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Women of Grosse Pointe

Ladies Making a Difference

Gabrielle Reilly 

Floral designer, owner of Flowers by Gabrielle

What do you do as a professional and/or volunteer?
I opened my flower and gift shop in 2001 and have been fortunate to be able to do what I love every day. I’m grateful and honored to have the privilege to enhance the important events and milestones in people's lives through floristry.


What is your favorite hobby?

I have three. One is a technique called eco-printing with fresh flower blooms and foliage on paper and fabric. Another is doing hand-stitched embroidery on second-hand clothing. I sometimes combine the two and do hand-stitching on my eco-printed pieces. I’ve also taken up gardening and I’m obsessed! 


What is your life’s motto?

"Turn all obstacles into stepping stones." I’ve taken lessons from all of the challenges I’ve faced and gained strength from and through them. I’ve learned that the challenges that seem so devastating at first often become our greatest gifts.

What advice would you give young people growing up in society today? 

Following your passions will always lead you toward living a life you love. And, turn off the screens and tune in to nature – that’s where you’ll find peace, comfort, and joy.

Sheila Tomkowiak 

Mayor, journalist, business owner

What do you do as a professional and/or volunteer?

A journalist by training, I’m co-owner of a custom publishing company that produces magazines, history books and marketing materials for corporate and nonprofit clients. I also teach in the Journalism Department at Wayne State University. I’m currently in my second term serving as mayor of the City of Grosse Pointe. It was a love of my community that spurred me to apply for an open city council position in 2016. I was elected to the seat in 2017 and became mayor in 2019. It’s an honor to be entrusted with steering a community of this caliber. 

What is your favorite hobby?

I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren, sailing with my husband and reading novels. 

What advice would you give young people growing up in society today?

Get involved in your community. Each voice matters, and every positive contribution - no matter how small - can make a difference in creating safe, vibrant places to live, learn, work and play. 

Brynn Jezdimir

Orthodontic Specialist

What do you do as a professional?  

I’m an orthodontist specialist. I focus on safe movements of teeth and the guidance of dental, jaw, and facial development for patients of all ages. 

What is your favorite hobby?

Yoga is my absolute favorite way to treat myself to quiet and restorative time.  I completed instructor training with a Christ-centered yoga program a couple of summers ago to further my practice and to be able to help others grow and find healing on their mats. 

What is your life’s motto? 

Love and see the best within others! 

What advice would you give young people growing up in society today?  

Look within yourself and to God for guidance in your life. Surround yourself with people whom you want to be more like and find a mentor years ahead of you who can be a source of wisdom and support.  

Anne Gryzenia

Newspaper publisher, volunteer

What do you do as a professional and/or volunteer?

I’m currently enjoying my first year as publisher of the Grosse Pointe News, after serving as the vice president of strategy and development and vice president. I am so proud of our team – we were just named Newspaper of the Year for the second straight year.

As far as volunteering, I recently accepted a board position at the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, and I do as much as I can for my children’s schools. I absolutely love having my finger on the pulse of this remarkable community. It’s such a wonderful place to live. 


What is your favorite hobby?

As luck would have it, my job encompasses many of my hobbies. I love to tinker with anything creative, but especially writing, sports, advertising and anything house and home related. With four children, my hobbies are also their hobbies which include hockey, baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball and essentially any sport they are playing at the moment. Someday, when they are a bit older, I have dreams of playing competitive tennis.


What is your life’s motto?

I don’t have a motto per se, but a few of the things I throw at my kids is “Always be the hardest worker” and versions of “Toughen up.” Life is rough and we are lucky that our problems are generally very small. 


What advice would you give young people growing up in society today? 

Same advice I give my own children. Be tough and work hard and you will stand out. Also, I think what’s very important right now is that nobody wants to hear complaining. Be the one who solves the problems, not just calls out the problems. 

Life is great – soak up all the good things. Anything else, do what you can to make things better. 

Jennifer Kendall

Manager/buyer for Coreander’s Children’s Bookshoppe 

What do you do as a professional?
I worked in schools teaching and leading education for 23 years and now I’m fortunate to use my experience and training to help encourage reading. Supporting the love of reading requires listening to the reader, helping identify what books might be of interest and the best fit, seeing the opportunity for growth in the genre, and for some readers finding the best balance between text and graphics.  

What advice would you give young people growing up in society today? 

My mother was an amazing example of a working woman and mom, and she modeled for me how I could do both successfully.  What has changed though is the image of a woman/mother due to the ever-growing and shifting world of social media. Social media promotes perfection and the "do it all" mentality while offering as many pages stating women should encourage self-care in their lives.  I continue to work on a solution, but hope that I’m providing a good example for my children.  

Nancy Cotton

Co-owner of Corner Studio, Corner Studio Pilates and Lagree and Corner Active & Leisure

What do you do as a professional?
I truly love working and living in this community. The health and wellness world is not where I started professionally (I’m an attorney and practiced law in New Jersey) but it’s a world I feel so passionate about. Both of my parents died from heart attacks without the traditional markers and looking back on it, I know they should have made their health more of a priority and taken simple preventative measures so that they could have lived longer. 

What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is playing tennis. I grew up playing the violin, but also softball, lacrosse and tennis. I decided to get into tennis again after I had my kids about 12 years ago. It was a way to get into shape and do something fun and athletic again. It makes me smile. I’m also helping the Grosse Pointe South Girls JV team this spring.

Brigitte Rist

Salon owner and product line creator

What do you do as a professional and/or volunteer?

I’m a hairdresser and owner of the salon, Chez LouLou. I hold a B.A. in international studies and French from Wayne State University and I have lived in France, where I completed an intensive program in hairdressing. This love of styling also allows me to cut and style hair pieces and wigs for women going through chemotherapy, alopecia and other scalp conditions. I enjoy helping women.

I’m also the creator of the haircare and cosmetic line, MANON. These products are free of parabens, sodium chloride and sulfates.

What is your favorite hobby?

Traveling abroad, cooking, and baking. I’m also a classical music enthusiast. 

What is your life’s motto?

Do what you love, love what you do.

What advice would you give young people growing up in society today?

Work hard, stay focused and never give up on your dreams. 

Ginny Jeup 

Business owner, Volunteer

What do you do as a professional and/or volunteer?

Firstly, I am a wife and a mother to three beautiful girls which makes me the household CEO. Also, I’m a self-employed small business owner focused on property management as well as a newly elected Trustee on the Grosse Pointe School Board. In addition, I have been on the committee for Young Life-Grosse Pointe for the past seven years.  


What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is spending time with my family. We enjoy traveling, skiing, hiking, boating, going on walks or just sitting by a campfire. I have a newfound love for pickleball and play a few times a week. 


What is your life’s motto?

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Acts 20:24


What advice would you give young people growing up in society today? Be purposeful with your time and energy. Live your life in a way that is compassionate and generous. Be good forgivers of each other in all circumstances. Above all, love those around you with all your heart, because love binds everything together in harmony. Pursue a relationship with Christ. 

[Pull quote: Be purposeful with your time and energy. Live your life in a way that is compassionate and generous.]

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