International Womens Day is Friday, May 8. Who Inspires Our @WomenofCLT Most?

The global equality campaign that is International Womens Day is on Friday May 8th this year, so we asked the Charlotte women whom we have featured on our instagram account @womenofclt to tell us who was and is their inspiration to do all the fabulous things they do to make our community a vibrant and creative place. As always we received many wonderful nominations.* The Women of Charlotte really are quite inspiring.

Meet the Women Who Inspired Our Women of Charlotte

I am constantly inspired by the women entrepreneurs in and around the Charlotte area! The hustle. The drive. The grace. The tenacity of these women to forge thoughtful paths for the girls who will follow closely behind.  I am always profoundly amazed by the talent in this city! (photo by @taylorhelmsphotography)

~ Michele Morgan, Charlotte the Figgy

Throughout my journey, I’ve encountered numerous remarkable women who have left indelible marks on my life. These extraordinary women, all fellow entrepreneurs, business owners, and Latinas, embody the essence of resilience, determination, and unwavering ambition. Together, we are on a perpetual journey of self-improvement, driven by a collective desire to offer nothing but the finest services to our beloved Queen City. It’s the mutual support, reminding me daily of the power of sisterhood.

~ Juliana Lievano, Alpha Lit Charlotte

Arden McLaughlin, Definita Publicity

I’m pulling a Niecy Nash and thanking myself. Too few of us look at the hard work we’ve done to get to where we are and thank ourselves. I’m thanking my past self for taking the time, energy, and resources to work on who I want to be and what impact I want to make in this world. I work for the little girls who want to be heard, seen and loved. I work for the older girls who lost themselves along the way. I work for you, the women who simply need a cheerleader. True healing makes this possible.

Bonika Wilson

I am profoundly inspired by and recommend Bonika Wilson for a feature. She is the owner of WCM Wealth Management Firm and The Business with B, an online platform where she champions the growth of resilient communities through nurturing stronger home relationships. Her insights have been shared in her Amazon BestSeller, “Marriage Business,” and featured in Forbes and Essence. Remarkably, Bonika balances these professional triumphs with her role as a devoted wife of 23 years and a proud boy mom.

~ Bridgette West, 79 West Creative

I love this question! Our Charlotte small business community is truly exceptional. The women owned businesses surrounding and supporting me, inspire me every day! Artists, other jewelry designers, gift shop owners, bakers and makers of all kinds make up a beautiful network of support and inspiration right here in our community. We rise by lifting others and you don’t have to tell the women of Charlotte that twice.. they’ve got it down!

~ Amber Brown, Charlie On Park

Michelle Coffino

Michelle, some call her Mickey, is by far one of the most inspiring and positive women you will ever meet. She has 8 companies as well as a 501 c-3 non profit for returning citizens. A single mother of triplets and still makes time to help others. What has really inspired me and all of my friends is her drive and positivity to make a difference in everything she does. Her mantra has always been “at the end of the day people will always remember how you treat them”

~ Serena Coffino, Dale’s Recycling

Linda Warren, Past CEO of Community Health Charities

One of the most unexpected but influential woman in my life is Linda. Linda was my boss with my first professional job in my career at Community Health Charities. To this day, I remember Linda mentioning that I didn’t work at a potato chip factory and that the job entailed passion, drive, and commitment. This quote has stuck with me throughout my career and it currently is the culture within my own company. From Linda, I learned that you have to be passionated and to believe in your work.

~ Valerie Brooks, Xpressions Floral & Event Design

Kendra T. Allison, Speechology Services

I am inspired by women who exhibit an unapologetic sense of authenticity. For this reason, I am influenced by many women in society, in my friend group and in my own family. Right now I am drawing inspiration from one of my closest friends, Kendra Allison. Her manifesting power is at an all-time high and I am thoroughly impressed with her growth in business as a fellow Black woman allied health private practice owner. She is doing amazing work and I am blessed to witness it.

~ Dr. Lisa Folden, Healthy Phit Physical Therapy & Wellness Consultants

Jeanne Martin

Jeanne Martin, my mother, turns 80 on International Women’s Day this year, and she inspires me and everyone who knows her. A Type 1 diabetic for more than 70 years, she has never complained. Even when her heart started to give her trouble a few years ago. She still volunteers every week and works out almost every day – working in her garden, walking or exercising at the YWCA. She has taught me the importance of philanthropy, gratitude and positivity. I wouldn’t be anything without her.

~ Jessica Graham, Fionix Consulting

One of my greatest inspirations is my great aunt, Begum Rokeya. She was a trailblazing visionary, feminist, writer, educator, and activist. She is often cited as being central to the women’s liberation movement in the early 1900s in South Asia. Her legacy continues to have ripples today. She constantly inspires me to reflect on what kind of impact I would like to leave behind, and I hope that through my work and advocacy in the field of women’s sexual health I’m able to leave a legacy of my own.

~ Dr. Sasha Davenport

Tori Mehciz

My friend Tori leads with love and has a lasting impact on every single person she meets. Her passion to make the world better influences the way she shows up in everything from friendship & community to church & her businesses. Tori’s commitment to God, boldness & seeing women win in life inspired me in the opening of my latest venture, the Unpause Your Dreams Creative Studio, a place for women to transform their dreams into reality via content creation, podcasting, classes and community.

~ Charlene Ridley, Unpause Your Dreams Creative Studio

Ohavia Phillips, The Oh Show LLC

One woman who inspires me greatly is Ohavia, a powerhouse in both media and sports. Her journey from homelessness to becoming a force in her respective fields is incredibly inspiring. What sets her apart is not just her professional success, but her impeccable heart for community and dedication to empowering young talent in media. Ohavia’s story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative power of chasing one’s dreams relentlessly. Her inspiration is global!

~ Khayla McCloud

Ruth Goodwin

When I interned as a therapist while still in graduate school, there was a woman who worked there who’s name was Ruth. Ruth worked with some really tough cases, typically in-home, but she was always having the most fun. Ruth was crafty, always wearing something wild, but joy leaped out of her body and I loved being around her. After starting my own business, I decided that life was too short to not be like Ruth. To make life fun, to create for the heck of it, and to be unapologetically myself.

~ Nichole Eaton

Chasse Bailey-Dorton, The After Cancer

The woman who has inspired me the most, and therefore who has changed my life is my doctor, Chasse Bailey-Dorton. After my cancer diagnosis I went to her broken and afraid. She encouraged me to make some dietary changes that would elevate my health to a higher level. That was the spark that I needed to ignite the fire inside me that ultimately led to me starting Pharmacy In Your Kitchen, where I now encourage people to make some changes in their diet to improve their health and fight disease.

~ Cheryl Hoover, Pharmacy In Your Kitchen

The women who continually inspire me on a daily basis, is the team that I get to work alongside at Hilliard Studio Method. As a business owner myself and trainer at the studio, I know how important it is to surround yourself with a group of females who continually push and drive each other to be better each day. I’ve been lucky enough to find that group of women at Hilliard Studio Method.

~ Abbey Bruggeworth, The All In Haus

Cheri Leavy and Whitney Long, The Southern C

First, I have to say Mother Nature inspires me to create so much of my landscapes and florals. She is timeless, authentic, and possesses true beauty! Mother Nature always restores my soul when I spend time with her. 

The Southern Coterie’s co-founders, Cheri Leavy and Whitney Long who host an annual Summit to provide an authentic way for women owned founders to discover talent that meet their needs as they grow their businesses and be inspired as they connect, collaborate, and create!

~ Courtney Salton, Courtney Salton Fine Art

My Grandma Claire, my friends Robyn Vizzone, Sarah Fuller, Kim Daunis and my book club crew for giving me the encouragement to start my own business. Locally, Kelsey Moore; my friend, supporter & sounding board. SO many women artists/ business owners who inspire me here in CLT. To name a few, Jules from @grow.clt, Jacquelyn from @twineandtwig, the ladies from @houseofnomad, @barriebenson, Holly @hckeogh, @jengerenadesign, Megan @easterdaycreative but gosh so many more!

~ Natalie Papier, Home Ec Op

Shaleiah Sanders/ Life For The Hopeless Foundation

I am writing to recommend my daughter, Shaleiah Sanders, for recognition and feature on International Women’s Day for the outstanding work she is doing with her nonprofit organization, Life For The Hopeless Foundation. As her parent, I have witnessed firsthand the dedication, passion, and impact she has made in the community through her initiatives in continuing to break the stigma around mental health.
Shaleiah has created various programs to provide resources and services.

~ Andrea Grier

It’s hard to name just a couple but my Aunt Jenny Laird is one of my biggest inspirations – she is a playwright and published author but more so she’s a mother to my cousin Quinn who has severe autism and suffers from seizures regularly & in spite of all of that he is the happiest kid there is due to the love and light that is poured into him on a daily basis! I’m also inspired by Cathy Heller (check out her podcast) – her authenticity and compassion are unmatched & it’s very inspiring!

~ Kacey Johnson – Ladies Lifestyle Network

Mckenzie Cunningham Queens Hand Collaborative

My client Mckenzie Cunningham. She is a force to be reckoned with – a single mother of 2, CEO of Queens Hand Collaborative, girls-girl to her core & one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She started QHC because she was tired of having a boss, tired of the 9-5 corporate grind, & wanted to be an inspiration for her kids. She’s paving the ways for small businesses to shine; gives them a voice, brings them to the forefront of the hottest bars in CLT, & is your biggest cheer leader!

~ Jamie Price, Piper Fox Social

Khanh Mai – NC Nails Esthetics Academy

I would like to nominate my sister/business partner, Khanh Mai, as the woman who inspires me. I have never met a person who is more “whole” than Khanh. She somehow manages to be the best boss and shows up for her friends/family. She takes great care of her colleagues. She gives back to her community through many charity and fundraising events. But best of all, she always puts her family first, especially her kids. Whether she is a mom, a wife, a boss, or a friend, she is 1000% THE best person.

~ Vy Cunningham – NC Nails Esthetics Academy

Holly McLelland Delectables by Holly Catering

Holly McLelland, owner of Delectables by Holly, has shown me support and shared her years of experience with me to help me start and build my business. I will be forever grateful for her willingness to share her knowledge and for giving me the opportunity to share her space.

~ Mary Jayne Wilson, Thoughtful Baking Co

DeAnna Allen The Brown Sugar Collab

The women who inspire me most are the African-American entrepreneurs of the early 1900s who defied societal norms and overcame immense challenges to achieve remarkable success. In spite of them having limited access to resources and dealing with gender and racial biases, African-American women like Annie Turnbo Malone and Mary Ellen Pleasant managed to thrive as entrepreneurs. As I navigate my own journey, I draw inspiration from these remarkable women who dared to dream big.

Martha Soule

The woman who inspires me is my mother, Martha.
She taught me to be super hard working, responsible, giving, and to never give up! My first job was working along side her and now we own multiple restaurants together. She has made me the woman I am today!

~ Rashel Limper, Rio 150 Mexican Restaurant

I’m inspired by the artisans we serve in Charlotte, as well as around the world, especially in rural villages in Rwanda and Uganda. Their resilience and bravery inspire me and motivate me daily. The inequities in our world are heartbreaking, and these women overcome trauma we can’t even imagine. I just got back from two weeks visiting our artisans in Africa to witness their bravery once again first hand.

~ Beth Bell, Braveworks

Cherise Walker, Mecklenburg County Alcohol Beverage Control Board

Cherise Walker is a great business leader, dedicated mentor, and tremendous friend. She was recently recognized by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte Steele Creek Center as the Diversity Inclusion and Global Ambassador for 2023.  Cherise currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Mecklenburg County Alcohol Beverage Control Board, where she’s helping foster and promote Meck ABC’s commitment to the community through youth awareness events, overseeing, and championing diversity.

~ Brittney Bogues, Bogues Group

Melissa Carnegie, @MelissaChanel for @KicksandFros

Melissa Carnegie is the owner of Kicks and Fros, a Charlotte-based sneaker community that was just featured in the latest season of Love is Blind. She is constantly on the go and working towards building her business to new heights. I’m in awe of her ability to balance family, a personal brand, and an entrepreneurial career. I’m proud to be able to call her my friend.

~ Tomi Obebe, @GoodTomiCha and @InfluenceCLT

Anna Tartak, Ashland Advertising

A woman who inspires me greatly is Charlotte’s very own Anna Tartak — Principal of Ashland Advertising and co-founder of Clutch Coaching. She’s not only a badass in her career — she’s a rockstar at home (where it matters most in my book) as a dedicated wife and mother of two young soccer stars. I’ve witnessed her commitment to her own personal and professional development over the years. This is one woman who practices what she preaches. Trust me, I know. We vacation together.

~ Carolina Marrelli, EquiBalance Health

Here’s to Strong Women:
May We Know Them.
May We Be Them.
May We Raise Them.

*Nominations are featured in the order in which they were received. Nominations were requested specifically from those in our @WomenofCLT program ; submit your profile at THIS LINK to be featured (fee is $75).


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This article was written by one of the many QC women who contribute to our website. They are out and about and around Charlotte digging up the latest & best scoop :)