Tag Archives: interview

meet sarah: using hip-hop to empower youth in milwaukee

TRUE Skool purchased all the pieces produced through the Art of Coping program.

TRUE Skool purchased all the pieces produced through the Art of Coping program. This piece is by Lasha Bradley.

“Your life becomes so enriched by being around differences,” says Sarah Dollhausen. “It doesn’t take anything away from you.”

Sarah, director, founder and trailblazer at TRUE Skool, is just the kind of woman you wish you had in your life when you were younger. She created TRUE Skool, a Milwaukee nonprofit and after-school program that uses hip-hop’s core elements—DJing, breakdance, emceeing, graffiti and knowledge—to empower youth, teach about social justice, encourage community service, and create a pipeline of opportunity for Milwaukee’s young people. Now 11 years old, much of TRUE Skool’s work comes to life via after-school programming including classes such as the Art of Emceeing, DJing, Video Production, Band (not the kind that was in my high school…) and more. (Seriously, how freaking cool is that?)

Besides the fact that she has shepherded the growth of this organization whose programs will now hopefully expand nation-wide, Sarah has one particularly beautiful gift that stood out to me: She has a clear, deep passion for bringing people together to work on co-creating the future. Competition doesn’t have much of a place. Jealousy? Nope. These students, the team of working artists, and every person involved has a safe space to share, learn, grow and collaborate to create the community they want to live within.
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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 molly: baker and pastry maker in milwaukee

Molly’s personal favorite is her lemon poppyseed cake with strawberry jam filling. She picks the strawberries in the summer and makes her own jam. “The flavors are just bursting,” Molly says.

Molly’s personal favorite is her lemon poppyseed cake with strawberry jam filling. She picks the strawberries in the summer and makes her own jam. “The flavors are just bursting,” Molly says.

How do you decide to make an idea into a real thing?
Where do you go for honest feedback?
What do you need to be able to move forward?

For me, all those things involve other people. Their opinions, experiences, skills, resources, expertise. Even just their presence, so I can speak something out loud and make sure it doesn’t sound too ridiculous. (A little ridiculous is okay with me.)

Lately I’ve been surrounded by a lot more targeted teamwork: The yoga studio I attend and absolutely love recently transitioned to two owners, no longer just the one amazing woman who has run it for years. My boyfriend, who owns a composting company, is working with aligned businesses and organizations to transform a Milwaukee warehouse into a hub of urban agriculture, bringing together innovative projects with positive momentum so they can grow together. Escuela Verde brought together a team of people to start a school they all believe in. Who else comes to mind for you?

Truly, no one ever starts a business venture solo—you have to count those supportive family members, colleagues, spouses and friends!—so this week we want to especially highlight the value of collaboration. Here’s one really special example:

Molly Sullivan, 29, is the PR manager and pastry chef at Braise. She’s also the owner of Miss Molly’s Pastries. As Molly has built her business, her local-food-system-strengthening employer, Braise, has fostered her growth and supported her along the way. As she’s paving her pastry-making path, Molly is not alone. [Help her on her Kickstarter here through June 2016!] 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

meet angela: social architect in milwaukee

Last time we had a Leap Day, I was a copy editor at Reader’s Digest. And since then—even without a day dedicated to jumping—I have leapt and landed in the urban ag world, and oh my gosh has it been worth it.

After I wrote this post, Kate encouraged me to find these little maps that I made in March 2012. So many parts of them have come true in ways I never anticipated. Minus the $10,000. Good goal, though, 23-year-old me!

After I wrote this post, Kate encouraged me to find these little maps that I made in March 2012. So many parts of them have come true in ways I never anticipated. Minus the $10,000. Good goal, though, 23-year-old me!

All over this blog, week after week, we watch women leaping toward their dreams. We see some going for it fast and laying the bricks of their path as they go. Others experiment, test and explore before making moves that alter their lives…and careers…and bank accounts. And no matter the preparation, each woman learns about herself, the world, and her vast potential as she dreams big and turns her ideas into reality.

I can be spontaneous, but career-wise I’m pretty firmly in the latter camp. Before I left my stable gig for what started as a part-time job at my beloved Victory Garden Initiative, I took classes, saved money, drew out all sorts of little maps about my potential professional path, read a lot, researched and discerned what might happen if this turned out to not be the right fit. So when I got a call actually offering me a job at my dream nonprofit, it all coalesced into a YES.

Now if only we could use some of that happy energy to also make the case that we all get Leap Day off and/or get paid a little extra for working that one bonus day. Or, you know, get some free yoga or something. But I digress. 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

femfest 2016: meet treccy, singer in mortgage freeman and ruth b8r ginsburg

There are few things more inspiring than a woman who recognizes her own power and individuality and wants to share them with the world.

Thank you to Treccy Marquardt-Thomas for being this woman—and the first to be featured in our Riverwest FemFest miniseries this week leading up to the Fest on January 21-24, 2016.

I’m Alysse’s roommate, Jessica. Alysse and I were at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s live FemFest music preview when we came up with the idea to do as many FemFest-focused interviews as we could the week of the event. Riverwest FemFest is Milwaukee’s four-day fundraiser and music festival “celebrating talented and strong women through music, art and poetry.” So tonight, I was honored to spend time with Treccy—a musician in both Mortgage Freeman and Ruth B8r Ginsburg—to talk about her music-making and kick off the series. Treccy is smart, warm and, like the rest of us, beyond excited for the weekend to get here.by Kelly Marquardt Continue reading

meet nayla: revolutionizing education in milwaukee (escuela verde series 02)

Nayla Bezares 02

How Escuela Verde works: They have a lot of open project spaces in their schedule, and students complete projects to earn credit to advance from one grade to another. If you’re a student who wants to go to medical school, for example, there’s a medical workshop where they bring in professionals from the community.

Kate and I were so pumped to feature Joey Zocher and Escuela Verde, we decided to turn her story and others’ into a series. Please check back over the next few weeks for more Q&A’s with the advisers, educators and overall awesome humans who staff Escuela Verde.

Nayla Bezares, 28, has been an adviser at EV for 5 months.

“My dream was to work for the bad guys and change their perspective,” says Nayla. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she always knew she wanted to save the world. Now, Nayla’s working with the Good Guys, I’d say, but she got there in a roundabout way.

Nayla and I met at one of our favorite places in Milwaukee—Outpost Natural Foods—to talk about dreams, education, and yes, trying to change the bad guys to change the world.  Continue reading

meet ruth b8r ginsburg: milwaukee musical activists

Ruth B8r Ginsburg

They picked the name Ruth B8r Ginsburg to promote female empowerment—and help people be a little more informed about politics. Notorious R.B.G. is a pretty fabulous role model!

“I feel like I dropped into the middle of this blossoming place, and it’s been amazing.”

“This is sort of therapeutic for me, a safe haven.”

“I feel like this is also a vehicle for messages. We can help!”

These uplifting thoughts bring to mind some of my favorite parts of life—activities that work toward my goals, within my passions, with people I love. While Ousia, Danielle and Johanna said them in the context of their melodically harmonizing, lyrically inspiring band, I feel like they could’ve been talking about anything. A new community, a calling, a group of friends.

That makes sense because Ruth B8r Ginsburg is all three. This week’s interview took me to a kitschy, cozy, eclectic third floor of a home in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. It was filled with warm tones and temps, low light and laughter of a bunch of inspiring women. Plus community bottles of local mead and a round of Brie literally being nibbled on made it feel a little extra Wisconsin-y. I liked it a lot.

My friend Quinn Cory invited me to a rehearsal of Ruth B8r Ginsburg, a Milwaukee band known for its mesmerizing harmonies. (Check them out here!) Practice was at the home of Johanna Rose, upright bassist extraordinaire, and I sat on the floor with them and got a really special glimpse into the energy that flows between this stunning ensemble. I even got to be there for their very first recording session. Continue reading