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Embracing Excellence
www.exeleonmagazine.com
Frisky
Whiskey:
Bringing
Flavorto
Whiskey
IN - FOCUS
IN - FOCUS
Ashley
Epperson:
Committed
Towards
Quality
Tori
Atwell
EXHIBITING A RICH
LEGACY OF 35 YEARS
ADRI
MILLER-Heckman
E M B R A C I N G T H E
F E M I N I N E A P P R O A C H
Transf rmational
o
WOMEN LEADERS
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
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Embracing Excellence
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
C O N T E N T S
ADRI MILLER-HECKMAN
12
C O N T E N T S
CARRIE COLBERT
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C O N T E N T S
RIYA MEHTA
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Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
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C O V E R S T O R Y
ADRI MILLER-HECKMAN
FOUNDER, FEMXADVISOR
WWW.EXELEONMAGAZINE.COM 13
its core, successful leadership is one
that stems from the roots of failures
and forges through the lames of
adversity. It is about translating a
vision into reality and ideas into
action. It is about turning mistakes
into experience and experiences
into knowledge. It is about survival!
Adri Miller-Heckman is an example
of one such successful leader. As a
leading expert and coach for female
inancial advisors, Adri stands out
for her empowering mindset and
survival instincts.
Since leaving the inancial industry
in 2004, Adri has dedicated herself
to the growth and development of
female inancial advisors across the
globe. She mentions that her desire
to help women succeed on business
supersedes any social protocol or
business boundaries.
Through her femXadvisor platform,
Adri offers the requisite tools,
solutions, and proven business
framework to help women grow
and market their inancial practice.
Fittingly, Adri Miller-Heckman
features as the Cover of Exeleon's
Most Transformational Women
Leaders to Follow. In this Cover
Feature, we look into the journey of
this powerful entrepreneur and
how she is encouraging women to
embrace their feminine side to
attain success.
Inner Belief
A big part of Adri's growing up
years was her mother's in luence
and support. Her mother instilled
belief within her and encouraged
her to achieve her dreams.
Moreover, Adri recalls that her
mother's constant motivation gave
her the necessary courage to face
any setbacks.
Perhaps it's this upbringing that
made Adri a leader from a very
young age. At the age of 12, Adri
started a party-serving business. “I
distributed liers in our
neighborhood promoting my
business to help provide serving
and clean up services at parties.”
Her irst gig was a western party,
wherein she hired a group of girls
to help her. She remembers “We all
showed up at the requested time
wearing cowboy costumes only to
learn that they cancelled the party
and forgot to tell us. That was the
end of that business.”
The next year saw Adri being part
of the youngest team to participate
in the Volleyball Nationals. This
experience impacted her life and
shaped her ability to become a
leader. “I found greater satisfaction
inspiring my teammates to perform
their best which only enhanced my
career. I went to UNC on a full
volleyball scholarship, was MVP of
the ACC and eventually represented
the Navy and the Armed forces in
volleyball.”
Today, leveraging her mother's
teachings and her experiences, Adri
has molded herself into a leader
who is fearless and innovative. She
explains that in order for one to
become a transformational woman,
it is imperative to think out of the
box and leverage the unique
strengths as a woman.
Survival Instincts
Adri entered the inance space in a
rather unconventional manner. She
mentions, “I needed a job, and my
roommate was moving up. I hated
math but loved sales, so I became a
sales assistant to a top commodities
& stockbroker.”
Although the role was primarily
administrative, Adri soon gravitated
towards the client and sales side of
the business. Over the course of the
next 10 years, she worked with
various leading inancial advisors in
the industry.
With the industry becoming more
and more toxic, and people
inclining towards unethical
practices, Adri decided to move
forward from the industry. She soon
joined the Navy as an electrician
stationed on a ship in Holy Loch
Scotland.
3 years later, with renewed
perspective and ierce
determination, Adri Miller-
Heckman rejoined the inance
industry. This was the start of a
unique journey.
At
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FEARLESSLY
EMBRACE YOUR
AUTHENTIC SELF,
YOU DON’T HAVE
TO BE ANYTHING
BUT YOURSELF.
WWW.EXELEONMAGAZINE.COM
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For Adri, building her own coaching
practice was exactly where she
imagined herself to be – no limits and
no boundaries. This newfound freedom
enabled her to teach women advisors a
more feminine approach to growing a
inancial practice.
She penned down her ideas and
knowledge in her book - “Keys to the
Ladies Room; A new business model
for inancial advisors.” Over the years,
this book has had a positive impact on
both female as well as male advisors
and continues to garner positive
reviews across the industry. Moreover,
this book established the foundation of
Adri's femXadvisor model.
Adri's high-yielding coaching program
has attracted women advisors through
the years to learn more about her
coaching practice. The program's
unique women-centered approach
made it extremely popular and allowed
Adri to empower them with her years
of industry knowledge.
She points out, “These women always
knew there was a better way to build a
thriving practice but trying to carve it
out on your own while going against
the tide of the industry was
challenging. The greatest impact I have
on my advisors is the con idence these
women gain as they are encouraged to
lead from their hearts.”
She continues, “As a femXadvisor they
are not only given permission to follow
their instincts and leverage their
strengths as a woman, but we have
created the path, the model, the
process, and the tools to make it easy.
They LOVE it.”
FEMXADVISOR
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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Building Blocks
Following a huge discrimination
case, Adri was asked by her then
employers to become a inancial
advisor. The lawsuit faced by the
company became a huge
opportunity for Adri. “As a inancial
advisor and single mother with
three young kids I knew I couldn't
build a business the way they asked
me to, I didn't have that many hours
and quite frankly cold calling would
have bored me to death.”
Adri listened to her feminine genius
and focused her practice on serving
women. She explains, “I wanted
women like my mother to feel more
con ident in making smart inancial
decisions for their life.” She
simultaneously also made sure that
her business model and schedule
supported her need to be a good
mother. “My kids were always my
priority and I always led with my
heart.”
Owing to the added demands of her
time (and energy), Adri worked less
than all her male counterparts. Yet,
she was able to consistently
outperform them. “Due to my
unexpected success, I was asked to
become a National Training Of icer
for Smith Barney (a role I coveted)
so I packed up my three kids and
moved from Newport Beach
California to Hartford CT.”
Adri spent the next 3 years training
thousands of inancial advisors on
how to build a successful practice.
Following this, she was asked to
become the Director of National
Sales for Women & Co. a division of
Citigroup.
However, in 2004, a realization
dawned upon Adri, and she decided
to leave the corporate environment.
“I realized working within the
corporate structure I couldn't have
the impact I wanted. In 2004 I left
the “mothership” and struck out on
my own building a successful
coaching practice focused on
women.”
Flaunt your Feathers.
When talking to a room full of
female inancial advisors, Adri
always makes sure to share the
Peacock and the Penguin story.
According to her, this story
perfectly encapsulates everything
she and her team want to
accomplish at femXadvisor.
She shares, “As women we are these
beautiful peacocks, we low into a
room with a long, graceful neck
followed by a stream of colorful
feathers, we are smart, con ident
and capable.”
“We are hired into the land of
penguins, attend penguin training,
and try and apply everything we are
taught by the penguins.” These
penguins remind us to tuck our
feathers, to pull our necks down, to
stop lowing into the room, to
become a part of the crowd – to
become just another penguin.
“And we end up wearing 5 pairs of
spanx to hold in our feathers,
squishing our neck down which
makes our voices gravely, and work
I WANTED TO PROVIDE
WOMEN ADVISORS
THE COMPLETE
MODEL, PROCESS
TOOLS, AND
STRATEGIES TO
TRANSFORM THEIR
PRACTICE TO ONE
THAT TOTALLY
REFLECTS WHO THEY
ARE AND WHAT THEY
WANT TO
ACCOMPLISH WITH
THEIR BUSINESS.
WWW.EXELEONMAGAZINE.COM
C O V E R S T O R Y
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“
EXELEON MAGAZINE
C O V E R S T O R Y
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“
“
I BELIEVE IN
MANAGING
ENERGY
NOT TIME.
EXELEON MAGAZINE 19
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on waddling instead of our natural
low. We then wonder why women
ind it more challenging to succeed.
Penguins only know how to be a
penguin.”
At femXadvisor, Adri encourages
every woman to be the peacock that
they are; to luff their feathers,
articulate their thoughts, and
embrace their natural low.
She further mentions that her
program is not a band aid or a quick
ix to this male-dominated industry.
Rather, it's a paradigm shift from
the traditional model designed
around the strengths of only men.
“I wanted to provide women
advisors the complete model,
process tools, and strategies to
transform their practice to one that
totally re lects who they are and
what they want to accomplish with
their business.”
In her incredible journey, Adri
re lects that every step she has
taken has been of utmost necessity.
She irmly believes that these
experiences, the good ones and the
bad, have given her a depth of
understanding as well as an
appreciation for what women were
consistently experiencing.
Energy not Time
Talking about how she ensures
work-life balance, Adri mentions
that she is a believer in managing
energy, not time. She lives her life
focusing on her unique brilliance,
activities that inspires and
energizes her. “My unique brilliance
is speaking, coaching, training, that
is where I put 80% of my work
time. When I am not working, I am
always competing in golf, tennis,
pickle ball and inspiring other
women to be their best self.”
Moving forward, Adri is determined
to expand her brand and empower
more women advisors. “We are
inally getting regional irms to
embrace our femXmodel allowing
us to train management, leadership
as well as the advisors.”
She believes as more and more
irms start to embrace a more
feminine approach to wealth
management, it will position the
industry to accelerate growth while
creating new opportunities within
the world of women.
One Book Entrepreneurs Must Read
– Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and
Mark C. Winters
One Productivity Tool / App that
Everyone Should Use – Stephen Cover
Time Management Quadrants
One Movie / Show that you would
Recommend – Rudy - It shows the
power of passion and desire.
One Quote that Motivates you the
Most – “She believed she could, so she
did.”
One Investment Advice that you
Follow – Know what and why you are
investing.
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EXELEON MAGAZINE
C O V E R S T O R Y
21
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b r i n g i n g
i n t e r v i e w w i t h n i c o l e y o u n g
What according to you makes one an
empowering woman? How do you
integrate the same thought into your
leadership?
I believe an empowering woman is
someone who not only shines naturally
but inspires those around her to tap into
their inner spark and to use that spark to
do big things. I make it my business to
surround myself with individuals that I
can inspire but who also inspire me. I
think that combination is one the most
important keys to operating and growing a
business.
Talk to us about your growing up years.
What is your earliest memory as a
leader / Entrepreneur?
By age 5 I was the cousin that would
convince all the other kids to put on a
performance (that I of course wrote,
choreographed, styled, and designated the
roles to) for the grownups at our family
parties. And the "shows" were pretty epic!
I also remember my dance teacher Miss
Francine telling me that I had leadership
skills somewhere around that same age.
She would often place me in the front row
or have me face the class and use me as an
example to the rest of the class. That
memory in particular is a constant
reminder to lead by example.
What prompted your interest in
whiskey? How did you go on to form
your own lavored whiskey brand?
My interest in Whiskey was really sparked
by my love of creating lavor. As a recipe
developer in the food space, I'd always
used lavor to transform and expand
people's views as well as their palates, so
creating a whiskey with the intent to
transform pre-conceived notions about
whiskey and expand the whiskey audience
was something I jumped at the chance to
do.
E X E L E O N E X C L U S I V E
EXELEON MAGAZINE 25
Talk to us about the research and
crafting process that has gone into
making Frisky Whiskey?
After extensive market research, we
determined that there was a void that
could be illed in the whiskey space,
speci ically where lavored whiskey
was concerned. In stark contrast to
what lavored whiskey meant before
Frisky, we created a premium whiskey
with natural lavor. No fruity taste, no
arti icial lavoring and no dessert-like
after taste.
As a black female entrepreneur,
what have been some of the biggest
challenges and learnings in your
journey?
One of my key takeaways as a Black
female entrepreneur is that virtually
everyone will doubt you and your
ability to succeed (including many of
the people who smile, congratulate
you, and tell you how proud they are
of what you're doing) but if your work
and your product speak for
themselves, the only pat on the back
you need is from you own hand and
the only people you need to impress
are the people in your target
audience.
Having received multiple awards
and emerging as one of the fastest
growing brands in the spirits
industry, how do you plan on
scaling the Frisky Whiskey brand?
I am extremely thankful to my female-
lead team and truly humbled by their
hard work with ensuring the great
start Frisky Whiskey has gotten off to.
In under a year, we've opened
distribution in 7 states and have
secured shelf space with major retail
chains like Walmart, Costco, and Total
wine.
With plans underway to launch in
another 5 markets and a new
distribution deal in the works (details
coming soon!) we are eyeing national
expansion. The goal is a strong
presence for Frisky Whiskey in large
chain retailers as well as smaller
liquor stores across the country.
Finally, what would be your advice
for women entrepreneurs when it
comes to maintaining work-life
balance?
Work-life balance advice is tricky
because every woman's situation is
unique but the one thing, I would
recommend women in business
prioritize is their health. It's very
important to take diet and exercise
seriously!
Entrepreneurship can take its toll on
your mind, body, and soul and there is
a deep connection between feeling
healthy and strong and performing
that way both at work and at home.
E X E L E O N E X C L U S I V E
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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EXELEON MAGAZINE 27
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
A S T O R Y O F
n a world where creativity and
Ibusiness often seem to be at
odds, Carrie Colbert stands out
as a shining example of how the
two can seamlessly intersect. A
digital in luencer, Carrie has made a
name for herself by empowering
women to succeed in business and
entrepreneurship.
As the founding and general
partner at Curate Capital, she is on
a mission to provide capital,
mentorship, and strategic planning
advice to female entrepreneurs and
female-driven companies.
Additionally, through her work as a
fashion and lifestyle in luencer,
Carrie has become known for her
bold and vibrant use of color, and
she has made it her mission to help
other women embrace color and
express themselves boldly.
With a proven track record of
driving results, it's no wonder that
Carrie is a sought after speaker,
panelist, mentor, and advisor. In this
interview, we to learn more about
her journey, her passion for
empowering women, and how she
is using the power of color to
inspire and uplift others.
What according to you makes one
a powerful woman? How do you
integrate the same thought into
your leadership?
To me, power begins with a deeply
rooted sense of self-awareness.
Knowing who you are and playing
to your strengths are two keys to
embracing your power.
Beyond that, I may be biased as an
investor, but I think being in charge
of and knowledgeable about one's
inances makes a woman powerful.
I grew up in a very small Texas
town where it was impolite to talk
about money, which I think is a
similar story to many women's
upbringings.
When I began working for a rapidly
growing energy company, that
changed quickly. Hilcorp embraced
a very entrepreneurial culture. Two
key components of that culture
were an open book management
style and an ownership mentality.
All employees knew how their
actions could impact the bottom
line - and thus our own inancial
success, because we all had equity
in the company. I quickly realized
the power of ownership.
IN – FOCUS
COLORS MORE
&
– C A R R I E C O L B E R T
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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Founding&GeneralPartner
CurateCapital
EXELEON MAGAZINE 31
Though I now work in a completely
different industry, I've carried many
of those lessons forward in how I
run Curate Capital, wherein I share
all inancial updates, both good and
(heaven forbid) not so good with
our internal team and investors.
Transparency is so critical for
women to feel more invested, both
iguratively and literally, in the
outcomes.
Talk to us about your growing up
years. What is your earliest
memory as a leader?
One of my irst jobs growing up was
at the small-town golf course where
of course it was predominately men
that played day in and day out. Very
quickly I learned to speak
con idently, upsell at the Pro Shop,
and hold my own even when
surrounded by those with much
more life experience than myself. I
think that was one of the irst
opportunities for me to learn how
to get comfortable with failure,
which is an absolutely vital skill as
an entrepreneur.
Beyond that, I was always a high
performer. I was my high school
class valedictorian, the top of my
engineering class, an of icer in
organizations many times over, and
so on and so forth. For me,
performance was a way to rise
above my meager beginnings.
Your branding uses a lot of
vibrant and expressive colors.
What is your association with
colors and what it represents?
Yes! I have always loved color! Early
on in my career, I succumbed to the
workplace norms to wear (in my
mind) boring neutrals. But soon
thereafter, I learned to embrace my
individuality and express my
personality via my style selections.
On Instagram I coined the hashtag
#MoreColorPlease because I truly
believe surrounding yourself with
vibrancy and positive energy is the
only way to live your life. It sounds
corny, but something as simple as
slipping on a bright pink dress or
rainbow sweater can totally turn
my day around.
From a business perspective, it was
super important to me when
launching Curate Capital to use
color and bold branding as a way to
stand out from the crowd. At the
time, just a few short years ago, the
sea of venture capital irms was
pretty monochromatic. VC websites
all had very conservative,
traditional colors and branding.
Navy blue was everywhere! So, my
branding was an opportunity to set
ourselves apart from the very irst
impression!
From spending almost two
decades in the corporate sector
to starting a venture capital fund
that supports and empowers
women entrepreneurs. What has
been the journey like for you?
It's been a rollercoaster, that's for
sure. Up until the point that I
started Curate Capital, I had really
been very blessed to see a steady
positive progression in my career. I
rose in the ranks at an oil and gas
company, I “retired” and grew an
Instagram following and in luencer
status, and then as more and more
female founders were approaching
me on social media with their
incredible investment
opportunities, I realized I had to do
more.
Little did I know that I would hear
more “no's” in my irst fundraise
with Curate than ever before in my
life. There were tears of frustration
and joy, moments of fear and
triumph, and in the end, we were
just ecstatic to surpass our initial
goal of $10 Million by 50%! Our
portfolio companies are each
thriving as they grow at their own
paces, and we believe so strongly in
the women behind them.
While my professional experience
may seem really disjointed, it's
actually not. Experience teaches us
lessons all the time if we are open
to learning. In hindsight, I can look
back and connect all the dots. No
experience is lost or wasted. It has
all contributed to what I'm doing
now - which I consider to be my
professional sweet spot, the
culmination of many years of hard
work.
Looking at this journey, if you
were to start again, what would
you do differently?
Technically speaking there are a
few details of structuring a venture
capital fund that I would probably
do differently, but those were
lessons I had to learn the hard way.
Overall, I can honestly look back
and say that every moment in my
life has led me to where I am today.
My husband and I are raising two
phenomenal children while I grow
Curate Capital, and while it's wildly
busy and chaotic at times, I
IN – FOCUS
EXELEON MAGAZINE
32
wouldn't change a thing. I'm
grateful for the chance to craft a life
I love.
As an entrepreneur, speaker,
in luencer, and mother, what
does a day in the life of Carrie
Colbert look like? How do you
ensure work-life balance?
Well, while there are certainly times
of chaos, I'd say age has taught me
to iercely ilter through
opportunities. I don't try to be all
things to all people. I'm very clear
on my priorities during this season
of life. My priorities are (1) taking
care of myself, (2) taking care of my
children, and (3) building my
business. Any invitations or
opportunities that come my way
have to bene it one of these three
priorities - or it's a no for me. A
different season of life may look
differently. But for now, my focus on
these three things is of utmost
importance to me.
Finally, talk to us about the
impact of Curate Capital, not only
in terms of supporting women-
owned businesses but also how it
is increasing awareness about
the untapped potential of this
market.
We're extremely unique in the
sense that 80% of our investors are
women, and the vast majority are
individual investors, not giant
private equity irms or inancial
institutions. We've also seen that
our investors are primarily from
Texas and the Midwest, whereas
most venture capital dollars are
coming from the East or West
Coast, as you might imagine. I think
all that data supports our gut
feeling that Curate Capital is
opening the eyes of a whole new
demographic and generation of
women who want to put their
money where their mission is, so to
speak.
If no one else is going to invest in
female founders, of course it's going
to be our fellow women! We know
for a fact that companies led by
women outperform their male
counterparts, so we're not only
creating a movement, but we're also
making excellent business decisions
as well. And the best part is, the
sky's the limit!
IN – FOCUS
EXELEON MAGAZINE 33
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Ashley Epperson
Sometimes we forget to put a
value on things that are most
readily available to us. We
forget the natural bond we share.
We forget the urge to get the best
of it for us. Just a safety limit
becomes a parameter using which
we decide what to buy and what
not to.
This also applies for the water we
drink. We are often satis ied to get
our hands on a bottle and do not
bother about the brand or the
value they provide. In fact, most of
us do not even know the difference
in taste or properties that various
brands bring to the table. But for
Ashley Epperson and her partner,
this was an insight that triggered a
business idea of launching a brand
called Salacious Drinks.
Ashley's steps are an intense
fusion of a practice of delivering
the best and the best possible
medium of delivering it to end
users. The source they explore is
nature, hence no tap waters or
puri ied means are involved. They
have also set up an online presence
to sail along with the tide of time.
Exeleon Magazine proudly
interviews this Dynamic
Entrepreneur to learn more about
her journey, the challenges she
faced, and her vision for the
business.
Q. What according to you makes
for a dynamic entrepreneur?
How do you integrate the same
thought into your leadership?
For me, it's a human's ability to
pivot when the situation does not
go the way they are expected to.
But they remain steadfast that the
decision made was the right one. I
have always been told that I am an
extreme optimist; I will pour until
the cup is over lowing! I am
learning when to turn while
keeping that outlook of positivity.
Q. What prompted the inception
of Salacious Drinks? What was
the idea behind the name of the
company?
I met my partner at work (we were
both in the grocery industry), and
the moment we met he confronted
me about my beverage of choice
(store brand water). He was
drinking a name brand and swore
his was better. We tried both and I
could taste the difference in
brands. We started to get to know
each other and made a game out of
trying all the brands we could get
our hands on. Eventually, we
started to travel and learned that
certain areas had brands which we
couldn't ind where we lived. An
idea was thus forming. One day on
his drive home, he expressed this
idea of opening a water store, and I
loved it! He told me it was 2016
and we should open it online. So
we jumped in.
Committed Towards Quality
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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IN – FOCUS
What's in a name? Well ours is
simple, salacious is provocative,
alluring. We wanted people to
associate water with that idea.
Patrons have forever been offered
unique bottles of wine/spirits and
then given just a glass of water.
That is terrible! There is so much
more to water and we wanted that
to be conveyed in our name irst.
Q. What has the journey been like
for Ashley Epperson over the
years?
My journey has been one of
learning, trusting, and
determination. The idea that we
could shake up the water industry
and create a subcategory for
premium brands has been long and
hard but de initely worth it.
Q. Looking back, what would you
have done different when
starting out?
I would have stuck to the premise
of my online store. We fought so
hard in the beginning to get brands
to even understand that we wanted
to create this thing online; most
would not even give us the time of
day! We saw so many avenues and
tried to chase them all at once.
Q. What has been the biggest
driving factor for you as a leader
and entrepreneur?
My greatest motivating factor is the
love for what I do. We turned what
my partner and I enjoyed as a
connection between friends into a
business. The curiosity of building
the reality of what was once a
common interest is what keeps me
going.
Q. What would be your advice for
aspiring and emerging
entrepreneurs?
My advice is a bit off kilter for
most. I believe you have to be
sel ish to start. You cannot have it
all in the beginning. It's not an easy
path to take, but if you are willing
to be uncomfortable for a few
years to have what most will never,
then go for it.
Q. What makes Salacious Drinks
a premier bottled water
company?
Salacious Drinks specializes in only
naturally sourced waters - so no
tap water or puri ied brands. We
want the best that nature has to
offer. There are so many sources
and stories that go along with each
brand and we want to showcase it
for our customers. We make sure
we have a connection to the source
so we can verify each brand we
sell/promote is authentic.
EXELEON MAGAZINE 37
IN – FOCUS
Q. What has been the
biggest roadblock
during your journey?
The biggest roadblock for
me has been myself! If I
get sidetracked or start
to question the process
then it will show, the
sales will slow down, the
customer engagement
will dry up. When you
realize that the only
thing that matters is
succeeding, then
everything else really
does become trivial.
Q. What is the future
like for Salacious Drinks
and you personally?
The future is truly
becoming the number
one place to go for
imported and domestic
bottled waters. We want
to help grow brands and
bring new experiences to
people. Personally, I see
myself reshaping how
the beverage industry
views water. I want them
to come to us as the
experts on all things
water.
Q. Finally, what do you
think is the most
important trait for an
entrepreneur and why?
The most important trait
for any entrepreneur is honesty.
Can you honestly put up with all
the perceived loneliness? The late
nights? The seemingly endless
failures? Take a long hard look in
that mirror and be honest with
yourself. Once you can do that -
then you have nothing in your way
but success.
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Christina Flach
President & CEO | Pretty Girl Makeup
EXELEON MAGAZINE
40
IN – FOCUS
C
hristina forayed into the
beauty and fashion industry
because she wanted to
witness all the fun, excitement and
glamour that comes with it, while
overcoming her own challenges and
struggles. Christina Flach is the
President and CEO of Pretty Girl
Makeup — her celebratory shout-
out to all the girls to make them feel
beautiful.
With more than 20 years of
experience in the business,
Christina uses her knowledge to
create stylish and trendy lip, eye,
and face products. She is passionate
to deliver one-of-a-kind high-end
beauty products that are mixed and
matched with natural ingredients,
and other essential oils.
Besides creating luxurious beauty
experiences, Christina dons'
multiple hats gracefully. She is a
Sepsis Awareness Advocate, grief
expert and shares her experience
across various platforms like
magazines, podcasts, blogs. She also
successfully runs her own blog —
Love, Life, Laugh and Lipgloss and
is thrilled to start a new skincare
and makeup line with her partner,
Jordan.
In this Exclusive Interview,
Christina Flach shares about her
journey, her beliefs, and Pretty Girl
Makeup.
What according to you makes one
a transformational leader? How
do you integrate the same
thought into your leadership?
I think a transformational leader
selects a team of experts that can
come together and work as a highly
functioning team. I try to integrate
that thought process into my
leadership, by having open dialogue
with my team, respect for what they
do, and most importantly letting
them have the creative freedom to
excel in their speci ic area of
expertise.
Talk to us about your growing up
years. What is your earliest
memory as a leader that you can
remember?
My childhood was interrupted by
my mother being diagnosed with
brain cancer when I was eight years
old. As the oldest child, I had to step
up, to help around my home with
cooking and cleaning. Not having a
mom that was physically and
emotionally available because of
her disease, was challenging as I
was going through my teenage
years and wanted a mothers'
guidance.
I think that as the oldest child of a
terminally ill parent, it forced me to
take charge to support my dad and
my sister and my mother as best I
could, which I think helped me later
in my life. I have not let these
tragedies make my life tragic, rather
it made me stronger and resilient
when faced with bumps in life's
road.
What prompted your interest and
subsequently your foray into the
beauty and fashion industry?
I have always had a love of fashion
and beauty products. Looking
forward to the latest magazines to
see what the latest trend was.
Watching celebrities on television
and looking at all the beautiful faces
at the award shows de initely
trained my eye for beauty.
I'm a very visual person so I think I
wanted a life that was full of beauty,
not just with clothes and makeup,
but also my home being decorated,
clean, organized but at the same
time cozy and inviting for my family
and friends.
What led to the formation of
Pretty Girl Makeup? What was the
idea behind its name?
As a mother of 5 that was
constantly in a battle of drinking
water and putting lip gloss on while
I drove my kids to school and all
their activities. I could not ind a lip
gloss that lasted long enough that
was not matte or drying out my lips.
I decided to contact a beauty
chemist to formulate my own lip
gloss that was long lasting,
hydrating, and good for my skin.
Embracing
Beauty...
EXELEON MAGAZINE 41
IN – FOCUS
The name Pretty Girl came about
when I was in Hawaii with my
family and friends sitting by the
pool. My kids had inally gotten to
an age where I didn't need to be in
the pool with them, my friend
Claudia made the funniest
comment," Honey, we're just sitting
here looking at magazines, lying in
the sun acting like Pretty Girls!"
That made me laugh so hard, but I
also thought every mother that is
working and trying to get
everything done in her day, is a
Pretty Girl and deserves to be made
to feel like one. I thought that was
the perfect name for my company
and being inspired by the creators
of Bene it cosmetics. They had
fabulous packaging and very
whimsical names. I remember
making lists and lists of funny
names like Private Jet, Let's Go
Shopping, Soulmates, Love of my
Life, Day at the Spa, that I wanted to
name my products.
Being the CEO and Founder, what
role do you play in the day-to-day
proceedings of the company?
The irst thing I do when I wake up
is check in with my amazing
assistant Mayah, who keeps my
calendar organized with meetings,
documents to look over, interviews
I may have. Next comes checking in
with my partner Jordan, followed
by checking in with the marketing
team and sales. I want everyone on
my team to feel like they have
access to me when they need it. But
I also want them to have the
freedom to do their job. I know
what's going on with everyone and
get inal approval, but I always
think it's best to let the experts on
my team do what they do best.
What is the approach followed by
you and your team in order to
ensure optimal client
satisfaction?
We are constantly watching
industry trends and listening to our
clients via email and social media.
My agents still book me on photo
shoots, which helps to keep me in a
creative mode and not just being a
CEO. I love having my artistic outlet,
working on these shoots and being
able to work with my team at Pretty
Girl to run at the highest level
possible, being pro itable and we
are very proud of the products that
we sent out into the world.
What has the journey been like for
Christina Flach over the years?
Looking back, what would you
have done differently if you were
to start again?
My journey over the years has
de initely had its ups and downs.
My son Beau passing away on
Christmas day when he was 4 1/2
months old 15 years ago de initely
affected my career professionally
but also personally. I went through
a divorce and learning to grieve my
child while still being a mother and
trying to run my business was
really tough. Then my husband Ken
Flach passing away in 2018 from
Sepsis, and dealing with the
pandemic, have been more
obstacles that I have learned to ride
the waves of. If I look back on what
I would do differently, I would be a
lot gentler on myself. Looking back,
I know I did the best I could with
the situations I was dealt with. I
beat myself up emotionally, not
feeling I did enough each day and
feeling like a failure when in reality
I was still just going through
emotional turmoil and grief.
What would be your advice for
emerging women leaders in the
beauty space?
The best advice that I could give
anyone in the beauty industry or in
any other space is that if you love
what you're doing so much, you
won't mind working the long hours,
seven days a week and not earning
a ton of money at the beginning. But
if you love what you're doing and
are passionate about your goals, I
know that hard work pays off and
you will be successful. Loving what
you're doing is contagious and
people can feel your positive
energy.
What has been the biggest
roadblock during your journey?
What has been your biggest
learning?
I think the biggest roadblock I've
had was not getting a business plan
sooner and getting investors to
expand. I have learned that being
uncomfortable is actually part of
the process, will only make you
stronger and more con ident in the
end.
Finally, what does the future look
like for you, both personally and
professionally?
My future is looking very exciting,
my partner Jordan and I are going
to be partnering with two other
investors to create a new line
skincare and make up line. I am
open and excited about all new
adventures in my business and
personal life. Having balance in my
life is key for me being successful in
my professional life. My heart is full,
and I am very happy!
EXELEON MAGAZINE
42
IN – FOCUS
EXELEON MAGAZINE 43
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
I N T E R V I E W W I T H
Global Health Innovator
Riya Mehta
hat according to you makes
Wone a dynamic leader? How do
you integrate the same
thought into your leadership?
Willing to be inclusive of other people's
differences and opinions are a lot to handle
as a leader, but it makes for a thoughtful,
empathetic, and strong igurehead. I
realized this over time, when I started to be
the team lead in consulting projects and
hire interns--I learned the value of
mentoring young people that have different
niches, and voices to add. For example,
when launching my startup project
Futureshot Factory, I chose to hire 2 interns
to assist in our collaborations, and I stayed
active in training them by opening up a
slack channel, private coaching sessions as
well as weekly meetings. I furthermore
offered my network to them and nominated
my interns for awards, jobs, and other
internships that would accelerate their
careers after they left the company.
Talk to us about your growing-up years.
What led you to be involved with the
idea of changing the world at such a
young age?
There's so much continuous pressure on
young high school students to rigorously
focus on academics and school
extracurriculars, that there is no time left
for them to branch out and apply
themselves to adventurous situations, or
practice real-life skills in companies
through internships. It's quite
disheartening, and I really felt that I was
lucky enough to escape that. I started
becoming a medical researcher at 16, which
snowballed into opportunities of me being
part of accelerator programs, and soon,
traveling around the world to represent
organizations at conferences, by keynoting
at them.
I noticed the growing need for young
women of color in the ields of stem and
social advocacy, to bridge the gender
disparity gap and make women speaking up
the new norm. I feel blessed that I was able
to continue school online for the remainder
of my high school career, as I'm aware
EXELEON MAGAZINE
46
IN – FOCUS
EXELEON MAGAZINE 47
IN – FOCUS
others don't have the same luxury. My family, guidance
counselors and mentors got me to where I am.
How are you empowering developing countries to
utilize AR and VR in genome research?
During my time at SickKids, I joined the AI & genomics
lab network to develop creative approaches to using AI
algorithms for human genome mapping; or detecting
faulty genes in the body before they developed into
other worse diseases. Before then, I never really took
the time to really process how arti icial intelligence can
intersect with genomic data and access parts of our
bodies or make future predictions in a way humans
cannot. In addition to that learning curve, I also got to
apply my skills speci ically with virtual/augmented
reality to make 3D heart models that better detail
what's going on in the human body with heart defects or
cardiac diseases. The Heart Research department I was
working in was studying the effects of a disease called
Pulmonary Vein Stenosis, a rare disease in young
children & newborns associated with high mortality
that results in the narrowing of pulmonary veins.
I thought about how 3D bioprinting would play a role in
this, as many labs have been printing live human heart
models that can replace damaged ones in the body. This
research is still in its theory phase, as there are many
complications such as not having personalized hearts to
it the human body, ethical questions, etc. However,
bioprinting offers a permanent, safer solution that can
re-establish blood low in the body long term, by
replacing the constrained heart with an arti icial, one
constructed by using a patient's own stem cells to limit
rejection.
What has the journey been like for Riya Mehta over
the years? Looking back, what would you have done
differently when starting out?
To give some back history on my journey in STEM and
social justice, I've been a research associate at The
Institute for Economics and Peace think tank for the
past 2 years, conducting research into the Taliban
takeover in Afghanistan and what it means for the
economy in the Middle East, with a focus on ethnic
con lict. As a Canadian representative for the UNITAR
council, I work with UN of icials to help rebuild
communities af licted by civil wars. I also serve as a
commitment maker for UN Women, to educate the
general public on con licts such as the Ukrainian war.
I would shadow my superiors, as I interacted with the
parents of patients to provide comfort and give them
hope as they continued their journey in the hospital.
The more time I spent there, the more I became grateful
for my privilege in life, and instead of looking at world
problems in a negative way, I started channeling my
energy toward co-creating solutions. If I could go back, I
would attempt to make my voice more heard in both
smaller and bigger environments, as I could've played a
more active role in providing recommendations to
better-known people in the industry. I believe being shy
at irst and not making my thoughts known cost me
certain connections and a stronger network, which is
why I urge everyone to be comfortable with getting
uncomfortable and take pride in uncertain situations.
What would be your advice for young and aspiring
women leaders or entrepreneurs?
Ensure you start building cultural capital for yourselves,
especially in our current climate with more young
people getting involved in huge companies such as
Google or Tesla, many career-advancing programs are
built upon the network and connections you make with
mentors, women leaders, and industry giants that are
willing to help you along on your journey. There is so
much opportunity for young girls to take advantage of
and make a real change, a tangible one which is all due
to adult donors, supporters, and those who constantly
stand up for women-led organizations, in an effort to be
a pillar of strength for the next generation of girls.
Continue to believe in strong-minded young women,
and show your support, because there are more chances
now than ever for girls to be involved in areas of
research, social activism, and change that can not only
bene it them but others as well. If we want to see real
impact, see others make an actual difference, we have to
actively support the next generation who can bring that
about, and that are the young women leaders, those
who constantly work to provide a better future for all.
What has been the biggest roadblock during your
journey? What has been your biggest learning?
One of the most signi icant problems I've faced is the
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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IN – FOCUS
best way to be heard in industry
meetings, projects and how to be
bold when presenting keynotes. As a
young woman of color, I appreciate
the challenges associated with
others much older than me, taking
my opinions seriously as over time I
became more articulate in
discussing my wants with others,
rather than sitting idly. I see myself
as a moonshot thinker, with many
people resisting my dreams at the
beginning of my journey, which
evidently did not stop me from
wanting to pursue them.
Moving forward, what does the
future look like for you? What is
your long-term vision?
I envision our planet utilizing
carbon capture systems to not only
rid mass amounts of CO2 from the
atmosphere but also convert carbon
dioxide into other resources such as
graphene, diesel fuel, or concrete. I
believe that direct air capture can be
a shift towards megatonne-sized
solutions. We require new,
innovative ways of thinking if we
hope to sustain our planet and
continue to witness its beauty.
Personally, I see my pathway
heading in the direction of social
justice advocacy and creating more
impact with my initiatives in
political journalism, continuing with
submitting articles for magazines
and newspapers. I hope to become a
greater igurehead, so other young
girls can look up to me and
hopefully pick up some advice on
getting started in the STEM and
social justice space as a student in
high school.
EXELEON MAGAZINE 49
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EXELEON MAGAZINE
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IN – FOCUS
EXHIBITING A RICH LEGACY OF 35 YEARS
t is widely believed that our parents
Iare our irst and our best teachers.
They are the ones who teach us to
talk, walk, behave, and nurture us before
we are ready to face the real world. And
most of the time, our parents show us the
very thing that will go on to de ine who
we are; becoming the very reason behind
our existence.
For Tori Atwell, it was her father's
persistent efforts of taking her to Real
Estate seminars as a teenager and young
adult that went on to de ine her entire life.
Today, Tori stands tall amongst the most
renowned real estate brokers to have
served in Silicon Valley since 1986. With
over three decades of industry-wide
experience, Tori Atwell has been
navigating the industry through her
arduous work and her mission of
delivering a human touch through her
services.
A HUMBLE BEGINNING
Tori was born in Redwood City and raised
in the Bay area, where she obtained her
Business Administration Degree in the
80s.
While initially she worked in the banking
industry, she turned to real estate after
starting her own family.
She remembered how his father used to
take her to real estate seminars and
always encouraged her to work hard.
“Real Estate is the one constant in
everyone's life: We all need a place to live.
For those lucky enough to be able to
invest, Real Estate is the way to go as part
of a healthy portfolio,” mentions Tori.
Listening to her father and perceiving real
estate as the foundation, Tori commenced
her professional journey in Palo Alto and
then later moved her business to the
Mountain View, Los Altos area.
A WIDE BREADTH OF EXPERIENCE
Working in the real estate sector for over
35 years, Tori has seen her fair share of
transformation and changes in the
industry. She still remembers the simpler
times when demands and work were less,
EXELEON MAGAZINE 51
IN – FOCUS
and the entire process ran with
people patiently trusting each
other.
“No cell phones, a receptionist who
rarely took a message correctly,
short contracts and minimal
paperwork, no computers. Our
basic tools were minimal, but with
those minimal tools, folks were
less demanding.”
She further highlights how people
had more patience and did not
have a constant need for
immediate grati ication.
Tori notes that markets and the
economy may have come and gone,
but the evolution of innovative
technology has signi icantly
impacted the industry. “35 years
ago, we did not write brochures,
no one used a professional
photographer, stagers were not
even a thing. Today, you can do it
all without any hassles.”
However, amongst all the
developments, the one thing that
stands out for Tori is the human
touch which can never be removed
entirely from the industry.
Even after witnessing so much
change over the years, she believes
that hard work and being kind to
others is what makes you a
powerful leader.
While some may think that being
tough and stern are the right way
to lead, she takes the opposite
approach of exhibiting kindness
and respect. “Folks know I mean
business but working together for
mutual goals and admiration goes
much further. It is often harder to
be kind in a poor situation rather
than hurtful and aggressive.”
This is primarily the reason why
Tori prefers to still have one-on-
one communication directly with
all her clients in order to deliver a
satisfactory experience. According
to her, real estate agents are often
busy chasing one deal after
another and ignoring the clients
they already have.
Instead, she mentions, it is
imperative for them to understand
that when someone hires an agent,
the person trusts you with the
most crucial decision of their life.
Thereby, they deserve the best of
attention and be informed on all
levels of the transaction.
Ful illing individuals' needs for
these many years and sustaining
the human essence have brought
much success to Tori. She pays
EXELEON MAGAZINE
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IN – FOCUS
gratitude to the industry she has
served. “I have been blessed
enough to start in the business
when you had to do everything
yourself, including qualifying
buyers before they began looking
at property. My business roots and
experiences are constant sources
of inside knowledge and
understanding of the industry.”
EVOLVING WITH PARENTHOOD
Amidst the hustle and bustle in her
profession, Tori raised two
beautiful kids. She recalls how
after school time, they would often
go look at a house, meet an
inspection, and drive-by
properties. “My son, Kyle, at age 5,
could look at a house/property
and tell if it would sell or not,”
recalls Tori.
With her kids growing up, a lot has
changed in terms of her lifestyle
and approach to real estate. She
now practices a new lifestyle,
paying undivided one-on-one
attention to her clients and going
out with clients or co-workers on
her off time. “Real Estate is
different from most industries; it's
not just a job, it is an entire social
structure that facilitates getting to
know a wide array of people from
many different cultures and walks
of life.”
And when Tori is not with her
clients or working, she could be
found enjoying quality time with
her six dogs, four cats, and two
mini-pigs.
GET THE BEST TEACHER
Tori feels grateful to have the best
teacher in the form of her father
who paved the way for her interest
and subsequently her successful
career.
Taking a cue from her own life, she
advises new young and aspiring
entrepreneurs in the real estate
space to ind a good realtor. She
mentions, “Trust and respect and
shadow their every move. If you
spend some free time learning
from the best, you will get an
invaluable education and
foundation for a successful career.”
t’s a Continuous Journey
It's been over three decades since Tori has been helping individuals and families
sell and move into new homes. Her attention to detail, providing one-on-one
consultation, and adding a personal touch to real estate have led her to attain the
unmatchedsuccessandahard-earnedreputationwithinthecommunity.
Forthefuture,Toriwouldliketocontinuetoservethousandsoffamiliessellingor
movingintotheirdreamhomes.
“We have a saying in real estate; realtors don't really retire, we just slow down as
ouragegoesup,”sheconcludes.
EXELEON MAGAZINE 53
IN – FOCUS
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine
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Adri Miller-Heckman | Transformational Women of the Year | Exeleon Magazine

  • 1. Embracing Excellence www.exeleonmagazine.com Frisky Whiskey: Bringing Flavorto Whiskey IN - FOCUS IN - FOCUS Ashley Epperson: Committed Towards Quality Tori Atwell EXHIBITING A RICH LEGACY OF 35 YEARS ADRI MILLER-Heckman E M B R A C I N G T H E F E M I N I N E A P P R O A C H Transf rmational o WOMEN LEADERS
  • 4. Copyright © Exeleon Media LLC. All rights reserved. The design, images, and content in this issue should not be reproduced in any manner or by any means, i.e. mechanical, electronic, recording, photocopying, or otherwise, without any permission from Exeleon Media. For any advertising related information, please contact info@exeleonmagazine.com. Submissions as well as contributions to the magazine are welcome. Take a moment and let us know about our magazine; whether it be about the design or a possible mistake, we would appreciate any feedback from your end. You can reach out to daryl@exeleonmagazine.com. 600 N Broad St 5 Middletown, DE 19709, United States +1 (302) – 569 – 9387 Editor-in-Chief – Art Director – Managing Editor - Creative Director – Contributing Editors – Content Curator – Daryl Yeung (Story-Tailor) Naomi Lam (Design Ninja) Matt Reis (Wordster) Adam Waring (Grafista) Ian O'Shea, Matt Hale, & John Riggs (Three Musketeers) Cathy G. (Explorer) Sales Josh Wilder (Cultivator) Mike Jackson (Marketeer) Katherine Price (Sustainer) Richard Dann (Facilitator) Project Manager – Marketing Manager – Senior BDM – BDM – Embracing Excellence
  • 6. C O N T E N T S ADRI MILLER-HECKMAN 12
  • 7. C O N T E N T S CARRIE COLBERT 30
  • 8. C O N T E N T S RIYA MEHTA 46
  • 12. Emb c g e F e Approa 12 EXELEON MAGAZINE C O V E R S T O R Y
  • 14. its core, successful leadership is one that stems from the roots of failures and forges through the lames of adversity. It is about translating a vision into reality and ideas into action. It is about turning mistakes into experience and experiences into knowledge. It is about survival! Adri Miller-Heckman is an example of one such successful leader. As a leading expert and coach for female inancial advisors, Adri stands out for her empowering mindset and survival instincts. Since leaving the inancial industry in 2004, Adri has dedicated herself to the growth and development of female inancial advisors across the globe. She mentions that her desire to help women succeed on business supersedes any social protocol or business boundaries. Through her femXadvisor platform, Adri offers the requisite tools, solutions, and proven business framework to help women grow and market their inancial practice. Fittingly, Adri Miller-Heckman features as the Cover of Exeleon's Most Transformational Women Leaders to Follow. In this Cover Feature, we look into the journey of this powerful entrepreneur and how she is encouraging women to embrace their feminine side to attain success. Inner Belief A big part of Adri's growing up years was her mother's in luence and support. Her mother instilled belief within her and encouraged her to achieve her dreams. Moreover, Adri recalls that her mother's constant motivation gave her the necessary courage to face any setbacks. Perhaps it's this upbringing that made Adri a leader from a very young age. At the age of 12, Adri started a party-serving business. “I distributed liers in our neighborhood promoting my business to help provide serving and clean up services at parties.” Her irst gig was a western party, wherein she hired a group of girls to help her. She remembers “We all showed up at the requested time wearing cowboy costumes only to learn that they cancelled the party and forgot to tell us. That was the end of that business.” The next year saw Adri being part of the youngest team to participate in the Volleyball Nationals. This experience impacted her life and shaped her ability to become a leader. “I found greater satisfaction inspiring my teammates to perform their best which only enhanced my career. I went to UNC on a full volleyball scholarship, was MVP of the ACC and eventually represented the Navy and the Armed forces in volleyball.” Today, leveraging her mother's teachings and her experiences, Adri has molded herself into a leader who is fearless and innovative. She explains that in order for one to become a transformational woman, it is imperative to think out of the box and leverage the unique strengths as a woman. Survival Instincts Adri entered the inance space in a rather unconventional manner. She mentions, “I needed a job, and my roommate was moving up. I hated math but loved sales, so I became a sales assistant to a top commodities & stockbroker.” Although the role was primarily administrative, Adri soon gravitated towards the client and sales side of the business. Over the course of the next 10 years, she worked with various leading inancial advisors in the industry. With the industry becoming more and more toxic, and people inclining towards unethical practices, Adri decided to move forward from the industry. She soon joined the Navy as an electrician stationed on a ship in Holy Loch Scotland. 3 years later, with renewed perspective and ierce determination, Adri Miller- Heckman rejoined the inance industry. This was the start of a unique journey. At EXELEON MAGAZINE C O V E R S T O R Y 14
  • 15. FEARLESSLY EMBRACE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ANYTHING BUT YOURSELF. WWW.EXELEONMAGAZINE.COM “ “ 15
  • 16. For Adri, building her own coaching practice was exactly where she imagined herself to be – no limits and no boundaries. This newfound freedom enabled her to teach women advisors a more feminine approach to growing a inancial practice. She penned down her ideas and knowledge in her book - “Keys to the Ladies Room; A new business model for inancial advisors.” Over the years, this book has had a positive impact on both female as well as male advisors and continues to garner positive reviews across the industry. Moreover, this book established the foundation of Adri's femXadvisor model. Adri's high-yielding coaching program has attracted women advisors through the years to learn more about her coaching practice. The program's unique women-centered approach made it extremely popular and allowed Adri to empower them with her years of industry knowledge. She points out, “These women always knew there was a better way to build a thriving practice but trying to carve it out on your own while going against the tide of the industry was challenging. The greatest impact I have on my advisors is the con idence these women gain as they are encouraged to lead from their hearts.” She continues, “As a femXadvisor they are not only given permission to follow their instincts and leverage their strengths as a woman, but we have created the path, the model, the process, and the tools to make it easy. They LOVE it.” FEMXADVISOR EXELEON MAGAZINE 16
  • 17. Building Blocks Following a huge discrimination case, Adri was asked by her then employers to become a inancial advisor. The lawsuit faced by the company became a huge opportunity for Adri. “As a inancial advisor and single mother with three young kids I knew I couldn't build a business the way they asked me to, I didn't have that many hours and quite frankly cold calling would have bored me to death.” Adri listened to her feminine genius and focused her practice on serving women. She explains, “I wanted women like my mother to feel more con ident in making smart inancial decisions for their life.” She simultaneously also made sure that her business model and schedule supported her need to be a good mother. “My kids were always my priority and I always led with my heart.” Owing to the added demands of her time (and energy), Adri worked less than all her male counterparts. Yet, she was able to consistently outperform them. “Due to my unexpected success, I was asked to become a National Training Of icer for Smith Barney (a role I coveted) so I packed up my three kids and moved from Newport Beach California to Hartford CT.” Adri spent the next 3 years training thousands of inancial advisors on how to build a successful practice. Following this, she was asked to become the Director of National Sales for Women & Co. a division of Citigroup. However, in 2004, a realization dawned upon Adri, and she decided to leave the corporate environment. “I realized working within the corporate structure I couldn't have the impact I wanted. In 2004 I left the “mothership” and struck out on my own building a successful coaching practice focused on women.” Flaunt your Feathers. When talking to a room full of female inancial advisors, Adri always makes sure to share the Peacock and the Penguin story. According to her, this story perfectly encapsulates everything she and her team want to accomplish at femXadvisor. She shares, “As women we are these beautiful peacocks, we low into a room with a long, graceful neck followed by a stream of colorful feathers, we are smart, con ident and capable.” “We are hired into the land of penguins, attend penguin training, and try and apply everything we are taught by the penguins.” These penguins remind us to tuck our feathers, to pull our necks down, to stop lowing into the room, to become a part of the crowd – to become just another penguin. “And we end up wearing 5 pairs of spanx to hold in our feathers, squishing our neck down which makes our voices gravely, and work I WANTED TO PROVIDE WOMEN ADVISORS THE COMPLETE MODEL, PROCESS TOOLS, AND STRATEGIES TO TRANSFORM THEIR PRACTICE TO ONE THAT TOTALLY REFLECTS WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY WANT TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THEIR BUSINESS. WWW.EXELEONMAGAZINE.COM C O V E R S T O R Y “ “ 17
  • 18. “ EXELEON MAGAZINE C O V E R S T O R Y 18
  • 19. “ “ I BELIEVE IN MANAGING ENERGY NOT TIME. EXELEON MAGAZINE 19
  • 21. on waddling instead of our natural low. We then wonder why women ind it more challenging to succeed. Penguins only know how to be a penguin.” At femXadvisor, Adri encourages every woman to be the peacock that they are; to luff their feathers, articulate their thoughts, and embrace their natural low. She further mentions that her program is not a band aid or a quick ix to this male-dominated industry. Rather, it's a paradigm shift from the traditional model designed around the strengths of only men. “I wanted to provide women advisors the complete model, process tools, and strategies to transform their practice to one that totally re lects who they are and what they want to accomplish with their business.” In her incredible journey, Adri re lects that every step she has taken has been of utmost necessity. She irmly believes that these experiences, the good ones and the bad, have given her a depth of understanding as well as an appreciation for what women were consistently experiencing. Energy not Time Talking about how she ensures work-life balance, Adri mentions that she is a believer in managing energy, not time. She lives her life focusing on her unique brilliance, activities that inspires and energizes her. “My unique brilliance is speaking, coaching, training, that is where I put 80% of my work time. When I am not working, I am always competing in golf, tennis, pickle ball and inspiring other women to be their best self.” Moving forward, Adri is determined to expand her brand and empower more women advisors. “We are inally getting regional irms to embrace our femXmodel allowing us to train management, leadership as well as the advisors.” She believes as more and more irms start to embrace a more feminine approach to wealth management, it will position the industry to accelerate growth while creating new opportunities within the world of women. One Book Entrepreneurs Must Read – Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters One Productivity Tool / App that Everyone Should Use – Stephen Cover Time Management Quadrants One Movie / Show that you would Recommend – Rudy - It shows the power of passion and desire. One Quote that Motivates you the Most – “She believed she could, so she did.” One Investment Advice that you Follow – Know what and why you are investing. EXELEON SHORTS EXELEON MAGAZINE C O V E R S T O R Y 21
  • 22. We Embrace Excellence! Exeleon Magazine features some of the leading players in business and shares their journey of excellence to inspire aspiring leaders across the globe. SUBSCRIBE
  • 25. b r i n g i n g i n t e r v i e w w i t h n i c o l e y o u n g What according to you makes one an empowering woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership? I believe an empowering woman is someone who not only shines naturally but inspires those around her to tap into their inner spark and to use that spark to do big things. I make it my business to surround myself with individuals that I can inspire but who also inspire me. I think that combination is one the most important keys to operating and growing a business. Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader / Entrepreneur? By age 5 I was the cousin that would convince all the other kids to put on a performance (that I of course wrote, choreographed, styled, and designated the roles to) for the grownups at our family parties. And the "shows" were pretty epic! I also remember my dance teacher Miss Francine telling me that I had leadership skills somewhere around that same age. She would often place me in the front row or have me face the class and use me as an example to the rest of the class. That memory in particular is a constant reminder to lead by example. What prompted your interest in whiskey? How did you go on to form your own lavored whiskey brand? My interest in Whiskey was really sparked by my love of creating lavor. As a recipe developer in the food space, I'd always used lavor to transform and expand people's views as well as their palates, so creating a whiskey with the intent to transform pre-conceived notions about whiskey and expand the whiskey audience was something I jumped at the chance to do. E X E L E O N E X C L U S I V E EXELEON MAGAZINE 25
  • 26. Talk to us about the research and crafting process that has gone into making Frisky Whiskey? After extensive market research, we determined that there was a void that could be illed in the whiskey space, speci ically where lavored whiskey was concerned. In stark contrast to what lavored whiskey meant before Frisky, we created a premium whiskey with natural lavor. No fruity taste, no arti icial lavoring and no dessert-like after taste. As a black female entrepreneur, what have been some of the biggest challenges and learnings in your journey? One of my key takeaways as a Black female entrepreneur is that virtually everyone will doubt you and your ability to succeed (including many of the people who smile, congratulate you, and tell you how proud they are of what you're doing) but if your work and your product speak for themselves, the only pat on the back you need is from you own hand and the only people you need to impress are the people in your target audience. Having received multiple awards and emerging as one of the fastest growing brands in the spirits industry, how do you plan on scaling the Frisky Whiskey brand? I am extremely thankful to my female- lead team and truly humbled by their hard work with ensuring the great start Frisky Whiskey has gotten off to. In under a year, we've opened distribution in 7 states and have secured shelf space with major retail chains like Walmart, Costco, and Total wine. With plans underway to launch in another 5 markets and a new distribution deal in the works (details coming soon!) we are eyeing national expansion. The goal is a strong presence for Frisky Whiskey in large chain retailers as well as smaller liquor stores across the country. Finally, what would be your advice for women entrepreneurs when it comes to maintaining work-life balance? Work-life balance advice is tricky because every woman's situation is unique but the one thing, I would recommend women in business prioritize is their health. It's very important to take diet and exercise seriously! Entrepreneurship can take its toll on your mind, body, and soul and there is a deep connection between feeling healthy and strong and performing that way both at work and at home. E X E L E O N E X C L U S I V E EXELEON MAGAZINE 26
  • 30. A S T O R Y O F n a world where creativity and Ibusiness often seem to be at odds, Carrie Colbert stands out as a shining example of how the two can seamlessly intersect. A digital in luencer, Carrie has made a name for herself by empowering women to succeed in business and entrepreneurship. As the founding and general partner at Curate Capital, she is on a mission to provide capital, mentorship, and strategic planning advice to female entrepreneurs and female-driven companies. Additionally, through her work as a fashion and lifestyle in luencer, Carrie has become known for her bold and vibrant use of color, and she has made it her mission to help other women embrace color and express themselves boldly. With a proven track record of driving results, it's no wonder that Carrie is a sought after speaker, panelist, mentor, and advisor. In this interview, we to learn more about her journey, her passion for empowering women, and how she is using the power of color to inspire and uplift others. What according to you makes one a powerful woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership? To me, power begins with a deeply rooted sense of self-awareness. Knowing who you are and playing to your strengths are two keys to embracing your power. Beyond that, I may be biased as an investor, but I think being in charge of and knowledgeable about one's inances makes a woman powerful. I grew up in a very small Texas town where it was impolite to talk about money, which I think is a similar story to many women's upbringings. When I began working for a rapidly growing energy company, that changed quickly. Hilcorp embraced a very entrepreneurial culture. Two key components of that culture were an open book management style and an ownership mentality. All employees knew how their actions could impact the bottom line - and thus our own inancial success, because we all had equity in the company. I quickly realized the power of ownership. IN – FOCUS COLORS MORE & – C A R R I E C O L B E R T EXELEON MAGAZINE 30
  • 32. Though I now work in a completely different industry, I've carried many of those lessons forward in how I run Curate Capital, wherein I share all inancial updates, both good and (heaven forbid) not so good with our internal team and investors. Transparency is so critical for women to feel more invested, both iguratively and literally, in the outcomes. Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader? One of my irst jobs growing up was at the small-town golf course where of course it was predominately men that played day in and day out. Very quickly I learned to speak con idently, upsell at the Pro Shop, and hold my own even when surrounded by those with much more life experience than myself. I think that was one of the irst opportunities for me to learn how to get comfortable with failure, which is an absolutely vital skill as an entrepreneur. Beyond that, I was always a high performer. I was my high school class valedictorian, the top of my engineering class, an of icer in organizations many times over, and so on and so forth. For me, performance was a way to rise above my meager beginnings. Your branding uses a lot of vibrant and expressive colors. What is your association with colors and what it represents? Yes! I have always loved color! Early on in my career, I succumbed to the workplace norms to wear (in my mind) boring neutrals. But soon thereafter, I learned to embrace my individuality and express my personality via my style selections. On Instagram I coined the hashtag #MoreColorPlease because I truly believe surrounding yourself with vibrancy and positive energy is the only way to live your life. It sounds corny, but something as simple as slipping on a bright pink dress or rainbow sweater can totally turn my day around. From a business perspective, it was super important to me when launching Curate Capital to use color and bold branding as a way to stand out from the crowd. At the time, just a few short years ago, the sea of venture capital irms was pretty monochromatic. VC websites all had very conservative, traditional colors and branding. Navy blue was everywhere! So, my branding was an opportunity to set ourselves apart from the very irst impression! From spending almost two decades in the corporate sector to starting a venture capital fund that supports and empowers women entrepreneurs. What has been the journey like for you? It's been a rollercoaster, that's for sure. Up until the point that I started Curate Capital, I had really been very blessed to see a steady positive progression in my career. I rose in the ranks at an oil and gas company, I “retired” and grew an Instagram following and in luencer status, and then as more and more female founders were approaching me on social media with their incredible investment opportunities, I realized I had to do more. Little did I know that I would hear more “no's” in my irst fundraise with Curate than ever before in my life. There were tears of frustration and joy, moments of fear and triumph, and in the end, we were just ecstatic to surpass our initial goal of $10 Million by 50%! Our portfolio companies are each thriving as they grow at their own paces, and we believe so strongly in the women behind them. While my professional experience may seem really disjointed, it's actually not. Experience teaches us lessons all the time if we are open to learning. In hindsight, I can look back and connect all the dots. No experience is lost or wasted. It has all contributed to what I'm doing now - which I consider to be my professional sweet spot, the culmination of many years of hard work. Looking at this journey, if you were to start again, what would you do differently? Technically speaking there are a few details of structuring a venture capital fund that I would probably do differently, but those were lessons I had to learn the hard way. Overall, I can honestly look back and say that every moment in my life has led me to where I am today. My husband and I are raising two phenomenal children while I grow Curate Capital, and while it's wildly busy and chaotic at times, I IN – FOCUS EXELEON MAGAZINE 32
  • 33. wouldn't change a thing. I'm grateful for the chance to craft a life I love. As an entrepreneur, speaker, in luencer, and mother, what does a day in the life of Carrie Colbert look like? How do you ensure work-life balance? Well, while there are certainly times of chaos, I'd say age has taught me to iercely ilter through opportunities. I don't try to be all things to all people. I'm very clear on my priorities during this season of life. My priorities are (1) taking care of myself, (2) taking care of my children, and (3) building my business. Any invitations or opportunities that come my way have to bene it one of these three priorities - or it's a no for me. A different season of life may look differently. But for now, my focus on these three things is of utmost importance to me. Finally, talk to us about the impact of Curate Capital, not only in terms of supporting women- owned businesses but also how it is increasing awareness about the untapped potential of this market. We're extremely unique in the sense that 80% of our investors are women, and the vast majority are individual investors, not giant private equity irms or inancial institutions. We've also seen that our investors are primarily from Texas and the Midwest, whereas most venture capital dollars are coming from the East or West Coast, as you might imagine. I think all that data supports our gut feeling that Curate Capital is opening the eyes of a whole new demographic and generation of women who want to put their money where their mission is, so to speak. If no one else is going to invest in female founders, of course it's going to be our fellow women! We know for a fact that companies led by women outperform their male counterparts, so we're not only creating a movement, but we're also making excellent business decisions as well. And the best part is, the sky's the limit! IN – FOCUS EXELEON MAGAZINE 33
  • 36. Ashley Epperson Sometimes we forget to put a value on things that are most readily available to us. We forget the natural bond we share. We forget the urge to get the best of it for us. Just a safety limit becomes a parameter using which we decide what to buy and what not to. This also applies for the water we drink. We are often satis ied to get our hands on a bottle and do not bother about the brand or the value they provide. In fact, most of us do not even know the difference in taste or properties that various brands bring to the table. But for Ashley Epperson and her partner, this was an insight that triggered a business idea of launching a brand called Salacious Drinks. Ashley's steps are an intense fusion of a practice of delivering the best and the best possible medium of delivering it to end users. The source they explore is nature, hence no tap waters or puri ied means are involved. They have also set up an online presence to sail along with the tide of time. Exeleon Magazine proudly interviews this Dynamic Entrepreneur to learn more about her journey, the challenges she faced, and her vision for the business. Q. What according to you makes for a dynamic entrepreneur? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership? For me, it's a human's ability to pivot when the situation does not go the way they are expected to. But they remain steadfast that the decision made was the right one. I have always been told that I am an extreme optimist; I will pour until the cup is over lowing! I am learning when to turn while keeping that outlook of positivity. Q. What prompted the inception of Salacious Drinks? What was the idea behind the name of the company? I met my partner at work (we were both in the grocery industry), and the moment we met he confronted me about my beverage of choice (store brand water). He was drinking a name brand and swore his was better. We tried both and I could taste the difference in brands. We started to get to know each other and made a game out of trying all the brands we could get our hands on. Eventually, we started to travel and learned that certain areas had brands which we couldn't ind where we lived. An idea was thus forming. One day on his drive home, he expressed this idea of opening a water store, and I loved it! He told me it was 2016 and we should open it online. So we jumped in. Committed Towards Quality EXELEON MAGAZINE 36 IN – FOCUS
  • 37. What's in a name? Well ours is simple, salacious is provocative, alluring. We wanted people to associate water with that idea. Patrons have forever been offered unique bottles of wine/spirits and then given just a glass of water. That is terrible! There is so much more to water and we wanted that to be conveyed in our name irst. Q. What has the journey been like for Ashley Epperson over the years? My journey has been one of learning, trusting, and determination. The idea that we could shake up the water industry and create a subcategory for premium brands has been long and hard but de initely worth it. Q. Looking back, what would you have done different when starting out? I would have stuck to the premise of my online store. We fought so hard in the beginning to get brands to even understand that we wanted to create this thing online; most would not even give us the time of day! We saw so many avenues and tried to chase them all at once. Q. What has been the biggest driving factor for you as a leader and entrepreneur? My greatest motivating factor is the love for what I do. We turned what my partner and I enjoyed as a connection between friends into a business. The curiosity of building the reality of what was once a common interest is what keeps me going. Q. What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs? My advice is a bit off kilter for most. I believe you have to be sel ish to start. You cannot have it all in the beginning. It's not an easy path to take, but if you are willing to be uncomfortable for a few years to have what most will never, then go for it. Q. What makes Salacious Drinks a premier bottled water company? Salacious Drinks specializes in only naturally sourced waters - so no tap water or puri ied brands. We want the best that nature has to offer. There are so many sources and stories that go along with each brand and we want to showcase it for our customers. We make sure we have a connection to the source so we can verify each brand we sell/promote is authentic. EXELEON MAGAZINE 37 IN – FOCUS
  • 38. Q. What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? The biggest roadblock for me has been myself! If I get sidetracked or start to question the process then it will show, the sales will slow down, the customer engagement will dry up. When you realize that the only thing that matters is succeeding, then everything else really does become trivial. Q. What is the future like for Salacious Drinks and you personally? The future is truly becoming the number one place to go for imported and domestic bottled waters. We want to help grow brands and bring new experiences to people. Personally, I see myself reshaping how the beverage industry views water. I want them to come to us as the experts on all things water. Q. Finally, what do you think is the most important trait for an entrepreneur and why? The most important trait for any entrepreneur is honesty. Can you honestly put up with all the perceived loneliness? The late nights? The seemingly endless failures? Take a long hard look in that mirror and be honest with yourself. Once you can do that - then you have nothing in your way but success. EXELEON MAGAZINE 38 IN – FOCUS
  • 40. Christina Flach President & CEO | Pretty Girl Makeup EXELEON MAGAZINE 40 IN – FOCUS
  • 41. C hristina forayed into the beauty and fashion industry because she wanted to witness all the fun, excitement and glamour that comes with it, while overcoming her own challenges and struggles. Christina Flach is the President and CEO of Pretty Girl Makeup — her celebratory shout- out to all the girls to make them feel beautiful. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, Christina uses her knowledge to create stylish and trendy lip, eye, and face products. She is passionate to deliver one-of-a-kind high-end beauty products that are mixed and matched with natural ingredients, and other essential oils. Besides creating luxurious beauty experiences, Christina dons' multiple hats gracefully. She is a Sepsis Awareness Advocate, grief expert and shares her experience across various platforms like magazines, podcasts, blogs. She also successfully runs her own blog — Love, Life, Laugh and Lipgloss and is thrilled to start a new skincare and makeup line with her partner, Jordan. In this Exclusive Interview, Christina Flach shares about her journey, her beliefs, and Pretty Girl Makeup. What according to you makes one a transformational leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership? I think a transformational leader selects a team of experts that can come together and work as a highly functioning team. I try to integrate that thought process into my leadership, by having open dialogue with my team, respect for what they do, and most importantly letting them have the creative freedom to excel in their speci ic area of expertise. Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader that you can remember? My childhood was interrupted by my mother being diagnosed with brain cancer when I was eight years old. As the oldest child, I had to step up, to help around my home with cooking and cleaning. Not having a mom that was physically and emotionally available because of her disease, was challenging as I was going through my teenage years and wanted a mothers' guidance. I think that as the oldest child of a terminally ill parent, it forced me to take charge to support my dad and my sister and my mother as best I could, which I think helped me later in my life. I have not let these tragedies make my life tragic, rather it made me stronger and resilient when faced with bumps in life's road. What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the beauty and fashion industry? I have always had a love of fashion and beauty products. Looking forward to the latest magazines to see what the latest trend was. Watching celebrities on television and looking at all the beautiful faces at the award shows de initely trained my eye for beauty. I'm a very visual person so I think I wanted a life that was full of beauty, not just with clothes and makeup, but also my home being decorated, clean, organized but at the same time cozy and inviting for my family and friends. What led to the formation of Pretty Girl Makeup? What was the idea behind its name? As a mother of 5 that was constantly in a battle of drinking water and putting lip gloss on while I drove my kids to school and all their activities. I could not ind a lip gloss that lasted long enough that was not matte or drying out my lips. I decided to contact a beauty chemist to formulate my own lip gloss that was long lasting, hydrating, and good for my skin. Embracing Beauty... EXELEON MAGAZINE 41 IN – FOCUS
  • 42. The name Pretty Girl came about when I was in Hawaii with my family and friends sitting by the pool. My kids had inally gotten to an age where I didn't need to be in the pool with them, my friend Claudia made the funniest comment," Honey, we're just sitting here looking at magazines, lying in the sun acting like Pretty Girls!" That made me laugh so hard, but I also thought every mother that is working and trying to get everything done in her day, is a Pretty Girl and deserves to be made to feel like one. I thought that was the perfect name for my company and being inspired by the creators of Bene it cosmetics. They had fabulous packaging and very whimsical names. I remember making lists and lists of funny names like Private Jet, Let's Go Shopping, Soulmates, Love of my Life, Day at the Spa, that I wanted to name my products. Being the CEO and Founder, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company? The irst thing I do when I wake up is check in with my amazing assistant Mayah, who keeps my calendar organized with meetings, documents to look over, interviews I may have. Next comes checking in with my partner Jordan, followed by checking in with the marketing team and sales. I want everyone on my team to feel like they have access to me when they need it. But I also want them to have the freedom to do their job. I know what's going on with everyone and get inal approval, but I always think it's best to let the experts on my team do what they do best. What is the approach followed by you and your team in order to ensure optimal client satisfaction? We are constantly watching industry trends and listening to our clients via email and social media. My agents still book me on photo shoots, which helps to keep me in a creative mode and not just being a CEO. I love having my artistic outlet, working on these shoots and being able to work with my team at Pretty Girl to run at the highest level possible, being pro itable and we are very proud of the products that we sent out into the world. What has the journey been like for Christina Flach over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently if you were to start again? My journey over the years has de initely had its ups and downs. My son Beau passing away on Christmas day when he was 4 1/2 months old 15 years ago de initely affected my career professionally but also personally. I went through a divorce and learning to grieve my child while still being a mother and trying to run my business was really tough. Then my husband Ken Flach passing away in 2018 from Sepsis, and dealing with the pandemic, have been more obstacles that I have learned to ride the waves of. If I look back on what I would do differently, I would be a lot gentler on myself. Looking back, I know I did the best I could with the situations I was dealt with. I beat myself up emotionally, not feeling I did enough each day and feeling like a failure when in reality I was still just going through emotional turmoil and grief. What would be your advice for emerging women leaders in the beauty space? The best advice that I could give anyone in the beauty industry or in any other space is that if you love what you're doing so much, you won't mind working the long hours, seven days a week and not earning a ton of money at the beginning. But if you love what you're doing and are passionate about your goals, I know that hard work pays off and you will be successful. Loving what you're doing is contagious and people can feel your positive energy. What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? What has been your biggest learning? I think the biggest roadblock I've had was not getting a business plan sooner and getting investors to expand. I have learned that being uncomfortable is actually part of the process, will only make you stronger and more con ident in the end. Finally, what does the future look like for you, both personally and professionally? My future is looking very exciting, my partner Jordan and I are going to be partnering with two other investors to create a new line skincare and make up line. I am open and excited about all new adventures in my business and personal life. Having balance in my life is key for me being successful in my professional life. My heart is full, and I am very happy! EXELEON MAGAZINE 42 IN – FOCUS
  • 46. I N T E R V I E W W I T H Global Health Innovator Riya Mehta hat according to you makes Wone a dynamic leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership? Willing to be inclusive of other people's differences and opinions are a lot to handle as a leader, but it makes for a thoughtful, empathetic, and strong igurehead. I realized this over time, when I started to be the team lead in consulting projects and hire interns--I learned the value of mentoring young people that have different niches, and voices to add. For example, when launching my startup project Futureshot Factory, I chose to hire 2 interns to assist in our collaborations, and I stayed active in training them by opening up a slack channel, private coaching sessions as well as weekly meetings. I furthermore offered my network to them and nominated my interns for awards, jobs, and other internships that would accelerate their careers after they left the company. Talk to us about your growing-up years. What led you to be involved with the idea of changing the world at such a young age? There's so much continuous pressure on young high school students to rigorously focus on academics and school extracurriculars, that there is no time left for them to branch out and apply themselves to adventurous situations, or practice real-life skills in companies through internships. It's quite disheartening, and I really felt that I was lucky enough to escape that. I started becoming a medical researcher at 16, which snowballed into opportunities of me being part of accelerator programs, and soon, traveling around the world to represent organizations at conferences, by keynoting at them. I noticed the growing need for young women of color in the ields of stem and social advocacy, to bridge the gender disparity gap and make women speaking up the new norm. I feel blessed that I was able to continue school online for the remainder of my high school career, as I'm aware EXELEON MAGAZINE 46 IN – FOCUS
  • 48. others don't have the same luxury. My family, guidance counselors and mentors got me to where I am. How are you empowering developing countries to utilize AR and VR in genome research? During my time at SickKids, I joined the AI & genomics lab network to develop creative approaches to using AI algorithms for human genome mapping; or detecting faulty genes in the body before they developed into other worse diseases. Before then, I never really took the time to really process how arti icial intelligence can intersect with genomic data and access parts of our bodies or make future predictions in a way humans cannot. In addition to that learning curve, I also got to apply my skills speci ically with virtual/augmented reality to make 3D heart models that better detail what's going on in the human body with heart defects or cardiac diseases. The Heart Research department I was working in was studying the effects of a disease called Pulmonary Vein Stenosis, a rare disease in young children & newborns associated with high mortality that results in the narrowing of pulmonary veins. I thought about how 3D bioprinting would play a role in this, as many labs have been printing live human heart models that can replace damaged ones in the body. This research is still in its theory phase, as there are many complications such as not having personalized hearts to it the human body, ethical questions, etc. However, bioprinting offers a permanent, safer solution that can re-establish blood low in the body long term, by replacing the constrained heart with an arti icial, one constructed by using a patient's own stem cells to limit rejection. What has the journey been like for Riya Mehta over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently when starting out? To give some back history on my journey in STEM and social justice, I've been a research associate at The Institute for Economics and Peace think tank for the past 2 years, conducting research into the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and what it means for the economy in the Middle East, with a focus on ethnic con lict. As a Canadian representative for the UNITAR council, I work with UN of icials to help rebuild communities af licted by civil wars. I also serve as a commitment maker for UN Women, to educate the general public on con licts such as the Ukrainian war. I would shadow my superiors, as I interacted with the parents of patients to provide comfort and give them hope as they continued their journey in the hospital. The more time I spent there, the more I became grateful for my privilege in life, and instead of looking at world problems in a negative way, I started channeling my energy toward co-creating solutions. If I could go back, I would attempt to make my voice more heard in both smaller and bigger environments, as I could've played a more active role in providing recommendations to better-known people in the industry. I believe being shy at irst and not making my thoughts known cost me certain connections and a stronger network, which is why I urge everyone to be comfortable with getting uncomfortable and take pride in uncertain situations. What would be your advice for young and aspiring women leaders or entrepreneurs? Ensure you start building cultural capital for yourselves, especially in our current climate with more young people getting involved in huge companies such as Google or Tesla, many career-advancing programs are built upon the network and connections you make with mentors, women leaders, and industry giants that are willing to help you along on your journey. There is so much opportunity for young girls to take advantage of and make a real change, a tangible one which is all due to adult donors, supporters, and those who constantly stand up for women-led organizations, in an effort to be a pillar of strength for the next generation of girls. Continue to believe in strong-minded young women, and show your support, because there are more chances now than ever for girls to be involved in areas of research, social activism, and change that can not only bene it them but others as well. If we want to see real impact, see others make an actual difference, we have to actively support the next generation who can bring that about, and that are the young women leaders, those who constantly work to provide a better future for all. What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? What has been your biggest learning? One of the most signi icant problems I've faced is the EXELEON MAGAZINE 48 IN – FOCUS
  • 49. best way to be heard in industry meetings, projects and how to be bold when presenting keynotes. As a young woman of color, I appreciate the challenges associated with others much older than me, taking my opinions seriously as over time I became more articulate in discussing my wants with others, rather than sitting idly. I see myself as a moonshot thinker, with many people resisting my dreams at the beginning of my journey, which evidently did not stop me from wanting to pursue them. Moving forward, what does the future look like for you? What is your long-term vision? I envision our planet utilizing carbon capture systems to not only rid mass amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere but also convert carbon dioxide into other resources such as graphene, diesel fuel, or concrete. I believe that direct air capture can be a shift towards megatonne-sized solutions. We require new, innovative ways of thinking if we hope to sustain our planet and continue to witness its beauty. Personally, I see my pathway heading in the direction of social justice advocacy and creating more impact with my initiatives in political journalism, continuing with submitting articles for magazines and newspapers. I hope to become a greater igurehead, so other young girls can look up to me and hopefully pick up some advice on getting started in the STEM and social justice space as a student in high school. EXELEON MAGAZINE 49 IN – FOCUS
  • 51. EXHIBITING A RICH LEGACY OF 35 YEARS t is widely believed that our parents Iare our irst and our best teachers. They are the ones who teach us to talk, walk, behave, and nurture us before we are ready to face the real world. And most of the time, our parents show us the very thing that will go on to de ine who we are; becoming the very reason behind our existence. For Tori Atwell, it was her father's persistent efforts of taking her to Real Estate seminars as a teenager and young adult that went on to de ine her entire life. Today, Tori stands tall amongst the most renowned real estate brokers to have served in Silicon Valley since 1986. With over three decades of industry-wide experience, Tori Atwell has been navigating the industry through her arduous work and her mission of delivering a human touch through her services. A HUMBLE BEGINNING Tori was born in Redwood City and raised in the Bay area, where she obtained her Business Administration Degree in the 80s. While initially she worked in the banking industry, she turned to real estate after starting her own family. She remembered how his father used to take her to real estate seminars and always encouraged her to work hard. “Real Estate is the one constant in everyone's life: We all need a place to live. For those lucky enough to be able to invest, Real Estate is the way to go as part of a healthy portfolio,” mentions Tori. Listening to her father and perceiving real estate as the foundation, Tori commenced her professional journey in Palo Alto and then later moved her business to the Mountain View, Los Altos area. A WIDE BREADTH OF EXPERIENCE Working in the real estate sector for over 35 years, Tori has seen her fair share of transformation and changes in the industry. She still remembers the simpler times when demands and work were less, EXELEON MAGAZINE 51 IN – FOCUS
  • 52. and the entire process ran with people patiently trusting each other. “No cell phones, a receptionist who rarely took a message correctly, short contracts and minimal paperwork, no computers. Our basic tools were minimal, but with those minimal tools, folks were less demanding.” She further highlights how people had more patience and did not have a constant need for immediate grati ication. Tori notes that markets and the economy may have come and gone, but the evolution of innovative technology has signi icantly impacted the industry. “35 years ago, we did not write brochures, no one used a professional photographer, stagers were not even a thing. Today, you can do it all without any hassles.” However, amongst all the developments, the one thing that stands out for Tori is the human touch which can never be removed entirely from the industry. Even after witnessing so much change over the years, she believes that hard work and being kind to others is what makes you a powerful leader. While some may think that being tough and stern are the right way to lead, she takes the opposite approach of exhibiting kindness and respect. “Folks know I mean business but working together for mutual goals and admiration goes much further. It is often harder to be kind in a poor situation rather than hurtful and aggressive.” This is primarily the reason why Tori prefers to still have one-on- one communication directly with all her clients in order to deliver a satisfactory experience. According to her, real estate agents are often busy chasing one deal after another and ignoring the clients they already have. Instead, she mentions, it is imperative for them to understand that when someone hires an agent, the person trusts you with the most crucial decision of their life. Thereby, they deserve the best of attention and be informed on all levels of the transaction. Ful illing individuals' needs for these many years and sustaining the human essence have brought much success to Tori. She pays EXELEON MAGAZINE 52 IN – FOCUS
  • 53. gratitude to the industry she has served. “I have been blessed enough to start in the business when you had to do everything yourself, including qualifying buyers before they began looking at property. My business roots and experiences are constant sources of inside knowledge and understanding of the industry.” EVOLVING WITH PARENTHOOD Amidst the hustle and bustle in her profession, Tori raised two beautiful kids. She recalls how after school time, they would often go look at a house, meet an inspection, and drive-by properties. “My son, Kyle, at age 5, could look at a house/property and tell if it would sell or not,” recalls Tori. With her kids growing up, a lot has changed in terms of her lifestyle and approach to real estate. She now practices a new lifestyle, paying undivided one-on-one attention to her clients and going out with clients or co-workers on her off time. “Real Estate is different from most industries; it's not just a job, it is an entire social structure that facilitates getting to know a wide array of people from many different cultures and walks of life.” And when Tori is not with her clients or working, she could be found enjoying quality time with her six dogs, four cats, and two mini-pigs. GET THE BEST TEACHER Tori feels grateful to have the best teacher in the form of her father who paved the way for her interest and subsequently her successful career. Taking a cue from her own life, she advises new young and aspiring entrepreneurs in the real estate space to ind a good realtor. She mentions, “Trust and respect and shadow their every move. If you spend some free time learning from the best, you will get an invaluable education and foundation for a successful career.” t’s a Continuous Journey It's been over three decades since Tori has been helping individuals and families sell and move into new homes. Her attention to detail, providing one-on-one consultation, and adding a personal touch to real estate have led her to attain the unmatchedsuccessandahard-earnedreputationwithinthecommunity. Forthefuture,Toriwouldliketocontinuetoservethousandsoffamiliessellingor movingintotheirdreamhomes. “We have a saying in real estate; realtors don't really retire, we just slow down as ouragegoesup,”sheconcludes. EXELEON MAGAZINE 53 IN – FOCUS