged me to share, so one day I decided to do just that. I was always worried they would be destroyed somehow, so I knew it was time. Instead of hiding it away, I started showing it. Instagram @strangeartkc101 was my first account. Read more>>

Danyael Mordechai

Born Ryan Mason, raised in Kansas City, mo in the western side of midtown. Loved music since I could comprehend a tune, I would remember every song on the radio so I could recite them for my brother and his friends when he would throw parties my mother was unaware of! Gain some notoriety as an mc in 2008 when myself and my best friend Paul Jones made a series of mixtapes called “The Dope Tapes”. In 2015 I started a Solo career under my chosen name Danyael (Daniel) Mordechai, started a family, and had to provide, I went to work and put my dream on hold. March 2020, my family is what motivated me to drop my first solo album “THE ACE TAPE” a tribute to the “Masta”. Since the drop of my debut album, I’ve focused on making singles and marketing myself as a multi-talented artist and Song Writer. Read more>>

Akeisha Land

I started out as anybody would with a personal Instagram page. As my family grew, I started posting more photos of my littles; brands took quite the liking to Greyson and started reaching out and asking if they could send us items for me to photograph her in; both to share on my page as well as for them to share with their own followers. As I began posting Greyson more, the page literally blew up and went “viral”. So, once I figured out who the real “star of the show” was, so to speak, I changed my page handle to her name @greyson_land and it became a page more for kids’ fashion finds. As she grew, so did our page and following. As she’s gotten older though and more involved in her own extracurriculars and school, and because I’ve always wanted her to have a normal childhood, I’ve started to transition the page back to things our family values. Which expands far beyond kids’ fashion finds. Read more>>

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