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The Most Inspiring Stories in Memphis

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below.

Mariale González Ruvalcaba

I got married in 2017 since I have a major in Marketing and I used to work in advertising agencies for more than 10 years. I thought that I could do my entire wedding by myself without any professional help. But I was very wrong. I realized that getting married and organizing your own wedding are two different things. So, the entire process I keep a record of how I felt and the things I know thanks to my profession that I realized that is wrong in the wedding planning industry. My wedding day was perfect and the best of our life but I sure learn a lot and I felt the need to share it with the world. Read more>>

Shelby Brown Wimberly

Drawing is really where I started in my art. I’ve loved drawing still life since I was little. It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized the lack of time I had to create. Drawing takes so much time and patience. That wasn’t something I had at the time being a new mama. Working in my studio in Midtown, I came up with a form of expression in my work that incorporated my love for drawing and mark-making that didn’t take up so much time. I really had to learn to balance creating my work and tending to the duties of being a new mama. Read more>>

Jane Abraham

I am a recovered addict as of April 17, 1987. After living on the street and couch surfing for 30 years I realized that my problem was addiction and that it was time to stop the lifestyle. When I began my transformation, I was working in the field of addictions. I quickly understood that counseling was my mission in life. At the age of 40, I started my education after ignoring education all of my life. I worked and went to school part-time at first to get my feet on the ground and learn how to study. After a couple of years, I started going to class full time and working full time. Read more>>

Yahya Alshawi

My story begins when I first moved into Knoxville, Tennessee. I’ve always had a business mindset growing up as a kid. From having a lemonade stand to selling candy and snacks at school. I’ve always admired the idea of being self-sufficient and not relying on family or friends. At a young age, I enjoyed watching architecture shows, homes being built and home improvement shows, such as HGTV, and This Old House. That piqued my interest, and I decided to major in architectural engineering. But, as a kid, I couldn’t wait to finish all of my classes in high school and college and finally become one after 15+ years. Read more>>


My name is NOR aka NOR KIN4LIFE aka NORTOGRAPHYATL. I am a recording artist, producer, songwriter, and videographer from Mount Vernon, NY now based out of Decatur, GA. As far as I can remember, I have always been a creator. I wrote my first song at the tender age of 8 with the help and encouragement of my mother and I never looked back. In 1999, I formed a group called “KIN4LIFE with my then best friend where we went on to make history as the first Out Hip Hop duo. Read more>>

Danyetta Joy

I started Vanity A six years ago with a dollar and a dream. And I mean that literally. Lol. I was at my lowest. I had no job. No car. & I was using my weekly unemployment checks of $275 to buy inventory, which was some bomber jackets. I had those bad boys in every color & was happy about it too. I had no website so I told people to email me for purchase lol My first year of business was really high and then it seemed like after that reality kicked in. Every year in business after that became a rollercoaster. Read more>>

Sephyr Patriq

I began singing in the church choir as a toddler, I would sing with the adults and I was loud. I continued singing in the church choir and started writing songs as a 10-year-old. As I got older, I started playing in orchestras and singing in chamber choirs. I began doing theatre in high school at Germantown High School and then kept that going in college. I also trained classically at the University of Tennessee at Martin. After college, I began performing on stages in musicals and also wrote my own. One show, I helped write was featured at Lincoln Center (NY). I became tired of portraying other people so I began to perform pop/R&B covers in New York City. Read more>>

Rueal Braden

So I was a Sous Chef for Nike Warehouse and my cousin who owns a shopping center called me to look at a donut shop within the shopping center. So I went over to the shop checked it out and gave him my report on the shop. Well, he called me two days later and told me that he was going to buy the shop and give it to me to run. Now, this was November 27th, he gave me three days to decide, so I made that leap. Now I hated baking with a passion, so I didn’t know how this donut thing was going to work out, but I was willing to give it a try. I was trained for a full week and then thrown to the wolves so to speak. We fully open on the first of January 2020 and have been trying to get everything off and running ever since. COVID and supply chain issues really put a dent in our grove that year but we kept chugging on. Read more>>

Raphael Small

I should probably fast forward through all of my college hiccups at the U of M and start at the fact that I’ve managed luxury properties in this city for almost ten years, I’ve been a Realtor here for 7, and I’ve used my knack for style and design to do interior design for many, but Memphis has invited me into their homes and paid me greatly for years. I think that my passion for people and community has helped me become a successful entrepreneur and actually build a pretty consistent clientele, and I often tell myself “Imagine if you actually gave your passion 110%” and that’s what this city does, it allows you to dream, build, it really gives many entrepreneurs a voice, and I’m appreciative of that. I never thought that my passion would become my work. So it’s always a full-circle moment to know that my community has powered my business. Read more>>

Alicia Hill

My name is Alicia Hill and I am the founder of A Career Girl Brand Management LLC. I am a proud, mother and grandmother. I was born and raised in Memphis, TN, and have had opportunities to travel the world and learn various cultures and training techniques. Over the years, I have done great work within the communities and schools motivating individuals and aiding in enhancing their careers. All while working in corporate America to ensure brand value. What started out being a voice for those seeking to develop/enhance their careers quickly became a passion. Read more>>

Mary-Marsha Riley

I grew up in the small town of Morrilton, Arkansas. I was an athlete and the Valedictorian of my graduating class. I attended the University of Arkansas where I was a member of the Razorback dance team and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I continued on to law school and received my Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law. My legal career led me to Memphis in 2006, where I met and married my husband David, also an attorney, and I have been a Memphian ever since. Read more>>

Tam John

My professional passion is to inspire people to live a better feeling life! It means the world to me you are taking a look at my story. Thank you. Sometimes health dysfunction and dis-ease are masterfully disguised by the body. I’ve been a ‘type A’ corporate businessperson and that stress combined with personal stress created a cascade of ill health. Think of it as a whole lot of things I blamed on genetics and brushed off as no big deal. Until I couldn’t keep going. I had come down with a bunch of conditions that I had to stop and change my course because that was not okay with me. Read more>>

Danielle Stricklen

I had just made the snap decision to quit my job and take care of my great uncle Johnny, who I lovingly called Uncle Hooker, was diagnosed with terminal Lung and Pancreatic cancers. Once I got Uncle Hooker’s care routine figured out, I realized that although someone needed to be with him all the time (he had a tracheotomy, feeding tube, and continuous oxygen) he was still able to do it for himself. So in turn, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands. I then started taking natural soap-making classes and fell in love. From soaps, I started making body butter and lotions, this is where I created my signature ‘Butter Creme’. It’s a cross between body butter and lotion. I also created an all-natural Seamoss Lemonade. Read more>>

Racheal Walker

SafevieW started as a backless car phone holder idea. We want to encourage reducing the percentage of injury reports that happen every year in car accidents by securing a cellular device into a stationary position during transit. The idea is to save the driver time, frustration, and distractions by allowing their phone to stay in its case with wallets or grippers attached to the back passing through the holder along with easy access to the auxiliary cord and charger. Our mission as a mobile phone accessory company is to develop safe drivers around the world. Read more>>

Jermaine Swagerty

I am a 46-year-old husband and father of two. I grew up in Newport Tennessee. A city 20 miles from Gatlinburg. I moved to Memphis when I enrolled at the University of Memphis in 1993. As a young man from a small city, Memphis excited me. Life didn’t lead me to graduate until 2000 with a degree in computer engineering technology. During my time in college, I made lifelong friends, pledged the greatest fraternity, and met the woman who would eventually become my wife. Read more>>

Terri Scott

I’m originally from Louisiana and was adopted by my artist grandmother when I was 14. She inspired me to pursue a career in art, which led to me attending Memphis College of Art in Tennessee. I received my BFA with concentrations in both painting and illustration in 2014. After graduating, I joined the scholar’s program at Church Health, a nonprofit healthcare clinic in Memphis. I spent a year as an assistant digital designer. After the gap-year program ended, I became the illustrator for the Church Health Reader, a quarterly magazine. Read more>>

Genell Holloway

For many years, I’ve worked in many different corporate positions, but have always longed to have my own business. I started out working with a young lady as an independent broker under her company. Then, I branched out into forming my own S-corp – Eagle Hollow Enterprises, Inc. Later, I met Todd, my current sales leader because I argued with him about the validity of a social media ad he posted. After we met in person, he invited me to be a part of his team. I wanted to sell Medicare insurance but was very intimidated by all the rules. Finding Todd was God-divine because he has been a wonderful guide into the world of Medicare sales. Read more>>

John Peter Vance

I am born and raised in Tupelo, MS. Played baseball at Northeast Community College and then went to Ole Miss. I couldn’t settle on any one degree, so I decided to get a few. Psychology was my first degree followed by MIS and then a Business degree. I sprinkled in a Computer tech certificate just for fun. Needless to say, I couldn’t decide. So after finishing my MIS degree, I got a job in Memphis as a furniture store, and my wife and I moved up to Memphis. We stayed for about a year before we decided to come back home and start over. I worked a few different jobs in computer and investments. Anywhere I went I wasn’t ever comfortable for a long-term thing. Read more>>

Leshundra Robinson

I started UCAN of Memphis with my best friend in 2005. We sat on the bed and pondered “how can we help more youth in expressing their feelings without being intimidated and aggressive?” Both our boys played basketball and there was one boy who was very disrespectful to his team and coach. When we actually talked to him, we realized he didn’t have any support or family members who attended. He was disappointed, bitter, hurt, and angry to see everyone else with loving support and he didn’t. We took it upon ourselves to be his support system. He became a better team player and received the Most Improved award at the end of the season. We knew then we were on the right track. Read more>>

Beverly Otis

I am a licensed cosmetologist who has been doing hair for years. I have opened a few shops in my past, but none have been like my current one: The Jazmin Salon. The Jazmin Salon was founded earlier this year (2021) to commemorate the life of my daughter, Jazmin. Jazmin was a loving, fierce, and headstrong woman. She took care of everybody she loved. Unfortunately, she had her own internal battles and eventually took her own life on November 24, 2020. I want her name to live on and her memory to stay alive, so I opened up The Jazmin Salon. Read more>>

Lemon King Oddy

What’s crazy, I came up with the idea in middle school. Round bout that time the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade ‘ was really popular around that time. Those words resonated with me because of the things I was facing in life and I needed the encouragement to see things through. Well, when doing so you need tools in life and certain utensils to make the best of your situation. So I added my own little twist to the meaning and reminded myself to STAY SOUR or be determined and hungry, using that fire to turn a negative situation into something great! Read more>>

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