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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.

Abigail White

I started photography in High School. I just took photos for the school and yearbook – never imagining it would turn into a career. After High School, it took me a while to land on a college that I liked, as well as a college with a major I could feel comfortable in. I studied Advertising at Pitt State, and when it came time to pick a minor for that degree, I thought – “why not give photography a shot again?” Read more>>

Hannah Zuercher

I have been a lover of all things makeup for as long as I can remember. I’ve been here for everything from blue eyeshadow to winged liner. I started professionally doing makeup at 19 years old. I started working for an Aveda Salon at the front desk and gradually was pulled into doing makeup full-time there. This is when I indeed found my passion, the thought of coming to work and playing around with makeup and people leaving my chair feeling and looking their best. I mean, it couldn’t get any better. From there, I auditioned and became an AFA (Aveda Freelance Advisor). Read more>>

Dylan Cruse

My interest in music comes from my dad. When I grew up, we would listen to a lot of Jimi Hendrix, and I’m actually named after Bob Dylan. He had some guitars at home that I would always mess around with, and when I made it to middle school, I started taking guitar lessons on my own. Since that point, music has been just a regular part of my life. My introduction to electronic music happened around that time as well, and I remember listening to bass music in my friend’s basement when I was a kid; Read more>>

Grant Sullivan

Most people do not know the real background of Brand New. About 8 years ago or so, I wanted to start a clothing brand that could represent biblical stories and portray them in clothing. So the name comes from the meaning of 2 Cor. 5:17. From there, I paid different print shops to print the designs and work but would end up with an inventory of clothing that I didn’t have room to store. I remember talking to my father about the situation and how it would be nice only to order what I needed every time, and he said, “why don’t you just learn to print the stuff yourself?”  Read more>>

Sahira Tapia

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started? I am on a mission to help create a healthier Kansas City by providing innovative chiropractic care that brings awareness to the biological, social, and emotional sources of our body pain and disease. Our bodies and minds are connected. When our mind suffers, so does our body. What we feel in our minds is stress. What we feel in our body is back pain, headaches, lower back pain, shoulder tension, and more. Read more>>

Megan Freed

I’ve always loved cooking and baking and grew up making a favorite family sugar cookie recipe but never really knew how to decorate them. I instantly became obsessed and kept practicing until I couldn’t eat more cookies and had to start selling them! For fun, my sister and I took my mom to a cookie decorating class for her birthday. Read more>>

Darryln Johnson II

My name is Darryln Johnson II, and I am just a kid from Kansas looking to go to heights that have never been seen before! My story is a straightforward one. I do not have a crazy superhero origin story or anything like that! I grew up with humble beginnings, but I had an amazing set of parents that pushed me to be better than them. Even though my dad was in and out of jail, he taught me how to be a real man, and he taught me how to navigate business with integrity. Read more>>

KC Metal Hub Admin

KC Metal Hub started at the start of the pandemic. After much reflection, we saw the need for people to be informed of shows and events around them without bias, whether from sub-genre definitions, political affiliations, personal conflicts, or anything that would interfere with the Metal community. We aim to be Kansas City’s unbiased source for all things Metal in KC. Read more>>

Shereese Murphy

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I started initially with acting! I am an actress here in kc doing local theatre from the Kc Melting pot theater to the bird comedy theater. I realized I wanted to do more than play characters; I also wanted to be creative by being myself. It was sometime in 2016 when I had an outbreak of psoriasis that covered my body from eczema issues and using scented products. I knew then I wanted to start something related to skincare, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I wanted to move fwd on the idea. 2 yrs later, here we are with the big leap of faith and a launch date of August 1, 2022. Read more>>

Lynn Gilkey

David and I came from different backgrounds, David grew up in a two-parent household, and I was from a one-parent household. My mother died when I was 3 years old, leaving my father to raise 8 children alone. Growing up, we both had our struggles. We grew up not having a lot of material things, but we cared for ourselves. At the age of 5 I was sent to live with extended family members and in that house suffered from childhood sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse. Read more>>


Phlox Fire began as a ragtag group of rogue fire spinners, spinning fire in parking garages, backyards, and various other places. As time progressed, the need to become professional and operate within the confines of the law became apparent, so we set out to legitimize, working with City Council and the local Fire department to get the codes updated surrounding our art. The group has changed throughout the years, forming in 2010, and only a couple of the original members remain. However, change is often good! Fresh faces, fresh talent, fresh ideas, and fresh freshness! Read more>>

Jack Sernett

I have been able to overcome and grow from many different obstacles throughout my life. I truly believe these obstacles have been put in my life so I can learn how to “grow” instead of “go” through adversity. And now, it is my life’s work to teach as many people as possible how to achieve post-traumatic growth. Growing up in Kansas City, I thrived both academically and athletically. I was a straight-A student and 1st Team All-State athlete in high school. After high school, I went on to attend San Diego State University. During my college years, I spent time as a competitive CrossFit athlete and began my motivational speaking career. Read more>>

Angenae Parker

Peace Love! My name is Angenae Parker, and I’m a Wellness Practitioner and founder of ‘The Peace Corner.’ This journey started about 2 years ago when I decided to leave school and my job and go where I felt I was being guided. Once the start of the pandemic happened, so many things shifted for all of us, and personally, it allowed me to look at my life and what it meant to me. I had spent so much time of my adult life on auto pilot that I was just living the day-to-day life and not fully experiencing it. Read more>>

Bram Strookman

I’m a native of the Netherlands and moved to the KC metro in April of 2016. I started Kansas City field hockey to spread my love for the sport and to make it accessible to the local community. I am a PE teacher pre-k through 4th grade at St. Paul’s Episcopal Day school and a field hockey coach at Pembroke Hill. I’m doing my best to grow the game fun and engagingly! I have two children, ages 2 and 5, and I want to make sure they have the opportunity to play field hockey if they are interested. Read more>>

Audrina Henry

In the year 2018, I was going through a life crisis in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life. I stayed in my dorm room for weeks missing cheer practice, classes, and even work cause I was truly depressed because I didn’t know what I wanted to be in life. Once the semester was over and I was in the process of moving out. I will never forget one thing my roommate told me that stuck with me: “Audrina, you have so much to offer. You do eyebrows and wigs. You could be an entrepreneur if you wanted to because I know seeing you in this room for the past couple of weeks worried me. Read more>>

Angela Daniela Rogers

I was adopted from Honduras when I was 8 months old. Growing up, I struggled with my identity. My parents were supportive and almost pushy about me embracing my Latin heritage. They sent me to take private Spanish lessons with a woman from Guatemala for a while. I was angry about it and wanted nothing to do with a culture I felt had abandoned me. (Later in life, I have a lot of compassion for the woman who only wanted to help a grumpy little girl learn a little bit about their shared culture.) As I entered my teenage years, I developed a dominating eating disorder. Read more>>

Vanessa Klein

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, I always knew art would be a part of my life and, hopefully, my career. I experimented with various mediums throughout high school, from painting to ceramics to sculpture. I decided to attend Kansas City Art Institute to further my career as an artist and improve my skills. In my first year at the school, I was still unsure of what path to take with my art, as I was interested in many things. But when it came time to declare a major, I ultimately decided on animation, an art form I wasn’t familiar with but intrigued by. I’ve always had a love for animated films and shows and the idea of being able to make my own stories and ideas come to life excited me! Read more>>

Madelyn Greenleaf

I have been passionate about creating art for as long as I can remember. I used crayons to draw fruit on my playroom walls when I was in preschool. In elementary school, I used pastels to bring vibrantly colored owls to life. Middle school had me focus on realism and charcoal sketches, while high school let me explore the depths of oil paints and the intricacy of printmaking. However, college is where I started to find my style. I did not study art in college; my degree is in Education, and there was not much opportunity in my first two years at Baylor to create art which made me miss it incredibly. Read more>>

Devin Stone

I started in 2020 with just a Cricut machine that I intended to use for hobby crafting and making gifts. Well, anyone who knows me knows I don’t go halfway with anything, so I started learning everything I could about different crafts. Paper crafting, vinyl, sublimation, screen prints, epoxy, stickers, tie-dye, and sewing- the list goes on and on! It was fun but challenging to sustain a business when jumping around from craft to craft. I would get stuck on one craft for a couple of weeks, learn everything I could about it, and then once I mastered it- it was on another craft! In 2021 I was diagnosed with ADHD at 30, Read more>>

Chelsea Buchanan

I was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy when I was born. At the time, in 1992, there was little to no information on the disease, and how I was born led doctors to believe I’d have a short life span. I was very weak. For the first 3 years of my life, I was not hitting milestones typical for development. By age 4, I had undergone hip and reconstructive scoliosis surgery, which had a grim survival rate. Having rods put in my spine at such an early age stunted my growth. Throughout my adolescence, I experienced 5 more spinal surgeries. Although my mobility was limited when I was born, my creativity wasn’t. I always had an art to rely on. Read more>>

Marcus Callands

Starting Parallel State of Mind has been an idea for years, but that’s what it was just an idea. I’ve always wanted to be in radio, entertainment, tv broadcasting, or anything in that realm. When I started, it was just my phone and Lamont. We have seen a demand for podcasting or people who want to hear voices, and we did our best to take advantage. We got in a studio, but the pandemic hit, and it threw a wrench in the whole plan like it did everybody else’s. I had to rethink our process of being unable to be in the studio. Read more>>

Karis Tharp

I was home-schooled until I went to college. In 2016 I graduated from Friends University in Wichita, KS, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Piano Performance and Music Composition 2016. After graduating, I worked as a Nutrition Aide at Via Christi Village (2016-2017) and later as a para at Maize Elementary (2017-2020). During those years, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea. I started to teach piano lessons in 2016. I began to teach classical guitar in 2018. I realized I did not want to work a job to pay the bills and eat. I tried to work a job because it was something I wanted to do. In 2019 I listened to NF’s newest hit, “When I Grow Up,” and decided I wanted to be self-employed that day. So, since that day, I began to work hard. Read more>>

Fra’Shonda Grayson

I remember my mom Donna Halliburton, a single mother of 4, going to school for nursing while doing hair out of our home. My superhero mom is how I view her, leading me to follow in her footsteps. At 10 years old, my mom purchased me a Bratz doll head for Christmas and said, “ take your passion seriously.” I’m not going to be taking care of you forever, so after practicing and paying close attention to my mom, I decided to start accepting my clients, who were friends of the family, aunts, and cousins. Finally graduating high school and getting my plans, I was introduced to the REAL world along with REAL bills. I started doing hair out of my house. As my clients grew and my work began to speak for myself, I decided to step out on faith and start working at a beauty salon at age 22. Read more>>

April Walsh

Around 8 years ago, a friend asked me what my hobbies were. As a toddler mom, I didn’t have any ha. I started thinking about what I enjoy and a way to find a little bit of myself again. I’d always wanted photography and picked it back up again for fun. I asked friends and family if I could try out ideas and get more confident with my skills. I started getting requests from word of mouth and thought it would be a fun way to make a little extra money, but it took off way more than I ever anticipated. After 2 years, I could quit my day job and do what I love full time! Read more>>

Caila Driscoll

At 22, I started a venture to serve the KC Metro Area! It all began with helping out a beautiful elderly lady at her home, which turned into this genuine love and desired to clean and help create more time for people to do the things they love rather than worry about having a clean house! She began to tell others about my abilities, which turned into a full-time job! My husband joined a few other employees, and I hired, and we were off to the races. My husband and I chose to work in this industry because we aren’t just cleaning a house for ourselves. We’re cleaning a home. Read more>> 

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