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President and Co-owner Squeeze In Restaurants and Franchising

President and Co-owner Squeeze In Restaurants and Franchising

Girlmade CIO recently had the opportunity to work on a project with Shila Morris President and Co-owner Squeeze In Restaurants and Franchising.  As with any project, you get to learn about one’s character, which is why we hope you get the opportunity soon to meet her.

Not only  was she born and raised in Reno, Nevada but she is a great recruiter as she enjoys all the seasons changing, the community and the mountains and perks to get to the city perks.  In fact, she has a dual major in Sociology and Psychology.  This wonder woman is still evolving herself by working toward completing her Masters in Sociology at UNR.    Isn’t that incredible?  Fortunately for her, she has an incredible support network.  She has been married for nine years to Chad Morris and has three young children, 5 year old boy/girl twins Wesley and Emerie, who just started Kindergarten and an almost two year old named Annadelle.   All of this wouldn’t be possible without the fabulous Gary and Misty Young whom are super involved in their lives.  Shila knows she is incredibly blessed to have a rich village of people who support and help the family and businesses.

Which is why Girlmade wanted to share her roles and responsibilities as President of the company?  She describes her job as queen of plate spinning.  The five main realms she focuses on as a manager are: leadership, products and services, financials, operations and marketing. She personally doesn’t execute all of these realms, but she does oversee them and works hard to hold them accountable to embody the Squeeze mission.  Her personal passion is leadership development and receives satisfaction out of working with their leadership team to grow them and help them flourish in her company.

GM:  How did you get into this profession?

SM:  I started as a host and busser.  Then I moved into serving, progressed to management and administration and wound up in my most recent role as Vice President Position for the past three years.

GM:  Is there anything that you do differently than other people in your field/business?

SM:  I invest a lot in the culture of our tribe and I try very hard to always be supportive, positive and helpful. The reason being is that having grown up in the business, I understand almost every level of the business which gives me appreciation for what their day-to-day is like.  It provides me the insight to understand what we are asking of them.  I also follow the Gerber method of working ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ it.

GM:  What do you enjoy most about working in your profession/field?

SM:  I love getting to rise up leaders and watch people grow into their potential.  My role is to help them build their confidence and skills all the while allowing them to realize their dreams both inside and outside of our organization.

GM:  Sounds like a great place to grow.  Can you share any leadership secrets with Girlmade advocates?

SM:  Absolutely my favorite action is our annual manager’s retreat in November. We take all of our leadership tribe offsite for a few days of wining, dining and learning.

GM:  There must be something that is really hard for you.  What is that?

SM:  Trying not to let any of the spinning plates fall. I don’t love details and sometimes I have to be in the grind of dealing with little details. I like big concepts and vision, not executable tasks and integrating processes.

GM:  Many people dream of owning their own restaurant, business or franchise, so could you share with our readers what you recommend they consider to get started?

SM:  Study others that are successfully doing what you want to do, learn the ins and outs of the business and be ready to dedicate a great deal of effort.

GM:  Sometimes it’s hard to believe a successful woman started out with an entry level job, so can you share with us your first work experience?

SM:  My first job was a cashier at a garden nursery. I was in charge of ringing up customers, watering plants, keeping the showroom clean and stocking.

GM:  You truly embody the spirit of entrepreneurism, so thank you for sharing.  Now tell us a wee bit more about you.  What was the last concert you attended?

SM:  I just saw my favorite band Incubus for the 10th time. They put on an incredible show!

GM:  We are glad to hear that you make time to re-charge your batteries.  Good for you.

Now tell us, if you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

SM:  No, but I would certainly delegate all tasks I didn’t love and only continue doing things I really loved, like speaking, leadership development, planning retreats and helping others. I wouldn’t need to be the one responding to nasty Yelp reviews or coordinating with vendors for a better deal on toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

As you can see, we believe that Shila is a shining example of a female founder who started out in the ground floor and worked hard to make her dreams come true.


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Julie Shuell

We recently learned about a Food Bank in Florida that Nemours funded who experimented with becoming the provider of CACFP meals to early childhood programs.  They were able to demonstrate that for less than $5.40 per day per child, they could create highly nutrition meals that young children loved.  As a result of their pilot (funded by Nemours), they competed for and won the contract to provide meals to 5,000 children per day at a huge Head Start grantee in Orlando.  The meals are really amazing and the children are eating and loving quinoa, squash, black beans, and other healthy foods.  This grantee created a draft toolkit to help other Food Banks to engage in similar work.  The programs in the pilot were parent-bring and we have photos of the low quality food parents packed due to their limited resources.

Thanks to the leadership of Julie Shuell, Project Director at Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention, they have seen a huge improvement and an innovation we hope to spread and scale.

 Julie got her B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Public Administration at Michigan State University and has been working in this field for over 25 years.  She told us during a recent interview that she spends most of her time developing, implementing and evaluation a portfolio of early care and education demonstration projects related to health.  She works with a large number of funders and also advocates for supportive policy and practice in states, communities and at the federal level.

We thought this was a really RAD profession so we asked her to share with young professionals how she got into her profession:

College, I got a student job at a survey research center.  I ended up working for a researcher who did work on at-risk children in schools and community based settings.  As I was getting my degree, I became very interested in issues around young children and school success.

We asked her what makes her unique in her leadership approach:

JS:  In my profession, many people focus a lot of process.  I have always focused more on outcomes and productivity.  The profession is catching up to me lately as more funders (private and public) are demanding ‘high returns’.

Considering all the pressure, tell us what you enjoy most about working in your profession/field?

 JS:  Most people in early childhood are very passionate about children and families.  None of us are in it for the money, we are dedicated to improving the lives of others and that makes working in the field very rewarding.

We wanted to help others understand what the biggest challenges are in this line of work:

JS:  Societal change can take a very long time.  Sometimes I’m in meetings and realize we have been talking about the same problem for 20 years with little/no movement.  It can be frustrating but I try to look for incremental progress.

It today’s instantaneous society, what type of advice would you give anyone who wants to get in your profession?

 JS:  Work in the community first.  You need to understand the work from the ground level up.  You cannot lobby for or fund programs that you know nothing about.  Do the work, build your skills in the trenches (for little money) and then move up.

That gives our readers a lot to think about, so let us focus on you.  Tell us more about your life.  For example, what was your very first job?

JS:  McDonalds.  Worked with two friends, got free food and it was very busy so time went by quickly.  I loved it.

We appreciate your candor.  What a great attitude.   Did you have a dream job as a kid?

JS:  A lobbyist.

Really.  Impressive.  Given your schedule, do you make time for hobbies?

JS:  Movies, reading, hiking and camping.

Cool.  What is your favorite vacay spot?

JS:  The beach

Awesome, so tell us if you had one moment in time to cherish for the rest of your life either professionally or personally what would it be and why?

JS:  I cherish the moments when my former staff track me down and tell me what they are up to and how I influenced them.

That is so awesome.  Tell us more about significant people in your life.

Will Shuell and Morgan

JS:  My children, Max, who is sixteen and Will, who is ten. I also have a good group of girlfriends that also work in my field whom are a great support network for each other.

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Girlmade had the opportunity to interview Jacquelyn Leung, who is a sophomore at Galena High School recently to learn first hand how these Northern Nevada teens used their technology skills to sweep the Southern Nevada challenge and contest.



LK:  Tell us why you entered the program:

JL:  I entered the program as a way to get an inside look into Engineering.  This camp Nevada Summer Transport Institute (NSTI) is a FREE two week long residential program open to students attending public or private high schools in Nevada.  Students participated in lectures, seminars, activities and field trips that will exposed them to the new frontiers and adventures in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines with a special attention to the transportation industry.  In fact, five out of the 20 students selected were from Galena High School.

LK:  Was there a competition?

JL:  Yes, we were divided into four groups of five person teams, each given an area on where we proposed improving transportation.  We presented a project to a panel of judges on the last day of camp.  For example, one group was challenged to connect the major convention centers.  Another group had to connect the Las Vegas airport to the strip and downtown.  My group was called the “Elevated Experience” as we were challenged to create different methods of transportation from Las Vegas strip to downtown.  One of our team goals was to preserve the “Las Vegas Experience” which is why we decided to design a pedestrian skywalk from the beginning of the strip to the end.  An additional proposal we had was the tubenet transportation system modeled after China as it was only $5 million per mile to build.

LK:  Did they give you a budget in the challenge?

JL:  No budget.  But our team did take price into account in our design proposal.

LK:  What was the outcome on the last day?

JL:  After the group presentation, our team was awarded the ‘Best Group Award’

LK:  Impressive.  How has this camp experience influenced you?

JL:  I learned a lot about engineering and this camp confirmed my love and passion for it.  I definitely want to pursue a career in engineering.

LK:  Who sponsored the event?

JL:  Multicultural Program for STEM and Health Sciences, UNLV College of Engineering, UNLV Office of Diversity Initiatives, United States Department of Transportation, NevadaDot, and Federal Highway of Administration

LK:  Are there are photos you can share?

JL:  Yes there is a facebook album at: you can review our field trips and learning experience.





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Grace and Something

Posted By on Sep 1, 2015


Meet Grace Hayes, a female founder who has been creating music for 13 years and singing publicly for five.  She graduated high school at age 16 and ministry school at 18.  Our Chief Inspiration Officer, Lauren Klein caught up with her recently at the Jampro Music Factory and got this exclusive interview.  Our hope in sharing her story is to inspire other people to share their gifts with the world since she believes the only limitation we face is our imagination.  She considers herself to be a singer/songwriter, actress, and accidental comedian. As an independent artist, she enjoys most having the freedom to create music, videos, and other media with the only set limit being her imagination.

LK:  How did she into the field of entertainment?

GH:  I grew up with a heavy influence of entertainment in my life. My Father plays multiple instruments, sings, dances, acts, emcees, and pretty much does it all. For the majority of his career he was a Sammy Davis Jr. tribute artist, and although he never pushed me to get into music, I fell in love with it on my own.

LK:  Is there anything that you do differently than other people in your biz?

GH:  I specialize in the satirical, and enjoy adding unusually odd elements into my stage sets (i.e: Kazoo solos, beat-boxing) to keep things interesting.

LK:  What do you enjoy most about working in entertainment?

GH:  Watching people enjoy themselves while witnessing my craft gives my work meaning. When I’m told that a piece of poetry I wrote sparked inspiration or a different perspective, or that my videos make them laugh and lighten their spirits. I live to encourage those who feel undervalued, and to show that there is beauty in being misunderstood.

LK:  What is the most challenging part about your job?

GH:  Probably the pressure that is placed on me, by me. I’m young, and there’s still so much that I want to do. When I see myself not accomplishing goals at the rate I’d want to see them completed in, I tend to be hard on myself. A lot of times I have to take a step back, think retrospectively, and recognize that although the destination is cool, the journey is pretty darn special too!

LK:  What advice would give anyone who wants to get in music?

GH:  Be unapologetically you. You don’t have to ask for permission to be yourself. That permission was granted when you were created. Be brave, take risks, ask questions. Throw the phrase “I can’t” out of your vocabulary, and ask yourself why you believe you’re incapable of certain endeavors. Is it literally impossible, or is fear holding you back? Make a game plan, and be proud of yourself as you progress. Most importantly–have fun, love what you do, and own what you do with confidence.

LK:  What was your first job?

GH:  My first big gig was a national commercial when I was 16, however I got my first actual job-job when I was 18 at a consignment store.

LK:  What are your hobbies?

GH:  I love the art of handwritten letters, fashion, crafting (with copious amounts of googly eyes), and dancing poorly yet with passion.

LK:  Do you have a favorite vacation spot:

GH:  Do malls count?

LK:  Share with us one moment in time to cherish for the rest of your life,  what would it be and why?

GH:  I’ll choose several–Every time a child has told me that I did well after I performed. There’s something so humbling about a kid letting you know that they loved your work, and I try to appeal to every age. Children and the elderly are incredibly honest and genuine (because they don’t feel like they need to prove themselves), so I value their input.

LK:  Last event attended?

GH:  The last sporting event I attended was probably a high school football game. I could probably count the amount of games I’ve gone to on one hand.

LK:  What did you dream of becoming as a kid?

GH:  I had always dreamt of singing, but was too afraid of ever being that vulnerable in front of an audience. Someone very close to me said they didn’t like the sound of my voice when I was young, so I didn’t sing in front of anyone (not even my family). Through a process of self discovery, I slowly began to love what I hated about myself. For example, I always straightened/chemically altered my hair to fit in. Then, in high school, I chopped it all off and started fresh. I began singing publicly around this time, too. What I once despised and silenced became a bridge and provider of many opportunities. My hair is the physical manifestation of my imagination, and I never could quite think straight. I know “being yourself” is one of the most cliché calls to action, however it is one of the most important.

LK:  If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

GH:  Definitely not! I’m just getting started. There’s so much to do, so much to see, so much to learn. I live to inspire, dream for, and love others. I know I’m young, however I don’t think I could see myself ever retiring.

LK:  Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada?

GH:  I was born and raised in northern Nevada, so my career just sort of naturally flourished here. Reno is home to me, and I love the relationships and connections between local artists… There’s definitely an underlying culture of respect for variety performers. It can be hard getting your name/work out there, and the musicians here are very supportive.


We are so grateful you are in our community as an incredible resource and girl empress and role model who is helping inspire a new generation of indie artists.  Make sure to check out her site and consider booking her for your next event:



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Frog dissections, typing, and algebra have slowly faded away and been replaced with the new shiny world of high-tech; 3D printing, graphic deign, and drafting buildings that should be named works of art. This is STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Artistic design, and Math). STEM is the same minus the big juicy A. And boy oh boy, do we want that A.

I’ve been in the STEM program for a full year now, and I’ve discovered quite a few useful facts.

1. There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with a 3D printer.

2. Engineering is a hands-on learning style that is about thinking outside the box.

3.  There’s a general misconception about how art ties into all of this.

Art can be incorporated in almost anything, since it’s a way to express your creativity. When looking at a city and thinking of new ways to rejuvenate it and make it fun and full of voice, that’s making art. By putting in parklets, and finding ways to fill alley-ways with street art, and make them shortcuts that put a smile on your face instead of a feeling of uneasiness, that’s also creating art.

STEAM incorporates that, it’s drafting up cool concepts for building your own vertical gardening tower, It’s taking color schemes and cool typography along with graphics to make banners and websites. STEAM is encouraging curiosity and self discovery. It’ already taught me that I might be very interested in becoming an engineer or working in tech. It’s made me want to learn how to code, and how to draft, and use auto cad programs—properly. It’s made me want to learn more. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sure very many of you STEM & STEM enthusiasts are right now. I’m at the point of no return. Currently, in my STEM program, there are no coding classes, no advanced architectural drafting, and no intense graphic or website design courses.

That needs to change.

I’m now going to start heading up my own entrepreneurial club, along with looking for online classes, and courses offered at the nearby college. I have to find ways to improve the current situation, so I’m blazing a new trail. It’s not going to be easy, but I love learning, especially learning things I’m interested in. I’m going to do what I can, using the engineering principles; identifying the problem, then brainstorming ways to fix it, technology to help along the way.  I will make cool flyers and ads for whatever I end up starting, then good old science and math to figure out which courses I have to take vs. want to take and what the probability of my school and time will allow me to accomplish. And yes I’m going to fail along the way, but hey, that’s how you learn.

Author:  Isabela Reyes-Klein


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GirlMade CEO has worked with Heidi van Rooijen for many years and finds Heidi’s approach to business practical.


 Which is why we asked this Dutch female founder to share her insights with young women involved with our Girl Empire programs as they evolve themselves and their careers to include international relations.

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Our team recently sat down with entrepreneur and chief creative officer at Outsiders Hair Studio, Nellie Davis to learn more about what fuels her creativity and business acumen in the Reno/Tahoe area.

 Nellie Davis - The Outsider


Girlmade: What is your passion?
Nellie D: I’m most passionate about building a strong connection between what I do behind the chair and my community. I’m determined to prove that being a hair stylist is so much more than scissors and a comb. It’s the feeling associated with a good hair experience. That we, as stylists, are both fine artists and confidants.

Girlmade: Who are your role models for strength and resilience?
Nellie D: I have so many role models. While there are folks in my industry who are undoubtedly talented, I find the most encouragement to grow and succeed from those closest to me. My friends, my team and especially my son. He teaches me so much about who I strive to be.

Girlmade: Biggest regret
Nellie D: I try not to live with regret, only lessons.

Girlmade: Biggest fear
Nellie D: I have a steady fear of snakes and the dark. There’s many, many ways you can look at that.

Girlmade: When was the last time your laughed?
Nellie D: Today.

Girlmade: When was the last time you cried
Nellie D: Yesterday.

Girlmade: What can we expect from you in the future? A big dream? Or challenge you are setting for yourself?
Nellie D: Great, unstoppable things, I hope. I have the dream of inspiring. I’d love to travel the world and incorporate what I gain into my work and my relationships to create a unique fashion culture from that. In the same sense, I want to be able to show other outsiders that it’s quite the adventure to embrace who you are.

Continue to follow them by tuning into their work on Instagram or Facebook


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Dawn Quaker Edunext

Dawn Quaker Edunext

Posted By on Jan 29, 2015

Dawn Quaker Headshot 1.25.15-2

Recently team had the opportunity to catch up Dawn Quaker, who after a six-year career as a professional ballet dancer, performing with companies such as, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet decided to hone her business skills working in recruiting and business development within the hedge fund industry.   Next she saw a gap in the industry so decided to fill it herself which has resulted in her first venture called Edunext, which is why we wanted to share a few highlights from a recent interview with Dawn.

1.)    Tell us about yourself

All my life, i’ve been interested in building things.  Whether it be ballet or business, the one common thread has always been that the companies I enjoyed working at the most were on the cutting edge in their respective industry.

That’s what I’m trying to do with Edunext – take experiential learning in a new direction, while maintaining the integrity and mission(s) of the organizations we work with as part of our collaboration.  We see their mission(s) as a reflection of our own and know that collectively we can make the greatest impact.

2.) Who are or have been your mentors and how have they impacted your lives/business/success – you get the idea.

As women, it is important that we recognize the strength of our own voice and not fear our own empowerment.  I was fortunate as a teenager to have a teacher, Linda Roberts, that taught me just that: how to think for myself, how to argue and how to listen.  All three inform who I am and what I do, today.

3.) What do you do to stay relevant in your industry?

Edtech is a burgeoning field; the evolving role of technology in education and the myriad of variables which may impact an individuals learning environment make it a necessity to continually reinvest in your mission statement; this reinvestment requires both maintaining a broad appraisal of current events and politics while remaining informed of the most recent academic articles on computer science, educational pedagogy, and human development.

4.) What are the top three tips you recommend to our Girl Empire audience (young women) to be like you some day?

There are actually four things I think all young women should keep in mind:

  1. Be Yourself.  Fully and unapologetically.

Steve Jobs may have said it best, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

  1. Dream big.  Thanks to the generations of women who have come before us; we have more opportunities than ever before, so be sure to value who you are, what you want to do, and know no limits.
  2. Read.  Knowledge truly is power.  You will enrich your life exponentially with a good book.
  3. Be Resilient.  Every woman is faced with obstacles in their life; remember the thing that matters most is that you adapt and persevere.

Dawn currently resides in New York City, New York and is student of business development and entrepreneurship while completing her studies as a student of Psychology at Columbia University’s School of General Studies.

You can reach out to Dawn via twitter at: @d_quaker



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