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Females on Fire

Three Women Finding Their Strength, Expressing Their Voice and Applying Their Talents

Meet the career rockstars who are inspiring women role models, making an impact on their communities and industries, and bettering the world around them.

Heather Adams, Founder and CEO, Choice Communications 

Did you always know you wanted to be in PR?

No, in fact, I was a magazine journalism major in college. I actually got the worst grade of my college career in the Introduction to PR class that I took while a student. Isn’t that ironic? But I know the exact moment I realized I was meant to have a PR career. As a college student at The University of Georgia’s illustrious Journalism School, I secured an internship for the Georgia Secretary of State’s press office. It was there I realized the role that a PR professional played - the intelligent and relational buffer between a client (in this case, the Secretary of State) and media. 

How did it come to be that you opened your own firm?

I served as the head of publicity for one of the world’s largest book publishing houses for the better part of a decade. In 2010, after rounds of layoffs due to the recession, I found myself laid off and questioning my next professional move. Seeing how nervous I was, my husband said something to me that I will never forget: “Don’t take your next step out of fear. Fear we can’t pay our mortgage. Fear we can’t feed our children. You’ve built a beautiful career for yourself. Go and create the kind of quality of life you most desire.” It was exactly the freedom I needed to dream. It all began with me consulting and then I realized how much I missed leading and developing a team, especially of women. That’s when I decided to launch Choice.

What has made you such an advocate/supporter/mentor for women?

In 1994, I pledged Alpha Omicron Pi at the University of Georgia. Initially thinking I was joining an organization to have fun and friends while in college, it had become abundantly clear to me that it has provided so much more to my life. It was as a college student within AOII that our Chapter Advisor Maneen Klein believed in and encouraged my leadership. She believed in me before I believed in myself. She saw and advocated for my potential. Because of her, I became an advisor myself after graduation. Now some 23 years later, I’m still advising AOII college women. I have realized through AOII how important it is - how critical - as a female leader, business owner, entrepreneur and mentor to champion the women coming behind me. The value of these multi-generational relationships cannot be overstated. 

What advice would you offer to women looking to get into the PR biz?

Write. Write. Write. Write. It is the foundation for everything we do in public relations. In order to be a strong, compelling writer, you must write constantly. And it doesn’t hurt to read good writing every day as well. The other thing I would share is that if you don’t have thick skin, then this is not the industry for you. We hear no (or get ghosted altogether) a great deal.  And one last small, but important tip: be kind. Your relational equity will serve you well in your career if people believe you are a generally good human being.

Amber Anderson, Co-host, Amazon Music's 'Country Heat Weekly'

Did you always know you wanted to be in the music industry? 

I didn't! My career actually began in sports. I worked for the Orlando Magic in the NBA from 2005-2011. It wasn't until I moved here to Nashville and started meeting new people and networking, did the possibility of working in music become a reality for me, I'm really, really glad it did. It's a great fit for me and quite similar to sports in a lot of ways.

How did it come to be that you landed at Amazon music/Country Heat Weekly? 

My dear friend and now co-host, Kelly Sutton and I have known each other through the industry for years. One day she called me and asked me if I'd be interested in doing a chemistry test for some podcast concepts that she had been approached with, but I didn't have many specific details. We did the on-screen test which was really just us chatting about all things country music, something we love to do. It's been such a blessing!

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

My day job is at SMACKSongs, a publishing/artist management company. I absolutely adore the team, songwriters and artists I get to work alongside every day. At Country Heat Weekly, I feel so honored to get to talk to so many amazing artists about their music and the stories behind songs, but one of the best parts is that we get to highlight and give a platform to all kinds of diverse voices as country music is growing, changing and becoming more inclusive. We have a long way to go, but progress is being made slowly but surely. 

What advice would you offer to women looking to get in to the business? 

The advice I give to other ladies looking to get into the music industry or sports (or anything for that matter!) is to build GENUINE connections and relationships. When people say it's all in who you know, there's truth to that. I wouldn't be where I am without God, my family and friends, and all the people who have consistently looked out for me, advocated for me, and given me opportunities. Networking is one thing, but building true, lasting and genuine connections is priceless. 

Claire Crowell, Founder and CEO, Hattie Jane's Creamery

Did you know you always wanted to be in the food business?

No, I did not know that. I grew up doing it from 12-years-old when Dad bought Puckett's. To be honest, it was something we did growing up but didn't consider a career in hospitality I didn't consider it until after college when I was in the 'what's next' phase. I majored in French and was planning to go back to school to get my masters in teaching and that was the track I was on. But I started helping out again and it clicked maybe a few months later when we had two stores and we were looking for a third that there was growth potential within the industry, and I could make this a career. 

What makes Hattie Jane's special? 

First and foremost, we're a southern brand. We use Tennessee dairy. to make our ice cream. We partner with a creamery in Crossville called Sunrise Creamery. And we do a lot of partnerships with local products. Like goo goo and Jack - two Tennessee products that come together in a delicious way. We try to keep our flavors in a southern sandbox, if you will. Banana pudding is a good example. We want to represent the south in the craft ice cream category. We feel there's a gap there and we want to fill it. 

So right now we're focused on building out our Columbia shop and expanding into a larger commercial kitchen and that unlocks the door for us to be able to grow more. We definitely want to see more HJ units in the Middle Tennessee area.

What important lessons did you take from your experience growing up?

I learned everything as far as hospitality and how to operate a business, not just obviously from my Dad but from everybody else I worked with. The challenges of building a company and opening stores. It's where I cut my teeth and grew in my career.

What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?

I'm actually an introverted entrepreneur. I'm the kind that will study and study and study and it's hard for me to pull the trigger, so I like to encourage other women entrepreneurs like myself that aren't necessarily throw at the wall risk takers that you're not alone and it's ok to go for it. Do your research, learn, maybe get some experience under your belt. At some point you just have to jump in and go for it. It's so rewarding when you do.