Success is not defined by a career, education, title or wealth. Intangible and fluid, it cannot be confined or denied by any boundaries. Like physical traits, success is unique to everyone and comes in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Tex Appeal found several local women of various ages who are all defining success on their own terms.
When 17-year-old Jenna McDaniel steps on stage with her guitar in hand and shares her larger than life, Texas-size talent, there’s no mistaking this girl is headed straight to the top of the country music charts. Since her career began in 2011, McDaniel has opened shows for Texas music stars Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, Jason Boland, Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen, Rick Trevino and John David Kent, and headlined her own shows at venues all across Texas, Nashville and even Utica, N.Y.
McDaniel, a Temple High School senior, already accomplished several lifetime milestones, including her upcoming high school graduation June 7, the release of her first album “Little Miss Understanding,” and being nominated “New Female Vocalist Of The Year” by Big Star 97, a radio station in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Due to school, McDaniel, who started playing music professionally when she was 15, has been limited to performing on weekends. But she spends one week every month in Nashville working with her artist development team on writing, training and performing.
“For the last two years, I’ve focused on developing the music for my first CD,” McDaniel said. “I co-wrote all of the songs and I am very proud of them. I recorded them with Pat Green’s band and am thrilled I had the opportunity to work with two iconic musicians — producer Walt Wilkins and engineer Ron Flynt. They did an excellent job on it.”
It takes more than a guitar and talent to launch a successful music career and nobody understands this better than McDaniel. Like any other business venture, it requires an investment. McDaniel recently raised more than $7,500 in three months on indiegogo.com to offset the expenses of producing her CD.
“For the past two years, my family has helped me pay for all of my vocal coaching, guitar lessons, sound equipment and travel expenses,” she said. “Things add-up fast, especially working on an album — studio fees, the band, producer and engineer have to be paid, licensing fees, production costs and marketing expenses.”
The Indiegogo campaign created a CD pre-sale, but it also gave McDaniel the opportunity to raise additional funds by offering fans more than a digital download.
“I created personalized packages such as an autographed CD or a T-shirt and autographed CD, and even a personally autographed, handwritten copy of the song lyrics of their choice to frame,” she said.
After graduation, McDaniel plans to get down to business and begin pursuing her music career full time.
“I’ve hired a manager and entertainment publicist so ... I can start spending more time on the road touring and marketing my CD.”
After serving in the military for eight years, Army veteran Luvina Sabree made a vow to herself that she would never look back with any regrets.
“I guess I am what you’d consider a life learner. I love reading and learning about new things and a variety of topics,” she said. “I’ve always been a bit of a risk-taker, too, so when I’ve come across something I’d like to try, I’ve never been afraid to do it. There are no guarantees in life. I might love it, or I might end up hating it. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a great feeling knowing at least I tried.”
A “no fear” mindset led Sabree to dabbling in a variety of professions. In college, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and discovered a passion for helping others as a registered nurse. This eventually led to a certification in auriculotherapy, a popular alternative healing method based on Chinese medicine.
“More and more health professionals are beginning to incorporate alternative and integrated medicine and therapies into their treatment plans,” Sabree said. “Acupuncture of the ear is helpful for healing addictions, musculoskeletal pain and even managing weight loss.”
Other things came along that tweaked her interest and Sabree briefly ventured into the real estate and automobile industry. She got her wholesale dealer’s license and sold cars for awhile, but discovered that line of work wasn’t for her.
“I always loved homes and real estate, so I got my real estate license, too,” Sabree said. “Never set limitations on yourself. That’s what I always tell my kids. Pursue your own dreams and never let anyone talk you out of it. If there’s something you want to do and it’s been accomplished before, that’s great. It just means it’ll be easier. If you decide to pursue something no one else has ever done, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you need to pave the way for others.”
Sabree discovered a niche in the all-natural organic market after one of her children was diagnosed with eczema. “I made our own natural, fragrance-free soaps and bath products and that helped. However, the more I researched eczema, the more I realized to effectively manage the condition we had to start treating it from the inside out,” Sabree said.
Little by little, Sabree cut out all junk and processed foods from her family’s diet and started using only fresh, organic ingredients. The eczema improved and the family noticed an immediate improvement in the way they all felt. At that point, she knew she was on to something.
Nine years ago, Sabree started a Natural Hair Group in Killeen that meets monthly.
“There’s a movement of women who want to go back to their natural hair and stop using straighteners with toxic chemicals linked to cancer. Now I do an Armed Forces Natural Hair & Health Expo Show twice a year, once in Killeen and once in San Antonio,” Sabree said.
When her family first moved to Central Texas, Sabree found the weekly commutes to Whole Foods in Austin frustrating. Eventually her dream of opening a market and restaurant came true when So Natural Organic Restaurant and Market opened in 2013.
“We focus on serving healthy, all-natural, gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo and vegan options,” Sabree said. “I love helping people and I love learning. That’s something that will never change. You only live once and there are so many things I want to do before I die. I want to live full and die empty.”
When Melissa Tyroch Bragg was in law school, she envisioned herself championing for justice and spending her days in court arguing cases, filing motions, negotiating contract disputes, and writing appeals and legal briefs. Little did she know she’d end up trading the courtroom for a campus.
“Ever since I was in the first grade, I knew I wanted to be an attorney. In fact, I was so inspired by Sandra Day O’Conner that when I was 6 years old I made her a get well card and drew her some Mickey Mouse pictures,” Bragg said. “It really surprised my mother when she opened the mailbox and found a card from her. She sent me a thank you note. Later on in college, I even had an opportunity to meet her.”
As the director of gift planning at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Bragg assists donors and alumni with their estate planning, probate and charitable gift planning.
“My work at UMHB is very rewarding. I enjoy working with people of all ages and incomes and helping them honor their decisions to give gifts to the university,” she said.
“My job is to work closely with them to advise them on the best ways to structure their gifts and estates to minimize tax consequences. Endowments enable UMHB to provide scholarships to students to help them achieve their educational goals.”
From the little girl who always wanted to help others to the professional woman, wife and mother today, Bragg is proud to work at UMHB.
“It is wonderful working for an organization that is respectful and supportive of your own personal values,” she said. “UMHB’s mission is to prepare students for leadership and service in a supportive Christian environment that respects and promotes their faith.”
Community service and leadership is an important tradition in Bragg’s family and one she has continued.
Over the last few months, she and other faculty members worked to create a student chapter of the Lions Club on campus.
“We charter it in next month and I am excited to offer students yet another opportunity to get involved and serve our community. My father and grandfather always served in the Lions Club, so this has been an important project to me,” Bragg said.
When not on campus, Bragg also serves on a variety of other community and civic organizations and boards. She is involved in her church’s Young Lives Ministry, where she volunteers to mentor young mothers across Central Texas.
“There are so many great organizations and people in our community and I enjoy working alongside them,” Bragg said. “They’re what make Central Texas special. I’m proud I moved back after college. Bell County is a great place to live and raise a family.”
After spending 26 years in the corporate world, CJ Harbuz decided it was time she moved on and pursue a more “natural” path. Retirement was not going to slow her down. Harbuz was ready to plant new roots and start her own business when she moved back home to Central Texas a little more than 18 years ago.
“I’ve lived and traveled all over the world during the course of my first career, had my fun, and then decided it was time to move back closer to my aging parents,” Harbuz said. “I was always drawn to Salado. It’s a unique little village. And being an artist and musician at heart, I knew it was a place that would nourish my soul,”
A self-professed life-learner, Harbuz has spent a lifetime studying natural remedies and herbs. Sharing the health benefits of natural remedies inspired her to open Angelic Herbs in 1996.
“Even when I worked in the corporate world, everyone knew I used natural herbs so someone was always asking me for advice on how to treat a health issue naturally,” she said. “People visit Salado for its peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, because it’s a nice escape from their normal hectic lifestyles. With this in mind, I knew Salado was the perfect place to open my shop. I named the shop Angelic Herbs because it combined my two loves-angels and herbs.”
The decision to carry gift items came soon afterward as customers started asking to buy the shop’s display décor — her angels. She is very particular about the gifts the store sells and only carries unique product lines that have a positive, nourishing value.
“I tend to choose things that speak to my heart and figure if they nourish my soul, maybe others will also find comfort in them,” Harbuz said. “I also only work with companies who have good business ethics and practices and I prefer to carry handmade gifts made by local artists.”
Harbuz offers a variety of classes and workshops throughout the year and is available for personal consultations by appointment.
“I am not a doctor and I’ll never try to be one. Nor will I ever tell someone to stop using medications their doctor prescribed. I am simply here to answer questions about natural herbs and remedies. People underestimate natural remedies, often times if they only tried a natural remedy first, and they could have deterred more serious medical issues down the road. All of which is important as we begin to live longer,” she said. “At some point, people have to begin taking responsibility for their own health. If more people made better choices during their younger years, they’d have fewer problems later in life. And this I know firsthand. I personally witnessed it as a caregiver to my aging parents, and now I am beginning to experience it for myself.”
When not juggling appointments or working at the shop, Harbuz travels to conferences and classes to continue her studies in alternative and integrated medicine and therapies. Slowing down isn’t on her to-do list. She wants to offer more classes and workshops, write some articles for publication based upon her own research, and even has plans to start writing a book.
“When I retired 18 years ago, I went from working 40 hours a week to working 80, but I love sharing my passion with others,” she said. “Coming to Salado was the best decision I ever made.”
Rising to the top of the country music charts has taught 17-year-old Temple native Jenna McDaniel the music industry is a full-time business offstage.
Life-learner and owner of So Natural Organic Restaurant & Market in Harker Heights, Luvina Sabree believes the key to success and living a full life means never abandoning your dreams.
Working to make a difference for the students and the community is most important to Melissa Tyroch Bragg, director of gift planning at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
Following a “natural” path led CJ Harbuz, owner of Angelic Herbs in Salado, to start a new career and a fulfilling business after she retired 18 years ago.