Nicole Griffith, Owner, Well Pared

“One of the most relaxing things is the movement of water…the sound. Sitting quietly in the mountains, listening to a slow rippling river, the scent of pine all around me, feeling the crisp clean air…it brings me much peace and comfort.” –Nicole Griffith

As the owner of a successful business, Nicole Griffith savors such moments of tranquility and calm. In a normal day at work, she wears many hats, all revolving around the mission of her business: feeding people healthy, delicious and high-quality foods.

“I’d say my main role is being the principal strategist and planner,” she says. “I spend most days determining the present and future needs of Well Pared. My responsibilities include marketing and sales, customer service, employee and human resources, finances, research and development, to name a few.”

When asked what word she believes others might use to describe her, Nicole landed on “thoughtful.”

“I genuinely care about the well-being of others,” she confides, and her dedication to this ideal shines through in Well Pared’s dazzling array of nutrient-rich and convenient items. Yet, this thoughtfulness emanates beyond her business. In a trying situation, when someone needs a lift in their spirits, Nicole trusts in the power of a handwritten note or a small gesture, “just to show someone understands and cares.”

Jilan Hall-Johnson, Owner, The Sassy Biscuit Co.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” –Frederick Douglass. This statement resonates with Jilan Hall-Johnson, who believes that hard work pays off and has proven this sentiment time and again in her own life.

The self-professed turning point in Jilan Hall-Johnson’s life came when most of us are teetering on the brink of adulthood; she was thrust headlong into it. Two weeks before senior prom, one month prior to high school graduation, she gave birth to her first child. Yet, this only served to inspire and motivate her. She earned an M.A. in human services counseling with a cognate in marriage and family from Liberty University.

“Balancing being a mom with work and school could be a challenge sometimes, but for the most part I was very familiar with it,” Jilan says. “Having a child so young with little to no assistance from family taught me to make many sacrifices. We didn’t have a lot of money; that made sacrificing a lot easier. I have always believed that you can get anywhere in life as long as you’re willing to work hard enough for it. It doesn’t matter where you come from.”

She now has three children with her husband. 

Growing up, Jilan lived in Syracuse, New York.

“I’m an East Coast girl,” she says. “I love the warm, sunny beaches where you can hang out in the water then curl up on the sand with a great book all day.”

With her husband serving in the military, changing locations is part of the job. He received orders to Billings, and they have built a life and business here. 

If given one word to describe her, Jilan believes others would say “bossy” or “motivated.”

“I believe both go hand in hand,” she explains.

She also tends to shy away from frivolity and might not be the one to rely on to lighten the mood.

“While I love having a great time, I’m not sure I have a silly bone in my body,” she admits.

Her strength is in her work ethic and dedication to moving forward. When offered a hypothetical life of 100 percent financial independence, Jilan still feels she would need “something” to keep her fulfilled.

“I’d like to imagine I’d spend my time vacationing and enjoying a leisurely life, but that’s not who I am. I’d find something that made me happy and run with it, kind of like what I’m doing now!”

Maya Burton, Broker with BHHS Floberg Real Estate

“One word I believe others would use to describe me is adaptable,” says Maya Burton, a woman with an uncanny ability to adjust to life’s ebb and flow.

She has moved across the world, worked on a ranch, and experienced great tragedy, yet each challenge was met with undeniable grace and strength.

Raised in Switzerland, Maya traveled to the United States a handful of times as a teenager and was always intrigued by America. While working in a small mountain resort in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, she met an amazing man from the U.S. who swept her off her feet. The pair married and moved to her husband’s native Alabama.

“We lived there for the first 13 years with the intention to move to the mountains one day,” Maya says. “I am a mountain girl who loves my skiing and hiking.”

They ended up in Jackson Hole for a few years then transplanted to a ranch in the Shields Valley before settling in Billings along with their two sons. 

“Most people probably wouldn’t know that my husband and I were ranching for four years,” Maya says. “I learned everything from calving to running machinery, and our fashion statement was wearing Carhartt overalls.”

Her experience on the ranch left her with many memorable moments, including some amusing ones.

“I really wasn’t much of a ranch girl, and there were some funny situations,” she admits. “One of them was when my 8-year-old son and I tried to get this hurt young calf into a trailer. It took us hours, and after finally getting the animal in the trailer, I realized that my son was locked up in there as well! It was funny and scary at the same time.”

The major turning point in Maya Burton’s life occurred 11 years ago. Tragedy struck her family.

“My husband had been practicing dermatology for barely a year here in Billings when he was diagnosed with ALS,” she says.

Her husband succumbed to the illness only eight months later.

“Drastic life change for sure—raising my two sons as a single mom and dealing with the loss of the love of my life.”

That is when Maya, in a stunning display of resilience, decided to begin her career in real estate. 

Overall, Maya’s adaptability has proven to be more than just an adjective to describe her; it is the essence of why she has been so successful. When a situation becomes too tense, and the mood needs to be lightened, she has one solution: “Turn up the music.”

Allyn Hulteng, Principal, Rebel River Creative

“For me, the key is to be open to the wonders of life always.” –Allyn Hulteng

Allyn Hulteng considers her life abundantly fortunate, a fact that makes narrowing down her most interesting life experience a bit of a challenge.

“I’ve had many so wonderful and unexpected experiences it’s difficult to point out just one,” she says.

Even when presented with the ultimate “what-if” scenario, unlimited financial security, she feels her time would be spent the same, doing exactly as she is now: “Working with incredibly talented people to produce extraordinary work for our amazing clients.”

Her company, Rebel River Creative, is a “full-service marketing, creative and visual arts studio” staffed by a “highly experienced team of strategists, designers, writers and visual artists focused on collaborating with clients to create powerful brands.”

She firmly believes you can create something powerful out of a tiny spark of inspiration.

“After hours, I get to spend time with the most wonderful man on earth, my husband, Eric, and our children and granddaughters,” Allyn says. “I’m superbly blessed.”

Growing up in Crosby, a small farming community in the northwestern corner of North Dakota, Allyn describes her childhood as idyllic.

“We only had three TV channels. One was French Canadian. Our imaginations were the source of our entertainment.”

However, she has a soft spot for the beach and flip flops.

“I’ve always loved the ocean—the power and majesty of waves and water. Mountains are a close second.”

One of Allyn’s favorite quotes comes from Scottish mountaineer and writer William Hutchinson Murray; it expounds upon the perils of failing to commit. 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too…whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Implementing this spirit in her own life, she decided to commit herself to a marked change toward self-improvement.

“Going to graduate school and intentionally changing the trajectory of my career—it was one of my top 10 life decisions.” 

If given only one word to describe her, Allyn believes others would say “kind.”

This warmth radiates into each aspect of her life, including her ability to diffuse a situation.

“Whenever things got a little testy in our family, someone would ask, ‘Anyone buy any new nylons lately?’ The ridiculous question never failed to lighten the mood.”