Celebrating the Power & Strength of Women

Too often, women are our unsung sheroes, and their contributions go unnoticed.

This month we honor several amazing women and present their personal stories—focusing on the ways they have inspired, motivated, empowered, and encouraged women by advancing social equity and providing services, opportunities, and support.

If you happen to see or work with any of these extraordinary women, please take a moment to thank them for helping to create a brighter future for everyone.

Brandy Mills
Brandy Mills

Brandy Mills

Helping Others Succeed

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about the work Asheville native Brandy Mills is doing within our community. How did she evolve into this work? Come with us as we get to know her.

Brandy’s ambition, drive, and courage to chase her dreams initially came from the borrowed confidence of those who saw more in her than she saw in herself. Early in her youth, it could be seen that she had a passion for investing in and serving others. Friends recall how she loved to play school, always wanting to be the teacher…helping everyone see that they could learn, and caring for them in ways that made them feel good and capable.

As a child she experienced bullying, which ultimately drove her to ensure that people felt a sense of belonging, no matter how they looked, the clothes they wore, the community they grew up in, their access to opportunity, or their financial status. She began a God-directed journey as a registered nurse; now, paying it forward, her company, Brandy Mills Consulting (www.brandymillsconsulting.com) provides business, leadership, and growth coaching, to help others see their own potential and possibility.

And with Woman Strong (www.instagram.com/bm.womanstrong), her women’s empowerment movement, Brandy strives to build a community of women that motivates, inspires, supports, and equips one another to walk boldly into what they have been purposed to accomplish.

Tiffany Marie Torres
Tiffany Marie Torres

Tiffany Marie Torres

Helping Resilient Women Heal

In June 2021 self-love and feminine empowerment coach Tiffany Marie Torres relocated from Durham with her dog Gus. Having vacationed here during the Covid quarantine years, where the mountains helped her heal after a divorce, Tiffany was drawn by the opportunity for a fresh start, a new community and beautiful hiking trails.

A lover of movies, live music, fine dining, and spending time in nature, she could not have chosen a better place to work and live—and to put her own strengths to use for others. Here’s how she describes her coaching brand, TigerLily & Co.

“We help women heal by increasing their self-love, self-confidence and resiliency. It brings me so much joy to walk beside these incredible women as they uncover and deepen their self-love. I always say that first comes self-love—and then comes empowerment.”

Now, a transplant to the healing, beautiful mountains, Tiffany is, as she puts it, “excited to put these principles with my clients and the community!”

Elle Qahhaar
Elle Qahhaar

Elle Qahhaar

Holistic Body-Care

Elle Qahhaar was born in Detroit, but her family has roots that run deep in Alabama red clay. Yet even as a young child she felt the drive of creativity that moves so many people to put their creative spirits to work.

As she notes, “It was no surprise to my family when I packed up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fashion. I had recently married, sent my husband off to war, and found out I was a few months pregnant with our first child. What did I have to lose?”

That is the question of all driven people, the feeling that what is just out of sight, over the horizon, or even within grasp, is worth chasing down and pursuing all the way to success. It’s a feeling that Elle is familiar with as we fast-forward to today.

“My eldest child is twenty. I’m a mother of five and a recent Asheville transplant, [where] I am excited to share my talents locally.”

Her holistic body-care business Rosemary+Lavender (www.roseandlav.com) has received rave reviews from customers as far afield as Virginia, Texas, and even New York. And because she loves people and is determined to use her creativity to benefit others, she is eager to plant her own deep roots here in the mountains of Asheville.

Roberta Pearcy
Roberta Pearcy

Roberta Pearcy

A Journey of Caregiving   

At the age of eight, Roberta (Berta) Pearcy began a life, and career, in caregiving. On weekends and during the summers she stayed with her grandparents to help her grandmother.

“My grandmother was bedbound,” Roberta told us. “At the age of nine, I began to help my grandfather, who subsequently became very sick and ended up in the hospital for quite some time. He was eventually moved to a nursing home.”

Over the years, Roberta worked many jobs and dealt with many obstacles. “My mother became ill with terminal cancer, which was a painful blow. After her passing, God let me know my purpose in life, which is taking care of people—it’s my calling!” mused Roberta. “People need to feel secure in knowing there is someone who cares.”

So Berta enrolled at A-B Tech and became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). With that accreditation, she took a job with hospice, where she put her expertise to use and learned more on the job. Eventually she was both experienced and knowledgeable enough to start her own private-duty care service.

Now she is the proud owner of Berta’s Loving Touch, where, she notes, “I could continue to have the opportunity to care for people. God has blessed me through it all.”

Paula Kelley
Paula Kelley

Paula Kelley

Advocate for Seniors

Paula Kelley founded NC Guardian and Care Management (www.ncgcm.net) to provide advocacy and healthcare agency services for seniors aging without support. She has extensive experience in healthcare and brings a strong commitment to protecting the independence and well-being of her clients.

Here is how she described her work and business to The Urban News.

“At NCGCM, our goal is to help clients navigate the complex medical, legal, and financial maze of our health care system. We empower clients to establish personalized decision-making teams to safeguard themselves against exploitation and unnecessary interventions. NCGCM can serve as a court-appointed guardian, but I feel strongly that guardianship should always be a last resort, and when necessary, should be provided by a professional with appropriate training who is held to national standards.”

Paula is married, and her three daughters are in, respectively, high school, college, and graduate school. And nearly every weekend you can find her experimenting with new recipes and soaking up time with her family, her two dogs, a grumpy cat, and a new flock of extremely spoiled chickens.

Betty Young
Betty Young

Betty Young

Simply Salads & Charcuterie Boards

Betty Young is a native of Asheville, having grown up in the long-established Southside community. It was there that she began the process of transforming her specialty catering business, teaching herself how food could be safely prepared during the height of Covid pandemic.

She started establishing and perfecting her craft with specially crafted salads in a jar, a great “go-to” meal for anyone who is health conscious, people facing special dietary restrictions, those needing a meal for office meetings, and, of course, everyday salad lovers!

Each unique salad in a jar is made to order, and friends and neighbors quickly learned about her craft. Soon her salads became a favorite menu selection among her family, neighbors, and friends.

As word of Betty’s unique creations spread, so did the type of requests she received. Within months, there were catering opportunities that called for more than her festive salads. She added charcuterie boards, and that called for the creation of a business, now known as Simply Salads & Charcuterie Boards By Betty.

Betty has heightened the level of creativity, innovation, and offers healthy options to events that typically are loaded down with unhealthful, heavy foods and limited options. In every offering, you will find unique bouquets and one-of-a-kind displays of choice meats, vegetables, and fruits. Betty Young’s passion benefits everyone who comes into her circle: creating and offering the community to a NEW way of healthy eating and catering.

Tiffany Flunory DeBellott
Tiffany Flunory DeBellott

Tiffany Flunory DeBellott

A Story of Resilience

Tiffany Flunory DeBellott is originally from Brooklyn, New York, though she’s called Asheville home since 1997. Her two daughters are both graduates of Asheville High School and A-B Tech, with one Western Carolina graduate.

Despite being a teenage mother, Tiffany graduated high school on time, though she delayed her college journey for a decade while her daughters grew older. Moving to Asheville offered hope, though financial struggles and separation followed, compounded by a significant prison sentence for her husband. Determined to be close to her children while earning a living. she worked in every daycare level from toddlers to 24-hour daycare services.

Because education was a major priority, Tiffany returned to NY, where she could access family support—and became the first in her family to earn a four-year college degree (in Psychology). But in balancing work and motherhood, she knew something was missing: having her family together. So after seven years she returned with her daughters to Asheville, so as to rekindle her lost marriage.

However, she faced new, post-prison challenges in marriage and made the hard choice to divorce and embrace single motherhood once again. Then she found herself, and uncovered a love and success in local government politics, volunteering, nonprofit leadership, and community organizing.

Today, resilient and grateful for the journey she has taken, Tiffany is ready for whatever the future holds.

“My life has been an adventure,” she says, “one that has led me to soon write a book about my journey.”

Suruat
Suruat

Suruat

Hip-Hop Artist

Asheville native Suruat is a hip-hop artist. Her music is a blend of hip hop and rap, with catchy beats that are enhanced by deep lyrics.

Suruat started making music to tell her own story and truth as a woman who was navigating life in urban areas of Asheville. As she rapped and spoke about people she was involved with and her yearning hunger to be successful and loved. she realized that being creative and coming up with catchy hooks and phrases had always come naturally.

Her first single, ‘Diamonds and Pearls,’ kick-started her love affair with music, and she went on to produce more singles and her first album Ms Gangsta Boujee. As she developed her own talent, she realized that her passion lies more in inspiring and influencing young women to create their own path in the creation of music—and to protect that which you produce or create through due diligence and business sense. Out of that grew her own label, Gangsta Boujee Ent., that enabled her to capitalize on her own creative work.

Now, Suruat uses the knowledge she’s gained pursuing her own career by “working with younger girls who are creating music and need help navigating the industry.”

“In addition to creating music,” she tells us, “I created Capital G Ent to create products that assist in promoting and marketing music. I was able to successfully design and sell two separate lines of clothing and a line of T-shirts and hoodies.”

Suruat is involved in many community events at church, and she aims to be a beacon of hope and success for other girls in the community.

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