Sydney Rose Wray is the owner of Rust and Roses Bridal. She earned a BA in criminal justice and sociology from UNC-Pembroke and is currently working on her MA in clinical mental health from Liberty University. In addition to opening her online bride boutique that specializes in reception looks, elopements and bridal event outfits, Sydney is a songwriter with singles and an album released on all streaming platforms. She also enjoys modeling, weightlifting and spending time with her husband, Hayden.
Hope Ann Easter is the owner of Hope Ann Photos. “Although I only earned a high school diploma and did some college, most of my education related to photography has been through courses from industry peers,” said Hope. “I’m an avid bookworm. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book. I’ve joined the Empower for Profit Collective with Taryn Jarez, and it has leveled up my business tenfold! I’ve since re-branded and re-designed my website and logo to fit my personality and business.”
Samantha Pfaff, lead designer and decorator at Detail and Design Event Company was born and raised in Davie County. She married her high school sweetheart and brought a beautiful baby girl into the world in 2016. Although she is a small-town native, she is very well versed in the world of decorating and designing. Beginning at a young age, she realized she had a creative mind that would take her places and knew that God designed her to help others celebrate life! Her spirit and passion have continued to blossom throughout her formal education from East Carolina University with a degree in interior design and merchandising. Following with her industry work as a design consultant at Furnitureland South and Meg Brown Home Furnishings, she naturally adapted quickly to the design world creating visual creatives, floor plans, sketches, schematics, as well as execution of those concepts. Samantha loves connecting with people; bringing their story and vision to life! “I truly honor the understanding of the person first so that they can be authentically captured in the vision. Infusing facets of their personality and elements of their stories is just another way to celebrate this beautiful life we have!”
Sarah Avery is an executive ambassador with TRU Taekwondo. “As a long-time parent of TRU students (and a student myself), I’ve always loved TRU and the community they have provided my family and me,” said Sarah. “As of January 2023, I was able to join their team; my role includes strengthening relationships within the community across all five campuses. In addition to being the community liaison/connector, I have the opportunity to serve as a volunteer coordinator, assist with current members and families, as well as lead fitness classes at TRU.” Sarah has a degree in consumer, apparel and retail studies from UNC-Greensboro. “I love hanging out with my friends, reading, teaching fitness classes and spending the summers at the pool and the beach. I especially love spending time with my kids, Isaac (10) and Olivia (8). They are the best because they are full of joy and keep me laughing.”
Etienne Thomas came to Winston-Salem State University in 2019 after serving at Kentucky State University as the director of athletics. So far, under her leadership, the Rams have captured CIAA Championships in men’s basketball (2020), (2023) and outdoor track and field (2022). At KSU, she partnered with the coaches and staff in moving the department “Onward, Upward and Forward” in alignment with the university’s mission. She also worked at Howard University (2002-03) in Washington, D.C.; Saint Paul’s College (2001-02) in Lawrenceville, Virginia; and at North Carolina Central University (2001-02). Thomas is a member of the Junior League of Winston-Salem, a member of the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina community leadership council, 2021 Leadership Winston-Salem Alum serving on the Opening Retreat Committee, a member of the WSSU Chancellor’s Executive Cabinet and a proud lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. A native of Waterloo, Iowa, and raised in Hempstead, New York, Thomas is a 1996 graduate of North Carolina Central University majored in political science. She has completed coursework for a J.D. degree from The University of Iowa College of Law. Thomas, is married to Byron Thomas.