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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.

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>>

Kelly Montgomery

I had a passion for combing and styling my doll’s hair. During my sophomore year of high school, the opportunity arose for me to attend Beauty school. The school paid half as long as I kept my grades up. My mother sacrificed a lot for me to attend. I excelled because I understood what was happening to me, this was a blessing! Read more>>

Jennifer Calvillo

I’m better known as “JCAL” in the beauty industry. I have been a hairdresser for the past six years. I started working out of my car, doing house calls. Building my clientele, I had nothing but passion and a love for hair & make up. I didn’t have a license at the time so it limited me to certain things I could to do. Read more>>

Teja Kics

Dentistry has increasingly become a corporate business throughout the nation. (ie: Aspen Dental, Dental Vue, etc.) Westgate Dental Care is just the opposite. Dr. Peter Kics and I (Teja Kics, owner/Marketing Director) started Westgate Dental Care in 2002 and, along with our highly skilled team, have served patients for 16 years as a local, family-owned dental practice. Read more>>

Jessica Ashley

I saw the makeup being practiced and instantly knew that it what I wanted to be a part of. Watching the transformations and seeing the characters come to life was unlike anything I had ever seen happen. We get to see the characters on TV or in movies, but I had never seen the process of it come together. Read more>>

Baylee Alana

I moved out on my own. I landed a full-time career. And earlier this month, I got engaged to my boyfriend of five years. I did the work and I’m still doing the work every single day, and there’s this beautiful comfort in knowing I’m not the only one. Read more>>

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