Recap: MPLS MadWomen — A Celebration of Female Makers



As always, I walked away from last night’s MPLS MadWomen event inspired and energized by the women I met, the stories I heard, and the lessons I learned. From video editors to jewelry designers to illustrators and nearly everything in between, “A Celebration of Female Makers,” gave 12 kickass women 5 minutes each to share their story and ignite conversations around gender equality, creativity, careers, and more.

jordyn diorio

Project manager by day, jewelry designer and entrepreneur by night, Jordyn shared the lessons she learned when she turned her hobby into a career. Her energy was contagious and left me anxious to learn more about her company, Mend Jewelry.

“ What’s stopping you? Probably yourself.” -Jordyn Diorio

rachel hardacre

Rachel is a designer by trade, but a strategist by heart. Her work at Zeus Jones combines the two. She posed the question: How can making and strategy go together?

jasmine russell

Founder of Monicat Data, Jasmine combines her artistry with her tech savvy to provide data management and technical solutions for the creative economy. Her story: Her passion for art often felt was a distraction. Her message: Find a way to use the ideas and passions that seem like distractions to change your communities.

maribeth romslo

Director of Dragonfly, Maribeth spoke about the power of women, the power of stories, and the power of representation. Only a fraction of directors, cinematographers, and even on-screen actors are women. Only 30% of speaking roles are given to female actresses. How do we change the ratio? “Roll up your sleeves, dive in, and make stuff.”

kari scharff

As a producer at Black Label Music, Kari dedicates much of her time to exploring how tokenization can be avoided in the workplace. Citing the 2017 Women in the Workplace report, she shared that women occupy only 10% of executive roles. And, 50% of men think 1 in 10 is good representation. (Oh, brother… we’ve got a lot of work to do.)

“If there is more us, there will be fewer tokens.” -Kari Scharff

kim senn

Illustrator, designer, entrepreneur, and mother, Kim Senn worked in the ad industry for years until she realized she was stuck in her first act. Rather than waiting for a sign, she took it upon herself to be her own catalyst for change, and threw herself into her work, discovering her second act is to be an illustrator and designer for her own business, Senn & Sons.

“Just do it. You don’t need a formal business plan. You don’t need to have all the answers. Just say yes and do something.” -Kim Senn

laurel turek

We all have creativity inside us… so why is it so hard to wear the title ‘maker?’ Laurel explored what it means to be creative, arguing that we are all creative in our own way. I loved every minute of her talk, but what resonated with me most was this: “We need to love our creative voice, even if we don’t like it—the same way we love our families even when we don’t like them.” Amen to that.

brett astor

As a video editor, Brett focuses her work on the positive representation of women. She is the genius behind this Angie's Boom Chicka Pop ad:

liz giorgi

Told to shut up her entire life, Liz eventually spoke up—and consequently created a name for herself. She is the Founder and CEO of Mighteor, one of the world’s first online video production companies. One of my favorite quotes from the night is hers:

“Women are taught to be quiet. We’re taught to shut up. Never shut up.” -Liz Giorgi

caroline karanja

This is the second time I’ve heard Caroline speak, and both times, she has inspired me. As a coder and developer teaching young women the value of STEM education, she is shifting the ratio one girl at a time.

leeya rose jackson

This gal demanded the attention of the crowd—and for good reason. As a visual artist, Leeya spent a long time thinking her only outlet was visual. She refrained from speaking up and speaking out, feeling as if she didn’t belong. Then, she realized,

“The reasons I felt like I didn’t belong in certain settings were the reasons I was necessary in them.” Today, she’s speaking up and using her voice on her podcast, Borrowed Interest.

“Figure out what scares you and why it scares you. It’s probably because it’s what you’re supposed to be doing.” -Leeya Jackson

sarah mcnerny

Sarah McNerney created a backpack and a business. After years spent in the creative industry, she learned a couple things. Namely, one of the biggest perks of being a creative: your skin is tough. Her backpack is for sale via Winter Project Artist.


I was floored by the energy, passion, knowledge, and creativity each and every one of these women exhibited as they stepped on stage. As always, my money was well spent supporting MPLS MadWomen and its mission of expanding representation and creating gender equality in the workforce. I can't wait for the next event!