Woman Wednesday: Alison

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         

Q and A with Alison W., Virginia Beach, Virginia

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” 


 Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about helping women feel beautiful in their own skin. I am the owner of Wanderlust Dream Hair, and I sell hair toppers for women with thinning hair, women with hair loss due to medical conditions, and women who just want that extra volume! I have always had fine, thin hair and tried everything to make it appear thicker: hair extensions, volumizing spray, et cetera, but nothing really worked for me because traditional hair extensions do not address thinning on the top of your head. I also started medical treatment for chronic migraines that created even more hair loss, so I was motivated to find a solution. Then I discovered toppers! Toppers clip to the top of your existing hair and create the appearance of thicker, fuller hair.




Body image is such a big issue for a lot of women. Most of us don’t realize that those celebrity hairstyles we covet are just wigs, toppers, or extensions. Hollywood paints a false picture of what a naturally beautiful woman looks like.




Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My younger years were volatile. I was born with a limb difference (Poland syndrome), which means I only have two fingers on my right hand. So, confidence was a big issue for me growing up. Add thin hair to that, and you have a recipe for a wallflower. My mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away when I was 13. I remember when she brought home her first wig from the wig bank. She hated it. It was hot and because it was made for someone else, it never fit her comfortably. She was embarrassed to leave the house somedays because of how she looked. I really wish that we had known about toppers back then. I think she would have loved them. My mom is a big part of my “why” when it comes to my business.



Pictured: One of Alison’s clients using her Wanderlust Dream Hair topper


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Something valuable I learned from a young age, due to my limb difference, is that sometimes you have to find your own way. You have to figure out how to do things yourself and not try to imitate someone else’s process because it might not work for you. I think this idea is helpful in life and in business. Comparison is the thief of joy. We are resilient, and it is amazing what we can do when we let go of traditional mindsets about how to do things and figure out what works for us. I’ve also learned to laugh at myself more. I started taking improv/comedy classes a couple of years ago. Being on stage is one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done. It has also boosted my confidence in general. The first rule of improv is to make your partner look good, which means saying yes to whatever they say. So, if they tell you that you are an alien, you are an alien. I’ve learned a lot about teamwork and confidence doing improv. I highly recommend improv; it is so good for the soul.



Pictured: Before and after of one of Alison’s clients using her Wanderlust Dream Hair topper. Hair topper is shown on the right. 


Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Feminism is a word that has always had a bit of a negative connotation to me. I am more of an egalitarian; meaning in my marriage, we share all of the responsibilities. There is no such thing as woman’s work or man’s work. My husband is the better cook anyway! And I can lay a tile floor. I love busting through those gender expectations. I am definitely not anti-man, but I am definitely pro-woman! I think it is important for women to support other women. Yes, we have disadvantages in the workplace. Yes, we are not always treated equally. So, I think it is important to support and encourage each other as women instead of tearing each other down. We women can be super competitive, but I want to cheer on my competition. I want us all to win.





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Woman Wednesday: Lachelle

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         

Q and A with Lachelle, Oceanside, California

“I learn from these stories and it’s important to me. They color the dreams of my reality and future and help me find the adventure in my life. Find your life’s adventures.”


Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about my work. In fact, I am a bit of a workaholic. So, when it comes time to find extracurricular activities, my time is often limited. My day job is in marketing analysis. I also am a managing partner at Panels Comic Book Coffee Bar in Oceanside, and I am an avid reader. I love what I do, so immersing myself in my projects helps fuel my passion. I am also passionate about traveling. I like to live in different places for a week. Grab a cup of coffee there, and find a coffee shop to read in. My husband helped me fall in love with comics. I read novels and some comics growing up, but he introduced me to the medium not just as a superhero story but as a way of storytelling that I fell in love with.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My family moved around quite a bit, so I ended up spending my early college years in DLSU and then moved to CSU Monterey Bay, where I graduated in accounting. Before I became glued to a handheld device, the most entertaining mobile device was a book. I loved reading stories and making them. I would tell my siblings stories on long car rides. In a career full of crunching numbers, I believe numbers are giving us a story. I am just reading it. In my day job, that means reading numbers to help my company make sound decisions. In Panels, it helps us understand what people want.


Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Don’t give up; embrace the challenge. Nothing is beyond your reach.

I hear people struggle with things they feel are beyond their reach. Saying, “I can’t do the things I want, I can’t start a business, I can’t get this career, I can’t find the right partner…”

I want to address how I found those things in hopes of inspiring others:
I found the right guy because I didn’t waste my time. Before my marriage, I hadn’t celebrated an anniversary with a guy. I didn’t waste time on dates that I didn’t think sparked joy. I didn’t make excuses for them. If we weren’t a fit, I was candid and wasn’t afraid to be alone. I didn’t beg to stay and I didn’t need a conversation when it was over. I hadn’t even planned to stay with my husband initially; I told him my career was important and a priority. Rather than pulling away, he respected that and pursued me.


I was stuck in some odd jobs before I found one I loved. I pushed myself in all those jobs to move upwards. I was doing front desk/accounting for a hotel and during that time, I created a proper approval process because I noticed the sales reps were spending the marketing budget unchecked. At Panels, I came on as a soft partner and took over responsibilities from my partners when I noticed that it was overwhelming them. I don’t just do my job. I do it as if I was managing myself and then manage upwards to tell my superiors what I want and where I want to be. Recognize needs wherever you work and find ways to rectify it. This will serve you in growing personally and in your career.

When my husband told me on our first date, “I want to open a comic book coffee shop,” I was a bit incredulous. However, as I learned more about him, I was excited to push him towards that dream and told him how much having a business was part of my dreams. We pushed each other, did hours upon hours of research, detailed and checked one another. The biggest lesson from this is that you should work to bring the best out of people. Push them to pursue their dreams and never put those dreams down. Also, find people around you who will push you towards those dreams as well.


Finally, I have accomplished the things I want because I plan for them. I made less than 30-40k a year after college and I traveled around New England, visited Hawaii, and Big Sur. I was able to do that because I planned for it. Having a life where I get to explore is a priority to me. I read as much as I do because I find an opportunity to. Even if it’s on 15-minute breaks between tasks, I learn from these stories and it’s important to me. They color the dreams of my reality and future and help me find the adventure in my life. Find your life’s adventures.



Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: I have been harassed in and around the workplace for being female. I have been overlooked for opportunities because of male competition. I have been treated differently for being a woman. The primary place this has come from has been other women. The hesitancy to promote women, or treat women differently, or downplay the ability of women, must not come from women. Feminism means promoting pride in our work, being proud of the competitive advantage that we have, and fostering that. We can be our worst enemy, and we have to work to help each other overcome that.


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Woman Wednesday: Ruby B. Johnson

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         

Q and A with Ruby B. Johnson, Sierra Leone, West Africa

“Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research.” 


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a mining engineer and currently work at a gold mining operation. I am also the founder and editorial director of STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. Premiered in September 2018 with its autumn issue, STEMher Magazine is a print magazine showcasing the education and experiences of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) academia, careers, and programs. STEMher celebrates women thriving in their careers and inspires others to fuel their curiosity and interests in STEM; the status of individuals featured range from middle school through retirement. In one year, STEMher has featured more than 50 STEM girls and women worldwide from countries like the United States of America, Australia, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, India, France, Nigeria, Channel Islands, The Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and England. All magazine issues are available for purchase on stemher.com and Amazon Marketplace.


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Summer 2019 Cover


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone [in West Africa]. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old, which meant growing up and completing my middle school and high school education in Maryland. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BSc in mining engineering and a minor in women’s studies leadership. While in college, I founded When You Believe Foundation, a program that empowers women and girls through social media engagement, workshops, and donations. In 2012, I competed in my first pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA, with the platform of advocating for the recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields, since I was a STEM college student at the time and women’s empowerment was something I was passionate about. I won the pageant and with that title, I was able to travel across the country as well as in Sierra Leone, encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM. After the crowns and titles, STEM advocacy and women’s empowerment continues to be my lifelong platform. I wanted to take this platform to another level to be able to reach women and girls I may never cross paths with, so I created STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine last year. 


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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research. (1) From Monday through Thursdays, I work ten-hour days and a two-hour commute to and from work. Additionally, I am an entrepreneur who runs her own business creating content and putting together each issue for STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I also serve in a couple of ministries at my church. Life gets busy. In the last year, I’m being intentional to prioritize my mental health. Making time to rest and slow down when necessary. In order to be productive with work, I have to take care of myself by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with God through prayer, and meditation as well as reading my Bible. I have to be intentional about making time for myself, family and friends, as well as work. It’s okay to say “no” or “not yet” sometimes. I cannot fill the cups of others when my cup is empty. It’s also okay to ask for help—whether it’s in prayer, family and friends, community, or therapy.




(2) As I navigate through the professional world and life in general, I’m realizing how important it is for one to control their narrative. Of course we cannot fully control what people say about us or how they feel about us; however, I believe we can play a role in those things. The way we carry ourselves is very important. We have to learn wisdom on when to speak up or be silent. We must be our biggest defenders and tell people how we want them to treat or address us. (3) Running a business is no easy feat and it’s time-consuming. In college, I learned to not study hard but study smart. I believe that’s important to do when you are a business owner. Being that I don’t have a business or journalism background, I spend a lot of time learning—asking questions, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and everything else in between. I want this magazine to go beyond, so that means I have to put in the work. I may not see harvest immediately, but sowing seeds each day counts. All in all, I believe it’s important to know who you are, stand firm on your values, always remember your why, and never lose your humanity no matter what environment you are in. 


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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means being my authentic self, living out my God-given purpose, and being intentional about making a difference in the community. While working on my women’s studies leadership minor in college, I learned about intersectionality. I am a Christian woman, born and raised in Sierra Leone, a naturalized American citizen, a woman in STEM, usually one of few or only black people in some professional settings, and a family-oriented individual. I thrive because of these lived experiences but also have a heart and a curious mind to learn about those who are different from me. Feminism to me is never compromising my faith and also being compassionate to others. To me, feminism means to reach for excellence and nothing less.


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Woman Wednesday: Kezia

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         

Q and A with Kezia, Warwickshire, England

The doctors told me I might never walk again. When you’re faced with that kind of news, you have a choice—accept what you’re being told or try and do something about it.” 


Q: Tell us about you. 

A: I’m Kezia Thomas, a recovered chocaholic and chronic dieter/binger, who used to have no body confidence, completely failed at willpower, and spent the majority of her life obsessing about what/when/how much she ate and what other people thought about it. I left that life behind me and I’m now running a business showing female entrepreneurs how to lose weight and keep it off so that they can feel confident being visible in their business. 


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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was brought up to believe that the only option for me was to get good grades at school, go to university, and get a degree so that I could get a well-paid job. But university never appealed to me, so although I worked hard at school and got the grades I needed, at 17, I moved out and went to London with a dream of becoming a freelance writer.

I assumed that in London, the opportunities would be easy to find, but the reality was very different! I, then young and not well connected, ended up struggling to find work or pay my way, and after two years, I admitted defeat and asked my parents if I could move back in with them. My family reassured me that I’d tried my best and that the best option was to find a real job. So, I did. But I never stayed in anything for long; I was unfulfilled and unhappy, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I overate on a massive scale just to fill the void, managing the inevitable weight gain with all manner of diets and exercise regimes. On the outside, it looked like everything was fine, but behind the scenes, I was barely holding it together.


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By my late twenties, I was working in a company with good prospects—settling for the options I felt were available to me. One day out of the blue, I got struck with an illness that later led me to lose my balance at the top of a flight of concrete stairs, and the fall left me almost completely unable to walk.


Q: How did the accident change things for you?  

A: It was a real low point in my life—I was still young and suddenly, I could barely move, let alone exercise. It scared me senseless because my regimen of diets and workouts had always helped me to keep my weight down, and suddenly, that wasn’t an option for me. 


The doctors told me I might never walk again. When you’re faced with that kind of news, you have a choice—accept what you’re being told or try and do something about it. I refused to give up, so I started learning everything I could about my body to find out what I could impact. I became fascinated with the science—of nutrition, movement, and the power of the mind.  began to understand that my negative relationship with my body had been affecting me for years, well before my fall. I learned how I could maintain my weight through changing my eating habits. And I slowly formed a better relationship with food. How I was eating became as important as what I ate—I started to see a shift.


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When I felt my confidence coming back, I found a way to start my recovery from my accident. I put up a pole in my living room and used it to pull myself up so I could overcome the pain from the pressure in my hips and legs. 18 months later, with the help of a physiotherapist and my own brand of unconventional muscle rehab, I wasn’t just walking, but I was learning aerial gymnastics. 



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Q: How did this lead you into running your own business? 

A: Using the pole had given me strength and confidence, I wanted to share that. So, I trained and set up as a fitness instructor. The only problem was, I started to feel super self-conscious. I was worried my body wasn’t good enough for people to take me seriously. Potential clients wanted to see lots of photos and videos…and I didn’t want to be on camera at all. It made it almost impossible to market my business because I was always making excuses not to do the things I knew I needed to! 


It drove me crazy, and it was a massive waste of time and energy. 


I’d lose the weight, but it felt so difficult, and keeping it off was a nightmare. I’d starve myself, then binge-eat to relieve my stress…and all the while, I was telling other people how to get fit and healthy! I felt like a fraud, and I was so full of anxiety. I realized I needed to take stock and look at things more closely—why was my eating getting out of control again? I had to make another shift to get things back on track for good.


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As an entrepreneur, I was under all sorts of new pressures, and I was going through it all on my own. I’m a real high-achiever and was utterly convinced I could do it all…so I kept pushing my needs aside to give more and more to the business.  It took me a while to realize the truth: I am the business. If I’m not looking after myself, I’m not looking after the business.  If I don’t feel confident in my body, I can’t show up and be visible in the way I need to be to promote myself—I can’t network effectively, I can’t do live streams, I can’t put myself out there to attract new clients. And it didn’t matter how many courses I took on getting visible, doing PR, or making money online because I had so many issues with how I felt about my body, I never took the actions I needed to.  


To make matters worse, because I was constantly shaming myself for not being able to deal with this one area of my life, it spread into everything outside of work too. My self-doubt, embarrassment, and lack of confidence…it grew into this huge and terrible anxiety that was taking over my life. I knew it had to stop. I needed to do something differently. I’d figured out the what and how with my eating, but I realized there was something else to look at. WHY was I so obsessed with food and my body? 


I started to get curious in a way I never had before. I started to dig deeper, underneath the symptoms of my struggles (the shifts in my weight and insane sugar cravings) and find out what the real problem was. The emotional issues: the lack of self-worth, self-love, and self-trust. They were what was really holding me back. When I discovered the real reasons I was overeating, that was when everything I’d learned before about what and how to eat began to work for me in a big way. Losing weight became easy...even pleasurable! Keeping the weight off suddenly wasn’t a problem: it happened effortlessly. I didn’t even have to think about it anymore—it happened as a happy side-effect of the other things I was doing in my life. I’ve never looked back, and it’s exactly why I am so passionate about helping other women make the same changes for themselves. 


Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Be tenacious. Keep moving forward after every push back, be consistent with whatever you’re doing and give it a chance to work for you. If you believe in what you’re doing, don’t give up. This is your life, and if you allow your own fears or other peoples’ beliefs to scare you or pull you away from your passions, you’ll never feel like you’re living it to the full. Go out there and make mistakes: learn from them. Know that the next time, you’ll do that thing 10 times better. 


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Woman Wednesday: Sophie

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         

Q and A with Sophie, Lichfield, England

“Most successful people have been through a struggle at some point, and I believe it is these hard times that create the grit necessary for entrepreneurship.” 



Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I believe that through struggle, comes light.

My younger years weren’t filled with rainbows and unicorns. My amazing mom suffers from bipolar disorder and 20 years ago, when I was growing up, there was not as much support or understanding around the topic. This meant that I was more the parent in our relationship. I believe this experience is the catalyst to why I carry so much compassion towards women and the reason behind my passion as a coach.





Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m Sophie Starkey, a women’s sales strategist and founder of The Authentic Selling System. I am on a mission to change the way that women feel about selling.

I know far too many women who have amazing talents and gifts to share with the world who deserve crazy success and they never get there because they aren’t comfortable with selling.

Having spent most of my career coaching women, I noticed a trend that crops up over and over again. You see, we are such heart-driven beings that selling makes us feel uncomfortable, to say the least!





Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Going through struggles can often reveal the core of who we are. One thing I have learned from my own background and others like it is that most successful people have been through a struggle at some point, and I believe it is these hard times that create the grit necessary for entrepreneurship. 




Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: If I was to be honest with you, “feminist” isn’t a word that I would associate with, but at the same time, I suppose “feminist” is a perfect word to describe my values!

I often get inquiries from men who want to work with me, I will work with men if we are the right fit for one another, but my passion lies with coaching women. I once had a guy that said he was offended that my marketing is aimed at women. I told him that I am not anti-man; I am just pro-woman!




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