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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.

Ray Lewis

I started my career as a wedding videographer years back when I was asked by a friend to film her wedding. With no previous wedding videography experience, I saw this as an exciting opportunity to learn something new and view my friend’s wedding through a different lens. (pun intended!). I almost immediately fell in love with filming weddings. The sporadic nature of the day, the need to think quickly and to use your time efficiently and effectively, the happiness and joy that comes with two people getting married; this is what I am meant to do is what I thought to myself. Now, over five years later, we have grown into a company that films 200+ weddings per year. Read more>>

Roderick & Elana Mason

Roderick and I started nearly five years ago because, after our wedding, we realized the importance of quality photos. The person we hired was an amateur and that became our only regret from our big day. Had we been properly educated on the importance of hiring a professional, we definitely would have gone a different route. After this, we developed an appreciation for beautiful images and capturing moments that can never be replicated. Over time, we learned and practiced the correct way to take photos and developed Skye Mason Photography. We chose Skye Mason Photography because we wanted to use “Skye” (after our only daughter). Creating a company together has always been one of our many dreams, so we are fortunate that we have been able to serve as many clients as we have and we are excited for the future of Skye Mason Photography, Read more>>

Kharmika Alston

My entire educational and life experience had prepared me for an international career. I learned Spanish at a young age and majored in International Relations at UNC-Chapel Hill. A year after graduating from college I applied for an International Affairs Graduate Fellowship that was aimed at increasing diversity in the United States Foreign Service which is the executive branch agency that deploys diplomats to over 130 countries to represent United States foreign policy objectives. Read more>>

Brandi Roberts

At the prime age of 27 years old, I reflect on my life and notice some patterns. From as far as I can remember, I enjoyed art and expression. Though as much as I enjoyed it most of my creative experiences as a child were touch and go. My mother initially introduced me to music and that will forever be my first love. After her death in 2001 at the age of 7 years old life changed drastically. My little sister and I moved into a home with one of my aunts who raised us. She was a schoolteacher and heavily pushed academics. She was great for teaching us a foundation but, she was not emotionally available. Read more>>

Tyamica Mabry

I used to watch my daughter draw and one day I got the urge to try it, not knowing I could. I attempted to draw cartoon characters and discovered a hidden gift. Once I learned about my ability, I started drawing all the time. This led to me experimenting with paint and I learned I like painting much more than drawing. Now, I paint as much as possible and on any surface imaginable, canvas, walls, clothes, earrings, tables, etc. I went from painting for fun to painting for hire but I still have fun. I also lead painting lessons to help others explore their talents. Read more>>

Samreen Nawaz

Walked into this location with nothing in it. Liked the location of being in downtown Cary. Started everything from scratch and after six and a half years, we are so thankful to be part of our community and the love and support we have from them. Read more>>

Krystle Bradley

I was born and raised in Roanoke Rapids, NC and I’ve always, ALWAYS had a pretty vivid imagination. I loved creative writing assignments, making up stories, music, and the arts. I have always been a people person and made friends easily. Growing up, I didn’t talk as much but I was always thinking. In 5th grade, my teacher, Ms. Dottie Floyd made us do journal entries daily and she’d take the time to write us back and respond. That was one of my favorite activities. I started thinking about books, characters, and how stories were created. I started my love for reading in the 4th grade (shout of to my 4th-grade teacher, Mr. Utley for introducing me to novels) and discovered a love for writing in the 5th. I wrote short stories, poems, etc., and really got into writing during my junior year of college at North Carolina A&T (Aggie Pride). Read more>>

LaToya Lowery

I have been a nurse for over 20 years. I have a passion for nursing, and I love what I do. Six years prior to starting my business, I was speaking with a lady from my church who was an entrepreneur. I told her that I wanted to be a consultant one day, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity or how to get started. I have always remembered that conversation. I thought about my work history and what I enjoy doing as a nurse. After researching different areas, I started my business as an Independent Nurse Consultant doing nurse life care planning and case management. I did a lot of subcontracting work. Read more>>

Jonathan Richmond

I have always enjoyed photography! Every time we went anywhere as a family, from the mountains to the coastline, I found myself trying to “steal” the camera from my dad. Being able to bring back a little piece of remembrance was important, and launched my desire to learn more in the field. With passion growing, I found myself always being the “photographer” on all our family expeditions. As time went on my photography interest grew, and I wanted to learn more about developing an “eye” for an image. Read more>>

Patrick Steele

I think for me it started when I was young. I’d had always loved to create and it was something that came more naturally to me than most things. I finally decided to pick up a camera in 2015 more seriously as a more hands-on creative release. I’d had always enjoyed writing and playing music but felt that wasn’t enough because I’d had always enjoyed art and what better art is there than the capturing of life through a lens. It is a moment frozen in time, groundbreaking in all rights. So I begin picking up where I left off years ago. Read more>>

Faith Liebling

I graduated early from high school (I found it boring and unchallenging) and went right into Cosmetology School upon my mother’s suggestion. I always enjoyed science and art classes in school which made hairstyling the perfect choice! I have worked with so many talented stylists and have made a point to watch and learn in every salon along the way. Education is the key for me. I have trained with all the top educators and even became an educator myself with Redken. Every time I went to a salon to share the knowledge I had, in return, I received just as much knowledge from my fellow stylists. I have used my degree to work in so many facets of our business. I am so fortunate to have not only cut but also colored permed and styled hair. Read more>>

Jamie Revis

I loved art even as a child. It runs in the family. My parents were very supportive. I had kids pretty young & focused my attention on raiding them but taught them all about art. I have had a career in early childhood for 24 years. In 2020, I was laid off from my job of 17 years, 2 weeks later my dad had a stroke, 2 days later his younger brother died unexpectedly, & 2 days after that I lost my dad. That kind of spurred in me the drive to take art seriously. The day before my dad’s stroke, I was headed to deliver a portrait I had painted & he told me that I should push my art especially with my boys being older. Read more>>

Kaylynne Leggett

This business and the plant truck had been an idea in the back of my mind for a few years now. I knew it was something I wanted to try to create, but I just didn’t know the time frame of it all. I moved to Brooklyn for a couple of years to pursue dance as a career and take classes, and during this time I also worked with houseplants as my full-time job. I had seen a successful plant truck done in Brooklyn on a larger scale and thought to myself “that’s exactly what I have been wanting to do!” When the pandemic hit and I was forced to head back to North Carolina, I just decided “you know what, what do I have to lose? I’m just going to go for it, start this houseplant business that I have always wanted to start, and I’m going to build this truck.” Read more>>

Hector Miray

The briefest version of my story is that I’m someone that tries to help people see that they aren’t alone, they are supported, and that God loves them. I’ve done this in different areas throughout my journey. Building/running a summer camp for kids, and spending a decade closely pouring into kids and teenagers. Teaching Bible and character development classes throughout the public schools. Being a youth pastor, being a college pastor, being a pastor. Or writing books of geeky Bible studies and touring them around Comicon. I think the core of my story really all circles that same focus, regardless of the circumstances. Read more>>

Antavious “TJ” Grier

The Kingdom of Hookahs is a mall piece to a large machine. The machine, the goal, the dream is Blow Ice Bar and Bistro. I have had a life of people telling me what I can’t do and what I would be. The doctor told me I had a learning disorder due to a mild case of lead paint poisoning and memory loss due to a massive amount of football concussions. As a kid, being surrounded by the influence of the streets, gangs, drugs, and some questionable life decisions. I was told by doctors, so-called friends, and some family that I would never be equal to my peers, that would end up like them when I get older. I was a 3rd grader reading on a Kindergarten reading and comprehension level. Read more>>

Osman Butt

I and my childhood friend Jamie grew up cooking in kitchens downtown and have known each other since we were 11 years. When Covid first hit, we decided to come up with a menu on our downtime and see if we could maybe start an at-home business doing breakfast for our local community on the weekends. We started out of my house and soon we realized that we would need to expand as it became quite busy. In July, we open up a takeout location in downtown Bowmanville. We take great pride in the food we serve to our community always using fresh ingredients and cooking with the passion and love we have for what we have created. Read more>>

Molly Stillman

My whole life I’d wanted to be on Saturday Night Live. I’d dreamed of working in comedy and when I wasn’t performing comedy, I was writing comedy. I started a LiveJournal (yes, this ages me) in college to house my writing and when I graduated college in 2007, I moved over to WordPress. For a while, I thought I was going to be the next “The Onion” – and really make it in the world of satire and parody writing. That obviously didn’t happen. But, I kept writing. By 2009, I realized I had grown a bit of an audience online and my writing started to evolve to document what was going on in my life rather than just writing satire. Read more>>

Kim Hodges

Whose hairs stand up on their arms when they speak about doing what they love? Mine! The conversation about real estate began in 2015 one Sunday evening as my husband and I discussed his family’s history owning rental properties in Eastern North Carolina. He shared that he knew that I would make a great agent because of my love of helping others and the joy of seeing their visions become reality. A little less than a year later in 2016 when we purchased our first home, I realized that he was right. The experience we had throughout the process and the pride of becoming first-time homeowners were almost indescribable. It was not without its challenges, but it was inspiring. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others who were just like us. Read more>>

Marcus Payden

I started working at the age of 14 at a Private Golf Club in Aurora, Ohio. At the age of 16, I started my first business, a mobile car detail business. I worked at the golf course and ran my mobile business until I was 18 years old and graduated from Aurora High School. I moved to Holly Springs, NC shortly after graduation with my mom, dad, and sister for my dad’s job. When I got to Holly Springs, I walked into the nearest country club, Devils Ridge Country Club in Holly Springs, and the Pro at the time hired me on the spot. I worked there for about a year until I was able to network my way into my next job at Concord Hospitality DBA Renaissance Hotel in North Hills in Raleigh, NC. I worked there for a couple of years and worked my way through two promotions there. by that time I was just turning 21 years old. Read more>>

The Mix Mobile Bartending

Deanna and Breshay started their bartending journey while still in college as an extracurricular hobby. After graduating they both went into different careers but bartend on the side for extra income. They bartended at various locations such as hotel Bistro, nightclubs, and weddings. In 2018, they decided to start their own business creating a “Ladies in the Mix” mobile bartending service. We offer a variety of services including custom mocktails/cocktails, spirit tastings, and mixology classes. You can also find us or our products at birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events. Read more>>

Rachel Stine

Braidbabes Raleigh started in July 2021. We are the third city that has been opened by the company. Braidbabes started in buffalo almost 3 years ago. They opened a second location in Nashville or April of 2021, and then Raleigh opened. Emmily Bowman is the owner && founder of braidbabes and Tori Everett is the cofounder. My name is Rachel Stine and I am the team lead for our Raleigh location. I started with the company in August of 2021 after completing braidbabes Bootcamp which is a virtual course that teaches people all the braids. If you receive 9’s and 10’s on all the braids, you can be hired by the company. I was hired to be a braider and then interviewed to be the team leader of the city and got the job. Read more>>


Dominique Alison

I currently reside in Durham, North Carolina. I’m the Owner/Founder of A Touch of Dom Makeup Artistry and Hair Services and Adore Dom Collection Online Boutique located in Durham, North Carolina. I believe in making the world a better place, and taking it one day at a time. When I first started Adore Dom Collection, I wanted every woman to be able to look and feel beautiful, no matter what shape or size. I am motivated from all of the women who has been inspired by my hard work, dedication, and determination. I believe that everyone should be accepted for who they are. I took all of the things that I love and wanted to share them with the world. Always remember to be you and to be beautiful. Continue to reach for the stars. Never give up on your dreams. Failing isn’t an option. This journey of entrepreneurship has been very interesting but I’m here for it all.   Read more>>

Nick LaGrange

I was a TV news anchor and reporter for about 10 years. I started that career in Evansville, IN. I then moved on from there to Las Vegas, where I became a news and sports anchor. And then I moved to Raleigh in 2016 for a news anchor position with Spectrum News. Along the way, I developed skills both behind and in front of the camera. And in March of 2020, I decided to leave my TV career to work my videography business full-time. Read more>>

Kelsey-Marie Mohammed

My name is Kelsey and I am a visual artist, content creator, and the Founder and CEO of The JoClin Agency, a digital agency servicing businesses in the art and fashion industries. I’ve always been a lover of the arts and I would say my career has happened quite organically. I graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mass Communications. Shortly after graduation, I moved back to Brooklyn, NY, the city where I was born. Read more>>

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