Life is short. It’s too short to not be living out your dreams. And as you learned from this week’s feature, women are unfortunately living a life designed with others in mind and not necessarily the life they envisioned for themselves, but deep down they are aching to live out their dreams in a truly authentic life.
And since Cincy Chic’s “Living the Dream Issue” is about all things authentic, the editorial staff scoured the Tri-State area in search of women living their life to the fullest through their cool, non-traditional jobs or careers.
A Passion for Fashion
Traditional route: Many women interested in fashion typically pursue careers in the industry as stylists, photographers, designers or even models.
Alternative twist: For the more adventurous fashionista who likes taking up it a notch, fashion is on an entirely larger scale. People like Carolyn Martinez – Cincy Chic’s own associate editor.
Martinez makes costumes for Footlighters, Inc., a small theatre company in Newport, KY, and it was a random meeting with a woman at a party that got it all started. “Ida was lively and looked interesting, so I sat next to her at a party,” Martinez recalls, “We started chatting and Ida mentioned she was producing a play. Immediately, I was intrigued. Ida shared her fears about producing a play for Footlighters. She had been involved with the theater as a costumer, but not a producer. Now she was looking for a costumer and fretting over being a producer.
My mind started wondering if I could do the costumes and what I could say that would make Ida think I was capable of being a costumer. Before I had a chance to say anything, Ida asked if I could sew. My answer was ‘yes!’ That was it. I was Ida’s costumer!…I left that party excited, proud and scared. The stars would be wearing my stuff!”
Martinez has now costumed approximately 15 plays and really knows what it means for the stars to be wearing “my stuff.” “To me, being a costumer is all about being creative, making the stars feel fab and adding to the essence of the play. Costuming is my side job. It’s hard work, but fun and a great way to network,” advises Martinez.
During the day, Martinez manages employee communications for Cincinnati Bell. Her proudest moment of her two worlds colliding? “I still remember feeling so proud and smiling to myself as I prepared an internal promotion about the Fine Arts Sampler Weekend for Cincinnati Bell employees; One of the plays I costumed was being featured in the Sampler Weekend!”
Are you good with a sewing machine? Love the drama and production that comes with a theatre play? The Footlighters is always in need of volunteers for all sorts of production needs. Click here if you are interested in contributing your time and talent.
Reitenour, who lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, is definitely not your typical 16-year-old. While other young girls may be aching to learn how to drive, so they no longer have to depend on their parents, Reitenour had different motivations to get behind the stock car wheel. “I pursued a career in racing because I just love it! I honestly can’t get enough of it. There is nothing like going wheel to wheel with a competitor at 140mph. The adrenaline, excitement, challenge and strategy that plays into the mix is indescribable,” Reitenour explains.
It’s that need for speed and an innate competitive streak that made Reitenour a three time Quarter Midget Track Champion, 2004/2005 Ohio State Bandolero Champion and the 2006 Young Lions Semi Pro Legends State Champion, “The [feeling] of being the first car across the finish line is amazing…there is truly nothing like it.” When Reitenour hits the pavement, this girl turns heads as she whizzes by on the course and is so good that she’s already amassed quite a “portfolio” of sorts:
- Won three consecutive track championships and has more than 150 top three feature finishes.
- Won the Great Lakes Nationals in Flint, Michigan
- Won the Buckeye Nationals in Xenia, Ohio, ranking 5th overall in the Nation.
- Finished in the top ten in 24 out of the 26 races of the 2006 Legend Series.
- Won the 2006 Young Lions State of Ohio Championship, ranking in the top 20 percent in the nation of the semi-pro division.
- Fourth place standing in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Legends (KOIL) Touring Series. Set two records in the process: being the youngest driver to place in the top five and the other being the first ever female to place in the top ten of the series.
Her advice for other girls or women interested in getting their feet wet in racing? “…racing is by no means an easy career to get into. Like many things in life, there are ups and downs and racing is no different. Racing is my passion and I try to stay focused. I feel being focused is the key to being successful in anything that you attempt. If I was to give advice to a female considering the sport of racing I would say don’t take it lightly and always give your best. It is very important to have a good support system and listen. Never forget the people that help you.”
For her personally, Reitenour says her successes and accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of her team, family, friends and independent sponsorships. “I am so grateful for them. I get great satisfaction from being part of a group that represents young ladies in this sport and I look forward to the goals and challenges ahead of me,” Reitenour says.
So what’s next for this up and coming racing superstar? She’ll be racing in the Super Cup Stock Car Series. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected as a development driver for Nesbitt Racing Enterprises Inc. We will be racing two races in Ohio this year: Columbus Speedway in Columbus Ohio on May 3 and Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia Ohio on July 4,” Reitenour says. “Also, I’m trying to run for a national championship. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure sponsorship in order for me to do so.”
If you would like to see Reitenour in action on the course, check out the rest of her 2008 race schedule here.
Full of Hot Air
Traditional route: Some women who love to travel might typically become an airline flight attendant.
Alternative twist: When Mindi Gliatti surprised her husband Mike with a charter balloon flight to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, she ended up being surprised by what she felt after they landed, “By the time we landed, we were both trying to figure out how to get started in hot air ballooning. I started crewing and Mike began working on his FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] private and commercial pilot’s license. Four years later, we have a booming commercial advertising and private charter business,” says Gliatti.
And that’s all it took for this mom of a two-year-old and full-time sales representative for a biotech company to open Bella Balloons, LLC, in Lebanon, OH, in 2007. Bella Balloons provides hot-air balloon charters and advertising services to Dayton, Cincinnati, Lebanon, Waynesville and Southwest Ohio. “I work part-time as a managing partner and a crew chief at Bella Balloons. Although I love my ’day-job,’ there is nothing more fun or interesting as working with hot air balloons!” Gliatti says.
She says the highlight of her ballooning responsibilities is being a crew chief. A crew chief is the pilot’s partner. A crew chief helps evaluate and orient passengers, teams with the pilot to provide pre-flight safety briefing, assists with launch site selection, equipment layout, balloon inflation and lift-off. “Then the fun begins,” says Gliatti. “The primary job of crew chief is to act as the chase vehicle driver. Hot air balloons move with the prevailing wind direction and thus no two flights are the same!” The crew chief is in radio and visual contact with the pilot and balloon and approximately 50 minutes into the flight, helps identify a landing spot with the pilot. Landing locations include airports, schools, parks, soccer fields or someone’s backyard! The final job of the crew chief is to pack up the balloon, join in a champagne toast ceremony with the passengers as they officially become “aeronauts” and then return them to the launch site.
It’s an industry that has very few females but Gliattihopes that will change, “Very few females are involved in ballooning, but really should be! We are always looking for additional crew members. If you are interested in scheduling a flight or learning more about ballooning, please visit our Web site.”
Brush of Inspiration
Traditional route: Most artists reach for either a paintbrush or sketchpad and pencil, when they’re inspired by creativity.
Alternative twist: When 21-year-old Andrea Sisson does her “artistic thang,” she reaches for an airbrush gun instead and goes to town. Sisson is an artist at Anything Airbrushed Plus, a full-service art studio specializing in creating custom artwork for individuals or corporations. The company offers a wide variety of services such as portraits, commercial advertising, apparel designs, murals, 3-D renderings, makeup and body painting, airbrush tanning, to custom airbrushed shoes, helmets and teddy bears!
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Sisson, who is majoring in fashion design at The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), really enjoys the flexibility of being an airbrush artist, “I’ve worked for Anything Airbrushed for about four years now as an airbrush artist. Right away I realized the laid-back atmosphere, respect and responsibility the job offers…while I’m at the store, it’s my store; while I’m the artist on duty, I set the prices to my ability. We get commission on the orders so the amount of work and time is mostly up to us. There are guidelines, but what it really comes down to is we make as much as we want. There are often several jobs we could work, in which we get to choose. We work out the jobs that will make everyone happy. There is no real ’strict schedule.’ It can always be tweaked to meet every employee’s needs,” Sisson says.
Another reason why she loves working for Anything Airbrushed is that they aren’t limited to one location as the company has a retail space at the Beach Waterpark (near the Wave Pool) and inside the Cincinnati Mills Mall and the company also travels the country airbrushing for a variety of special events and competitions. They also plan to open a new studio in Summer/Fall 2008.
Sisson finds inspiration from Christo and Peter Max and especially loves expressing her creativity through body painting. “The body painting is one of my favorites. I also love the exciting and meaningful orders that I get to do. On one hand, the stuff can be quite tacky – I’d never wear it – but on the other hand, we get to make custom keepsakes for people who really appreciate it and really get excited about it. When I do an order that I have a lot of fun designing, [customers can tell that I just love it] and they can’t stop smiling. It’s a little special connection,” says Sisson.
Sisson’s advice for anyone interested in getting a “handle” on the airbrushing industry? “…just check it out. You will see that it is fun and laid back and if you can work with a bunch of half-cooky, spirited artists, then you will love it!”
Interested in trying your hand at airbrushing? Go ahead and sign up for Anything Airbrushed Plus’ Beginner’s Course.
Shake It Like a Salt Shaker
Traditional route: Most women who like to groove may let loose with a bunch of friends on the dance floor at a local club.
Alternative twist: But when Kathi Godber shakes her stuff, her hip scarf lets out an enticing jingle of coins and bells. Godber is a belly dancer at Habeeba’s Dance of the Arts, the first belly dance school established in the Midwest and is the longest continuously-operating belly dance school in the country. Established in 1971 by Habeeba, the school offers an exclusive technique she developed as one of the master instructors in the United States.
Godber, who works as a financial advisor and planning associate during the day, credits the Bible, for being her inspiration into the world of belly dancing, “I was always fascinated with belly dancing. It might be the influence of all the Hollywood Biblical epic movies I watched on TV while growing up,” Godber says. “When I was 17, I began taking belly dancing lessons at Habeeba’s in Columbus, back in the 1970s when classes in the art form first became available – and I was a hippie chick. It was a time when the women’s movement was in full swing. It was an era big on self-expression and we women began taking more time for ourselves.” She had never taken any dance classes before, but she felt comfortable with the classes because they were full of women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Godber says the dance is predominantly improvisational and that spoke to her creative side. “The dance doesn’t discriminate – it truly loves all women: short, tall, big, small, young and old. I cherished the friendships I developed at the dance studio, too. That was an unexpected plus. And where else do you get to play ‘dress up’ as an adult, eh? [But] caution: The costumes can become addictive!”
And according to the Habeebas site, there’s more to belly dancing than meets the eye:
- Recommended for women of all ages, sizes and shapes
- Builds self confidence
- Firms and tones muscles
- Lose inches
- Developing better posture
- Gaining coordination
- Learning about a beautiful history and culture
- Make friends!
The costumes and her love for belly dancing proved to be more addictive than Godber thought. So much so, that instead of pursuing a college degree, she decided to open up her own belly dancing studio. “I bought the Cincinnati studio location from Habeeba and relocated here. We’ve had classes here continuously since 1974. I have performed professionally at Arabic restaurants in Cincinnati, Denver, Chicago, West Palm Beach and Detroit. I also had the opportunity to dance in Cairo, Egypt. In 1983, I created a professional dancing troupe, which still exists with two original members.”
You might have had the privilege of enjoying a Habeeba performance locally, since they are such a hot entertainment act that has everyone asking for more. “My dancers perform at Andy’s Mediterranean Grill on Friday and Saturday nights. We also produce two or three shows a year. In September, we’ll perform “Behind the Veil,” a historical belly dance retrospective at Miami Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium with dancers from all over the Tri-state area. It will be fabulous! We also have a studio spotlight recital at our location at The Place in Elmwood Place every August, our ’Harem Scarem‘ Halloween show in October and I co-sponsor a belly dance weekend retreat at Grailville in Loveland every May,” says Godber.
Godber might seem like she’s having more fun than she is working and feels that her passion and love for the craft far outweigh any financial cons, “I will say that it’s hard to make a ‘good living’ being a belly dancer. I’m sure that the same is true in most art forms. But it’s something that I love to do and teach, so I keep it rolling along. Our teaching staff are volunteers and most dance professionally.” If you want a career in belly dancing, Godber says it takes years of training. She suggests you find a studio and instructor that you like and stick with it. “Many of our dancers can become professional after about three years of lessons. I have some dancers who have studied with me for 25 years!”
If you are interested in taking belly dancing classes or seeing Godber and her staff in the flesh at any of their performances or events, contact her at (513) 794-0055 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Check out www.coolworks.com for a huge database for seasonal jobs in everything from theme parks, to ski resorts, to national parks.
- Showstoppers Talent Agency Inc., is a full service talent, entertainment and event planning agency in the Tr-State. If you’re a fire-breathing belly dancer looking for representation, make sure you are registered with Showstoppers.
- Craigslist. This centralized network of online urban communities, features free classified advertisements for all kinds of jobs, both traditional and alternative (among other things!)
- Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who Dare by Tina Schwager, P.T.A., A.T.,C., and Michele Schuerger is a great book showcasing a plethora of young women who have cool, alternative jobs and offers advice for those who want to emulate them.
- Cool Women, Hot Jobs…and How You Can Go For It, Too! by Tina Schwager, P.T.A., A.T.,C., and Michele Schuerger
Photo: Megan Reitenour, Megan Reitenour Racing