Women Who Inspire Me: Vogue’s 15 Forces for Change

Copyright Vogue UK

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted; it’s been hard to find amazing women willing to contribute to the blog. I am a bit late on this publication (this issue of Vogue came out in September) but I had to highlight some of the wonderful women featured.

This issue of Vogue UK was edited by the Duchess of Sussex and she decided to feature 15 women who she considered to be Forces for Change in the world. The list includes:

  • Greta Thunberg
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Jane Fonda
  • Salma Hayek
  • Laverne Cox
  • Jameela Jamil,
  • Gemma Chan
  • Yara Shahidi
  • Christy Turlington Burns
  • Adwoa Aboah
  • Adut Akech
  • Ramla Ali
  • Sinead Burke
  • Francesca Hayward
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What I love about this issue are the many types of women highlighted and that they all have had a hand in advocacy, rights, leadership, change, and progress. Each one is an inspiration in and of themselves and I truly admire these strong women making a stand.

To learn more about them and the issue, click here.

Jennifer Ingandela, Bake’n Babes, and the Think Pink! Freak Shake

Photo courtesy of Bake’n Babes

Jennifer Ingandela is one of my very best friends from Tampa who is one of the most positive people I know. About a year ago, she decided to work part-time at her friend’s bakery as a way to learn something new and get some much needed self-care (she is an amazing wife and mom to two adorable boys). Bake’n Babes, located in the Hall of Franklin in Tampa, is known for their delicious baked goods, ice cream, and granola using locally sourced, preservative-free ingredients.

Victoria Burnham; Photo courtesy of Bake’n Babes

Recently, Jenn thought of an idea to do a “freak shake” to bring awareness to breast cancer and the Think Pink! shake was born. The shake is being offered until October 13th at Bake’n Babes and proceeds will be given to Victoria Burnham, who is currently battling breast cancer. Being a breast cancer survivor herself, this shake is particularly special to Jenn and is also super fun to see.

Photo courtesy of Bake’n Babes

The shake looks like a masterpiece and it is; it’s a vanilla shake in a chocolate ganache-drizzled mug. Rimmed with hot pink sprinkles, it features a funfetti cupcake, lollipop, a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar, a fluffy pile of cotton candy, and is topped off with a breast cancer rubber ducky and a pink-beaded necklace for a final flourish.

Eva Joyce; Photo courtesy of Bake’n Babes

Not only is this shake benefiting someone currently in the fight, but Bake’n Babes has been highlighting breast cancer survivors with the shake on their social media accounts. The stories and photos are amazing to see and explains why the bakery has received so much press for this amazing creation (see links at end of story).

From their Bay News 9 interview, owner Julie Curry said about the shake “For the bakery, it’s always been a really important thing to me to be a community contributor. While we ask for the community to support us and buy cookies and everything like that, we need to give back to the community in the same way”.

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend you stop by and support the bakery by grabbing the Think Pink! shake. If you’re not in the area, you can purchase their Paleo Granola online to enjoy!

To learn more about Bake’n Babes and follow the cancer survivor stories, you can visit their Facebook page as well as their Instagram page.

To read more about the Think Pink! shake, see the following news articles:

To donate directly to Victoria’s breast cancer fight, you can visit her donation page here.

Thank you so much to Jennifer for talking to me and creating this amazing shake for breast cancer awareness!

Women Who Inspire Me: Alice Walker

I had the pleasure of recently reading The Color Purple as a way to expand my reading horizons. Not only is it a classic novel, but it’s one from a woman of color, which I am trying to read more of as a way to really learn true history and experience from another culture. The book is beautifully written and features elements of slavery, discrimination, violence and sexism but also aspects of hope, success, joy, and achievement. I wanted to learn more about the woman behind the book and the other amazing contributions she has given in her long and successful life.

She was born Alice Malsenior Tallulah-Kate Walker in Eatonton, Georgia in 1944 to her sharecropper parents, who also had 7 other children. She attended the only black high school in her town and went to Spelman College on a full scholarship for high academics. She transferred to Sarah Lawrence and graduated with a B.A degree in 1965.

Throughout the years, she wrote books of poetry, short fiction, and novels, with The Color Purple earning the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also had an interracial marriage to Melvyn Leventhal and became the first legally married interracial couple in Mississippi when they relocated to Jackson. They had one daughter, Rebecca, and divorced 11 years after they were married.

This excerpt from her website details her activism and views on human rights:

Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all. She is a staunch defender not only of human rights, but of the rights of all living beings. She is one of the world’s most prolific writers, yet continues to travel the world to literally stand on the side of the poor, and the economically, spiritually and politically oppressed. She also stands, however, on the side of the revolutionaries, teachers and leaders who seek change and transformation of the world. Upon returning from Gaza in 2008, Walker said, “Going to Gaza was our opportunity to remind the people of Gaza and ourselves that we belong to the same world: the world where grief is not only acknowledged, but shared; where we see injustice and call it by its name; where we see suffering and know the one who stands and sees is also harmed, but not nearly so much as the one who stands and sees and says and does nothing.”

Some interesting facts about her include her coining the term “womanist” in 1983 to describe a black feminist or feminist of color. She also met Martin Luther King Jr. in the early 1960s and credits him for her decision to become an activist in the south during the Civil Rights Movement. Her views on pacifism can be described in this quote:

“So I think of any movement for peace and justice as something that is about stabilizing our inner spirit so that we can go on and bring into the world a vision that is much more humane than the one we have dominant today.”

As a woman who has always stood her ground and continues to fight for for what she believes in, I find her incredibly inspiring and undeniably talented.

To learn more about Alice Walker and all of her works, you can visit her website here.

You can purchase The Color Purple from Tattered Cover here.

Elizabeth Boulos – Accidental Entrepreneur, Workout Enthusiast, and Road-trippin Lady

1.We met at a vendor event last year and we both love to support fellow entrepreneurs. What got you started on your journey with entrepreneurship and Beautycounter?

I am an accidental entrepreneur, although I think it’s in my genes.  My great grandfather and grandfather were both entrepreneurs, and my dad opened a surf shop in Maine in his early 20’s.  Like my dad, I’ve always had fun ideas for businesses, but it wasn’t until I learned about the Beautycounter business opportunity from my friend Mary that my fire was really lit to pursue working for myself.  Beautycounter perfectly combines all of the things that are important to me: education, advocacy, health, human & animal welfare, transparency, sustainability and community.  It’s a natural fit for me to working as part of an organization dedicated to improving the greater good while allowing me the flexibility to set my schedule.

2. You recently announced that Beautycounter would be your full-time job. What brought you to that decision and what are you looking forward to the most? 

Through Beautycounter, I have found a community and work environment that energizes me.  When I realized the impact that was having on my life, I knew it was time to leave the corporate world to do more of what makes me happy.  I’m looking forward to having more time to help and connect with more people, go on adventures with friends and family, and seize opportunities that life throws my way.

3. What is it about Beautycounter that sets them apart from other beauty brands? 

Beautycounter has a number of differentiators including being a certified B Corporation, Environmental Working Group Verified, a 1,500+ ingredient Never List, and screening for heavy metals in cosmetics, however, what I’m most proud of is our advocacy work.  What other brand – beauty or otherwise – do you know that asks for more regulation in their own industry, and actually fights for it?  Every day Beautycounter is actively funding research, lobbying for change, and challenging the industry to be better.  The work we’re doing isn’t self-serving; it helps everyone.

4. That is so exciting! I always ask for advice for anyone looking to get a side hustle or extra income and how they can get involved. What would you advise?

We all have a finite amount of energy in a day, so my advice is to find a side hustle that energizes you, something you’d do whether it paid you or not, and that you look forward to even after a long day of work.  For me, Beautycounter was an easy side hustle to get into because I firmly believe the work that the company and consultants are collectively doing is making a difference in an entire industry – from the ingredient suppliers, to the manufacturers, to industry workers like hair stylists and makeup artists, as well as consumers.  When you know you’re making a difference, it’s easier to find the energy. 

5. You share a lot of your workouts on social media; what activities do you love to do?

I love activities that get me up and moving.  I do love to work out, recently becoming a certified barre instructor.  I started taking barre in January and quickly fell in love with the workout and the studio (The Barre Standard) that I was going to.  Barre is a tough workout even for seasoned athletes, but also provides a number of modifications making it approachable to many people, regardless of their athletic ability.

In addition to barre, I enjoy yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, and even extreme activities like skydiving and whitewater rafting!  I also love to travel and explore new places, whether locally, around the U.S., or in a new country.

6. You recently went on an epic road trip. Where all did you guys go and what did you enjoy about it? 

My boyfriend Joe and I took two weeks to travel through five states to five National Parks, with mini-adventures in between. We went to Arches, Canyonlands, Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons.  Throughout the trip we hiked, camped, whitewater rafted, explored a ghost town, ate potato ice cream (it’s good!) and saw more wildlife than I could have imagined.  I really enjoyed being “off the grid.”  It was refreshing to be fully present in nature and in the moment.  It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy days that we miss this simple pleasure.  It was truly incredible getting to explore the beauty our country has to offer and meeting new people along the way.

7. That sounds like so much fun! Who are some people that inspire you? 

The first person that comes to mind for people who inspire me is my Dad.  His endless creative ideas, entrepreneurial spirit, sense of humor, and ability to connect with anyone and make them feel at ease are all things admire.  He’s the first person to lend a helping hand to those in need, never expecting anything in return, and that’s something I strive to emulate.

The second person is my mom.  She has a tireless work ethic and determination.  She started her career as a respiratory therapist, but continuously went to school to pursue her dream of becoming a school psychologist while raising me and my siblings.  In her early 50’s, she received her Doctorate allowing her to open her own practice and work for herself.  Her example showed me that you truly can achieve anything with persistence and dedication.

8. What is one piece of advice that a parent or role model gave you that still resonates to this day? 

One of my early mentors and dear friends, Carol Eleazer, gave me many nuggets of wisdom that I revisit frequently.  However, one piece of advice that really stuck with me, especially as I was getting ready to take a leap from the corporate world, is that “a job is just a job; it isn’t real life.”  It’s a simple quote, but a powerful reminder that real life is made up of the things most important to us, and one I come back to when I find myself getting too caught up in the never-ending to-do lists that we all have.

9. Finally, if you had to recommend one book on anything, what would it be? 

I’m fascinated by history’s hidden gems and I really enjoyed Andrew Caroll’s Here is Where filled with intriguing stories about America’s past.  I recommend it to anyone as a way to take an adventure back in time, or simply learn something new! 

Shop clean beauty and skin care with Beautycounter here.

You can purchase Here is Where on Tattered Cover’s website here.

Thank you Elizabeth for interviewing with me today 🙂

Words of Advice from Women Who Inspire – Part 2

What is one piece of advice that a parent or role model gave you that still resonates to this day?” This question was important to include as I believe that everyone has been given great advice over the course of their life and what better way to share that wisdom then telling others! Some of the responses have been poignant, direct, and thought-provoking, so I hope you take these words to heart.

”Quit sitting there looking stupid” – Sadie Metter’s grandmother (her lovey way of saying get to work!)

“Before you hit send or post, think about if you want that picture or statement out in the internet forever & remember that what you say over a digital platform could be taken the wrong way. Know when to have a conversation in person via an text/email/social media platform. And remember to always take the high road! ” – Marybeth Brush

You have to take care of yourself to take care of others. ” – Ashley Morgan Monroe

“Teach by example” – Kelly Perczak

“Everyone and everything has a reason and a season.” – Shakira Banks’ father

“Will you remember this a year from now?” – Anna Costello’s mentor

“Sparkle, people are always going to be horrible to you your whole life because you’re weird. Don’t ever let that stop you from being you.” – Liberty Hardy’s role model

” Don’t take life too seriously!” – Jordan Pendleton’s father

“Be more curious than afraid.” – Rebecca Schinsky’s yoga teacher

“Hindsight is always 20/20. There is no looking back, and no regrets in life, as they are a stepping stone to where you go in life.” – Tammi Lumsden

” You can do anything you set your mind to.” – Amanda Painter’s parents

Thank you to all the ladies above for sharing these great pieces of advice!

Nikki McKee – Sheriff’s Deputy, Autism Advocate, and Clean Beauty Champion

Nikki and I go way back to high school and I have been so fortunate to call her a big sister, a role model, and a friend. Even though life has taken us states apart, it’s been amazing to see her reach her goals and advocate for the issues that truly matter to her. We got to talk about what it took to become a sheriff’s deputy, advocating for her son with Fragile X Syndrome, and how Beautycounter changed her view of skincare. I hope you enjoy!

1. We go all the way back to high school when we were lifeguards together at the YMCA. Then I joined your sorority at the University of South Florida and not only became your little but also great friends! What did you love about college life and the sorority?

I feel like I spent most of college learning how to navigate being an adult. I love that I spent to much time traveling and trying new things. The sorority brought so much diversity into my life. I met all these amazing new people and got closer with ones I already knew. I love the closeness we shared then. Life events and our common interests brought us back together long after college. For that, I will be forever grateful. 

2. You recently started working as a Sheriff’s Deputy for Craven County in North Carolina, congratulations! How did you get involved in law enforcement?

My interest in law enforcement started when I was really young. My dad was a reserve police officer really early in my life. Throughout his career at TECO he worked closely with law enforcement and it was always a big part of my life. At Durant High School, I took all the Criminal Justice classes they offered. My bachelors degree is in Criminology. I went through basic law enforcement training (BLET) at Carteret Community College. My first law enforcement job was at the Pine Knoll Shores Police Department.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working to help better the community I live in. I work for an  agency that’s very focused on our citizens. Processing crime scenes and watching the pieces come together to explain what took place is incredibly fascinating. 

4. I love that! You have been a huge advocate for Fragile X Syndrome and Autism  since your son Braden was diagnosed. What was it like to learn of that diagnosis and what have you learned about the journey so far?

Braden was three years old when he was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. It’s a genetic disorder that simply put can cause delays in learning, language, and social skills.  Autism Spectrum Disorders tend to occur more frequently with children with Fragile X Syndrome.

 This journey has taught me so much. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I am my son’s biggest advocate. I try to educate myself as best I can by keeping up on the latest news in the Fragile X world. I like to see what’s going on in clinical trials, what routines work for other families, and what therapies have had the most success.

5. What advice do you have to mothers with autistic/ Fragile X children?

You aren’t alone in this fight. There are people out there who understand what you’re going through. Find your local Autism group or see if they have a FX chapter somewhere near you. Support is everything to a special needs parent.

6. Another fun venture you started working with is Beautycounter, which is my favorite cosmetic company. Tell me how you got involved with them.

My family photographer, who has become more like family to us, is the one that turned me on to it. When my son Alex was in the hospital for three months, I became more aware of potentially harmful ingredients that my family was coming in contact with in personal care products. I tried a couple of products, namely the charcoal bar and mask with the most skepticism.

To my surprise, my skin looked and felt better. After a year of asking, I finally gave in and became a consultant.

7. Your posts on your Facebook page are great! What do you enjoy most about running your own business and educating others on cleaner skincare?

To me what I most enjoy is the fact that I’m learning right along next to everyone I’m sharing my journey with.

8. What is one piece of advice that a parent or role model gave you that still resonates to this day?

My parents were really big on us admitting our faults and repairing things. That could consist of either an apology to someone or figuring the correct way to do something and doing it.

9. Finally, if you had to recommend one book on anything, what would it be?

The most recent book I’ve read was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ve read a lot of inspirational and self improvement books lately, but there’s something about a page turning fiction book that I love. I could not put this one down.

You can get more information on Fragile X Syndrome at https://fragilex.org

To learn more about Beautycounter, check out Nikki’s Beautycounter Group on Facebook.

You can purchase Where the Crawdads Sing from Tattered Cover here.

Thank you to Nikki for interviewing with me today 🙂

Kristine Eckley – Fitness Guru, Outdoor Enthusiast, and Spiritual Lady

As with many people I know, Kristine and I became friends on social media first before we ever met. She posted about a fun event at her gym that allowed you to come workout for free on a Saturday morning. After meeting, I marveled at her Facebook posts on spirituality and inspirational words so I wanted to talk to her more about the gym and her life. I hope you enjoy our conversation below!

1. We became Facebook friends first before we even met in person and I got to meet you at your gym during a Buddy Saturday event. Tell me more about the studio.

The Studio is a boutique style fitness center.  We offer kickboxing, yoga, circuit strength training, boot camp & hiit as well as host a plethora of community events. 

2. What about this gym sets it apart from other gyms?

You can get all of your fitness needs met in one place!  Our community is tight like family.  We like to work hard and have fun.

3. You have some great events, like Buddy Saturday and Yoga, Pizza, and Beer. What has your experience been like getting the word of mouth out about your gym?

Honestly? Tough sometimes.  The system isn’t designed to help small businesses succeed.  We pretty much depend on word of mouth, so getting it out there the best and most cost effective way is our way!  I post a lot on social media, hang fliers, and do a lot of community outreach. 

4. What advice can you give those looking to get fit and not sure where to start?

Just start.  Even if it’s 5 minutes a day.  Be open to try new things, and really give yourself a chance.  Mindset is key in just about anything.  Self-acceptance plays a big role too. 

5. You post about different astrological and spiritual things; tell me more about those aspects that empower you. 

You have to have FAITH.  Whatever that looks like to you… it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else.  I am so open in my spirituality and love to learn about new and different aspects involving growth.  It helps me keep my mind right–again, mindset is key! 

6. What importance does spirituality play in your life? 

Oh man, it is EXTREMELY important. 

7. What else do you enjoy doing when you’re not kicking butt at the gym? 

I have recently taken up gardening and get better at it every year. Anything that has to do with nature, camping, hiking, swimming.  I love to have fun.  Spending time with my family and my friends whenever possible.  Laugh out loud, and I mean LOUD. 

8. What is one piece of advice that a parent or role model gave you that still resonates to this day?

I dont even know who told me this, but it has been my go to for many years… Worrying is like praying for something you dont want.  If you focus your attention on the version of reality you prefer, you will send the positive vibes out into the universe and speak clearly about what you DO want. Law of attraction works, baby! 

9. Finally, if you had to recommend one book on anything, what would it be? 

Another tough one!  I LOVE self-development books and could write you a very long list!  But, if I had to choose just one, it would be the first self-development book I ever read. The 1970’s What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.  It literally changed my entire life. 

You can learn more about Kristine’s gym by visiting their Facebook Page Palangi Fit.

You can purchase “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” from Tattered Cover here.

Thank you to Kristine for interviewing with me today 🙂