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Dare to Dream

Celebrating the contributions of three women in our community

In every corner of the world, we find women who are leaving an undeniable imprint of resilience, compassion, and innovation. Through their voices and gifts, they inspire change in limitless ways. Here, we’ll shine a spotlight on three women in Greater Austin who chased their dreams and never looked back.

Nilam Patel &

When Nilam Patel started creating poetry, she wasn’t seeking to write a book, but instead to heal. That said, in a matter of months, following her writing becoming so well-received online, Finding Her Being Her: A Journey of Poems came to life. Through this collection of her experiences, she aims to empower anyone looking for solace and needing to feel seen.

“How I got to doing spoken word at weddings, poetry nights, and other events is a blur. I took each opportunity that meant something to me and ran with it until it became a reality,” says Patel. “I continue to share, motivate, and fill that void that many of my readers have.”

Patel believes in using our emotions to build something beautiful, rather than stowing them away. This is something she drives home through her role at Bloom Foundation, an organization centered around giving teen girls a supportive, safe space. As someone who wishes she had a community like Bloom as a student, seeing youth leaders put together their own journal clubs and launch new programs inspires Patel daily.

“Being a mentor or helping in any way you can is a priceless experience for you, but also everything to them,” says Patel. “Don’t underestimate how you can change a life by giving a little patience and time.”

Vanessa Barendt

A beauty industry professional for 15 years, Vanessa Barendt has served many women on their road to confidence. However, it was when she discovered paramedical tattooing that she realized what she was called to do. Following a close friend being diagnosed with breast cancer, that calling became all the more clear, resulting in Barendt training in 3D areola restoration.

“My most memorable time doing areola restoration was my first client. It was a completely unique experience to help somebody affected by breast cancer complete her reconstruction journey,” says Barendt. “After our session, she cried tears of joy, which made me cry.”

Because Camouflaged Skin and Scar is approached as a complete package from start to finish, Barendt maintains long-term friendships with her clients and their families. She dedicates where she is today to the doctor she worked alongside early in her dermatology career who gave her a foundation for skin and taught her how to run a successful business. She hopes to similarly give back through mentorship to a young lady with aligning passions, and currently offers training to aspiring lash stylists.

“I have always loved lifting up those around me,” says Barendt. “The most meaningful part of owning Camouflaged is undoubtedly the beautiful women I meet. It’s challenging work that has a tremendous impact on these women and their happiness.”

Lisa Keil

Lisa Keil began her career at an Austin radio station where, upon promotion to Marketing Director, she fell in love with the highly competitive, ever-changing field of marketing.

“ELEVATE512 started from just a simple conversation with a friend who encouraged me to take that step. I’m so glad I did,” says Keil. “When I look back at all we’ve been a part of over the past three years, I’m blown away.”

Her business is behind Zilker Park’s Kite Fest promotions, King + Country’s sold-out H-E-B Center Christmas show, Lauren Daigle’s Kaleidoscope Tour stop at The Moody Center, and much more.

“Every time I get an email or call about coming on to help promote a show or an event, I’m just as excited as I was the first time,” says Keil. “We get to work with some extremely talented people and I’m so grateful that we get to walk alongside them to create a really amazing experience.”

“Writing has given me a space to be myself, to be authentic.”

“Confidence is knowing what your body's been through and still loving yourself.”

“The unknown can be scary but God was so kind in surrounding me with people who were supporting me from the very beginning.”