• Anita Davis
    Anita Davis Owner/Collector/Visionary

    “For me, the best thing about ESSE is the personal touch. I love hearing the stories that other women tell me after or during a visit at the museum about their purse experiences.”

    Anita Davis has two grown daughters who live out of state and three dogs who keep her house full. She has a bachelor of science degree and varied life experience that includes owning a mail-order catalog called “Pure and Simple” in the 1980s.

    She loves outsider art, blues music – Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues” is her favorite song – digging for crystals and learning about the mysteries of life. She has a talent for finding valuables (“They’re valuable to me!”) in unexpected places. Her favorite book is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and she loves anything by Gladys Knight.

  • Lara Kahler
    Lara Kahler Museum Store Manager

    “I love witnessing the enthusiasm of our visitors. Many are so visibly touched by their experience of the exhibit. I also draw tremendous inspiration from my co-workers and our vendors.”

    Before ESSE, Lara Kahler has been an executive assistant, a graphic designer, a production manager for a rural Montana newspaper; she’s also worked in non-profit retail, as “a lifelong buyer for my family’s antique store, and as a one-time professional tractor cleaner.” With such varied life experience, people might not even be surprised to learn she lived for four years on an Indian reservation.

    Lara’s favorite movie is Out of Africa, the source of her favorite quote: “When the military comes to the Baroness’s farm to evacuate ‘the women and children to town,’ she asks, ‘is that one category, or two?’

  • Devin Hancock
    Devin Hancock Program and Collections Manager

    “ESSE offers a smart combination of art, fashion, and history that gives an intimate portrayal of women in 20th-century America – and seeing guests of all generations, both men and women, connect these dots and reflect on the past is a wonderful thing.”

    Before joining ESSE, Devin has worked in many fields. From legislative work in Austin, Texas, and outside sales for her family’s engineering company in Virginia to coordinating for a study abroad program in Berlin, Germany, she definitely enjoys taking on new roles and experiences. Her BA in Politics from the University of Virginia and MA in Russian & East European Studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill led her to appreciate major movements in history, especially in 20th-century Europe.

    Since joining ESSE she has enjoyed learning more about women in American history and helping guests make these same connections.

    Devin’s favorite books are Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and The Quiet American by Graham Greene, and her favorite movies are L.A. Confidential and Fantasia.

  • Ally Short Weaver
    Ally Short Weaver Sales Associate

    “I love interacting with all the very different people who come through ESSE, especially after they’ve seen the museum. Most people are surprised by how much they enjoy it and the memories it elicits, especially the men!”

    Before ESSE, Ally finished her BFA (specializing in Applied Design and Metals) by waiting tables and selling her art. Last year she married “my best friend, Charleston, and we have three beautiful fur-babies, Malibu, Marley and Brutus.”

    Ally loves to be near water, preferably the ocean. Her favorite book is The Outsiders, but she’s pretty sure she has every Dr. Seuss book memorized.

    Her favorite quote comes from Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

  • Steven Otis
    Steven Otis Art Director

    “The best part of working at ESSE is everything I have learned about 20th-century American women. Their struggles, triumphs, perseverance and strength was phenomenal. The style evolution through the decades is pretty incredible as well.”

    After graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle in 1998 with an associate degree in visual communications with a focus on illustration, Steven Otis missed the South and came home. He worked in advertising and for various magazines before going to work for himself as a freelancer. He‘s worked with Anita Davis for almost a decade on a variety of projects, which he enjoys for the “creativity and opportunity to be a part of her vision for the South Main Street revitalization.”