Walking into the home of Courtney Marks, was like walking into a photography studio. Her home was eclectic, in the GREAT way eclectic. Her and her husband Chris, in their as-humble-as-anyone-can-be demeanor, spent hours finding the perfect and authentic, well, everything. From beautiful wooden consoles to bright blue lockers to the table we were filming on, every nook and cranny of their house was original and a photo opportunity. It came as no surprise to learn that they both were Arizona photographers, and fantastic photographers to say the least.
Courtney and I shared a Herstory Brew as we discuss her journey into photography, entrepreneurship, beer (of course) and how she founded her business, Hello Babe Boudoir.
“Love themselves first”
is how Courtney explains the progression of a boudoir photoshoot. She tells me that boudoir is about “defining sexy for you” and that it is different for every woman. Each photo shoot depends on the comfort level of the woman and what makes her feel most beautiful. Some shoots are conducted fully-clothed, and some are not. “Once they are at that point [of loving themselves first] and say ‘yes I want to celebrate my body,’ that’s where we come in.”
Photography wasn’t Courtney’s adolescent dream-created-reality, but instead (in her words), “it was more of a natural progression.” Photography started as a hobby during Courtney’s teen years and continued through journalism school. “When I got into journalism school I realized that I can do photography and journalism, they can be one in the same!” And there she was, jumping camera-first into photojournalism. She initially studied under a photojournalist with the Associated Press and continued trudging-through as a (minority) woman photojournalist herself. Her journey took her throughout the country, but during the economic downturn of 2008 she decided to return to her hometown roots, and made her way back to Phoenix, Arizona.
Upon her return, Courtney’s career shifted when the dean from her journalism school asked Courtney to photograph a wedding. Quickly Courtney’s career turned nuptial as she continued to be requested for weddings and portraiture. She created Courtney Sargent Photography and discovered her talent in documenting beauty in these rare and important moments. But continuing down this path, Courtney’s gut was telling her that she needed something more.
“I wanted to feel like I was using the power of photography for good, because it is the skill that I have and I want to give back.”
Her creative juices started flowing after completing a boudoir photo shoot herself. She felt like some women, herself included, thought that boudoir was unattainable and something in which women had trouble identifying. “I thought of myself more as a ‘cute’ girl.” But after her shoot she realized that the session was to empower her and make her feel confident and beautiful inside and out, and she wanted to do that for other people.
“I wanted to find something where I was creating good around me instead of just documenting it,” she states. “Weddings are documenting beauty. Boudoir is more about creating beauty within a woman and empowering her through it.”
So after years of this idea stewing (and brewing), Courtney and her entrepreneurial spirit developed Hello Babe Boudoir. “I needed to make sure my vision was clear and that I was putting out positivity, just pure positivity.”
Hello Babe Boudoir is more than just a photoshoot, yes the photos are beautiful (check out her website) but the experience is what is most important to Hello Babe:
“The experience is really what’s lasting and what is going to have an effect on your confidence and ability go to out into the world and feel powerful” The main goal at the end of the day is for women to come and of course enjoy themselves, but leave feeling confident and empowered and loving everything about her body. “Not despite your imperfections, you love your imperfections, you love everything.”
When Courtney isn’t changing the world one photo at a time, she is drinking an IPA and conjuring up her next rock climbing adventure. She said that beer is the only beverage in which she gets satisfaction; she loves everything about it! Trying new beers, education, and especially the social aspects. In fact sipping and sharing new beers with people she loves is “what beer is all about.” We couldn’t agree more.
We actually met Courtney at a Greenwood Brewing event at GenuWine Arizona, sharing a Herstory. Now we’ve come full circle sharing a beer today.
To check out the rest of Courtney’s interview and her advice to her younger self, click here! And be sure to head over to our nomination page to nominate your favorite story, or a story of someone that you’d like to share. Nominate a remarkable woman today!
“Success doesn’t have to be a dollar sign, success is the ability to take life day by day with a hunger for knowledge and growth while uplifting those around you.” Says, Mahfam Moeeni-Alarcon, Greenwood Brewing’s Herstory Spotlight and a beautiful and artisanal person inside and out.
Herstory begins as a first generation American, her parents immigrated from Iran and she was born four years later in Tucson. Throughout her life, Mahfam’s family expected her to be a doctor, engineer, or lawyer, but she tells us that she’s “the type of person that seeks risks for reward,” and had other plans for herstory.
While attending school at Arkansas State University and studying biology and chemistry, Mahfam took a break to watch what she thought was another television show, but Oprah Winfrey (and her inspiring ways) changed Mahfam’s life. She was moved to “follow her dreams”, shifted her major to Business Management, and dove into the food and beverage industry.
Can we get a clip of that Oprah show?!
From her first job as a line cook at a local country club, to teaching cooking classes at public libraries, to attending the Arizona Culinary Institute, Mahfam’s “15 year internship” set her on the path to start her first business Olove Artisinal and her current business M.A.H.F. an Artisanal food and catering company.
I’m doing what I love to do and everyday.”
But her path wasn’t always so easy. Mahfam suffers with general anxiety and social anxiety disorder and starting her own business wasn’t a simple combination. “It was debilitating most of my young adulthood and even into my early 30’s” she tells us.
Many times I wanted to give up and quit, and sometimes I did.”
But this didn’t stop her. Mahfam pushed herself to take on challenges that would cause her to face her fears: leadership roles, talking in front of crowds, jobs that involved interaction. Through it all, she’s learned how to embrace her feelings of anxiety rather than run away from it. She removed caffeine from her diet (yes this includes coffee!), and uses daily meditation exercises. “I’m a big believer in accepting your fears in order to move forward – it’s what got me to finally take the leap as an entrepreneur”.
I know. We’re inspired too.
We asked her what she thinks one thing women can do every day to empower themselves and she told us to,
Be more accepting of yourself. When we accept ourselves as who we are, and accept that we all have our own journey to succeed, we are able to celebrate each other’s successes.”
Mahfam’s word of the year is “Yes!” and you can hear it throughout all of her interactions. She is most proud of having a healthy and happy family and! (one of our favorite parts) is that she gets to pair her food with great craft beer and wine! Her favorite beer right now is Huss Brewing’s Kolsch but her go-to’s are Sours and Stouts – which we think is Amazing.
You can find Mahfam at www.mahfaz.com to purchase her delicious (if we do say so ourselves) artisan food! And while you’re browsing, be sure to head over to our nomination page to nominate your favorite story to share! Visit our Herstory Spotlight page and nominate a remarkable woman today.
Hello to Miss Lisa Greenwood, today’s BEERinspiration! Lisa was nominated on our Herstory nomination page and is the sister of our founder, Megan Greenwood. We are just so excited (and a little nostalgic) to be featuring Lisa, a 3rd year biology student at Iowa State University, and just the sweetest, (beer)spirational young woman. #Herstory began with her early entrance into the world – in fact, 3 months early.
When Lisa was born, her doctors prepared her family with news that no family wants to hear, that she would not live longer than a few days. With the help of modern medicine, ultra-love, and a miracle, Lisa sits with us today – as healthy as ever – and tells us,
I don’t often enough stop to think about how blessed I am to be given the gift of life, but I was – and we all were. And it has been a mission of mine to not take it for granted.”
“When you meet people and they walk away feeling like a million bucks after meeting you, then you are successful.” Says Miss Meha Sharma, our BEERinspiration for this week and a lover of our very-own Arizona Craft Beer.
Meha is originally from India and moved to Payson, Arizona when she was 13. She thought it was cowboy-dress-up-day when she first moved to Arizona, and now she’s a craft-brew, Arizona-IPA-drinking connoisseur. After University, Meha started working Mayo Clinic on cancer trials and realized that life is too short to not follow your dreams.
“Everyone should make mistakes, enjoy making them and learn from them. Having a love affair with life is the most adventurous thing you can do.”
With summer around the corner and patio beers a-calling, here are 5 ways to become a better beer drinker, from us to you. Don’t worry, you can high-five us later.
As a yoga teacher, dog mom, and fellow #girlboss, this month’s Herstory Spotlight Nominee is no stranger to working her Asana off.
Meet Alisha Leytem — Iowa native and founder of the Zen Babe Tribe, a movement-based organization for women seeking emotional and financial freedom.
One-part nature lover, one-part IPA beer lover (and the occasional Sour!), one-part business coach, the new-to-San Diego entrepreneur has worked to build a successful online business and has a lot to say about Herstory and the journey to the empowered self.
“I’ve learned that self belief and self love doesn’t come without its challenges — it’s part of a daily practice and serious commitment to yourself,” says Alisha.
Alisha, who offers trainings, e-courses and coaching to help women focus on achieving spiritual health, abundance and total zen, also operates an online essential oils shop, offering all-natural products to heighten awareness, reduce stress and help women find their inner peace, love and joy.
“I believe my life mission is to empower heart-centered women to love and believe in themselves unapologetically, to use natural wellness remedies, and to completely transform themselves to successfully fulfill their life purpose,” she said.
At Greenwood Brewing, We Inspire Herstory. Say What!?
As a woman-owned brewing company, we believe in celebrating women who inspire others and make a difference.
Named after our female-focused line of Herstory ales, the Herstory Spotlight features a badass woman (or women!) who help to build a world where women live without limits, regardless of shape, size, caramelization or bubbles.
From local change makers and artists to international educators and empire builders, we’ve created the Greenwood Brewing Herstory Spotlight — a monthly feature that celebrates remarkable trailblazing women in our community.
Know a crafty lady who’s checking all the boxes? Head over here to nominate her for next month’s Herstory Spotlight!
So, Who’s This Month’s sHERO?
If you ask our friends at GenuWine Arizona, there’s no problem a glass of wine can’t solve.
Founded by former math and science teachers turned wine bar owners, Lindsey Schoenemann and Emily Rieve, this month’s featured Herstory women have long thought about starting various businesses together.
“We’ve always brainstormed about companies and adventures we wanted to pursue in Phoenix. When we noticed how excited we were about our wine bar concept that evolved to become GenuWine, we knew we had to pursue it,” Lindsey said.
Did you know there are actually craft beer festivals all over the country each year? It’s true and they’re awesome. What better way to join the craft beer revolution then attending a craft beer festival? At its core, beer is social. Just a few solid hours into a good beer festival and you’ll find yourself surrounded by an entire craft beer lover community and probably a few new friends. You can discovert up and coming breweries, meet the faces behind the beer, find some cool merch and meet fellow craft beer enthusiasts. (more…)
Brewing beer has been around for a long, long time. In fact, since the ancient days of Egypt. Yes, we’re serious! Even before Egyptians were brewing beer, there were the Sumerians. One of the oldest written documents pertaining to beer-making can be traced back at least six thousand years BC to the ancient civilization of Sumeria. This hymn, entitled “Hymn to Ninkasi” reads: (more…)
Let’s be real, many of us have had the experience when we’re selecting our first beer at a bar or when we are tasked with bringing beers to the party and we accidentally bring a domestic beer. With scrunched up faces and raised eyebrows we get the response, “oh, you brought that beer?” How was I supposed to know it was made by a Big Beer company?! Often we are faced with the choice: craft beer or domestic beer. And sometimes it can be super confusing! Soo…. what is the difference between a craft beer and domestic beer anyway? (more…)