While 2020 has been a tough year, there were still bright moments of joy and happiness. To end the year on a positive note, we checked in with our FACES of 2020 (from Memphis and around the South) to find out what the highlights of their year were. We hope they leave you feeling inspired!

Katherine Mason, January 2020 FACE of the South

“My favorite thing about 2020 has been witnessing the endless opportunity with e-commerce. When we were forced to shut down our brick-and-mortar locations in March we pivoted to offer our customers an online shopping experience with our athleisure selection and it has been such a huge and wonderful opportunity for growth. It is so exciting to see orders coming in from all over the country and to see that our brand has no boundaries online.” — SculptHouse owner Katherine Mason | Image: CatMax Photography

Lexie Smith, January 2020 FACE of the South

“In 2020, I am grateful for the choice to choose my responses, and by doing so, I always have more power and control over my circumstances than I think or feel.” — Human trafficking survivor, Lexie Smith | Image: Leila Grossman

Nisha Powers, January 2020 FACE of Memphis

“There have certainly been some ‘hidden’ blessings in 2020. If I have to go through COVID-world, there aren’t two guys better to do it with than my husband and 6-year old son. We have shared some special times lately cooking together, eating at home, playing in the back yard, board games, singing, dancing, etc. I suppose we did all those things before, but now we do it with a calmness and a more thankful heart. Every day really is a GIFT!” — Co-founder of Powers Hill Design, Nisha Powers Image: Elizabeth Looney

Laura Lea Bryant, February 2020 FACE of the South

“My favorite positive moment of 2020 was the day I launched the Simply Balanced Meal Plans. I created them to help people who struggle to feed their families affordable, accessible and nutritious food. Seeing how the plans truly fill a need and save members time, money and mental energy (the most precious commodity of all) gave me an incredible sense of hope and purpose.” — Holistic chef Laura Lea Bryant of LL Balanced | Image: Leila Grossman

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Fara Captain, February 2020 FACE of Memphis

“The creative ways we were able to spend family time. And simply finding joy in doing absolutely nothing by spending time with each other with no devices or events. And last but not least, bringing in our son Cayden Michael Captain Claude. Our hospital was very quiet, the day he was born, which was a delight to simply admire him on the day he was born, without anyone knocking on the door.” — Owner of Captain & Co., Fara Captain | Image: Elizabeth Looney

Traci Strickland, February 2020 Face of Memphis

“A bright spot for me in 2020 has been the ability to have more quality time with my husband and two sons. We’ve had more time to cook together, play games together, and laugh together. I’ve also loved watching both of my boys thrive in school and with their extracurricular activities. Carter, my junior, is a great student as well as a theater officer and actor at CBHS. Andrew, my sixth-grader, is a school leader, athlete, and has become a great guitar player during COVID. Amidst all the heaviness and immense challenges this year has brought us, I’ve also become even more thankful for the quiet, peaceful moments and long walks on the Greenline listening to Brené Brown podcasts!” — Triumph Bank’s Senior Vice of President of Marketing, Traci Strickland | Image: Erin Mosher Studios

Vanderbilt's Candice Storey Lee

“While being named the athletic director for my alma mater was the most incredible moment, the most special part of that was attending Vanderbilt’s first athletic event of the fall season in this role. The trials and tribulations of navigating through this pandemic were all worth it to give our student-athletes the opportunity to compete, and watching them do what they love was a great feeling.” — Vanderbilt athletic director, Candice Storey Lee | Image: Leila Grossman

Kristin Budzak, February 2020 Face of Memphis

“While there have been many trying times, I have enjoyed spending more time with my husband and children at home doing simple things, like having bonfires and playing games. Also, I am grateful to work for an organization like Palmer Home, which is providing children in need with the same experiences, a sense of normalcy and a family when it is needed the most!” — Vice President of Marketing at Palmer Home for Children, Kristin Budzak | Image: Erin Mosher Studios

Dr. Florence Jones, President of Methodist North Hospital,

“’Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.’ (J. Allen). As I look back on 2020, the year of COVID, I have been amazed at the innovation, willpower, and tenacity of front-line caregivers across the city. COVID-19 has been devastating to so many people.  Under these dire circumstances, I’ve seen an increase in the compassion and determination amongst healthcare workers to provide the best care they can for patients and community.” — Dr. Florence Jones, President of Methodist North Hospital | Image:  Erin Mosher Studios

Liz: “2020 brought us two exciting birthdays worth celebrating! My family added a second girl to our girl gang (my second daughter, Eadie). At the same time, my other “baby,” Weezie Towels, had its second anniversary — and we were blown away by the customer response to our birthday sale!”
Lindsey: “Despite its fair share of uncertainty and challenges, the past year has been one of growth, both personally and professionally. My husband and I welcomed our first daughter in March, and we were also fortunate enough to grow our Weezie fam to over 30 employees, all of whom have provided incredible support for our growing business over the past year.” — Weezie Towels founders, Liz Eichholz (left) and Lindsey Johnson (right) | Image: Weezie Towels

Leslie Lynn Smith, June 2020 FACE of Memphis

“2020 has certainly been challenging in so many ways, with each of us learning new ways to adapt to ever-changing personal and professional lives. Routines and traditions that wrap us in familiarity and fellowship have been lost, making it hard for us to celebrate the highs and grieve the losses and lows. We are tired, and scared. But, we are also demonstrating untold creativity and resiliency allowing us to adapt and create new ways to hold space with one another and solve problems, old and new. This is where my optimism lives.” — CEO of Epicenter, Leslie Lynn Smith | Image: Erin Mosher Studios

“My most memorable moment is not just a single moment – but a collection of bright spots found throughout the year. Moments of normalcy like hiking in the Smokies with family and friends, loving on my grown-up kids and grandbaby, going to the hairdresser, seeing my co-workers upon return from furlough. And most recently attending The Nutcracker Ballet with my Mother, sisters and nieces. Moments wrapped in love and gratitude.” — Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB) Public Relations Manager, Marci Claude | Image: Contrastphoto by Genelda

Carolyn Greene & Jennifer Cope of Dorm Decor, July 2020 FACES of the South

Carolyn: “One thing I would not trade about 2020 is having all of my children home. I had one that was a senior in college and two out in the workforce. They all were home for two months for the first time in 5 or 6 years. We laughed often and realized how lucky we are to have been given this extra time together!”
Jennifer: “Early in the quarantine, 25 of my best college friends from all over the country started a weekly Zoom hour, “Quarantine Cocktails”. Although we aren’t still holding a weekly remote gathering, the text thread has stayed active. It’s been so fun to reconnect and the frequent posts have provided a constant source of amusement.” — Dorm Decor owners Carolyn Green and Jennifer Cope | Image: Catherine Greene

Carlee McCullough, July 2020 FACE of Memphis

“Things could always be better, but things could always be worse. Quote attributed to actress Marla Gibbs.” — Carlee McCullough, owner of Mahogany Memphis | Image: Isaac Singleton

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Katherine Russell July 2020 FACE of Memphis

“For me, the bright spot of 2020 was seeing small acts of kindness and encouragement here and there around town. From holiday lights on houses during the safer-at-home period to creative ways that local businesses continued to serve their patrons to yard signs thanking first responders. Knowing that someone did something to help others or just to make someone smile is really heart-warming.” — Katherine Russell, Director of Philanthropy at Memphis Humane Society | Image: Bella Vie Photography

Jamey Gresham & Margaret Boyce, July 2020 FACES of Memphis

Margaret: “Being a first-time business owner comes with its challenges in a normal year and 2020 has been anything but. With that being said, we do always try and find the silver lining in things. I think one of the brightest spots we’ve reflected on from this year has been connecting with so many people even without face-to-face interactions. From customers and vendors to fellow small business owners and retailers, we’ve all done everything in our power to support one another. It has been so encouraging and uplifting to witness in a year that has seen so many struggles and hardships.”
Jamey: “As small business owners we are constantly reminding ourselves to take a moment and acknowledge milestones, both big and small. It has become vital for us to validate the long hours and first-year bumps, especially in 2020. So, one of the brightest spots for us this year has been the confirmation that we are capable of more than we ever could have imagined. This year forced us to be resilient and creative in order to power through as the world and the retail space around us constantly changed and adjusted.” — Jamey Gresham & Margaret Boyce, owners of J. LOWERY | Image: Courtesy of J. LOWERY

“2020 has honestly been a highlight year for me. I signed my first publishing deal, started hosting my own radio show on Apple Music Country, released new music, and got engaged! I’m so blessed to have been able to experience all of these amazing things in the midst of the craziness of 2020.” — Country music artist Tiera | Image: Kam Studios

Belle Roth, August 2020 FACES of Memphis

“While the world may have pressed the pause button for a minute, I took this time to discipline myself to set bigger goals and then work slowly toward them every day. In 2020, I had openings in New York, Rome and Florence, Italy by three art galleries and added new gallery representations in Spain and Paris. During this time, I realized that through passion, determination, commitment and hard work, no matter what happens, or how difficult the circumstance seems today, as long as you keep moving, life will go on with your pace —and it did.” — Artist Belle Roth | Image: Steve Conroy Photography

Author and photographer Alyssa Rosenheck

“Every year comes with a few memorable moments for me; however, 2020 has been world (and life) changing. The highlight for me was bringing my book, The New Southern, into the world this year. Was it easy with a pandemic raging and racial tensions roaring? No, it was very difficult. However, I did it with grit, determination and great meaning, which made it worth it. Also, witnessing the first Madam Vice President elected into office brings a sense of hope as a woman in this country who continues to dream. Representation matters, and we matter.” — Author and photographer Alyssa Rosenheck | Image: Alyssa Rosenheck

Jayne Ellen White, September 2020 FACE of Memphis.

“Quality time is a love language that requires a major slow down, and it has truly enriched my most important relationships this year. I won’t soon forget that lesson.” — Jayne Ellen White, Music Specialist for Memphis Travel | Image: Courtesy of Jayne Ellen White

Jack Daniel’s premier whiskey taster, consultant and brand ambassador, Lynne Tolley

“My favorite positive and most special moment of 2020 was opening a box in the attic that turned out to be a treasure chest full of things that I had never seen before. It was a collection of things that were important to my mother, who died at 98 years old in 2015. There was her baby book from 1917 with precious photos of her as a baby, the elementary school report cards for my brother and me, a daily journal of a family road trip in 1957 to New York, written by mother and daddy (whoever was not driving wrote about the sights and stops we were making), a war ration book full of unused stamps during World War II, a  high school essay I wrote as a senior where I made an A+, Daddy’s boyhood stamp collection book, a page from a 1974 Saturday Evening Post magazine featuring a photo of my cousin’s antique car parked in front of Cheekwood, and my grandmother’s 1908 college certificate from Linwood Female College in Gastonia, NC. And I am only halfway finished with reading everything! I just discovered this box a few weeks ago, and it is so amazing to our family. I advise everyone to be careful while cleaning out the attic; who knows what you will find!” — Jack Daniel’s premier whiskey taster, consultant and brand ambassador, Lynne Tolley | Image: Jack Daniel Distillery

“While this has been a tough year I’ve had so much love and support from the Memphis community and local organizations. There was a person who, at the beginning of this pandemic, sent my business a donation out of the kindness of her heart. I did not know her, I didn’t have to fill out any applications for government funding. Just one day a check showed up in the mail. She just did it out of the kindness of her heart! I still to this very day do not know who she is. We’ve gotten thank-you cards from Baptist Hospital, people call us, and even stop by now to tell us thank you for sending love and light during these difficult times. Seeing others happy is what gives me the greatest joy!” — Owner of Premier Flowers, Colby Midgett | Image: Tammy Zurak Photography

Hannah-Kate McFadden, November 2020 FACE of The South

“My favorite moment of 2020 was when I was able to tour the Tennessee State Capitol. As I walked through the tunnel leading to the elevators that took me to the Capitol, my heart was pumping fast with excitement! This year has been filled with so much sadness and anguish … We have all been through a lot in this tough year, and we need to look for the positive things. So, as I was in the elevator, I focused on all the hard work I put into making positive election changes. As the elevator door opened, I was awestruck by the beauty of the Capitol. When I walked onto the floor where laws are made, I knew that all the negativity and sadness of 2020 is bringing change to our country. As I stood on the floor and looked all around the room, I knew that this was just the beginning, and I had more work to accomplish.” — 13-year-old founder of The Candidate Pledge, Hannah-Kate McFadden | Image: Submitted

Emily Dunn, November 2020 FACE of Memphis

“A friend of mine who I hadn’t been close to since high school. We were living about a block away from each other so when quarantine happened, we were each other’s quarantine buddy, so we got a lot closer because we were each other’s person. We ended up moving in together, so now I have a best friend/roommate that I probably wouldn’t have been as close with again if the pandemic hadn’t happened.” — Creator of Memphis Modern Market, Emily Dunn | Image: Submitted

“I think for me, the bright spot has been being fully present to experience it all and to be able to witness this beautiful almost counterbalance that has continually shown up in my life throughout the year. It seems as though every time I thought, ok, this is it.  I can’t take any more!, something or someone amazing would show up at just the right moment to remind me that there are good people, doing good things, with good intentions, and good hearts. It truly brought me to my knees (when I was already there out of fear, grief, or any of the other reasons that got me there) and has humbled me to see the generosity and kindness that has been extended throughout. Not just to me, but to be able to see the random acts of kindness showered on complete strangers, on those I love, and even better when they are showered BY those I love.  — Paige Garland, owner of Rachel’s Salon & Day Spa | Image: Lori Butler

“My favorite positive moment in 2020 was having the time to really focus on things I’d neglected, and in that time, I also found new things that I really love to do. I’m not sure if that would have happened otherwise.” — Actress Crystal Renee’ Hayslett | Image: Kayla Madonna

Candace posing with her dog Rookie

“My favorite positive moment was when our new puppy was delivered (at 2 a.m. by some people traveling through town!) and the next morning, we surprised our children by letting him wake them up. That’s one I’ll never forget! Joy arrived in the dark of night. ” — Candace Echols, author of Josephine and the Quarantine | Image: Submitted

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