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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.

Jessica Butler

I grew up with a GoPro & Polaroid in hand, capturing a family vacation or just little moments that made me happy so that I could reminisce on these memories once they’ve passed. My husband upgraded my GoPro to a DSLR camera for Christmas one year so I could make more quality videos of our travels. A few months later, I was presented with the opportunity to film a video for a friend’s wedding. At the time, I was in school to become a school counselor, but I found myself getting asked to film more beautiful love stories and wedding days. My husband and I met in high school when we formed a mental health awareness group that served as a platform for others to share their stories. Read more>>

Nadia Ostapenko

Started from a small city & worked my way up as a content creator & a small business owner, now working locally in the state of Kansas & Kansas City, and Missouri with venues & wedding coordinators for my event coffee cart ! Also working my way into doing photography as well around the Mid Missouri Area. Read more>>

Camryn Coffelt

I have always been a creative, artistic person. As a child, I was always excited for art class and doing plays in community theatre. The arts has always been where I found a home. I went to high school at Shawnee Mission Northwest. I had the opportunity to try out a video production class. I really enjoyed making videos and learning how to use a camera. I auditioned for our advanced video production team, and I was surprised that I made the cut. I was involved in this group for two years up until I graduated in 2017. My grandparents, having heard about how much fun I was having and how much I loved creating videos, got me a camera as a graduation gift. It was very generous of them. I spent my summer before moving to college taking photos of friends and couples. Read more>>

Ruben “Baby Horchata” Ramirez

Pursuing acting when you are broke while dealing with life is a crazy process. But the love I have for the craft overpowered all of that. It’s probably a big reason why I never gave up. I knew that 1 day I would no longer struggle. As you know, the path includes a rough beginning as you just don’t know many things or cannot read many red flags. But with time and experience, I began to see the beauty as well as the ugly. Luckily, I did not allow my few bad experiences, sour my path. I just kept moving forward. Read more>>

Amy Loving

My name is Amy Loving and I am Home Organization Professional. From pantries to cabinets, drawers, and closets, I love making beautiful spaces. I am a mother to 3 wonderful girls, a wife, a Christ follower, and am passionate about all things organization. I am committed to helping create organizational systems that are sustainable so that my clients can get back to fully living. I have always enjoyed helping others and changing their lives through organization. I want to help bring beauty, flow, and calm to homes! Read more>>

Kollin Smith

After a soul searching and eye opening experience in the USMC, I’ve finally discovered what it is I may have the best talents to do. My overthinking to my excessive talking moods I get into music is an outlet for all those habits I once found negative. Read more>>

Joy Oufnac

I have always loved to travel and to share my love for travel with my family and friends. In 2017, I embarked on a journey to share my passion for travel as my profession. Through this journey, I have grown my own business as a Travel Specialist with 3D Travel Company. I specialize in Family Travel, and I love helping families plan magical vacations to their dream locations. I work with families in planning each detail of their vacations to ensure that their trips go as smoothly as possible. I advocate for my clients, so all they have to do enjoy every minute of their vacations. It is an honor to be part of so many special memories! Read more>>

Clay Clear

The foundation of the band was laid over 10 years ago starting at local jam nights. Our bass player Brent Harms, our drummer Jesse Niccum, and myself played together off and on at our local bar scene until 2018 when we decided to form a band. We had a different name until 2020 when we re-branded as Clay Clear Band and went through some personnel changes. With the help of our friend Paula Merrill acting as booking agent, we have expanded as a band and reached newer audiences. We weathered the storm of the pandemic and things have been on a roll ever since. Read more>>

Katie Goth

In 2017 My little sister was graduating from Nursing school and my mom wanted to order a yard sign. We decided to order one online ourselves to set up. We came to realize these online signs were not weather friendly and would not survive the snow we had. So it was a bust. This led my mom, Becky Johnson Owner and co- founder and aunt Tracey Wiley Owner and Co- Founder to start considering what it would take to start a yard sign company. Yard deSIGNS was born. They approached me to come to assist with marketing. I had a full-time job and decided it was something I would love to work on with them for nights and weekends. With a degree in marketing and background in events it just made sense. Read more>>

Kristin Hems Annie Rector

We were put on the same account at another firm, traveling and spending more time together than we were with our own families. Spending that much time together (in stressful situations, long days, and constant traveling) in this line of work puts a relationship to the test quickly – you are compatible in most ways, or you aren’t. The light bulb went off that we absolutely are compatible on one of our longer flights home from an especially challenging week – we could do this and do it better, as long as we did it together! The rest is history, as they say. Since late 2014, we’ve impacted the experience for thousands of attendees, become close friends with many clients and partners, and built a team of strong and capable planners (who also do a BUNCH of other things well!). Read more>>

Danielle Mcneal

I started about 3 years ago doing my own hair just trying different things out and seen that I was honestly talented doing it own myself, including parting and everything with no one’s help. I eventually started on my mom and sisters hair trying out new stuff with techniques and all. I would always get compliments on my hair and my mom would always come back from being somewhere after getting her hair done telling me “girl I just got so many compliments, they asked for your socials so they can get their hair done.” At first I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to do hair and make money doing it because it just wasn’t something that interest me at all. Read more>>

Jess Smith

I have been doing Art since I can remember. One of my earliest memories was receiving my first “Art Kit” as a gift for a birthday and falling in love with oil pastels. I couldn’t get over using my fingers to blend the colors together. From that point on I can’t really remember not being involved in some kind of Art project. I minored in Fine Art from the University of Missouri – Columbia and after I took a bit of a break from creating. A few years later I dove head first, back into watercolors. I was struggling with depression and a failing relationship so I turned to Art as I typically do to get through it. Since then I decided to never put Art on the back burner and work to on starting a career as an Artist. Read more>>

Debbie and Carrie Moore

Moore & Moore The best performances come from people who work well together. That would be a major understatement for twin sisters Debbie and Carrie Moore. Having sung together all of their lives, there is something really special about the close-knit harmony they create. Adept at working with an audience and making them part of their performance, Moore & Moore give the all-out kind of show that only comes from the heart. Read more>>

Phantom Pesos

I grew up in a single mother household with 5 siblings growing up, my mom was married but basically ran the house if that makes sense. I started having my vision to become a music artist/ manager at the age of 8. I knew what I wanted earlier in life, and it wasn’t to struggle nomore. But for me to end up a business owner some day. I made it this far because of my work ethic, my emotions and my intuition, I believe everything happens for a reason. Read more>>

Sean Taylor

This is a beginning of a new chapter in this story! The story though gets it’s start in 2007, I attended a college exploratory course in autobody durning my senior year in high school. After graduating high school, I began working in a body shop. I started out detailing cars while I gathered a taste of the industry. That’s where a fascination with bringing back that was mangled, back into like new condition took hold. It became time to climb my way on up the ladder with returning to school to learn more. I enrolled at WyoTech in 2009, an automotive technical college in Laramie, Wyoming. I took additional classes in automotive trim and upholstery, and a custom airbrushing class while graduating on the Dean’s List in 2010. Read more>>

Tera Coughlin

Right after attending Northwest Missouri State University, I left the comforts of the Midwest and moved East. My heart called me to the fashion industry, I knew my business savvy and love for style would grow exponentially in NYC. In the midst of living my dream, I also met my husband. Planning to spend our lives together and start a family, we decided to return to my roots here in Kansas City. Coming home afforded me the opportunity to continue my love for helping others cultivate their own aesthetic at Standard Style, via upscale collections curated by famed KC design duo, Matt and Emily Baldwin. Read more>>

Jessie Yarborough

I am a licensed Esthetician and owner of Parlour Seven, located in Warrensburg, MO. I’ve been working as a licensed Esthetician in the state of Missouri since 2019. The idea of owning my own business has always been on my radar, however, I didn’t think that it was going to happen so soon. During covid, with all salons shut down, I had to re=evaluate my plans. I was scrambling to find employment to get me through until salons re-opened. As a prior child welfare worker, I applied to several jobs in that industry, hoping I could get back into something quickly to pay the bills. Unfortunately at the time, nothing panned out. Read more>>

Dan Blumeyer

I, Dan Blumeyer (Blu), began roasting coffee as a hobby in college back in 2008. Around that time, I became a big fan of craft beer in addition to freshly-roasted coffee, and I came up with the name “Blu’s Brews” one night as I joked about owning my own coffee roastery/microbrewery called “Blu’s Brews” with my friends. At the beginning I would only roast coffee for friends and family as gifts. I had never really considered roasting for others on a larger scale than that until much later. Logistically, I was limited by the batch size of my roaster. Plus, working in education as either an English teacher or a school counselor didn’t leave me with a lot of spare time. After many years of wearing out small, home roasting machines, I decided I needed to make a change. Read more>>

Stephanie Symington

I’m a Single mom of 4, originally from Saint Joseph, MO. I relocated to Kansas City at the end of 2015, not really knowing what was to come of my journey, I had no car and left all my stuff in my hometown to just start fresh! My first year in Kansas City was the hardest year I had ever had to experience in my lifetime of being a mother, I didn’t know anyone, had no job, no car, my house was empty, and most importantly I had no plan! Growing up I always did hair on the side for extra income to help keep bills paid for my household, not really taking into consideration after moving that I would no longer have that to depend on, I started working whatever job I could find trying to keep my household functioning, I eventually found a job within walking distance that allowed me to get certified as a pharmacy technician! Read more>>

Olivia Olusanya

Hi! My name is Olivia Olusanya. I am 19 years old and currently in medical school. I was accepted straight out of high school into a rigorous and prestigious accelerated program that allows me to become a doctor in only six years instead of the traditional eight. I would say that my story began by watching both of my immigrant parents loving their jobs as physicians; I was always exposed to medicine. However, growing up and developing my natural love of chemistry and biology helped strengthen my interest in medicine even more. I would watch shows like Untold Stories of the ER and Mystery Diagnosis after I came home from school. Read more>>

Angie Wilkinson

My little business began 3 years ago when we were facing insurmountable medical debt from my husbands heart attack & long road of recovery. We had over $40,000 in medical related debt and no end insight. I was working part time but it just wasn’t enough so an idea hatched to make pies and cakes to help make ends meet. I’ve always been a baker and good cook so it felt doable. I put some pictures up on Facebook and offered my pies& cakes for upcoming holidays. Read more>>

Natalie Upp

Hi, my name is Natalie Upp, and I’m the owner of Fired Upp Fitness. I’m married to my high school crush and we have two busy teen daughters. I am so grateful that I get to do what I’m passionate about every day… Help moms over 35 look, feel and live better. I actually didn’t start in the fitness world. I started as an Occupational Therapist (OT). Back then, was in and out of working out and never even thought about what I ate. Fast forward several years, where I was a mom of two toddlers who had not moved her body with exercise in six years. I was exhausted and completely stressed out working long hours at a non-profit – where I had shifted there from being an OT to a Development Director. I was in charge of all of the fundraising, grants, and marketing, and little did I know that those marketing skills would later come in handy for my own business! Read more>>

Dakota Hughes

I started working out with a trainer when I started my football career and I loved everything about the science behind working out. I loved understanding the movements and bettering my health and wellness. Once I started training a group of ladies myself, I realized I got so much more fulfillment out of helping others improve the quality of their lives. This is when I knew I wanted to do this for my career. I’m so grateful I get to live out this passion every single day! Read more>>

Lindsey Tidd

I am a Kansas State graduate with a bachelors of science in Animal Science and Industry/ Pre-veterinary Medicine. I grew up an athlete, competing in all the sports I could from the age of 5. In high school I suffered a severe concussion when I took an blow to the forehead during a basketball scrimmage. For 10 years following that day I suffered with severe migraines. It was not uncommon to only have a few days of the month where I wasn’t in some type of pain, and it would persist all year long. I didn’t get much relief with anything that was done. Several medications, several doctors visits, all the work ups to try to figure out why my migraines were so debilitating. Through the years I learned how to live with them, although it was hard to keep a job, and study non-stop through college. Read more>>

Payton Russell

I recently graduated from Ball State University a semester early in December of 2022. It was a quick decision but I wanted to make the most of my semester ahead and decided to move to Kansas City. I applied for loads of jobs in the graphic design area, and got a response to work at Alpha-Lit KC. The company is in the event design business as well and rents out marquee light up letters. I had done a year long internship the year prior with balloons and thought about continuing to grow in that business some how, so what better way to start fresh in a new city with a new company. It has been hard work but I have learned so much about other vendors in the Kansas City area and the city itself! Read more>>

Mandi Ndikum-Moffor

My story really starts in my childhood when I got my first video game system for Christmas, the N64. I spent hours playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, Diddy Kong Racing and several other Nintendo classics. However, the system I played the most is the PS2. This time period coincided to when I began to somewhat care about how I dressed. It was only until after college could I really execute on my idea to bring gaming into the streetwear realm. Read more>>

Tracey Vaeth

I have a live edge table that was not kiln dried correctly – it went from throwing it away to chopping it up. The decision was made to try and fix it. I began the process of filling all the cracks. After a few days of sanding – It turned out to be one amazing conversation piece. Then I wanted to take it to the next step. I wanted to make an oversized, charcuterie boards for myself then I made ones for our fr-amily (dear friends that are family). Then the questions of “when is the shop opening” and “can you make me a Chiefs board?” began. So in February 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40 Grit KC was born. I began the journey of making many custom orders for personal and corporate clients using locally procured wood to make the charcuterie boards/tray, stove top covers, signage and furniture. Read more>>

Ashley Williamson

Growing up after school I would hang out at the hair salon until my mom got off work and I would just watch everyone working. I would go home and practice on my mom and sister. When I went off to college I was one of few that knew how to braid so I would spend Friday nights braiding the football players hair before game day. My roommate would let me practice weave installations on her and next thing I know that was how I made money while in school to help support me and my daughter. Read more>>

Sami Smith

I graduated cosmetology school in March 2011 & went straight to working at a commission salon in Paola for 7 years. I loved the environment of the salon, fast pace & the energy everyone brought in. While working there I had the opportunity to get tons of education and was able to travel to hair shows. In 2016 I felt like I had hit my ceiling & I needed something new and exciting so in 2017 I made an exciting & terrifying decision to switch to booth renting at a salon in Ottawa, &being the one in charge of my business. It’s been 6 years & I have never loved what I do more than I do today. I love my clients, making my own schedule and the creative freedom I have. It has also given me the opportunity to focus in on more of what I really love doing which is specializing in color; balayage, brunettes, creative color, lived in color, etc. Read more>>

Ashley Gross Minor

I’ve always been interested in photography, participating in the photography classes in 4-H when I was younger, playing with my point and shoot, and collecting old cameras. I did not attend college for photography, though. After graduating from SBU, my husband would ask me what I wanted to do more than anything-what would bring me the most joy-and my answer was always “to be a wedding photographer and mom,” and he encouraged me to pursue my dream. I purchased my first business camera in the summer of 2013 and began shooting everything I could and learning all the basics. Read more>>

Corina Villarreal

I was born and raised in the family business of event planning in San Angelo, Texas. I graduated with my Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Angelo State University while my husband and I were stationed at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Angelo State University, where I began my career in healthcare as an Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Five years into my career, I knew I wanted to further pursue a field in counseling after consulting with each of my client’s traumatic attacks and their family’s worries. Read more>>

Yasmin Herdoiza

When I started college at the University of Kansas, I did not want to be a lawyer. I pursued a degree in Psychology and eventually double majored in Spanish. I wanted to be a counselor or do postgraduate research in Psychology. I knew I wanted to use my degrees to help my local community. Read more>>

Shaunita Phillips

My passion for Womb Wellness came from my experience of starting my menstrual cycle at the tender age of 8. I suffered from heavy bleeding, cramping, and nausea. Doctors were recommending birth control before I even knew what sex was. This started my journey into holistic health. Read more>>

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