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Halfstack Highlights Podcast - Exploring the Business of Creativity
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Halfstack Highlights Podcast - Exploring the Business of Creativity

Author: Halfstack Media | Jennifer M. Lezan

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Halfstack Highlights is a podcast dedicated to exploring the business of creativity and showcasing inspiring individuals who are trying to create magic while following their dreams in Chicago and beyond.
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Hello everyone!Welcome to the latest episode of Halfstack Highlights!! This is Jen Lezan, welcome back to all of you who have subscribed to the series and for those of you who are new here - I am the Editor in Chief of a Chicago based digital magazine called Halfstack Magazine and I am also one of the hosts of our podcast: Halfstack Highlights. I am really excited to share this week’s episode as it features another badass female founder I met through the Project Entrepreneur Alumni group. Project Entrepreneur connected me with more female founders than I would have ever imagined. Over the last year since I attended the 3-day startup workshop and venture pitch competition, I’ve connected with nearly a hundred founders and organizations. Each one has a story that is somewhat familiar, but also incredibly inspirational. I’ve had the opportunity to share their stories with readers on the blog, in past issues and on our Podcast. Every time, each woman I connect with, inspires me to keep moving forward with the creative work I do. They highlight the grit, inner strength and fortitude that women entrepreneurs & creatives alike have. They are a constant reminder to not quit my daydream. All Images Courtesy of Beyond the BoothThe women who I’ve been able to connect with all have a common thread, an undeniable strength and creative synergy that propel their business forward. Prianka Dhir is another founder who was a part of the Project Entrepreneur cohort who I recently connected with. She’s the founder of Beyond the Booth, a trade show mobile app. Prianka founded her company Beyond the Booth in Vancouver, Canada and moved her business out to San Francisco about a year and a half ago. She shared that it has been a really great experience learning the ins and outs of growing a tech business as a female founder and took some time to go into more detail about her journey with us for today’s episode. If you are a woman who is working to get your company off the ground, interested in learning about how technology is evolving in the event industry or are interested in hearing more about Prianka’s journey as an entrepreneur than this is the episode for you. Click play below for the full interview! Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes I really hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights.  It’s always an honor being able to share these stories and inspiring people with all of you listeners. I want to say a huge Thank you to Prianka for sharing your journey with us! It is so important for women to support women and I am always excited to coordinate our Female Founders episodes. If you are interested in learning more about Prianka connect with her social media channels, or learn more about how you can have Beyond the Booth at your next event – visit www.beyondtheboothhq.com. While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com for our weekly updates and you can check out issuu.com/halfstackmag to read our latest issue! If you want to keep up with us on social media just follow @halfstackmag on facebook, twitter and instagram. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to check out our patreon at patreon.com/halfstackmag. As a volunteer and independently run media brand, any and all pledges  from $1 and up help us to keep creating the content on our Podcast, within our issues and on our website. Finally, please take some time to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thank you for your support! Check back in 2 weeks as we will be sharing an interview with the founder of a new fashion start up that launched out of Canada and has now found it’s way to the City of Angels! Fashion 88 is taking innovation, technology and fashion to the next level.  **Music included in podcast intro**herbal tea by Artificial.Music https://soundcloud.com/artificial-musicCreative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/ChhcjSCEaBc
Hello everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of Halfstack Highlights!! This is Jen Lezan, and I am the Editor in Chief of the Chicago based digital magazine Halfstackmag.com and I am also one of the hosts of our podcast: Halfstack Highlights. I am excited to share this week’s episode as it features another local Chicago entrepreneur and designer: Phoebe Chen. She spends her time between Chicago and New York working for a local Non-profit here in the Windy City, while also designing and manufacturing for her startup in NYC. Images Courtesy of Phoebe Chen/NOCORIPhoebe is the founder of NOCORI. An accessories brand that celebrates the bold, the ambitious and the unabashedly authentic. I learned about NOCORI through the Project Entrepreneur Alumni network and I just had to learn more about the woman behind the gorgeous gym bags that second as your chic handbag.Phoebe created NOCORI in the hopes of solving a problem that many of us have encountered in today's world.  Whether you consider yourself a fitness guru, a meeting maven, or a warrior parent – Phoebe explains that people often rush from meetings to errands followed by dinner(s) and/or gathering(s) with friends while trying to squeeze in a workout somewhere in-between. We seem to find ourselves faced with the constant struggle of having to choose convenience over style, inevitably weighed down by the amount of "stuff" we carry to accommodate this fast-paced lifestyle.  NOCORI seeks to solve this problem. Each bag Phoebe creates is thoughtfully designed to bring convenience to your lifestyle while looking gorgeously minimalist. In this episode I talk with Phoebe about her journey launching the Nocori collection as well as how she works to find some sort of balance as busy woman who is still working an industry job while building her startup and living between multiple cities. We discuss what the process was like launching her collection and how timing can change without a moments notice in fashion production. We talk about yoga, finding ways to distress as an entrepreneur, the realities behind the glamour of fashion start up life and we get a little philosophical talking about the ideas that women get caught up in when it comes to personal power and belief in our abilities to truly create our future and support one another. Phoebe is such an inspiring woman with a heart of gold and I hope you find motivation in her story. Click below to listen to the full interview. Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes We hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights.  Thanks Phoebe for sharing your journey with us!  If you are interested in learning more about Phoebe connect with her social media channels, or make a purchase – visit her site: www.nocori.com.While you are online make sure you stop by issuu.com/halfstackmag to read our latest issue and keep up with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  If you want to grab a print copy of the latest issue you can do so here: http://bit.ly/HSMBlurbPrintIf you like what we are doing with Halfstack Highlights, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about.Thanks for your support!- Jen
Hello everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of Halfstack Highlights!! I am excited to share this week’s episode as it features a local Chicago entrepreneur and style Icon: Katie Schuppler of KS Style Consulting. She is a Personal Style Consultant and Fashion Blogger/Writer who loves to help others create their own personal style in this fast paced world of fashion and in daily life. After gaining a Bachelors of Arts degree in Fashion Merchandise Management and Business Administration from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, WI she had then gone on to become a Stylist/Style Director at the #1 women’s boutique in Milwaukee, Fred Boutique.She made the trek to Chicago a few years ago and has been building her work in the Windy City. She has been dedicated to helping her clients (Men, Women, Kids, Tall, Petite, and Plus Size) find their own personal style through advice, Styling Sessions, Closet Clean-outs, Consignment, and Look Books throughout the Chicagoland, Southeastern Wisconsin, and Southwestern Michigan areas for over 7 years. She is also currently the Style Editor for Chicago Woman Magazine.Katie has truly taken her schooling and put it to use in building her brand. She’s a testament to the idea that working in fashion is more than just creating an empowering and beautiful outfit, although that’s probably one of the more fun parts of her job, but she’s an entrepreneur, marketer and puts her business hat on daily. Throughout this interview, I talk with Katie about her journey, what led her to launching her style consulting business and more about what it’s really like behind the glamour of running a fashion business. Click the player below for the full interview! Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes I hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. Thanks Katie for sharing your journey with us! If you are interested in learning more about Katie, connect with her social media channels, or schedule a styling session– visit her site: www.fashionstylingchicago.com. You can check out Katie's Blog: http://www.ksfashionspeak.com, follow her on twitter, instagram and facebook.  While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com for our weekly updates!You can visit issuu.com/halfstackmag to read our latest issue and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!-Jen
Like most creatives, Kiirstin Marilyn has had her ups and downs.  It is how the Brooklyn-based songwriter/musician/actress responds to life’s obstacles that makes her special.  Kiirstin demonstrates the grit and persistence that a creative needs if she plans to succeed pursuing her dream.Singer/Songwriter/Actress Kiirstin MarilynKiirstin was excited to be signed to a small independent record label for the release of her EP, Ghosts.  However, when the label wasn’t providing the type of marketing support for her EP that she thought it should, Kiirstin took it upon herself to put together a promotional tour that took her as far away as a music festival in Arizona.  She planned to end the first leg of the tour with a show at Brooklyn’s iconic music venue Knitting Factory.  Two days before the show was scheduled, Kiirstin was told her slot was “bumped” due to a misstep by the promoter.  She could have easily got upset and blamed someone else.  Instead, she rented a Brooklyn performance space and performed on impromptu “return to Brooklyn” show for her fans.  These are just a couple of examples of how this talented artist makes things happen to benefit her career.Listen to the full episode below:Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesKiirstin With Fans at Her Impromptu "Return to Brooklyn" ShowKiirstin continues to pursue her creative dreams.  She is working on new music.  She hasn’t decided if the new songs will be released as stand-alone projects or as part of an EP or full CD project. She is also working with several other artists, sharing her video/film expertise to help produce their music videos.  Kiirstin has been an animal rights advocate and activist for several years and this can be seen in her creative work.  Her music video for Please Don’t Kiss Me has a clear message about the current state of race relations in our country.  She spends a lot of her time and creative energy working on the “V for Veganism” platform with Producer/Cinematographer, Karolina Tyszkowska.  The main goal for V4V is to normalize veganism.  In an ongoing series of videos, Kiirstin explores the boroughs of New York to interview individuals who have already stopped consuming animal products and help the audience to understand how to embrace this increasingly popular lifestyle.Kiirstin Creating A VideoKiirstin took some time between video/film projects to talk with Louis Vasseur for an episode of HalfStack Highlights.  During the interview, she talks about her creative journey, overcoming obstacles, and keeping a positive attitude as you pursue your creative dreams.  To learn more about Kiirstin Marilyn and her music and film/video work, check out www.kiirstinmarilyn.com.
Welcome to Halfstack Highlights. This is Jen Lezan Editor in Chief of Halfstack Magazine and one of the hosts of the Halfstack Highlights Podcast. This week I speak with Kaben Clauson the founder of the Chicago based startup behind the Anonymous Opinions app – which can be found in the app store under AOP. The AOP app is all about sharing your thoughts and opinions anonymously.The Anonymous Opinions app is the place to express who you are, what you think, and see how your views connect with others. Every vote is anonymous. From brands to breaking news, pop culture to personal habits, relationships to hobbies and art, science or political polls – your opinion counts. Aop connects you to others around two core ideas: The importance of your opinion and a fun way to understand where your views fit in the world. I wanted to talk with Kaben about launching a startup dealing with technology. So, he shared his insights on launching his business, finding funding, building the app and getting the prototype ready before he launched live in the App store. He shares his career journey before launching his own business as well as the realities behind the ups and downs of getting into the start up world. What I enjoyed most about this interview was Kaben’s honesty and no holds bar attitude when it comes to sharing the raw reality behind growing a startup. If you are interested in starting your own company or learning more about what goes into building an app, this is the episode for you. Keep listening for the full interview. Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesWe hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about the AOP app visit: www.aopapp.com - if you want to download the app – just search AOP in the Apple App Store.While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!Take care -Jen
Like most creative endeavors, pursuing a career as an indie filmmaker is not easy.  Lack of financing, time, resources (not to mention that pesky day job) all seem to conspire against you bringing your creative dream to life and sharing it with the world. Liz Manashil is working to try and make the process a little easier.  The Manager of Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative is reaching out to indie filmmakersLiz is a microbudget feature writer/director.  She is a frequent speaker on film panels and conferences, including South by Southwest 2018.  Liz is a former film critic and often serves as a judge/jury member at film festivals.  Her debut feature film, Bread and Butter, was released September 1, 2015 on The Orchard and can be seen on video-on-Demand nearly everywhere, including HULU where she once served as a film critic.  The film was called “an absolute must watch for women everywhere”, by HelloGiggles.  Bustle.com said Bread and Butter was a “rare film that tackles female sexuality head on”.  Liz is currently working on her second feature film, Speed of Life.In addition to being an indie filmmaker, Liz is also the Manager of the Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative (CDI).  With online resources, workshops, and networks of organizations, CDI empowers filmmakers by teaching them the everchanging ins and outs of what it takes to distribute and market independent films.Despite having a successful feature film and being associated with the Sundance Institute, Liz continues to face the same obstacles and challenges as her fellow filmmakers.  This is one of the reasons she is so effective as the Manager of CDI.  She isn’t merely preaching from some ivory tower pedestal.  She is in the trenches daily working through the challenges to share her artistic story with the world.  Both of her feature films were funded through successful Kickstarter campaigns.  The lessons she learned developing the financing for her indie film projects, she shares with other filmmakers through her work at CDI and elsewhere.  “I have learned some nuances on how to creatively market and distribute an indie film by working on my own projects,” shares Liz.  “This is some of the information that Sundance and CDI can offer indie filmmakers.  Bringing a creative project to life is not always easy.  But we can make it easier by learning from others”.  Liz Manashil took time from her busy schedule to talk with HalfStack Magazine’s Louis Vasseur for a podcast episode for HalfStack Highlights.  During the program, they discuss Liz’s work as an indie filmmaker, her work at Sundance, and a CDI program that can help indie filmmakers get distribution for their projects.  Listen to the full episode below: Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes She is in the trenches daily working through the challenges to share her artistic story with the world. Both of her feature films were funded through successful Kickstarter campaigns. The lessons she learned developing the financing for her indie film projects, she shares with other filmmakers through her work at CDI and elsewhere. “I have learned some nuances on how to creatively market and distribute an indie film by working on my own projects,” shares Liz. “This is some of the information that Sundance and CDI can offer indie filmmakers. Bringing a creative project to life is not always easy. But we can make it easier by learning from others”.
Hello Everyone!!Welcome to Halfstack Highlights. This is Jen Lezan Editor in Chief of Halfstack Magazine and one of the hosts of the Halfstack Highlights Podcast. This week is the final episode of the year!! We will be going on a small break and will return with a new episode on January 14th, 2018! It's been a great year filled with many inspiring interviews. I've been so motivated sharing the content this year. We also set up a Patreon account for Halfstack - so if you want to support what we are doing on the podcast, the actual magazine or the blog, feel free to become a patron! The highlight of the year had to be attending the Project Entrepreneur workshops in New York in April and meeting so many strong female founders. Along with that was sharing 9 female founders and their startups through our PE Alumni series. I close out this year with anin-depth interview with: Kristen Wiley, founder of Statusphere. She's another female founder I met through Project Entrepreneur. Having worked as both an influencer and a brand, she saw first-hand how challenging and frustrating the process can be for everyone involved. There was no streamlined way for brands and influencers to easily find and build authentic, mutually beneficial connections. On the brand side, it was difficult to find quality influencers who fit the right niche, with high engagement and followings to match. And on the influencer side, there was little control over which brands she’d be pitched by. Kristen launched Statusphere to give both influencers and marketers what they’ve wanted out of influencer marketing all along — more control over the influencer marketing process, without the wasted time and energy.Statusphere is a place where brands and influencers meet and create win-win relationships. For brands, this means eliminating the strenuous process of finding the influencers that have everything you’re looking for and then managing the entire influencer campaign. For influencers, this means having a streamlined and favorable way to select the brands you want to post about, without getting approached by brands who are completely off the mark for you. If you are someone interested in learning more about monetizing and growing your blog, hearing more about how startups work with coops and incubators, or more about transitioning from a career into entrepreneurship than this is the episode for you! Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesI hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about Statusphere visit: https://www.joinstatus.com. You can also connect with them onand Instagram with the handle @statusphere. While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about.Thanks for your support!Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief
Hello Readers!Welcome to the latest episode of Halfstack Highlights!  This is Jen Lezan Editor in Chief of Halfstack Magazine and one of the hosts of the Halfstack Highlights Podcast. This week I am sharing an interview with: Stephanie Benedetto founder of Queen of Raw. Queen of Raw is the premiere online marketplace to sell unused fabrics & buy high end raw materials. They work with retailers, factories, mills, designers, crafters and students.We talk about the current state of the fashion industry, why sustainability is so important and how The Queen of Raw is on a mission to make a positive impact on the industry. Quality raw materials are being wasted every day and it's affecting people, planet, & profit. Queen of Raw is on a mission to fix this. We talk about how brands work with the company, tips for indie designers and what it is like being a startup that combined technology and traditional fashion elements such as textiles.If you are interested in the fashion industry, learning more about sustainability in the retail world and what it is like to launch a traditional business with a tech element, give this episode a listen.Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesI hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about The Queen of Raw– visit: https://www.queenofraw.com. You can listen to the Material is Your Business on iTunes HERE. You can also check out the website at: https://materialisyourbusiness.comYou can also connect with them on twitter, facebook, and Instagram with the handle queenofraw. While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. If you'd like to support us on Patreon, you can do so here: https://www.patreon.com/halfstackmagThanks for your support!-Jen Lezan
Welcome to Halfstack Highlights!This week we are talking to Jennifer Eden , the Co-Founder of Tampon Tribe. Yes, you heard that right. We are featuring an AMAZING subscription service that caters to those who are in need of monthly feminine hygiene products. We are going there, we are talking about periods this week. Tampon Tribe is a Southern California based startup that is shaking up the period industry by creating a product that is meeting certified organic standards, taking out all the chemicals found in traditional feminine hygiene products and making sure tampons and pads are accessible to all women.In the developed world, the idea of going without a basic need type product such as tampons or pads seems almost unthinkable. Yet, for those who live in poverty, lack of access to menstrual health care is a hindering reality. Going beyond the hindrance, poor menstrual hygiene can be deadly. It  has been linked to high rates of cervical cancer in places like India as well as in other developing countries where infections are caused by use of unwashed rags are rampant. In the states, women who are homeless or incarcerated face similar risks when they can’t access or afford sanitary products.In many places, periods are often stigmatized. This is often due to lack of awareness and education about the basics of menstruation. There is a widely held belief in parts of India that menstruation makes women “impure,” women and girls on their periods are not allowed to take on household tasks like cooking, nor are they allowed to be in public spaces. In some instances, may not even be allowed in their own homes. In some of the most extreme examples, women and girls on their period have to wait out the time in isolation, in a hut at the edge of their villages. Images courtesy of Tampon TribeWhen looking at this from a global perspective, many women and girls do not have access to feminine hygiene products to use when they are on their periods. In places such as Southeast Asia and Africa as well as women in the US who live below the poverty line. The cost of tampons and pads is often prohibitive and items like food and other basic needs are prioritized. Often sanitary products are simply just not available. In fact, the food stamp programs in most US states do not even consider menstrual hygiene products as “essential items”. Beyond access, the chemicals used in feminine hygiene products are a major pain point. American women spend well over $2 billion per year on feminine hygiene products. The average woman will end up using more that 16,800 tampons and pads over her lifetime.  Yet, despite this there has been very little research on the potential health risks that the chemicals used within the products may pose to women. This is where Tampon Tribe comes in. They are a team of international women who all call SoCal home. They are passionate about eliminating all of the crap that’s in everyday tampons and pads and bringing their users organic products that don’t cost the earth and won't leave them worrying about what they are putting inside their bodies. The team also seriously hates plastic. They believe there should be no single use plastic when there doesn’t need to be. So Tampon Tribe doesn't use any. They are Certified Organic, have GOTS and ICEA certification as well. Their products are toxin free, hypoallergenic, chemical free, and made with 100% organic cotton.One of the major missions of Tampon Tribe is being accessible to all women. They are working to make organic tampons and pads affordable and accessible for everyone. They do everything they can to keep their prices as low as possible. They also work to ensure their brand is socially responsible.  For every month bought, they give a day pack of feminine hygiene to homeless women on the streets.  They are also creating empowering opportunities to become a part of their team by employing people who haven’t had the same access to education or opportunity in their community. They believe that underserved populations need our help, and they are a better brand thanks to them.If you are looking to be inspired, learn more about companies who are working within a socially responsible business model or want to learn more about how Tampon Tribe is shaking up the period industry, give this episode a listen.Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesThis episode falls right in line with our Annual Giving Issue which drops today and is highlighting brands, organizations and individuals making a positive impact on their community. If you are interested in reading about more companies and people who are working to make a differnce in the Chicago community and beyond, you can pick up the latest issue of Halfstack HERE.   I hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about Tampon Tribe and place an order, visit them online at www.tampontribe.com. While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief 
Welcome to halfstack highlights. This is Jen Lezan and I am the Editor in chief of the Chicago based digital magazine Halfstack and one of the hosts of the podcast Halfstack highlights. For this weeks episode, I had the opportunity to speak with the founder of Diplomat Books and the Author of the Chidlren’s book- Where Is Robin: Robin Barone All Images Courtesy of Robin BaroneRobin shares her incredible story about how she went from the board room to a creative entrepreneurial journey in publishing. She recently released the first in her series: Where is Robin. She’s all about using travel to inspire curiosity in children. She’s hoping to teach children to be open about the world and the different cultures and backgrounds one can experience throughout in a fun and engaging way.She’s shares the ups and downs of being a female founder and gives us an insiders view to the world of publishing. This is a great episode for those of you interested in writing a book or launching your own business. It’s also a great episode for parents who are looking for engaging content and books they can share with their kids and families. Keep listening for the full interview:Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes **Intro Track Info. Credits**Title: Bay Breeze Artist: FortyThr33 Genre: Dance & Electronic Mood: Bright Download: https://goo.gl/HCmgSQI hope you enjoyed this latest episode! Thanks Robin, we can’t wait to catch up with you on your next journey. If you want to know where robin is visit: www.whereisrobin.org - while you’re online make sure you stop by www.halfstackmag.com and you can keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag.Also, please make sure you stop by iTunes to leave us a review, this is a great way to show your support as the reviews help our episodes get discovered and will allow us to keep making the content you enjoy listening to and that --we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!-Jen 
Welcome to halfstack highlights. This is Jen Lezan and I am the Editor in chief of the Chicago based digital magazine Halfstack and one of the hosts of our podcast Halfstack highlights. This week I had the opportunity to speak with Kara Mac – the founder of Shoe Candy by Kara Mac.ShoeCandy® by Kara Mac is a line of high quality, designer shoes and hand-crafted, mix and match accessories that you can combine to create your own, heel to toe, shoe designs in a flash. Perfect for travelers and other women on the go.ShoeCandy® shoes and accessories combine easily and seamlessly using their patent pending “snap and play” technology, invented by Co-Founder Kara Mac.ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF SHOE CANDY BY KARA MACIn this episode I speak with Kara about her journey into entrepreneurship, what it has been like inventing a product, working towards a patent and the realities that female founders face in the male dominated world of startups. We also talk about the importance of having a co-founder in business that can help complement your skillsets and be a support through the journey of entrepreneurship. We talk about Kara’s start and what led her to launching shoe candy and so much more. Keep listening for the full interview. Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes Thanks to Kara for taking the time to share her journey! If you would like to learn more about shoe kandy and Kara. Check out www.karamac.com and while you are online make sure you stop by www.halfstackmag.com and you can keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. Also, please make sure you stop by iTunes to leave us a review, this is a great way to show your support as the reviews help our episodes get discovered and will allow us to keep making the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!If you want to learn a bit more about the PE Intensive, check out my vlog diary of the whole thing below and you can always learn more at: www.projectentrepreneur.org
Musicians Sam Brownson, Oliver Horton, and Jake Hawrylack first met as undergrads at Knox College in Galesburg, IL.  The three multi-instrumentalists collaborated on various student and side projects but then went their separate ways upon graduation.  Later they each migrated to Chicago drawn by the City’s musical roots.  After jamming together on different projects, the three formed Sedgewick in late 2013.  Chalk up another win for the Windy City muses.Their successful live shows prompted Newcity to name Sedgewick “Best new folk music act of 2014”.  After the release of their debut EP, Garden, Obscure Sound called the band “Masters of emotionally stirring songwriting”.  Clearly Sedgewick had something going on.The collaborative spirit that the three musicians implemented back in college has continued with Sedgewick.  “We definitely have a democratic philosophy when it comes to running the band,” explains Horton. “We each bring ideas to the group to work on together.  This extends to our unique live set up, where we all set up together at center stage as opposed to the more traditional band set up with a front man surrounded by other musicians and the drummer in back on a riser.”  Sedgewick’s unique live set up of guitar pedals, synth, upright bass, and vocal harmonies combine influences from electronica, alt rock, and their deep roots in folk music.The members of Sedgewick have evolved as they continue their musical journey.  They define their genre as dream-folk.  With a strong musical trust in each other, Brownson, Horton, and Hawrylack are not afraid to take musical risks.  The band recently performed a live version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  This musical evolution is evident with Sedgewick’s latest CD, Collapse, scheduled to be released at a CD release show at Burlington Bar on November 10. 2017.  The members of Sedgewick sat down with guest host Louis Vasseur for an interview on HalfStack Highlights.  During the interview, the band members discuss Sedgewick’s evolution, their musical influences, and the new CD.  Here is the link to the HalfStack Highlights podcast interview:Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesTo learn more about Sedgewick and the music, visit www.sedgewickmusic.com. We hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about Sedgwick, listening to some tracks, or finding out about upcoming show dates – visit them online at sedgewickmusic.com – You can also downloading their latest album collapse on itunes and check out more tracks on bandcamp and spotify. While you are online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social media with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing, please take a moment to leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. This will help our episodes to get noticed and allow us to continue to create the content you enjoy listening to and that we are passionate about. Thanks for your support!
Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. I am Jen Lezan – the Editor in Chief of Halfstack Magazine and host of this podcast where we explore the business of creativity and inspiring individuals who are trying to create magic while following their dreams. In this episode – I had the opportunity to talk with: Dana Donofree - the founder of Ana Ono – a lingerie and loungewear company that launched in 2014 with the mission to design specifically for those who have had breast reconstruction, breast surgery mastectomy or are living with other conditions that cause pain or discomfort.  Dana launched the brand after her own battle with cancer. She was diagnosed with infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma at 27. Images courtesy of anaono.com Dana Donofree founded AnaOno out of her own necessity and desire for pretty, sexy, beautiful lingerie. After a bilateral mastectomy with implant reconstruction her own bras no longer fit and she was certain there must be more than just sports bras and camisoles (as nothing in the traditional lingerie market fit her surgically-altered body any more). With a degree in fashion design from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a quite successful fashion industry career, she took her ten plus years experience and put it toward designing, launching and growing AnaOno.In this episode we talk about Dana’s amazing journey through this all. We specifically look at her experiences in the design world before Ana Ono, launching a brand from start to finish and her experiences at New York Fashion week. We get personal and discuss her battle with cancer and how that experience changed the trajectory of her life. We also talk about the realities of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the truth behind where some of the major foundations put their funds vs. smaller grassroots organizations that are working towards actually finding a cure. She shares her thoughts on why breast cancer isn’t about the color pink or cheesy taglines, but the people who are fighting day in and day out. She goes into more detail about some of the non profits she partners with and some of the incredibly inspirational figures who have touched her life along the way. You can put a face to the voice in this incredibly touching video from an interview with SELF.If you are a woman or man who want’s to support other women, someone who has battled breast cancer, someone who wants to find out where the donated funds for breast cancer awareness go to OR someone interested in learning more about launching a brand and gaining some entrepreneurial insight, this episode is for you. Click below to listen the full interview.PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesI hope you all enjoyed this episode. I want to send a huge shout out to Dana for taking the time to share her journey and her experiences with us. Her story is an inspiration and she’s a true testament to the inner strength all women have. If you want to learn more about Dana or shop her collection, please visit: www.anaono.com You can also keep up with the brand on twitter, facebook and instagram @AnaOnoIntimates –while you’re online make sure you stop by halfstackmag.com and you can always keep up with us on all social media channels with the handle @halfstackmag. If you like what we are doing with this show please take a moment and leave us an honest review on iTunes. It’ll help us reach new listeners, grow the show and enable the Halfstack team to keep putting out the content that we get to share with all of you.If you are interested in learning more about organizations you can donate to during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make sure to check out the following suggestions from Dana: Metavivor: http://metavivor.orgLiving with Breast Cancer: http://www.lbbc.orgProject Cancerland: http://www.projectcancerland.orgTake care- Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief
Hello everyone! We are continuing our series focus on female founders this week on the Halfstack Highlights Podcast. In this episode, we talk with  Alex - The founder of the tech and childcare startup: Zibbli. Zibbli provides families in Westchester, NY a flexible childcare solution to meet the demands of busy parents. At Zibbli, they are calling attention to the many types of families lending a member or two to the workforce by providing an updated childcare model to help today's families remain happy and healthy. In this episode we focus on the journey of a female entreprenurs in the start up world. I learned about Zibbli through the Project Entrepreneur Alumni group. The Zibble team attended the PE Intensive 2017 this past April with other female founders for a weekend of workshops and inspirational keynotes catering to female founded start ups. There was also a pitch competition where companies had the time to pitch their brand to win 15K and entry to an incubator program coordinated by the Rent the Runway team. I had the opportunity to attend and it was an incredibly inspirational weekend and I was able to connect with so many great brands that I will be featuring on the podcast over the next few months. Throughout the episode, I talk with Alex about what led to the Launch of zibbli, what it is like being in the competitive world of start ups, the hardships startups face when looking for funding, her goals for Zibbli and so much more. We also talk about the realities of being a female founder and she also offers advice for people interested in launching their own startup.Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes Thanks for listening to this latest episode! Thanks to Alex for sharing her journey and offering a peek into the world of a startup. If you are interested in learning more about Zibbli visit them online at: www.zibbli.com. -Take care,Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief
Dewayne Lucas credits his art for saving his life.  The author, producer, director, songwriter, and film editor was being raised by his single mom on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood racked with poverty and violence.  After several family members and friends fell victim to violence, Lucas’s mother packed him up along with his four brothers and one sister, and moved to Milwaukee. Although they enjoyed a brief respite from the violence, they soon found themselves surrounded by drugs and violence.Where the Ebonics Man Comic Meets a Live Action Musical“I hunkered down at school and began to find comfort in my art and music,” explains Lucas.  As he developed his craft, fellow students took notice.  They asked Lucas to perform on street corners and neighborhood parties.  “It got to the point where gang members would pick me up and drive me to various parties to perform my music.  In a way, I was protected from a lot of what was going on in the neighborhood because I was the entertainment.”Lucas returned to Chicago to help his cousin run a fine art gallery on the City’s West Side.  He continued to develop his art, selling s few works.  Lucas organized an artist showcase back in his old neighborhood. The showcase provided neighborhood artists/musicians a safe platform to share their art.  The showcase lasted for just over a year before Lucas closed it.  “I had the desire but, in hindsight, I didn’t have the business skills I needed to continue.  One thing I am proud of though.  The showcase was the longest running one in the neighborhood with no incident of violence.”Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunesDewayne, his mother and siblings during their early yearsLucas returned to school and earned a degree in entrepreneurship.  He left school on a mission for positive change. He created Ebonics Films with the goal to inspire creative solutions by providing an outlet for youth talent expression, as an alternative to violence.  He created Ebonics Man, a new superhero who uses his music as a superpower to defeat evil.  Lucas developed a comic book with Ebonics Man that combined his comic book art with a CD of his music to promote the tale.  He promoted Ebonics Man at Wizard World Comic Con-Chicago and plans to participate in more conferences.  Future plans include more comic books, more music, and a musical stage play.Dewayne Lucas (image to the left) was interviewed for HalfStack Highlights.  During the interview, he talks about his journey, his art, and his mission for positive change.  Check out the interview at the link below.To learn more about Lucas, Ebonics Man and more, visit www.ebonicsfilm.com
Hello everyone! Thanks for listening to Halfstack Highlights. Jen Lezan here, Editor in Chief of Halfstack Magazine and one of the hosts of Halfstack Highlights! I am super stoked to share the guest in this latest episode.  She’s one of our first guests from our run down of amazing women Entrepreneurs that I had the opportunity to encounter during my time at Rent the Runway Foundation’s Project Entrepreneur in April. If you are not sure what Project Entrepreneur is a multi faceted national initiative that includes events, a venture competition and 5 week accelerator program. It was launched by the Rent the Runway co-founders. I had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by so many female founders and this week I get to introduce you to one. Cary Williams is the woman behind the Too Pretty Brand. The company was created out of her experience in a male dominated sport: Boxing.As a fighter she was often told often that she was Too Pretty to be a boxer. Which really meant, to them, that she was not capable. Then they'd see her fight, and say, "You fight like a boy!" And in the world of boxing, or any sport where you get punched in the face, that's seen as a compliment. Over the years she realized, this was something that was all too common whether it be ins ports or in business for women. She launched her brand  too pretty playing off the idea that women are never too pretty to do amazing things, and her movement began.  All images courtesy of Too Pretty BrandShe focused this movement via an Instagram project where girls and women are posting black and white photos in which they hold cardboard signs that tell what they are Never Too Pretty to do. They use the hashtags #nevertoopretty #tooprettymovement and #thebeautyinstrength to explain what this phrase means to them. It’s amassed her a huge following over social media. Throughout the episode we talk about Cary’s journey, her motivation, what it’s like being a female in the male dominated world of start ups and how she’s working to change the narrative for female founders. We talk about her successes and the not so pretty side of entrepreneurship as well. This is a great episode for those of you interesting in launching an apparel brand, who are in need of motivation and who want to hear more about the raw realities behind startups. Keep listening for the full interview. Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via Archive.org | iTunes I hope you enjoyed this latest episode! Shout out to Cary for her insights and for sharing her time with us. If you want to learn more about cary you can visit her website: www.cary-williams.comand if you want to support the Too Pretty brand you can do so at: www.tooprettybrand.com - You can also follow too pretty on all social media with the handle tooprettybrand. If you want to tweet Cary you can do so on twitter at: caryleewilliams. While you’re online make sure you stop by and keep up with us on social media @halfstackmag.com.  If you like what you hear, make sure you subscribe on itunes and leave us a rating!Thanks for your support! -Jen 
Music has the power to change lives.  Each of us has experienced what music can do at some point in our lives.  Remember those tough preteen/teenage years?  Life was challenging. Where and how do I fit in?  You retreated to your room to listen to music and brood when suddenly, THAT song came on.  At last, someone who understands what you are going through.  This artist really gets it.Music’s influence continued as we got older and wiser.  With your earbuds in, listening to your playlist on your favorite streaming service, you don’t care your boss is a jerk or that the third train in a row has raced past your El platform traveling express.Nashville-based music critic, academic, and artist development consultant Holly Gleason remembers experiencing the transformative power of music as a student at a Catholic high school in suburban Cleveland.  As she entered a local record store to purchase some new music to help fuel her growing interest in country music.  As Gleason entered the store she looked up to find herself face-to-face with a life-sized cutout of country star crossover rock queen, Tanya Tucker, promoting her new album TNT.  There Tucker stood at the end of the aisle, a fiery red-head in a skin-clutching red spandex outfit, dropped low in the back, with her back to the camera and head tossed high in a half challenge, half come on.  Staring at the cut out in her college prep school uniform, Gleason felt the challenge… “Come on, take a chance, give it a listen.”  Feeling Tucker’s eyes follow her around the store, Gleason bought the album. (Hey, it was discounted to $5.99)  As she listened to the swagger of a buzzing electric guitar and the pumping of the drums, Tucker opened Gleason’s eyes and ears to a whole new world.  After an injury sidelined Gleason’s dreams of a professional golf career, she continued her pursuit of music.  She began covering country music while attending the University of Miami.  Gleason went on to have her work appear in Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, HITS, Musician, CREEM, No Depression, and Paste.  She is the Editor and a contributor to Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.  Gleason collected essays from 27 writers discussing how the women of country music influenced their lives.  Here are deeply personal essays from award-winning writers on femme fatales, feminists, groundbreakers, and truth tellers.  Holly George Warren captures the spark of the rockabilly sensation Wanda Jackson; rocker Grace Potter embraces Linda Ronstadt’s unabashed visual and musical influence, and a seventeen-year-old Taylor Swift considers the golden glimmer of another precocious superstar, Brenda Lee. Part history, part confessional, and part celebration of country, Americana, and bluegrass, and the women who make them, Women Walk the Line is a very personal collection of essays from some of America’s most intriguing women writers.  It speaks to the ways in which artists mark our lives at different ages and in various states of grace and imperfection – and ultimately how music transforms not just the person making it, but also the listener.  Woman Walk the Line will take the reader back to their own music transformation.  It is definitely worth the read.Woman Walk the Line Editor Holly Gleason Photograph by Allison AnnWoman Walk the Line is scheduled for release in September by the University of Texas Press.  PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via Archive.orgThanks for listening to this episode of Halfstack Highlights ! If you like what you hear, make sure you subscribe to our RSS Feed or to iTunes and Internet Archive so you can keep up with all of the latest episodes. If you liked the music you heard today visit www.tracycollettomusic.com to support this amazing singer/songwriter. While you’re online make sure you check out halfstackmag.com and keep up with us on all social outlets @halfstackmag. Thanks again for your support!-Louis Vasseur
Women have had a long and arduous battle for rights and equality. Whether it be the right to have their voices heard in a vote or the ability to make an impact in the workforce, women have made it a point to establish they are a force to be reckoned with. In today's day and age, the idea of a single income household has become a distant memory. In most household's both individuals tend to be in the workforce. Mom is just as likely as dad to be working a 9-5 alongside keeping tabs on her family, keeping the house and meeting the needs of the children. During the 60s working women were often paid much lower salaries than men and denied opportunities to advance. Many employers assumed that they would soon become pregnant and quit their jobs. They believed that unlike men, women did not have families to support. Oh, the irony.Yet, the reality that women face today is that despite what they have accomplished, there still continues to be a gap between what women have done and how they are recognized in the workforce. Stats from Americanprogress.org show that, "Women in the United States earn 60% of undergraduate degrees and 60% of master’s degrees. They hold 52% of all professional-level jobs and contribute $7.6 trillion to the gross domestic product. Forty-two percent of women are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families.Yet, fewer than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. And less than 17% of Fortune 500 board members are women."According to a Pew Research Analysis in 2015 of medium hourly workings of full and part time workers in the US, "women earned 83% of what men earned." According to this, it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2015. If you review the Census Bureau data, it shows that women earned 80% of what their male counterparts earned in 2015 when looking at full-time, year-round workers only. While this gap is closer to 90 cents on the dollar for millennial age workers - what is painfully apparent, is that women still do not have equal pay in the work force in 2017. The Institute for Women's Policy Research highlights that, "it will take 44 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity. For women of color, the rate of change is even slower: Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay."IMAGES COURTESY OF HERAHUB/FELENA HANSONYes, you read that correctly. At the rate we are going, not even our daughters are likely to see equal pay. As far as this nation has come and we are still seeing this issue. It's not even just about the pay in the workforce, the conditions within many workplaces are not supportive of women. Women have to battle for parental leave rights, for the right to pump milk, for the ability to return to the workforce after childbirth and to not be discriminated against for making the choice to become a parent. Although, this may sound dismal, more and more women are taking charge of their own destiny and pursuing careers that allow them the flexibility, ability to find their own personal balance of work and family life and still pursue a career in which they are capable of making an impact. They're doing this through entrepreneurship.The National Association of Women Business Owners released statistics that showcase more than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015. One woman who decided that she didn't want to "lean in" and fit the mold of the oppressive corporate culture and is finding a way to create a better model for the workplace is Felena Hanson. As a non-repentant rebel and self-admitted rules breaker, Felena started her first business at age 8, traveled Western Europe alone, and can often be seen inciting pop-up dance parties on the streets of San Diego. A life-threatening car accident, at age twenty-two, caused her to take stock of her life, re-evaluate her direction and set big goals for herself. Felena’s early career in the fast-paced technology industry resulted in three layoffs the age of 30. Also at 30 she faced a failed marriage and business, which caused her to again re-evaluate her life’s path.One would think these obstacles would cause her demise, her downfall, but ever the quick-witted individual, she rose. Instead of letting hardships dictate her future, she pushed forward and created her own opportunity. Never one to dwell on what has happened to her, but to always shift her focus forward, she eventually launched Hera Hub, with a vision to support over 20,000 women with the launch and growth of their business all over the world.Hera Hub is a co-working space whose primary goal is to provide entrepreneurial women with a productive, professional work and meeting space, where they can connect with a like-minded community to collaborate and flourish. Recently, Felena also shared her entrepreneurial journey through her book – “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business”. You can pick it up on Amazon.Felena took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about her journey, the raw reality of being a woman in the workforce, overcoming obstacles and share some of her thoughts on women in business. She shared her thoughts on vulnerability, working with others and how businesses can support their employees in their success. She also gave us some more insight into her book! Keep listening for the full interview:Keep listening for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via Archive.org | Itunes Thanks for listening to Halfstack Highlights! If you want to learn more about Felena and hera hub, you can visit them online at: www.herahub.com and connect with FElena on twitter @herahub. While you are online, make sure to stop by www.halfstackmag.com to keep up with the blog and if you want to check out our latest issue you can download it at: www.issuu.com/halfstackmag and of course keep up with us on all social outlets @halfstackmag. If you enjoyed this episode take some time to leave us a comment/review on itunes! It is a simple way to show your support! Let us know what you would like to hear by connecting with us on social media.Take care,Jen Lezan
Hey everyone! Thanks for listening to Halfstack Highlights! In this episode I had the chance to talk with comedian, actor and writer: Jena Friedman. We talked about, politics, feminism, being a woman in the TV world, and her journey in her career:Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via Archive.org She has worked as a correspondent for National Geographic Explorer and has worked as a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. She shared her process behind finding inspiration for her writing as well as touched on her critically acclaimed stand up special, American Cunt, that is now available on iTunes, Seeso and Amazon. If you enjoy what you hear here and want to catch Jena in Chicago. She coming to town this week at The A.V. Club‘s 26th Annual comedy Festival on June 2 at The Hideout in Chicago. You can pick up tickets HERE.If you want to learn more about Jena, visit her website at: www.jenafriedman.com. She’s most active on twitter and you can find her @JenaFriedman. You can also find her on Youtube. While you’re online, make sure to visit halfstackmag.com and you can keep up with us on all social outlets @halfstackmag.Thanks for listening and thanks for your support!!--Jen
Hello everyone! Welcome to Halfstack Highlights!This is the first episode of our 2017 season! I am excited to share a local Chicago singer, song-writer, activist and creative phenom Ashley Lauren Elrod. Ashley Lauren is as a leader and woman of God and this is evident in her story. Her unique sound and raw ability move listeners to feel the message in her music. In this episode Ashley shares details about overcoming life's toughest battles and how that has impacted her journey and current life trajectory.You can listen below:Just hit the play button for the full interview PODCAST: Play in new window | DownloadListen and subscribe via iTunes Ashley Lauren strives to inspire through soul-filled music, God-inspired courses helping to break the norms of society, and living testimony of redemption and love. She also shares a bit about her work through songs against slavery. The mission behind her music. Songs against slavery is an organization that is joining the fight against Sex Trafficking in the US. They raise awareness and funds through benefit concerts and partnerships with musicians. Keep listening for the full interview.I hope you enjoyed this episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you are interested in learning more about Ashley Lauren visit her site at: www.ashleylaurensmusic.com. You can find more about her social media, upcoming shows, music and organizations she works with all on this site. While you’re online makes sure you check out the lastest on halfstackmag.com and you can alwayskeep up with us on social on the handle @halfstackmag.Thanks for listening and as always – thanks for your support.-Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief 
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