Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

LeeLee Slayyz | Make Up Artist and Entrepreneur

I am from third ward Houston,Tx. Where my siblings and myself were raised in a very small house by our grandmother. We didn’t have a lot so we were raised to improvise. Being the one with the most sensitive skin and allergies to almost everything, my grandmother’s teachings are what got me here. Learning how ingredients we had in our kitchen, combined with different herbs and essential oils could be used for everyday skin care and overall health. She taught me self sufficiency, just because I didn’t have a lot then doesn’t mean I can’t reach my goals and have more. Read more>>

Caroline Kjeldgaard | Professional Athlete (Dancer) & Business Owner of Dance Incubation

I am from Denmark and i am brought up in the suborn to Copenhagen in a gorgeous big house with garden, surrounded by a lake, many parks and easy options for moving around as kids like biking, walking and running. I am the 5th child out of 6 and we always had a lot of animals, could always bring home friends without asking and my grandparents would often visit us as well, well basically our house was open to anyone who needed it. We never locked the door and i literally only have amazing memories of a free childhood where we were supported in being active. The freedom that i experienced growing up, has really being tattooed into my soul because i am a big stander for independence and personal responsibility. I choose these two words carefully and with respect toward them. Independence for me is a huge privilege and it is and has always been, extremely important for me to be able to stand on my own two feet. I have been a professional dancer my whole life (believe or not i started when i was 2,5 years old) and i started travelling alone abroad with my dance partner at the age of 9. Read more>>

Chris Salazar | Rapper

I’m from an inner city neighborhood in Houston called “Denver Harbor” it has highly impacted my career , sound , and who I am today. Being a young Mexican kid in a mexican neighborhood where crime was big I’ve seen it all and done it all, it helped build me to be stronger and ready to succeed no matter what. Being from there has also inspired me to be bigger than just the neighborhood and achieve big things and give back to my community. Read more>>

Tiffany Nesbit | Artist

I was born in New Orleans Louisiana, and grew up about half an hour away from the city in a small bayou town. I grew up outdoors on my bike, and spent a lot of time hiking in the woods. My parents are both incredibly strong minded and creative. My father is a musician and master carpenter and my mother is a florist and designer. My brother is also a professional musician. After Katrina my grandparents lived with us, so I got to spend a lot of time with them and got to hear their stories. My family had a huge impact on who I am today. As I got older, I made many friends who were artists, and or musicians. Connecting with other creative people and mentors always helped me to keep my head straight. Growing up in Louisiana, I got to see a tremendous amount of street art and performance. I did not realize that “conceptual art” or “academic art” was a thing until I got into collage. I got really sucked into it when I started taking drawing classes, which later lead me to sculpture. I think I realized my calling in life while taking sculpture classes at Southeastern Louisiana. Read more>>

Hallie Ager | Doctor Of Physical Therapy

I am from a small farm community in southern Michigan. My parents both grew up on farms and although they did not carry on the family tradition, they taught me how to work hard and be self-sufficient. Both of my parents were educators, my dad a college professor for 37 years and my mom a school administrator for most of her career. Education was extremely important to them as it had provided them both with opportunities outside their small towns. They instilled in me a strong belief that if I got a good education and worked hard, anything was possible. I have always felt that I am the driver of my own destiny, as cliché as that might sound. I hold the power to create my own reality and therefore my own happiness. That belief has been extremely valuable to me in both my professional and personal life and without a doubt has contribute to my entrepreneurial spirit. Hallie: Starting my own business has been a goal and dream of mine since I was a little girl. As a small child, I would set goals, picture them happening, and push forward to achieve them. Read more>>

Maryam Kamran | Hair colorist

I am from Lahore, Pakistan. Growing up, my mom was also a hairstylist. It was inspiring to see her work in a society where men are in control of women’s education and other important choices in life. My dad was very supportive of her working and chasing her dreams. She started off her own business by herself in our house and ended up with 2 salons as well as becoming an educator in the hair industry. Having all these opportunities in the U.S. helped me start off my career and I took advantage of the resources to help me grow. I learned how to work hard and believe in myself if I really wanted to pursue my dreams. Read more>>

Jeralyn Williams | Entrepreneur, Speaker and Influencer

I am from Ruston, Louisiana. A small town but I must say that growing up there was a blessing. Ruston is not a perfect town at all but it provided a upbringing that is truly the foundation of the adult that I am today. Ruston has two Universities within a 5 mile radius. Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University an HBCU. Even though Ruston is a true southern town with its culture rooted in true southern values and its fair share of racial tension there was still an air of diversity. Therefore I grew up in a small town that did not technically always feel like a small town. We were constantly being exposed to new cultures, new thought concepts and much more. I grew up seeing how my life could turn out if I held tight to old concepts and beliefs while also seeing what my life could be if I decided to try the latter and explore all that life has to offer. I choose the latter and have not looked back since. I love home and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I will always love and appreciate my family, friends and upbringing in that small town in North East Louisiana. But I know that I have a greater purpose. I know that I have gifts that the world needs. I am going to continue to explore, to learn, to grow and enjoy this journey that we call life. Read more>>

Jenny Bennett | Registered Nurse, Mother & Drowning Prevention Advocate.

Family has always been number one for me. When my son Jackson was born, I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. I went from working full time to working part-time as an Emergency Room nurse. This gave me 5 days a week were I could focus on being “Mama”. Little did I know, I would only play that role for 18 months. I lost Jackson to a drowning accident in our backyard pool. He was supposed to be safe inside our home, playing with his sisters, but he snuck outside through our normally locked dog door and made his way to the pool. After a few minutes of being unknowingly unsupervised, I found him floating face down in the pool. We thought we were safe parents: we kept him rear facing in the car, we cut his food, we covered the electrical outlets and put gates on our stairs. Little did we know that the greatest killer of children aged 1-4 was in our backyard. Since this accident occurred, I had met so many parents with similar stories. Their toddler child had also drowned during a non-swim time. Read more>>

Shawnn Casagrande | Baker, Creator and Entrepreneur

I grew up in Fresno, CA and was raised by my mother, as a single parent we struggled, we were definitely in poverty and sometimes without a place to live. My mom always showed her strength in everything she did and I looked up to her for that and it made me strive for better for myself and my daughter and want to be successful in anything I do. I am the person I am today from those hard times. I am humble and appreciative, I think it gives me a feeling of “home” and comfort and I hope it comes through in my baked goods because it really comes from my heart. Read more>>