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Trailblazers: Northwest Side

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more.  With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Below, you’ll find some incredible trailblazers from in and around the Northwest Side that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Lori Orlinsky

When my daughter, Hayley was 3 years old, she decided she didn’t want to go to school anymore because she was the shortest kid in class. Her teachers had hung up a growth chart in the classroom, and it was the first time she realized that she was different from her friends. And her friends realized she was different, too. They started calling her “munchkin” and “shorty,” and while endearing to them, it made Hayley feel even worse about her height. I searched for a book with a short heroine who Hayley could relate to. Frustrated no books on this topic existed, I wrote one! Read More>>

Konni Vukelic

As a beekeeper and founder of Three Bees and co-founder of Wellness Rising Coalition and now newly founded Bee Well Being Foundation, I am passionate about what I do. Good health and natural cures are two of my many interests. I always say beekeeping is the job that found me. Before beekeeping, I spent 30 years working in retail. Read more>>

Molly Freund

Pinpointing the beginning of my story would not be an easy task. I truly believe that the journey I am on has been prepared for me for as long as I can remember. To say that my story is as simple as picking up a camera, wouldn’t be giving the magnitude of my journey justice. I started my true purpose when I started “rediscovering” who I was as a person. Read more>>

Jennifer Larson

I knew I wanted to be own my boss and have my own business in part because I had already been self-reliant from an early age in life and I somehow knew intrinsically I could continue to exercise this self-reliance later in life when it came time to open up my own business. Ideas, vision, and taking risks were some of my strengths and I wanted the freedom to exercise them. Read more>>

Dawnmarie Grano

I was mesmerized watching my mom do her makeup. She would put everything out on the kitchen table and her makeup mirror. I loved watching her. When I was little, I would go with her to her weekly hair appointments. I knew at an early age that I was going to be in the beauty biz! All my dolls were my clients, I gave them all makeover! Read more>>

Argelia Martinez

Inspired by annual trips to visit family in Mexico, by my Chicago roots, and by my mom’s cooking, I started this business in February 2018 to celebrate the diverse culinary traditions of Mexico through cocktails and cocktail food pairings. Vida Mia Cocktails uses fresh local ingredients, cocktail glassware, and storytelling to please a crowd with hand-crafted, fresh beverages to celebrate a memorable occasion. Read more>>

Gerri Brunner


Nicolet Candle began 11 years ago from the desire to create a product that I could not find. I had fallen in love with soy candles but was unable to locate a candle poured into recycled glassware. I stumbled upon the Green Glass Co and turned their drinking glasses, made from reclaimed wine bottles, into candles. Today, the candle collection has evolved to include a large variety of scents and styles available in over 20 stores in the Chicago area. Read more>>

Cassie Schott

I knew that I didn’t want to live with more regrets of not pursuing a career that I felt called to do. I decided to follow my creative pursuits, started Dreams and Nostalgia, re-launched Cassie Schott Photography, and quit my full-time job. For the past 2.5 years, I have been a self-employed photographer, calligrapher, and stationer. Read more>>

Kelsey Gilbert-Kreiling

We are a full-fledged production agency and consultancy with a productized service we call Week of the Website that we developed based on our technical skills and love for efficiency. We have a knack for solving time and money heavy problems, and love to collaborate with interesting clients. Read more>>

Brook Mrkvicka

I fell in love with photography when I was very young. My father was a professional photographer and I was used to him frequently peering out from behind a lens. My father was my hero (which little girls isn’t?) and I wanted to be just like him. So, in high school, when I saw that they offered a photography class, I jumped at the chance. Read more>>

Johanna Mirpuri

Food and cooking truly bring some of the most interesting people together and being Momma Cuisine have afforded me to have doors opened to me at a time when I had to really explain to TV producers, magazines and other media outlets what it was I was doing. In The Kitch with Momma Cuisine is the original Chicago online cooking show since 2009! Read more>>

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