All posts by Joey Beck

Virginia Made

Meet April Chavez of 704 North Design Co. 

The holiday season is upon us. The hustle and bustle of November is welcome as plans are made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last two months of the year are here with promises of warm gatherings with family and friends, food and laughter. There’s a mood of festivity in theair as plans are made and gift shopping begins. Makers like April Chavez, owner and artist of 704 North Design Co finds herself especially busy during this time. Her painted signs of Blue Ridge inspired mountains and inspirational sayings are in high demand during theseason. 

As a stay-at-home mom, art is an outlet for April. Born and raised in Iowa, when she moved to Lynchburg 15 years ago for college, her family came right along with her. Now married with two children, family remains at the top of her priority list. While her children are at school, the ins and outs of 704 North keeps this maker busy. Beginning the business with more than just wood signs, April has now found her niche and business is booming. 

Lynchburg is known for having a strong community who support local business owners and makers. That support along with a growing social media following and requests for herproducts in local stores and boutiques set April on the path to owning her own business. Realizing the demand for her work, she soon found herself with an Etsy shop and setting up at local markets. The recurring theme of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is one of 704 North’s most popular designs. April’s inspirational signs also stand out as a declaration of her faith and personal motto to live a life worthy of the gospel ofChrist. 

April prides herself in the work that goes into each piece. From start to finish the designs are cut, sanded and painted by the maker. Other aspects of the business such as photographs and social media are all a part of her hard work. Local shows sometime become a family affair as her children and husband tag along to help set-up or simply just to bring meals or support. Much of the business was learned by trial and error. Fortunately, her parents who run a small business as well as her husband who also has a business provide sounding boards for ideas. 

Running the business is not all fun and games but what makes it worthwhile is the joy of customers as they fall in love with a piece and joyfully take it to its new home. 

All work and no play makes a dull day but even while painting April finds entertainment listening to conspiracy theory podcasts. Binge watching CW shows or Netflix is usually on the agenda with her husband on off days. Surprisingly enough, April is an avid sports fan and dreams of a vacation that includes going to the Masters. You can find her with her children taking trips to the skatepark with her son or taking her daughter to dance. Spending time with family is a priority most days because, as rewarding as 704 North Designs is, family is the greatest reward of all. 

For more details, find 704 North Design Co on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by Faith Jones

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer. Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com 

Young Female Writers Club

Lifting Girls Up Through Sports Literature

Meet 16-year-old author Paige Brotherton  Written by K.L. Kranes

When it comes to girls and sports, the times have changed. In 1972, after the landmark Title IX legislation passed, only one in 27 girls participated in high school sports. Over 45 years later, that number has increased to two in five. Although the playing field is still not equal, women have 1.3 million fewer high school and over 60,000 fewer college sports participation opportunities than men, more girls than ever actively participate in sports.

But as often happens, particularly with stories for children and young adults, literature has not kept up with the times. 

“There are girls who like to slide in the mud and get dirty, but there are not a lot of books for girls who like to do these sports,” says 16-year-old Paige Brotherton of Williamsburg, Virginia, author of Avery Appreciates True Friendship, the fourth installment of the Lady Tigers book series. 

The series, started by her mother Dawn Brotherton, adds a relatable representation of girls in sports to the middle grade literature genre, expanding beyond the overarching subject to explore how athletics can shape a girl’s internal and external world. 

“I find it important to represent female athletes because there aren’t as many out there,” says Paige, who I speak with while she waits for rowing practice to begin. “The best way to prove girls are physically strong and capable is to fill the world with such women.”

Sports played a large role in Paige’s life from a young age. In elementary school during free time, she chose participating in races over chatting with friends. Both the competition and the team camaraderie of sports appeal to Paige.

“I’ve learned the benefits of being on a team. I’m not just working hard because I want to win. I’m working hard because I want my teammates in the boat next to me to win as well,” Paige says.

Her passion for writing, however, bloomed later than her passion for sports. In 7th grade, while writing a story based on her experiences at school, she discovered her love for creating characters and bringing them through conflicts. Having been an avid reader her whole life, Paige immediately understood the importance of making characters authentic, no matter the setting.  

“My favorite part of stories are the characters. It’s even more powerful when the characters are relatable and speak to the readership on some level. The nuances of human nature are universal, whether they’re found at Tatooine, in Middle Earth or on a softball field,” she says.

Therefore, when it came time to develop the next book in the Lady Tigers series, Paige had an idea. Having already tackled themes such as honesty, military deployment and sportsmanship, Paige felt the series should explore a more introspective topic for young girls—positive self-image. Concerned whether an adult writer could accurately depict the struggles girls face today in the tangled web of social media, Paige suggested she write the book and the publisher agreed. 

“Self-image has been transformed rapidly to such an extent it’s a subject that needs young authors to tell other young readers they’re perfect and here’s why,” Paige explains. 

Using sports as a springboard for a deeper discussion of self-perception and stereotypes, the book focuses on how girls compare themselves to their friends and often feel they come up lacking. 

“As social media, general picture posting, and makeup reach ever-younger audiences, girls begin to compare themselves to the girls around them,” says Paige. “I want to explain how every girl has something special about themselves that the rest of the world wishes they had.”

Paige felt the backdrop of sports provided the perfect avenue to explore this topic. She witnessed first-hand girls lose interest in sports or become demotivated as the athletic gap between girls and boys widened, thus further affecting self-image.

“When I was in elementary school, a girl could match a guy in running and lifting. Now in high school, no matter how much I train will never be as fast as the guys,” she explains. “After elementary school, it only gets harder and makes girls feel inferior.” 

Paige believes demonstrating how sports encompass more than just athleticism is critical. Through sports, girls can gain self-esteem and counteract the negative pressures and societal expectations often perpetuated by social media.

“We have to look at things girls are better at,” Paige says. As an example, Paige describes her experience in rowing, explaining how synchronization and communication are just as critical as strength. In her experience, when boys and girls first learn to row, the girls’ teams often perform better because the girls intuitively work together. It takes longer for the boys to catch up. 

As Paige so aptly demonstrates both in her writing and herself, girls can derive a positive self-image from sports, if only they can break through the social cage and embrace the strength within. 

“Aggressiveness is often seen as a negative trait, for girls at least,” Paige says, describing the stereotypes often associated with girls in sports and in life. “Which I believe is incredibly unfortunate as aggressiveness can also be described as a drive to seek out and earn what you want. I believe more women should wear this trait proudly as we step into the spotlight on the world platform.”

With young women like Paige Brotherton in the world, I think that just might happen.

K.L. Kranes is a blogger and author of young adult novels. Her debut novel, The Travelers, was published in 2016 by Saguaro Books, LLC. See more from K.L. at www.klkranes.com/blog.

Bella Eats

Southern from Scratch

Introducing a new book featuring Southern essentials & downhome recipes.

A holistic nutritionist and homesteader, Ashley English was raised in the hills of Southern Appalachia with a strong legacy of female cooks crafting memorable meals. Southern from Scratch combines the foods she grew up eating and the information she learned while pursuing her nutrition degree. The 150 recipes inside all honor the classics of the southern kitchen, but with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce and slow scratch cooking. Ashley shows you how to build your own Southern pantry with 50 key essentials from pickles and relishes to jams and spreads, sauces and vinegars, and more. From there, she shares 100 dishes that incorporate those base recipes. Create your own down-home Southern kitchen with recipes ranging from grits and buttermilk biscuits to BBQ sauce and pickled deviled eggs. Visit her blog at www.smallmeasure.com

Get Creative

A Unique Guide to Drawing

International magazine, Flow, presents an unparalleled guide to drawing.

From the creative directors of the groundbreaking international magazine Flow comes an unparalleled guide to drawing: 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper.

Inside these pages, you’ll find a drawing guide filled with beautiful illustrations and plenty of “paper goodies,” from bound-in tracing paper and colored paper to a daily drawing pad, a paper doll fashion sketchbook, and DIY postcards. While encouraging readers to draw inspiration from personal items that carry meaning (things on your desk, furniture in your home), 50 Ways includes fun, approachable step-by-step drawing lessons from professional illustrators across the globe; each exercise allows readers to put techniques into immediate practice as they develop their unique artistic style.

50 Ways celebrates the mindfulness inherent in artistic work, creative energy and enjoying the simple pleasures in everyday life. www.flowmagazine.com 

Profile

A Writer & Her Garden

 A granddaughter helps her grandmother’s legacy continue to flourish.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan   Photos courtesy of Anne Spencer House & Garden MuseumIn early 2008, Shaun Spencer Hester sat on her mother’s porch contemplating where her career would take her next. She caught sight of her grandmother’s home across the street, and an idea began to take shape. A historic landmark, the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum (part of the Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation, Inc.), was maintained by Hester’s parents, but closed to the public. A historian, preservationist, and writer, Hester decided to reopen the museum in time for Virginia’s Annual Garden Day. 

When she stepped inside, she was struck by the feeling that she had stepped back in time. In that moment, she recalls, she knew that it was imperative to preserve as many of the original features of the home and garden as she could. With the windows clean and the floor swept, she opened the doors in time for spring that year. She became the museum’s curator, and introduced a new generation to the life and work of her grandmother, Anne Spencer. 

(photo: Anne Spencer in 1940)

Every inch of the Spencer property tells a story. In her time, Spencer used her garden as a sanctuary and gathering place, hosting intellectuals and African American travelers during years when our country was deeply segregated. Both inside the home and out in her community, she understood the value of planting seeds and helping them grow. An important figure in the literary and cultural movement of the 1920s and Harlem Renaissance, Spencer left quite a legacy. Her many accomplishments include being the second African American published in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973), assisting in the foundation of the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP, and working as a librarian for the all-black Dunbar High School for twenty years. 

“The whole reason she wanted that job was because, at the time, there were no libraries in Lynchburg open to African Americans,” Hester says. “She thought, if she got the job, she would be able to allow access—not necessarily physical access—but she would be able to check out books for people in her community.”

Sources have described Spencer as a recluse because of the many hours she spent, day and night, working in her garden. Although she enjoyed her time alone, this accusation is unsubstantiated. Not only did she welcome people into her garden and home, she listened to their stories.

“For my grandmother,” Hester explains, “her garden was a place she could entertain visitors and guests. It was a way for her to connect to people, but it was also a place for her to get away from people, and she used it in both of those ways.”

The cottage in Spencer’s garden was built by her husband, Edward. There, she would escape to write poetry and prose that continues to be published in anthologies today. 

“It was a place to think and just be quiet. I think that is important for everyone, writer or not, and what better place to be than with nature?” Hester adds.

By preserving her grandmother’s home and gardens, Hester, the Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors, and the advisory board, are doing much more than providing another lovely stop on a garden tour. They are sharing part of the African American experience in American history.

“I tell people on these tours, when you think about my grandparents who met when they were young, in the 1800s, they were the first generation of their family to be freely educated just over 100 years ago. It’s really not that long ago. To see how we’ve grown, and understand the African American story over all of those periods of time is just starting to be told and of interest to all people. These stories aren’t written down in our history books, and if we don’t write them down they will all be lost. It’s now time for people to tell their story, whether it’s good or bad,” Hester says. 

Hester is currently working on a book detailing the history of her family, including the many ways they impacted the Civil Rights Movement and integration. Follow her on Instagram (@shaun.hester) for current information on the project. 

Visitation to the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum slows down in October, but the garden is an unforgettable sight, even in the fall. From mid-October to March, Hester encourages those interested in a tour to book it two weeks in advance through the museum’s website. For more information visit www.annespencermuseum.com.

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made: Urban Flora

Urban Flora

Meet Katelyn Summerville, specializing in French garden-style florals.

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

Beautiful colors are beginning to emerge as we transition from one season to the next. Cool breezes are a welcome replacement of summer’s intense heat. The change is gladly welcomed as sweaters, jackets and boots make their debut. French-garden is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of business and psychology but to Katelyn Summerville, the key word is change.

As transitions in life brought Katelyn from Oregon to Virginia she found herself drawn to a more creative side of life. Searching for connections in a new place, she found herself searching within the floral industry. For years before moving Katelyn freelanced with well-known floral designers. From Oregon to North Carolina, she took notes as a young designer and learned all she could about the industry.At the age of 22, it was finally time. Time for Katelyn to branch out on her own and dive into the business world of flowers. Urban Flora is a Virginia-based design company specializing in French-garden themed arrangements. Simplicity, romance and femininity are words that immediately come to mind when looking at Katelyn’s work. Leaning towards more muted and saturated colors in her designs, her creations are made to fit any venue.

Although Urban Flora embodies many aspects of creativity, Katelyn still finds a way to use her degree in both business and psychology. As someone once advised her, “Empowered women empower other women.” Her relationships with her clients reflect that motto as she strives to build healthy relationships with each person who crosses her path.

The serious time spent in creating beautiful garden inspired arrangements requires a little comic relief during her downtime. Being a huge tv nerd, Netflix and Hulu often find their way into date nights. Investing in a good series is the name of the game with Modern Place currently in the cue. Katelyn’s secret talent of being able to name all the actor/actresses’ voices behind cartoon characters is one that never fails to amuse her husband. Walks with the dogs along Blackwater Creek and collecting plants add to her list of life’s happy moments.Now settled in Lynchburg, Katelyn believes that the key to her success is a strong community. She embraces the idea that there is room for every creative. Given the same supplies and the same amount of time, each will create something unique and beautiful. Katelyn’s passion and creativity are certainly reflected in her arrangements as is her heart for people.

For more details visit www.urbanflorava.com.

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Save Smarter

Six Tips for Keeping your Smartphone Secure

How your device could be just as vulnerable to hackers as your computer. Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

What’s shiny, contains some of your most precious memories, and is rarely out of sight? No, it’s not your child after being slathered in sunscreen at the beach. It’s your smartphone. You hear about the importance of securing your computer from hackers, but are you aware of how vulnerable your smartphone could be too? In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve rounded up tips to help keep the sensitive data on your device safe. 

1. Set a personal identification number (PIN) on the lock screen. While it may be more convenient to keep your phone unlocked, setting up a PIN is one of your first lines of defense against fraudsters in the event your phone is lost or stolen. Many devices prompt you to complete this step upon setup. Pick a PIN that’s difficult for a criminal to guess but easy for you to remember. 

2. Make sure your software and apps are up to date.  Many devices will send a push notification when a software, app, or security update is ready to install. When you receive those notices, install them. It’s also a good idea to occasionally visit your phone’s settings to look for any updates you may have missed. 

3. Log out of applications when you’re done using them.  If you access mobile banking, email, social media, or websites that contain personal data with your phone, get in the habit of logging out when you’re done. You’ll be thankful that fraudsters won’t have easy access to your personal information in case your phone is lost, stolen, or hacked. 

4. Understand what apps you’re downloading.  Before installing an app, consider reviews from previous customers and look over the permissions before downloading it onto your device. Try to stick to only downloading apps from the mainstream app stores or from developers that are well-known and have high ratings. 

5. Be cautious about public wireless networks.  As a rule of thumb, never connect to an unknown wireless network. Cybercriminals may set up a network name that looks very similar to one established by a legitimate venue, so it’s best to ask staff for the network name and password. Avoid opening apps or visiting links that contain your personal information while connected to a public network. 

6. Don’t click on suspicious links.  This includes links sent through email or text messages. If it’s an email, flag it as spam or junk. If it’s a text informing you that you’ve won a prize or have a special offer awaiting you, delete it right away. Unless you’ve opted in to receive notifications by text, a legitimate company will typically not contact you with important information this way.

Taking a few simple precautions now to protect the data on your smartphone could mean fewer headaches and heartbreaks if your phone is ever lost, stolen, or hacked. Our smartphones aren’t nearly as precious as our children, but they contain plenty of sensitive data that needs to be secured. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

 

Meet the ladies of Punch Boutique

After owning several stores in the south, former owner Tammy Theoharis decided to introduce some Florida fashion to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In September of 2011, Punch Boutique opened its doors to Roanoke and added a unique style to the area. Just six years later, Punch was taken over by Whitney Greene and Catherine Justice with an envision to keep the bold pink and orange-walled paradise with colorful merchandise open to the community. Featuring a wide selection of upscale resort-style clothing brands such as Southern Tide, Crosby, and Lola Australia, you are sure to find something that fits your personality!

Punch offers three rooms and 2,000 square feet of merchandise, and their staff is always available to help you put together an outfit or find that missing piece for your wardrobe. We love that they have a little something for women of all ages, and they’ll even offer a fashion tip or two if you need it!  

If you’re looking for a little inspiration on-the-go, Punch’s Instagram features monthly arrivals and showcases customers out and about fashioned in Punch attire. 

If you can’t shop in-store, don’t worry because their website has a wide selection of merchandise to buy online! The ladies at Punch also feature their “Punch Picks” with their favorite items at the moment. Any new arrivals to the store are on their website and posted on Instagram as well, so you don’t miss out on any fun finds.

Punch is much more than a store with racks, and there is always something fun going on. Be sure to stop in and check out the fabulous finds and welcoming faces! You can follow Punch Boutique on Instagram @punch_boutique or visit their website at www.punchboutique.com.