Tag Archives: Chicago

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

our chicago pwp party!

IMG_9476Last Thursday night, September 24, Alysse and I hosted our second PWP party—this time in Chicago at Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery & Think Space! Whenever I throw a party, I somehow convince myself that NO ONE is going to show up. So until people started trickling in on Thursday evening (besides my mom, who showed up first), I was panicking.

But after the last person had gone home with her custom Big White Yeti candle and a phone full of new connections, we cleaned up, full of joy and exploding with pride and gratitude. Over the course of 3 hours, we had about 35 of my favorite people on this planet gathered in Beauty and Brawn, and I can’t wait to do it again.

For Alysse and me, it’s all about creating our own kind of community—a community of women united not by occupation or demographics or geographics. No, these women are united by something bigger: their ambition and passion to make the most out of this life. That is one of the main reasons Alysse and I write this blog and have gatherings like this. We are lucky enough to get to meet these amazing women and tell their stories every week—but when we’re sitting one-on-one with them, listening to their triumphs and disappointments and lessons learned, we can’t ignore the overwhelming desire to connect them to others who know exactly how they feel. We try our very best to portray each woman in our blog posts as who she really is, but there’s nothing like the feeling you get hearing someone’s story firsthand. And that is the inspiration for creating the PWP community. Continue reading

meet imani: chicago designer, photographer, artist

50 Shots, Imani Amos, People with Panache

Imani is holding the flyer for her “50 Shots” project. She says, “The project really isn’t about me. It’s more about pride and these men who are doing great things as a part of our community.”

I could eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I like to think of myself as a taco connoisseur. Recently I may have met my match: Imani Amos. When I met up with her to talk about her recent, stunning, timely and captivating art photography project, “50 Shots,” we ended up spending the last 20-ish minutes talking tacos. Thanks to her, I have a list of new places to try in Chicago!

Imani is currently at the tail end of earning her graphic design degree at the Illinois Institute of Art. She also teaches West African dance and has been performing since she was five years old. On the side, she is also a freelance model, but she wants to move more toward the other side of the camera—directing the shoots rather than being in them. She has a VERY cool Instagram. And although she bills herself as a graphic designer (not a photographer), she recently created a photography art project called “50 Shots: Humanizing America’s Most Hunted” that depicts the mug shots of 50 black men and five things about them that you might not know by looks alone. The outcome is powerful, compelling and so relevant to today.

People with Panache: Imani, your “50 Shots” show is eye-opening and beautiful. Where did you get the idea?

Imani Amos: I have a notebook where I just jot down ideas. About 3 or 4 years ago, I had this idea to take a mug shot of a few of my black male friends. I thought about how my friends who I knew very well could easily be pulled over and taken to jail. So I thought it would be funny if I took a mug shot of them and wrote down what they actually do. Continue reading

meet steph: chicago aviator

Steph at Coffee

Stephanie hails from Silverthorne, Colo., a small town near Breckenridge. But she says she loves Chicago and plans on staying!

I just made a very serious, long-term commitment.

I decided to join a book club. But really. If you’re a busy person and you’ve ever been in a book club, you know the struggle of completing one whole book every month is real. But I am determined to read more, so I shall persevere!

Anyway, at my new book club, I met Stephanie Hlavacek. And Stephanie is an aviator.

Stephanie flies private. She works in the aviation department of JD Norman Industries, an auto parts manufacturing company headquartered in Addison, Ill. Mostly, she flies the CEO and other executives in their private Hawker 800 XP aircraft to their various plant locations around the Midwest, and she also occasionally transports them to Canada, Mexico and England, too. But the road to becoming a pilot is long and can be turbulent (see what I did there? But Steph advises not to worry about turbulence—the planes and pilots can handle it. Really.).

Steph’s journey to the sky began when she was 10 years old. One day, out of the blue, she told her parents: “I want to be a pilot.” In high school, when it was time to think about college, she was still dreaming about aviation, so they sent her to a single flight lesson to make sure she really loved it. Of course, she was hooked and wanted to begin training immediately. She attended the University of Illinois’ aviation program in Champaign, Ill., where she did all of her flight training. After graduation, she worked at the university as a flight instructor for two years, then moved to Chicago and got a job at the Aurora airport—instructing and flying charters and eventually a private jet. A few years later, she was offered the position as one of JD Norman’s first private pilots. Continue reading

meet kate: chicago improv teacher and performer

Kate Cohen, People with Panache

Kate’s favorite play is Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman. Her favorite musicals are The Music Man or Little Shop of Horrors. Her favorite characters to play right now are stressed out moms or angsty teenagers.

You know those times when you feel like you’ve never been busier and your to-do list keeps getting longer and then you meet someone who somehow does even MORE?!

Yeah, it kind of makes you feel a little bit better.

That’s how I felt when I spent an afternoon with Kate Cohen, a spunky improv comedian/grad student/education administrator. Her passion for all three oozes through in conversation and you can tell she loves the role each one plays in her life. Over fancy teacups of decadent, gourmet drinkable chocolate (Editor’s Note: Alysse is very upset she was not at the “drinkable chocolate” party and is boycotting this post from here on out.), Kate and I discussed what it’s like to work 9-to-5 in education administration at Northwestern, teach improv at Second City Training Center, perform improv on nights and weekends for four different theaters, and attend school part-time (also at Northwestern) earning a Master’s of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC). Continue reading

meet mal and corinna: the golden girls of chicago beauty

It’s officially wedding season.

Over the last few years, I’ve been really challenging myself: How many weddings can I get invited to in one year?

Me and Jim

Me and Jim at wedding No. 2 of 2015

In 2013, it was 2. Last year, I took a huge jump to 9 (and attended all of them). 2015 is a sad year, trailing behind at 3. But next year might be a record breaker—the unofficial 2016 total right now is 9 weddings!! So fingers crossed that they all happen plus a surprise bonus wedding, so that I can break my record.

Having just spent the last two weekends in Chicagoland celebrating the weddings of close friends, it’s safe to say the wedding season is well underway. Last weekend, my dress was one-shouldered with a HUGE bow on the right side. So I thought it would be a fun change to put my hair in a low updo to balance out the bow. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but I tried to do this side-pony-bun-updo-thing that I made up on the spot… and the results were mediocre at best. If I’d been a bit more prepared, I would definitely have made time to go to Goldplaited finishing salon in Lincoln Park. Continue reading

Farewell to Forget Me Knodt

One of the most joyful parts of writing this blog has been watching the women we meet grow and change and follow their dreams. For example, Lisa of Sister Pie in Detroit just celebrated her first full week as proud owner of her very own brick-and-mortar pie shop! Moriah in Milwaukee recently got her dream job where, in her words, “IT’S MY JOB TO LISTEN TO OUR COMMUNITY AND MAKE CHANGE!” (High five these two when you see them next!)

Others surprise us. This is the week Janessa, formerly and forever of Forget Me Knodt, turns from boss lady into Employee of the Month. (Fleur Inc., you’re going to have your hands full… of flowers!)

With no further ado:
“A Fond Farewell”
by Janessa Ambrosio

fmk_closing Continue reading

meet rachel: chicago cartoonist and illustrator

Rachel Foss at SmallBar, People with Panache

“I’m so thankful to know her now,” says Rachel of Lucy Knisley, her comic inspiration. Rachel actually got to know Lucy through another famous comic artist Sarah Becan. Sarah and Rachel just so happened to be neighbors in Logan Square and luckily met at the local bar (pictured) where Rachel drew her entire first book Empty Bed.

“I’ve worn every hat. I can literally do anything.” Whoa—she really can. Since graduating from college, Rachel Foss has been a manager at Glazed and Infused doughnut shop, a nanny, and a kids’ art class teacher at Lindsey Meyers’ gallery, Beauty and Brawn—among other things. Rachel is a lover of sustainable farming and gardening and believes you should only do things that make you happy. Now, she is first and foremost a cartoonist and illustrator, so on the heels of her first gallery showing in Chicago at Beauty and Brawn, I got to chat with her about all of the things she can do and what she’s doing now.  

During our conversation, Rachel opened my eyes to the world of graphic novels and comics like never before (and I say this as the daughter of a man with his own Fortress of Solitude, a.k.a. the garage, stacked floor to ceiling with Superman and Archie comics). The words “comic” or even “graphic novel” often evoke images of these fictional characters. But to Rachel, they’re completely different and so much more. Continue reading

meet laurel: chicago marketing entrepreneur x 2

Laurel Rundle, All for Schools, People with Panache

Laurel says her favorite part of owning her own business is “having the flexibility to really create, change and build something the way you want it built and to work with who you want to work with.”

I know I should think anything is possible—we pin it and tweet it and share stories about it every week. After talking with Laurel Rundle, I finally believe it. I can’t wait to have my own business one day, but sometimes when you tell people you want to be an entrepreneur, like Liz Kammel said, you’re basically admitting you’re a little nuts.

Laurel gets it. She’s not only in the middle of running one company—she just launched a second!

Laurel’s two start-ups, Aha Marketing and All for Schools, are completely different but speak well to her passions. I couldn’t wait to hear Laurel’s story, so I started from the beginning with Aha Marketing. Continue reading

meet lindsey: chicago art gallery collaborator part 2

Lindsey selfie, People with Panache

“I’m very secure with my philosophy that I was not born or put on this earth just to have babies,” Lindsey says. “They’re not my greatest accomplishment. My life, myself, is my greatest accomplishment.”

Today is the day. Back in October, we featured Lindsey Meyers, one of the strongest, most interesting women we know, and even then we knew we’d have to post the rest of her interview to share all her wisdom. Continue reading