Photo Credit: Ariel H. and The Fresh Faces Project
Her journey to becoming “Supergirl” , as many know her, has been a heavy one. Nevertheless, this 24-year-old serial businesswoman has managed to rise to stellar levels in her near decade of a career. Beginning her work history as a 15-year-old Retail Business intern at the Nordstrom mall in downtown Chicago while attending the esteemed Jones College Prep, she has a long track record of striving for success at a young age. Now, as the reigning Miss World America Nation 2020 and a 17-time award-winning entrepreneur for her nonprofit initiative, The Fresh Faces Project (est. 2014), her web series, “Chicago Talent” (est. 2018) , and her media firm that serves as the parent company, Calynn Communications & Creative (est. 2020), she is living proof that dreams can come true and goals can be brought to fruition if you have the right resources, the right attitude and the right work ethic.
The Fresh Faces Project is a primarily online, nonprofit initiative that has helped close to 350 small businesses and talents worldwide, by providing free and discounted marketing, PR, and networking services. This was started by Calynn in her Senior year of high school because she wanted to help generate a space where all of the amazing creatives that she’d befriended from school, work and volunteering at YouMedia could receive the recognition and the voice that they deserved. What began as just an extension of her blog, Fashion Thunderclap (est. 2011), evolved into a full-service initiative with several options for participants. Being cast on her web series,
“Chicago Talent”, that has received rave reviews in the media and a strong 5-star rating from its audience, is one of those opportunities that she offers for free to aspiring influencers. Being honored at her annual Fresh Faces Project Awards Ceremony is another free opportunity that participants have. This year, she gave away over 40 awards at the event in March! Also, now that she has officially launched her parent company media firm, she also has created and acquired several online publications that she uses to promote new talent as well, with a strong concentration on people from underprivileged and underrepresented groups. Currently, she is working on the third installment of her series “Titans of Tomorrow: #BlackBusinessesMatter.”
With accolades ranging from her work in pageantry to holding four Chicago Oscars, two Virtual Visionary awards, the 2018 Forever Flame: Ashburn Alumni Achievement award from her elementary alma mater from which she graduated valedictorian, Woman of the Year in 2017 among others, Calynn has a lot to show for her endeavors! And, while you might think that someone like her would be the furthest thing from fun and down-to-earth, she’s exactly that. With a positive, motivational spirit and a big smile, it’s no wonder that she was elected the national Miss Congeniality title in 2019.
Photo Credit: Miss & Mrs. America Nation Organization
When asked about her feelings on her current successes, she said the following:
“It brings real tears to my eyes to have been able to accomplish so much at such a young age. The awards and recognition that I have been so privileged to accumulate give me relentless motivation to keep going, keep serving, keep trying to make a difference. Every single time I get the opportunity to be interviewed on a blog, podcast or magazine, I’m just as excited as I was my very first time. Every single time I get the opportunity to be nominated for an award, I am just as elated as if I didn’t have a shelf full of them. Every single time I have someone tell me that I inspire them or that they look up to me, it’s as if I’m hearing that for the first time.
I am so blessed and so honored to have been able to do so many things that most people my age haven’t gotten the chance to yet. Because of that, I have always vowed that I will always use my platform to not just benefit myself, but to benefit the collective of people like me who are working so hard to make something of themselves but may not have the resources to grow.
Success is nothing if you don’t share it with other people. It’s deeper than just an act of kindness or a sweet gesture for me to promote and support minority owned businesses, women led
companies and creatives from marginalized social/economic/racial communities. It is almost an obligation. I, too, had people who helped me and I will always be grateful for them. Honestly, I don’t even know where I’d be without them. Anybody from my managers at my first job who gave me my foot in the door at Nordstrom, to the school staff who always pushed me to do well academically, to connections I’ve made in the industry that were instrumental in the growth of my career, to the fantastic executive leadership at the Miss & Mrs. America Nation pageant
system for believing in me enough to bestow me the honor of being their ‘Miss World,’ I appreciate them all.”
Calynn has demonstrated a great deal of growth, both personally and professionally, over the years. People have watched her evolve from an ambitious adolescent from the southwest side of Chicago who was working tirelessly to get her shot to an accomplished young woman who is destined to foster positive change globally.
When asked about the lengthy path that she’s walked to arrive at her current destination, she said the following:
“It’s definitely been quite the voyage with so many weathered storms. However, I believe that you just have to trust the process sometimes.‘God bless the broken road’ is so much more than just an iconic Rascal Flatts hit, it’s real life. For example, had I been able to afford a university education after highschool instead of opting to go to a small local college for my degree to save money, I might’ve never made any of the major connections that I did by staying in Chicago and being able to host cable television for two years or attend all the big industry events and red-carpet galas, every major Fashion Week in the country (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles etc.) as well as Paris in 2018, nor would I have those life changing experiences and memories. While not taking the traditional route was a little hard of a pill to swallow at 18, I’m now in the process of completing my third certificate program through my dream school, Harvard Business School Online, in Leadership, with my other two focusing on Entrepreneurship and Persuasive Communications. Another example would be that if I hadn’t gotten my heart broken from the men in my past who I thought I needed to be happy at that time, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet a great man who is truly everything I want and need without having to settle for less.
Thus, I have no regrets.”
Photo Credit: Masterpiece Chicago
In closing, she was asked about the support system that she has, and how their encouragement has aided her along this journey. She said the following:
“I have so many people to thank that I couldn’t possibly list every name or even half of them. I am so grateful to have an awesome network of people in my life who push me to excel.
Obviously, my parents, Dawn and Tory, who raised myself and my sisters, Candyss and Camrynn, to be strong, smart, go-getter women receive a ton of credit for all of our accomplishments. My family and loved ones are also a huge support from literal words of encouragement to showing up at my functions to cheer me on. My close friends who I love so much, some like family to me, have been there through thick and thin, some for over a decade, Nikhaule, Ariel, Mikaela, Nailah and Jessica to name a few but there are many. Lastly, I have found great peace and enjoyment in getting to know someone in my personal life lately who tries his best to be there for me and keep a smile on my face by regularly demonstrating that he cares for me, despite being very busy with his own career as a young, handsome, aerospace engineer. Without these amazing people supporting me and helping keep me grounded, I could not even function. I thank them all for being such great contributors to my life. I just hope that I can make the same positive impact on people that they’ve made on me.”
She’s come so far, yet still has so much more to do before feeling truly fulfilled in her self-proclaimed life’s purpose of knowing that she’s “changed as many lives, touched as many hearts, and done as much good for the world” as she possibly can.
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(Syndicated press content)