Motherhood: Balancing Motherhood and Ambition

 by Mary Jane Bogle

I’ll never forget my first jarring encounter with a teeter totter. One moment, I was rising high in the air, eyes closed, drinking in the fresh spring air. The next minute, the other kid decided to leave the teeter totter without telling me. Yes, I came crashing down—hard!

Most moms today find themselves in a similar position, trying to manage everything “home” and “career” with equal success. It’s a teetering balance few can pull off. More often than not, we fail to live up to our own and others’ expectations. And the crash is never pretty.

The answer to these pressures—both within and without—is to get really honest with yourself, identifying what success looks like in this season of life. According to Janell Lane, licensed mental health counselor and co-founder of Courageous Healing, Inc., “There really is no one size fits all. We each need to define what ‘having it all’ means for us.”

Of course, discovering that sweet spot doesn’t come overnight, and we can only achieve it with lots of grace. If you’re looking for some help managing that teeter totter of success, here are four tips to keep you balanced.

Tip 1: Be present, not perfect. Sometimes in our quest to do it all, we end up sacrificing the things that matter most.

“There are always going to be sacrifices,” said Lane. “What are you willing to give up?” For some families, that might mean unplugging devices or sacrificing activities so they can carve out uninterrupted time together. For others, it’s frozen dinners or takeout instead of home-cooked meals. Whatever you choose, find a plan that works and stick with it.

Tip 2: Define true success. “As a therapist,” said Lane, “I get to sit with people at the end of life. In those moments, everyone wishes they had more time with family, time traveling, or time pouring into others. No one says, ‘I wish I would have worked harder.’”

Defining what your success looks like can help you let go of some ambitions so you can pursue what brings the greatest fulfillment.

Tip 3: Heed the warning signs. Stress can build quickly if left unchecked. That’s why Lane recommends noticing increased irritability, angry outbursts or sleep changes, as well as changes in weight or appetite.

“I tell women to ask themselves multiple times a day, ‘What am I thinking, what am I feeling, what am I needing,’” said Lane. If you need to talk to someone, make the call. Or maybe you can trade naps for an earlier bedtime, carving out more time for you at night.

“Stop feeling that time for you is selfish,” said Lane. “The best version of you is better for everyone.”

Tip 4: Give yourself grace. In the age of COVID, more and more people join zoom calls with kids in the background. If society is willing to make room for families and recognize that work comes second sometimes, maybe you should, too.


Courageous Healing,

Glo Weddings: Wedding Ring Trends

By Stacie Ball

One of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your wedding is choosing an engagement and/or wedding band. After all, it is a symbol of eternal love. There are so many options out there, but who knows where to begin? I interviewed two experts in the field with plenty of great advice.

Keep in Mind

“You will be wearing this ring for a lifetime,” said Eileen Eichhorn, Graduate Gemologist at Eichhorn Jewelry. “Select a style you will love for your lifestyle.”

Hannah of Will Jewelers agreed and explained that a nurse may need a lower profile ring to accommodate putting on and taking off gloves, and someone who works outside may need a thicker, wider band. Both experts stated that rings can be customized to fit your personal style. Below are some of the most popular ring trends this year.

For the Bride


Many brides are requesting rings with hidden and intricate details. “Hidden halos are the newest trend,” Hannah explained, “This is when smaller diamonds are set in the head that is supporting the main center diamond.”

Other brides are opting for a classic, straight diamond band in white gold with stackable, patterned bands. As for the cut of that brilliant stone, there are several options, such as oval and teardrop, but Eichhorn determined that one rises above the rest.

“The round, brilliant-cut diamond is still the most popular cut style,” she informed.


“Women just love the look of a little extra sparkle!” Hannah observed, “They are having a lot of fun with diamond patterned bands and thicker diamond bands.”

Eichhorn noticed a similar trend in her store. “Matching ‘skinny’ diamond bands continue as the choice of most brides,” she informed, adding that many women are choosing to stack in either rose gold, yellow gold, or white gold-- whether matching or not, “Some prefer custom made shadow bands for a seamless look with or without diamonds.”

For the Groom

“Classic yellow gold or white gold, high-polished styles with inside comfort fit are usually what grooms want,” Eichhorn explained, “But wide white tungsten carbide is still popular.”

At Will Jewelers, grooms can mix and match patterns and textures with their popular line of customizable wedding bands. Some grooms are opting for a non-traditional zirconium (durable black metal) band.  

“Zirconium bands are really fun and can be customized with inner sleeves that are colored or patterned!” Hannah said.

Rings on a Budget

“Being on a budget doesn't necessarily mean you have to limit style,” Hannah advised. She recommended selecting a classic solitaire, which is a plain band in any color of gold with a stone and cut of your choosing.

Eichhorn suggested handpicking a pre-owned, totally refurbished estate ring. She said, “When completely refinished and detailed, made to look new again, these rings present the best savings around.”

When ring shopping, you are free to choose vintage, classic, modern, or design your own. Drop by Eichhorn Jewelry or Will Jewelers to see the most popular designs in person.


Eichhorn Jewelry,
Will Jewelers,

Glo Weddings: Summer COVID Wedding Trends

by Jaclyn Youhana Garver

Color coordinated hand sanitizer. Black tie double-masking. Socially distanced ballroom dancing.

Each spring brings with it new wedding trends, and in 2021, those trends are all about the coronavirus. It’s a reality couples have to contend with, and some local brides shared how they’re assuring their guests feel safe and taken care of.

(And on the list above, we’re joking. Mostly … because those things actually do exist.)

A slimmed-down guest list

Lauren Tourkow and fiance
Lauren Tourkow and fiance
Lauren Tourkow is getting married in July in Michigan, and because the number of coronavirus cases spiked over the winter, Michigan changed its max capacity for venues. However, the resort where Tourkow is getting married gave the couple a free upgrade to the largest venue space, allowing them to invite up to 125.

“They settled on a 100-person guest list, which was 20 to 30 fewer than it would have been during a typical year,” Tourkow says.

While Ashely Hobbs didn’t necessarily trim the wedding’s guest list, the couple did consider the fact that Hobbs’s fiancé has a lot of family who live out of town. They’re inviting those family members but know many won’t be able to come, in part because Indiana’s regulations—which are often viewed as lax in comparison to many other states’—mean many see Indiana as a pandemic “danger zone,” Hobbs says.

Saying ‘I do’ on a livestream

Hobbs livestreamed her bridal shower, which served as a handy test-run for the main event. She used Facebook Live, and she enjoyed that virtual attendees were able to comment in real time. It was a simple process, and she’s hopeful it will work similarly for the wedding. She can set up the camera in a stationary spot, and someone can check on it periodically.

“Maybe the maid of honor?” she wonders.

If it wasn’t for the coronavirus, Tourkow figures the couple wouldn’t have considered livestreaming the wedding. However, since the couple has family across the country who doesn’t feel safe traveling, livestreaming is on the agenda, too.

Avoiding crowds

Ashely Hobbs and fiance
Ashely Hobbs and fiance
In an ideal scenario, Tourkow would feed her guests buffet-style. But to keep guests in their seats, minimize the number of hands touching the food and avoid a congested line, the guests will eat a plated dinner.

Hobbs worked with her local venue to decide that she would seat guests from the same household at the same table, and tables will be at least 6 feet apart

“I still want to make sure people are not on top of each other,” she says.

‘Leaving my mind open for anything’

Hobbs knows, even with all her planning, a pandemic means that a lot of decisions can change at the last minute. She hopes that’s not the case, but who knows?

“I’m leaving my mind open for anything,” she says. “I told my fiancé, ‘We already paid for it, and we’re going to stand in a big, open room (and get married) if no one else can go.’”

Checklists have saved the day for Tourkow, helping her feel organized during a time when rules and regulations can change daily.

“There is so much to work out in planning a wedding, even without COVID,” she says. “It just feels like one more consideration to take. Ultimately, we both are super stoked for our day and are very much going with the flow of it all.”

Motherhood: Safe Sleeping for Baby

 By Deborah C. Gerbers

Infant mortality, defined as the death of a child before the age of one, is one of those terrifying tragedies that we think can never happen here, to us, or to our babies. But according to the Indiana Department of Health, statistics show that of the 559 Indiana infant deaths in 2018, 69 occurred in the Northeastern Hospital Region ( Additionally, Parkview Health reports that Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the United States.

“According to 2017 data, the infant mortality rate in Indiana is 7.3, compared to the national rate of 5.8” on

There is good news, however: by better educating parents in our community and offering local resources for safe sleeping practices, these deaths can be reduced and even prevented entirely.

According to Meg Distler, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, local care providers almost all are now involved in educating new parents on what science and research have shown as best practices. “It is most easily described as the ABCs of safe sleep,” she said. This acronym stands for: a place for baby to sleep alone, on his/her back, and in a crib.

New parents might believe that co-sleeping in the same bed as baby is safer because they are closer and within reach, but this is actually a dangerous practice. The chances of rolling over and smothering the baby are much higher than you’d expect. And what about all those adorable soft crib bumpers, baby blankets and stuffed animals? Those are also a no-no, according to experts. Cribs should have a flat mattress with a fitted sheet, and nothing else that could pose a suffocation risk.

Distler says that providers are in the process of committing to use similar messaging to build education efforts and reinforcing that messaging. Resources like the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation have created informative handouts for community partners in order to spread the word about safe sleeping practices.

Over the years, safe sleep practices have continually changed and evolved based on research and doctors’ recommendations. Your mother may have put you to sleep on your stomach for better sleep, while your first child may have had a stabilizing crib pillow to prevent sudden infant death, but the most recent recommendations are for babies to sleep alone, on their backs, in a crib that is free of pillows and blankets. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “back to sleep” is the safest for baby every time he or she sleeps. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Infants should be placed for sleep in a supine position (wholly on the back) for every sleep by every caregiver until the child reaches 1 year of age. 
  • Side sleeping is not safe and is not advised.
  • Skin-to-Skin is recommended for all mothers and newborns, regardless of feeding or delivery method, immediately following birth (as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake) for at least an hour. Thereafter, or when the mother needs to sleep or take care of other needs, infants should be placed supine in a bassinet.

American Academy of Pediatrics (

Distler reinforces the importance for new parents, especially, to reach out to local resources for help, information and supplies.

“We have a free printed directory of local prenatal and infant resources (updated for 2021) that can be found at Most of the resources can also be found online at,” she said.


St. Joseph Community Health Foundation,


• Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before his or her first birthday.

• The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of babies who die in the first year of life, per 1,000 live births.

• Of the 559 Indiana infant deaths in 2018, 69 occurred in the Northeastern Hospital Region.

• Non-Hispanic black infants are 2.2 times more likely to die than Non-Hispanic white infants in Indiana.


• Improve overall health for women of child-bearing age.

• Promote early & adequate prenatal care.

• Decrease early elective deliveries before 39 weeks.

• Decrease prenatal smoking & substance use.

• Increase breastfeeding duration & exclusivity.

• Support birth spacing & interconception wellness.

• Promote the ABC’s of safe sleep: place baby to sleep alone, on his or her back, in a crib.

(Information provided by the Indiana State Department of Health, Division of Maternal and Child Health,

He Glows: Rick Schuiteman

 By: Shelley Galbreath

Rick Schuiteman is frequently asked why he would relocate to Fort Wayne from San Diego, where he lived for 37 years. His answer is simple…because of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Schuiteman is the new Executive Director and he could not be happier with his decision to accept the open position five months ago.

“A year ago, I would never have imaged moving my family to Fort Wayne and working at the Children’s Zoo, but now that we are here, we are thrilled.  I hope to be a part of the zoo family for many years to come,” he said. 

Tell our readers about your family.

I have a beautiful family of five. My wife, a 5th Generation Californian, agreed to move to the Midwest to start a new adventure, which I am grateful for. My youngest son, Brady, is a freshman at Homestead High School. He is on the football team and is really enjoying his first few months here. My daughter, Katie, has also joined us in Fort Wayne and is attending online college.  She works for a video production company out of San Diego. My oldest son, Matt, attends San Diego State University and is currently living in San Diego.

Where did you work previously?

I spent 34 years with SeaWorld. On April 1, 2020, I, along with 95% of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment employees, was furloughed. 

What made you want to choose our zoo and our city?

My wife and I visited Fort Wayne in late July to see the city and the zoo. Immediately we noticed a lifestyle pace that was different from San Diego. The city was big but had a small-town feel.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, was so welcoming and friendly.   

What an amazing zoo! The grounds were so well kept. The animal exhibits were so natural. The landscaping was beautiful. The families visiting the Zoo were happy and engaged.  It was such a wonderful experience; I knew I wanted to be a part of it. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would love to take a moment to thank the community of Fort Wayne and all of those who support our Zoo. The generosity is so overwhelming. It is meaningful to the team… and to the animals.  We just could not do this without our supporters, so thank you!

Glo Girl: Courtney Scoles

By Blake Sebring, 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of NEI

At age 11, Courtney Scoles had to learn life’s hardest lesson, and now her goal is to help kids in similar situations.

Courtney’s mother Jennifer Schenkel-Scoles passed away in 2013 after battling breast and brain cancer. There were lines of people at the funeral home to pay their respects to the woman who worked in the finance office at Glenbrook Dodge. Of course, her daughter Courtney and her three siblings were crushed, but she remembers her mom telling her that life is like stairsteps. There were always going to be those you tripped and fell on, but you always have to climb back up to get where you are going somehow.

Soon after, Courtney received a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters and she started attending Erin’s House For Grieving Children.

“I found that helping kids on those sort of paths is what I want to do,” she said. “I don’t know how to put it other than there is more to life than just losing people. That’s what I want to help kids understand. There’s a lot more than just the bad things that go on in life, and there is good that can come out of those bad things.”

So, Courtney became a volunteer at Erin’s House, working with a group of 6- to 9-year-old kids for three years before committing to study psychology, cognitive neuroscience and counseling at the University of Saint Francis where she’s an 18-year-old freshman. When the pandemic presented challenges for many BBBS clients, she joined Jaren Harmon, Miranda Jackson and Jorie Rodenbeck in forming Learning Pods, a program that helps children continue their schoolwork at the agency. Courtney serves breakfast and lunch, helps with assignments and makes sure students attend their Zoom classes.

“I’ve always had a goal that I wanted to work with kids (at BBBS),” she said. “Now, coming here and working hands-on with them, something clicked, and I know absolutely this is what I’m supposed to be doing. For me, coming here wasn’t about making money, it was about the impact I was making on people, and that’s always been the goal. I saw the impact my mom made on people and all she did was sit in an office. If I can do what she did to one person in my lifetime, that would be all right.”

Mom would certainly be proud of her start.

She Glows: Colleen Huddleson

 By Deborah C. Gerbers

Colleen Huddleson is the executive director of the Division of Creative Arts at Saint Francis University.  The Cincinnati, Ohio native has a passion for her USF work, her students, and bringing the community together.

“I provide professional support to the program directors, faculty and staff in the Division of Creative Arts with curriculum development, implementation and evaluation,” explained Huddleson. “I coordinate with other university departments and academic divisions in a variety of areas including fund-raising, special events, publications, data analysis, budget development and management and I also coordinate the work of creative arts staff (Creative Arts Coordinator, Gallery Director, USF’s Jesters Director and Woodshop Director. I truly have the BEST JOB EVER! I have the privilege of working with a team of brilliant artists and musicians and dancers to inspire and support and build future generations of creative professionals. I take great pride in serving the faculty and staff as the Executive Director of the Creative Arts. Together, we facilitate the growth, the transformation, and the support for our students. This is more than simply a place of learning. It is a culture that is supportive, curious and forward thinking. There is great value to the whole person here at USF and it generates a strong sense of purpose and community.”

Photo by Mollie Shutt

Huddleson said the very best part about her job is simple: the students. “They are the best. Seriously. They are brilliant and authentic and creative and motivated and devoted and inspiring. They are absolutely addicting. I love being a part of this higher learning institution where the students are constantly evolving. It is such a dynamic environment where their growth fuels our growth. Truly magical. And then, in addition to that, I get to work with this amazing team of faculty and staff! It’s unbelievable to me. The faculty and staff are the greatest asset of this institution and I have always felt honored to work with them building creative resources that provide innovative and supportive learning environments for our students.”

Huddleson also spends a great deal of time working on community involvement. “At USF, we take our reputation for excellence in the arts seriously and respond to community needs to build our students’ experiences,” she said. “We are also very committed to service and are regularly contacted for creative project support in various communities. To capture this work, we created a new the Community Arts and Service Engagement (CASE) minor. I am really excited about it as it will serve as a practical, experiential, hands-on complement to a student’s creative professional development. It pulls all of our programs together – all of the visual arts, music technology and dance. The arts are integral in every industry and when opportunities arise, we diligently organize teams to achieve success and build these dynamic learning experiences for our students. All of these interactions build the life cycle of their education and our community partners can leave the biggest imprint.”

For Huddleson, success is measured in various ways.  “After last year’s shut down and cancellation of performances, exhibitions, concerts, awards and graduation, we started this new academic year with a renewed sense of our team and the education we deliver to our students. It has made this year really exceptional,” she said. “Our success is also expressed through our brilliant alumni. Seeing them thrive and create a better world is most fulfilling.”

Huddleson lives in Fort Wayne with her husband, Jason, and their two children, Arthur (7) and Vivien (4). “They are the coolest people I have ever met,” she said proudly. “I could fill your magazine with stories about being their mom. It is the most fulfilling part of my life. I can’t say enough about Jason. He is CRAZY talented, runs his own graphic design business and is an incredible dad and husband. I would have never believed that a chocolate shake 24 years ago would have landed us here. I am the luckiest lady on earth.”

In her spare time, Huddleson loves to cook and also spend time in nature. “Jason and I love to get our kids out in the woods,” she said. “We spend a lot of time hiking and finding water for them to splash in. We also love attending the vast number of arts events we offer in the region. We have REALLY missed this over the last year.”

She also has served on Fort Wayne’s boards of ARCH, Architecture and Community Heritage and the Fort Wayne and is presently serving as Secretary of the Board for the Fort Wayne Ballet and as Chair of the Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission. “Fort Wayne is a better place because of these phenomenal organizations,” she said.

Living in Fort Wayne is ideal for Huddleson and her family. “It is perfectly situated in the center of major cities and phenomenal natural resources. I love our house and the parks and the schools. It is just the perfect place for our family right now. We can easily head out to the major cities surrounding us for a concert or exhibition that we want to see over a weekend —AND, we have abundant state parks and ACRES sites to retreat to. It has the best of everything really. I also appreciate the incredible support the community has for the arts. We have some phenomenal organizations with leaders who are seeking to incorporate the arts into their planning and programming.”

Feature: Trends to Transform Your Outdoor Space

 by Kristin King

As impossible as it seems, spring is right around the corner and that means more time spent outdoors. With the pandemic still keeping many of us at home, it’s no surprise that sprucing up your outdoor space might be on your mind. Create your own oasis at home with just a few simple pieces or deck the whole area out! 

Warm, Bright Colors 

Winter can have so many of us feeling dull. Make sure to brighten your outdoor decor as the warmth of the season begins. It’s easy to throw a pop of color into the mix with a coral pillow, a multi-colored outdoor rug, or even some patterned planters. Most outdoor upholstery tends to come in neutral palettes, which is perfect for adding your own flair through little touches. Keeping your colors bright and crisp help to emphasize the coziness you want to bring to your space, whether it be for entertaining or your own personal relaxation. Of course, a classic way of executing cozy space perfection is by adding string lights or lanterns that bring ambiance and some artificial light so you can keep enjoying your space well into the night. 

Functional and Sustainable Furniture

Metal and plastic have been quite popular materials for outdoor furniture in the past, but with growing concern for environmental awareness, many are turning to more sustainable and organic products. Even larger companies such as West Elm and Crate & Barrel are offering eco-friendly, recycled furniture that you can feel good about adding to your collection. Along with sustainability, it’s also important to consider functionality when choosing the right pieces for your porch, balcony or backyard. Some items may look pretty but in reality, they can be uncomfortable or may not hold up to the ever-changing weather conditions. Make sure to do your research before spending too much on a table that may only last you the summer months. 

Unique Touches 

Truly make the space yours with decor items that stand out! Joshua Franz of The Grainery in Decatur mentioned a few outdoor products that they can hardly keep on the shelves.

“From what we have seen in the outdoor decor trends is garden gnomes remain a hot item.  People are looking for different styles of gnomes, not the old fashion garden gnome,” he said.

Another unique way to add dimension to your space (and attract a few feathery friends) is with the popular bird balancer. “We had whimsical bird balancers that went out like hot cakes last year and the line is expanding this year” Josh notes.

Wind spinners are also trending as they can either be hung or placed in the ground and offer an expansive color and style selection. They help to add movement and texture to your outdoor space.  

Upgraded Gardens 

More attention is being paid to gardening and to plant care now that so many of us are spending more time at home. For those of you not born with a green thumb, but still want to indulge in a beautiful garden, there are options! AquaPots are new, low-maintenance planters that take the guesswork out of gardening.

Joshsays that these “self-watering planters help the homeowner grow beautiful flowers with less effort.” They are high quality, durable and constantly keeping up with color and pattern trends each year. A few of these placed around will certainly brighten up your outdoor space. They can easily blend right into your decor or into your garden area.


The Grainery,

Feature: Up and Coming Entrepreneurs

 By Jaclyn Youhana Garver

Entrepreneurs, in general, share a range of traits: a certainty in their ideas, a desire to fill a need in the community, and a pride in their work.

While overarching wants may be similar, the people behind the ambition bring their own histories and goals to their businesses. Four local women share what got them going on their own entrepreneurial paths and what they wish they knew at the onset.

Meet: Nkonye Mwalilu of New Village Braid

Getting started: Nkonye Mwalilu is right at the precipice of taking off with her business, New Village Braid. Mwalilu, of Fort Wayne, has taken all her MBA training and put it into running profit and loss numbers, figuring out a business plan and assuring all the planning stages are straightened out so that, once she finds a building to lease, she’ll be ready to go.

Nkonye Mwalilu of New Village Braid
Nkonye Mwalilu of New Village Braid

The idea: Mwalilu has lived in Fort Wayne for seven years. She had her children here, and she has a corporate job here. “It’s home,” she says, “and it’s time to start decorating.”

She wants to do that with New Village Braid, which will be a salon that specializes in braiding. Mwalilu is first-generation Nigerian-American. She’s lived in Nashville, Dallas, New York, and Shanghai, Nigeria—and she’s braided hair in all those places.

“Locally, there are braiders,” she says, “but they rent a booth in a salon that doesn’t specialize in braiding, or they’re travel braiders who visit clients’ homes, or clients visit braiders in their homes.

“I want to bring this elevated hair-braiding experience, where a client can come in and feel pampered and feel like the focus,” she says.

Braiding can take anywhere from two to 10 hours, and when she gets her hair braided, “I want to feel comfortable there. I want to know my needs are considered.”

The same is true for stylists’ needs.

Advice: Do the legwork before getting started. “Take the business courses,” Mwalilu says. “Watch videos and learn the financial side of business and marketing.”

Meet: Amber Harper of Burned-In Teacher

Amber Harper of Burned-In Teacher

The idea: For 12 years, Amber Harper was a teacher, a profession with notoriously stressed-out employees. When she struggled with burnout and asked for help, she was told to go for a run. Drink more water. Practice self-care. But she did all that.

“What I wanted was a process to not feel so crappy all the time,” says Harper. “I wanted to create something that nobody else could offer to me when I was struggling.”

Enter Burned-In Teacher, which started with a blog in 2016. Harper spent two years running the blog, which provided advice for dealing with teacher burnout, before she left education and started to run her business full-time. Today, Harper teaches educators strategies that help reverse burnout.

Advice: Find a group of like-minded people to provide support.

“You can’t always just talk to your (spouse) or friends who all have that mindset, who’ve worked a 9-to-5,” she says. “They don’t get this idea of entrepreneurship. It’s scary. It’s different. There’s a lot of risk involved. They could (be) holding you back, where you think you can’t even start.”

Meet: Jacqueline Irby of Duchess J Boutique

Jacqueline Irby of Duchess J Boutique
Jacqueline Irby of Duchess J Boutique

Getting started: When Jacqueline Irby started Duchess J Boutique, she did not take out a single loan. Instead, she worked slowly: She heard about an opening in a building she liked, and in September 2014, she leased it. The boutique started in a small room. When she got paid at her full-time job running a daycare, she would purchase store décor. A few years later, she was able to lease the entire building.

“I was resourceful,” says Irby. “I’m a single parent of two daughters and a foster parent of two daughters. I’ve always had that drive, and I just did what I could.”

Advice: Have a business plan. See what kind of grant money is available to help. And make sure the business is what you really, really want to do—then don’t get discouraged if things get rocky.

“I see people get started, and they stop quickly,” Irby says. “I think a lot of people see (success), and say, ‘I can do that.’”

Meet: Julie Hurd of Moo-Over

Julie Hurd of Moo-Over

Getting started: Before opening her ice cream shop in Columbia City, Julie Hurd was a chef and she made ice cream for the restaurant. When it closed, Hurd found classes in Texas for vegan ice cream (rather, ice crème, since there’s no dairy to make it cream) because hers wasn’t quite at the desired quality yet.

“I was blown away,” Hurd says. “I came back, and I said, ‘I’m going to jump off a bridge and do something I’ve never done before.’ It’s scary.” 

In November, she opened Moo-Over, which offers both ice cream and crème. Her favorite flavor is the rocky road, which is non-dairy, gluten-free and organic, and Moo-Over’s most popular flavors are cookies and crème, cookie dough and coffee crunch. 

Hurd makes all her ice crème from scratch, right down to the chocolate chips, and she purchases her ice cream from an Indianapolis woman who also makes her products from scratch.

Advice: You know the 50-page business plan everyone talks about? “Don’t bother,” Hurd says. She struggled with it for the longest time, but when she went to the bank for her loan, the banker told her, “’Julie, do not bring me 50 pages of a business plan,’” Hurd says. “Just wrap it up, and it should be no more than two or three pages.”

Special thanks to Leslee Hill, Director of WEOC Women’s Business Center at The NIIC for connecting us to these women.


Burned-In Teacher,

Duchess J Boutique,


New Village Braid,

Feature: Local Women share BIG ideas via Fort Wayne SOUP

 By Deborah Gerbers

Fort Wayne’s SOUP (Socializing, Organizing, Uniting, People) is a local organization dedicated to fostering community and raising funds for creative projects that enhance Fort Wayne living.

The organization gives local project leaders a platform in the form of a micro-grant event, to pitch their ideas in a presentation, followed by a discussion and question/answer period to further educate the community about their particular project and mission. Audience members then vote for their favorite presentation, and the winner is gifted all the money collected from tickets sales, plus matching sponsorship funds. In 2020, the organization shifted its events online and will continue in that format through the first half of 2021.

SOUP gives Fort Wayne entrepreneurs, small business owners, artists, and the like the opportunity to inform the Fort Wayne community about their ventures and beneficial impacts on the city. Three women-led projects to note have all been involved with SOUP:

Meg Ryan, Southwest Honey Co.

Meg and her volunteer-operated organization won the SOUPer STARS championship event in 2020. This event pitted past winners and fan favorites against each other for the ultimate title. Southwest Honey was initiated to help conserve the local pollinator population and partners with organic farmers and natural property owners in the Fort Wayne area. Proceeds go towards creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, promoting awareness of their population decline and educating the public on ways they can help. Southwest Honey offers various educational programs for school-aged children, seniors and everyone in between who are interested in learning more about the honeybee and its important role in the environment. In addition to learning about these busy pollinators, you can also explore some neat uses for honey— locally crafted beer, handmade candles, natural foods and much more.

“It is an honor to be at the helm of Southwest Honey Co., as we work tirelessly to ensure that educational opportunities are made available to the Fort Wayne community that focus on making people aware of the interconnectedness of our ecosystem, the decline of pollinators, and how it connects to the food we eat and our local agriculture systems,” said Ryan. “As a female leader in the community, I feel it’s important to engage young people through our Explore the Honey Bee program and it’s being part of community initiatives such as Fort Wayne SOUP that empower us to reach more kids and spread the good word about pollinators.”

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Lisa Fabian, St. Joseph Missions

St. Joseph Missions was also a part of SOUPER Stars event and won an event in 2020. The organization began in 2013 with the grass roots effort of Catholics on a Mission, offering meals and hope to the homeless in downtown Fort Wayne. Over time, this has transformed into a movement for the community and offers help to those most in need. St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter is a project of St. Joseph Missions, and will become Fort Wayne’s first 24/7/365 emergency shelter for single homeless women. It will provide a safe, supportive, and structured environment that honors women’s dignity and empowers them to become self-sufficient.

“After serving on the St. Joseph Missions Board since December of 2018, I was hired as executive director on February 1, 2020–and presented at Fort Wayne SOUP on February 20,” Fabian said. “We were thrilled to win $800 to be used for the island in our shelter kitchen, where our guests will learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget–and forge those special bonds that arise from preparing and sharing a meal together.”

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Alex Hall, Art This Way

Art this Way is a volunteer-based organization that operates under the umbrella of the Downtown Improvement District and was a part of SOUPER stars event. Alex serves as the organization’s manager and is also an artist and muralist herself. Art this Way partners with local artists and works to raise funds and act as the liaison between property owners and artists to bring large scale professional art installations to Fort Wayne. 

“I feel public art can benefit the community as a whole,” said Alex. “We want to educate the people of Fort Wayne to understand the value of public art and its positive impact on the city. Public art can make a big difference in people’s daily lives, and we hope to increase public awareness of these programs. We want to show people how art can be beneficial in so many different ways, and I feel that SOUP aligns with our mission in an altruistic sense to bettering our community on many levels.”

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Fort Wayne SOUP is now accepting proposals for its 2021 event. Find out more at