Arts » Cover story

Women Who Rock

Presenting six ladies who make Charlotte a cooler place to live



I am woman. Watch me rock. (Roaring is so 1970s.)

It's easy to be a woman who talks loud, but what about the chicks who are doing something? You know, like, making a mark on the community with culture, art and sheer intelligence?

These are the women who rock. The women who put talk into action and give Charlotte a kick of flavor.

Creative Loafing decided it would be cool to recognize these ladies in this, our quasi-annual celebration of "Women Who Rock." Here's a look at who they are and what they do:

Making the old new again

Allyson Speaks doesn't like to see cool things go to waste, no matter how old they are.

Speaks, who owns Century Vintage on Central Avenue, has a blue sofa to thank for her becoming a shopkeeper.

"I was pregnant with my son and the refrigerator broke," she says. "I had saved up enough money to not have to work a couple of months after he was born, but replacing a refrigerator was not in the budget."

So Speaks went to an auction to find a used refrigerator, and when she arrived, seven months pregnant, she saw a blue sofa that had that 1970s-era swagger. And it looked as if it hadn't been used and abused.

"It was a big sectional sofa. Nobody bid on it, and I asked them what were they going to do with it. They said it was going to a landfill. It really, really bothered me." It got to her so much that she started looking for a venue where she could take furniture from the 1950s, '60s and '70s to find them a new cool home.

While she wasn't able to save the blue sofa, Speaks says she's run across other things that she was able to save, including a pair of chairs she found before the birth of her son that could easily fit into her car.

She began selling to the original owners of Century Vintage and they convinced her to rent a spot in the store. When the owners decided to sell the store, Speaks decided to purchase it. While she handles furniture and art, the store has more, including jewelry and clothes.

She says being a shop owner was something she never envisioned. "When it came up for sale, no one would have taken it over because it was not profitable at that time. But I had to have a place to sell my stuff."

Century Vintage, however, isn't just a shop where you can find avocado green furniture and lamps that remind you of sitting in your grandmother's house. The shop also houses a performance space where artists, no matter the genre -- whether they're musical or performance artists -- can come and perform. And on the weekends, you can catch independent film screenings at the store. A handful of visual artists, who have created work that isn't your garden-variety mainstream paintings and such, also display their works on the walls of her shop. "I don't have to like what they do, as long as I respect it as art," she says.

Ready for my close-up

The Charlotte-based photographer known only has Moye has always been an artist. But she found her muse through the lens of a camera.

The photography thing all started for her in middle school. Her family had taken a trip to Pennsylvania, and her cousin gave her father an old Minolta camera that he wasn't using anymore.

"My dad didn't play around with it much either, so I just picked it up and started playing around with it; with the camera functions and capturing the things that were appealing to me at first," she says.

Now, years later, she's garnered a list of clients that reads like a "Who's Who" of the Queen City: She's worked with R&B singer Anthony Hamilton, former Carolina Panther Mike Minter, local radio personalities Ifé Moore and Consuella, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, several best-selling authors and more (including this here paper, too).

But Moye says she feels her greatest sense of accomplishment when she breaks down boundaries with her pictures.

"Even when I'm dong photography for clients, it may be fashion, advertising oriented, it's just natural for me to incorporate the essence of who that person is and use that in a way to affect the greater society," she says. "Whether we're dealing with things like race, religion, sexuality, economics, sexism -- any of that will kind of naturally find its way into what I'm doing depending on what type of energy I'm feeling from that client.

"I try to stay really authentic to what I'm feeling from myself and what I'm feeling from that person," she continues. "I love photographing people. I love their facial expressions. I love finding myself in them, I love pulling things out of them that were hidden or need to be resurfaced or things they didn't know about themselves. I just love knowing that we can find a way to connect."

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