To Top

Portraits of Raleigh

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Raleigh.

Timothy Ocampo

I am a Raleigh native and grew up here my whole life until going off to college where I attended Guilford College in 2013. I played one year of Division III basketball while attending Guilford College until I decided to become a full-time student and then transferring to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2014. There I graduated with a degree in Business Administration, concentration in Finance in 2017.  In 2018 I decided to get my real estate license and haven’t looked back since! I joined Costello Real Estate & Investments where I have grown and learned so much with other great agents. Our growth has been immense, I was the 14th or 15th agent at the firm then. Now we are large producing firm with over 100 agents!. Read more>>

Laura Johnson

I am a wife, mother of 3 sons ages 22, 21, and 13. I have a BS degree in Accounting and an MBA (which I obtained as a single mother of 2 preschoolers after their father took his own life in our backyard). I have my CrossFit Level 1 and Precision Nutrition Level 1 coaching certification. I am a master/scaled CrossFit Athlete, Nutrition Coach, founder of Clayton Ruck Club, and community volunteer…My 17-year long career as a Senior Financial Analyst with the same real estate investment company ended when COVID claimed 2020. Since that time, so many other parts of who I am have been allowed to flourish. Moveology was born from that flourishing. It exists to change people’s lives through encouraging them to fuel their bodies, move their bodies and allow their bodies to achieve fitness. Moving our bodies creates the space for fitness, healing, and growth as individuals and communities. Moveology provides people with the tools they need to succeed in their personal journeys to fitness. Read more>>

Briana Threat

I began my early twenties in graduate school studying to become a clinical mental health counselor. That’s where I thought my story would begin. Little did I know, I was about to take a major detour and follow my creative dreams instead. During my first year in my Master’s program, I began learning how to do hair. Always thinking business, hairstyling became my “side hustle” to help me earn money while I finished school. My clientele grew, and before I knew it, I was 6 months post-grad and decided to stick with hair “for the time being”. I then went in business with my father and opened salon suites in 2017. In 2019, I went to Paul Mitchell cosmetology school and became fully licensed, thus branching out into extensions, natural hair care, cutting, and color services. While all of this was happening, I was growing my YouTube channel and brand that I started in 2015. Read more>>

Amber Garcia

I am a wife to my wonderful husband Daniel and mother to 2 littles, Otto and Maren! I began my career in fashion retail at the end of my college career, and fell even more in love with fashion, but also became so passionate for retail operations, employee development, and team leadership. I worked for Kendra Scott for almost 5 years and it was just truly an amazing company that taught me so much and gave me so many lasting relationships. Kendra Scott is also the reason we ended up in North Carolina. I am Dallas born and raised, and 4 years ago, my husband and I picked up our lives and moved 18 hours away from family and friends so that I could pursue my dreams with Kendra Scott. We got married back in Texas just a few short months later, and then found out we were also expecting our first baby! It was a whirlwind start to our journey that’s for sure- moved, got married, and discovered we were starting a family all while taking on new roles and careers! It felt overwhelming in the moment, but looking back, it was all perfectly set up for the bigger picture. Read more>>

Sydney and Adam Byrd

The story of Artisan Guitar Electronics is a love story. Both for us as well as for the business. We met while Adam was an electrical engineering student at NC State and I was a sociology student at UNCC. Both guitar players with interests that complimented one another. I come from a family of small business owners so entrepreneurship is in my blood – I love starting businesses and encouraging others to do the same. Adam enjoyed winding guitar pickups in his spare time. Artisan Guitar Electronics was a perfect match of our passions.  In 2012, I encouraged Adam that we should start selling the pickups he wound. We had only just begun dating and we agreed that if we broke up, so did the business – I couldn’t wind pickups without him and he couldn’t run a business without me. Read more>>

Courtney Cope

I’ve been in the beauty industry for over 20 years. Currently, I own two businesses, work full time with clients, train students and I’m also a single mother. I’m a very busy lady lol! I was a hairstylist for 23 years, in 2015 I decided I wanted to add a different service to offer my clients, so I became certified in permanent cosmetics. At that time, I didn’t realize the impact I would have on so many women’s lives, and the impact it would have on me. Permanent cosmetics is truly a life-changing experience. Building confidence, and making people feel beautiful is so rewarding. My passion for this industry is so strong that I decided to pour my heart into it full-time. I’m continuously training and studying. So far, I have received 10 certificates of course completions. I am Board Certified by the American Academy of Micropigmentation. I have been trained and coached by some of the world’s most renowned master artists in the industry. I am always striving to learn more and grow; I want to be the best me I can be for my business and clients. Read more>>

Morgan Crutchfield

I’ve always known my mom to have a love for photography, but I recently discovered my great grandfather also had a passion for it. I guess that’s where it really started and had a trickle effect all the way down to me. Growing up, my mom took hundreds of pictures (they are awesome to look at now) and encouraged me to do the same. I didn’t have my own camera just yet, but she would always surprise me by stuffing about 8 (literally 8) windup cameras in my suitcase whenever I traveled with my jump rope team. In high school, when I finally did get my first camera, I was that girl always in ya face taking a picture. Haha. Fast forward to college, I changed my major Junior year to mass comm., took a photojournalism course, rocked it, and was invited to work as a photographer for the campus paper. I think that is when I realized I had a talent for something other than sports and decided to dive! After graduation, photography was still only a hobby. Read more>>

Jaclyn Auletta

I’ve always been a fan of photography but I did not begin with photographing people. I loved landscapes, cityscapes, and macro photography. It wasn’t until I went to college that one of my professors encouraged me to photograph people in New York for a project and I’ve never looked back! While I loved photographing people, weddings were not on my radar. Then I was asked to photograph my brother’s friend’s wedding and decided to dive deep into the world of wedding photography and I’m so glad I did. Read more>>

Karen Matthews

Sawdust & Sage was started in January of 2017 by myself and my then 19-year-old son Tyler. Tyler was always interested in carpentry and I had just left a career in luxury cosmetics a few months prior. After taking the holidays off – the first one in 20 years – I was seriously struggling to figure out what to do next with my life. I loved being creative and using my artist’s eye so Tyler and I started making rustic signs and other items out of recycled pallet wood. Pallet wood was chosen because it was readily available and free, perfect for learning and practicing with.  After a couple months, it was necessary for me to go back to the work world. I would have loved to stay home and continue to learn and grow the company from that point and that would have been a really lovely story but we needed to pay bills! For the next 3 years, Tyler continued to work on his skills. I would help with designs and marketing to local Facebook groups and Etsy at night and on weekends. I often painted until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer! Tyler taught himself to make a variety of outdoor furniture and made all the signs for me. Read more>>

Adrienne Morgan

I started photographing when I was young with my Fischer Price film camera and as I got older always knew that I wanted to do something in the industry. For a while, I was sure I wanted to work in magazines and I interned at Martha Stewart Omnimedia which was awesome. I really found my niche when I started assisting product photographers and knew that shooting and showcasing companies’ products in unique and different ways was what I should be doing with my career! Most every day is different and I love that I get to be creative with my shoots and make a living.  Read more>>

Catalina Shaw

My parents brought me to the United States when I was 6 years old in hopes of finding a better life. We moved here from Medellin Colombia and though I love my roots and my culture… I’ll forever be grateful for their sacrifices because I couldn’t imagine any other place than the US to be my home. As I started to get older, I never quite knew what I wanted to do, I always came up with something different… I graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh NC and just dove straight into the workforce. I worked at Angus Barn for 7 years where I met the love of my life and 2 years later, we got married. One day my dad stepped in and said “you need to do something you will become very successful with… You need to do real estate” and less than a month later I was enrolled to take the course and get my license. My first transaction in real estate was our very own purchase of our home. It took several firms to find the right fit but ultimately, and at the perfect time, I joined Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Paracle. Read more>>

Imani Bell

My life started as a gamer and now I am living my dream as a full-time gamer/content creator. Before this journey, I was an all-star cheerleader and dancer. That consumed my life for 14 years. During my free time, I played games and watched gaming videos on YouTube. A friend of mine suggested streaming on Facebook Gaming. I wasn’t sure what the journey would include but I was willing to play games on stream, why not? I streamed late nights after finishing work at 9 pm or so and would jump on stream to hang with my friends. Two years ago, I would have never imagined that I am where I am today, but here I am. I streamed 5 days of the week while working two other jobs. My goal was to build a community of people who enjoyed my content and I did. From zero to 7,810 followers here I am. FB Gaming decided to partner me to their platform and now I can live comfortably. I am now able to create content for other platforms and only have Facebook as my ONLY job. It is the best job ever.  Read more>>

Noble Empress

I started Noble Companion in 2014 to provide fashionable and quality handbags for under $100.  Read more>>

Kia Bland

I’ve always been into skincare and makeup but I haven’t. I never wore makeup until about 11 years ago. I was married and just had my son. My ex-husband was deployed so I was home all the time with my kids. I started watching YouTube videos. My favorite youtubers were ItsMyRayeRaye and Aaliyah Jay. I learned the basics about makeup just by watching them and my love for it began there. Then about 3 years ago I started making my own skincare products and selling lashes online. I would read about how certain essential oils and ingredients were good for your skin and which weren’t. But something in me wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to be more knowledgeable in skincare because I didn’t want someone to ask me a question about their skin and I give them the wrong answer. So, that’s when I decided to go back to school for esthetics. I moved from Detroit back to my hometown Havelock, NC, and enrolled in Alexander Paul School of Cosmetology in Greenville. Read more>>

Genifer Cohen

I am originally from New Jersey and the youngest of three. I went to school in New York at Ithaca College. I studied Sport Media there and played soccer for two years. During my time in college, I worked every job I could to get involved in the campus and off-campus community and to see what I liked and didn’t like. I worked for the baseball program in administration, for the athletics department, I worked in the laundry room, concessions, scoreboard, you name it, and really found fun in it all. Off-campus I bartended so I had some very late nights and very early mornings for athletic events, but always made time for friends. During my junior year, I landed an internship in Pennsylvania for a full-service golf marketing, events, and travel company. There, they ran Pro-Am (1 Golf Pro & 3 Amateurs) tournaments in places like Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts, etc., and needless to say. Read more>>

Megan Beekman

My career started in sales, gym sales, software sales, engineering services, and now real estate! I wanted a career where I could help people and do what I love, and I’ve found that in this Industry. Being able to help someone buy or sell one of their most treasured possessions is truly an honor. I love working with people and helping fill such a practical need in their life and help take some of the stress out of a pretty stressful season of life. Read more>>

Carly Erickson

Boro Beverage started out as a hobby and grew sustainably through demand! When owner, Carly Erickson attended a Sustainable Agriculture program she found herself working on various farms in the community of Pittsboro. During that time learning about growing methods and the local foodshed, she also worked at farmers’ markets. At the end of the day, lots of unsellable produce was being left to go to waste which was disheartening. Carly started to learn about food preservation in efforts to create value-added products to lessen waste and provide consumable and potentially sellable food items. Starting with canning this journey led her to fermentation. Practicing with vegetable ferments eventually Carly discovered kombucha, a fermented tea using simple ingredients and creating a delightfully refreshing and healthy beverage that was extremely versatile. She started flavoring kombucha with local produce working her way through the seasonal abundance. Read more>>

Cheyenne Levinson

I am a mom to two kiddos ages 7 and 2 and love exploring our beautiful state with them. Last year I started to see parents really struggle with being isolated and needing opportunities to explore and get outside with their families. I saw a lack of easy-to-digest, fun, and inclusive content geared towards families in the area and decided to create an IG account to highlight all of the amazing family fun in the triangle. What started as a fun side project to share local adventures and businesses has turned into a community of families who are excited to try new things, meet new people, and explore the triangle! The content we post is so helpful because parents know what to expect from an experience before spending their own time, money, and energy. The businesses are grateful for the exposure and we are constantly discovering new places to feature. My list of places to visit for Triangle Families Explore is literally never-ending. Read more>>

Tawana Rice

I learned my passion for Real Estate during early 2000s while living in Atlanta GA. My children were very young and we were new to the area. I grew a knack for the beautiful home design, floor plans, features, and custom builds the area holds. My passion for helping others has always been of my character. What A COMBINATION! I can naturally help others and explore the many facets real estate offers. So natural that it feels so good! I am in my purpose!  I wasn’t able to cultivate my dream until my children were older. It was my husband’s career change which led me opportunity to attend real estate school. Prior to the time, as opportunity grew near, many would come to me and tell me how great of a Realtor I would be. I knew it was meant and this was my confirmation to begin now. Read more>>

Leroy Jones

The reason behind starting my own business was because I was sick of being discriminated against, pushed aside, counted last than the other person, and all the excuses basically because I was black. Also being an upcoming 3D artist there’s a saying that goes around that lets you know that it will take you 3-5 years to get your first job, so basically was on God to send you a Sign. I’m sorry but I been on my own at a very young age and God never game so I knew I needed to take matters into my own hand. Lastly, seeing how the game industry work behind closed doors really pushed me more because most companies are not giving the new guy any changes, there seems to be only looking for seniors, no diversity at, or no clue what that really even means. Thus, the 3D Dojo was born which in short was a community I’ve created to battle that and be the difference as people like myself also ways have to do. Also, to give my people a better chance because it’s going to be a lot black shit from the folks, we are able to hire to the game we create. Read more>>

Daniel Krenzer

Daniel Krenzer began roasting coffee in his garage in Spring 2016 and soon began sharing it with friends and family. Kevin Jordan became one of the first customers and approached Daniel about starting a local coffee roastery. Within a year of roasting, the community began asking for a place to come and enjoy the coffee. Jen Krenzer and Kimberly Jordan decided to partner with Kevin and Daniel and the idea for Converge Coffee Bar and Cafe was born. The 4 partners wanted to connect with their community through coffee. With this sentiment, out tagline and mission was born- “Connecting Through Coffee”. To do this we work to have vendors that are also local and are community minded. We’ve worked to create a place where small businesses and people can come together. Converge recently celebrated its third year of business on August 3rd. Read more>>

Jen McClard

I’ve been a stay-at-home, homeschool mom for over 15 years. In 2015 I was looking for a way to add to our family’s income and still be home with my little ones. My husband started making us some reclaimed wood home decor, I shared it on my personal social media, and people wanted to buy them! I started selling on local Facebook groups, and local craft fairs. In 2017 we opened our Etsy shop, each and every year we grew a little more and then 2020 happened and it exploded! It’s now our full-time job and we still can’t believe our dream came true!. Read more>>

Shar Legree

In 2013 while on duty, I fell asleep behind the wheel and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I was facing a medical board from the Army National Guard. I asked if I could take an Army Physical Fitness Test to prove I was fit for duty. I called my trainer and we got to work. After passing the fitness test, I had a new lease on life. I was looking for a beauty pageant and came across Jessica Arevalo, a Professional Bikini Bodybuilder. I decided I would do a fitness competition instead. After competing in several shows I won my pro card. I would compete in 18 shows throughout my bodybuilding career. In 2017 I moved to North Carolina and was given the opportunity to promote my own show.  Read more>>

Wes Harper

After college (Virginia Tech) I got a job as a telephone system broker where I learned how to sell and install business telephone systems. Since I was young and naive, I decided to pick up my young family and move from Northern Virginia to Raleigh, NC. to start my own technology business. Times were very tough starting out and we semi-jokingly call them the mac and cheese years. Through hard work, persistence, mental fortitude, and a bit of luck, LightWire, Inc. is alive and well 25 years later. Today, thanks to the continual evolution of Information Technology, we are a Managed Service Provider (IT Services) employing 15 brilliant team members and providing service to hundreds of businesses across the United States and in 5 different countries. Oddly enough, I still enjoy mac and cheese. Read more>>

Angel Parker

I am from Fayetteville, NC. Born and raised! Currently, stay in Raleigh-Durham NC. I graduated from Methodist University with a BS in Sport Management and a minor in Business Administration. Within the next year or so I plan on going to Massage Therapy school to become a licensed Massage Therapist. With that, I plan on mainly focusing on Sports Therapy and eventually opening my own clinic.  I started brainstorming about The Naked Goddess Collection when Covid first started. It was based off body positivity and making women (& men) more confident with their bodies. As you can see, I have a thing for making people feel better mentally and physically. It was originally supposed to be a Waistbead collection but being in Quarantine with my creative juices constantly flowing, I started making Essential oil-infused Lava bead bracelets. I started making Infused lava beads because not only should you be healthy physically but you should also be healthy mentally. And when Covid first started, it slightly messed with my mental state. Read more>>

Mimi Chan

I started my online boutique in 2015. It wasn’t something that I had planned for myself. Prior to diving headfirst into entrepreneurship, I had spent 12 years building my marketing career and had every intention to stay in the corporate world.  In 2012 my older son, who was 18 months at the time, was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy. He was never able to crawl or walk, and eventually lost the ability to do tummy time and roll. The first few years’ post-diagnosis was very intense for our family as we learned how to live with this disease, care for our son properly, and juggle a mirage of doctors’ appointments, therapies, hospital visits, and procedures. For two full-time working parents, it was incredibly overwhelming, so when the opportunity came along to start my own business and have a more flexible schedule, I jumped on it.  Read more>>

Cheryl Watson

I started as a delivery girl for a local florist right out of high school. Was there for 12 years. Learned about designing while there. I left there and went to a state job with benefits. While there I decided to go to nursing school because I have always wanted to help people. After 1 and 1/2 years of school, my stomach couldn’t take all that was required to be a nurse. I did do some designing there for retirement parties and a few weddings. I left there and went to a florist and was a designer there for 10 years. There was a guy that worked there that I learned from watching him. I asked him one day, how do you learn how to do all this? His comment was “I look at a lot of magazines and watch shows about designing”. Well, then I started doing the same. In 2006, my husband and I decided we would start our own business doing weddings and special events… It was definitely a leap of faith at my age. I have always got a paycheck from someone else. All I had to do was show up and work my 8 hours. Read more>>

Betty Vandivier

I moved to Cary, NC in 2o10. Very soon after, I started working as a receptionist at a hair salon. I quickly fell in love with the industry and decided a few years later that going to hair school was the path I wanted to take. I graduated from Mitchell’s Hair Styling Academy in 2o14 and have been behind the chair ever since! As a mom, I’ve always had the mindset that growing my career and raising my son could actually be done simultaneously. In June of 2021, I decided to take a step in faith and open my own salon. It’s been SO much fun taking what I love to do and making it mine!. Read more>>

Adrianne Barnes

Speak Creations was founded by Adrianne Barnes, a North Carolina native with a global vision to spread the Word of God and the Good News that is Jesus Christ. Discovering for herself the necessity of the Word of God in everyday life, she was inspired to make it available to all people.  Speak Creations is an online Christian retail store that brings an entirely new meaning to “spoken word”. Through our original designs, inspired by scripture, the Word of God is spoken and serves as a reminder that there is a Word for every situation life brings. Each design speaks for itself, and we pray that our products speak to you, as well. Read more>>

Erica Mason

McHorney’s WELCOMEs You To The Weird.  The Historical McHorney Odditorium…will surprise, challenge, and amuse visitors with its unstable and unpredictable physical circumstances within an atmosphere of wacky whimsicality… Dedicated to the community of Currituck County. Recognized by the Historical Society a civil war home in Barco, North Carolina. McHorney’s is a roadside attraction, a non-profit organization an oddity museum, art gallery, music venue, and event center. Beginning with a Civil War-era home belonging to The McHorney Family, Erica Mason, McHorney’s creator, and curator has undertaken a labor of love in her delicate restoration of a local landmark. Read more>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Entertainment