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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.

Joe Jackson

Like most artists, I believe it all started as a child with an uncontrollable urge to express myself. I was constantly drawing all over my assignments in grade school. These actions eventually led to having to be assigned additional “scratch” paper to doodle on – it was all creative chaos from that point on. The urge to create slowly becomes a part of your being down to the core. For me creating art was a way to express my interpretation of life and the mish-mashed twisted reality in my mind. Over time my doodling turned into sketches and then refined drawings. As I progressed in years I eventually ventured onto legal graffiti murals, airbrushing, and custom painting vehicles. Read more>>

Beth Bush

I started my small fitness business GetFit With Beth, LLC (aka GFWB) during the pandemic in July of 2020, after getting certified through NASM. Gyms were closed, but I wasn’t. When I first started out, GFWB was 100% a mobile personal fitness business. I came to clients’ garages and driveways and set up a “gym”. Since starting I’ve opened my own personal fitness studio in East Memphis and have gone from mobile to the studio. I still see some clients on the road and I also book Bridal showers, birthdays, and group workouts on the weekends. One of my favorites was a Bridal party workout on top of the Peabody Hotel. Read more>>

Mike Memphis

I am a local Memphis recording artist. I actually started doing music in church as a youth. I played drums and sang in the choir. My love for music carried over to middle and high school where I was the drum major at Manassas High. I received a full scholarship to attend Lane College to pursue a degree in music. I recorded music with several artists from all over the United States including working with Grammy-nominated multi-platinum producer K.E on the tracks. The year 2008 changed my life forever. Read more>>

Traya Thompson

I’ve always been creative, but had no idea that creativity would one day bring in money! For birthdays and holidays, I would give gifts with names embroidered on them. I always used one embroiderer and she did an amazing job. Well, one year she just stopped answering the phone for me. I was so lost! I decided to purchase a machine for myself and figure it out. I found a really small embroidery machine on Facebook Marketplace for $250.00 and the largest size I could embroider on the machine was 4×4 so that’s really small! This was in 2015 when a lot of information wasn’t as readily available as it is now, so I had to do quite a bit of research and call Brother’s customer support line for help. Read more>>

Rocio Cervera

I used to help with the multimedia department at a church I attended about 8 years ago. I never had any formal training in Photoshop or anything like that just a natural inclination to be a creative person. Anyways, my friend knew a printing shop that was needing to hire a graphic designer, and she recommended I apply. The term “graphic designer” was a scary idea to me. I went in and made my first business card ever. I still had a job at a phone store then- but I wanted to learn something new, and luckily I was hired at the shop. It was a pay cut, but I saw it as an investment into my future. Eventually, I left the job and started my business, Grafix Creations. Read more>>

Ryan Long

I managed pizzerias in Chicago for many years while purchasing equipment from those owners. Our plan was to open a place up north however my wife took a job down here in Memphis. We ended up bringing all of our kitchen equipment down from Chicago, found a spot along Summer Ave, and then opened up Izzy & Adam’s at 6343 Summer Ave. We named the pizzeria after our two boys, Isaac and Adam. It has not been easy. Between the logistics of moving kitchen equipment and a double-deck pizza oven 600 miles south, finding a space to open up, and then getting the space up to code, getting our operation up and running was difficult, to say the least. Read more>>

Luspitta Woe

Honestly, I’ve been involved in music all my life. I started out attending Stax Music Academy summer program when I was younger. Ever since then, I’ve been in love with music. I enjoy the process and everything that comes with my journey. I’d never say that my path has been an easy one, but some things in the music business come easier to me than others. If I don’t know it then I’m willing to learn and that has made the process so much easier. I love music but the more I create the more I understand that this is a business first and that’s where I have found my new passion. Read more>>

Raylin Taylor

I noticed that black professionals weren’t and still aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. I created a platform that would help shape minority-owned businesses professionally in the public eye. Some struggles I’ve had was gaining exposure for my company and establishing my brand. I went back to school to learn more about the industry and gain more experience. 90centre has been sharpened and organized to be more efficient for me and my clients. 90Centre is public relations agency with a mission to help establish and support businesses professionally. We help brands convey their messages in the most up-to-date and efficient channels possible so that they can reach their intended Ed markets. Read more>>

Michelle Francine Turner

A California native and a new resident of Memphis, I’m passionate about exploring new places, people, and skill sets. After graduating with a degree in Computer Sciences, I started my career with the Department of Defense. I became the only black female Help Desk Technician, Web Developer, and Technical Trainer in a male-dominated environment. I worked with awesome men and women who supported my efforts and encouraged my career development! Later, I turned my attention to becoming a Technical Trainer full-time and pursuing my Masters in On-line Education. Thanks to one of my instructors, a seed was planted in me to explore my public speaking abilities in the world of voiceover and voice acting. Read more>>

Monica Thomas

During COVID, I had the inspiration to write a children’s book; however, I had no idea where to being. January 2202 I spoke with a young lady by the name of Natosha Harris “A Mouthful” publishing company. She walked me through the process from start to finish. When I spoke with her about the book, I told her that I wanted to do a children’s book that shined a light on from childhood to adulthood, by accident or by chance, all sorts of events impact our lives and it is ok to be who they are. I also wanted a book that young children could begin to read by using several sight words throughout. Read more>>

Maya Harvey

Hi, my name is Maya Harvey and I am 24 years old. I grew up in Rochester, MN, and then moved to Memphis when I was 20. After high school. I have always been the person to plan things. whether it was a family vacation or a party, I wanted to be involved. While I was growing up I watched my mom create a Non-profit that is now global. I am the owner of Events by Harvey. As a kid, I was obsessed with planning events. Whether it was for my birthday or a family reunion I wanted to be in charge. When I got engaged, I immediately started planning my wedding. I had everything booked within the month. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted everything to be. Read more>>

Brittani Morganfield

Since elementary school, I’ve been doing graphic & web design, and it all started in the school’s computer lab. Whether I was designing blogs and flyers or creating a magazine that I tried and failed to sell in the library, I always knew that I would be creating for a long time. I continued to design for fun as I got older and eventually started doing small jobs like logos and websites for my family in 2018. I decided to start my business, Brittani Social, in December 2020. I would say the road has been very smooth. I’ve learned a lot in the past few years and, thankfully, that learning process hasn’t been painful. I’m grateful to have a great support system that I can lean on.  Read more>>

Maciah & Mariah Strickland

We are twins Maciah and Mariah Strickland; we became vegan about 4 years ago after learning you can aid in your longevity through a plant-based diet and exercise. Therefore, seeing how the majority of our elderly family members started being diagnosed with different health issues we knew we did not want to be a part of that statistic where hereditary disease would be passed on to us. Not because of genetics, but because of the eating habits we were brought up on. The journey has not been smooth, we have definitely had our share of bumps in the road. Read more>>

Madaline Collins

Well, I started at about twelve just singing in the shower and what and not and realized it was something I was halfway decent at, lol. But I picked up piano at fourteen which pushed me more seriously into music, I mostly began playing and singing covers by artists I’m most inspired by, which helped me find my own sound both vocally and instrumentally. I’ve been growing into myself more and more as a musician ever since! Though I’ve been extremely graced in my music career, there have been a few small battles. It can be difficult to stay steadfast when you’re trying to balance work and bills as well as pushing for a music career. Read more>>

Illy Muse

Beginning as early as 5 years old I began expressing myself through music. The Church pews were my initial stage. From there I performed heavily in Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Show choirs, and traveled and performed with the Chicago Children’s choir. And even ended up attending a performance-based College in Los Angeles where I refined my style of technical dance and classical music, and even began auditioning for more commercial-based work in California. But something interesting shifted after leaving LA; naive, broken from the harsh judgments of California beauty standards, and in complete uncertainty of if I had ‘what it took’ to even “make it” in the industry I so desperately wanted to become a part of as a young girl.  Read more>>

Harold Skelton

My name is Harold Skelton and I am originally from Holyoke Massachusetts, an old industrial paper mill city in the western part of the state and one of the poorest communities in New England. My grandfather, Harold Skelton Sr, an Irish immigrant was a Holyoke police officer and Korean War veteran. He rose through the ranks and retired as the longest-acting police chief in Holyoke’s history. This inspired me to follow in his footsteps and after high school, I went to the intermittent reserve police academy. I became an auxiliary police officer with the West Springfield police department. Read more>>

Michael McDonald

It all started when I was a child. I knew I wanted to be great and my parents pushed me to work hard and apply myself. No, this road has been bumpy. Lack of finances, mental health issues, and losses personally almost took me out of the game. I’m an aspiring recording artist and dancer. I’m currently a pre-med major at McNeese State University. I am proud of making it this far. My way of thinking sets me apart from others & in the fact that I stand out and never fit into any crowd. Growing up, I was quiet and shy but I gravitated toward the arts and sports. I wanted to be a lawyer growing up as well as a choir director. Read more>>

Barbara Wall

I’m Barbara Wall. I am the owner of Enchanted Tea Lounge. I was born in Mississippi but raised here in Memphis. I love vintage pieces, heirlooms, and art. I am an artist and love making jewelry. I love drinking tea. One of my favorite pastimes is having afternoon tea. Afternoon tea creates an atmosphere, an aura of grace and elegance, and an institution of relaxation. I opened the tea lounge so other people who love tea can come out, relax and have a cup of tea. Enchanted Tea Lounge is also co-owned by Stephanie Moss. She is a local realtor and investor. We’re leasing an older building. Some of the struggles we had to overcome along the way were building a kitchen and bringing the building up to code. Read more>>

Aeo Tyler

I consider myself an artist because almost all forms of creating art are called to me. I’ve been writing rhymes for my music since I was in elementary. During those same years, I started drawing clothes and original sneaker designs. After high school, the clothing design slowed but the music stayed my focus. I did here and there work with music in college and even dropped my first mixtape but it wasn’t until coming to Houston that I started to take music more seriously. I came to Houston after graduating college from the Northwestern State University of Louisiana with a B.A. in Business Admin. I quickly fell in love with the city and from there I started focusing on my music more. I’ve dropped a couple of mixtapes since and have been primarily releasing singles since then. Read more>>

Anastasia Louise Williams

Cheese Louise started a couple of years ago as a hobby with girlfriends. I would make boards for my friends and family or for girls’ night in (during covid times) and the boards kind of took on a life of their own. I love “making things pretty” that’s kind of been my motto in life. Nothing gives me more happiness than seeing a person smile over a creation I did for them! The road to owning my own business has definitely been challenging at times from securing a commercial kitchen, obtaining licensures has been the most difficult. My work speaks for itself so finding customers hasn’t been a problem because it has mostly been through word of mouth. Read more>>

Alison G. Thompson

I am an Oxford, MS native and a graduate of the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis, respectively. I developed my love for reading from my mother at a young age. There was always an Eric Jerome Dickey or a Terry McMillan book on my mother’s nightstand or workbag. As I evolved, not only did I discover my passion for reading, but my teachers, Mrs. Miller and Dr. Lowe assisted me in finding my voice through writing and speaking. I think I share the sentiments of the great Langston Hughes, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” I’ve definitely had “splinters and boards torn up.” I changed my major several times in undergrad and still did not know what I wanted to do when I graduated. Read more>>

Tasha Reynolds

I started crocheting as a child but picked it up again in my 30s. When I was a little girl, my grandmother had this plastic 70’s tablecloth. It had yellow and orange flowers, with hints of that avocado green speckles throughout it. I would sit there and braid the little yellow tassels when I was bored. Endless hours of braiding tassels. One day, my grandmother said, “if you want to do something with your hands, let me teach you to crochet.” So we sat down and she started teaching me. I fell in love with it. In 2017, I was housebound taking care of my elderly father, he was quite sick and couldn’t be left alone, or be taken out of the house much either. Unable to work, I picked up grandma’s hooks, bought some yarn, and started crocheting again. Read more>>

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