Start-up Stars

TWU's Center for Women in Business exists to assist women, through education and empowerment, with the skills they need to be successful business owners in Texas. Texas Woman's University is a lighthouse for women who want to own start-ups and be innovators. Our alumnae prove women can do it and are keeping the leadership legacy alive in their communities.

The following profiles feature TWU students and graduates who are successful entrepreneurs. If you are a TWU student or alumna who owns your own business, please contact us so we can highlight your achievements.

Cynthia Nevels, Integrality and Soulgood

Headshot of Cynthia Nevels, entrepreneur and TWU alum

A passion for creating and expanding small companies launched a successful career for Cynthia Nevels (BA '96, BA '10), who shares her business acumen with aspiring entrepreneurs globally. Nevels and her most recent entrepreneurial business - Soulgood, an organic fast food company - were featured on March 27, 2017, in a segment of the nationally syndicated TV show Harry, distributed by NBC Universal and hosted by Harry Connick Jr.

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Hilda Perkins, Happy Farms Meats

Woman with black cowboy hat wearing a white shirt

Alumna Hilda Perkins (BS '77, PhD '91) is making her way in a business that most people would consider a man’s world. Perkins owns and operates Happy Farms, a small cattle ranch in Clarksville, Texas, with her sister, Carrie.

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Michelle Wooley Miller - Massage Envy

Michelle Miller with award

TWU graduate Michelle Wooley Miller (B.S. ’91) has the enviable job of searching for the best massages in Texas. She’s made it her business to find therapists who feel a deep desire to heal people through all types of massage.


Stacey Mattinson, Elevate Nutrition Consulting

Headshot of Stacey Mattinson, MS Nutrition student and owner of Elevate Nutrition Consulting

As a clinical dietitian for a hospital, Texas Woman's University online nutrition student Stacey Mattinson loved teaching patients about how nutrition could help them heal. But with only 15 minutes to educate patients who were frequently recovering from major surgery, Mattinson said it was difficult to direct behavior changes. To spend more time on nutritional counseling, Mattinson launched Elevate Nutrition Consulting in February 2016.

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Tamala Austin, Jive Juice

Headshot of TWU alum and entrepreneur Tamala Austin

As the owner and founder of Jive Juice, Tamala Austin knows the secret to a soaring business, self-care and a slim waistline — fresh ingredients and a messy kitchen. At the age of 41, Austin began juicing for health benefits out of her own kitchen.  Four years, 21 juices and an EMBA from Texas Woman’s University later, Austin now is fielding phone calls and offers from gymnasiums and grocery stores around the greater Houston area, who all are interested in selling Jive Juice.


Carissa Laitinen-Kniss, Twisted Bodies

Carissa Laitinen-Kniss, co-owner of Twisted Bodies Pilates & Yoga Studio in Denton.

“Training bodies intelligently,” sums up the teaching philosophy of Carissa Laitinen-Kniss (BFA '03), co-owner of Twisted Bodies, a Pilates & yoga Studio in Denton.

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Christina Hall-Payne, Courtney Taylor and Victory Evans-Hardeman, Beanstalk Fundraising and Community Relations

Victory Evans-Hardeman, Christina Hall-Payne and Courtney Taylor, owners of Beanstalk.

For most, childhood dreams come and go. But for cousins Christina Hall-Payne (EMBA '12) and Courtney Taylor (EMBA '11), and their friend Victory Evans-Hardeman (EMBA '13), the dream of one day owning their own business together was one that took root when they were little girls growing up in Houston and took full bloom after graduating from Texas Woman’s University’s Executive MBA program.

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Whitney Bracey, Mahogany Blues Apparel LLC

Whitney Bracey, owner of Mahogany Blues Apparel LLC

Texas Woman’s University’s fashion student Whitney Bracey embodies today’s Texas woman. She is an athlete and a fashionista, an entrepreneur and an advocate, an employee and a student, and she embraces each of these qualities and uses them to drive her passion to start a fashion company that is inclusive of all women.


Gay Riley, Lipo-Visuals

Lipo-Visuals Founder Gay Riley

Hoping to inspire healthier eating, Texas Woman's University alumna Gay Riley (BS '80, MS '91) founded Lipo-Visuals in 1992 to show via test tube displays the fat, sugar and fiber content of the most popular foods in the U.S.


Page last updated 2:35 PM, October 11, 2017