Saturday 15 December 2018
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H.E.R. Abundant Life Women’s Empowerment Summit

Healing Rebuilding and Empowering Women to Live a Joyous and Abundant Life

story by Lindsay Lenoir

photos by Paul Nurnberg

The Women’s Empowerment Summit: H.E.R. Abundant Life, is the result of four dedicated, hardworking, successful, vibrant and beautifully flawed women. Businesswomen and entrepreneurs who call Beaufort home. On June 9th, 2018 women from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and walks of life will gather together under one roof to be uplifted and empowered by a panel of entrepreneurs; four women who have overcome many obstacles to “create the life they desire and have become obsessed with living a life they choose.”  Hosted by, Ryanne Goneke, Brittney Hiller, Jennifer Glass and Allison Kindwall.

     Starting out as the brainchild of Omni Fitness co-owner Ryanne Goneke, the Empowerment Summit began to take shape. “I said to Brittney, we need to host an event that empowers women and teaches them how to live their best life.”  A small spark quickly ignited into a large flame.

     The two women would begin to create an idea that would change and inspire two more influential young women, Jennifer Glass and Allison Kindwall. Jennifer, having met Brittney and Allison through Northwestern Mutuals’, Center of Influence Program (COI), quickly realized that they were not only successful, but were passionate about igniting the desire in other women to search for and live out their own truth. Gathering together at Pluff Mudd Coffee shop in Port Royal, Jennifer and Brittney began to fan the flame of what would become, in a matter of weeks, The Women’s Empowerment Summit.

     Jennifer quipped, “I never knew it wasn’t possible, I just took an idea and made it a reality.” According to Brittney, “Jennifer is the doer. Ryanne, myself, and Allison are the visionaries.”  Combining each’s strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, resiliencies, expertise, past mistakes, and present victories H.E.R. Abundant Life was born: Healing(H), Empowering (E), Rebuilding (R) and inspiring women, all women, to “live a joyous and abundant life.”

Meet the Panel

Ryanne Goneke: Co-owner Omni Health and Fitness

     A native of Beaufort, Ryanne Goneke is a dedicated mother to two little boys, and loving wife to her husband, who serves our community on the Lady’s Island Fire Department. About 7 years ago Ryanne was happily employed as a manager and personal trainer in a Bluffton private community. However, life has a way of changing, and Ryanne and her husband became the proud parents to a baby boy.  “I always knew that I wouldn’t be a stay at home mom. As soon as my son was two weeks old, I was ready to get back to work.”

     Eventually, the commute and time away from her family began to take its toll on Ryanne and she decided to step away from the job she loved so much. Soon after, a good friend of hers approached her with the possibility of managing a gym they were about to purchase. Ryanne didn’t even get the chance to process this news before her friend would be calling her back and proposing that she and her husband go in as co-owners.

     Ryanne said she had never entertained the idea of owning her own business, until that moment. In August of 2014, six months after this initial conversation, they were handed the keys to Omni Health and Fitness. Days later, she would find out she was expecting. There she was, in business ownership, pregnant, trying to manage 10 employees and 15 independent contractors, when things started to fall apart.

     Ryanne said she had to stop and reassess how she was going to run her business. “I had to learn how to connect with so many different personalities so I could figure out how to best communicate with and support that person.” One of the most important lessons, though, concerned her own wellbeing, “You can’t support the people around you. You have to fill your own cup up first and continue doing that every single day. It’s not selfish… love yourself, so you can love others.”

     It has been 4 years now and Ryanne is still standing behind her “self-love” commitment, even though sometimes that requires her to let go of a little baggage.    “When you raise your vibration, certain people will start dropping by the wayside, and I’m ok with that because it opens up the opportunity for new like-minded people to come in. Everything you want in life is already there, you just have to be open to it!”

Allison Kindwall: Co-owner of InkDropz Custom Tees

     Allison Kindwall is not your typical 21-year-old, and she is fine with that! In fact, she’s more than fine with it, she’s proud of it. While most young adults her age are still floundering around trying to find their place, Allison has seemingly figured this whole “life” thing out. She is a confident, self-assured, vibrant, young woman, who is unapologetically wise for her age. Having tried the college route right out of high school, Allison realized, “I didn’t really go for the whole college thing.” She said that it was a hard decision to leave college because she was afraid of being perceived as a college drop out.

Allison saw a clear path for what she wanted and the College of Charleston was no longer a part of that path. She decided to return home to Beaufort and become a part of her family’s business. Allison already knew that she could play a vital role in the business’ success by becoming co-owner of InkDropz.

      “I think what I bring to the table is a perfect example of young women in business. I want to show young girls that other people are doing it and making it work.” She admits that there are some cases when the fact that she is a younger person hinders a client from automatically placing trust in her and giving them the job, but Allison says it doesn’t deter her.   With confidence she says, “Often times, I just come out and say, will you let me do this job for you? People aren’t used to being asked.”

     Don’t mistake her kindness for weakness though. “My parents taught me to always be kind. However, I misunderstood, thinking that being a Godly woman meant total and complete submission, but complete submission doesn’t create a healthy, happy woman. Women were made to be strong and play an important role. Empowerment is a happy medium because you can be both kind and strong.”

     As if she weren’t busy enough, helping run a successful screen-printing business, Allison is also a full-time student as USCB, Majoring in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing.

Brittney Hiller: 

Founder of Effervescence Yoga Spa & Children’s Book Author of “The Laughing Yogini”

     A Marine Corps brat, Brittney Hiller moved around a good bit. Her father’s time in service brought them to picturesque Beaufort. Staying here was not an option in her youth, but as she puts it, “Beaufort has that rubber band effect on people, you stretch away from it, but it always brings you back.”

     At 25, Brittney returned to the Lowcountry and was able to continue and expound upon her passion for Yoga and massage therapy. She started doing yoga in high school and upon her return to Beaufort was hired by a local yoga studio. Soon after becoming a certified instructor, Brittney parted ways with the studio. She decided to try a new concept: outdoor yoga.

     What started as a donation-based, outdoor experiment turned into a business when her good friend Martha O’Regan opened her waterfront home to Brittney and started “TheraVista.” One evening Brittany witnessed her younger sister having a panic attack over a homework assignment. Deeply moved by this experience, and inspired to make a difference, Brittney wrote a children’s book. “The Little Laughing Yogini,” was a tool for promoting laughter yoga, an interactive way for children to center themselves and “find their bliss.” Because of her book, Brittney has been able to have access to many schools in which she is able to interact with the children, teaching them breathing techniques, and yoga through laughter and play.

     Martha ended up selling her beautiful home so Brittney decided to take the leap into business ownership. “I always said I wanted to be a traveling yogini,”  but finding the perfect space for her studio was the final push that she needed. Her studio is an, “infusion of yoga with a spa-like feel.” Brittney is married to her husband, Andrew. They have two dogs, Armani and Abby. She is passionate about joyful living and is intentional about giving women the tools to create their own happy and healthy life.

Jennifer Glass: Financial Consultant & Founder of Before the Shelter

     Also a military kid, Jennifer Glass had quite a different upbringing. Being raised by an emotionally and verbally abusive father, she became hardened. From a young age she said her mantra was,“You will not break me!”

     Suffering through the difficult divorce of her parents at the age of 14, Jennifer remained in a state of disrepair. By the time she was 16 years old, she was supporting herself and living on her own.

     When Jennifer was 23 years old, she married a service member and returned to a life that she knew all too well– a life of abuse.  After failed attempts at counseling and receiving no help from the military, Jennifer decided to end the marriage.  She would go on to remarry, have a child, and fall into yet another tumultuous relationship.

     During that time, she received devastating news. Her mother, her best friend, and the only source of love and protection in her life, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was given only fourteen months to live. The one person, “who always saw who I was, in that moment, and who I could be” would soon, and suddenly pass away in what Jennifer refers to as the worst year of her life.

     Seemingly overnight, Jennifer had lost her mother, her then husband was put in jail over a misunderstanding, and she and her daughter were homeless. Seeking refuge at a local shelter, Jennifer says she ended up feeling “lost, confused and out of place.” She was struck by the environment of the shelter, noting that the women there seemed scared, uneasy and paranoid. She was so bothered by her treatment and the treatment of others that she decided she would dedicate herself to trying to give these women another option.

     This is how “Before the Shelter” was brought to life. “Before the Shelter” is a non- profit organization that focuses on the prevention and education of victims of domestic abuse. To “encourage victims to build a new life and not just an escape plan.”  “Life sometimes beats the belief out of you,” and during that time Jennifer was finally able to admit she was a broken woman. At her lowest point she realized, “nothing changed for me until to change was all I had left.”

     Serendipity, placed her in the path of Brittney Hiller and Allison Kindwall, eventually Ryanne Goneke was the catalyst to her continued healing. Jennifer noted that Pluff Mudd Coffee Company played a huge part of her story. It was her safe haven when she was in the shelter and continues to be a place that she goes to unwind, do some work, and feel at home.

 In order to pursue her passion, Jennifer decided to make the switch to working independently as a Financial Consultant, offering her Holistic Financial Makeover workshops through the Effervescence Yoga Spa. She is currently in the process of building a Board of Advisors for “Before the Shelter.”

     These brave women each possess such clarity and perspective about their own truths, that it’s contagious. As women, we believe that perception is everything. We often times see ourselves as we believe others perceive us and we begin to let it define us. According to all of the ladies, “If you allow people to tell you who you are, it will always keep you in a box. To grow beyond that, you need to realize that just because it’s THEIR truth, doesn’t mean it’s THE truth, and it definitely doesn’t have to be YOUR truth!”

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