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Trailblazers: Peoria

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more.  With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Below, you’ll find some incredible trailblazers from in and around Peoria that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Kelly Nielsen

When I had my first daughter in 2005 I was looking for something that we could do together. I came across Stroller Strides, which is a fitness program for moms and fun for baby. Classes consist of resistance training and cardio all with your baby along for the ride. They also offer weekly playdates and moms’ night out events. It was a perfect fit for us. Read more>>

Candace Hershberger

I have been on this journey with thirty-one gifts (Praise Bags) since May of 2012! I started this journey because I needed a break from my precious girls, Esther (9) and Naomi (8), that I have the privilege of staying home with every day! It was and is a wonderful way for me to get out and get some girl time and meet amazing new ladies like yourselves. Read more>>

Amy Proebster

I’ve always loved capturing memories and moments throughout my life and using these moments to inspire or evoke a feeling in others. I am deeply passionate about love, joy, gratitude, and faith, and these things are best explained through writing and photography for me. It started as a child and a love of reading and learning and relationships. Read more>>

Colette Roark

My earliest memories involve a deep connection with photography. When I was a little girl, I converted my bedroom closet into an “office,” and I used an old Fisher Price View Finder as a “camera.” My older brother took my awkward school photo and made me a pretend ID badge as a photographer for our local newspaper. Read more>>

Chanel Fouts

I have been passionate about hair for as long as I can remember. Instead of barbies, I had a real-life model, my grandma. My mom would come to pick me up and my poor grandma would be in rollers and blue eye shadow. She’s been my most loyal client. I started cosmetology school in my senior year of high school. Read more>>

Heather Wiest

The yoga class was powerful, sweaty, and challenging. I totally felt at home! As I focused inward and tuned into my breath, every unnecessary layer of the outside world vanished. During the final resting pose, savasana, I experienced a sweet connection—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Read more>>

Deborah Brandon

Weddings came as mostly referrals from friends of friends and the more of them I shot, the less I wanted to diversify. Slowly over a few years, I cut different offerings from my business. I no longer shoot newborns at all and most of my family clients have been with me for 5+ years. I am beyond blessed, that my husband is the hardest worker I’ve ever met and his hard work allows me to do what I truly love. Read more>>

Kayla Aguirre

Taking and sharing photos has always been a big deal for me whether it be from my travels, experiences or just daily life. I think it’s important to have tons of photos because they’re always going to bring you back to a time in your life and they’re something you can share with others years from now. Read more>>

Melissa Maddock

Once I graduated high school at 17 years old, I went straight to community college and working full time as a receptionist. After the first semester, I felt like I was stuck. So, initially, I wanted to take a year off. That year turned into Wednesday – Saturday at Penrose Academy studying cosmetology and Sunday – Tuesday as a receptionist. Read more>>

Brandy Kocks

I went to a community college and took tons of different elective courses, in hopes something might spark my interest. I found through taking classes I still had a major desire to do something hands on. I learned I do best with things that allow me to be creative. During this time, girls were still reaching out to me for makeup sessions. Read more>>

Destiny Hamid

I think my love for natural medicine and nutrition came from my love of reading and cooking. I specifically remember checking out a book of natural medicine from the library when I was about 15… I was fascinated that herbs and food could be used to heal! Read more>>

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