Ashland Viscosi



“I have a positive view on life and of people, I approach everything (and everyone) as an opportunity and not a challenge.”

Ashland Viscosi

I feel so lucky to live in a city where there are so many local creative people. For many creatives it can be a challenge to do business with their craft. Nowadays seems that we have more creative entrepreneurs that live out of what they love. Today I present to you an interview with Ashland Viscosi, a lady that will not only help you to be sustainable with what you do, but look for the best strategies and practices for your business. Aside from the fact that she rocks her own business, she is an amazing woman. Please read on because I can’t wait for you to read her words, she is fun, intelligent, and truly stands for what she believes in. It is an honor to present this interview on my blog. As always, I hope you can be inspired and curious about following the steps of these amazing women who are doing meaningful things for this world. We really need to empower, love, and help each other more than ever!




Who are you and what do you do?

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die. Ok, so that’s not true, my name is actually Ashland Viscosi. I do have a sense of humor though and happen to absolutely love the Princess Bride (among many other films). My special sauce is making connections and I use those “powers” to help connect people in ways that help them grow and become more sustainable. I help create connections in a variety of ways, ranging from one to one relationships to small group to larger-scale community.

Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?

I grew up in two places. I’m one of those rare unicorns who can actually say they were born in Austin. My parents divorced when I was five and my mom remarried her high school sweetheart from Oklahoma when I was eight. So we packed up and moved to a ranch in Duncan, Oklahoma. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Strange, it’s a huge town of about 25,000…and is the original home of Halliburton (which is usually how people know Duncan, if they know it all, which is .01% of the time).

Growing up in two radically different places gave me a huge amount of perspective, especially into what’s happened with the recent election. Even though I moved to Duncan, my dad remained in Austin for several more years. My sister and I would come to visit him every other weekend and during summers. My dad is more of the “fun uncle” type, meaning I’d get to go to bars and other places in Austin that 10 year olds probably shouldn’t frequent. Even at 10, I knew what Austin was and what made it special. I never really left Austin and always wanted to come back, it was always home and the connection that I always felt to the city never left me. I can’t say that I fit in well in Duncan, Oklahoma, but I definitely found my way in the world. I was a middle school chess champion (and have a trophy that almost hits me at the waist), flutist in the marching band and a member of the Jolly Jills Social Club (because yes, Duncan has high school sororities. If you’re picturing DAZED AND CONFUSED right now, good, because that’s a fairly accurate depiction of what hazing is like – except ours lasted a full summer).

All of my experiences have shaped and will continue to shape me. My hybrid urban / rural youth definitely gave me perspective, but so too have my other experiences – like serving in the Peace Corps. What I learned from all of my experiences was: I’ve always been interested in people, I have a love for them, and I want to help use my “powers” of connecting for good.

Name something you love, and why?

I love horror films, I love comic books, I love cheese plates and I love brunch. I also wholeheartedly love “Bat Out of Hell” by Meatloaf (on vinyl). Come to think of it, I love a great many things and dislike very little. I find enjoyment in just about everything. With horror films, I love the range of emotions that you feel when watching them (it’s pretty much like experiencing all of the seasons of weather in 90 minutes). I love comic books because I love storytelling, the variety of the artwork, how contributors affect storylines and comic sans (in comics only…). Cheese plates and brunch – need no explanation…

What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?

I don’t think it’s that easy, that there’s just one thing that will make someone more successful.  I think always being open to new ideas, questioning your models and belief systems and really evaluating why you do what you do and how you’re applying it will help push you to become more aligned with yourself. Success is something that everyone measures differently (or should anyway). Having one generalized notion that we all collectively agree and define as “success” sets us all up to fail. Having an idea for success that you define and make personalized is the best way forward.

How did you find your passion?

I think my passion found me. I have a lot of things in my background (two degrees in Political Science, Peace Corps, statistician, non-profit development and marketing, filmmaker, etc), but the common thread is people. After going through Leadership Austin in 2014, I asked myself questions that I’d always skirted and really learned much more about myself and how I wanted to show up. Self-exploration and self-knowledge is such a huge key into unlocking who you really are and how you’re responsible for creating your own happiness.

What is your ideology as a creative person?

I have a positive view on life and of people, I approach everything (and everyone) as an opportunity and not a challenge.

How do you overcome your fears?

By doing (except for my fear of heights). I love lighthouses, especially the walk up, but I abhor standing on the ledge of the lighthouse with the wind whipping all around me and taking note of the surprisingly huge distance between me and the ground. Thanks, but no thanks. I do love me a fresnel lens, so thank goodness they’re enclosed 😉

In what way have you changed by empowering creatives?

Change happens all of the time, it’s the only thing that’s constant. I don’t think that empowering creatives, per se, has changed me. I think every moment that I do anything, questioning it and seeing how that works for me is what ultimately changes me. It’s about how we choose to respond to inputs. I don’t think people are fixed, unchangeable beings. I think the decision to change or desire to change has to be self-motivated. I keep a constant dialogue with myself about what things are working, what things aren’t, how does this fit into how I want to grow, etc. Empowering creatives is a huge part of what I do and I think one of the best ways to help empower others is by being myself and helping explain my process to those who are interested

Who inspires you today?

Lots of people and things, it’s constantly evolving and I’m always adding more here. Of late, the authors Peter Block and Susan Cain. Hillary Clinton, Wonder Woman (who was created as a feminist icon and the only thing that removes her powers is when she’s bound in chains…fascinating), community builders, Fareed Zakaria, my friends, people I just met, it’s always evolving. I find inspiration just about everywhere and from anyone.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I have lots of goals. The main one is to continue growing the Creatives Meet Business community so that it can help more creatives connect with each other, with professional services and move toward sustainability in their craft. In the next few years, I want to take this model to other cities so that they can also develop and grow in-person communities.

How is it owning a business as a woman?

I don’t know any other way than by being a woman who owns her own business. I love it, absolutely love it. I love the successes and I love the “failures” (which are just experiences you learn from), I love the growth, I love the relationships I create and help grow. I love being on my own with my company and forging my own path.

What business advice have you happily ignored?

Everybody has an opinion, period. And most people like to share their (unsolicited) thoughts and advice, period. The intention behind the advice is well meant, but for the most part it’s mostly irrelevant or totally based on personal preference. I love hearing people’s feedback and thoughts and will occasionally pull an interesting nugget from the advice, but rarely. Having said that though, there are several folks in my world that have given solid advice and I always return back to them with new ideas I’m testing for their feedback early on.

What is the best piece of advice you will to someone who wants to be start their own business?

Measure twice, cut once. Really think about opportunities, obligations, everything from multiple angles before making a decision. It’ll save you time, money and heartbreak (every single time).

How can women become more empowered?

By collaborating instead of competing.

What being “free” means to you?

Choosing how I allocate my time, having the discretion to decide when and how I do things.



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March 15, 2017

Maggie Miller

“In a world with so many distractions, so much information, and a never-ending comparison cycle, I find it especially important to find time to be by yourself and alone with your thoughts.”

-Maggie Miller


For the past two years I’ve been working on reinventing my photography and consequently my business. I concentrated on asking myself which direction I wanted to go as a photographer, what was the message I wanted to send? I asked myself a lot of questions, but the most important one was: why am I doing this? We are always seeking for advice from our families, friends, people we admire, and more frequently from the web. There is nothing wrong in seeking advice, but we rarely ask ourselves, we rarely follow our own guidance or intuition, this applies to any field of work.  For me, it was the lack of courage and determination to remember the reason of why I became a photographer. Using my head instead of my heart was getting me nowhere, yes I was making more money than today, and had far more clients but I was not being completely honest towards the style a wanted to pursue. There are things that belong to the heart and if we don’t listen we are destined to frustration.

I recently met Maggie and I must say she is very sweet, intelligent, and passionate woman.  She is the heart behind MaggieGentry where creative entrepreneurs can find a partner to help their dreams come true. I love that she will become your partner and challenge you to find your reason. We sure work better when we have encouragement and support, and someone that will understand our fears and doubts but will make us push through them in order to achieve our goals. Please read on to this interview and let Maggie share with you how she overcame her fears and found the reason to pursue a creative life.

My hope for you is that you will find the courage to follow your dreams and listen to your heart. Because we all have a treasure inside, we just have to go hunting more often.




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Who are you and what do you do?

Hey there! I’m Maggie, and I started a business last year called MaggieGentry [] where I provide thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. Most of the work I do is through one-on-one engagements, and I also host Own Your Why workshops []. When I’m not doing the work I love, you can find me reading, going to yoga, hanging with my husband & cat, and eating all the chips & queso.

Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?

I grew up in Victoria, TX, a small town along the coast in between Houston and Corpus Christi. I don’t know how much I can contribute where I am today with the place of where I grew up, but I was always involved in creative activities: competitive dance, pottery classes, reading a lot, and I even competed in UIL Art History! So I’ve always had more of a creative nature. However, I’m also very analytical (I started out as a Math major before switching to Marketing!), so I love that through the work I do now, I’m able to utilize my business sense and share that knowledge with fellow creatives. Since I am no longer directly contributing to another art form, helping creative businesses prosper feels like some small way to still be involved in the creative communities.

Name something you love, and why?

Movement! Whether that’s through dance, yoga, walking, or even stretching, there is nothing that helps me restore my equilibrium like being able to move. We’re living more sedentary lives these days, and I’m guilty of spending HOURS at my desk trying to bust out as much work as possible. I’ve been better about it lately, but simply getting up to walk around for a few minutes helps me re-focus, and ultimately, produce better work. When I’m stressed, I go to yoga. There’s something incredibly powerful about the physicality of moving my body to get me out of my head.

What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?

The work I do is hard to visualize, and I often find myself hitting roadblocks when I want to explain something, but I know that it would be better represented graphically. If I were better equipped with graphic design skills, I think I would be able to share my knowledge with workbooks, checklists, and easy-to-download PDFs in a format that is easier to digest. In the same vein, we are so visually-focused these days, I’d love to know more about photography – even to capture slightly better images on my phone.

How did you find your passion?

Through a lot of soul searching and hitting rock bottom first! While I was working my previous full-time jobs, I was always doing some sort of marketing work on the side for one or two clients. It was work that I loved doing – helping small businesses grow their reach – but I never considered it could be a full-time job for me until I was stuck in a corner where I had to find a better solution for myself. I had a dear friend open my eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, and with her encouragement, I built up the courage to make the leap.

What is your ideology as a creative person?

In a world with so many distractions, so much information, and a never-ending comparison cycle, I find it especially important to find time to be by yourself and alone with your thoughts. It’s important to me to create before I consume. Also, I aim to dedicate sufficient time to get in touch with my intuition, my deepest desires, and to define my version of success. It can be easy to follow someone else path and lose sight of why you started in the first place, so for me, I need that time of reflection to keep that reminder at the forefront of my mind.

How do you overcome your fears?

Face them head on. I’m such a worrier, and so I always make up this elaborate story about how horrible it’s going to be, yet every single time I face a fear, I come out on the other side relieved, surprised, and grateful. I’m hoping one day it will get easier, but my goal is to take it one step at a time!

How do you help entrepreneurs find who they are in order to improve their business?

So many of us get caught up in the day-to-day activities of running a business that we often lose sight of that spark that ignited us to get started in the first place. My goal with the work I do is to help my clients find that spark – I call it Your Why – and use that as a guiding force to help you make all other business and marketing decisions. It’s important to remember that people buy from people, so we have to find ways to show the person behind the brand. An effective marketing strategy not only shares your belief system with your audience, it also ensures that you are presenting a cohesive story through all touch points with your customers. I work with creative entrepreneurs to help them find ways to genuinely connect with their audience, and develop a marketing strategy that is intentional, authentic and unique to them.

Who inspires you today?

So many ladies!!! Here’s my shortlist of other female creative entrepreneurs who are killing it:

Misty Bradley []: Misty co-hosts the we are the REVELERS podcast with her husband Randy, is a phenomenal photographer, and recently launched her coaching services [] to the world. Her compassionate nature encourages you to dig deep to find your passions and how to live a creative, fulfilling life, even when life throws you curveballs.

Jenny Karlsson []: Jenny is a pet photographer turned financial coach for creatives, and she is brilliant! Her work focuses on helping creatives become financially literate and work towards charging what they’re worth. Her newsletters are always full of helpful information, too!

Liz White []: Liz is my biz bestie. We connected last year after being Insta friends, and we’ve been able to visit each other in our different cities, and even work together! (She did all the branding & website for Own Your Why [].) She keeps me motivated on the daily, and she always has helpful tips in her Insta stories. She’s launching a new service – Sales Page in a Day [], which may actually be complete by the time this article is published!

Devan Danielle []: Devan and I connected over our similar beliefs that a brand is much more than your logo. Your brand includes your voice, your vision, and how you interact with your customers on every level. Her free branding mini classes are genius, and her weekly Brand Love Letters are always chock full of helpful insights and loads of inspiration.

Amy Kuretsky []: Amy is an accupuncturist and health coach who always shares LOADS of helpful information. Her Health Fuels Hustle podcast [] has become a favorite of mine, and it’s easy to listen to since they’re typically 15-20 minutes.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

Since I have finally found work I love, I want to keep doing this for as long as possible. I want to help as many creatives as I can, and I’m open to exploring different formats in which I can do that. I like to keep this type of long-term goal fluid because even in this first year of business, things have shifted in ways that I could have never predicted, but I welcome them with open arms. Ultimately, I would love to be at a place where I have enough purchasing power that I can support all of my wonderful clients and other small businesses by buying their handmade, small batch products. I value the work they do, the time they put into it, and I truly know the value of shopping small. So success for me will be when I can afford to add a line item in my personal budget to always shop small, not only for gifts, but for myself with clothes, home goods, etc. And it also sounds super dreamy to be able to afford a regular massage.

How is it owning a business as a woman?

I attribute a lot of this to being in Austin, but it has honestly been incredible. The community of female small business owners here is extremely supportive and collaborative. I am so grateful to be here, and have the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded, driven women.

What business advice have you happily ignored?

That in order to grow I have to work with larger clients because they have bigger budgets; however, I wholeheartedly disagree. I started my business with the intent to help creative entrepreneurs, focusing on those who are also sole proprietors, and I plan to keep it that way. I think that until you are in this industry, it’s hard to comprehend just how many of us there are. I want to be an advocate for creative entrepreneurs, helping them launch & grow their businesses, and I can see myself spending a lifetime doing just that.

What is the best piece of advice you will give to someone who wants to start their own business?

I always give the same piece of advice to others that I was given and still live by today, “Do as much as you can, with as little as you can, for as long as you can.” My dad always said this to us growing up, and it has shaped my own business philosophy. It encourages smart growth, and asks you not to be distracted by your wants, and focus on your needs. When you are first starting out, you can feel like you need to purchase the fanciest invoicing system to make you “feel legit”. Or maybe you buy the largest plan for the email marketing software as a way to manifest your subscriber growth. But those monthly fees can add up quick! Start with what works, lay a solid foundation, build your expertise, learn through doing what you really need, and then you’ll have better tools to make a smart investment.

What does being “free” mean to you?

To me, being free means creating space to explore and expand. We all have the choice to create that space for ourselves, however that may look to each of us. It feels trendy right now to boast about your hustle, how hard you’re working, how busy you are, but I don’t believe that you have to be a slave to your schedule. You have the choice to create your boundaries to ensure you have the time, space, and mental capacity to do the things that make you feel free.

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February 28, 2017

Margaret + Ryan

“My face is mine, my hands are mine, my mouth is mine, but my heart is yours.”



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February 22, 2017

Cara Caulkins

I think it is important to continue to find ways to explore and grow your passions in order to be more successful in all areas of your life: job, relationships with others, relationship to yourself.

-Cara Caulkins


We live in such fast pace world that our personal relationships are being conducted by technology.  Most of our days consist of  being on a tablet, mobile device, laptop or desktop for personal or professional use.  It’s great that we have the technology to connect with people across the globe instantly, but we are disconnecting from the ones we have closer. Well, imagine having this problem as a business owner. Not being able to connect with your clients because you don’t know how to get your message across can lead you to failure.

This week Cara Caulkins is featuring on the blog, a real woman that inspires me with the work that she does. She is the founder of a public relations boutique and marketing company located in Austin, Texas. I love that she focus on small business owners, she knows how hard they work and how important it is to build strong and valuable relationships with them in order to make them succeed.  She is peaceful, warm, stylish and have worked in a variety of markets.  She has traveled the world and being exposed to different cultures gives her a competitive edge, and the opportunity to bring those insights into her business to better serve her clients.

Today she opens up and tells us her experiences as a woman entrepreneur, traveler, and how her passion met her professional interests.  Please read on to her interview and let her share with you the importance of taking risks and pursuing the life that makes your heart smile.




Who are you and what do you do?

Cara Caulkins, I started my own Public Relations company, Cara Caulkins Communications in 2016

Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?

I grew up in Chicago, IL. I have always been more of a city girl which led me from the Windy City to New York, around the world, and now in Austin. I think being comfortable living and working in urban environments helps me to be independent and able to work and think fast. I also think having strong midwest roots has made me a very friendly and compassionate person- people are nice in Chicago!

Name something you love, and why?

My family and friends- they are always a source of support, advice and laughter

What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?

I really want to learn some basic graphic design skills and of course knowing more about coding, building websites and analytics would definitely grow my skillset.

How did you find your passion?

I started my career as an intern at a global award-winning PR agency, at the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I had the opportunity to work on an amazing beauty brand and learn from even more amazing women managers that led me to where I am today and showed me how fun public relations was!

What is your ideology as a creative person?

I think it is important to continue to find ways to explore and grow your passions in order to be more successful in all areas of your life: job, relationships with others, relationship to yourself. When we are passionate about something we are driven, excited, happy…I could go on. It is also what attracts me most to others.

How do you overcome your fears?

I take as much advice as I can from others (hopefully those that have maybe accomplished what I’m afraid of already) and sometimes you just have to approach things head on and know it is okay to fail.

Please tell us how traveling around the world has changed you.

Traveling has literally changed my life. I have learned so much more about myself: being a much more independent person as well as more confident in talking to complete strangers! I have learned so much about other cultures and traditions, other global markets that give inspiration to what we can do here in the U.S. I think overall traveling has made me a more compassionate, inquisitive and adventurous spirit.

Who inspires you today?

There are so many! As a female business owner, I’m very much inspired by other strong women. My grandmother’s (only one is still alive) were such strong women throughout their life, paving the way as business owners and yoga teachers and still holding a strong family unit. My mom and my sister are my best friends and support everything I do. My girlfriends are like my family, I rely on them for advice, creative inspiration, sources to vent frustrations and of course always a good time! My clients (both male and female) are all small business owners or start-up companies and I learn so much from working with them about operating businesses, marketing, sales, struggles and triumphs! And of course there are some notable figures that I look up to in a variety of professions: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, Meryl Streep, Sophia Amoruso, Whitney Wolfe…Badass Girl bosses that are paving the way for the rest of us.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

At first I just wanted to make a living by working for myself, now my goal is to see where I can take this company in the next 2 years. I’d love to have full time employees and a large retainer of exceptional clients. I want to work with people that are making Austin great. Mostly, I just take things one day at a time.

How is it owning a business as a woman?

I think as women we put more pressure on ourselves to succeed, to be perfect, well at least us A-types do….and sometimes falling short of that perfection can feel like a failure even though it really isn’t. I think one of the greatest challenges women also have in the workplace overall is recognizing and fighting for our worth, whether that be for a promotion or to ask for more money or to sell a new business proposal. It is a struggle to want to please others, but to also hold your own. In Austin, I have found a community of other women business owners that support each other and collaborate with one another to help each other succeed so I feel very fortunate.

What business advice have you happily ignored?

Start with a business plan. I never did it, maybe I should have, but I didn’t always have the intention to start my own business. It moreso developed over time and I think if I had tried to plan it out too much I never would have done it.

What is the best piece of advice you will to someone who wants to be start their own business?

Sometimes you just have to dive in and hope for the best. I literally wake up most mornings with anxiety and am like, holy sh*t how am I going to get this all done? but you just move forward and make it happen. I tell people a lot of the time just “fake it until you make it”

How did taking risks changed your life?

I think I’ve always had a bit of risk-taking, adventuresome independence as part of my personality, I’m an Aquarius after all, but I think taking this leap to completely rely on myself and my skills to support myself has made me a more confident and happy person. I really do love my life 90% of the time and I don’t think that would be the case if I was doing something where I felt stuck or restricted.


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February 15, 2017

Un Mundo Raro

“We celebrate death because we are not afraid”


The place where I grew up is a living postcard. Yes, the Mexico we are told about is a land so far from God that justice has never made an appearance.  The news always talk about “corruption” “oppression” “murder” “cartels”. The old stereotype of the sleepy Mexican under a sombrero couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people work very hard, and long hours, too. Despite everything you hear, Mexico is a great place, it will make you appreciate life.

Today, I want to share with you the place I remember and love so much, my roots. I come from a magical place, full of colors, flavors, sounds, traditions, passion, art, music, celebrations, and culture.  A dear friend from Peru once told me, “I don’t understand why Mexicans want to leave.” I don’t understand either. One thing I can assure you, once you’ve been to Mexico, you will keep going back. Mexicans have a different set of values that are pretty much extinct everywhere else. People say “buenos dias” they smile at you, kids play on the street, random people will invite you to have dinner at their home and make you feel like old time friends. We are family oriented, passionate about everything, people dance on the plaza on a regular Sunday night. We are a blend of many cultures, and we embrace that. We greet with a tight hug and kiss. We celebrate death because we are not afraid. Everyone is welcome into our country; Asians, Europeans, Muslims, South Americans and Gringos, because we have a positive attitude and spirit.

Loud laughter, spontaneous friends and plans. The food, not only is the street food delicious, traditional Mexican food is part of the UNESCO World Heritage! Mexico has jungles, mountains, volcanoes, snow, forests, almost everything you can imagine. It is not all cacti and dessert (except in Juarez where I grew up). The sense of humor, albures, we have a very agile mind to turn everything into a dirty joke. The parties are always massive and everyone is invited, the hangover cures are the most effective and delicious. The spicy hot snacks will build you a strong digestive system, we are immune to food poisoning. Our unique indigenous heritage and transcendental Mesoamerican empires. The Temple of Kukulcan, is the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the state of Yucatán, which is one the 7 wonders of the world.

Of course, Mexico isn’t perfect. Just like everywhere, it has its problems. There’s income disparity, obesity and lack of opportunity in many rural areas, and yes, drug trafficking, the corruption and violence are major problems of the country. If you don’t give Mexico the chance to show you how amazing it is, then you are wasting your time in this planet.

I love you Mexico. I’m very lucky to have you in my veins. Thank you for all the things you give, for your nature, your people, your food. I still believe in you, in your restless power. Those white collar thieves can’t take away your revolutionary and kind spirit. Keep moving, keep fighting, no matter how tall the walls are, you always find a way to break them. It won’t matter any place in the world that we end up moving to, us Mexicans will always dream of the day we go back. All because we are madly in love with you.



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Chichen Itza








Puebla-Sierra Norte





February 8, 2017

Katie Stoltz

“Talk to people, read, go to art exhibits, try new musical genres, experience different places and people. All of this will inform your creativity and expand what you can do with it.”

-Katie Stoltz


We all have so many amazing ideas to spread to the world. I’m very happy and honored that this interview with Katie Stoltz, will not only get you an insight of the great person she is but the creative work she is doing.  A few years back Katie decided it was time to be her own boss and launched her own business, Venues and Vows. Her passion for life is infectious, she knows what she wants and goes for it.

When I met Katie I felt really good around her, I love that she’s been around the world and her soul reflects the places she has been. Her experiences reflect the way she approaches work and creativity.

I can only imagine what goes in to planning a wedding. Finding the dress, flowers, photographer, and the perfect VENUE! If you are looking for a nontraditional place to get married, Venues and Vows is the place to go. Katie knows that weddings don’t have to be so serious and traditional, it can be a unique and wonderful experience and she will make sure to find a place that will reflect that. I caught up with her to find more about how she decided to follow her heart and start this adventure to become a great entrepreneur.

My blog will continue to be an open space for women who inspire me and are working really hard to be themselves and pursuing their dreams. Please read on to the words of wonderful Katie and be inspired to start your own extraordinary journey.


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Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Katie Stoltz (a lot of people call me “Stoltz”) and I’m the Founder of Venues & Vows: . We are an online marketplace for wedding and event venues but with one very big differentiator: we don’t list traditional wedding venues (no hotels or golf clubs) – we only list private estates, farms, ranches, beach houses…you get the picture. We also identify properties that are ideal for bachelor/ette parties, vow renewals, rehearsal dinners, honeymoons, etc.

Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?

I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania which is where Penn State University is located. I grew up being a big Penn State fan and went to college there.

Because I grew up in a relatively small town, I very much appreciate the community feel but yearned for a big city and to travel. That desire gave me the drive I needed to leave State College after living there for 22 years, and I moved to NYC right after school. I soon realized that I wanted to see the world before I officially “hunkered down” in the corporate world, and backpacked through Europe for a little while. Since then I’ve lived, worked and traveled to about 40 countries.

Name something you love, and why?

Dogs. Laughing. Dancing. White wine. PowerPoint. Dogs make me laugh. White wine usually makes me dance a little more. And, I’m just really good at PowerPoint…after 10 years of creating countless presentations, I have an odd affinity for it, and it’s one thing I’m not shy about touting.

What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?

Knowing how to code would be super duper.

How did you find your passion?

My passion is entrepreneurship and I’m not sure

I found it – I think entrepreneurship found me. I’ve always had a fire in me for this…when I was about seven years old I wrote a list of “100 ways to make money” – one of those ways included renting my brother out on an hourly basis; I used to sell candy on a TV tray at the end of my driveway; I set up a neighborhood carnival and sold “tickets” to all of my friends. The tickets were actually leaves from the tree. So, I think this passion would actually be really difficult for me to ignore!

What is your ideology as a creative person?

Chug! Chug! Chug! I find the more information you can take in, the better ideas you will have. Talk to people, read, go to art exhibits, try new musical genres, experience different places and people. All of this will inform your creativity and expand what you can do with it.

How do you overcome your fears?

I’m not sure I overcome them. I kind of deal with them in the best way I know how. I’ve found that talking about my fears helps to confront them instead of ignoring them.

Please tell us more about Venues and Vows.

I had five friends get engaged at the exact same time. They had crazy spreadsheets and Pinterest boards and spent hours (DAYS) looking for a venue. Every time I talked to them there were two pain points they kept reiterating:

  1. I don’t want to have my wedding at a “traditional” venue because that’s what everyone does; I want it to be special and reflect the style of my fiancée and I.
  2. The prices are bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Their experience made me want to fundamentally change the way people approach their wedding. It should be a weekend celebrating your love with the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with. But it seems like weddings have gotten so watered down that they are minimized to a 6-hour event and half of your time is spent saying “hi” to guests. And that six hours costs you the same as buying a brand new, luxury car. Why? I just don’t get it. So, I’m hoping to shake it up, starting in Austin

Who inspires you today?

Women who code. Talk about an uphill battle…it’s hard enough to be a woman in the tech industry but to be a woman who codes in the tech industry – that’s a double-whammy. I give them major kudos for following their passion in a male-dominated specialty and industry.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I have different tiers of goals:

The first tier is for Venues & Vows and what I hope it achieves. There is no transparency in pricing, there is an utter lack of flexibility in what you can do with vendors, the event is too short and the cost is too high. I want to change that.

The second tier is for professional growth. I want to expand my capabilities past powerpoint (haha) and strategy, and become a strong leader that is consistently operationally effective.

The third tier is for my lifelong professional goals. Ultimately, I want to pass along what I’ve learned in 10 years of consulting and the experience I’ve had owning my business onto other women. I’ve got a lot of ideas on how that will come to fruition and it will be exciting to one day pursue those goals.

How is it owning a business as a woman?

It’s tough. Before starting my own business I worked in a male-dominated industry (consulting) that made it impossible to break the proverbial glass ceiling. I also see that across the board in the tech industry. Unfortunately I don’t think we (women) do a great job of supporting each other enough. It puzzles me – we’re in this together…we’re all looking for that talented developer or lawyer or graphic artist. We all need sales to survive. Help a sister out!

What business advice have you happily ignored?

Get VC funding NOW.”

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to start their own business?

If someone tells you that you’re naive for believing you can do something, that is good. A little while back, I traveled throughout nine African countries by myself running a survey project. I would meet with local contractors to run the surveys (because they were in a local language), stay in “motels” in the middle of the jungle, and travel in the back of trucks on dirt roads for hours and hours. I had to sleep on the floor of an airport, dragged myself to the U.S. embassy doctor because I had water poisoning, and the list goes on…I was just naive enough to not be intimidated. Because I had never worked in Africa before, I didn’t know if this was normal or not – but it didn’t matter because I got through it, because I believed I could.

If you believe you can do it, GO DO IT. I can’t tell you how many people have shot my ideas down (there have been A LOT of ideas) but I truly believe in my own capabilities.


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February 1, 2017

Across The Universe

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

-Maya Angelou


I truly believe that our souls have a clear intention for coming into this world. I also believe that we choose the people we need in order to achieve our purpose, we choose our family.

When I found out that I was pregnant I couldn’t stop crying.  I never wanted to be a mother, I thought I wasn’t mature enough to raise a baby. I felt disorientated and out of control, my life was taking a direction I certainly wasn’t ready for. Deep inside I knew that my heart was going to belong to someone else,  and my life as I knew it was never going to be the same.

 And then I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, wishing that it was a boy, I was afraid of having a girl that will feel insecure or have less opportunities just for being a woman. The doctor said “it’s a girl”,  I wasn’t expecting to cry or get as emotional as I did, but I was in complete awe.  That day I understood that I needed to become a stronger woman in order to raise a strong girl. Without her I wouldn’t found myself, wouldn’t found my inner strength.

She wasn’t planned but she was conceived in the most beautiful island I’ve seen, Xolbox Mexico. It was a day full of love, we were having the time of our lives celebrating my best friend’s wedding.

Regina was born on my best friend’s birthday, July 8th. I truly believe she choose us, she wanted to come to this world and she made it happen in her own perfect timing. She even choose the people she wanted at the hospital the day she was born, we had amazing friends who helped us throughout the whole process. Across the universe was playing in the room when she came out of me,  I fell in love with her and our journey ahead.

Mi Corazón,  I can honestly say that being your mother has made my world a much better place. As young as you are, you had taught me so much about patience, compassion, and love. You’ve showed me so much love that I’ve learned to love myself much more, seeing me through your eyes has given my existence a different sense. You are a warrior, a princess, mermaid, doctor, police, cat, a puppy, but specially you are you, and that is exactly what you came to do. You have demonstrated me that having a girl is the best thing! Thank you for making me more conscious of my actions and decisions, thanks for being my teacher, my friend, and for choosing me as your mother. I will make sure that everyday you feel loved and understood. You are my blackbird and I will help you fly. You and me.




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January 4, 2017

White Light Studio

“I’ve heard too many women in my life say “I just don’t get along with girls” or “I don’t like girls” and it has always broken my heart.”

-Haylie Raymond


I think by now you might notice that I am creatively driven and inspired by women. This interview is no exception. I think it is because I’ve found my strength when I’m close to strong woman. It has never been easy for women to get along and help each other, we are so distracted by what society tells us that we forget our true mission and the power we have when we are together. The feminine awakening is more frequent everyday, we are taking back our place in this world, we look and accept changes, we listen to our intuition, we are awake and alive!

The first time I heard about the work that White Light Studio is doing I was truly moved. This is  an all female work space where women can safely do their craft and teach other women how to do it. Their motto is “Because sisterhood makes the world stronger. Because when women work together and support one another we are more powerful than ever”

I interviewed Haylie Raymond the studio founder. Please read on and get to know how her hard work, dedication and love paid off to create this wonderful space. These photos are part of the East event hosted at the studio, where the incredibly talented women who work at White Light Studio got to show their work.

Let’s love, create, and make each other stronger!



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Who are you and what do you do?

Haylie Raymond. I work with my hands in a few different forms including antique furniture restoration, metalsmithing, and leather. I created White Light Studio as a furniture studio that has organically progressed into a special creative space for females.

Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?

Houston. I loved the art museums there. It’s still my favorite part of the city.

Name something you love, and why?

I love animals. I can’t enough of their personalities! They continually teach me about what the essence of love really is.

What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?

That’s one big question I’ve been asking myself this month in particular. I’d love to find out.

How is it owning a studio as a woman?

Owning a studio as a woman has been both empowering and terrifying. I had no real intention of it becoming what it chose to become. I just kept saying yes and the people just kept coming so it obviously filled a need here. I am challenged by being in charge as I’m very independent and have a hard time delegating, monitoring, and renegotiating as the space grows and shifts its needs. It’s required me to expand my capacity for compassion and communication to a level I never knew was even necessary. It’s been truly exciting to see it all grow and feel the magic expanding inside and pouring out of the space. I don’t know what the future holds for White Light Studio I only hope it contributes to these women’s lives in a positive way while it’s around.

What is your business Ideology?

For sisterhood to empower each of us to reach our goals.

What was the main inspiration behind the work that you do?

I’ve always loved the inspiration and support I’ve received from my dearest girlfriends. I’ve heard too many women in my life say “I just don’t get along with girls” or “I don’t like girls” and it has always broken my heart. I was raised by strong females that worked hard to work through their differences to create a fierce team. I always carried this idea with me and insisted that if we work together as females we can begin a new conversation about how “We love girls” “We accomplish so much more together as women” I want the idea of “cattiness” to disappear and the idea of sisterhood to blossom.

What is White Light Studio mission?

A safe space for women to work both alone and together.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

To be honest the studio doesn’t have a professional goal. It just is what it is right now and it continues to evolve.

What is your dream project?

To expand and create a gallery that allows space for resident female artists coming through and showcasing their work, regular events, workshops, and after school programs for teenage girls.

How did you find your passion?

I am restless dreamer. I just keep searching.

Why Austin?

I came to Austin for metalsmithing school in 2005 and I’ve been working in the jewelry industry and other creative fields ever since. I can’t say it’s my first choice right now but it seems to be where I’m meant to be.

How did creativity change your life?

I’ve never known any other way. I’m not one who can live without creativity.

What is the best piece of advice you will to someone who wants to be philanthropic in their business?  

Listen with your whole heart. Not everyone who seeks your help actually needs YOU to be the one to help them. Helping people help themselves is an important gift to give as well.





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December 28, 2016

Chelsea Laine Francis

“…even the things we might view as ordinary are astoundingly beautiful and so many things transpired to put them in your field of view right now, at this very moment.”

-Chelsea Laine Francis


I met Chelsea a few months ago and she is one of those women that just makes you feel good to be around, I felt a strong creative energy that made me feel very inspired. She was welcoming, and it seemed like I had known her forever, she makes everybody feel as good as she is feeling.  Aside from the fact that she is an amazingly talented photographer, she is kind, charismatic, and fun. The images she produces truly make you feel happy, loved, and close to the person that she is. I’ve always said that the best zoom is the one you have in your heart and she truly knows how to use it. I share with you this coffee and beignets date with this beautiful lady. Please take a moment to read on her interview and get to know a bit more about her work, her inspiration, and her background, I promise she will make your heart smile!





Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Chelsea Laine Francis and I own a photography + creative direction business!


Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?
I grew up in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina — a really small town that’s known for moonshine, Nascar and bluegrass. I think it gave me high aspirations, honestly. Our little town started so many big, big things that I knew one day I could spread my wings and do something bigger.


What is your dream project?
Shooting a book profiling creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.


What is your ideology as a creative person?
That even the things we might view as ordinary are astoundingly beautiful and so many things transpired to put them in your field of view right now, at this very moment.


How do you overcome your fears?
I try to plow right through them, most of the time. I’m a giant scared cat and the only way to get over my fears is to try and go through them with grace.


Who inspires you today?
Oh my goodness, so many people! My friend Rachel Giberson  (@rachelfromaustin) is an incredibly talented art director who is just starting her business, and I can tell she has a beautiful career ahead of her. My friend Stephanie Hinrichs (@steph_hinrichs) manages a coffee shop here in Austin (Caffe Medici) and her life’s goal is to enrich people’s lives and encourage people and she get’s to do that every single day. My friend Nicole Seligman (@writeslikeagirl) runs a body positive blog about fashion and the space that she occupies on the internet is so wonderful. I’m encouraged by her tenacity to stand out, be professional, and be inclusive all at the same time.


How did photography change your life?
It made me feel like I finally figured out where my weird puzzle piece talents fit into the world. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos for fun. I enjoy meeting new people. I enjoy working with different people to accomplish a goal. I enjoy supporting other people with their goals. It’s the perfect meld of all the things I love. Figuring out what I loved really made all the difference.


How did you find your passion?
I found it by getting really honest with myself about what I liked and what I wanted out of this life.


What is your process before a shoot?
I always try to meet with my clients beforehand. I like to get to know people and I like to get to the bottom of what they want to accomplish with our time together. Then I prep my equipment the night before. On the morning of I pack my equipment up, check one more time, and drink some coffee. I always try to get to a shoot 30 minutes early because traffic in Austin is crazy.


Do you remember your first camera?
I do! Well, my first DSLR! I got it for Christmas when I was a freshman in college. It wasn’t a great DSLR, but it got the job done! It was a Sony Alpha!



How do you describe your photography style? Has it changed over the years?
Oh! Tough question! I think I would describe it as classically happy. I keep my shadows warm & my photos bright! I feel like it changes constantly.


What piece of photography advice do you happily ignore?
I actively try to never put my work in a box. There are a lot of schools of thought that you have to be just one thing and I don’t believe that for a second.


Who is your favorite photographer?
I really love Ben Sasso, Miller Mobley, Zack Arias, Lindsey Byrnes, Team Woodnote, Jackie Lee Young and Gloria Goode!


Who do you want to shoot?
Michelle Obama, Aidy Bryant and Jenny Slate.


Professionally, what’s your goal?
I want to shoot for nationally circulated magazines while also acting as a resource for creative women.

Follow Chelsea:





November 2, 2016

3 of Cups

“…We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and one another and especially how to work well together. Ultimately, it’s comforting to know that we can operate a business together that is built on a foundation of trust and love.”

-3 of Cups


Women posses magical powers, the creators of 3 of Cups are no exception.  When I found out about the work these two ladies do, I couldn’t help but to be in love with it. 3 Of Cups is a boutique event coordination company, specializing in creative and non-traditional weddings and parties. I was curious about the process and inspiration behind the work these two ladies put into their creations, aside from the fact that they are best friends and charismatic as hell, they focus on doing events and designs that break the standards, and most certainly, they break the rules.

I had the pleasure of sitting with these two creative and inspiring ladies and get to know their ideas, plans, and work. I will be partying with them pretty soon at the Halloween Open House, so if you are in the lookout for wedding and event vendors please come say hi with your costume, you’ are invited! Click on the links for all the info.


Please read on for this interview, and if you are looking for somebody to design and coordinate your event, I suggest you keep scrolling down. Enjoy!


Follow 3 of Cups


3 of Cups Design & Florals

3 of Cups Events



Can you introduce yourselves and let us know a little bit about what 3 of Cups is?

JESSICA: My name is Jessica Ryan. My side of the company is 3 Of Cups Weddings + Events (3 Of Cups Events LLC). I work collaboratively with clients to plan and coordinate their event/wedding. I am also Director of Events at The Sanctuary Events for the Amala Foundation.

3 Of Cups clients range from “classic” to “non-traditional” to full out “Rock ‘N Roll”. We’re a liberal company in the wedding industry. We’re HUGE supporters of Marriage Equality and we consider our company a mission of activism. #LoveWins


COLEY: Coley Jackson here! 3 Of Cups Design + Florals is an alternative event design and floral company based out of Austin, TX. Our client packages range designing corporate activation event lounges to alternative wedding clients. Our team allows for our clients to enjoy the day of their event by providing decor set-up, design, sourcing, and tear-down. Design is our passion and we have a serious love for tablescapes, botanicals, blooms, rock music and eclectic events. We hope to help you party soon!


Can you tells us more about the name of 3 of Cups?

JESSICA: 3 Of Cups is a card in the Tarot. It symbolizes “celebration in the highest spirits”. This card came to me every time I pulled a card from my deck, no matter how many times I shuffled the cards. The image on the card is three women holding cups of wine. In some artistic interpretations, these women are saluting their glasses to a bride. When I looked more into it, the 3 Of Cups card also represents someone outside of the intimate circle of friends and family to watch over the celebration… I thought… “this is totally my destiny!”. The 3 Of Cups card also features flowers in the imagery to represent the “scents of the sweet times in our lives”, which planted the seed that grew into Coley’s side of the business, 3 Of Cups Design + Florals.

3 of Cups Design + Florals has the opportunity to design and create the aesthetic of special events. It’s a true honor to have our clients entrust the overall look and feel of the event to our team of stylist, florist, and designers. 3 Of Cups represents the overall community and celebration that our business encompases and creates.


What is your Ideology as business owners?

JESSICA: Coley and I are both really practical and down to Earth. We genuinely care about our clients. We both take our work way too personally for our own good. Our goal is to communicate well with our clients so that they feel heard, understood, and supported. We are always learning and growing. Our business is “US”, so we want to put our best selves forward.


A lot of love goes into your business. What is it about your process that makes your work so special?

JESSICA: Establishing 3 Of Cups has given us the opportunity to grow an independent, women-owned business together, which is liberating and empowering! Our goal is to work with like-minded folks and grow in the direction of mindful business practice. We have had the opportunity to grow closer in our own friendship through 3 Of Cups and develop friendships with both our clients and collaborative vendors. If we didn’t LOVE it, we wouldn’t be doing it.


COLEY: Our team sees the opportunity to create an interactive event space with every floral and design client. With our teams backgrounds ranging from  tattoo, fashion, design, and installation arts; a unique perspective is present for every Of Cups Design + Florals client.


Who is your ideal client?

JESSICA: Coley and I vibe with folks that fit our personalities. My clients can be really laid back or super type-A Project Manager types… I embrace them all! I approach every client with total transparency. I appreciate clients that honor the work that I do. I especially love making new friends! It is so nice to be invited to Rehearsal Dinners and receive little Thank You cards and gifts… it makes me feel so loved and appreciated.


How is it working with your best friend?

JESSICA: We pretty much start our day with an hour long phone conversation…. I should reword that, I start my days around 10am with a call from Coley, because she’s already been up for hours, taken her kid to school, and run a million errands. We’re always talking about our work, which our romantic partners have grown to accept.

We motivate and encourage one another. We also have to hold one another accountable. We have to be able to “get real” with one another. It does get tough, just as any meaningful relationship does. However, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and one another and especially how to work well together. Ultimately, it’s comforting to know that we can operate a business together that is built on a foundation of trust and love.


Where do you begin when working with your clients? What’s your process like?

JESSICA: I first meet with potential clients for a complimentary consultation to see if we’re a good fit. I require a minimum of 3 collaborative planning meetings to create the timeline, confirm vendors, layout design, rain plans, etc. It’s crucial my clients and I take this allotted time together to not only plan the logistics, but to get to know one another and form a bond. I understand how weird it can be to have someone you don’t “know” at your wedding. Weddings are particularly important and highly emotional. I need to know how to read my clients, so I can support them. I’m not a mind reader, but I try my best to be intuitive. At the end of the day, their happiness is what matters to me. My hope is that all of my clients acknowledge the true importance of their wedding day. You can’t plan for real life and weddings happen in real time. I can only create a plan and the rest is up to fate!


We work in a really creative industry. How does creativity changed your life?

JESSICA: Before 3 Of Cups, Coley was the General Manager of Spider House Cafe + Ballroom and I was programming events for the venue. When I became Director of Events at The Sanctuary Events for the Amala Foundation, I saw the need for Weddings + Event Coordination and started 3 Of Cups. I asked Coley to join me as my Creative Partner and VIOLA! We have the good fortune of using our creativity into building 3 Of Cups together.


How do you describe your style?

JESSICA: Because of our personalities and Coley’s creative style, 3 Of Cups exists on the more alternative edge in the wedding industry. On the Wedding Coordination side, I hold a very intimate space for couples throughout the process of planning their wedding. There’s a tender balancing act always in place. I often feel like I am a couple’s counselor. My role requires a lot of patience, listening, and making sure things get done efficiently and on time. I have to learn the best way to work with every individual personality and how they deal with emotions, stress, family… the list goes on. Ultimately, I want to be personable and rock the party!

COLEY: 3 Of Cups Design + Florals design is:

Part Mrs. Roper (Vintage Freak) + Botanist (3 Of Cups Florals) + Iggy Pop (Rock Star)+Nuclear Housewife (MCM Obsessed)

We hope you love the eclectic, wacky, and rocking style of our alternative event design + florals brand!


What do you like about weddings?

JESSICA: I don’t think either of us thought we’d flourish in the wedding business, but it’s been perfect for us both. I’ve never been married. I haven’t even considered marriage for myself… until very recently. But I do LOVE love.

I come from a background in theater. As a Wedding Coordinator, I feel that I am the Director collaborating with the playwrights and the actors of a true-life-love-story to be told. Folks are often overwhelmed by the word “wedding”. Given my approach to marriage and weddings in general, I can relate! Each wedding enriches my understanding for love and the bravery it takes to make a commitment to a chosen life-partner. I always cry during Wedding Ceremonies….

PS: We both support joyous Divorce Parties for couples that mutually agree to end their marriage with respect, honor, and love for one another.


COLEY: The sheer love and hope of those silent moments during the ceremony is so genuine and true.  No matter what, those very moments are, the reason the 3 Of Cups Design + Florals team does weddings.


Where do you get your inspiration from?

JESSICA: I’m not the type to look at wedding magazines and try to copy the next “trend”. I encourage my clients to find what’s unique about them both as individuals and together as a couple. There’s an element of self-reflection involved in this process. I get inspired by the aspects of “FUN” and “PLAY” that make the experience unique and personalized. The element of  “SURPRISE!” is an exhilarating theme. I have clients that book surprise stilt walkers, alpacas, and even a Surprise Wedding where the guests don’t even know that the couple’s getting married! Now that’s inspiring to me.


COLEY: Art, Design, and everyday simple moments, TRAVEL!


In which way do you complement each other to spark creative energy?

JESSICA: I’m a Pisces and Coley’s a Virgo. We balance each other out. The way I explain is that I build a functional skeleton and Coley makes it look FABULOUS!

We get to be more creative when we’re working on events that aren’t weddings. I LOVE creating fun theme parties. We’ve produced huge club parties for New Year’s Eve and we regularly produce Open House events for venues. Everyone is invited to attend our Halloween Open House Costume Party on Sunday Oct. 30th, 2016 from 6:00-9:00pm at The Sanctuary Event Space (1006 S 8th St Austin, TX 78704).  Click on the link if you want to attend! Sanctuary Halloween Open House


Is the other person always involved in what you do?

Sometimes Coley and I get to work with the same client and other times we have separate clients and projects. We’re two different companies under the same name at

Our teams work together and with other coordinators/designers! Two businesses, one name!


What is your dream project?

JESSICA: My dream is to manage my own venue and even live on the property.


COLEY:Whoa! If that’s not a loaded question to our creative minds. Let’s give you a sneak peek, maybe into the future, of 3 Of Cups Design + Florals.

Dream Projects include: photography art direction, own a private retreat/events space in Puerto Rico, style major corporate clients ad campaigns, produce large art events that give unknown artists a space to grow, produce and design corporate activations! Dream On Lovers!


How do you play your cards?

JESSICA: I’m a straight shooter. I’ll lay all my cards down for you to see. I don’t have anything up my sleeve. And I just play for fun!

COLEY: I’m a risk taker. I really want to play by the rules, but if we can bend them, why not!




October 19, 2016