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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.

Melissa Merino

For as long as I can remember, baking has been a passion of mine. I was born and raised in Chicago in a multicultural home. I am the youngest of 3 to Laura and Keith Hanson. Early memories of watching the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, to my Easy Bake Oven constantly needing a new light bulb. I started my career in the Culinary arts immediately after graduating from Lane Tech College Prep in 2008. Read more>>

Gabriela Hernandez

When I was younger, my mother was a Mary Kay Consultant. I would love to organize her makeup and play with it and enjoyed going to meetings with her to learn about products that made women look and feel beautiful. This influenced my love for makeup. Read more>>

Desirée Velásquez

The blog is definitely a labor of love. There are times when it feels like never ending work, but I really enjoy it all. It’s a beautiful hobby that has facilitated new friendships, helped me gain access to extraordinary events and helped me really delve into my passion for fashion. Read more>>

Stephanie Escobedo

My background has always been in dance; I began taking dance lessons at age 4. Moving my body was a ritual, I could never sit still, I always wanted to dance. After getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts in teaching dance from Columbia, I was looking for other mediums to teach movement and that’s when I discovered group fitness.  Read more>>

Sam Stahl

I have been in Chicago for 12 years originally moving here to become a comedian at Second City i trained in the Conservatory for a few years and decided I needed a career change bc i was a nanny and it didn’t fit into my lifestyle with comedy. I started Cosmetology school at Pivot Point in 2010 and and was an apprentice at Haritics Dye for your Beliefs where i work now as soon as i could hit the floor. Read more>>

Dawn Smith

I have always struggled with my weight, and felt I had no accountability. So the weight I lost would find it’s way back to me along with some extra, this would send me into a spiral. I felt like I was in a vicious circle. As a survivor of domestic violence and suicide, I knew I was given a second chance at life. Read more>>

Jen Jansen

I was given my first camera when I was 11. It was a pink and purple point and shoot camera that took 110 film.
I discovered a real love for photography in 2000 at ICP in New York. After attending a summer program in black and white printing and processing, I was driven to continue with a job in photography by first working in one hour print lab and then later by working in a commercial darkroom. Read more>>

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