BUNNY IN THE CITY: The Creative Coast’s SHE HUSTLES event

Updated June 27, 2023 at 10:33 p.m.

Attending The Creative Coast’s tri-annual SHE HUSTLES event at The Clyde Venue on June 22, I know I am going to have some serious networking opportunities, as well as hear a discussion from a panel of women entrepreneurs, and a business pitch competition.

Whew! When The Creative Coast’s Jen Bonnett invited me to this women centric event, I had no idea there would be so much happening! With SCORE’s fabulous Amy Shippy, Sheri Butler with Wells Fargo, and SEDA’s Caleb Kitchings, to Savannah’s most talented journalist, Jessical Leigh Lebos, serving as panel moderator, and the flamboyant media personality, Renee LaSalle emceeing, the stage is set for a uber-successful night.

Sneaking through the back door, I find Connect Savannah’s 2022 Best DJ, Chris Jackson (aka CJ the DJ) talking with his wife Laura before he makes a pitch for the Startup Runway’s $10,00o. Launching a performance-based app called “The Pocket Performance”, I know this local celebrity will slam his presentation.

Next up is Amy Shippy. I love it when I get to see people get what they deserve, and when you hear how much she does, you will understand! From co-founding the yummy Marche de Macarons and owning Blue Poppy Designs, Lady BizWiz, and Lottiebelle’s Pecan Company, this certified SCORE Mentor for the Leadership Team has become even more successful in the past 13 years since meeting her.

As Amy is telling me, “SCORE is bringing more workshops and outreach to help small businesses reach their goals,”  I see Georgia Ports' Tanya Chisholm arriving at the same time as Savannah Chamber of Commerce’s Conni Reynolds with her intern Jordan Bogans. Tanya and I are both big fans of Jordan’s mom, Karen Bogans and we have watched Jordan grow into a fierce fab female.

Of course Dale Parker is here! Always dressed in something chill and fashionable, Dale tells me that she and her friends Ashly and Matt Whelen are here to support Chrissy Fleming in her quest to obtain the Startup Runway cash. 

After congratulating the fashion store owner on opening a Bluffton location a few months ago, I ease over to hug one of tonight’s panelists, LeAndrea Mikell. Chosen as one of Georgia Trend’s 2022 40 Under 40, LeAndrea served as the 2022 Georgia Jaycees State President and is currently participating in the 2023 Leadership Georgia class.

So proud of this young lady and her accomplishments, I am so stoked to finally meet her mom Linda Johnson and sister Kendra Ivery that I hug both of the ladies and tell them what a fabulous job they did raising this talented woman.

Arriving next is yet another female that is ruling her life! Zelonia Williams saunters in after a meeting with the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce, and attending the Housing Savannah Task Force event.

Remembering that Zelonia was a panelist three months ago at the SHE HUSTLES Event moderated by Jess Belfry, I ask Zelonia to tell me about her experience.  “Our topic was ‘Setting Boundaries and the Art of Saying No.’ This sold-out event not only gave me the platform I needed to impact other women’s lives, but it made me realize just how much of a powerhouse I am to my tribe.”

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed, is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. But to achieve all this, it’s okay to just say ‘No’.”

After a hug and an invite to attend her Future Minds Literacy and Adult Education annual fundraiser ‘Little Black Dress’ at the Holiday Inn Savannah Historic District on Sept. 23, where all proceeds will assist individuals who dropped out of school with free test preparation and 100% testing covered cost, I head around the venue to snap a flurry of pics.

Smiling at me are Plug and Play Savannah’s Catherine Saunders and TCC’s Abbegayle Stallions, followed by Simply Savannah’s Marianne Ganem Poppell and Dru Usry, then I head up to the judges’ table to attempt to talk to Savannah royalty Swann Seiler. 

The Georgia Power’s External Affairs Manager has always been someone I look up to, and I wish I could spend more time talking to her, but it isn’t meant to be, because her fellow judge, Kewaan Drayton wants a pic with her!

A quick pic later and it’s time to pause Renee LaSalle for a video introduction for tonight’s event. The media personality is so good with the mic that I sometimes have to slow her down so we can catch up! Perfect for emceeing an electrifying event like SHE HUSTLES, I leave the I-95 radio queen to snap a pic of one the coolest chicks in town.

Brilliant, passionate and so likable that I instantly loved her the moment I met her, Mae Bowley is going to rule the world. Until then, you can find her ruling RePurpose Savannah. “Reclaiming history, one board at a time”, Mae and her merry tribe of women crusade for historic preservation by providing alternatives to conventional demolition. They do so much more than that, but I don’t have time to get a quote because it’s show time!

While Renee kickstarts the night, I think back on The Creative Coast’s Kait Lance response when I asked her to describe what they do. “Through our social and educational programs, we connect, support, and develop creative and technology entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy in our community. Our goal is to transform the coastal Georgia region into a vibrant hub for creative and innovative individuals and businesses”.

After seeing how diverse, energetic and informative this event was, I can say that Kait, Jen and the entire Creative Coast team are exceeding their goal! GREAT job y’all!

Published June 27, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

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