Monthly Archives: February 2013

meet laura: milwaukee yogi & entrepreneur

This was, without a doubt, the sweatiest interview I’ve ever done.

Laura break-dancing?!

“There’s always space for growth in the practice, which is something I really like about it,” says Laura about hot vinyasa flow.

First I spent an hour challenging my body in a 95-degree yoga class, trying to keep streams of sweat from sliding down my face and into my contacts in downward dog. (Seriously, that stings.) Then I sat down with Laura Yell.

Laura owns, runs and teaches at Milwaukee Power Yoga, Milwaukee’s center for hot vinyasa flow yoga. Basically, this practice connects breath to continuous motion from pose to pose. Under Laura’s guidance, I felt serene yet exhilarated and empowered by my body. This is the experience she has devoted her life to creating.

Milwaukee Power Yoga

“It was really important to me that the space be right; that was what took up the first two years,” says Laura. “I love the location.” Milwaukee Power Yoga is on Milwaukee’s East Side.

Laura took her background and education in dance and created a successful yoga studio that celebrated its first birthday last month. I’m so happy to be her student and even more excited to share her story below.

People With Panache: How did yoga come into your life?

Laura Yell: My first “real” yoga experience was at Corepower in Boulder in 2005, when I was there for a summer in college. I was pretty much in love with it right away.

As a dancer it was really similar to what I did, but there were so many new ideas, too. The breath was new to me, and I really enjoyed how it tied to the motions. I loved the heat, too.

Pretty much by the end of the first month, I knew what it was I wanted to do. I started teaching my senior year in college. We had to do a community service project in the area, and I ended up teaching yoga instead of dance.

Laura Yell

Laura teaches 6 days a week.

PWP: What was the transition like from dance to yoga?

LY: Before I found yoga, as a dancer, I struggled with body image issues. And yoga really helped a lot—being non-competitive, it’s about listening to your body and listening to what’s right for it at that moment. And that can be different every day. That was a whole new concept to me, and that was something I really wanted to share.

PWP: How did the idea of starting your own studio come up?

LY: I think that idea came to me around the end of college really. It was in the works for about five years. I just loved the practice so much, and there wasn’t something like it in Milwaukee. I thought there was really a need for it here, and I really wanted to share my passion for yoga with other people.

I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for six years, and during that time I was nannying and bartending. That’s how I saved money and finally made it to this day.

It took a really, really long time! It was a dream for about five years, but I started really putting a lot of time and effort into it about two full years before I opened.

“Right away I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life…I finally found my thing.”

PWP: And what makes you happiest at work?

Milwaukee Power Yoga

Milwaukee Power Yoga opened in January 2012. “When you’re running a business, a big part of it is getting to teach yoga but there are so many things to learn,” Laura says, “Like building my website … taxes, accounting … how to use a power drill! That was new.”

LY: I love when my students show that same feeling that I remember having when I started yoga—that excitement about finding it. Right away I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life, like I finally found my thing. I love when other people share that with me, that they just love it. I love watching everybody’s practice grow and change over time.

PWP: When did you know it was time to take the plunge?

LY: I just sort of felt like it was now or never.

This is scary; this is a big step. Opening a business is a risk, it’s a leap of faith, but I felt like it’s now or never, just try it!

Front Crane

Laura effortlessly demonstrates front crane—a pose I’m really working on but can’t quite get (yet!).

“This is what I want, but can I really do this?”

PWP: And that’s actually what we want to support, women with ambitions, passions and that attitude—you can just feel how much you love this!

LY: I feel like, hey, I did it! It feels really good because I had a lot of doubt along the way; “This is what I want, but can I really do this?” It’s exciting to be really doing it. It was a lot of hard work, but you get through it all, and it’s definitely worth it 100 times over. And so is wearing yoga pants to work every day.


[Photos by Alysse.]

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meet gina: minneapolis stationery star

Gina Peterson

One of the reasons for Gina’s big smile: her husband Bjorn, who pushed her to participate in her first trade show recently.

“I feel like I’m such a normal person—I really just love my Diet Mountain Dew and what I do every day,” says Gina Peterson. “I try to keep things simple I guess. But I think if you surround yourself with people you enjoy being around and what you enjoy doing…” …well, you might be as happy as the woman behind Ginger P Designs, home of simple, beautiful and fun custom stationery.

After hearing Gina’s sweet story about the stepping-stones that led to her company’s creation, I was as smiley as she was. Gina graduated college in 2008 with a degree in marketing and an internship at a printing company before accepting a job in her field. “On paper it was great, and it was a perfect first job,” she says. “But I knew it wasn’t going to last forever.” Then she got engaged and started planning her wedding. Her love of paper bloomed into a business.

Gina Peterson: I loved all the girly stuff, but when it came to the invitations, I was just a nut about it! I was all over the Internet—and this was pre-Pinterest. I had a wedding folder with about 500 invitation pics and just a few of the dress, flowers and other stuff. I knew I wanted to make my own.


“I like to have my hands in every little thing, but if you ever want to produce more—or stay sane—it’s okay to ask for help,” says Gina, laughing with her sister, Krista (one of Gina’s helpers!).

People with Panache: So how did that go?

GP: My mom said, “You should put your name on the back, because you did it. Just do it!” So I put it, tiny, on the back: “Designed by the Bride-to-Be.” I couldn’t believe how many people commented on it! That gave me a little confidence.

PWP: That’s kind of a safe thing because either way you made your invitations, so it was special!

GP: Absolutely, it was safe. Who knew something more than that would happen? So I designed a few to put on Etsy, just to see what happened because I enjoyed it so much. And it became my little side thing—just some shopping money! It was never my intention to do this full-time.

I’ll never forget my first Etsy sale. I was thinking, “Shut up! Somebody actually bought something! Now what?”

“It was totally manageable because I enjoyed it so much. Then came 2011 Christmas.”

PWP: When did this escalate to full-time, not just in addition to your day job?

GP: We got married in August 2010. And then that fall I had these Christmas save-the-dates that said, “We wish you a married Christmas!” I think I sold over 100 of those that Christmas.


“Everything is made just for them! I work directly with the brides,” says Gina, pulling out some samples. “I feel like I get to be friends with some of my brides by the end.”

All of 2011, I did both jobs. It was totally manageable because I enjoyed it so much. Then came 2011 Christmas. These save-the-dates had been out there before—people had blogged about them, pinned them, and it kind of went berserk. I remember looking at my phone app of all my orders I had to do on the cut-off night before Christmas. I came home and told Bjorn—or Beej, that’s what I call him—“I have so many orders to do tonight, I have no idea how I’m going to get all of these done.” I think I went to bed at 6 a.m., took an hour nap and went to work the next day.

I sat at my desk thinking, this isn’t fair to my job. I can’t do this any more; I’m burning at both ends. I’m so passionate about [Ginger P Designs], it would be silly to close the book on it—it was blossoming! I would hate to tone it down or stop it.

“This was so unlike what I always thought I’d be doing someday!”

People had mentioned doing this full-time, and I’d shoot it down right away. But my husband and I started to look at things: the time I was putting into it, the orders going out the door, the amount of demand.

It’s a big decision to go full-time and quit this steady salary, benefits—everything that goes against what everyone told you growing up. I came from such a structured family, my parents enjoyed their jobs and did well, and this was so unlike what I always thought I’d be doing someday! But it just felt right.


Gina poses with one of her sample invitations.

PWP: And it seems like you love working for yourself.

GP: It’s crazy how quickly you can get accustomed to being your own boss. I can just adjust my schedule, and meet here with you today!

I do try to start work by 8 a.m. and be done around 4 or 4:30 p.m., because the rest of the world is doing that, too. You have to plan social outlets, too, when you work at home.

PWP: Besides balance, what other things has this experience helped you learn?

GP: Honestly, when I was working both jobs, I was running on no sleep, and I wasn’t working out as much. I just didn’t feel as good—you can be successful in your career, but when you don’t feel successful in your personal life, you don’t feel good.

Staying healthy and being true to yourself is important.


Gina says 80 percent of her business comes from the Internet, 20 percent is local—and 100 percent of her wedding projects are custom.

PWP: So true! And now that you’re on the other side, any funny, unexpected parts of your job?

GP: Well the UPS guys and mailman recognize me now! Every day at 4:30 p.m., the post office closes. I’m usually there around 4:15 p.m., and work with Jim. If I ever come in earlier, he’s like, “Jeez you’re early today!”

PWP: Of all those packages you send out, are any products your favorites?

GP: I love each and every one. Wedding invitations, well, I get so caught up in those… and come Christmas, I can’t wait to do those! Even the greeting cards are a nice offset. If there were something I didn’t like to do, I probably wouldn’t carry it. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do!

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meet cristina: milwaukee magazine editor

A year ago, Cristina Daglas was handed the reins to Milwaukee Magazine with her promotion to editor. She started there in late 2009 as assistant editor and quickly climbed her way to the top. At only 28 years old, she’s sure enjoying the view. Below, Cristina shares some of her experiences along the way.

Editor Cristina

Cristina started as assistant editor at Milwaukee Magazine in October 2009—and she became editor in just over two years. Here’s her stunning editor’s letter photo by Kat Schleicher.

People with Panache: You’ve gotten to such a powerful position so quickly. What gets you out of bed every day?

Cristina Daglas: Good stories. I try to read one long-form magazine story every day. I think just the fact that there are good stories to tell, and there’s a lot going on in Milwaukee. We’re on the cusp of something, in a transitory phase; to be witnessing that as well is interesting. There’s always something cool to be doing.

At a city magazine you don’t have that many guidelines, you just write about your city. How cool is that?

PWP: How did you handle transitioning into the highest editorial position in your office after a man who had been in the business for decades longer?

CD: I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to even think about it. It all happened very quickly. So it was like: This was your job this day, and this was your job a week later.

There was not a lot of planning or transition time. It was a lot of learning while doing and trying to figure out how to not only keep the magazine running for the next few months but also start to plan and develop the respect of your staff.

It’s very odd when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole; you’re the lowest person. Then all of a sudden you’re their boss. I spent a lot of time talking to them and being as transparent as I possibly could be. I wanted them to understand that I had the best interest of the magazine in mind, at heart, and that I also really valued everything they did in the past and wanted to talk about what they were going to do in the future.

“I think a good story is read by anyone.”

PWP: What’s one of the hardest things about your job?

CD: Finding good writers in this city is the toughest part, but on a bigger level it’s figuring out how to stay relevant, fresh and interesting, and making sure that your editorial mix every single month is strong.

Making sure that you’re living up to your own expectations as much as you can and the expectations of your readers—that’s always weighing on me, making sure we’re appealing to them and attracting new ones. You owe them that much. But I think a good story is read by anyone.

PWP: We agree on that. What’s one of your favorite parts of your job?

CD: Just knowing that every single day is different and the flexibility that I have. When I meet new people in the city, and I find new stories, there’s something really nice about that. It’s really nice to feel like you’re potentially having some sort of impact on the city.

Milwaukee Magazine won the City and Regional Magazine Association’s first place award for general criticism in 2012.

In 2012, Milwaukee Magazine won the first place award for general criticism from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

PWP: Is there any advice or inspiration that comes to mind that has really stuck with you?

CD: I really like: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Not that I’m poorly behaved by any means. I’m very big on successful women, watching successful women in any field and seeing the differences that just emerge.

Also, people who think brilliantly, who think creatively, who think out of the box. I read a lot of editors’ letters, like what Richard Stengel of TIME writes every week. I just always find inspiration in those things.

“A good work ethic is impossible to beat.”

PWP: Do you have any advice for aspiring leaders? Or people who want to make their dreams come true but are feeling stuck?

CD: Always find a way to be doing something that you love—even if it’s just on your own time. Let’s say you want to be a writer, but for the moment you’re a restaurant server. Make sure you’re writing and reading and figuring out ways to accomplish those goals.

I think once you have the tiniest taste, or you can nudge your toe in somewhere, just work your ass off, and it gets noticed. It always gets noticed. A good work ethic is impossible to beat. If you’re really passionate about what you want to do, you can always find some way to accomplish some aspect of it.

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meet brittany: reporting live from louisiana

“Anchorman” news reporter Brian Fantana once said, “Don’t get me wrong, I love the ladies. I mean they rev my engines. But they don’t belong in the newsroom.”

Brittany Weiss, native Chicagoan now reporting the news at WBRZ in Baton Rouge, La., proves him so, so wrong.  And she doesn’t need to wear Sex Panther to do it.

From Chicago to New York to Mississippi to Louisiana, we’ve watched her chase her dream around the country. We can’t wait to see where she winds up next.


Brittany Weiss. Live on the scene.

People with Panache: So Brittany, what’s your day-to-day work life like?

Brittany Weiss: Most days I come in, and we discuss what stories we want to cover. Today there was a huge accident so I was live at the scene talking about what happened.

The second week I was in Baton Rouge, Hurricane Isaac happened. I had to interview the mayor live on TV. I was used to being the anchor, sitting at the desk. But on the second week they said, well, we need you out there!

PWP: What’s the environment like in a newsroom?

BW: The pressure is ridiculous. It’s very stressful. You go out, you talk to people, and it’s up to you to get the story right.

I recently did an investigation on a website that was giving away unauthorized coupons, and the owner of the company threatened me multiple times. He said if I was wrong he was going to come after me—but I was right. It was such a rush.

PWP: Wow! So cool. What’s your favorite part about being a reporter?

BW: I love being able to tell the story and impact the lives of people who watch the news. It’s presenting information that they need to know.

PWP: Is this your dream job?

BW: This is what I’ve always wanted to do since the ripe old age of seven. I saw Diane Sawyer on TV. I turned to my dad and said, “That’s what I want to do.”

“I got to interview celebrities, the whole red carpet thing. But it was online—I knew I needed to make the switch to TV.”

I started broadcast in high school. I read the morning announcements—anything to improve my public speaking skills. That’s also why I chose to go to Drake University. (Ed note: That’s where we met our beloved B. Weiss!) I was able to get involved right away as a news editor and managing editor of the school paper and took part in broadcasting the Drake Relays. That was really fun.


From glamour to galoshes, Brittany does it all!

PWP: What about when you jumped to actually doing this as a career?

BW: Being in broadcast journalism was a struggle at first. Especially when we graduated, finding a job was difficult. Eventually I ended up in Manhattan at AOL and the Huffington Post. I was an online e-media producer for Pop News. That was really cool.

I got to interview celebrities, the whole red carpet thing. But it was online—I knew I needed to make the switch to TV.

I originally moved to New York to get more experience with video, and I was able to put together a reel. I sent it out to stations around the country and finally got a call from Mississippi at WXBT. I was the 5 p.m. anchor there, and by the time I left I was on the 10 p.m. news. It’s what brought me to Louisiana.

Baton Rouge is thriving. Everyone moved there after Katrina because they are too afraid to live in New Orleans. The city is growing at such a fast rate, and there are lots of social functions and just so much to do.


Manning the news desk with the weatherman.

PWP: Sounds like a blast. Do you have any advice for someone looking to break into the biz?

BW: If you want it, go after it. Get out there and schmooze. Get out there and be social.

If this is what you really want to do, it isn’t for the monogamous person. You’re going to be traveling and moving around for the first few years, and you have to be able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. You don’t want an opportunity to slip through your fingers.

“…you have to earn your spot. I think I’ve earned it.”

PWP: Well it sounds like you haven’t let that happen! What’s it like to be a woman in this industry?

BW: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get harassed a lot. I have a tough shell.

Honestly, don’t let stuff get to you, and try not to cry in public. I was watching “Anchorman” recently and Veronica Corningstone said, “It’s a man’s world.” It used to be, but it has definitely changed. The majority of the people at my station are men, but it’s not as hard to be a woman in it as it used to be. Not now that we have Katie Couric and Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer.

But I also think that’s fun. And you have to earn your spot. I think I’ve earned it.

Follow Brittany on Twitter: @MsBWeiss

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