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Blue Delta Jeans: Bespoke Raw Denim Specialists

Made in America, you won’t be singing the blues in these jeans. Genesis of Blue Delta Jeans With a motto of “Bespoke, Be You,” Mississippi-based Blue Delta Jeans Company creates one-of-a-kind, handmade, high-quality, American-made denim jeans, individually crafted for each customer’s unique specifications. Founded in 2011 by two high school buddies, Josh West, a former financial advisor, approached his friend Nick Weaver with the idea, “Let’s start a blue jeans company.” Weaver looked askance at West.  “I don’t like the way Josh dresses,” he says jokingly. Despite his hesitation, in the fall of 2010, the two met for dinner and over that auspicious meal, sketched out their business plan on a dinner napkin. “I wanted to make garments, because I have always been fashion forward, and what’s cooler than blue jeans?” says West, CEO, whohandles the design of the product and most of the manufacturing. Weaver, the COO, goes by his calling naturally, coming from a family of sharecroppers. “Four generations of my family have all hand-picked cotton,” he says. “I’m the first one not to hand-pick cotton in my

Howard Bloom: Master Social Physicist

Meet the man who melded science with social evolution and sparked a new era of pop culture, influencing the lives of every boomer. “I know a lot of people. A lot. And I ask a lot of prying questions. But I’ve never run into a more intriguing biography than Howard Bloom’s in all my born days.” Paul Solmon, Business and Economics Correspondent, PBS NewsHour How did a boomer called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Freud, and Buckminster Fuller” by Britain’s Channel4 TV, “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear Magazine, and “The Buckminster Fuller and Arthur C. Clarke of the new millennium” by Buckminster Fuller’s archivist shape the soundtrack of your life and mine? How did he give unexpected substance to the pop culture of the 1970s and 1980s? An intuitive young man from Buffalo, New York, Howard Bloom developed a desire to understand the universe and everything in it from quarks to rock concerts. Through the study of theoretical physics, microbiology, and an acute aptitude in public relations, Howard Bloom met everyone on

John Deatrick: Paradise Lost

Finding Perspective and Gratitude in Tragedy For most of us, it is a few minutes segment on the news and then we’re on to the next story. For those involved though, it is an enduring nightmare. Time seems to slow down to a crawl – each minute feels like an hour – each hour a day – each day a lifetime. John Deatrick knows best because he recently lived the nightmare. “People see what’s on TV, and they see the videos, but it’s much worse. It was unreal,” he said. “You hear about Hurricane Katrina, and I know it was awful, but I didn’t really understand what people were going through. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it with my own eyes. I didn’t see the suffering, I didn’t see the people trying to get their lives back together. I feel like I have a much greater perspective on that now. It’s surreal. I still can’t believe, five months later, that it happened.” ESCAPE FROM PARADISE At 8:30 a.m. on the morning of November 8, 2018, John and Donna Deatrick

Jessica Cox: A Real-Life Superwoman

At its core, this is a human story of grit, resilience and extraordinary achievement. People who soar to great heights while inspiring others to do the same are an uncommon breed. They come from all backgrounds and arrive in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most develop their abilities over their lifetimes, little-by-little, as their experiences shape them. More uncommon still are the few who are simply born to be leaders. Let’s meet an extraordinarily rare born leader.    Baby Jessica first graced our earth in February 1983 when born to Inez and William Cox in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a mountainous Sonoran Desert suburb of Tucson. Her parents’ hearts were broken, their sense of normalcy shattered when they first saw their baby’s body. Due to a rare birth defect, Jessica was born without upper limbs. One of life’s great moments of pride and joy shifted sharply to grief and worry. The Grieving Process Everyone’s grieving process is unique and personal. While the Cox’s worked through their initial stages, including denial, anger and guilt, they mostly worried for their beautiful little girl’s

Nancy G. Brinker: For the Love of a Sister

Ambassador to the world, she carries the banner to eradicate breast cancer on a global scale. Most of us have seen the waves of pink-clad walkers and pink-lit city structures. We have come to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Over the years, many organizations have made valiant attempts to bring awareness to the disease. But it took a single promise made to a dying sister that would launch a mission to bring breast cancer awareness into every household and on the world stage. Woman of Accomplishment Nancy G. Brinker, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary and U.S. Chief of Protocol is well known as a communications and policy expert. She is a four-time Presidential Appointee, twice with Senate Confirmation. Her distinguished career has led her to audiences with world leaders, corporate executives, academic thought leaders, and experts in medical science and healthcare. She has many feathers in her cap to be sure. But it is fulfilling her sister’s wish that has created the most enduring legacy, directly impacting the lives of everyday people, policymakers, scientific

Ken Schmidt: Harley Hero

This is not a story about a motorcycle company. This is the story of the man who revived an iconic American brand on the brink of being lost to history. In 1973, Harley-Davidson was turning out 37,000 motorcycles a year and pulling in $122 million in sales. AMF, the company who bought them in 1969, forced the company into producing far more than it should, causing compromised quality. The company, already having a reputation for leaky engines and such, was increasingly underperforming. A young boy was watching and falling in love with the Harleys during this time period. Born in 1959, Ken Schmidt sat his 14-year-old self in front of the TV, admiring the motorcycles that he would one day save. It’s About Reputation By the mid-70s, AMF replaced the Harley name with its own in a move that was widely disliked, they went too far. They didn’t notice the scale of that business decision error until sales plummeted. AMF then began looking to offload the company they were now burdened with. In 1981, Harley’s chief executive joined with a

Amanda Hayhurst: Selfless Angel

Caya and Courtney Knight posted the flyer time and again across the greater Atlanta area. For five long years, their 50-year-old single mom, Vonchelle, had been hooking up nightly to a dialysis machine to replicate the critical blood cleansing and balancing work of her failed kidneys. She feared her time was running out. The grim statistics say that once a person starts on dialysis they have an average of seven years of life remaining. Unless they are blessed to find a kidney donor. The disappointment of spending eight years on the donor wait list was wearing on Knight and her family. But she never lost her hope or optimism. Besides her family, her saving grace was her career as an analyst at Northside Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Department, where she participated on a team that regularly saved the lives of others, including many children. A mission of love can certainly keep one’s spirits high. When at home, she would raise her daughter’s spirits by repeating her affirmation, “This is my year, Lord, this is my time for a miracle. I

Shawn Hardnett: Beacon Of Hope

Going above and beyond to educate those who need it most, he illuminates their future, offers a role model, and makes them a part of a legacy. He was told that North Forest was a “wasteland in Houston.” That was exactly why he was determined to go. Though weary from years of work in the struggling education system in New York, he was focused on entering one of the lowest performing districts in Texas as a force of change. Educational Reset “We opened the school for black and brown boys, taking the lowest performing demographic out of the lowest performing district. Now, these kids are outperforming the state in Reading and Math,” says Shawn Hardnett. His title is Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys Public Charter School. That said, he has proudly worn many other worthy titles – school founder, leadership coach, principal, educational consultant and, most notably – teacher.  What Hardnett does may not be obvious to the casual observer, but his results clearly are, and they are profound. You can see it

Chad Pregracke: Rescuing Our Rivers

One of the most powerful forces of nature, the river, has been revered the world over since ancient times, says ‘HelpSaveNature.com.’ These massive freshwater bodies have been called ‘the sources of life,’ and some of the most advanced civilizations of the world have originated and flourished on the banks of major rivers. Apart from being sources of sustenance, rivers have also been major hubs of economies. Their ease of transportation has facilitated mass mobility and trade and led to incalculable wealth accumulation. Clearly, this has been the case with America’s second longest river with the second largest drainage basin, the prodigious Mississippi River. The Noble Mississippi “The Mississippi River carries the mud of thirty states and two provinces 2,000 miles south to the delta and deposits 500 million tons of it there every year. The business of the Mississippi, which it will accomplish in time, is to methodically transport all of Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.” – Charles Kuralt               From the time of Native Americans to the present, the “business” of the river has

Eric B. Maddox: Interrogator-in-Chief

As we dig deep into the lives of the highest echelon of entrepreneurial spirits, whatever be their pursuit, certain consistent characteristics emerge to explain their success. Early influences, work ethic, grit, positivity and a never-say-die mindset are all part of their recipe, no doubt. However, another less-appreciated “learned skill” is making an appearance time-and-again. In our noisy world that never stops talking, it is the art of patient, empathetic listening. Eric Maddox is famously known as the man whose investigatory techniques were most responsible for the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein in war-torn Iraq. But he is much more than that. Let’s dig beneath the surface to discover the core of this warrior’s incomparable life-force. An Empathetic Warrior in Service When most young people are a few months away from graduating college, they are busy studying for finals, getting their cap and gown ordered, securing tickets to the ceremony, attending various celebrations across campus (i.e. keg parties), and planning for life beyond the safe campus confines, also called “the real world.” These may all describe Maddox, with one minor nuance.