Our Team

Cheri Leavy

Co-Founder
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Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs. Constantly on the lookout for the newest talent in the South, Cheri has a passion for helping entrepreneurs create and share their brand storytelling through her endeavors – The Southern Coterie • guide2athensBulldawg IllustratedCoastal Illustrated.

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Whitney Long

Co-Founder
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After a successful career as a scout, stylist and contributing editor for some of the biggest names in print media like Coastal Living, Southern Accents, Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens plus various special interest titles, Whitney took time off to focus on her favorite job – being a mom to four.  After the youngest began school, Whitney longed to again find a creative outlet and the result was the founding of The Southern Coterie.

Whitney draws on her years of curating unique places and people for the lifestyle magazine industry to create connections, find strategic partners and cultivate a talented team for the Southern C Summit and Retreat.  She enjoys working alongside some of the South’s most creative minds while supporting both established and upcoming brands.  “Whitney has her finger on the pulse of the South, old and new, which makes her such a visionary for the network and at our events,” says Cheri. Born in the quintessential southern town of Elba, Alabama, Whitney now calls the quaint seaside village of St.Simons Island, Georgia home.

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Leapfrog

PR + Brand Strategy
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Leapfrog is a boutique public relations and marketing firm specializing in “lifestyle” related businesses – from specialty food products, dining and fashion to textiles and design. Based in Charleston, SC, leapfrog’s small and savvy team offers a unique mix of national brand experience and extensive media network with accessible and high-touch customer service. Led by principals Jackie Thomson and Libba Osborne, current clients include Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, Marysia Swim, Tara Guerard Soiree, Schermer Pecan Co., King Bean Coffee and Shop BuRu among others.

A graduate of the University of the South – Sewanee and The French Culinary Institute, Libba Osborne has been promoting culinary businesses for over a decade with boutique firms in Atlanta, New York and Charleston. An Atlanta native, she now resides in Charleston with her husband and two young sons.

A native of Annapolis, MD and College of Charleston graduate, Jackie Thomson began her career working in the New York fashion industry and now partners with design and retail brands in the south and beyond. She lives in Charleston with her husband and son and daughter.

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Natasha Murphy

Technology Partner
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Natasha Murphy is the founder and principal developer of Nicely Built. She divides her working hours between working with clients to build beautiful, highly functional websites and expanding the menu of services offered by Nicely Built based on client needs and new technologies. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, shopping, drinking tea, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

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Jenn Agnew

Sponsorships
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Jenn Agnew has 20 years of sales and marketing experience. She has developed a knowledge in print and digital marketing strategy as well as sales. She has worked closely with travel and tourism as well as government and business sectors and has a significant background in event management and promotion. Her past involvement includes roles as Senior Director Integrated Marketing and Communications for Atlanta magazine, Marketing Director for Childcare Network, and marketing leadership roles for various resorts including Jekyll Island Authority and Callaway Gardens. 

Jenn is an avid tennis player.  She and her husband, John Agnew, live on St. Simons with their two sons Mason (16) and Kip (13).

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Katelyn Whelan

Digital Media Coordinator
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Katelyn is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a dual degree in Marketing & Visual Communication Design. Settling in her hometown of Savannah, GA, she has spent the past 5 years building a career working with female owned small businesses. From events to retail, she has learned the art of translating ideas into action. Specializing in digital marketing, she seeks to bring the passion of her clients to life through the power of social media & e-commerce. She is the digital arm of a design firm founded with her two sisters, The Whelan Girls.

When she is not working, you can find her at the beach. She loves spending time with her family and can whip up a killer batch of chocolate chip cookies.

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Maggie Jordan

Summit/Digital Media Intern
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Maggie is a current sophomore at the University of Georgia, where she plans to major in Marketing and minor in Fashion Merchandise. Maggie loves fashion + graphic design and is very interested in the  behind the scenes work of running a business. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. In addition to interning with The Southern C, Maggie works with Cheri creating articles for Bulldawg Illustrated and content for guide2athens’s social media. Maggie is an Athens local, so she finds joy in helping Cheri promote her hometown through the two and loves being a part of the amazing Southern C team.

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Alison Abernathy

Summit Event Management
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Alison Abernathy is a native of Tyler, TX and graduate of Texas Christian University. Prior to children, she worked as a paralegal in Atlanta at King & Spalding and Cashin, Morton & Mullins which ultimately merged into Burr & Forman, LLP. She now resides in Athens, GA with her husband and two sons. Alison enjoys travel, playing tennis and skiing. She has been involved with The Southern Coterie behind the scenes since its’ inaugural yet torrential Summit on Jekyll Island, making this her 11th event!

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Cissy Thompson

Summit Support
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Having a passion for charity work and helping to raise funds for those in need, Cissy Thompson has been both behind the scenes and front and center as Chair for many Golden Isles philanthropic events including the American Cancer Society Victory Board and Gala and Hospice of the Golden Isles Wine, Women and Shoes fundraiser. She is also founder of “Girls and Pearls”, an annual Christmas dinner charity event where ladies gather to dine and celebrate but also help a local designated charity.  Professionally, Cissy has worked as an executive assistant and office administrator for the Sea Island Company and also in the home healthcare/physician industry.  In her spare time, Cissy enjoys reading, cooking, gardening and the outdoors.

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Molly Carrillo

Summit Intern
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Molly Carrillo is a fourth-year student at The University of Georgia where she is pursuing a major in Advertising with a minor in Communication Studies. She has enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the ever-changing advertising world. Especially now with the onset of social media, there is an even broader spectrum.

Although Molly currently lives in Athens she continues to write for Coastal Illustrated interviewing and highlighting locals in the Golden Isles and being a local herself, she loves helping others tell their stories. Molly also runs the Coastal Illustrated Instagram page creating content to promote the stories shared in each issue published.

In addition, Molly recently became an ambassador with Savvi Athleisure Wear. Even with 2020 being a bit different due to Covid-19, she and her Chi Omega girlfriends enjoy being outside loving Athens, Orange Theory, and numerous charcuterie boards on her back patio. Molly is ecstatic to be a part of The Southern C team this year where so much magic happens for female entrepreneurs.

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Kelli Boyd

Photographer + Summit Photographer
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A classic and skilled photographer – whether documenting engagements or weddings, lifestyle or commercial shoots, Kelli Boyd exudes a relaxed and fun sensibility while preserving memorable moments in a precise, yet artful, manner.

Kelli’s sincere client dedication means that your important days are also her important days. Her discerning eye coupled with great attention to detail will create timeless images, making your celebration feel like it was just yesterday.

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Kate Thornton

Summit Photographer
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Kate Thornton has a deep appreciation for art, design, and craftsmanship. Whatever her subject, she can hone in on the creativity and spark, finding beauty in every shot. Working with Kate feels easy and natural.  She has a calm, unassuming demeanor, making her comfortable and confident in her work.  

Collaborating with clients before each shoot to plan every detail, Kate brings an element of organization and professionalism to the job. She meticulously plans ahead, allowing her to relax behind the camera knowing that everything is in place. 

Visual from an early age, Kate has always been drawn to the photos in glossy magazines, taking in the trends and studying the lighting. She credits her grandmother for helping to nurture that artistic eye. One of her most treasured items, a painting given to her by her grandmother when she was just 8 years old, still hangs prominently on the living room wall. Her family filled their homes with local artwork, picking up original pieces wherever they traveled.

At home, Kate and husband Chris immerse themselves in the lives of their two young daughters, spending family time at the beach, initiating impromptu dance parties, and creating sidewalk chalk masterpieces.  It is this authentic freedom at home and work that defines her and her photography.

Kate and her family live in Charleston, S.C.

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Lindsay Stewart

Summit Photographer
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Lindsay Stewart is the mother of Kersey Ann, Porter Reid + Mabel (their lab) + married to her best friend, Sean Stewart, raising their family in the beautiful Golden Isles. A little over two years ago Lindsay discovered my passion for photography.

One of the things she’s learned over the last couple of years is that life is all about perspective. Through the art of photography, she likes to show that no matter your circumstance, there is always much to be grateful for… and when you can view life with a grateful heart, it changes your way of thinking + living completely.

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Sirena White-Singleton

Summit Photographer
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Sirena White-Singleton captures intentional visual stories for creative entrepreneurs, authentic love stories, and organically candid moments between the ones you love…your family. She believes life is a beautiful story and she’s here to capture it. Sirena loves trying new locations, finding amazing light in clients’ homes or offices, and documenting families in situations that they typically do! She’s all about capturing the REAL you! Every creative, couple, and family is different and the goal is to not only create art, but memories that they will have forever.

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Our Blog Contributors

Laura Mixon Camacho

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S.C. native Laura Mixon-Camacho, PhD, coaches people who feel anxious or awkward about certain conversations or presentations.

She founded Mixonian Institute in 2009 to offer the world fresh solutions to communication conundrums. (Her modest goal is world peace.)

Through her charisma, persuasion expertise, creative research and sense of humor, she is shaking up the traditional approach to communication. By transforming the way you listen, interpret and speak, you can have more impact, with less stress. She can show anyone how to bedazzle a room by presenting with enthusiasm and authenticity.

Named by The Moultrie News as a “Leading Woman in Business,” and praised for “doing an amazing job of connecting ‘soft skills’ involving the head, the heart, with the nitty gritty technical, logical, analytical workplace we work in” by Will Terry of Mayne Pharma USA.

When not working, you can find Laura at hip-hop class with one of her daughters, or planning her next decadent dinner party.

Her career highlights include facilitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for the Stephen Covey Group in Caracas (in Spanish,) being editor of the bilingual management newsletter, Management Perspective and a writer for Business Venezuela, the publication of the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce. She has a PhD in Communication Studies, specializing in persuasion and an MBA. For 10 years she taught various interpersonal communication and public speaking classes at East Carolina University and College of Charleston. She is an active board member of Charleston International Music School.

To find out more about Laura’s work at Mixonian Institute, visit www.mixonian.com.

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Mandy Edwards

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Mandy Edwards is the owner of ME Marketing Services, a social media marketing company that provides consulting, management and training to businesses of all sizes.

A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, Mandy has 12+ years of sales & marketing experience. Past work experience has included print advertising sales and local store marketing for Chick-fil-A and Bruster’s Ice Cream.

Locally, Mandy is involved in Professional Women of Statesboro, the Statesboro Chapter of the University of Georgia Alumni Association, NFL Player DeAngelo Tyson’s Tyson Foundation, serving on the board, and First Baptist Church. She is a contributor to Steamfeed, Business 2 Community, Social Media Today and Dawn of the Dawg, a UGA sports blog. Mandy is a graduate of Leadership Bulloch and was named to the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 Under 40 for 2013. She has also been mentioned in Crain’s Chicago Business, Forbes and the Huffington Post. Mandy is married to prosecuting attorney Ben Edwards and is the proud mother of two redheaded daughters.

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Lauren B. Hopkins

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As the principal of boutique public relations and communications firm LBH&Co., Lauren is a passionate champion for her lifestyle clientele. Her clients are food lovers, fashion mavens, home accessories pioneers and travel destination experts. She’s not only proud of her clients and their work, she is also proud to call them friends. Her days are filled with identifying newsworthy opportunities and brainstorming creative ways to share them with media, top bloggers, and like minded brands. Securing worthy collaborations and earned media opportunities is what makes me tick. The chase and development of new relationships thrills her. With nearly a decade of experience and agency life behind her, running her own firm is both a blessing and a challenge. She’s grateful to do what she loves on the gorgeous St. Simons Island where she spends downtime enjoying her quaint town alongside her husband and her darling daughter, Grace.

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Shannon Loughran

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Following her heart back to her Southern roots, Shannon relocated to Charleston, SC from New York City and joined the Leapfrog PR team – a boutique public relations and marketing firm specializing in “lifestyle” business – from specialty food products, dining and fashion to textiles and design.

A native of Richmond, VA, Shannon spent her high school years in the Northeast following a family move and followed her passions for journalism, fashion and art to New York University where she graduated with a double major in Journalism and French and a minor in Art History. During her time in New York, she gained several years of experience at top publications and companies such as WWD in Paris, Teen Vogue, ELLE, Moda Operandi, Proenza Schouler and business management firm Launch Collective.

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Emily McCarthy

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There is no room for bore in the colorful life of Emily McCarthy. Small town girl turned coastal living designer, you’ll be in for a treat to the senses in her world of geometric patterns and prosecco (don’t forget a dash of cheetah). As she resides in Savannah, Georgia with her college sweetheart turned husband and little red-headed, blue-eyed babes. Coastal living gives her life. As a graduate with a BA in Graphic Design and Photography from LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia, she’s been an active member of the gift and paper industry for over 10 years. Throughout her tenure she’s had the experience of working in small independent retail, direct wholesale, large corporate retail, and boutique design. This experience brings knowledge of all things weddings, paper and branding, and it’s an honor to offer it to her clients. Now she’s on the heels of something even bigger – opening the doors to her own flagship store in historic downtown Savannah in April of 2016. Her popular online presence is now a real life sensory experience right on Abercorn Street.  Within the walls of The Shoppe you’ll find items and designs reminiscent of Emily’s inspirations, loves, passions, and things that simply make her smile. You’ll also see several of Emily’s exclusive licensed products and collaborations! She has several licensing programs in place for wholesale of her products nationwide.

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Haile McCollum

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Haile McCollum is the Owner of Fontaine Maury a brand and design firm in Thomasville, Georgia. Fontaine Maury works with emerging and growth minded companies and non-profits nationwide to engage their audiences in a more meaningful way and maximize profits. She develops, documents and extends brands through creative business strategies including, print design, digital design and social media.

She has worked with artists worldwide to license designs to Walmart, Target, Tiny Prints, Treat, Shutterfly and others. She was featured as a Country Living Woman Entrepreneur in 2007. Her work has been featured in Country Living, Southern Living, Real Simple, InStyle and O Magazine. She is a contributing artist in the book Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco and is honored to appear in the Country Living book The Mom’s Guide to Running a Business by Michelle Ribeiro.

In addition to running her brand and design studio, Haile’s current passion project is being the Creative Director of Thom, a bi-annual arts and culture magazine published by Thomasville Center for the Arts in Thomasville, Georgia. Thom is the personification of the creative life in Thomasville. Weaving together the written word and stunning images, Thom expresses and promotes the abundance of creative thinking in Thomasville. It introduces thinkers, visionaries, muses, artists, entrepreneurs and professionals to the region who share their talent to shape Thomasville and beyond.

Haile has a B.S. in Human Development from Vanderbilt University and an M.F.A. in Graphic design from The Savannah College of Art and Design.

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Nancy McNulty

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Cool, new and different is the mantra driving the public relations efforts of Forest Home Media. Based outside Nashville in the historic Forest Home area, Nancy McNulty works as a PR rep with a variety of home lifestyle companies including the 2014 Nashville HGTV Smart Home builder. Nancy also served on the PR team for Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel.

A long-time Tennessee girl with a communications degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, her career began as a newspaper reporter and a state agency spokesman. This background pushes her to deliver relevant, deadline-driven content to local and national media outlets while working closely with a talented blogging community.

Forest Home Media launched the 2015 Nashville Symphony Show House merging all things social and trad media for a great PR punch for the Southern Contemporary Folk style home built by 2012 Southern Living Custom Builder of the Year, Castle Homes.

Her family homestead is affectionately known as Blackberry Hollow where Nancy and her radio advertising hubs raised their two children and where they spend lots of time entertaining.  Catch her adventures on her travel and experience blog NanceSense.com.

If you are in the Nashville vicinity, join her creative consortium of home lifestyle bloggers and media, the Nashville Influencers, started by Nancy and her business partner, Dana Tucker, or connect with her at ForestHomeMedia.com.

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Lydia Menzies

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Lydia Menzies is the creator, owner, and stylist at The Party Wagon.

Lydia specializes in creating content for brands and blogging about creative endeavors.  She loves the challenge of putting a unique spin on each idea that she brings to life. She also loves to teach and to be a resource for others.

Lydia is a strong believer in the notion that we all benefit from the feeling of accomplishment when we create something with our own hands- and so she shares ideas for how to add creative touches to our own lives on her blog.  From simple to elaborate, there are ideas for everyone to gain inspiration to try something that brings beauty to your home, your gatherings, your family and friends, and to yourself.  The Party Wagon covers an array of ideas and always saves you a seat at the table to learn, to be inspired, to enjoy, and to spread happiness.

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Paige Minear

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Paige Minear is the author, mother and preppy creator behind the design blog The Pink Clutch. Paige is known for her home full of color, Palm Beach style and antique treasures. With a love for all things design related she writes five days a week allowing her readers to indulge in colorful posts and inspiration. She is a lover of a strong latte, champagne cocktails, a stack of magazines, crisp button downs, popped collars, a sweet treat and a house full of fresh flowers and monogrammed linens. She can be seen most days in a gingham button down, pearls galore sporting leopard flats and ready for adventure.

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Carrie Peeples

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Carrie Peeples is a life saver for people who are too busy to get their homes organized.
Through her proven process of evaluating how you function in your home and clearing clutter, she’s here to organize your home, teach you the steps to manage it on your own, and make it beautiful. Her unique systems make you feel like you’re in control again.

Her adoring fans + clients of her company, NeatSmart, have called her “a life saver” and “the best secret I kept from my husband,” and one client called her “my personal organization trainer.”

And when she’s not organizing, you can find her indulging in cooking, bootcamp, Instagram surfing and trying out new restaurants with her husband.

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Kate Spears

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Kate Spears is a self-proclaimed Southern belle who grew up in a tiny town near Nashville, but now calls Knoxville home. She graduated from the University of Tennessee (Big Orange Country!) with an undergraduate degree in art history and a master’s in public relations & advertising. In 2009, she started her blog, Southern Belle Simple, with the simple hope of giving herself a creative outlet. She continues to be amazed each time it leads to a new opportunity and cherishes the relationships that are formed along the way.

Kate is passionate about family history, time-honored traditions, and her Southern heritage. Her people hail from across the South, from the Lone Star State of Texas to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She grew up spending summers on her great-grandparents’ Tennessee farm where she developed a deep appreciation and admiration for people who could coax beautiful and delicious things out of a mound of dirt. She comes from faithful men, devoted women, hard workers and wickedly good cooks.

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Carolyn Sutton

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With more than 16 years of public relations experience with nationally-recognized lifestyle brands and publications, Carolyn Sutton has built her business on relationships that reach across the country – and across all media and social platforms – to help her clients make meaningful connections with their audience through key magazine placements, special events, media tours and influencer campaigns. In 2009, Carolyn experienced the joy of motherhood, which motivated her to start her own Public Relations firm –  624 Public Relations. Seven years later, Carolyn refocused her energy and vision to a new brand – Carolyn Sutton PR.

Driven, accomplished and passionate, Carolyn has the tenacity that has earned her the moniker, “the little engine that could,” and the strategic vision to launch countless partnerships, including strategic, ongoing brand ambassador collaborations with high-profile local and national influencers; multi-brand events in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and creating experiences and vision with smaller, unique markets. Carolyn Sutton PR strives to create synergistic placements for up-and-coming clients in publications such as InStyle, Today, Good Housekeeping, HGTV Magazine, Family Circle, Midwest Living, Draper James, Southern Living and many others.

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Kate Thornton

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Kate Thornton has a deep appreciation for art, design, and craftsmanship. Whatever her subject, she can hone in on the creativity and spark, finding beauty in every shot. Working with Kate feels easy and natural.  She has a calm, unassuming demeanor, making her comfortable and confident in her work.  

Collaborating with clients before each shoot to plan every detail, Kate brings an element of organization and professionalism to the job. She meticulously plans ahead, allowing her to relax behind the camera knowing that everything is in place. 

Visual from an early age, Kate has always been drawn to the photos in glossy magazines, taking in the trends and studying the lighting. She credits her grandmother for helping to nurture that artistic eye. One of her most treasured items, a painting given to her by her grandmother when she was just 8 years old, still hangs prominently on the living room wall. Her family filled their homes with local artwork, picking up original pieces wherever they traveled.

At home, Kate and husband Chris immerse themselves in the lives of their two young daughters, spending family time at the beach, initiating impromptu dance parties, and creating sidewalk chalk masterpieces.  It is this authentic freedom at home and work that defines her and her photography.

Kate and her family live in Charleston, S.C.

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Angie Avard Turner

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Angie Turner is a business law and intellectual property attorney with a fancy for all things patterned with a punch of piping hot color.  After almost 22 years in retail, 12 years in wholesale, and 6 years in licensing, she decided to give the people what they were asking for—an attorney who was familiar with the needs of creative entrepreneurs.  She represents really cool people involved in creative ARTS {that’s, Artists, Retailers & wholesalers, Techies, and Service providers} and is a creative entrepreneur herself!

As a designer, artist, author, and entrepreneur, she understands the legal needs of creative businesses because she has walked a mile in those shoes—she has owned and operated one for over a decade!

She has always loved being creative. Since she could walk, Angie has had a love affair with the jumbo box of 96 crayons. She started Hype Strype, a fine stationery goods brand, back in 2003. At the time, she was not really focused on law, but more on keeping her 2500 customers across 45 states happy! But when people learned she was an attorney too, they were very quick to ask all sorts of legal questions pertaining to their creative endeavors. So… now she combines both of her loves—creativity and the law. Angie loves helping others know and understand many of the things she had to learn the hard way and it gives her great pleasure to see a client so “fired up” about an idea that they have invested themselves in.

Although she was born and raised in Georgia, Angie is the product of a Northern, West Point-educated father {he’s from oh-so-proper Boston, Massachusetts} and a Southern, Auburn-educated mother {she’s from sweet-home-Alabama}. She graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina {a very cool city}, then moved to Michigan where to obtain her law degree. She and her husband have three fantastically amazing children who are ages (12), (7), and (2). They all have strong family names that tell them a story of where they came from.

You can learn more about Angie at  www.angieavardturnerlaw.com or www.hypestrype.com.

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Katie Weinberger

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Katie Weinberger is the marketing and creative half of the husband-and-wife duo behind King Bean Coffee Roasters. As a lifelong reader and writer, she aims to read a book a week and writes regularly on her personal site, writingdownadream.com . She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, son, cat, and dog. On the weekends you can find her paddleboarding upriver to the sandbar with her son and pup.

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