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Raising the Bar

Inspiring Women Blazing Their Own Trails

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Ignite Your Aura

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Boulder is home to some remarkable businesses, many of which are run by female entrepreneurs. We are delighted to share a select few that are making their own unique impact on our community. 

Alina Nisenzon, Poppins Payroll, Founder & President 
Born in Ukraine and raised in San Francisco, Alina is the president and founder of Poppins Payroll, an online platform that offers a modern and affordable way to handle payroll and taxes for household employees like nannies and elder caregivers. The company is currently operating in 24 states and rapidly expanding. Previously, she was general counsel of a division of another extremely successful Boulder startup.

The advice she’d give her younger self: “Don’t get stuck in an identity. For a long time, it was hard for me to see my professional self as anything but a lawyer. I had worked so hard to obtain the lawyer identity that I didn’t want to let it go. When I was finally able to fully embrace being an entrepreneur, it allowed me to be fulfilled and the business to succeed.”

Emily Boksenbaum, UnderHill Leather Studio, Founder and Maker 
Colorado-based artist Emily Boksenbaum’s passion for craftsmanship and ability to make things by hand has guided her career and education. She’s learned from talented makers across the U.S., including a leatherworker in Chicago, a shoemaker in Brooklyn, a saddle-making mentor in Durango and a third-generation cowboy bootmaker in Albuquerque. She has worked professionally as a photo stylist, propmaker, innovation designer and small-batch footwear factory worker. These experiences, along with an obsessive appreciation for the mountains of the western United States, have shaped her artistic abilities and informed the creation of the UHL brand. 

Something she’s learned along the way: “Something bootmaking has taught me is to appreciate the process, separately from the final outcome. The process of making is where the magic happens: The slow development of skills and talents over time.” 

Jody Ehlert, Made for Lips, Founder & Co-Owner
Growing up in a little town in Nebraska, Jody was raised in a pretty natural lifestyle. She moved to Boulder over 20 years ago; it seemed that people lived this way here, too. She spent time in Costa Rica with her children and remembers it was the first time she saw plastic in the ocean and all over the beaches. She always wanted to start Made for Lips and knew they didn’t need plastic. We needed something that would get the job done but not last forever. 

The advice Jody would give to her younger self: "Just go for it. Most importantly, have fun. Someone once said, if you’re not having fun then why are you doing it? I remind myself of this often.” 

Nancy Gentry, Made for Lips, Co-Owner

Having been a producer, a health coach and a certified clinical herbalist, she knew Made for Lips was right up her alley because it’s clean and green, which Nancy says is everything she stands for and everything she believes in. "Since I first laid my hands on one of MFL’s lip balms fourish years ago, I’ve called myself MFL’s biggest fan. I haven’t used anything else since. I finally approached Jody and said, 'Let’s do something with this. People need to know about your lip balm!' And that is how I came to be a proud partner of the Made for Lips brand," she says. And now she’s excited for world lip balm domination.

How Nancy achieves balance: “Getting lost in nature is my go-to balancing act. Hiking, eating healthy, reading, meditating, spending time with my kids and my love, listening to music, always making sure I’m growing and learning and being with my girlfriends. Those are my essentials. They keep me balanced and sane in an otherwise crazy world.” 

Brooke Oliphant, Wild Monkey Bar, Co-Founder
Growing up in Michigan surrounded by nature and loving the outdoors from the start, Brooke's parents encouraged her, along with her two sisters, into sports and generally steered them outside whenever possible. She golfed in college but eventually started at the University of Michigan as a pediatric surgical nurse, something she's extremely proud of. Travel nursing brought her to Boulder where she met John, who she started Wild Monkey Bar with. (They are also soon-to-be married!) She's honored to share her story, which is an example of persisting in the face of uncertain adventure. Brooke likes to say, "After all, we’re all just wild monkeys trying to figure life out!”

What she’s excited about for the future: “Ever since we started Wild Monkey, we’ve dreamed of building a brand that fosters a community around health, fitness and balance. We recently held our first community event with Mūv Chiropractic: Evening yoga in the park. It was better than I had ever imagined. This was a pivotal moment for us (me); it felt like watching your child grow up. Out of our original ideas, I am seeing a more mature brand evolve, and it’s profoundly satisfying to know how much work it’s taken to get to this point. It still seems just as exciting to think about all the unknowns that still lie ahead, a true adventure.”

Claudia Anata Hubiak, Boulder Ballet, Executive Director
Claudia Anata Hubiak is a choreographer, director and educator. She is originally from Boulder and holds an MFA in dance from NYU. Claudia founded The Anata Project in 2011 and has created original works for the stage and screen for over a decade. Her choreography has been presented across the nation from New York to San Francisco. As an educator, Claudia has enjoyed teaching for LINES Ballet and the SF School of the Arts. She founded the Anata Wellness Outreach Program dedicated to bringing dance, meditation and somatic practices to schools. Claudia is delighted to come full circle back to Boulder to support the growth of Boulder Ballet as Executive Director. 
 
How she maintains a balanced lifestyle: "As a mom of two young boys and director of a growing organization, I find that I need to really schedule the things that matter - dates with my husband, special time for the kids to connect and time in the studio just for me, to name a few. Prioritizing wellness takes practice!"

Jill Dreves, Wild Bear Nature Center, Founder/Executive Director
Having grown up in the mountains of northern Colorado, Jill had adults in her life who inspired her to fall in love with her backyard. After teaching public school for nine years, in 1995 she founded what is now Wild Bear Nature Center, a nonprofit organization located in the mountains of Boulder County. Since then, she has built a strong organization that has preserved land, annually serves tens of thousands of people of all ages and is now building the highest elevation net zero nature center open year-round.

What makes her over the moon: “I am beyond excited about creating the net zero nature center at the gateway to 3,000 wild acres to inspire creative exploration of the outdoors. This is a 27-year-old vision and is slated to open its door in late summer 2024.”

Special thanks to Origin Hotel Westminster OriginHotel.com/Hotels/Westminster

Ignite Your Aura, who created aura photography experiences using the Aura Camera 6000. IgniteYourAura.com

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