All posts by Sock Robot

Riley Silverman

Riley Silverman HeadshotName: Riley Silverman
Age: 36
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Comedian/Writer

Riley Silverman is hilarious. This writer and comedienne extraordinaire has been slaying stand-up for over a decade, and making audiences laugh, ponder, and get inspired through her wordsmithing gigs and outspokenness.

Growing up in an Ohio suburb, Riley wanted to be an inventor, generally speaking. “I just wanted to [be] someone who could think of impossible ideas that could then be a reality. Like time machines and stuff like that,” she says. “Once I learned how hard science actually was, I shifted gears toward performing and writing, and never really left that.”

By the young age of nineteen, Riley was hitting the open mic scene. “I wasn’t even sure I’d be allowed into the club because they had a 21+ policy for customers,” she recalls. “It was my dream for most of my childhood, to be a comedian, so it was just kind of a thing I knew I had to do.”

Riley Silverman Stand-up Comic and WriterAfter years of making a name for herself as an active comic, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her goals. She’s been relentless, releasing a comedy album, Intimate Apparel, writing for a MaxFun podcast, and even being featured on a show that presented the diverse range of female comics living in LA.

After being an avid listener to MaxFun podcasts, and even getting guest appearances on some of their shows, she had the opportunity to apply for a writing job at International Waters, a show of their’s that is a UK vs US comedy panel. She got the job, and one year later was promoted to head writer. Every month Riley writes two shows alongside a British writer. “Mostly it’s a lot of notes to each other over email and in Google Drive due to the time difference,” she explains.

All of this isn’t to say that the life of a star has been all puppies, kittens, and rainbows for Riley. She still fights against transphobia, and the pervasive closed-mindedness of some fellow citizens of the Earth. “I still struggle every day with people not seeing me for who I am and it’s hard not to internalize that over time.”

But, not one to battle silently, Riley puts money where her mouth is. Whenever she gets a chance to be a part of a benefit show or a project where she gets to select a charity, she picks Trans Lifeline.

“I managed to raise over four thousand dollars for them last summer the day that Donald Trump announced his plans to ban trans service members for the military,” she says. “I was just angry and feeling helpless and I figured a lot of other folks were too, so I just was like “Well this is the thing I can do today.”’

When she’s not hitting the stage with her stand-up, writing for International Waters, SYFY Fangrrls, or any other of her numerous projects, she’s stepping out of the TARDIS. “I got pretty into cosplaying the last several years, especially for Doctor Who,” she says. “I’m slowly working on making a female version of every previous Doctor for cons and stuff, but since they also cast Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor, I’m shifting gears just a bit and working on nailing her outfit as close to screen as I can.”

So what does this wordsmithing, time-traveling comedy champion have to advise other young people wrestling with their authentic identity or trying to climb the ladder from a creative foothold?

“I think very few things in life are forever, even when they seem like it, for better or for worse. Know that nothing bad has to last, you can find ways to get out of bad situations, but also know to appreciate the good stuff while you have it and not take it for granted either.”

Some great advice from Riley Silverman, who we think is a very Cool Girl!

100 Cool Girls

Since we initiated our Cool Girl movement in 2009 we’ve featured scientists, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, hopers, dreamers, and doers. We’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know a lot of amazing women of all ages doing amazing things. And as of December 2017, we hit 100 Cool Girls!

But, who is a Cool Girl? A Cool Girl is someone who defends awesome: an everyday superhero! Someone who exudes positivity, and leads by example. Cool Girls make a difference in their communities and the world, challenge the norm, and aren’t afraid to be themselves.

We’d like to take this momentous occasion to highlight some individuals who have made a lasting impression. Each and every Cool Girl is inspiring, but if we included them all this post would be, well, 100 Cool Girls long. So, please use this as a teaser of truly extraordinary women and then take a look through the whole blog.

Know some inspirational women yourself? Nominate them to be a Cool Girl. They may get featured here, get some cool socks, and might also get some support for a project or charity of their choice.

If you just want to give a shout out to a really awesome woman in your life, you can also leave a comment.

Graphic Novelist and Cool Girl Lucy KnisleyLucy Knisley
Graphic novel artist & author
Featured 2016

Lucy has been drawing since she was a kid, publishing comics since she was 19, and published her first graphic novel when she was 21! A lot of her work is autobiographical including growing up with her chef mom (Relish), jet-setting around the world (Age of License), and her work in progress about becoming a parent (Kid Gloves). Read more.

“Other girls and women in cool professions are the best and greatest resource you can possibly imagine. Hold up your fellow lady, and your fellow lady will hold you up!” -Lucy Knisley, Cool Girl

Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher and Cool Girl Roxanne ModafferiRoxanne Modafferi
Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher
Featured 2014

Roxanne started practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers and trained hard to make it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18! She’s triumphed over injuries and ill-timed food poisoning to not only win fights, but teach and write (Memoirs of a Happy Warrior). Read more.

“I was greatly influence by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people.” -Roxanne Modaferri, Cool Girl

Irene Gabashvili
Founder of Aurametrix, Inc
Featured 2012

Irene realized there was a serious need for people to be able to alleviate symptoms for certain chronic ailments and conditions on their own. She developed Aurametrix which is like a digital nurse that looks at all of the different details that can contribute to a person’s symptoms in order to figure out what parts of their life are making them feel better or worse. Read more.

“Believe in yourself, dream and aim high. Don’t be afraid to ask successful people for advice.” -Irene Gabashvili, Cool Girl

Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc and Cool Girl Anna SternAnna Stern
Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc
Featured 2012

Anna is Vice President of one of the largest construction companies in the country. Not only is she a powerful figure in a male-dominated industry, she helps host events like Kids Building Wisconsin, which bring attention and support for the construction workforce she oversees. She also supports events for Women Building Wisconsin, an organization that helps connect women within the construction industry and find newer members mentors. Read more.

“I would say the best advice would be to find a good mentor. I’ve been blessed to have great mentors throughout my career and have benefited from their guidance, experience, and willingness to stand up for me.” -Anna Stern, Cool Girl

Artist, Activist and Cool Girl Lindsay AmerLindsay Amer
Artist, Activist
Featured 2017

Lindsay created her YouTube channel Queer Kid Stuff to bridge the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids. Lindsay creates fun, easily accessible videos made for children featuring inclusive, queer storylines. She powers through online harassment to push for “a kinder and more equal future.” She does have a lot of supportive fans, though, growing every day! Read more.

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.” -Lindsay Amer, Cool Girl

BMX Champion Payton and Cool Girl "P-Nut!" RidenourPayton “P-Nut!” Ridenour
Being a kid!
Featured 2012

Payton has been riding since she was 5 and started competing in BMX at a high level when she was 7 and even qualified for the World Championships. She’s traveled all over the United States racing and making a name for herself. She advises other girls interested in the sport: (Read more.)

“They should know that this is an aggressive sport. You need to dress for the crash and not for the ride. But most of all, you need to keep it fun.” -Payton Ridenour, Cool Girl

Co-Founder Petal and Cool Girl Julie WagneJulie Wagne
Co-Founder Petal
Featured 2016

Julie co-founded Petal, which fosters a partnership between artists, designers, and weavers in West Africa and San Francisco. She and her partner Ibrahima are committed to providing resources to tribal villages and communities, to exceeding fair wages, giving security to families, and protecting the cultural heritage of the Fulani people that inspires their textile creations. All this while helping provide education for children in West Africa. (Read more.)

“If you want to do something, do it. Believe in yourself and keep going!” -Julie Wagne, Cool Girl

Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder and Cool Girl Sharon LinSharon Lin
Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder
Featured in 2016

Sharon founded two non-profits to educate girls about technology, has written for publications including Huffington Post, and has started hackathons to spark creative development across communities and industries…all this before she graduated High School. Sharon wasn’t done inspiring other students to pursue computer science, so she also founded BitxBit Camp, which partners middle schoolers with older mentors and opportunities to develop projects. (Read more.)

“Never lose hope of the goals you have, and never let anyone else talk you out of them by saying you’re not good enough, or that you’re not meant for this. Seek out mentors if you can, or find older girls who you admire, and befriend them.” -Sharon Lin, Cool Girl

Biology Lecturer and Cool Girl Joan ManasterJoan Manaster
Biology Lecturer
Featured 2010

Ever wanted to see Gummi Bears get liquefied by sound waves? This Cool Girl has you covered. Joan works as a lecturer for students studying for their Masters of Science in Teaching Biology, but she wants to reach as many people as possible when it comes to the wonders of science. She thinks it’s especially important that women and girls see science as exciting and are able to see more women in STEM roles. She’s fueling this push with her website and Twitter. (Read more.)

“I find myself with a strong desire to have more women in science be seen and heard, as I think this could really influence young ladies. I hope to accomplish this by creating something of an Internet ‘science channel’ featuring video segments that highlight women in science, and to challenge more of them to be visible in this realm.” -Joan Manaster, Cool Girl

Polished Girlz Founder and Cool Girl Alanna WallAlanna Wall
Polished Girlz Founder
Featured 2015

Alanna founded Polished Girlz to bring nail parties to those who couldn’t treat themselves to a nail salon. This non-profit visits those hospitalized due to illness or those with special needs who might not be able to paint their own nails and does it for them! While bringing them a little color and company, it also teaches the importance of frequent hand-washing to reduce infection transmission and the potential for resulting hospital visits. (Read more.)

“For girls facing any challenges, I would like to tell them that they are strong and brave and that I am honored to be able to make you smile even if it is just a little while.” -Alanna Wall, Cool Girl

Megan C. Valentine-Shafer

Name: Megan C. Valentine-Shafer
Age: 25
Location: Chicopee, MA
Occupation: Licensed Pharmacist, Recent Graduate and currently Job Hunting.

Chicopee, Massachusetts native Megan Valentine-Shafer has always been creative and compassionate. As a child, her mothers fostered her imagination. One of her moms in particular crafted and included her daughter in her creative pursuits.

“Some of my favorite gifts and experiences with her involve either something she made, or something that I helped her make, including things like a wonderfully hand-made dice bag from my table top games, and a quilt made out of my old band t-shirts,” Megan recalls.

As a student, Megan became intrigued by the idea of assisting others, especially in the medical field. But once she figured that out, she also realized her peeves.

“Part way through high school, I found that I really wanted to help people, and that I was interested in going into medicine of some kind. An issue arose, though, when I discovered just how squeamish I was,” she explains. “This lead to me realizing that most of the “well known” medical professions weren’t for me, because I couldn’t handle seeing the sight of viscera.”

But this feisty student didn’t let her dream get discarded. In her junior year, her chemistry teacher also worked as a pharmacist. “It was at that point I realized I had been overlooking a major part of medicine. It was like the angels sang out in an immaculate chorus, that “This is it! This is what I was meant to be! I can help people, and not feel sick to my stomach!”’

Recently Megan graduated school and became a licensed pharmacist, but in spite of the image of a white coat and a smile, Megan’s other identities get a chance to come out and play when she partakes in one of her favorite hobbies: cosplay!

“The summer before I started college, and I went to my first nerd convention, Connecticon. At this point in my life, I hadn’t realized cosplay was an actual thing people did, for fun, and I fell in love with it the moment I stepped through the doors.”

Seven years later, Megan has been cosplaying at almost every con she’s attended, dressing up as characters such as Theresa from the “Fable” video game series, Tsukimi Kurashita from “Princess Jellyfish,” Chiaki Nanami from “DanganRonpa 2,” a blue-team Engineer from “Team Fortress 2,” and the dessert witch “Charlotte” from the series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.”

Although Megan is currently job hunting in an area that is competitive, and her resources are limited due to this as well as her student loans, she remains optimistic. She’s already writing a list of “to do” cosplay characters for when her financial situation is a bit more flush, and the best part of all is that she’s not doing it alone!

“I also fell in love with my fiance over cosplay, who supports and does this with me as well! We’ve been together for a little over 5 years now.” (Fiance not pictured below.)

Beyond her search for a job and her creative pursuits, Megan keeps her sensitivity and her perspective. To other young women, she offers this advice:

“Keep your aspirations high, and your passions strong. Even if those passions aren’t conventional, or may not be something “feminine” or “ladylike,” keep them as strong as anything, and don’t let anyone get in your way. The world today can put up barriers, make things seem impossible, make goals seem unattainable; keep at it, though. Keep plugging away, at your own pace, so that one day, your dreams will become reality. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.”

For her cosplay creativity and pharmacy prowess, we think Megan Valentine-Shafer is a very Cool Girl!

Hillary Chandanais

Name: Hillary Chandanais
Age: 27
Location: South Coast, Massachusetts USA
Occupation: Graphic Designer & Reptile Keeper

Hillary Chandanais was heated about cold-blooded animals and artistic expression from a very young age. As a child, she was set on exactly what sort of occupation she wanted.

“I knew I wanted to do anything relating to art or professional bullfrog catcher, which I didn’t know wasn’t a profession at the time,” she recalls.

After taking all of the elective art classes she could take in high-school, including pottery and classical painting, Hillary knew she wanted to further pursue art in college. She began her academic studies in Fashion Design, since she was a longtime lover of sewing and cross-stitching.

“However, I learned after a year in college that I was in love with the computer application of design rather than actually putting bits of fabric together in a professional setting,” Hillary says. “I was absolutely fascinated by the tricks and tips that come with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; that these programs can transform your world and what you see through simple adjustments. When I got my internship at a New England based record store’s home office, I finally realized that there was really a whole industry dedicated to what I enjoy doing.”

Ever since, Hillary has made her passion a career. She now works as a graphic designer for Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food distributor, and spends her workdays making retail signs or toiling away on catalogs.

“We’ve been recently working on a label rebrand project for our retail line of our products,” she adds. “I work with a fantastic team of other graphic designers and marketing experts and we are all very supportive of one another.”

Beyond graphic design, Hillary has a pet project…literally. Considering she originally wanted to catch bullfrogs for a living, perhaps it shouldn’t come as such a surprise that she is an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of reptile preservation, education, and outreach.

“I had a turtle as a pet growing up, and I would be regularly found in my parent’s backyard catching bullfrogs and snakes from the wetlands behind our house,” she remembers. By her senior year of college, she was brought into the herpetological community via her roommate who was studying to become a veterinary technician. This roommate took Hillary to her first reptile expo.

“I was absolutely amazed by what I saw there and I immediately wanted to be more involved with what was around me and connect with this community that I never knew existed before,” she says.

Today, Hillary and her husband Nick work at a reptile specialty shop called Cold Blooded Pets. After she wraps up her day job, they head to the shop to clean enclosures and feed a ton of hungry reptiles. She also makes it a point to educate customers about the critters they have for sale.

“The issue with reptiles is that they are misunderstood and in return are seen as scary,” she says. “I never knew how much people were afraid of animals that I adore until I started working in a reptile shop. I wanted to work towards making this is a thing of the past; making reptiles more widely accepted and less feared by humans in their native ecosystem as well as in captivity.”

Beyond the store, Hillary is on the board of the New England Herpetological Society, working as secretary. NEHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to education, conservation and the advancement of herpetology, which allows her to work against the misconceptions that plague reptiles and their owners.

“There are many bills that are being pushed by animal rights groups around the country to end animal education and even reptiles being in captivity. Working with the public and allowing them to safety interact with “exotic” animals while educating them about various species encourages the respect of native wildlife,” she says.

Further combining her two causes, Hillary is currently working on t-shirts, hoodies, and bumper stickers for the New England Herpetological Society, where the proceeds go back into reptile conservation and teaching the public about them. “Every day, I want to better myself, inspire more people through design, and destroy fears surrounding reptiles,” Hillary concludes.

By adding beauty to the world through design and rebranding the perception of cold blooded creatures, we think Hillary Chandanais is a very Cool Girl!

You can check out more of Hillary’s art and reptile adventures here: New England Herpetological Society website & FacebookCold Blooded PetsHillary’s Instagram, and Hillary’s portfolio.

Chelsey Furedi

Name: Chelsey Furedi
Age: 21
Location: New Zealand
Occupation: Animator

When she was only 12, animator Chelsey Furedi was already beginning to create her own illustrations for her own stories. Now, at 21, the New Zealander is making art her career.

Chelsey began storytelling in her preteen years, and by 13 she was writing novels about romance and ghosts. Along with her equally artistic friends, she would spend lunch in the library crafting projects.

“I loved this experience because we got to share our stories with each other and help improve our works. I loved coming up with new worlds, and expressing myself through my characters…no matter how cliche they were,” Chelsey says.

After becoming involved in online art communities and fandom, Chelsey decided she wanted to study animation in college. As a result of those online fan-made animations, parodies, and music videos, she began to study character design, concept art, and storyboarding while in university. Now she is a professional animator, and the creator of the comic Rock and Riot!

“Rock and Riot is my passion project that soon turned into my side job!” she explains. “It’s a queer themed webcomic about 1950’s rivaling gangs. I made it because I wanted a story that everyone could see themselves in, and could finish reading it with a smile.”

When she’s not at her animation job, drawing comics, livestreaming herself drawing comics, she’s spending her spare time playing video games like Sims (“living my dream life with a wife and an art career”) or Life Is Strange. But drawing is more than a job. “I draw for my job, I draw for my hobby, and to wind down, it’s just more drawing,” Chelsey says.

Both her newest and oldest endeavor is Project Nought, a science fiction tale revolving around a time travel exchange program. She’s been dreaming of it since she was 15, and has finally paired the perfect plot with her now-six-year-old characters. “I’m excited to launch it and finally share it with the world!”

Beyond the challenges of creating 24/7, Chelsey says her largest hurdle at the moment is growing her presence online.

“I am aiming to make a full time living off my comics, so it’s all about networking and making the right decisions about where/how often I am present online,” she says. “I’m constantly working to grow my brand and put out great stories that people enjoy, and would like to pay me for. My dream is to own a city apartment with big windows, lots of plants, and have all  the time to work on my own things.”

A goal that this moving image maven is bound to achieve! And what advice does Chelsey have for budding artists and storytellers alike?

“If you have a passion, go for it! If you like to tell stories or draw, do it! Grab your old school book or some scrap paper, and make your stories happen!”

For her passion and her pictorial purpose, with think Chelsey Furedi is a very Cool Girl!

You can see more of Chelsey’s work on her website, http://rockandriotcomic.com/, and on her YouTube channel.