Main-Dempster Mile fun

I am easing out of hibernation and it is safe (no longer too cold) to take angel out and about on my adventures.

Evanston’s Main-Dempster mile is full of fun adventures. Squeezebox has the right idea with these postcards.

I had tacos for charity on the day of the Woman’s March, and later went to La Principal again with friends.

A few weeks later Brothers K collected funds for the ACLU.

My frosty is still hanging out at Rolf’s Auto Care, where I took my car for service.

We rewarded ourselves with some Sketchbook beer after a Hip Circle workout.

Stumble & Relish’s lovely card selection, along with my stash of Curly Girl Design’s Love Delivered subscription has me writing a postcard on Sundays.

I got to sample SPARK Syrup with Prosecco on Thursday and picked up some earrings I couldn’t resist.

Vivian Visser explained the process and inspiration behind her beautiful creations during an Artist talk at Cultivate.

This wonderful show is up through the end of the month.

It is always neat to see who shadows interact with art work on the wall.

I attended a few recent The Collage Cafe workshops, and loved the glowing woman who emerged from the last Grown*UP Girls Club session.

My vision boards will be shown when they manifest.

Then I was introduced to Bullet Journaling at Hip Circle Studio.

Next weekend I hope to explore Evanston’s Black-owned Businesses during Tour de Noir.

There’s always something fun to do in Evanston.

Small Business Saturday Consignments

It’s been a whirlwind of making enough angels and frosties for my pop-ups as well as the four spaces I am consigned to this holiday season.


Just in time for Small Business Saturday, my ornaments are now in three Chicagoland retailers: The Collage Cafe and See Jane Sparkle in Evanston, and ChromaK8 Beautique and Sacred Art in Chicago. My angels went under the sorting hat to determine which ones would fly off where.


A few went to Chromak8 Beautique, where I get my hair done. ChromaK8 strives to deliver the highest quality beauty services with the cleanest, high performing products.


On Black Friday, ChromaK8 will debut special holiday gift sets and a local artist showcase. The salon is located at 5425 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.


I am thrilled to be in a new location in Lincoln Square as well.  Sacred Art offers a variety of gift items for the whole family, including wonderful Chicago-themed items. Owner Kate curates a selection of work from 110+ makers with a focus on Chicago-made art.


Check out the Facebook page for extended store hours on Small Business Saturday, with nibbles offered to shoppers. Sacred Art is located at 4619 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.


I hope these characters enjoy their slumber party and find new owners.


The sneak peek in the store is gorgeous.


I switched out my inventory at See Jane Sparkle on Tuesday, so you will see brand-new pendants, bracelets and earrings in Sara Jane’s store. 


The new pendants went straight from my studio to her.


I hope you like perusing them.


You can also peruse my sparkle ornament collection, created specifically for the boutique. 


I’ll have my full collection available on December 8 during the Warm Bevvy Walk.


The Collage Cafe also has brand-new pieces in the shop, and I cannot wait to see how my ornaments look in this lovely playspace.


A few angels incorporate alcohol inks purchased at the store.


Both The Collage Cafe and See Jane Sparkle are participating in the Hip Circle Studio Holiday Hike on Small Business Saturday, with special bags and goodies for shoppers walking off their Turkey coma.


Check out the holiday offerings online at The Collage Cafe  and See Jane Sparkle


I am so excited to be supported by these lovely women entrepreneurs, and look forward to visiting their holiday setups soon!

Evanston Winewalk for Mudlark

Last Thursday the Main-Dempster mile was adorned with lime green aprons galore. Almost all the retailers between Chicago Avenue and Sherman on Main Street participated in the Evanston Charity Wine Walk benefiting Mudlark theater.


I bought a raffle ticket, and many others tried to win the 12 gift baskets offered this evening.


I’m curious which baskets my four keychains ended up in, and happy to know they will have a new owner soon.


I met my friend at Sketchbook brewery where she sampled the wine.


Hip Circle Studio offered a 3-class flight at a discount, so you can try out their classes and get a whiff of all the positive empowerment Malik’s space offers. Their class cards are also worth a whirl.


We had a taco at La Principal’s Cafecito.


I still want to try their morning cocoa with breakfast tacos but always forget about the 10:30 cutoff.


Dave’s Down to Earth Rock shop offered edible rocks with the Wine Goddess’ selection.


It was my first visit to the new Prehistoric Museum, and angel’s first view of ancient fossils.


Ten Thousand Villages has lovely soaps I hadn’t perused yet.


Their wine display was the best.


At The Collage Cafe Lindy served greek wine along with creative energy.


Her pumpkin tree is so fun.


Next door I had a nice chat with Geoff Martin Photography.


Open Studio Project had a live drummer.


Evanston Stitchworks has all kinds of fun class and gathering offerings for all ages, and vintage patterns!evanstonstitchworks

Belgian Chocolatier Piron paired an assortment of their pralines with the Wine Goddess’ Boula Monsanto 2013 from Catalonia.


I went back the next day to pick up their hot cocoa blend and the famed Hazelnut Chocolate spread that will get me through the cooler days (they ship too) and goes with the French Press home brew from Brothers K.


We bookended the walk with a pint at Sketchbook brewery. There were many stops further north, so hopefully the event will happen again and we can map our route in another neighborhood to get to know their businesses better.


Beer starred again the next night, with Sketchbook brewery launching their Oktoberfest beer, DIAPASON, in conjunction with Opus 327.


St. Luke’s Episcopal Church houses the Skinner organ developed by Ernest M. Skinner, one of his best maintained original organs. Eating in the pew felt irreverent, but the food created by St. Luke’s members with meat provided by Bluestone Restaurant was delicious.


Christine Kraemer played an “organ Flight” for us with Toccata in D Minor, Adagio from Symphony V, Flues Blues (my favorite) and the Fanfare of the Common Man, which showcased the newly restored trumpets.


I look forward to visiting this church for their various concerts again. Go check out your local community events. You may be surprised at how much fun you will have even down a street you think you already know.

Earth-friendly Hair Coloring

When I learned that Chroma K8 Beautique does earth and human friendly hair, I decided to give my hair over to Kate Jotzat.


Kate adjusted my bleached and unbleached sections and I sat in tinfoil for a while.


I am drawn to toxic pigments in my encaustics, so I know blues are not the best thing to ingest. Chroma K8’s partnership with Green Circle Salons, which recycles plastic, foils, hair, electronics, batteries and even hair color, makes me feel better about having these pigments near my scalp.


We decided to add purple to my hair, which is a lovely hue to switch to from the blue. Kate is very invested in making sure your cut and color suit your personality, and wants to make sure the hair grows out in a way that works with your lifestyle.


I have a few pendants and bangles up at Chroma K8.


You can also peruse earrings by me and other creators at 5425 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.


After my pre-wedding trim, I took home some colored conditioner to touch up the hair as it fades.


Check out this gem of a space, and be sure to get your nails done at Noktivo while your hair is processing.


A Rare Custom Dirndl

Earlier this year I joined a women business owners’ Facebook group that introduced me to Rare Dirndl.


I was intrigued by Erika’s fresh take on Dirndls, and when she had a sale, I decided to check out her storefront on 5051 N Lincoln Avenue, as my cousin is about to have a Dirndl wedding in Bavaria.


Billing herself as “more than your Oma’s Dirndl,” I was drawn to the modern and whimsical twists of her designs that I perused on Instagram


Taking her quiz on Dirndl style is super fun.


I borrowed a lovely traditional Dirndl from my cousin several sizes (and hairstyles) ago, but am not sure her collection will still fit me. So I took the plunge and got my own Dirndl fitted by Erika.


We picked colors and she set to work. A few weeks later, I got a lovely fashion board with my new Dirndl. Erika offers numerous tips on Dirndl fashion in her newsletter  and publishes Ausgezeichnet with German related news and resources.


A quick trip near Diagon Alley brought me back to the shop to try it on. 


I love all the details on it, and that in addition to a ribbon Erika gave me a chain to tie around the bodice.


I’m looking forward to the wedding even more now!


Maybe I’ll make custom accessories too.


Jigging with Brenda

Recently I took a mini-roadtrip to Waukesha to visit Brenda Schweder in her studio. I have been intrigued by her Now That’s a Pliers! since she introduced them, but wanted to take them for a spin before committing to another tool investment.


She showed me her fabulous studio space that has various sections to run the different functions of her business and craft. I also delivered the angel that she had reverse-engineered for me, in Now That’s A Jig! colors.


Then she demonstrated the Pliers and I got to play with them a little bit.


Soon I realized that the Now That’s a Jig! was the better tool for my purposes, and I started playing with the variety of pegs Brenda had on hand.


She gave me tips and recommendations, and I got to peruse her plethora of demonstration pieces. You can see her tutorials on YouTube.


Soon I had created a shopping pile, and I went home with a variety of tools, inspiration, and design ideas.


At home I implemented the DoubleDekr peg for earrings and a bangle.


I’ll still need gloves, but this will be easier than the uneven paintbrush handle I’ve been using.


I played with the infinity design of the 3/8″ pegs some more.


The results are on the NtAJ Facebook page. I like how these turned out.


I made earrings out of the pieces that were too short.


Pretty cool.

purple earrings

Brenda publishes in various magazines, and is in the latest issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry.


A smaller frosty design was born.


So many more ideas percolating!


These aren’t loaded into the Shop yet but feel free to message me if you are interested in purchasing one of my creations.


Jigging at the Bead & Button Show

Two years ago I visited the Bead & Button Show for the first time and was overwhelmed.


It is amazing how a convention center can have a block worth of bead booths with all of them offering different wares.


The plethora of colors and sparkles resulted in me only buying a few strands, since I couldn’t remember what I had at home.


This year I checked my color inventory ahead of time.


Two friends had gifted me a lot of beads, so I had quite some notes to take.


I also wanted to learn how to operate my jig better, so I signed up for a few of Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s A Jig! Sessions.


I use the jig for my frosties, which morphed into the dot show pieces. I also started experimenting with butterflies and dragonflies for the Swarm Show.


I knew I could learn more tricks by getting some hands-on demos from the Jig designer herself.


On June 8 I learned how to make stick figure necklaces with lovely beads by Diane Hawkey.


It was so hard to pick out faces. I’m glad we got to choose three.


Brenda introduced us to the gadget that helps make collars.


I finished putting my people together at home.


I reviewed my swag bag and started plotting the map.


Bead & Button has various calls for art prior to the show, and the beaded artistry was amazing.


The display of buttons was amazing also, and I coveted these museum pieces.


Crowns of beads and wirework and lots of whimsy.


I drove back to Milwaukee on Saturday morning and tried to be methodical in going aisle by aisle.


I did get distracted here and there, but since I had marked my must-see booths in advance, I was able to focus my purchases for day 1.


These handcrafted Peruvian critters were impossible to resist.


There were tassels that reminded me of See Jane Sparkle.


Crystals everywhere.


Beads in all sizes and shapes.


What’s better than beads? Beaded beads!


Smartly, the convention center kept the snackbar open on the shopping floor, and had a cocktail bar to boot.


Fortified, I continued to browse and note what was where.


I compared prices on pearls and druzy agate and had lovely conversations with vendors.


Although I had not planned to shop on day 1, some beads were impossible to resist and I brought some treasure into the hotel with me.


I took a lovely stroll of the riverwalk and enjoyed a restful night before the workshop the next day.


On Sunday I participated in the Jig StartrWorkshop-Xpress to learn what all my pegs and rounds could do.


Now That’s A Jig! Was designed by Brenda Schweder as a collaboration with Swanstrom in 2012.


I had met Brenda in 2011 and took a bangle class with her then.


We reconnected at Ayla’s Highland Park Bead Bazaar in 2014 and I ordered a jig shortly after.


We were given a lovely template to learn different connecting pieces that could form a bracelet and help kickstart a variety of ideas.


You can also make jumprings on the jig.


Brenda’s technique is different from mine, so it was good to see how she works and learn how to maximize the Swivelok.


I was too busy admiring all her beautiful pieces and learning more tips and tricks to really focus on finishing the bracelet links, but we got take the template home so I can finish making links later.


Later this summer I’ll do a studio visit to learn how to operate Now That’s a Pliers!


This year Brenda launched PatternPaks to help people set up the jig with a published design.


After class I went up to the booth to check out additional PatternPaks, and settled on the RainChain template for which I already have all the rounds.


Then I reviewed my shopping list to determine what beads I needed to take home.


Of course my self-imposed ban on blue beads didn’t last, but they are all unique finds I know I wouldn’t be able to source as easily here.


I decided to indulge in cheese fries before the ride home.


It was a lovely day of sifting through colors and sparkles, and being inspired by the wide variety of beads that exist.


The gulls decorated my car as it stood overnight.


I am already at work designing beads for people who made special requests, and look forward to sharing additional designs at the upcoming Evanston Sidewalk Sale.


But first, the beads had to be inventoried.


I can see how malas and rosaries can help quiet the mind, because there is something zen about counting beads on a string.

countingpearlsMore photos to come soon!

Fun at Chroma K8

It has been a whirlwind month. My Swarm is complete for Saturday’s opening, and I am dropping of my Music piece at the new Evanston Art Center tomorrow.


May started off with a fun Pop-up at Chroma K8 Beautique. Several businesses gathered at the Salon to offer Mother’s Day gifts.


We enjoyed getting to know each other better and learning about each other’s businesses as we spent the day perusing each other’s wares.


My new table was fun to set up.


Photo by Kate Jotzat

Malik of Hip Circle Studio came with her famed wheel to offer demonstrations and class sneak peeks.


Hip Circle Studio is launching web-based classes that begin this week. You can participate by web cam, and Malik will monitor your posture and activity remotely, while you can also interact with other student in the studio. I hope some of my friends who moved away will reconnect with us this way.

HCS Demo

Memoir for Me  is a lovely concept where Nora Kerr interviews people and then puts photo album together with narratives as family heirlooms.


She does this for people of all ages, from young children to retirees to grandparents.


I picked up bath deliciousness from Bonnie-Naturally nourishing skin & body care, who offers organic skin care products.


I chatted with Nomadic Ant and admired her lovely silver & brass jewelry.


I also sniffed the colorful Skokiewood candles that smelled edible.


Jenny offered Noktivo’s mini-manis for all vendors and shoppers.


Back on Track untangled my shoulders during a relaxing chair massage.


Little Monsters Photography took awesome photos of our event.


Kate then asked me to leave some pieces with her for consignment, so you can peruse my pieces throughout the salon while you get your hair and nails done.


I decided to get my hair done organically too last week.


Chroma K8’s products are all earth friendly and healthy. The coloring products she uses have coconut oil and other hair-friendly ingredients to ensure the damage is limited.


The shampoo and conditioner products also offer healthy solutions for earth and scalp, and the staff at ChromaK8 offers knowledgeable advice to support one’s hair, and the products don’t break the bank.


Chroma K8 Beautique is located at 5425 N Lincoln in Chicago, and worth the visit.


Meet, Munch & Mastermind on Wednesday

Our most favorite NEW event of the year is coming early! Formerly held in October, Crain’s Small Business week has moved to May and is happening right now! We of course put on our favorite luncheon event at Shannon’s Irish Pub in Glen Ellyn, which takes place on Wednesday, May 4 from 11:30 am to 5 pm.


Meet, Munch & Mastermind: An Agenda to Reach Your Highest Potential From Women’s Business Experts is a Dynamic Networking Luncheon followed by educational talks designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. Participants will enjoy lively, enlightening education from business experts and be provided opportunities for brainstorming personal concerns/questions related to the topics discussed. Our first two events were inspiring and engaging, so you don’t want to miss this one!


Angel Simmons will discuss “The Launch Pad: Transitioning From Faithful Employee to Fabulous Entrepreneur.” Participants will gain a more realistic perspective of what’s really needed to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur as well as resources to help them cross over when they’re ready. Participants will leave feeling empowered to make the first step towards their dream. And, through some interactive participation, they will be affirmed by other women in the session.


Angel Simmons is a multi-talented artist with a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. She has worked in youth and young adult ministry, conference planning and as a mentor to youth in Chicago’s Englewood community. She believes in the healing power of the arts and is committed to helping others discover their God-given gifts. Angel is an advocate for healthy and fulfilling relationships, and promotes love and connections daily throughout her social media networks and her blog, “Love’s Great Design”. She holds professional certifications in Soul Care and Biblically-based Counseling, Love and Relationships, Stress and Trauma, Grief and Loss Coaching, and is a certified QPR Gatekeeper for suicide intervention. Angel was crowned in 2015 as the Ms. Worldwide Illinois Ambassador for the Live Out Loud Charity, with her platform being suicide intervention, depression awareness, and grief and loss support.

Ingrid Morris will take the mystery out of numbercrunching with: “Do You Know Your Numbers?” The number of female entrepreneurs are on the rise! Women own 10.6 million businesses in the United States. They employ 19.1 million workers–that’s one in every seven employees. Their businesses account for $2.5 trillion in sales. Yet, 1 of 5 businesses fail. It’s not for lack of great product or services, but one of lack of financial acumen and operational knowledge. The question becomes, ” do you know your financial vitals; sale revenue, gross profit, net margins. This interactive discussions clears the financial fog, and gives women the basic financial understanding and knowledge to speak the language of finance and position their business for growth. Learn how to create financial projections, drive profitability, and increase your customer base.


Ingrid Morris has spent 20 years skyrocketing up the corporate ladder. Out of her love and affinity for numbers since the age of 5, she has utilized her gifts and talents to manage and grow financial portfolios that range up to $200MM in revenue. In 2014, “The Numberz Girl” opened Morr Solutions Unlimited; a revenue generation and life maximization firm for women. Most recently, she spends her time in Hollywood with celebrity clients helping them to create and sustain profitable careers through building financial projections and increasing their revenue portfolios. She is also the Founder of the ProfitFirst Academy for Women.

Delmar Johnson will share her HR Brain with  “Hire Right in the Shift, From Preneur to Employer: Don’t Let Your Guts Do All the Talking.” Like most business owners, you started your company wearing many hats and doing it all: sales, marketing, operations, product development, accounting and more!! Now that it is time to expand your business, do you know how to strategically add teammates to help accomplish your mission and goals without blowing your budget? This session will share vital tips to help business owners & leaders understand the what, how, why and when adding interns, volunteers, employees (Form W-2) and independent contractors (Form 1099) to their team is necessary and do it from an informed position.


With over 20 years of experience working with big corporations, small business owners and new entrepreneurs, human resource guru and visionary Delmar Johnson founded HR Brain for Hire™ as a trusted and resourceful solution for first time employers in need of affordable, efficient, and top notch recruitment, training and HR services. Delmar’s personal story, which includes multiple layoffs, life challenges, and her own dive into entrepreneurship, gives her a perfect mix of formal knowledge and “real life” experience that she pours into each client and their unique needs. Business owners love Delmar because her talent and passion for HR allow them to fall in love with their business all over again by getting them the right support that they so desperately need while saving them time, money, and headaches. In offering solutions, interactive workshops, and professional development training, Delmar’s goal is twofold: 1) to offer value-added solutions to women-owned business owners, positioning them as an” employer of choice” through the establishing of HR tools, standards and systems; and 2) to equip women to design their own career path by connecting who they are authentically to what they do to serve the world.


Our $30 luncheon includes a delicious meal, these fabulous speakers, and opportunities to make connections with other attendees. Join us Wednesday, May 4, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM at Shannon’s Irish Pub, 428 N Main St, Glen Ellyn, IL.


NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on our organization here.

Think.Start.Do Recap Part II

“People won’t remember your accomplishments,
they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

After an information-packed morning at Think.Start.Do, the learning continued after lunch. With our mind on food, Johanna Cook of MommaCuisine proudly showed the video that is now on view as United Airlines’ in-flight entertainment.

“Know your strengths and OWN your strengths.”
~ Johanna Cook

Johanna started out in culinary school but didn’t enjoy it, so she studied journalism instead to write about the restaurant industry. Soon she became a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen and loved working in a restaurant. She made working in restaurants her career, had three children and then plateau’d a bit in life. “My realistic dream wasn’t working out.”


In 2007, a friend mentioned that she should blog. She started blogging recipes, and one day received a comment from an excited reader who had tried her recipe. Her first reaction was fear: “What if someone got sick from my recipe?”

“I kept writing just to write.
Then I started to research how brands were using social media.
I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me.
But I thought if Martha [Stewart] can do it so can I.”
~ Johanna Cook

She started thinking about her blog as a business and developed a business plan. Through a ROKU channel and developing her brand he business is valued at $.5 million and she made 6 figures last year, without having millions of followers.


Johanna recommends making a list of 20 words that you want your brand to be. Then pare that list down to 10, and the pare it down to 4-5 words and focus on those as your brand. “Food is the vehicle to help other women with their passion,” Johanna said about MommaCuisine.

“Everyone here can make 6 figures on a web site,
even if it is just a side muscle.”
~ Johanna Cook

Melissa Joy Kong, owner of Iceberg Content Marketing Agency gave advice on getting out of the weeds of business management and getting beck to the reason you started your business in the first place. She asks herself a few key questions:


1. What am I doing with my life?
Melissa’s career is one of seeking, traveling the nation to interview couples about love for her Lovumentary, being part of various startups, and helping men transition out of the NFL. The revelation came that instead of seeking an answer externally, she realized she already had the answer inside herself. She realized she was a born storyteller, and she should help others tell their stories. To ease the searching, she recommends writing a letter to your current self from the perspective of 30 years from now.


2. How do I make the best use of my time?
Melissa has an extensive vision board with sticky notes to map out her time. She guarded against falling into an Internet black hole and use that time more constructively. Instead of focusing too hard on your end goals, Melissa recommended focusing on habits: “We become what we repeatedly do.” She recommended adding a new habit each month, and giving yourself 66 days to form it rather than the proverbial 28.


A side benefit of creating habits is that you will also stop negative self-talk with yourself. As you become proud of your incremental habit accomplishments, your inner voice will trust itself more and focus more on your true passion than the lies you tell yourself.

“Even though we focus on money or titles,
there is nothing more valuable than time.
You can’t get time back.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

3. Can I make a difference?
A blog post Melissa wrote in 2012 got a comment from a reader about how one particular quote changed her life, and Melissa needed to read that quote she wrote herself at that point in time. She stressed telling the people who make a difference in your life regularly, because it will help affirm their purpose too.


To accomplish your goals, she said to write out everything you want to do in 3 years, and then crossing off all but one priority. Then set out to do that one thing by mapping out baby steps.

“We get so caught up in our business
that we forget that it’s about one another. …
In the end, we are all walking each other home.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

Simon Anquetil, Chairman of business incubator Tech Pilot Fund (which sponsored our VIP Happy Hour) met Think.Start.Do Organizer Stefanie Monge through South by Southwest. He decided to get an MBA without having an undergraduate degree, and succeeded at being accepted at a university that had its first inaugural entrepreneurship program.


After founding an IT consulting business and also working as a medical consultant Simon realized repeat business came from women business owners, and he began to study the difference between male and female entrepreneurship. Simon stressed that he understands that gender is fluid, but that there are traits that are classified as more male than female, but that individual gender dispositions are based more on psychological patterns through nurture.


The key traits that Simon said distinguish entrepreneurial approaches are:
1. Web Thinking: Men tend to think in a linear step-by-step approach whereas women engage in web thinking, considering the context of each scenario.
2. Ambiguity: women handle ambiguity better than men.
3. Chunking, the process of teaching the brain a new pattern and getting it right at any speed is accomplished more easily by women.
4. Long-term Thinking: Women tend to think more longer term than men.
5. Empathy: Women are more community oriented when making decisions rather than focusing on power and status.

While there is much buzz about the NUMBER of women in business leadership positions, Simon pointed out the relative percentage of women business owners and CEOs is still at a historic 4 to 5%. There is still a gap in college enrollment of 60% male to 40% female, and women are still not earning more with their degrees. Men tend to invest angel funding in men rather than women.


Nonetheless, Simon said there are more role models that exhibit the successful traits women entrepreneurs should adopt, listing: Sheryl Sandberg, Gail Kelly, JK Rowling, Janine Allis, and Serena Williams. Shared qualities include:

  • Don’t go it alone (have a great life partner and supportive community)
  • Done > Perfect: Do it. Change it. Do it again.
  • Assertive and Humane: bring your whole self to work
  • Be bad to be good: stand up to your enemies even if it breaks the hierarchical rules
  • Trust yourself
  • Do the hard work


Simon then joined a panel about Embracing Failure & Setbacks with Angie Lee, business strategist; Saya Hillman, Founder Mac & Cheese Productions, and Terri Brax, CEO & Co-Founder of Women Tech Founders. The panel agreed that failure is a matter of perspective, and stopping after a setback is worse than not moving on at all. Each also cited examples of how a perceived failure, such as a layoff, turned out to be the catalyst to a better life, even if it seemed the end of the world at the time.


Aubrey Schuster of TransTech Social Enterprises shared her journey from being the anointed heir to a successful family business and doubling its sales to coming out and losing both her career and her family. She had to move away to be true to herself. When she moved to Chicago she was introduced to Angelica Ross and followed her on social media. When Angelica made a comment about needing administrative help, Aubrey raised her hand via social media, and was hired.

“There is an entire group of people with conviction.
Make a place in leadership for trans people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

TransTech Social Enterprises was formed in 2014 as incubator for LGBTQ Talent with a focus on economically empowering transgender people in the community. TransTech members are trained in graphic design, web development, social media management, multimedia production, and other services through real-life projects.


The technology field is suited for transgender people because it can be done remotely, removing the barriers of engaging in a hostile office working environment. Since TransTech is a training ground, services are discounted in exchange for investments in social justice causes.

“Transwomen are not a homogenized group of people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

Because transwomen reject masculinity, they are more targeted than those impacted by general misogyny. Trans women, particularly black transwomen, are marginalized with significant economical barriers. They are often rejected by family. 47% of black transwomen are incarcerated. 90% of transgender people hide their true selves, and 70% do not come out at work. You can learn more via this video clip.

“This is the most diverse conference I have been to.
Everyone has spoken beautiful truths.”
~ Devorah Heitner

Devorah Heitner, author of Raising Digital Natives thought a career in academia would be a perfect fit since her professors seemed to have a lot of autonomy, and she didn’t want a boss. She learned otherwise as she pursued this path, but nonetheless focused on pursuing her PhD in 2007. From 2002 to 2007 she researched Black Power TV, traveling the country interviewing people who were part of this movement after Martin Luther King was assassinated. She got married and had a child, and then learned that her husband did not want to leave Chicago, limiting her job options. She took a job that was a bad fit, and made it last for several years until she was fired.

“I was thrust into entrepreneurship
because I knew I cannot be an employee again.”
~ Devorah Heitner

After being fired, she called a career coach friend, and was at the crossroads between continuing a track of race, social justice and media, or exploring kids and digital media. Economic factors had her giving talks at local middle schools and high schools about digital media. She researched the challenges parents and teens face regarding cell phones, permissions to post photographs and other topics. By speaking, blogging and sharing data, she compiled Raising Digital Natives.


In 2014 she gave a TEDx talk that caught the attention of Singapore’s Minister of Education and she was flown out to Singapore to speak in March. She now has a team of 4 people assisting her with a new book coming out and continuing her venture.

notebook notes

Tips Devorah thinks are applicable to entrepreneurship from her research are:
1. Mentoring over Monitoring: taking a cell phone away after a mistake does not teach children anything, but teaching how to manage content is more effective.
2. Find productive ways to deal with failure: digital citizenship is an ongoing process and a constant learning curve
3. Find clarity through boundaries: unplug on a given days to clear your mind, don’t discount your rates when you know your value
4. Be clear in your subject lines when requesting an audience: Rather than “requesting meeting” capture what you do, such as “digital media expert” when reaching out to new leads.

“We all have a passion and
we all want to make money with our passion.
Money gives us access and more freedom.
Money helps you do more.”
~ Johanna Cook

We left with notebooks full of helpful hints, inspiration and exercises to ponder, and book titles to read. Many of us felt affirmed in making life choices that have been simmering, and others felt supported in staying the course of where they are now.


It will be exciting to see how our online community develops after the conference, and where we will all be when the next Think.Start.Do conference comes around.