This past year, more than ever, we’ve felt overwhelmingly inspired by women’s strength, bravery, creativity, perseverance and overall brilliance. So, just in time for the launch of a new year, we’ve compiled a list of all of the best pieces of advice our 2018 FACES of Birmingham and FACES of the South have received throughout their lives. Take these words of wisdom and carry them through another beautiful year. Here’s to an incredible 2019!

The Best Advice from Our 2018 FACES

FACES

Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte, North Carolina’s First African-American Mayor
What is your best piece of advice?
“Be fearless!”

FACES

Verna Gates, Journalist, Author and Founder of Fresh Air Family | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Do your very best every day. It pays off in every way. Do something you like, and do it well. I don’t know if I’m the best person, but I’ve always done my best and when you have that reputation, people call you.”

FACES

Ashley M. Jones, Magic City Poetry Festival Founder | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“‘Don’t start what you can’t hold out.’ My grandmother said this to my mom, and it is so very true in literally every situation. It especially applies to me in my personal life and my professional life, as I’m someone who will overcommit and leave myself and my needs dead last. Don’t start anything that you can’t or shouldn’t keep up. Don’t jump in too soon. Lift a little at a time until you’re strong enough to hold it all.”

FACES

Liza Graves & Elizabeth Fox, Cofounders of StyleBlueprint | Image: Grannis Photography
As owners of a company that has seen plenty of locally owned businesses come and go throughout the near-decade you’ve been in business, what advice would you offer folks looking to start their own business?
Liza: “It’s going to be far harder than you can imagine … make sure you have the fortitude for it and enough saved up as your pay will likely be sporadic, at least at first. Figure out what your mission is and work the numbers to see if your idea is a job, or is it a hobby? And, your business should reflect you. You would never have someone over to your home and not graciously greet them, or make sure the powder room was clean, or say thank you if they bring you a gift. Treat your customers that same way. And, better yet, treat your vendors that same way as well. Expect a lot from everyone around you as only from high expectations will they grow. And, when it comes to brick and mortar, just as always, location, location, location.”
Elizabeth: “Pretty simple — once you have a concept nailed down, figure out what the endgame is. Do you want to build a company to give you a nice lifestyle business or build it to sell it? Then, ask the smartest people you know to shoot holes through your concept. Once you’ve vetted your business idea, then spend your money on a top-notch lawyer, accountant and business consultant.”

FACES

Catherine Booker Jones, Abstract Artist | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Always, always be true to yourself in everything you do. There’s only one you!”

FACES

Laurie Hickson Smith of TLC’s Trading Spaces | Image: Mary Kate Steele
What is your best piece of advice?
“There is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor, that states, ‘The only real difference between anxiety and excitement is our willingness to let go of fear.’ In my life, I find it is fear that has usually created the most unnecessary stumbles and heartaches. My best piece of advice to eliminate fear is to trust God, for each and everyone of us is created for great purpose!”

FACES

Deanna Pizitz, blogger behind Well & Worthy Life | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“I think if you can find your purpose and be mindful of your purpose, then you not only make yourself a better person, you make your work life better. You make the world a better place.”

FACES

Steva Casey, Magic City’s craft cocktail maven | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Being gracious to other people is the best way to be remembered.”

FACES

Margaret Virden, Master Pilates Instructor and Owner of Provision Studio | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Be your own advocate. I stole that from my mom. You will encounter all different types of people in the process, and while other people might have good intentions, you have to stand your ground, be your own advocate and get things done how you would like them to be done.”

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FACES

Leigh Colpack, Technology Project Manager at Regions Bank | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“You have to appreciate every day that you’re given, no matter how difficult or challenging it is, because they are all special. Even if it seems like is the worst day of your life, it is still a gift.”

FACES

Mimi Montgomery, Owner of Lolo French Antiques et More | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Two pieces, actually: ‘It is what it is’ and ‘The best way to learn is to surround yourself with people smarter than you and better at your job than you.’”

FACES

Jane DeLaney & Jenny Cochran, Founders of eMeals | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
Jane: “I would direct mine to women, and say to realize that you are God’s child and that He loves you and wants you to be at peace and to not try to be another woman. There is a lot of freedom in that.”
Jenny: “I would piggyback on that and say, especially being Southern, beauty comes with a premium for us. And it’s not just our faces and our hair, it’s our surroundings — the whole experience. But our beauty as human beings is in our ability to love. And that’s what’s beautiful in life — your capacity to love. Letting that define your life, and not what you can attain, is the most important thing.”

FACES

Myra Grissom Harper, Owner of Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“Be true to yourself. Know that family, faith and friends are the most important things in the world. I have three boys and a girl. I have one sister left, and she still lives in Mantachie. I see her from time to time. She’s 96 now.”

FACES

Joyce White Vance, Former U.S. Attorney & current Distinguished Listing Lecturer of Law at The University of Alabama School of Law | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“Every day you’re going to have to wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror, and you’d better make sure the decisions you make are the right decisions, that they are decisions of integrity. There is always that voice in your gut to tell you what the right thing is. At the end of the day, fame and fortune don’t matter; what matters is doing the right thing and feeling good about the choices you are making.”

FACES

Kim Lee, CEO and Founder of Forge | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Each heartache, each struggle, everything that you go through is like a perfectly wrapped present from God with a bow on top that is the perfect gift for you at that moment. It may seem like it is really hard and you’re not going to make it through, but it is exactly what the Lord knows that you need at this moment.”

FACES

Wellon Bridgers, Artist and Advocate | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“My grandmother and my mama would tell me ‘Bloom where you’re planted.’ It was a cold day in Chicago when I was on the train, struggling with homesickness and wondering what the next chapter in our lives would hold (my husband was doing a year-long post-grad degree). I remembered those words and decided that if I’m going to really live by that, I wanted to see it in scripture. I literally flopped open the Bible to Psalm 37, where it says, ‘Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.’ Well, that’s pretty clear. It’s been something I’ve tucked in my heart and mind ever since, an ongoing calling to live by.”

FACES

Donna Hopkins, Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Getting to the Other Side of Victory | Image: Donna Hopkins
What is your best piece of advice?
“A friend of mine told me something like ‘We only get to live this life one time, and we can’t go back and change anything about what has happened. We can only move forward.’ So I think the best advice I’ve heard from somebody is don’t waste time, because you only have one life to live. And I believe that totally, and I don’t want people to go through what I’ve gone through to realize that. I was already doing that, but now I’m really digging into living everyday as if it will be my last day.”

FACES

Captain Janice Blackwell, Captain in Birmingham Police Department’s Special Victims Unit | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“One of my Sunday School teachers told me to always ask the Lord for discernment about people and situations, and I’ve always done that, and I think that’s key because that helps you to understand what’s going on when you really don’t understand why something is happening. Also, treat people the way that you want to be treated. My mom used to always say that if you do halfway right, the Lord will bless you.”

FACES

Janice Bowman, Oversees bridal registry at Bromberg’s | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Listen and learn and enjoy each day!”

FACES

Karen Broadwater, President of Iron Tribe Fitness | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Love in itself is not enough. You can love someone, something or some idea — but love in itself is useless. If love does not drive you to action, is it really even love? Maybe. But what good is it?”

FACES

Lauren Cater, Marketing Director at WYNDY | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“One of my friends who is much older than I am said to me about 10 years ago, ‘You just don’t know who you are until you’re 40.’ I was thinking to myself, That doesn’t make sense. Of course, I know myself. But last year it just hit me — you’re ever-changing, you’re constantly evolving, and if you open yourself up, you’re always learning about yourself. I think it boils down to always grow and always seek out opportunities and challenge yourself, because you never know what you can be.”

FACES

Katherine Tucker, Owner and Founder of Civil Stoneware | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Surround yourself with people who inspire you and encourage you to take risks. The creative process can be brutal, vulnerable, tricky and perplexing, but also quite rewarding. It helps me to remember that I’m always growing and improving, and it’s more about the journey than the end result. If you have one person in your life who can encourage you through the tough spots, you’ll do just fine.”

FACES

Satura Dudley, Student Activist and Girl Spring Intern | Image: Charity Ponter
What is your best piece of advice?
“Be kind.”

FACES

Kimberly Stephens, Co-Chair of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“My grandfather used to always say, ‘This is not a crisis; this is only an event and this too shall pass.’ And my mother used to say it all the time. It applies to everything. Give it up to God. What else are you going to do? Today is the tomorrow that worried you yesterday, and all is well. My grandmother had that in her house. So me and my sisters and brothers would say that to each other when all hell was hitting the fan.”

FACES

Virginia Amason and Leigh Haver, Co-Chairs Antiques at the Gardens | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
Virginia: “One of the best pieces of advice I received came from my mother: Look for friends that pack the same thing in their ‘suitcase’ of friendship. I find myself repeating this to my children often, so I guess I am becoming my mother!”
Leigh: “Expand your circle — you never know who you may encounter, what you may learn or the opportunities you will uncover. I ‘uncovered’ my husband by following this advice!”

FACES

Elizabeth Locke, Founder of Elizabeth Locke Jewels | Image: Elizabeth Locke Jewels
What is your best piece of advice?
“When I decided to go into the jewelry business 30 years ago, I took a well-known estate jewelry dealer out to lunch and excitedly told him that I was going to become a stone dealer. He told me that I would be eaten alive by the competition and begged me to reconsider my choice. Because of this advice, I changed my plans and instead decided to design jewelry. So although my career plan was mercilessly crushed, he did me an enormous favor!”

FACES

Melanie Bridgeworth, CEO of The Women’s Fund | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“You are responsible for your own journey. External forces are always at play, but no one can control how hard I work, how much knowledge I gain, how I perfect my craft, how I hone my talent and sharpen my skills. I make those determinations. Living that truth makes one unstoppable.”

FACES

Caroline Little, President of Shoal Creek Properties | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Be sure to listen and be open to new ideas, but be firm in your decisions and try not to second-guess yourself.”

FACES

Sarah Hays Coomer, Certified Personal Trainer and Author of Physical Disobedience | Image: Molly Peach
What is your best piece of advice?
“My mom always used to say, ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’ which is an Aesop’s Fable. I find that to be true in writing, in fitness, in politics and in relationships. It applies across the board.”

FACES

Talia Lin, It’s A Southern Thing & So True, Y’all’s Leading Lady | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“There is no designated path, no outline, no schedule, no rulebook for how you’re supposed to do life. It’s OK to figure things out on your own timeline. It’s OK to not even know what that timeline is yet. Life isn’t a race or a checklist. Oh, and don’t be a jerk. We are all human. Be kind.”

FACES

Laura McCarty, Owner and Founder of Sullivan Yates | Image: Mary Fehr
What is your best piece of advice?
“’You don’t have to be incredible at something to be great at something.’ It sounds like it contradicts itself, but really, whatever your talents are — at whatever level they are at — when fully given to the Lord, they can be used far beyond what you ever imagined.”

FACES

Jessica Turner, Bestselling Author and Founder of The Mom Creative | Image: Molly Peach
What is your best piece of advice?
“I don’t know who said it, but I once heard, if it isn’t a hell yes, it is a no. That is my litmus test for everything. Is this something I really want to do? If not, then I politely decline. I’ve learned that you never regret a no, but you might regret a yes, so I give those yeses out sparingly.”

FACES

Doris Young, First African-American Administrative Employee of the City of Mountain Brook and Head of Circulation at the Emmet O’Neil Public Library | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Believe in the Lord, and believe in yourself. And always keep your head up. Don’t let anyone have control over you.”

FACES

Merritt Milam, Founder and Head Trainer of Wags n Whiskers | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography
What is your best piece of advice?
“Don’t not do it. I started dog training when I was 17, and people would doubt my ability as a trainer because I was so young. But just because I was young didn’t mean that I wasn’t studying and getting the certifications. And when I opened Wags when I was 24, there were a lot of doubters … But don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Go for it. Don’t not do it.”

May this advice inspire and guide you as you embark on 2019!

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