There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Maddie Carpenter | Owner & Lead Designer

I grew up in Midland, Texas, and my dad was a cotton farmer. Agriculture has always interested me, especially because it roots back over five generations of my family. My first jobs post-grad were in specialty green (unroasted) coffee sourcing, which took me to producing countries, visiting farms and learning about the global trade of specialty coffee. My career was mostly focused on the upper echelon of supply, 90+ scoring coffees (this just means really tasty). Because I spent my time in the coffee business focused on the highest quality end of the spectrum, I think I’m also drawn to that in flowers…so I tend to like using heirloom and unique varieties for Golladay Floral. I think our clients really enjoy those the most. Read more>>

Brittany Stewart | Fashion designer

I’m born and raised in Chicago, my background impacted who I am today tremendously. The things I saw growing up shaped me into the woman I am today, it made me strong, resilient and extremely passionate about becoming someone in life. Witnessing hardship at an early age drove me to be an extremely determined individual at a young age. It just makes you want more and want to do better in life! Read more>>

Alana Kundu | Owner/Chef Ambrosia Restaurant

I’m from a small country town in East Texas. I have great parents that never limited creativity and taught all of us kids that we can do anything we put our minds to. You would often find me in the kitchen cooking dinner or lunch with my Granny, who taught me most of my cooking skills, she passed on her love of cooking to me. I wish I could say as a kid, or even in high-school ,I had my plans laid out…I didn’t, I failed alot! My parents were patient and never forced anything on me. They let me find my own way, and figure out what I love, and supported me through it all. Read more>>

Katherine Erwin | Photographer, Artist & Writer

Originally from Houston, I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and attended Annunciation Orthodox School. I struggled at that institution for years, as I lived with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia and ADHD. I was told everything from, “you’re not trying hard enough to learn to read,” to “you’re too creative and too imaginative.” It seemed like no matter what I did, or where I went while growing up- I was always too much, or never enough. Read more>>

Alexandria V. Nolan | Travel Writer, Author and Teacher

I’m originally from Flint, Michigan. Both of my parents worked for General Motors. I grew up in a very blue collar, hardworking middle class family, That said, my parents made it very clear that they wanted me to pursue what made me happy. I had a strong desire from a young age to read and tell stories. My parents greatest escapes from the grueling monotony of factory work was reading, painting, the arts. So that combination of willingness to work hard and pursue my goals, bolstered by the support of my family impacted my writing. My confidence. My willingness to share my work with others. Read more>>

Dr. Mercia Bakouetila Martin | Doctor of Physical Therapy & Digital Creator

I was born and raised in the Republic of Congo, a small, developing country in Central Africa. I immigrated to the United States at the age of 17, right after graduating high school, in order to pursue higher education. It was a huge culture shock initially. In Congo we speak French and local dialects, so adjusting to living in an English speaking country and learning a new language and customs was a challenge at first, but I am so glad I embarked on this journey. Read more>>

Kelsey Holloway | Loc & Braid Specialist

I am from a very small town called Bastrop, Louisiana. I moved to Houston, Tx 8 years ago. When I left Bastrop , Louisiana i knew I wanted more. Growing up in a rural area helped me to become who I am today and wanted me to be able to help take care of my family. Read more>>