Category Archives: [by kate]

Interviews by Kate; edits by both of us.

money smart week 2016 and chicago’s first feminist film festival recaps

One of my favorite things to talk about is also one of life’s most taboo topics:

Money.

Sometimes, I just want to straight-up ask people: “Hey, how much money do you make, and how did you get to that point? Is it a competitive salary in your field?” or “How do you invest your money?” or “Is 1% too high of a fee to pay for a mutual fund? How do you know that your financial advisor is legit?” I don’t want to do this because I’m nosy—it’s because, currently, everything I know about money is based solely on my own LIMITED experience.

It's the Money, Honey! panel: Terry, Kristen, Joanne and Ginny

It’s the Money, Honey! panel: Terry, Kristen, Joanne and Ginny

Although society dictates that it’s not polite to ask people such questions, money is one of life’s necessary evils. And I feel like I can never learn enough about how to earn it, grow it, save it, invest it, give it or spend it. Someday I hope to buy a condo or go to grad school or save for a future child’s college fund or help my parents in their retirement—but I can’t do any of those things if I don’t HAVE money first. That is why I was so pumped that last week was Money Smart Week 2016 in Chicago—a whole week of events put on by our good friends at the YWCA Chicago and DyMynd for the sole purpose of talking about earning, investing, spending and giving money! Continue reading

happy 10th anniversary, motion pr!

Things were a little different 10 years ago.

It was 2006, and…

George W. Bush was president.

The RAZR was still the world’s best-selling phone, and the iPhone was just a twinkle in Apple’s eye.

Pluto ruined childhood mnemonic devices everywhere and lost its status as a planet.

Twitter came chirping into our lives—and we had only just been invited to Facebook!

Crash won best motion picture—and if you haven’t seen it, Netflix has it on DVD.

Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter,” sadly died on the job from being stung in the chest by a stingray.

The Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews—a major win for Chicago.

The TSA banned liquids and gels from air travel—a major loss for just about everyone who flies. Not that we don’t appreciate the extra safety I suppose.

Alysse and I started our senior year in high school—a year before we met at Drake. We still loved Seventeen magazine, not even imagining that we’d someday have friends who worked there.

And Kimberly Eberl started her PR company, Motion PR, 10 years ago to this day. As one of the first to join our Panache family back in 2013, at the time I interviewed her, she had 6 employees; now, she has 19! And of course, a brand new office to accommodate everyone. In honor of her 10th year in business, we asked for Kimberly’s top 10 lessons learned.

People with Panache: Kimberly, what is your secret sauce for success? How did you make it 10 years and going strong? Continue reading

meet eva: creative event space curator in chicago

Eva N, Catalyst Ranch, People with Panache

Eva won Enterprising Women Magazine’s 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year Award! This award recognizes the world’s top women entrepreneurs who demonstrate they have fast growing businesses, mentor or actively support other women and girls in entrepreneurship, and stand out as leaders in their communities.

Many people hit major roadblocks before they succeed.

Famous wedding gown designer Vera Wang wanted to be an ice skater but failed to get into the Olympics. It was then that she decided to go into fashion.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, took a trip to Italy and came home with an idea about a chain of intimate cafes. He brought it to the coffee company he worked for at the time, they turned his idea down, and he did it anyway. Now there’s a Starbucks on every street corner.

J.K. Rowling was nearly penniless and raising a child on her own when she wrote the massively popular Harry Potter books. She was rejected by several publishers before finding success. I bet those people are kicking themselves.

Eva Niewiadomski, the mastermind behind Catalyst Ranch, can relate to these stories. Her business is a creative meeting space and event venue in Chicago—and it is extraordinary. Every square inch is covered in color and toys and art and crazy furniture. None of it goes together, yet somehow it all blends into a mass of swirling fun—and it launched because she lost her job. She wanted to create a space where companies, consultants, organizations or really whoever could come and have meetings, events or parties in a creative space, a space that really gets you thinking outside of the box. Catalyst Ranch is one of a kind in this city and, quite possibly, the world. Continue reading

meet coco: chicago beauty and technology entrepreneur

 

Coco Meers, PrettyQuick, peoplewithpanache.com

“Swing for the fences in terms of fundraising and goal setting—be very aggressive,” Coco says. “If your goal is to make money, you should not be raising venture capital unless you can see the path to being a billion dollar business.”

You are important.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of self-care. Not just that you should do it—re: every self help book and inspirational quote ever—but what it actually means. For me, it has two parts.

Part one is reflection. People spend a lot of time getting to know each other, and not enough time getting to know themselves. How can you care about what others need if your own needs aren’t being met? Answer: You can’t. It’s like the airplane mask thing; you have to put yours on first. Reflection helps you dial in to what’s going on with you right now, your wants and needs, what kinks need to be worked out, what path you’re on. Without this kind of knowledge, it actually becomes harder to form healthy relationships with other people.

The tough part? You guessed it: time. Spare me the saga; we’re all busy. So, I practice taking mini moments to self reflect many times throughout the day… on the bus, walking to the grocery store, in the shower, basically any time I’m in a bathroom. I savor those moments—that’s usually when the aha happens! I stop thinking about everyone else for just a few minutes of my day and, instead, think about how I’ve been feeling and behaving, what I’m doing and if it aligns with my beliefs and aspirations—then what can I do to change it if not. This daily practice keeps me focused and centered on my way forward. Continue reading

fruity nutty affair 2016

Welcome to the Fruity Nutty Affair!

American chestnuts, peaches and a sweet cherry, oh my!

Last Saturday, Feb. 20, was Victory Garden Initiative’s aptly-named Fruity Nutty Affair. This is Alysse’s big evening she pours her heart into every year, and it was my first time being able to go! The Affair is all about raising the money needed to plant five urban orchards in Milwaukee communities. VGI’s goal with the Fruity Nutty Five Contest: To protect the environment, improve public health, and strengthen their community, all through growing fruits and nuts in the city—where food is needed most. In the past, neighborhoods have won and planted apples, pears and paw-paws in their front and back yards. Churches, schools and community centers have also been awarded orchards, connecting their missions with food and where it comes from—the outdoors! One of the coolest ones to me: the grocery store that planted their trees along the sidewalk, welcoming all passersby to pick some fruit on their way in. Continue reading

meet lesley and jami: chicago entrepreneurs helping women cover up with confidence

Jami and Lesley, Bwell 11, People with Panache

Jami (left) and Lesley (right) met in 6th grade. “We were in the same homeroom, and we just clicked,” Jami says. “We’ve been best friends ever since—and now we’re 51!”

Cancer and Crohn’s disease.

I knew these scary-sounding, taboo things would be major topics of discussion when I went to interview Lesley Foreman and Jami Weiman, both 51. But as I opened the door to Lesley’s office, where she has her therapy practice, the first thing I saw was the pair of them giggling while Jami sprayed Lesley with something to stop static cling. Her silk shirt wasn’t cooperating. They looked at me and laughed harder now that I’d caught them. I laughed too, and all my fears melted away.

Jami has been living with Crohn’s disease for more than 35 years, and Lesley was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 48. They told me about their friendship, growing up together, and the impact their respective diseases have had on them—and how that led them to create Bwell 11. Bonus: I also learned that Jami attended Drake University for a year—our alma mater! Go Bulldogs!

Launched on July 15, 2015, Bwell 11 is a line of versatile fashion swimsuit cover-ups. Their Bandtastik can be worn in seven different ways to cover up a number of areas on your body from thighs to chest. The Bandiva is a colorful head scarf that can get wet and still stay firmly in place. It seems so fitting that swimwear that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful—even in life’s toughest moments—comes from such a kind and loyal friendship. Continue reading

meet erika: woman thriving fearlessly in chicago

Erika Gilchrist, WTF, People with Panache

Erika also started the WTF Institute, where coaches and speakers can license award-winning content (created by Erika of course!) for two to three years and present it. It has three modules in a nice progression. She wants women to understand that they’re not valuable because of what they DO, but because of who they are.

Erika Gilchrist is a woman of juxtapositions.

She grew up in a large family with a packed house—but is an introvert who needs a lot of alone time. She absolutely adores children—but has no desire to have any of her own. She’s been performing on stage practically since birth—but merely the thought of being squished in a large crowd makes her anxious. And she’s happiest when she’s helping other people—but also feels that it’s selfish (in a good way!).

As we sat in Erika’s favorite park on one of the last beautiful fall days in Chicago, we ruminated on many other aspects of Erika and spent a long time talking about communication and how people so often get it wrong.

“It’s a balance—understanding how other people operate so that you’ll know how to communicate with them, even if they’re the polar opposite of who you are,” she says. “That whole thing about treating people the way you want to be treated… I’m like, No. Treat people the way they want to be treated.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: The tug of war between introverts and extroverts can be exhausting—one wanting to hang out all the time (E), the other always wanting a night at home to relax (I). With better quality communication, this struggle isn’t necessary. I opened with Erika’s quote because as you read the rest of our story about her, this notion permeates so much of her actions, thoughts and advice—finding success in any job or industry or business endeavor is about engaging and activating your human network. And that is what Erika loves to help people do. Continue reading

meet natalie and andrea: practicing yoga and building community in chicago

Natalie and Andrea Pavela, People with Panache

Natalie (left); Andrea (right). The idea for Yoga+ really began in January 2014. Andrea had moved back to Chicago from NYC and was looking for a new yoga studio to call home. It was more challenging than she expected! So she and Natalie began organizing and hosting free classes every other week in their friends’ apartments. One night, over dinner at Pequod’s, the two girls realized what they could turn these free classes into—and Yoga+ was born.

Calling all yogis!

Yoga has become a big part of my life in the past year or so. Not only have I been taking more classes and learning about new types, I have two close friends who are now certified yoga instructors. I commend them—I haven’t yet honed the patience or meditative skills to go through those lengthy certifications. But I love practicing with them and getting tips on my techniques. (Although I’m not sure if I’ll ever master Crow pose.)

Recently, I discovered a business that blends two of my favorite things: yoga and learning. Sisters Natalie and Andrea Pavela created Yoga+ in Chicago, and they pair interactive educational workshops with meditative and restorative yoga practice. Andrea calls it the perfect friend date. Launched in May 2014 with their first event the next month, each Yoga+ session consists of a short Vinyasa yoga practice (taught by Andrea) followed by a workshop led by a local maker, company or small business. They’ve taught Chicagoans everything from mixology to watercolor painting, pasta to juice making, essential oil demonstrations and even classes on crafting French macarons with a certain je ne sais quoi. Each event is one-of-a-kind and sounds like so much fun that I can’t wait for Alysse and I to attend soon. I really can’t think of a better reason to stretch, center and eat sweet French cookies in yoga pants. Continue reading

meet kimberly: chicago food entrepreneur

Kimberly Crupi Dobbins, Simple Squares, People with Panache

I asked Kimberly why she thinks her sweet Squares are successful. “People like the taste and the fact that it’s simple,” she says. “We’re very transparent—there are no fillers, no rice puffs, no highly processed syrups like agave. It’s just clear, whole foods that everybody knows what they are. If you had a garden—granted an exotic garden—you could find everything in your backyard.”

Food has become my biggest frenemy.

Four years ago, a typical day of food for me would have looked like this: a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich and Starbucks Caramel Macchiato to start my morning; Kraft mac and cheese for lunch; Taco Bell for dinner; coffee ice cream straight out of the tub for dessert; and, if I stayed up late, pepperoni pizza as a midnight snack. How I didn’t weigh 1,000 pounds is a miracle.

What happened instead was much more frustrating: My body turned against me. All of a sudden my body started rejecting all of these foods that were so normal and delicious to me—onions, garlic, apples, chocolate milk, creamy sauces, cookies. Everything made me feel like crap and came with a healthy dose of less-than-ideal repercussions. The most frustrating part is that, all these years later, I still have no answers. I don’t actually have any allergies or diseases or anything. I love eating and trying new foods, but I just simply can’t digest things the way I could before. It’s certainly one way to make a 26-year-old feel 86!

So the goal has been to pinpoint exactly which foods I can and can’t eat, and it’s really hard. While I know that list from my old life probably gives Alysse goosebumps to see (and we were roommates at the time!), I also can no longer imagine consuming any one of those things. Continue reading

meet laura: chicago upcycler of old into new

Dstressed Cuff, peoplewithpanache.com

My cuff I bought from Laura! “I’ve always loved vintage jewelry and stuff, so I started making cuffs where I use vintage bindings for the middle, and the snap covers are all vintage buttons,” she says.

It was love at first sight.

My gorgeous gray leather cuff, shown in the picture on the left, was lovingly made out of all vintage materials by Laura Allswang, the vintage upcycling guru behind Dstressed. While I was interviewing Laura in her home, she brought out these cuff bracelets she makes. The soft gray coupled with the silver leaf caught my eye. My fatal mistake was trying it on—it fit like a glove. So naturally, by the time the conversation was over, I had to have it. And now I wear it all the time! Today I am wearing it in honor of People with Panache, sharing Laura’s story. (And I thought it would be a great second-ever post on PWP’s brand-new Instagram account!)

Laura lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and kids (the ones not away at college). She met her husband when they were both in law school. Then, she practiced law for a short time before realizing she didn’t really want to be a lawyer. She decided to stay at home with her kids and as they grew up needed more. Laura let her creative juices flow and started painting furniture, which grew into a business involving decorative trays from picture frames, supple leather cuffs and more—all in her signature distressed style using only vintage and antique pieces. Continue reading