Joanie Swords

“It’s not very often I get to meet someone whose business plan is based purely on love.”

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It’s not very often I get to meet someone whose business plan is based purely on love. After hearing Joanie Swords’ story, going from a young girl who hardly spent any time in the kitchen to the woman who now owns Harper and Madison, there is no wonder in my mind why her restaurant has been so successful. When a person can be as humble as her and truly love what they do for a living, great things can happen, and it honestly shows in this amazing woman. Being a natural server and caring about a genuine interaction with local customers, Joanie created her business with the Billings community in mind and wanted to preserve the long history that came with the building structure her restaurant currently resides in. Joanie went on to tell me that her passion for serving the Billings community has fueled her love for Harper and Madison and hopes that it could be a model for other businesses to help Billings evolve into an even better place.

Gary Luce 

You know Wilson, the wise neighbor in the hit TV show Home Improvement? Yes, the guy you saw on every episode give Tim “the tool man” advice on life. We were all left wondering what Wilson really looked like because you only got to see half his face peering over the fence. Well, Gary Luce is that guy in real life. While many people might have heard his name, Gary has always been that elusive guy who let his work shine rather than worry about self-image. As a photographer myself, I have really looked up to Gary as he has become one of the most technical photographers in Montana. He has had images published in Elegant Magazine, Solis and Prolific Quarterly and has worked with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Hooters and ESPN. He even received a recognition award from National Geographic. While he might have a major focus on fashion photography, we both have a common interest, and that is photography itself. I have seen and heard Gary speak passionately with other photographers, helping each of them to become better in their fields and doing anything he can to give them a better understanding of anything from poses to lighting. He has always been the kind of guy who would go out of his way to help a fellow photographer, and some of the best photographers in the Billings area have learned a thing or two from him.