19 Creative Milwaukee Women You Need to Know About

In honor of International Women’s Day, we rounded up this list of inspirational Milwaukeeans.


1. Tia Richardson

Tia Richardson’s dozens of community murals are dotted across the city, making massive-scale impacts on buildings like the Milwaukee County Courthouse, buildings in Sherman Park, the Black Cat Alley, I-794 freeway piers, the intersection of West Locust Street and Fond Du Lac Avenue and several other locations in Milwaukee and beyond. Not only does her art beautify communities, it brings them together as well. Community members have participated in several of Richardson’s works – from brainstorming topic ideas and discussing meaning behind the art to painting the murals themselves. Richardson believes her art is an opportunity for “community members from all walks of life a chance to freely express their feelings.”

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2. Samantha Danen

Samantha Danen is a brewer at Third Space Brewing, one of the 30-plus craft breweries in Milwaukee. After becoming interested in beer in college and brewing at home, Danen honed her professional craft in Milwaukee’s Brewery scene. When she first started she was Milwaukee’s first woman craft brewer. Now she’s the chair of the Wisconsin Chapter of Pink Boots Society, which provides scholarships, educational opportunities and other services to women in Wisconsin’s beer industry. Danen was also the creative mind behind Third Space’s Like a Girl IPA, which was brewed collaboratively with women brewers from around the state. 

3 & 4. Cris Siqueira & Shelly McClone-Carriere

Longtime collaborators and co-owners of Lion’s Tooth, Cris Siqueira and Shelly McClone-Carriere have helped fill a gap in Milwaukee’s independent book store scene. The shop specializes in zines, graphic novels and comics, bringing illustrated stories to readers of all ages in Milwaukee and beyond. They also host annual comic residency, an opportunity to support creators right here in Milwaukee. The resident is provided regular mentorship by local artists as well as Siqueira and McClone-Carriere themselves. There are events throughout the year that culminate in the creation and publication of a comic book. A release party for the 2022/23 resident Casey Harrison’s new comic, “How a Flower is Born” will take place on Apr. 15. 

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5. Dria Rushing

Dria Rushing, better known by her professional name, DJ DRiPSweat is a local artist, musician and DJ. Rushing plays sets across the city at venues like Nō Studios, Boone & Crockett and The Outsider. She has opened for Thundercat at The Rave, performed at SummerFest and opened a set at Fiserv Forum before a home game. Her captivating sets have earned her a spot as regular DJ at Company Brewing and a main-stay in the city. Outside of catching her live, she shares her musical acumen on her latest project, Condensed Radio

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6. Heidi Parkes

Heidi Parkes is a local fiber artist and quilter, whose large-scale pieces feature vivid color studies and stunning textural elements – sometimes through vignettes of nature or home life. She uses many kinds of materials for her work, including things like scarves, feed sacks, vintage dresses, alongside traditional sewing and quilting materials. Her works have been on display across the country, including QuiltCon in Atlanta, The Compound Gallery in Emeryville, California, and the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, Iowa. You can see her recent work on display at Schlueter Art Gallery, as a part of the Land Reflections: ARTservancy Artists in Residence series now through Apr. 21. 

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7. Cetonia Weston-Roy

Cetonia Weston-Roy was so committed to the mission of sharing Black literature, she cycled around the city, selling books from her “book bike.” Weston-Roy wanted Black readers to see themselves in all kinds of stories, across genres that may not typically center Black protagonists – like sci-fi, fantasy and mystery. In 2022, she opened her brick and mortar shop, Niche Book Bar (1937 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr. Dr.) and if building this business from the bottom up wasn’t enough, she also is a children’s author and the founder of The Black Author’s Collective, celebrating and supporting local Black authors. 

8. Rae Frye

For just about a decade, Milwaukee’s Cival Collective has created unique and specialized jewelry from brass, gold, silver, leather, stone and other fine materials. Rae Frye, founder and craftsperson, started selling her wares at trade shows, markets and online before moving into her beautiful studio space and shop on National Avenue. She’s forged a unique but recognizable style, with care and expertise crafted into each objet d’art. The women-owned-and-operated shop offers homemade rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for an investment piece, the team also creates stunning custom engagement, bridal and “modern heirloom” jewelry. 

9. Marjorie Inman

Marjorie Inman has crafted some of Milwaukee’s most iconic neon signs for businesses including WMSE, Tonic Tavern, The Newport and Ono Kine Grindz. For over 20 years, Inman and her partner, Je Kelley, have run Electric Eye Neon, one of Milwaukee’s last remaining neon shops. She has manipulated, “bomboarded” and shaped hundreds of yards of glass, in her 35-plus year career. Inman honed her craft as an apprentice under Bill Buth and even learned from the famous Rudi Stern. The neon sign industry, which is slowly being taken over by “neon” LEDs, produces true works of art that just cannot be imitated by mass-manufactures. 

10. Ilana Setapen

Ilana Setapen is the acting concertmaster at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and has been the first chair violinist since 2009. She has been offered a solo every season and has helped lead the players through dozens of performances including works by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Bolcom, Tōru Takemitsu and of course several Beethoven’s symphonies. As a Texas native, Setapen represents what level of artistic talent we can create when we invest in the arts. 

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11. Audrey Moore

Audrey Moore, better known as HoneySnob, is a community-oriented creator, designer and art facilitator based in Milwaukee. Her professional marketing and design work uplifts marginalized voices and local organizations including Leaders Igniting Transformation and Artists Working in Education. Moore’s personal artwork aims to capture “the high anxiety of living as a queer Black femme” through an illustrative surrealist style and striking use of color.

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12. Delilac 

Milwaukee native Delilac is a DJ and producer spinning through the city’s electronic scene with groovy rave and dynamic jungle sounds. She has performed at Bayview’s beloved Cactus Club, Riverwest’s Quarters, and Promises in Walker’s Point, with no sign of slowing down. You can find her around Milwaukee performing solo or with other local DJs and crews including Apart, Club Ritual and No Stress Collective. 

13. Emma Daisy Gertel

Emma Daisy is a Milwaukee based visual artist and muralist, recognized for her work with Milwaukee Youth Arts and Express Yourself Milwaukee, and art curation at Artist Uprising. She’s known for her murals including “In Full Bloom” found in Black Cat Alley, “Westown in Bloom” on James Lovell St. and Wisconsin Ave., and “What Happens When We Dream” outside of Onesto in The Third Ward. Through her fluid nature-inspired work often features plants, flowers and girls, Gertel explores narratives of identity, acceptance and culture. Her work can be found on the streets of Milwaukee and on display at Var West Gallery.

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15 & 16. Gabby and Vic Banuelos 

Formerly known as the pop duo Vic and Gab, REYNA is made up of Mexican-American sisters Gabby and Vic Banuelos. After locating to Milwaukee from Texas over 10 years ago, REYNA (a name inspired by the Spanish word for “queen”) gathered local acclaim with airy vocals and synth-pop style. They’ve opened for popular artists including CHVRCHES and Death Cab for Cutie, and found success with singles including “7’11,” “Lonely Girl,” and “Coachella.” 

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17. Margaret Muza 

Margaret Muza is an artist based out of Milwaukee, specializing in wetplate tintype photography. This technique dates back to the mid 1800s and results in a one of a kind image with tonal depth and fine detail. In addition to telling stories through her skillfully developed photography, she also worked as The Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence from 2017-2018. 

18. Shawna Nicols

Shawna Nicols, better known as DJ Shawna, is responsible for the sound of the Milwaukee Bucks as their official DJ and Producer. In addition to opening for prominent acts including Lizzo, Shaq and Jonas Blue, this former professional basketball player aims to empower people through the #DareToBe movement. With her podcast and clothing line of the same name, as well as her first original single, “I Won’t Give Up” and children’s book, “The Adventures of Bob and Downtown Milwaukee,” Shawna works to spread positivity and empower people to be their best selves.

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19. Zhanna Slor 

Zhanna Slor is a Ukrainian-American author based in Milwaukee, known for her acclaimed debut mystery novel, At the End of the World, Turn Left. The book follows two immigrant sisters in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, and was featured on multiple top ten lists by literary websites CrimeReads and Booklist. In addition, it was recognized by Publishers Weekly and NPR, the latter of which described it as “crafted with such elegance and authenticity.” Her newest novel, Breakfall releases this April with high anticipation.

CORRECTION: Samantha Danen now works for Third Space Brewing