So far, 2018 has been an amazing year for the incredible women in Campbell County across all disciplines and industries.  For our inaugural Women’s Issue, we found it fitting to celebrate some of the city’s most fierce females — business professionals, owners, and entrepreneurs — by honoring them as recipients of our first-ever Outliers’ Elite 8 Awards, an annual tribute to strong, successful individuals who inspire us.

Kaylee Mae Phillips

Meet Kaylee:  She’s Trending

Award-winning Tin Wagon Boutique founder and owner, Kaylee Mae Phillips, is on a mission to empower women with her Western flair for fashion and an unmatched passion to bolster Hair Revival in Wyoming.  And, as Gillette’s most largely celebrated breakout retailer, it’s no wonder Kaylee’s one of the city’s most prolific and coveted young entrepreneurs.  She was nominated for Campbell County Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, and won Wyoming Store Front of the Year 2017 and Overall Wyoming Boutique 2017.  But, that’s just her main hustle. 

This drop-dead gorgeous twenty-something also represents a naturally-based anti-aging hair care company, in which she’s built an organization of over 1,300 clients and 140 business partners to become the company’s 1st Cadillac earner in the state.  That’s right, we said Cadillac.  You see, Kaylee creates value for exclusive haircare products and helps people to feel good about themselves — so much so that it helped to put her in the driver’s seat of Caddy XT5.

Proven to be more than just a pretty face, she’s actively working to empower and uplift women, while promoting self-confidence inside and out.  As an example, alongside a fellow female entrepreneur, Kaylee hosts an annual conference in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, for women in the Western fashion industry.  It serves as a network-building opportunity for bloggers, influencers, retailers, photographers, designers, and other like-minded business women to connect and share success stories and best practices.  We predict Kaylee’s relevance is poised to continue to grow far beyond the confines of a simple Snapchat story, Instagram pic, or Facebook tutorial.

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Morgan “Mo”
Johnson

Professional Tattoist

Mo is a local tattoo artist, entrepreneur, and model.  She’s best known for her work in the realm of portrait realism; hyperrealist tattoos depicting animals, people, flowers, etc., in extreme detail.  But, you might also recognize her from the pages of Tattoo Envy Magazine, where she’s modeled her own ink alongside the likes of Inked icon Scarlett Lash and Italian adult film star Elena Grimaldi.  The exclusive industry publication has also showcased models who are Mo’s clients (and… you thought you couldn’t get great ink in Gillette).  Mo knew art was her calling as soon as she was able to hold a pencil… And began an apprenticeship under Mikkael Chick at Alien Ink before she could even legally drink a beer.  She then worked with John Harvey at Felony Ink and later Erin Monroe at Love Sick Ink Denver.  Now 26, Mo owns and operates her own business, Mo Tattoos, a tattoo shop on 2nd Street in Gillette… It’s where she fell for client Ben Johnson, whom she married within six months.  Together (a year later), Mo and Ben welcomed daughter Quinn into their fam on April 15, 2016.  She aspires to be someone that her daughter can look up to.

Mo’s expanded her shop to include two other talented artists: Tyler Richardson and Chris McInturff, who help her and the shop keep their consistent 5-Star Rating (five years running).  She competes with other artists at large-scale national events and conventions, including the Colorado Tattoo Convention and Expo and the Houston Tattoo Extravaganza, among others, and won the Fans’ Choice Fan Excellence Business 40 Award in 2016.  “No matter what industry you are in, even [one] as unorthodox as [being] a tattoo artist, you can be a professional and take pride in your work,” Mo says.  And, we couldn’t agree more… Because, not all of a community’s most influential business leaders fit one specific mold.

Mo’s turned her passion into a profitable craft (and business), and has established that women can do (and capitalize on) this art form just as well as men can (maybe better).  Although women were (and maybe still are) the minority in this field, Mo serves as an inspiration to women who want to pursue industries where they aren’t sure if they will be accepted or be able to make a difference.  Her personal and professional achievements for both female entrepreneurs and women in the tattoo industry are as meaningful and permanent as the ink she doles out.  So, what’s next for this talented young artist?  She’s teaming with the AVA Community Art Center to produce a local gallery show of tattoo art.  Epic — right?!

 

Sarah Ferguson

Prima Gallerista

Sarah is single-handedly changing the art (gallery) scene in Gillette.  And, it all happened by beautiful happenstance (someone cue the white doves).  In case you don’t already know, this is Sarah.  And… It’s her art world, we’re just living in it.

You might know her work: she’s shown it around Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming.  She organized the ART TALK Facebook group for community artists to gather and collaborate, and she’s also worked on multiple mural projects around town including the interior of the new Energy Station on Lakeway Ave. and the community mural on the side of the Rapscallions building.

In 2017, Sarah graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Media Arts.  With six years of freelance design work already under her belt, she was ready to take on her next big challenge.  As such, she interviewed with several companies around town and in surrounding cities, and received a few offers.  None of which seemed exceptionally appealing.  Almost on a whim, Sarah made the brave decision to branch out on her own, become her own boss, and open up shop downtown.  With the help and support of her family (and a few inspired entrepreneurial friends), Sarah created an art gallery scene for the city with the opening of Rapport LLC in November.  The new gallery emphasizes local artists and collections, as well as books.  We can dig it. 

Joining the mix of edgier spaces on Gillette’s Downtown Main Street, Rapport Art Gallery (and its owner) openly support women working in the visual arts business, and plans to continue to emphasize the work of all fine artists, no matter what gender.  In Sarah, the art of reinvention takes form and blooms.  Get it, girl!

 

Mary Melargno

Queen of Kind

If you’re not familiar with Mary Melaragno and her work on behalf of the Energy Capital Economic Development nonprofit as Director of Business Retention and Expansion, get ready to learn everything you need to know about her thoughts on the current Optional 1% Sales Tax, its campaign for reinstatement, and why it’s Campbell County’s best bet for sustainability and futurity.  We’re kidding.  Here, we simply share a list of (our favorites from a much lengthier list of) her greatest accomplishments (we suggest you hunker down for this).

Mary graduated from the Oklahoma University of Economic Development Institute in 2014.  In under a year’s time, she was recognized as one of the Wyoming Business Report’s “40 under 40”, which celebrates emerging young leaders across Wyoming who make a difference in their companies’ industries and communities.  She was chosen for her work on behalf of the various community organizations she supports, chiefly the Fur Kids Foundation where she serves as founder and president.  Mary helps to facilitate organizational efforts for FKF to provide education and aid to families with animals in Campbell County.  Of her work on behalf of the foundation, Mary says, “Being able to help families in our community is humbling, yet gratifying.”  FKF has helped more than 500 families and granted more than $84,000 in aid… Mary says she’s, “a wee bit proud of that.”  Previously, she has been involved with Gillette Main Street and the Rotaract Club of Gillette.  She now serves as a member of the Rotary Club, as well as a member of the Kindness Wyoming board, which her Leadership Wyoming team founded as their class project. 

At ECED, Mary works with local businesses and assesses their needs to identify and implement how ECED can help.  She works to plan events, assists with grants, and much more.  But her work is not just about helping existing businesses, or explaining and demonstrating a return on investment for the organization’s vested members…  It’s about the economic stability and much-needed self-actualization of an entire community to commit to the continued and ongoing investment in its own long-term success (which is no easy feat).  She helped create and implement the community’s five-year strategic plans for 2010 to 2015 and 2015-2020, and leads or coordinates on business and industrial park projects and fiber optics studies.  Last year, she graduated from Leadership Wyoming.

When she’s not working tirelessly for the betterment of our community through economic diversification, stabilization, and expansion, Mary enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Brandon, and their adopted dogs Daisy, Sampson, and Hank, as well as their adopted cats, “Old Man” Gator, Lloyd, and Tubby.   On paper, the above listed are the reasons why we love Mary oh, so very much, and why she’s being honored now as a first-ever Elite 8 recipient.  If, like us, you have the privilege of knowing Mary either personally or professionally, then you already know that this isn’t the half of it.

 

Deana Phoenix

Thrice CEO

This professional photographer turned self-made CEO is continuously building her brand to bolster her work and, perhaps more importantly, the works of other creatives.  Driven to see others achieve, Deana launched the NE Wyoming Photography Club in 2014, and served as its acting president throughout the course of its three-year lifespan.  Through the club, she built a safe haven for the photographic community, where photographers from all over the area could come together to learn and grow, and form a sense of community while promoting one another’s artistic and entrepreneurial pursuits.  Inspired to grow their family and to help children in need, Deana stepped away from the club in 2017 so that she and her husband could begin fostering.  Together, they continue to touch and shape the lives of foster children.

Deanna also owns two businesses, PhoenixPhotos Photography, LLC, and the Little Tykes University preschool, where she is involved in the day to day activities and operations of each.  She recently started up her own photographers’ publication called Ramé Magazine, which features artists (like her) and inspires others through art.  “As artists, in a small community, we don’t always have opportunities to shine.  It’s been my goal since early on [in my career] to bring the photographic community together,” she says.  Deana is more and more engaged in several aspects of the community and always seeking out new and innovative ways to continue to grow her network — a large group of creatives who look to her for inspiration.  “Whether it be in business practices, or operation, many look to the success of PhoenixPhotos as a positive example of self-networking,” she says.

Deana calls herself an average person.  To us, she’s anything but.  So, cheers to the ladies of Campbell County, Wyoming, who, like Deana, find joy in the successes of others.  We need more women like this!

 

Megan Shear

Sing Her Praises

Gillette College Energy City Voices Assistant Director and Accompanist Megan Shear has been inspiring the tunes of the collegiate pop rock ensemble since its inception in 2011.  But, that’s not all she’s inspired.  Over the past seven years, students, peers, and associates of Megan’s have been known to sing her praises for her compassionate teachings, guidance, and mentoring.  One student in particular, a female ECV alumni, says, “Megan cares about us… Not just our vocal abilities, either.  She cares about our studies, our minds, our hearts, and our futures.”  As a coach, mentor, teacher, and friend, she’s helped the group’s director, Dennis Gilbar, to grow the program — and its talented pupils — into quality ambassadors for the college. 

As the mother of two amazing young boys (Carson, 9, and Caden, 10), Megan laughs adorably as she tells us that she often feels like she’s raising 15 teenagers in addition to her own sons (referring to her students).  “Helping to raise, instruct, and guide youths of all ages is my passion,” she says.  We’d argue she’s doing more than just helping.  Alongside Dennis, Megan is developing confidence and polished social graces that will help their students to achieve their personal and professional goals.  These skills transition into the kind of self-confidence, corporate etiquette and protocol that make getting a job, keeping it, and moving up within an organization more likely.  Grounded in a firm ‘family first’-mentality, Megan’s part-time work with the program has allowed for her to continue to pursue her passion for family, music, and mentoring local youths.  “Sometimes we as teachers and parents don’t get to know our impact on our students and children, but we still need to strive to try our very best each and every day to shape their lives in genuine and wonderful ways.” – Megan (If this doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what will).

As humble as she is unknowingly beautiful, Megan’s grace and personal presence serves as an example for all.  She attributes both her personal and professional growth to her loving husband Jared, and their two sweet boys.  Watch for this former seven-year Campbell County Children’s Chorale accompanist to have a hand in the education and mentoring of Gillette College’s next big star.  We’re not a betting bunch, but… (who are we kidding?) … Fifty on Megan changing lives!  Go big or go home.

 

Jesse Jacobs

Future CEO

Confidence is important in any setting, including the workplace.  But what does it mean to be a confident, successful business woman …In 2018 …In Wyoming?  Campco Federal Credit Union AVP of Lending and HR Director Jesse Jacobs isn’t concerned with questions like this.  She’s busy working (it).  In fact, on the cusp of a half-decade tenure with the local financial institution, her sights are set on continued progress.

Let’s start at the beginning: Jesse kicked off her career at Campco in 2013.  At the time, she was barely 22.  In 2015, she was promoted to a senior management position, becoming the only woman on their management team.  Confident in her new role and abilities, Jesse also understood that the increasingly competitive financial institution services industry is won by those who continue to invest in bettering themselves.  As such, she enrolled in an intensive credit union school, the Western CUNA Management School, which offers a 3-year program geared at helping credit union professionals keep pace with their industry’s rapidly changing business environment.  Throughout her continued education with WCMS, Jesse maintained her full-time employment status.  She graduated the program in 2017 and, that same year, she received the Mountain West Credit Union Association “20 under 40” award — beating out countless other young professionals nominated across a 3-state region.  This year, Jesse was selected to represent Wyoming at the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., as a “Crasher”.  Only one candidate per state is selected to attend in this capacity, each of which must be under the age of 35 and demonstrate unparalleled professional competencies and achievements.  This year’s event featured Keynote Speaker former President George W. Bush. 

Most recently, Jesse has been accepted into the Credit Union Executive Society’s CEO Institute, another industry-specific program which, upon completion, will garner her a Certified Credit Union Executive, or CCUE, designation.  We asked Jesse about her vast wealth of accomplishments: She (modestly) named her husband, Tyler Jacobs, and their daughter, Madison, age 2.

 

Megan Huber

#MOMGOALS

The decision to move outside of town — and start a family farm — came about after Megan and her husband Chris spent a couple years in the confines of city life.  Both had grown up in agricultural families — living in the country, where they had learned to work alongside their parents.  It was important to the Hubers that they feel connected to the land, and they committed to raising their three children in a similar fashion: where they could learn kindness and respect, and have room to grow and breathe.  “It was an absolute for us,” Megan says about country living.  “So, when we saw the for-sale sign on our current place, I literally got goosebumps.”  Even the coldest heart would warm listening to Megan talk about the responsibility that comes with owning acreage and cultivating it, and how you have to be willing to care for the land, and enjoy that kind of lifestyle, because both are very physically demanding.)

She’s old-fashioned, in the sense that she’s asked for us not publish her children’s names in any of our magazines.  And, her ‘mother hen’-mentality extends far beyond her own children (and their friends) to all their classmates and schoolmates (and the friends of their friends).  A ‘regular’ in the halls of her kids’ elementary school (we’d tell you which one, but then we’d have to kill you), Megan volunteers her time to craft inspirational messages, displayed to encourage and inspire schoolkids.

She’s kind-hearted, thoughtful, selfless, and artsy.  She completes her double major as a Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Professional this summer — and plans to use what she’s learned to help others.  She prioritizes her marriage, her children, and family over all.  And if that alone is not reason enough to celebrate this woman… She’s also using old-time farm country principles to boost her family’s start-up business, and crafting some pretty cool personal projects you guys should know about as well, as featured in last month’s #InGoodTaste feature.  Megan co-founded Huber Farms with hubby Chris, who also works full-time in the energy industry.  Through their artistic, modern homesteading enterprise, the two create original art, custom furniture, and home décor.  They refurbish and repurpose classic antiques, and paint anything Megan can get her hands on.  They grow their own flowers, fruits, herbs, and veggies, amongst a slew of other things, and the kids help to raise the family’s chickens.  Additionally, Megan is creating a workspace for inspired women creatives that will serve as an inclusive community and resource for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to strengthen and grow their networks.

If there’s not enough room at the table, Megan will build (and paint) a bigger table.  Just imagine what would happen if a world full of women did just that: tossed their inhibitions to the wayside and stepped forward to be leaders.  It’s beginning to happen all around us in Campbell County, starting with Megan.  Unassuming beauty has never looked so good. 

Once the vision for our inaugural Women’s Issue was born, we began to ask ourselves how we could use it as a tool to empower women—to shift their mindset, build confidence, and turn their unique skills and passions into action for positive change in Campbell County.

As a result, we sought out opportunities to honor women who take on leadership roles, start businesses, and advance themselves and others.  We were surprised to find little in the way of celebrating local women, despite their undeniable and copious impacts on our families, economy, and future.  Something about that just didn’t fly with us… Because we believe that women with influence and power have the ability to transform an entire community.

 

 

In that spirit, I could not be prouder to have had the pleasure of introducing you to our Outliers’ 2018 ELITE 8 Award winners.  As you’ve seen, they are a diverse bunch—including business owners and professionals, start-up entrepreneurs, artists, philanthropists, and social media moguls in-the-making.  Most importantly, all are actively working to shape the community of Campbell County, Wyoming, as well as challenge the perception and encourage the evolution of women in the workforce.

  These women were hand-selected by our editors and ELITE 8 Advisory Board from a group of over 35 women who were nominated by leading business professionals from across varied industries to represent 82717’s most impactful women to watch for in 2018.  For future years, the eight women represented here can join the ranks of our Elite 8 Advisory Board—which will be made up of past winners, plus our editors—to help us pass the torch.  Do you know someone that is leading and innovating in Campbell County and its business communities?   Tell us at 82717Life.com.  We aim for next year’s list to be even more diverse and collaborative.  Go Women!