22 Women Who Made This Year Sparkle

Let’s be real: this year definitely had its ups and downs. But in the midst of it all, there were women across the country making life feel a lot sparklier. These 22 badass women are shaking the table, securing the bag and sparking change in their communities. Read on to learn a little about them and say cheers! 

Shannon Maldonado | @shannymaldonado

Shannon is the founder of YOWIE, a Philadelphia design studio and lifestyle boutique focused on curating small collections from friends, independent artists, and designers. This year, Shannon created a TV show called Small Enough, partnered with Nordstrom on a pop-up shop and opened Wim, a cafe concept on the ground floor of what will soon be YOWIE Hotel. 

Jennifer Senske Ryan + Lindsey Noto | @jsenskeryan | @notoriouslinzy

 As part of the “crew” at hospitality staffing agency Croux, Jennifer and Lindsey are combating the COVID-19 staffing crisis by seamlessly connecting talent with flexible work opportunities like restaurant shifts and catering gigs. Based in greater Birmingham, AL, the Croux app was spotlighted by Soul Grown and featured in Birmingham Lifestyle’s October issue. The team also showcased “A Taste of Birmingham” at this year’s World Games. 

Amanda Gilbert | @dryvtgand
Amanda is the founder of dry vtg and thrift, an online haven for all things nostalgia. From clothing, accessories, home decor and stuff for kiddos, the Ohio-based mom of two curates and styles each piece herself from a small studio space. This year, Amanda took her show on the road at pop-up shops and stayed busy slinging vintage wares via weekly Instagram Stories sales.

Iesha Daniels | @iesha_irene
Music makes the people come together, and DJ Iesha Irene had us hitting the dance floor from coast to coast in 2022. The California native dropped beats at the NewFronts, ComplexCon, Essence Fest and the Toronto Film Festival, just to name a few. Throwing an event? Put Iesha on the decks.

Deja Foxx | @dejafoxx
When it comes to activism, Deja doesn’t just talk the talk: this year the model, Columbia University student and GenZ Girl Gang founder was arrested while peacefully protesting for abortion rights on Capitol Hill. When she wasn’t fighting the good fight, Deja was starring in Prada’s fine jewelry campaign and being snapped at Milan Fashion Week. The future is foxxy

Gaby Dalkin | @whatsgabycookin
Gaby is a chef, cookbook author and founder of What’s Gaby Cooking, a treasure trove of original recipes and celebration of the California Girl Life. This year Gaby hit the New York Times bestseller list with her cookbook Take It Easy and launched a web series, My Best Friend’s Kitchen, where she whips up yummy dishes alongside celebrity pals like Hilary Duff and Whitney Port.

Raquel Willis | @raquel_willis
Raquel is an activist, writer and cultural organizer who is also the founder of Trans Week of Visibility and Action. She shares powerful messages of joy and strength both online and at speaking engagements, and hosts a Black Trans History series on social media.

Andrea Campos | @andrea.x.campos 

This year, the illustrator and Drea’s Doodles founder illustrator published Con Pollo, a bilingual children’s book written by Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Fallon — she even promoted the project as a guest on The Tonight Show! Andrea also created a house plant tarot deck and shared adorable drawings in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and Pride. 

Whitney McGuire + Dominique Drakeford | @whitneyrmcguire | @dominiquedrakeford

Whitney and Dominique are co-founders of Sustainable Brooklyn and creators of The GreenISH book, a directory of resources that prioritize the safety, comfort and agency of Black consumers. This year, Whitney and Dominique spoke on the panel of Black Policy Lab’s transformative Hack Black Futures conference and hosted their own climate liberation series, Summer School: Redefining Justice in the Climate Movement. 


Haejin Chun | @bigbadwolfsf
Haejin is a first-gen Korean-American chef, Food Network cannabis consultant and the founder of Big Bad Wolf SF, a series of underground pop-up dinners in San Francisco that inspire women to link up and celebrate life with delicious, cannabis-infused meals. This year, Haejin uplifted other women through Big Bad Wolf events, brand partnerships and on the Discovery+ series Chopped 420.


Erin Carpenter | @_erincarpenter_
Erin is a former dancer and the founder of Nude Barre, a line of high-performing bodywear in inclusive shades and sizes. Not only did the brand become available in Bloomingdales this year, but Erin was featured as one of Inc. Magazine’s annual Female Founders 100 and gave birth to her second child!

Jessica Currie | @jessicacurrie

As the creative lead for media brands like Brud and Dapper Labs, Jessica knows a thing or two about being extremely online. Her antics are unmatched: she gives followers glimpses of her artsy, bicoastal life and aggregates the week’s most unhinged TikTok videos on her Instagram platform, CurrieTV.

Valerie Van Galder | @depressedcakeshop

Valerie is cooking up a good cause as CEO of Depressed Cake Shop, a non-profit organization raising awareness for mental health through the art of baking, sharing and fundraising. DCS has served their signature gray desserts at pop-up shops around the country — and you can get involved by hosting your own event.

Cortne Bonilla | @cortnebonilla

Cortne Bonilla is the Branded Content Editor of Fashion and Beauty at Editorialist. A “devotee of quiet luxury,” Cortne infuses a passion and expertise for all things style in her content. This year she took NYFW by storm, collaborated with brands like Jenni Kayne and Tory Burch, and got engaged.


Catherine Cohen | @catcohen
Catherine is a comedian, actress, singer and writer based in NYC. This year, her debut stand up special The Twist? She’s Gorgeous premiered on Netflix. When she isn’t traveling the world on tour, Cat co-hosts the Seek Treatment podcast and shares her musings and poetry with the newsletter My Sexy Little Email.


Kate Hoffman | @kateehoffman
Kate founded Spacey Studios with the mission to empower everyone to be a world-class art collector. This year, the brand collaborated with even more top emerging artists from around the world — and in some personal news, Kate tied the knot!


Dr. Mitu Khandaker + Latoya Peterson | @mitu | @latoyap
Mitu and Latoya are the brains behind Glow-Up Games, the first creative game studio founded by all women of color and centering storytelling around Black and brown joy. The duo spoke at the Mondo.NYC conference about the intersection of games and music and the opportunities therein. In addition to being featured in a Super Bowl PSA for She Can STEM, Mitu also got married and gave birth to her first child, a baby girl.

Isabella Morillo | @artizinfinite

Isabella — also known as Izinfinite — is a muralist, multidimensional artist and entrepreneur whose aesthetic is truly out of this world. This year she created pieces for music videos, album covers and live installations and showed her vibrant work at events like Beyond Wonderland, Storm Fest and EPW Camping Festival.

Jenny Nguyen | @thesportsbrapdx

The Sports Bra is a Portland bar dedicated to women’s sports, and Jenny is its fearless founder and owner. Her mission? To make great food, delicious drinks, and provide a space that supports, empowers, and promotes girls and women in sports and in the community. This year alone, Jenny was featured in Vogue, honored as one of Wine Enthusiast’s Future 40 and appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show to discuss her bar on International Day of the Girl.