Grit & Grace: Annika Johnson McKenna

"I am a second generation Silversmith. My mother, Carolyn Johnson, is a scrimshaw and watercolor artist. My father Robert F. Johnson is a master silver and gold smith.

From an early age, I loved looking at rocks. As a kid, I would come home with pockets full of them! Some of my earliest memories are of creating jewelry along with my family in our studio. My father is the biggest influence in my life. Both artistically, and personally he gives more of himself than anyone I know. My fascination with nature has continued to this day. Whether it’s fall foliage, the shape of a small stone, or the unique color of a piece of sea glass, I am constantly inspired by the natural world around me.

I am blessed with the ability to do what I love. Since silversmithing is traditionally a man’s artistic medium, I’m honored to represent women in this role. I love connecting with people and seeing something I made bring them happiness. My customers are like family; I look forward to seeing every year."

Annika is the Owner and Founder of SeaSalt Designs

Grit & Grace: Anne Brainard

"I have a bumper sticker on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Be a New Orleanian, wherever you are”. I live by that creed, happily sharing the love & unique culture of my hometown at any opportunity. MOJO Coffee is a way for me to share that love. For years, I used to dole out shots and cups of my New Orleans cold brewed “happy juice” at North Shore volunteer events just for fun. Many people encouraged me to bottle and sell it, saying it was the best coffee/elixir they had ever tasted. After researching the beverage industry (and the ready-to-drink coffee market in particular), I realized there was a huge opportunity. I saw a need, and thanks to the enthusiasm and encouragement of so many friends and family members – and my belief in my cold brewed hooch – I decided to go for it, to try to fill that need. I launched MOJO in 2011, selling cups and mason jars of MOJO at local farmers’ markets and have never looked back.

It’s all inspired by my roots. My dad was an entrepreneur, a gifted chef and restaurateur who taught me the importance of eating and drinking well. He built and ran several restaurants in New Orleans. Like his father, he was a master entertainer, able to charm customers while they dined. My mother was an equally inspirational role model. She worked in Washington, D.C. at the forefront of the environmental movement. She traveled the globe doing what she could to make the world a better place. Both of them have influenced me greatly in terms of dedication, hard work and following your dreams and convictions.

From my perspective, being a female in a male dominated industry is an advantage, a “hook”. It allows me to stand out from the crowd, to channel my inner Wonder Woman: to be fierce, fearless, and confident. We all have these super powers within us, we just have to recognize and tap into them. I want to do all that I can to make the world a better, happier, more positive place. To find the good in every situation. I want to inspire others to go after their dreams. To take risks, be bold. To choose to view fear & obstacles as opportunities to learn. One of my mantras is that “life is not a dress rehearsal”. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for something to happen. Make it happen!"

Annie is the Chief Blending Officer and MOJO Mama of MOJO Coffee