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Throughout the year, we talk to dozens of hard-working, successful, brilliant and fascinating women for our FACES of Memphis series. Together, their words of wisdom offer a veritable self-help book, and each December we bring you their collective best advice. Use it well! And join us in one more round of applause for these amazing Memphians.

FACES of Memphis

The Best Advice of 2015 From Our Memphis FACES

Sabine Bachmann |

Restaurateur Sabine Bachmann is the founder and owner of Fratelli’s in Memphis Botanic Garden and ECCO on Overton Park.
What are some words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience?
Never give up on your dream!

Helen Kiser |

Helen Kiser is a spunky, stylish mother and grandmother who’s put her stamp on the family business, Kiser’s Floor Fashions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never say never!

Dana Driver & Cheryl Walker |

Dana Driver and Cheryl Walker are sisters and owners of the East Memphis boutique Sorelle.
Do you have a few words of wisdom to share based on your professional experience?
Dana: Have fun and take chances. We took a huge chance and have been very successful.
Cheryl: Always treat customers the way you would treat a guest walking into your home.

Lisa Mallory |

Interior designer Lisa Mallory owns two shops in Chickasaw Oaks Village, Lisa Mallory Interior Design and Lisa Mallory Linens.
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience?
My dad always told my brother and me that winners make things happen, and losers let things happen. So I have always tried to make things happen, not sit around and wait for someone to do something for me, but instead do it myself!

Michelle Pao Levine |

Michelle Pao Levine is co-owner of Mosa Asian Bistro with her father, Eddie Pao.
So far, what’s the best advice you’ve given, whether as a mom or as a mentor?
Be grateful for each day, and live life with great purpose.
How about your best advice for working moms?
Remember to take care of yourself!

Cheryl Pesce |

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce combines the finest materials available to create custom jewelry that is both distinctive and timeless. 
Based on your professional experience, do you have advice for women who want to start their own business?
Be proactive. There are always opportunities out there just waiting to be taken, but you can’t benefit from them without going for them.

Pat Brown |

Pat Brown is a co-owner of T Clifton Art Gallery, and she’s championed the revitalization of the Broad Avenue neighborhood. 
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience, or perhaps a favorite quote?
I encourage everyone to find a way to incorporate your passion into your career. Plus, commit to creating win/win situations. You can achieve much greater results if you see your success as a part of a greater whole. Regarding quotes, early in my career I framed the quote, “Aim at nothing and you will hit it every time.” I still agree with this; however, once I came to appreciate that “it is what it is,” I became much less frustrated. I highly believe you can create change, but it’s important to respect reality.

Kelly Earnest |

As public relations director of the Peabody Hotel, Kelly Earnest juggles myriad responsibilities, while somehow managing to always look camera-ready herself.
What inspires you? 
Music. I’ve never played any instruments and can’t sing at all, but my dad played the drums and was in a band, so there was always rock music playing in my house as a kid. And my mom indulged me by taking me to Bon Jovi and Metallica concerts. I think it may be one of the reasons I love rooftop parties so much.

Gretchen Wollert McLennon |

Gretchen Wollert McLennon, a program director with Hyde Family Foundations, serves in countless capacities around the city, sitting on boards of various nonprofits. 
What inspires you? 
Smart, driven, passionate people. Challenges that are close to resolution, and breakthrough points that I can impact in a positive way. Open-minded people who are willing to do the tough work of community building.

Margot McNeely |

Margot McNeeley is executive director of Project Green Fork, which certifies restaurants based on sustainability and environmental impact. 
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience? 
If you don’t like the way something is done — or not being done — do something about it. And be yourself. If people don’t like you (let’s face it, not everyone is going to), get over it. I have to tell myself this all the time.

Lauren Kennedy |

In January 2015, Lauren Kennedy became executive director of the UrbanArt Commission, which aims to enhance the cultural vibrancy of communities through the development of public art. 
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience?
Pay attention to what is happening around you, both in the office and outside it. Make connections, even if they seem tenuous. Everybody grows more that way.

Aryen Moore-Alston |

Self-taught chef Aryen Moore-Alston is the owner of Sweet Potato Baby, as well as producer and host of “This House is Cooking.” She was also a finalist on “Food Network Star.” 
What do you do in your spare time that’s not cooking related?  
That’s almost laughable! I wish I had more spare time, but I would probably fill it up with more things to do. I’m a busy bee, so my spare time is rare, but when I have it I’m addicted to Netflix, Hulu and almost all things self-help/empowering. I love reading about purpose, goals, dreams and wealth; it keeps me motivated.

Myrna Halpern |

Jewelry designer Myrna Halpern creates work that is artsy, eclectic and multidimensional, using varied materials. The largest body of her work is called The Montage Collection.  
Do you have a few words of advice or perhaps a favorite quote you’d like to share with our readers?  
I would encourage anyone to have the perseverance to follow their dreams with the knowledge that pursuing those dreams is a slow and tedious process. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as an overnight success. I have two favorite quotes. They came in the form of encouragement from each of my sons: “The sun will come up tomorrow,” and “No really means not yet.” Keep those thoughts in mind, and when life gets ridiculous, keep your sense of humor.

Jovita Chevalier-Taty |

Jovita Chevalier-Taty is a senior compliance audit specialist with Medtronic, where she’s responsible for ensuring that tissue banks and suppliers throughout the United States comply with strict regulatory requirements.  
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience, or perhaps a favorite quote?  
“Life doesn’t stop and wait for you to get on board.” “Just do it!” And, “Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right location.”

Jeanne Seagle |

Artist Jeanne Seagle has created public works throughout Memphis, with pieces in places such as City Hall, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the Downtown trolley stops and more.  
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your experience as a professional artist?  
If you are passionate about something, don’t give up. Keep at it, in spite of disappointment and discouragement.

Emily Ballew Neff |

Dr. Emily Ballew Neff joined the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art as executive director in spring 2015.  
Please share some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience.  
Practice patience, tolerance, be a good listener and, now that I’m in Memphis, add some grit and grind. And, no, it didn’t take long for me to become a huge Grizzlies fan.

Melanie Suria |

Melanie Suria, owner and operator of Memphis Computer Support, has a passion for computers — not the fun, user-friendly side, but the inside, where most people are afraid to go.  
What are some words of wisdom you can offer our readers based on your professional experience?  
I believe that we are all blessed to be a blessing to others, and that is what I try my best to do.

Kathy Fish |

Kathy Fish is founder of the all-woman financial advising firm Fish & Associates, and is also at the helm of Cocktails for a Cause, an organization that features celebrity bartenders and benefits local charities.  
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?  
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” which I got from my dad.

Debbie Litch |

Debbie Litch is executive producer of Theatre Memphis. Under her guidance, ticket sales and sponsorships have increased 100 percent, with sold-out crowds often in attendance.  
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience?  
You must ALWAYS do more than expected and give everything your best; never take anything for granted; appreciate every day and everyone, and you make your own luck when opportunity meets preparedness. Always do everything with great passion and enthusiasm. Remember, always look at every situation through the eyes of those around you, so that you have a clearer understanding of their point of view.

Lauren W. Young |

Lauren W. Young is the founder of Sweet LaLa’s Bakery and an active board member of Juvenile Intervention & Faith-Based Follow-Up (JIFF).  
What’s your best advice for working moms?  
Show your weaknesses. None of us have it together completely, but we are all trying to do what we can. Balance is relative, and we all need encouragement to take time for ourselves.

Jenny Fuente |

A Memphian for a fleeting time, but true-blue nonetheless, Jenny Fuente is the wife of former University of Memphis head football coach Justin Fuente and a stay-at-home mom to three daughters.  
So far, what’s the best advice you’ve given your girls?  
I try to emphasize the golden rule with our girls treat others how you would want to be treated.

Bonnie Thornton |

Bonnie Thornton, a full-time volunteer and community promoter, just completed her seventh year as Artist Market director for RiverArtsFest.  
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …  
Easy to fly! Have you traveled lately? If only I had wings …

Jenn McCullough |

Memphis food entrepreneur Jenn McCullough, aka “Chef Jenn,” created a line of microwaveable culinary creations available in stores throughout the South.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Linda Hill |

Linda Hill is art project director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, where she makes it her mission to put smiles on the faces of patients and their families.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Avoid saying, “I don’t know how to do that.” Assume success and sprinkle in a little naïveté. There is always a way.

Cindy Gambrell |

Cindy Gambrell is a longtime Memphian and owner of haute couture clothier Kittie Kyle.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Be yourself! Do what you love!

Jill Forrester |

Jill Forrester is a farmer, local foods advocate and co-owner of Trolley Stop Market with her husband, Keith.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Never lose touch with your creative spirit. Be prepared to work 110 hours a week or more if you have a dream you’re chasing.

Glenda Hastings |

Glenda Hastings is owner of the East Memphis restaurant Napa Café, and an enthusiastic advocate for Memphis.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Always go for the impossible. I don’t mean to seek out “the impossible” just for impossibility’s sake. It seems like what we truly want more than anything are often things that seem impossible because there are so many obstacles and it’s not going to be easy, and yet it’s the one thing we yearn the most for. However, on the other side of impossible are life’s most magnificent things.

Elizabeth Rouse |

Elizabeth Rouse is president and CEO of ArtsMemphis and a dynamic voice in our city’s nonprofit scene.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
Take advantage of accessible leaders and businesspeople and mentors in Memphis.

Jean McGhee |

Jean McGhee is co-owner and senior buyer for Memphis-based Hollywood Feed, as well as an animal lover and rescue activist.  
What’s your best piece of advice for others?  
God will not put more in front of you than you can handle.

athleen Armour Walker

Kathleen Armour Walker, owner of Tennessee Pewter Company
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
I always tell people my life looks like a dream come true. In fact, it is, although behind the fairy tale is much hard work, strategic life choices and a never-failing obsession with my business. If someone has a dream of owning a business, they should look at their current place and ask what is the best road that will take them to their next chapter. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who will support you and are positive in all parts of your life. I always tell young folks to get as much education as possible — it opens many doors.

A giant thank you to all our 2015 FACES for taking time out of their busy schedules to offer their insight and advice … and for simply being awesome. Following these words of wisdom will lead anybody to a successful and rewarding 2016! Happy New Year!

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