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Jacksonville’s Most Inspiring Stories

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.

Crystal McCraw

I never pictured myself as an entrepreneur growing up. I started my path to business ownership at a pivotal time in my life. The moment was met with my desperate need to find my purpose in life and career. I was working in the financial sector. However, I graduated with an IT degree, so I was sure that that would be the path that I’d take. When I met my husband, all of that changed. At the time, he was a few years into his career working as a massage therapist at a physical therapy clinic in Riverside. As time passed, I learned so much about his career and how massage therapy was helping his clients heal, sparking my interest. Read more>>

Kimberly Harnage

It began on November 11, 2012, with one girl who did nails in a 400sqft studio in Uptown Saint Augustine. She called it Uptown Girl Nail Studio. Less than a year later, it was time to expand, relocating to a 900sqft studio. Then there were two girls. A few years later (April 2015), the opportunity came to grow again, relocating to the intersection of Lewis Speedway & SR16. At this time, we added hair services as well as nail services. This was when we became Uptown Girls Studio! Unfortunately, in October 2016, we were flooded by Hurricane Matthew. Read more>>

ANDROMEDA STEVENS

When I was a young girl around 10-12 years old, I had upper back pain off and on but it was pretty consistent and sometimes, the pain was acute. I remember not mentioning it much to my parents but just sort of coping with it. There would be many days that I would wake up in pain and have pain all day at school. It would feel better to lean forward on to my desk and rest or to extend backwards over my chair and “crack” my back. One day my mother and I were goofing off. I snuck up quickly behind her and surprised her by tapping her on the back. Read more>>

Benisha Lundy

I have always wanted to start my own business and I was always trying different lipglosses some were good and some were not so good. I knew for myself I wanted something vegan based and also with good flavors and not made with wax in it. So I stepped out on faith and started Alouch lipgloss. It’s been a pretty smooth road. And I am grateful and thankful for that. Hand make vegan based lipgloss as well as chapstick. I am known for lollipop lipgloss bottles more than anything. I am proud to have taken the step to start my business. Read more>>

Bethany Bryan

Hi, I’m Bethany Bryan. Born on July 26th, 1990 in Jacksonville FL, into a life that instantly demanded strength. I was born with a terminal genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis. Both of my parents raised me to treat my illness as nothing more than a background character in my life and that I had zero limitations. Their faith was strong and the determination to give me, their daughter, longer life than the 6 years which was expected by the doctors drove them daily through the hard times. Both my parents battle mental illness so they are proof that you can push past limits unfairly set for you and the best example to me. Read more>>

Marienna Mercedes Joiner

My name is Marienna Mercedes Joiner, I am a 30 year old stay at home wife, mama, & CEO. About six years ago, I was burnt out and unfulfilled working a dead end job I dreaded going to. I have always been a big dreamer & creatrix, I knew a 9-5 was not going to always be for me. I dabbled in some online businesses and ended up doing pretty well for myself with an mlm, but that quickly burnt me out as well. I wanted to work for myself and myself only and build a business that would allow me to get my creative juices flowing, something I could be extremely proud of, and also something that could help other people. Read more>>

Henry Meehan

I was born Henry I then became HMYE as well. I was placed on my music journey through being entrepreneurial. I quickly learned that you should follow paths even if they are strange or unexplained. For me mowing lawns lead to producing music and meeting lifelong friends. Ever since 2014 I’ve been honing my craft. Its been mostly a smooth road, because I’ve stayed true to myself. Which has always kept me somewhat guarded. Along with keeping your karma / reputation intact! Specifically I am a Music Producer. I specialize in capturing the lightning in a bottle, I’m a believer in the magic in a room and how you must strike when you can. Read more>>

Lauralee Leonard

I was raised by two military service members and lived a traditional military family lifestyle. We moved several times when I was a child and I credit this experience for my ability to adapt to major lifestyle changes quickly. I was always a creative child, which eventually lead me to study Fashion Design & Product Development in College earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. This degree lead me to a very successful career in the Fashion Industry designing for major brands including 5.11 Tactical, Billabong, Travis Mathew, Hurley and Reef to name a few. Read more>>

Rachel Kelly

Originally from Santa Barbara, CA, I’ve been creating art ever since I could pick up a pencil. I’ve always had an innate passion for painting, and my experiences living throughout the United States have given me a unique ability to share some of the beautiful landscapes and colors I’ve seen through my eyes. In 2021, I moved to Amelia Island, FL, and quit my full-time job as a social media manager, representing over 80 brands across the nation, to pursue my mission as a full-time artist. It was not an easy decision leaving my consistent 9-5 job, but I knew that I had to follow my dreams as an artist, and inspire as many people as possible through my art. Read more>>

Angela Kornas

I started my career working in swimwear and for all the brands I worked with, I always loved development. I was big on reaching out to the actual people that were wearing what we were trying to sell. I noticed that that made me different, because a lot of companies make assumptions about people, like, “Oh, we only need one skin tone!” or, “Oh, the sizing is fine!” and I was really observant. I took a lot of notes and looked at the reviews on websites, and I noticed that people were having fit issues or were being excluded by sizing or skin tone. I had a deep desire to innovate. Read more>>

Nicholas Lorenz

We opened up in Morgantown, West Virginia in 2015 and started saving history…. We became an antique shop that focuses on saving vintage and antique items. The items we collect are all for sale and we encourage customers to find an item to either bring back memories or create new memories with …. Furnishings For U not only saves history but we keep it as original as we can… all the history we save we work hard to find and to find a good home for our items as well. It has not always been easy for us to keep operating… Read more>>

Kim Shane

During a family camping trip when I was seven years old, I asked many times if I could take a picture. The answer was always the same… “um, no”. I guess my incessant pleading finally wore him down and my father put his Polaroid in my hands for the first time. The anticipation of waiting a full two-minutes before pulling that film apart to see what I captured was exciting. I can still see that dark, blurry photo in my mind today. Even though he didn’t say it out loud, I could tell he was a bit disappointed. But not me – I captured the back of my grandmother’s head and the side of pop-up camper! Success! Read more>>

Kelly Chufo

I have lived in Jacksonville since 2005 and am originally from Michigan. I am a retired Naval officer with 2 lovely daughters–1 at Belmont Law studying Entertainment Law and 1 at UCF studying to be a history teacher. After the Navy, I received my MBA from the University of Florida while working full-time. I completed my first yoga teacher training in 2011 and completed my advanced 300HR yoga teacher certification in 2019. While working a regular 9-5 job, I occasionally sub for teachers at one of our local studios. Read more>>

Francesca LoGalbo

I have always had a passion for dance! Although I enjoy all genres, Ballet has truly become my love. A couple of years ago, I was gifted a dance photo shoot with a talented local photographer, Bridget Gabrielle Photography. That session set off a creative spark that ignited my idea for RunwayBallerina®. I combined my excitement for fashion and obsession with dance to shape my unique idea of highlighting these captivating art forms. From bringing RunwayBallerina® to life, I have had the amazing opportunity to build my brand through Ambassadorships with local and global businesses. Read more>>

Jade Higgs

At the tender age of 11, my mom told me she didn’t have the funds to keep getting my hair done as often as I did (every week, lol). I knew that I had to learn how to do it for myself somewhere along the line! And if I became good at it, I’d be able to do hair for others, but it took a while. I was selfish and didn’t want everyone to have the same styles as me, so I declined to do other people’s hair from 16 to 26! But then, a shift took place. I was working for corporate America and started doing hair for some friends after work or on my off days, and I kept it at that for about a year. Read more>>

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