Monthly Archives: January 2014

doodle day: zip it, zip it good

What do you get when you combine a love for shopping with a math nerd? One great business idea. Next week, check out the service Liz provides that allowed her to apply her love of numbers to a need she saw among her friends.


[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet moriah: growing community-academic partnerships in milwaukee

Moriah Iverson on People with Panache

Moriah’s dream job would be a program director for a community-academic partnership program.

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”

This Teddy Roosevelt quote is Moriah Iverson’s favorite, and I’m not even a little surprised. She is the research coordinator for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehab at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) by day. The rest of her time, she’s a mom to 7-year-old Escher, a community organizer, a phenomenal chef, a whiz with a set of knitting needles, and more.

But really, she’s all of those things, all of the time. We talked about separating our lives into buckets. I used to have my job in a bucket, my passion for the environment in another, my desire to write and share stories in one, my friends in another, and I could go on. But then I realized I could write about inspiring people with my friend Kate, I could get a job that pays me for my passions, and I could create more of a Venn diagram than a set of buckets. Moriah, at 32, has learned similar lessons along her journey.

“I’m realizing I don’t have to have this separation between what I love to do and what makes me money. I’ve been doing that for years: keep separate what I love to do and what my job is. I didn’t used to think it was possible to merge them. Now I know it is.”

People with Panache: So what do you all do?

Moriah Iverson: I’m the research coordinator for the Medical College, and I’m really interested in community-based medicine and community-based research—and, most of all, the intersection of the arts and community health.

Through beintween, [Ed. Note: where Moriah recently worked as program director in addition to her current job at MCW] I learned a lot about creative placemaking, which is creating a space for community members to come together and make art in whatever medium they want—poetry, performance, music, installations—and using that as a way to bring people together.

Moriah Iverson on People With Panache

“I always have at least 1 or 2 projects in the works,” Moriah says. “A good project happens at the right place at the right time—it’s like dating. But when the right group of people comes together… I like to be on that team!”

PWP: It really works! I remember meeting you this summer after discovering beintween’s recycled-tire swing playground with my friends in what used to be just an underpass.

MI: There’s also lots of evidence that greening spaces can decrease neighborhood violence. I’m working on a project with the Milwaukee Arts Board and Violence Prevention Initiative that’s looking at finding a space and making it accessible, growing food there and generally increasing the visibility of the space thereby reducing violent crime in the neighborhood. The cool thing about projects like that is they have a research component and a humanities aspect that I really enjoy.

My training is in basic science and pharmacology and toxicology, so I spent a lot of time in the lab, doing experiments and measuring everything. That kind of thinking is something that I’ve always kind of had, so whatever I go into now, I try to use outcome measures to measure if I’m successful. I’m glad I get to do that at work and through projects on my own.

PWP: So with your science background, your job and projects seem like a great fit but not what you might have expected. Right?

MI: I always thought I was really interested in mental health, and I totally am, but now I got into physical medicine and rehabilitation, and there are so many interesting aspects to traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. The more I move around in MCW the more interested I get, and I don’t think I’ll ever be limited to one area, one field. The idea of community applies to all fields, every type of illness or disorder we have. Everything is connected, and that’s where my passion for food and growing food comes in, too. It’s this whole holistic idea of community involvement, healthcare to food… this whole circle of awesomeness.

“What I really hope to accomplish in my career is to help other people have the experiences and opportunities I’ve had.”

It has been hard because I had my son, Escher, when I was 25 and I started my last semester of college five weeks after I had him. So I graduated from college a semester after I had him, and went to grad school right away. I was really lucky because I have incredibly supportive family and friends, but realistically in terms of raising him it has just been me and him. I was the only single parent in my grad program. I went through a really rigorous interdisciplinary biomedical sciences program. Escher came to the lab with me and came to the library while I wrote my dissertation.

People with Panache

“You have the opportunity here to start something and really make it work,” Moriah says about Milwaukee. “It’s not oversaturated. Milwaukee is a really great place for me to be right now.”

Escher: Like that one time on Easter!

MI: We spent all of Easter in the lab working on my dissertation. It was on the role of cannabinoid receptors, the receptors for THC, how they’re regulated and the role they may play in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And a lot of that has to do with sleep cycles, so I’d be there all night long. It’s really interesting but also very lonely, being in lab. It’s a really lonely life. My whole life all I wanted was to have my own lab, and I never wanted to get married or have children. I just wanted a career. Then Escher came along and everything changed. I became a much happier person.

Escher: Now you have somebody to face your fears for you!

MI: I wanted to be able to raise my kid and not be in the lab all the time, so I went into administration and discovered I’m really good at it, and I really like it. It’s applicable to so many different things. If it was just me on my own I would probably just be living on a farm in the south of France, but that’s not my life. I don’t think I’ll ever do anything cooler than having Escher.

PWP: So right now you’ve got your job, your Violence Prevention Initiative project, Escher, a social life… but I’m pretty sure you do even more!

MI: Well I’m involved with multiple community organizations in an attempt to create this healthcare-art interface. I had PoppieSea, a small catering company I started during grad school. I did mostly pastries, cakes and pies for weddings and parties, and also Trail of Crumbs, a pop-up restaurant I did with my friends, which was ridiculous amounts of fun. Things just got bigger and bigger, and I was doing more and more. I was stretched so thin it wasn’t healthy. So my last wedding was August 25 and it was really awesome, for friends. Then I sold all my baking stuff and now I do cakes for friends but I don’t think I would do another wedding. I craft, I knit, I sew, sometimes I sell stuff but a lot of times it’s for me or friends.

Moriah Iverson on People With Panache

Two things make Moriah happiest: “Feeling like I’m making a difference, and down time with my family and friends, relaxing and being able to be creative.”

I learned how to say no… “I love this but I need to let this go.” And I am so happy right now. A lot of people, women especially, cannot say no. You can’t say no to your family, but you also can’t say no to work, to social obligations, to that little voice inside you that just wants to be free. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I think I learned it in a really fun way.

[Photos by Alysse.]

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happy anniversary: panache turns 1!

Today, we celebrate one year of People with Panache!

We traveled through 6 states, conducted 52 interviews with 61 people, attended street fairs, special shop events, a play and even a few Chicago rooftop landscaping sessions—all to meet and have fun with these wonderful, wild women and men. Our “panachies” are inspiring, encouraging, grounding, brave and bold. And they made 2013 the richest, most motivational and fun year of our lives so far. Thank you to everyone from Jon-Girl (our first interview!) to Elizabeth (our latest). Thank you to our Internet providers for not slacking on us while we host our weekly meetings remotely from Milwaukee and Chicago. Thank you to Lucca for brightening every week with a fantastic GIF. And a special thanks to each and every one of you for reading—one or all 52 interviews.

For our anniversary, we’ve put together a list of 15 of our favorite quotes from the past year.

1. “I’ve always believed that if you step off the cliff, the bridge will appear. I’m really afraid of heights, and now I feel like I’m on a parachute trying to get across because the bridge is very faulty. But I have to keep believing I’ll get there.”
Courtney Berne, saver of the apes

2. “I just decided, this is my shot, and I’m not going to put on pantyhose and fetch coffee for someone anymore after all the things I’ve accomplished in my life. I put my house, my car and everything else I had in my possession on the line for collateral, wrote a business plan and went full force. I thought, if I fall, I’m going to fall big, but I’m going to try.”
Lindsey Meyers, artist and art gallery owner, Beauty and Brawn Gallery

3. “I let fear control me, and I wouldn’t do something because I was afraid someone would think I was stupid, or I’d fail or be rejected, but once I went full-time and decided not to let anything stop me, it changed everything. Take that, fear!”
Lauren Wakefield, photographer, Lauren Wakefield Photography

4. “Don’t follow my no-business-plan path. Have a business plan; have financial goals. I have short-term and long-term goals that I try to achieve. And don’t give up. I would hate for someone to have a sparkle in their eye for a business but they’re stuck in a boring job staring listlessly out the window.”
Kimberly Eberl, owner, Motion PR

5. “They think I was granted this special ‘whatever’ that they weren’t, but what it really comes down to is that I understand that everyone else is given the same opportunity to manifest whatever they truly want in life. Part of it is the really strong intention, and the other part is the work behind it. Positivity, hard work, creative problem-solving—it’s kind of American idealism. You can be anything you want to be!”
Bridgett Blough, chef, driver and everything else, Organic Gypsy food truck

6. “In any job, if you’re losing track of time because you’re loving what you’re doing, that’s when you know you probably should be doing that thing. And like I said, the naysayers kind of pushed me toward it. I always want to prove people wrong.”
Leslie Barlow, artist, Leslie Barlow Art

7. “It was hard to find a community of people. Through having my shop, I’ve kind of created it for myself. I now have this community of artists that are part of the space that inspire me and help me feel a purpose in what I’m doing—more like I’ve made a spot for myself here.”
Steph Davies, artist and owner, the Waxwing

8. “We’re like modern-day mystics. I mean, we don’t possess any mystical powers, but we’re into manifesting our own destinies. Thoughts become things. If you think all day long, ‘This sucks, this sucks…’ that’s what you get. The craziest things have happened in our business because we decide they’re going to happen and talk about it a lot. I mean, why are you two here and two other girls aren’t? You’re putting actions into your thoughts.”
Julie James, owner, Drought juice

9. “The thing about being an entrepreneur or following a dream is that you have to give it your all, and there’s no time as an adult when nothing will distract you. Someone older and wiser told me: If you can figure out the basic action that you want to do and that makes you happy, then you can do any career as long as you know what that is.” 
Lisa Ludwinski, baker, Sister Pie

10. “Sometimes you’re going to make crappy work, and you can paint over it. You have to make bad work to make good work. Everyone has something different to teach you, even if you don’t work in the same medium, same style.”
Heidi Keyes, painter, Heidi Keyes Art

11. “I went into the job market just like you did, out of need of sustenance, because I had to. But it didn’t feel right. It felt like I was wearing a different size shoe or something. And you begin to learn about yourself. I refuse to admit that my deck of cards was already laid out when I was born. Anything could change; anything can change.”
Jon-Girl, owner and fencer extraordinaire, RedStar Fencing

12. “I think in society there used to be this belief that if you followed this one defined journey you’d achieve the American dream. Now job stability isn’t always there. Job descriptions and duties aren’t as defined as they once were. For our generation that’s sort of a blessing and a curse because it’s allowed us to really find what’s interesting for us and try different things, but we have to work harder to sustain ourselves.”
Jen Ede, publisher and editor, Edible Milwaukee

13. “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.”
Cristina Daglas, magazine editor, D Magazine

14. “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.”
Gina Peterson, creator and designer, Ginger P Designs

15. “It’s really exciting to say to the world, this is my dream, this is my ultimate. What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I thought, if I wasn’t afraid I would make this film, and I would see where it would take me. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Knowing what you want to do at any age is so powerful. Being comfortable with yourself and knowing what you’re passionate about and what you want to do—that makes you unstoppable.”
Sarah Moshman, filmmaker, Heartfelt Productions (and The Empowerment Project!)

[Photos by Alysse.]

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meet elizabeth: chicago wedding and event planner

Elizabeth Tulipana on People with Panache

“I started Anticipation Events because I loved event planning and working for myself,” Elizabeth says. “But going from working by myself at a coffee shop to working at Thalia Hall with kitchen staff, event staff—it’s a good social outlet.”

Elizabeth Tulipana owns and runs Anticipation Events, a wedding event planning company. She also keeps her own little Etsy shop. And is the private events manager at Thalia Hall. And sometimes writes for Marie Claire. And we could go on.


The list of what fills Elizabeth’s days is so big and bold, it really shows us what’s all possible.

So now it’s your turn. Make a list. What takes up most of your time—at work and at home? Does it align with your values? Elizabeth has an incredibly full life and loves her work. What would make you feel like you’re living life to the fullest?

We connected with Elizabeth after Kate met her at Forget Me Knodt. We started talking about her original endeavor, Anticipation Events, when we caught up with her at her Chicago apartment. 

Elizabeth Tulipana: When you have a small business, you don’t want to turn anybody down. It’s so unlike having a job where you get a paycheck every two weeks. For every client you book, you pay rent. But then you try to have that balance of not working every single weekend and enjoying life, which I think is why people run a small business anyway—so they can have more control over their life.

People with Panache: Yes! We notice that theme in many of our interviews.

ET: I’ve found with Anticipation Events I’m never not working. And now I started working in August for Thalia Hall, owned by Bruce Finkelman. It was built in 1892, modeled after the opera house in Prague. It’s stunning, super ornate and incredible-looking. People in the city have been fighting over it for years: eight apartments, our restaurant and bar, and a third-floor concert (and wedding) venue, which is why I originally got interested in the project. I love live music, and the owner is well-known for having great restaurants and music venues.

“I want to let it grow, and to do that I have to let go a little bit, have other people help me.”

Elizabeth Tulipana on People with Panache

Hello, Walter!

It’s a huge building. It was originally designed for opera and plays, town halls, and a bar in the space where we rebuilt this bar. It’s got a really interesting history.

PWP: So who runs Anticipation while you’re working at Thalia Hall?

ET: This is actually the first year it’s not just me—I have four employees. It’s less work but more work, just because I’m still involved in all of it.

PWP: So why take the new job?

ET: I had been running Anticipation Events for four years, and I had it down. It’s not that I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to let it grow, and to do that I have to let go a little bit, have other people help me.

And now with Thalia Hall, there’s space within the company to grow, too. I was sort of looking for the next thing. And I think I’m always doing that. Hopefully this is a job where I can stay with the same group and constantly do new things. I love the opening process because it’s crazy, stressful and chaotic, and I love that.

PWP: And how did your Etsy shop Bad Loo Loo come into play?

ET: I love to make things just in general, and when Etsy came around I thought it would be really cool to have an Etsy shop. So last year I finally did it! It was on my list of things to do for years. I have plans that hopefully next year I will sell in more stores. I still get a little thrill when somebody buys something that I make.

PWP: Then, I can’t believe after all this, you still find time to write. How often do you write for Marie Claire?

Bad Loo Loo on PWP

“My mom is probably my biggest customer, but it’s a great creative outlet.” True that. I think a lot of new businesses (and blogs!) feel the same way. Thank goodness for our moms!

ET: When they send me a check to do that… well, I would pay them to let me do it. So far, I’ve written four pieces. I love to write, and I got really lucky. One of my college roommates worked there and emailed me out of the blue: “You’re a good writer, and you know the entertainment world. Would you ever write something?” I said, “Absolutely. What took you so long?”

PWP: Of all these things, and life in general, what would make you happiest?

ET: I would like to set myself up someday so that I can reap the benefits of working really hard for a long time. If I work in a job that I hate, I can’t last very long. I’m not the kind of person that can just suffer through. So I just push myself to do.

I quit my job at the Shedd Aquarium to backpack through South America for six months. I came home, had to pay rent, and had put myself between a rock and a hard place, so I figured it out. I started Anticipation Events not ever really thinking it’d be my full-time job, or that I’d have people who worked for me.

My end goal is to travel, see the world, and still have the job and the life and the ability to do what I want every day.

PWP: Do you remember your first wedding ever?

ET: The bride’s parents had divorced, and she had a great relationship with her stepmom and dad, but not a great one with her mom. She didn’t want her mom in the room while she was getting ready, which I found out [much too late] as people were coming into the ceremony.

Now I ask my clients to tell me where there’s tension. Im really good at diffusing it—I just need to know.

“Day-of coordination is a gift to yourself,” Elizabeth says. (Read the meatball story!)

At another beautiful wedding reception, in Michigan, the bride was so relieved and ready to party. She popped a meatball in her mouth and then I saw her on the side of her house, coughing and choking, and her mom was with her. She basically missed her whole reception and was trying to cough it out for three hours in the bridal suite. Eventually we called an ambulance and at the hospital she found out she had a piece of meatball down the wrong pipe—and it’s not like I could have done anything about that but she and her husband were so sweet and grateful that I was there to make everything happen anyway.

PWP: Oh gosh—no meatballs at our weddings! Any other stories?

ET: I had a groom call five minutes before he was supposed to get on a trolley for pictures. “My pants don’t fit. They keep falling off.” I was like, what do you mean your pants don’t fit? “I don’t know, they just keep falling off my body!”

So I run to the tux shop, get one size smaller, and meet him at the church. It was the funniest hand-off ever: Three groomsmen yelling “YES!” running out for the pants. The groom pulls them on five minutes before he has to go stand before God and his people and have his pants falling off—and the bride didn’t even know till after the wedding.

[Color photos by Alysse; black & white photo by Cathy and David Wedding Photographers.]

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doodle day: anticipation in chicago

Alysse here! This week’s GIF makes me want to visit Kate in Chicago, my other home.

Our upcoming Panachie, Elizabeth, makes Chicago an even sweeter place to live, celebrate and explore. And the inspiration for this image? Find it here—we’re sure you’ll love it. It’s barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Elizabeth does. Check back  Tuesday to read about her quirky talents and awesome endeavors.

Heart Chicago

[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet melissa: giving kids hope in chicago

Kids Have Hope on PWP

According to Melissa, there can be many signs of sexual abuse in a child. She says, “Their behavior could regress to thumbsucksing or baby talking.  I think it’s always an indicator when some kids don’t want to go home at the end of the day or aren’t dressed properly. Sometimes there are no signs and you have to follow your instincts.”

I really enjoyed my conversation with Melissa Moss. She’s a one-woman show, crusading around Chicago for her nonprofit organization Kids Have Hope, giving children the knowledge to protect themselves against predators. Talk about noble.

I can’t help but be impressed by the empowerment she’s providing to kids in my city—every day. Alysse and I hope to provide empowerment in our own way, and we love how Melissa’s spreading the love starting with the little ones.

People with Panache: Melissa, I absolutely love the message and service you provide. Why did you decide to start Kids Have Hope?

Melissa Moss: I always wanted to start a charity. I decided to start one on child abuse prevention because when I was working in schools as a social worker, I thought there was a need. A lot of kids came to me that were being abused, and I didn’t see a lot of prevention programs in schools. I thought I should focus on awareness.

PWP: That seems like a really important connection to make. What exactly do you do for the kids?Kids Have Hope on PWP

MM: I go into schools and teach them how to stay safe against abusers over three days, with a high emphasis on sexual abuse prevention. I teach them the five body safety rules (to the right). It’s in a good way, though; it’s fun. We use an evidence-based curriculum that has been studied many times, revamped 11 times and been used for several years. But the kids really enjoy it.

I do preschool through 6th grade. I also teach the teachers how to detect and report child abuse, and I teach parents how to keep their kids safe against it. We also do anti-bullying classes. Last year I did a 10-week anti-bullying course in a middle school, which was a lot of fun. I also go into colleges and teach future teachers or social workers about mandated reporting, reporting child abuse, that type of thing. It’s a lot of education and knowledge.

PWP: That’s smart. It makes me realize how important it is to not only teach the kids, but make sure the adults know how to talk about it with them as well.

MM: I find that parents and even teachers have a hard time knowing the language, and it’s a good way to open it up and get the conversation started. Hopefully they continue it with the children and it’s not such a taboo subject, so if they do ever have that problem they can talk to them and open up.

Melissa Moss, Kids Have Hope, PWP

Melissa hard at work. I asked, “Is child abuse more common than people think?” Melissa replied, “The statistics are approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 and 90% of the time the child knows their sexual abuser. The good news is that there has been more and more awareness but we definitely need to get our hands around it more. I think the prevention side of it is going to help tremendously.”

PWP: How many people do you work with?

MM: It’s just me. I do it by myself. I have board of eight people, and volunteers when I need them.

PWP: Wow, you do the whole thing by yourself? What is that like?

MM: It’s good! It’s a lot of work. I do a lot of different things. I do everything. It’s not just going to the schools. We have to do fundraising and events, which are really fun but involve a whole different side of it and completely changing gears. I do all of the awareness side, all the speaking, all the presenting, all the teaching, and it’s a lot of different things but it’s cool because it keeps you on your toes, and it’s not boring.

PWP: Definitely not. When you’re running the show on your own, what gives you the motivation to get up and make it happen for these kids?

MM: I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve always had this urge to help kids, to do something for other people, not just for myself. I think that’s what drives me and what gets me going. And when I’m actually in the school with the kids, it’s amazing to be around their energy and their innocence and liveliness.

“And shedding the light on something that is dark. Not everybody wants to hear about it but it’s not going to go away otherwise.”

PWP: What kind of plans do you have for the future of Kids Have Hope?

MM: I want to grow. I want more programs. I’d like to even at some point have counseling services. I definitely have things in mind right now that I can do with what I have. It’s been great so far. I’ve taught thousands of kids, hundreds of teachers and hundreds of parents. It’s been great being able to get the word out and feel like at least some awareness and some education is out there. And shedding the light on something that is dark. Not everybody wants to hear about it but it’s not going to go away otherwise.

PWP: Knowledge is power. I believe that. What types of events do you put on?

Melissa and Bear on

Melissa is so grateful to Mike Ditka for supporting her organization. He even signed her Bears teddy bear.

MM: We do a big event every year with Mike Ditka at his restaurant. He’s so good to us—gracious enough to show up, sign autographs and take pictures with everybody. It’s really fun. We have a dinner there, a silent auction and a Sinatra singer. We’ve done it three years now. We’re so fortunate to have that because we are such a little organization that to have a celebrity behind us is really something. We also usually do a small event in the winter, such as guest bartending. And my sister does a golf event in Florida for us. We make enough money to sustain Kids Have Hope. That’s how we keep it going.

PWP: I noticed on your website you use the word empowerment a lot. We use that word a lot too when we talk about how we want to empower women to take control of their lives and do what makes them happy to live the life they want. Is it a similar kind of empowerment for the kids? I love how the word can be used in so many different contexts.

MM: We like to use that word to empower the kids by giving them the knowledge and the armor to be able to know what to do in situations and to feel good about themselves and to trust themselves. They have all the knowledge and all of the things they need inside of them.

PWP: What makes you happiest?

MM: That’s a hard question for me right now because I’m going through a divorce. One of the things that comes to mind is being around the little kids. Working with small children and being around that energy, that funness, that lightness and goofiness, and being able to be silly and goofy even when you’re coming into a classroom with a subject that may not be the lightest of subjects. You’re still around this group of kids that are so full of joy and you can be part of it. At a time like this it really has been helpful. That makes me happy. That really makes me happy.

[Photos by Kate.]

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