“A Real Nice Lady” is a creative platform and campaign that highlights female-identifying Kansas City residents with the goal of supporting women while fostering camaraderie and collaboration. The campaign showcases exceptional women and shines a light on their personal and professional ventures through a series of images and intimate interviews.
The project is the brainchild of Missouri-based photographer Lauren Pusateri, an advertising and editorial photographer who has worked on campaigns for brands like Garmin, H & R Block, and Bayer. Lauren has developed a colorful signature style that is bold, fun, and approachable — and her work for “A Real Nice Lady” is no exception.
With this endeavor Lauren doubles down on her love for color and portraiture while partnering with two freelance ladies, Grace Pritchett and Natalie Bluhm, to create a space for creatives to connect and support each other. Their use of bright hues, textures and bold design choices give the project a vibrant visual identity and a tone of voice that is unmistakably theirs while simultaneously showcasing the personality of each of the ladies they feature.
We bonded over having experiences of supportive women in our industries and honestly, experiences of unsupportive women too. We started using “A Real Nice Lady” as a term for women we encountered in the creative world who were more of the former than the latter.
The name “A Real Nice Lady” came to be after Lauren and her freelance friends started using the moniker as a nickname for each other and the term stuck.
We use it to refer to people who are considerate, supportive, passionate, sure of their boundaries and themselves, and are using their talents to give back to the community.
By 2019 they had been using the name so much in day-to-day conversation that her husband bought the domain on a whim. From there, it was just a matter of time until they decided to find a way to use it.
We were inspired to do something with the domain and decided to use the nickname to launch a female-focused photo and interview project that allowed us to feature these ladies and challenge ourselves to make the work we weren’t seeing in the world.
The team started by interviewing and photographing people they knew personally and lift them up by sharing their stories. Since then, “A Real Nice Lady” has profiled women from many walks of life — from fashion designers to artists, activists, and entrepreneurs of all kinds.
We started with women we knew who were pursuing their personal goals while bringing up other women as they did so. They were a unique group of women who are carving their own place in the world and we felt it was important to show those stories.
The process of interviewing these women is tailored to each subject to ensure they feel supported and that their perspective is accurately represented. According to Lauren, they’ve been told “the interviews themselves can often feel like therapy — which is refreshing and affirming”
We wanted to ask the questions that women weren’t getting asked or touch on topics that are tiptoed around in mainstream media. Our interviews dive into mental health, the idea of success, how the pandemic affected us, what sucks about our industries, etc.
By tailoring the questions to the featured lady, diving into their passions, and creating a shoot that makes them shine, the whole process originates from their story and the trust that we’re going to tell their story how they want it to be told.
Since every lady they feature is different, they see every shoot as a creative opportunity to try something new. As the project evolves, their sets have also gotten bigger and more elaborate, requiring them to grow their team of collaborators.
We like the challenge of making every shot look and feel different through lighting, styling, technical approach, and retouching. We feel like we get to walk away from each feature with a new friend and a new reason to reach outside of our comfort zone.
Luckily, the more ladies they feature, the more enthusiasm and excitement grows for the project — and the larger their network becomes. The interviews and shoots have become a platform for them to meet and collaborate with like-minded ladies to create work they are proud of.
It’s opened us up to learning opportunities more than we thought it would. By working with other women, we get to see how other creative brains work together. Our work always feels fresh and it’s been a constant source of growth.
The project has reminded us to reach outside our own communities and bridge the gap. Nothing exists in a vacuum and if you encounter someone cool and smart, please work with them. Or at the very least, introduce yourself!
A Real Nice Lady has received attention from local news publications like The Pitch and Kansas City Explore but it’s the outpouring of support from their followers on Instagram that has enabled them to produce a line of merchandise, fundraise for charity and continue to showcase women-owned businesses. Lauren, Grace, and Natalie have also started a Patreon with behind-the-scenes content as a way to fund the increasingly more ambitious creative productions.
Photographer, Director: Lauren Pusateri
Producer and Brand Voice: Grace Pritchett
Retoucher, Digital Artist: Natalie Bluhm, High Heart Creative
Art Director, Digital Branding and Web Design: Shelby Maggart
Prop Stylist: Haley Chaffin
Hair and Makeup Artist, Wardrobe Stylist: Heidi Seager-Bowles
Set and Prop Stylist: Monica Alley
Production Designer: Cory Hinesley