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Portraits of St. Louis

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around St. Louis.

Heather Pippin

I’ve been into photography since I was a teenager. I started out shooting mostly landscapes, nature, and wildlife. I’ve always just loved taking beautiful photos and enhancing them. I hit a rough patch early on in my life as a teen and photography played a major part in not only saving my life and keeping me out of trouble but it was the positive push I needed to get me to where I am today. I am so grateful for this gift I have that has allowed me to grow not only as an artist but as a person. When I became a Mom, I started photographing my girls and then other people who would let me, along with still photographing landscapes when I would travel. I’ve been carrying out my passion for creating beautiful art for the last 10+ years. I’ve photographed everything from weddings to concerts. More recently I’ve fallen in love with boudoir and have chosen to focus on that. Read more>>

Joshua Mullins

I was always interested in movies and electronics when I was little. I was never great at math/science, etc. and it always stressed me out. In fact, on the day of big tests, I would ask my teacher, “Can I write a story about it instead?” That usually didn’t go over so well. As time went on, I found that I enjoyed people watching and came up with stories for characters I saw in my everyday life. But it wasn’t until a friend put a camera in my hands that everything changed. I was working at a church at the time and the media guy happened to be walking across campus with his video camera. I was intrigued. He let me use it for a little bit and I was immediately captivated. I bought my own little camcorder and went to an outdoor Kelly Clarkson concert and filmed some shots and used some simple apple software to edit a “music video”. Looking back at it now… sheesh! Let’s just say, I don’t show it to many people haha! Read more>>

David Lazar

I work hard for everything in life and never give up. I set goals and achieve them. I have been able to grow a successful business because I take risks and strive for nothing but the best. I have used social media and the internet to grow my business. Our website and Instagram account are very successful and this has helped us grow. Read more>>

Desiree Williams

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my grandma and she was always taking photos of me or the wildlife or her animals. Every now and then, she would let me practice, and I kind of got a feeling of love and passion, and I was only 10. I knew at that moment, I definitely wanted to work with the camera in some way. After I met my husband in the military, and spent some time there and getting medically discharged, I lost myself with my kids and my home and I forgot about myself. I started looking for different hobbies a mom could get into that I would be able to enjoy doing away from the kids. Read more>>

Justin Kennon

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was a punk kid, who disliked school, and authority in general. around the age of 20 or 21, after bouncing back and forth between jobs I hated so much, I was really just trying to find my purpose in life. It wasn’t until I was just chilling at a bar, drawing on a napkin, when some drunk guy comes up and says “Wow, you planning to become a tattoo artist??” The idea never crossed my mind until that moment. Read more>>

Eric Bateman

As a kid, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up (like the comics in the newspaper). “Calvin and Hobbes” was one of my biggest inspirations, along with “Foxtrot” and “Zits.” When it came time to choose a college and a major, I chose animation. I saw a lot of similarities between my cartooning, and animation. And I knew I could apply the skills I’d learned from drawing comics to my animations. I went to Webster University and graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Animation. I job hunted for 11 months before landing my first job as a lead production assistant at “Lowbrow Studios” in Norwalk, Connecticut. I worked on a show called “Humankind of.” One of the episodes was nominated for an Anny award! The Anny awards are awards for animated productions, and they give awards in different categories. Read more>>

Lizzie Troll and Claire Geerling

We, Lizzie and Claire, are sisters-in-law and best friends. We started Saint Louis Succulents in 2017 as a creative outlet for us to enjoy. Lizzie is a viral immunologist by day and Claire is an occupancy planner, so having a creative hobby that allows us to spend time together while flexing the creative sides of our brains is the best kind of pastime. Centering our business around St. Louis and floral elements was easy; we’re both from St. Louis, love this city so much, and love all things plenty. We started off just selling our handmade goods on Etsy but quickly expanded into selling our items wholesale at different local shops throughout the city, as well as vending at local pop-up markets in person. Read more>>

James Piasecki

As far as my passion for photography, I was 8 when my mother bought me a few old film cameras from a thrift store and that sparked my passion for photography. Over the next few years, I had taken at least a thousand photos. A little while later, I had them developed and every one of them looked absolutely awful and I knew I could do better if I learned more. A few years later I found myself at El Reno middle school and they offered a videography & photography class so I jumped at the opportunity. I got hands-on training with digital cameras and editing software for the first time and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe that I was able to shape things and sort of bend reality to the may I liked. Honestly photo editing still kind of blows my mind. With some newfound skills, I knew I could make something great. I went on to high school and enrolled in VOTEC that’s where I learned to use Photoshop & Lightroom. Read more>>

Zohra Chunawala

My name is Zohra and my business is ‘ Henna By Zoey ‘. I am a henna artist based in Ballwin. I started applying henna when I first moved to the USA as a hobby. What I realized after doing it for a while is that I really enjoyed it more than a hobby and would like to start a business. I had learned the art of applying henna in India (my homeland). Read more>>

Kirk Siefert

I’m a lot further than I was but not even close to where I want to be. I think hip-hop has the power to change cultures and inspire youth. I think the long-time war on drugs has perpetuated a prison state when we should be leaning into psychedelics, cannabis, and rehabilitation rather than criminalization. Hip-hop is changing the world in many foreign countries. I love hip-hop, electronic, and bass music. I’m a very rare hybrid that can get down in any one of these scenes and I think they all play a very important part in getting the youth motivated to make a better tomorrow. I guess my image would be an esoteric, astrological, hippie, digital gangster. I love cryptocurrency and the ever-changing world we live in that decentralized financials have to offer. Kirk Siefert aka Lil Medium has been chasing the highs… and the lows of hip-hop since he was a youngling. Read more>>

Bridget Shaw

Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that the standard vision of a so-called ‘perfect life’ wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t have a degree in anything, I dropped out of high school halfway through senior year, I’ve never had a 9-5 and I never want one. I got my first camera when I was 14 and fell in love with photography. Freshman year, I opted for the darkroom over the art room where I was able to develop my own photos, from then on I knew photography was what I wanted to do forever. When I was 16, I moved to Phoenix the summer before junior year and that’s when I got into digital photography. The magical desert landscape and exciting city environment gave me the push I needed to get creative. When I moved back to Illinois at age 18, I took the only two photography classes Lincoln Land Community College had to offer. I’ve been self-taught ever since. Read more>>

Bear Howl

When I was young my father passed away and among the things that I received was a VHS camcorder. Being an only child with not a lot of friends, I had a lot of alone time with my imagination and a lens. I knew I wanted to be some kind of visual artist and when it came time to decide what I wanted to go to school for, I chose photography. In my first photography class, I was in the darkroom and I decided to stack my negatives while printing, and I created something completely different than what my peers were doing. I knew I was onto something exciting. Read more>>

Steve McElroy

I started a business career but decided I was not fulfilled, so at 37 years old I decided to reinvent myself with something I enjoyed. I had always loved art but had no experience. I did not draw or paint until that time. My friends and family thought I was crazy, but I knew I needed something more permanent to give to the world… something positive to share my thoughts and hopes and dreams. I wanted to inspire others so I started creating… and never looked back. That was 4,500 works of art ago, and I still create every day. Read more>>

Kelsey Arneson

Three years ago, I started sharing my fitness journey on Instagram to hold me accountable. I didn’t think much of it, except that it allowed me a space to show up each day, document my progress, and hopefully inspire others along the way. I just wanted a space to be able to look back on and see all my hard work paying off one day. I shared workouts, meals, healthy tips, and what I was doing to stay busy and active as a young college student. I wanted to show other young people my age that even though college/grad school can be stressful, it is still 100% possible to include exercise and healthy eating into a routine. Over the last 3 years, I have maintained that mission and it has flourished into more than I could have ever imagined. Read more>>

Krista Sullivan

I have always had a love for nails! I would always get fun designs and awesome colors when I was younger. I started my career in beauty as a makeup artist working for luxury brands and retailers. I loved that unique experience that I offered my clients and wanted to offer a luxury experience in the nail space. After I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, I attended cosmetology school and earned my license. While in Cosmo school, I really found my niche in growing healthy nails while offering neat and detailed nail services. Read more>>

Regina Johnson

Misfits were birthed 2 years ago. I have always had a passion for fashion. Even as a young girl, people would always tell me that I have a unique style. I have always liked to dress as I please. Never was into keeping up with the latest trends. I stepped out on faith and went with the flow. Now, we are here. Read more>>

Tamara Kelly

I believe, “Everyone Can Dance! I have always loved movement. I do have experience in other art forms but dance has always been at the forefront of my career. And my LOVE affair with it continues to grow daily! So much so, that I was able to produce my first independent production during the St. Lou Fringe Festival in 2017. It was based on my first book, The Unbreakable Ballerina: My Journey to Wholeness and a New Beginning. The story of my life is told through movement. Read more>>

Gara Lacy

I attended Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Missouri for my undergraduate degree and I had a strong interest in photography and painting. Sometime during my junior year I believe, I was asked by a friend to photograph their friend’s wedding. All on film. After that, I decided to pursue a career in wedding photography and although I enjoy it, I was still searching for my lifelong passion/subject in the field. I decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in fine art. My goal was to push my painting and photography practice and ideas. There, I felt drawn to the subject of the human form, the growth of it, time, and the lapse. My fine art photography and painting inform each other. Read more>>

Lily Kiti

Hello, I’m Lily Kiti. I started my brand in 2020 during the quarantine. The first collection I created was called “Quarantini Collection” A curated collection of vintage pieces styled in modern ways to re-spark the feeling of getting ready while being at home. Because looking hot is important, and getting ready has a huge correlation with our mindset. It’s clothing for all. All pieces are hand-selected and styled. Showing people that vintage is the shit and even though it’s old it can still look trendy. Every piece has history and it’s your turn to keep the story going. Read more>>

Dr. Michelle Arellano Haberberger

I grew up in Franklin County and had the misfortune of a disobedient imagination. Looking back, I realize I’ve been crafting stories since I began to walk, tottering around my parents’ mobile home and chasing down wild things I could see lurking in the corners. As I grew, my imagination grew with me, and I started writing out my stories. I remember pressing on the keys of my parents’ typewriter with the fascination of someone wielding a magic wand for the first time. As the years went on, I also became an ardent reader. In the fall of seventh grade, for example, I toted around a 1,000-page dystopian paperback with pride. Read more>>

Shakira Johnson

It all started back in 2015 when my best friend and I were having a girl’s night. During this night we talked about the business ventures we wanted to pursue and she decided she wanted to do my makeup. Little did I know my love-hate relationship for makeup would change. I was always that girl who would say, “I hate makeup,” “I don’t want to look like a clown,” or “I never wanted to wear makeup and not look or feel like myself.” However, after that night all of those negative thoughts about makeup went out the door. Now don’t get me wrong, over the years I have learned why people view or feel negatively towards makeup but there is so much to learn with makeup that if a person is not skilled per se then yes all of those negative thoughts will linger. Read more>>

Joshua Bateman

When I was 12, I went to a church in U-City. The youth leaders at that church wanted to start a rap group. To do that they obviously needed rappers and producers. So since they knew that I play piano and drums they asked me to be one of the music producers in the group. One Leader gave me FL Studio and I became hooked. I have been producing ever since. Over the years, I’ve worked with many artists including artists from Nigeria, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Australia, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Pheonix, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and my hometown of St. Louis. Part of the reason I was able to work with so many artists especially around the world is because of my mentor Blue. He’s a Grammy Award-winning, Multi-platinum selling producer.  Read more>>

Joshua Wilson

This all began while we were living in the Caribbean on a 37′ sailboat. As avid scuba divers, we began noticing litter under the sea, on reefs, and especially on deserted islands where no humans visited. Wherever we traveled we would always pick up what we could and the more we traveled the more we began seeing litter everywhere. After seeing firsthand the effects plastic pollution has had on the ocean and marine life, we began Blue2Blue Conservation to help educate people about the climate issues at hand, clean local waterways to prevent inland litter from reaching the ocean, and restore our ecosystem so that younger generations can enjoy the beauty of nature. Read more>>

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