Meet the Lady Who Makes Everything Old New Again.

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Jessica RICCI

Founder, Jessica Ricci Jewelry

Jessica RicciFeatured Lady Jessica Ricci draws upon her own experience as a journalist, English teacher, world traveler and artist to create hand-crafted designs that are anchored in symbolism, history and sentimentality. She launched Jessica Ricci Jewelry after realizing that transforming her global flea market treasures could be an interesting business. Jessica’s designs are inspired directly by the countries she visits, where she discovers items with past lives and reincarnates them into jewelry. Her eclectic designs have appeared in Lucky, New York Magazine, Gem Gossip, GoLocalProv, Apartment Therapy, and on Rhode Show. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has also been spotted in Jessica’s jewelry.

A native of Rhode Island, Jessica attended college in Massachusetts, volunteered with an emergency services agency in Montana and interned for George magazine in New York City. When Jessica earned her master’s degree in journalism from NYU, she was ready for broadcast media. “I had it in my mind that I was going to be some kind of foreign correspondent living a glamorous life in Italy,” she says. Just in case, Jessica got certified to teach English.

Jessica spent three and a half years in Italy, enjoying her Sundays at the chaotic and sprawling flea market called porta portese. Although Jessica’s career in broadcasting didn’t pan out, and too many people already spoke English for her to earn a living teaching, she found a new interest at the flea market – antiques. “I was entranced by the old plates, mirrors, furniture and chandelier parts,” Jessica says. “But what I really fell in love with were the little cards called santini that depict the iconography of the saints; their lives and demise, generally.”

Intrigued, Jessica began reading about the different patronages associated with these icons. “I thought that the combination of a believed mojo and really beautiful vintage images could make for interesting jewelry,” she says.

Jessica found an Italian metal smith to make samples of the little frames that would house miniature versions of the cards she painstakingly collected. Her most difficult part of her self-taught career was getting the Romans to scan and shrink the images, which Jessica had to return to the states to have done. Soon, she realized that the idea of transforming what she found at her beloved flea markets could be an interesting concept. Knowing she needed to get serious about a career, Jessica combined two loves – jewelry and to travel, and her company was born.

What makes Jessica’s designs different is that she physically has to travel to find something to make into jewelry. Essentially, the country and its bazaar or market would offer the object that would beg to be translated into jewelry. “I need to somehow make something that isn’t just nice to look at but reflective of a time and place,” Jessica explains. “I have to have the experience before anything can be made.”

For example, Jessica was fortunate to spend a few weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal. She then traveled to Tibet to find something to make into jewelry. Her best Jessica Ricci Jewelry moment was a documentary video of her experiences. “It took me from Kathmandu to Tibet and back and then showed how I find the piece and transform it. I put it to music and it made me really emotional,” explains Jessica. Just to see the documentary helped me to see things as real.”

In addition to Rome, Tibet and Nepal, this sentimental treasure hunter has also traveled to Mumbai, Udaipur, Delhi, Paris, Iceland and San Francisco to find inspiration.

Jessica is now working with Nest, a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. “I would love to volunteer in these countries, search the markets and then make enough in sales to give back to the places I am able to serve in,” she says. “I would like my brand to be associated with exploration and transformation in some kind of way.”

What we learned from Jessica: “It’s hard to do things on your own, a good ear can save you a bad decision.”

Look Before Leaping
“Think. Think before you act. Ask questions. Look at what other people are doing. I didn’t do this enough in fear of somehow copying or losing my originality.”

Money Matters
“I learned that it takes money to make money; especially when you start with a really abstract idea.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Meet the Lady Who Went From Weather Girl to Covering the World.

Joan LUNDEN

Award-winning television journalist, best-selling author, motivational
speaker, inventor, entrepreneur – JoanLunden.com

Joan Lunden Featured Lady Joan Lunden, one of America’s most recognizable and trusted TV personalities, built her career looking at things differently. From her days as a female pioneer in the news world and ascent into early morning network television to most recently offering women’s wellness retreats, launching a child safety product and introducing her home goods line, this former co-host of Good Morning America believes in the possibilities of an idea.

Joan, an award-winning television journalist, best-selling author, motivational speaker, inventor, entrepreneur and mother of seven, will be a speaker at the Ladies Who Launch Global Conference in New York on November 8– 9, 2010.

Before Joan paved the way the way for female broadcast journalists and became the longest-running host on early morning television, she was a 21 year-old college grad intending to work in the business world. That is, until a family friend encouraged her to explore TV news. With the Federal Communications Commission putting pressure on media companies to hire women in the early 1970s, Joan called a local Sacramento station and asked for an interview. Although her on-camera presence impressed the news director, he didn’t have an available position. However, the weatherman saw her audition and offered her the opportunity to be…a weather girl.

“Weather reporting was uninteresting to me but I had the good sense to say, ‘Yes,’” explains Joan. “There were no females and the industry needed smart, savvy and self-confident women.”

“My career afforded me the opportunity to cover some amazing, challenging and scary stories, like jumping out of a plane, climbing the Tetons and being at the controls of an F-18,” she says. “There were times when I’d leave my driveway in the morning, and think to myself, ‘I’m on my way to do what?’”

Joan quickly rose through the ranks at the station, which led her to leave California for a position at WABC New York and eventually become co-host of Good Morning America in 1980 – a role she held for almost 20 years. Although Joan was initially given the softer home and family beat to cover while the hard-hitting news went to her male co-host, during her tenure at GMA she reported from 26 countries, covered four presidents, five Olympics and two royal weddings.

“In the early years, I took the assignments they gave me and made them shine,” she says. “Actually, covering those stories on parenting, health and wellness have very much shaped my career.”

Since leaving GMA, Joan focused many of her projects on sharing wellness information and encouraging people, especially women, to take charge of their health and happiness. One such venture is Camp Reveille, a wellness getaway held in the Sebago Lake region of southern Maine for the past four years. Defined as “a wake-up call,” the program Joan developed allows women to energize their spirits, jump start a fitness program, connect with other ladies, renew sense of self and learn the tools needed to achieve a healthier balance in their lives.

“I saw a unique category that wasn’t being offered in the marketplace, so I created a new opportunity for women to travel to a nurturing and comfortable environment devoid of criticism,” Joan says. “Camp Reveille is a place where women motivate and inspire each other.”

KinderkordA big proponent of family, like many parents Joan knew the challenges of staying connected to her two sets of young twins while out in public. Knowing that it can only take a second for a child to vanish and not thrilled with the products available to keep kids close, Joan and her husband Jeff Konigsberg invented their own. Joan says, “We knew there had to be a better way.” After a year of designing, developing, testing and manufacturing, the couple introduced KinderKord, a retractable, wrist-to-wrist hands-free connection that keeps a child physically attached to an adult without the stigma of a leash or harness.

When it was time, Joan called the Babies-R-Us headquarters and got an appointment to show KinderKord to the buyers. “Jeff and I were there with 40 other people also hoping to sell their product,” Joan says. “We had 30 minutes to pitch KinderKord. They bought it and we launched two years ago.”

Adding to Joan’s entrepreneurial pursuits aimed at making women’ lives easier, in May she debuted her home goods collection on QVC. Joan Lunden Home represents luxury, style and comfort at an affordable price point and each bedding collection is inspired by Joan’s travels during her 30-year career as a journalist. “QVC approached me to launch my line on their channel,” she says. “Why QVC? I’ve made my living on television, so this was the perfect choice. Plus, QVC really knows its customers.” Next year, Joan Lunden Home will add throws, towels and tabletop accessories.

Park AvenueUnlike celebrities who just license their name to products, Joan has been very involved with the design and production of her home goods line. “I wanted to align myself with a good manufacturer that uses quality materials that I can stand behind,” she says. “I don’t have to be as hands-on as I am, but it’s a lot more fulfilling for me in the end.”

A multifaceted career woman, Joan’s best-selling books include Healthy Cooking, Healthy LivingA Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road, Wake Up Calls and Growing Up Healthy. She also has an exercise video, Workout America, a skincare line, Resurgence by Murad Skin Care, and hosts Lifetime’s Heath Corner on Sunday mornings.


What we learned from Joan: “If you want to be in the game, just say YES and then figure out how to do it.”

Just Imagine
“One of the most important traits a person can have is to find within themselves the ability to be open to possibilities. Most people greatly limit themselves and don’t see the possibilities in front of them.”

Decorating Made Simpler
“I’ve developed Joan Lunden Home to help make life a little bit easier today’s woman – so that she can have style in her home and still have time for herself.”

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This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Susan Gregg Koger

Meet the Lady Whose Stones Rock Hollywood’s A-List.

Kara Ross

Founder, Kara Ross New York, LLC

Kara RossWith a design aesthetic that incorporates statement accessories with distinctive materials in unexpected ways, Featured Lady Kara Ross set the standard for beautiful, unique jewelry. A Gemological Institute of America Certified Gemologist, she has an eye for exquisite stones and is inspired by her passion for contemporary art. Since launching Kara Ross New York, Kara’s striking designs have been the choice of celebrities Alicia Keys, Kim Catrall, Rachel Bilson, Diane Sawyer, Fergie, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Tamblyn, Kerry Washington, Jane Krakowski and Anne Hathaway.

A native Philadelphian, Kara’s passion for jewelry began at a young age. When she was 13, Kara started designing after a trip to Africa when she set a square-cut tourmaline stone on an 18K gold band and surrounded it with brilliant diamonds. She admits that travel has always been an inspiration for her, be it locally or global. In fact, part of Kara’s Fall/Winter 2010 collection was influenced by a vacation in Utah where she saw a book of paintings by Georgia O’Keefe.

“I appreciate gemstones and their transformative quality,” Kara says. “I began designing jewelry because I wanted to expose people to the beauty gemstones possess in their natural state.” Her perspective inspires designs created from alternative materials like marcasite, lava and chalcedony, which look like pieces you’d find at a bazaar, except with the luxurious touch of a master jeweler.

After moving to New York, Kara first worked in advertising at Harper’s Bazaar. She decided to pursue her degree in gemology and launched an engagement ring and fine jewelry consultancy. Despite her love of designing, Kara soon tired of the made-to-order business, where most of her clients were men seeking engagement rings and wanting to play it safe design-wise. So, in 2003 with her kids in school, Kara fashioned a full collection. Soon, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue took notice and began selling her pieces.

ring“I didn’t start out with a desire to own a business, but my passion for gemology is what brought me to where I am today,” Kara says. “I am a firm believer in organic business growth, and when I see opportunity that seems right for my business, I go for it.”

Those opportunities included adding purses and belts to her line, as well as collaborating with other designers. As luck would have it, one of those opportunities was also Kara’s biggest challenge thus far. “While launching my handbag line I was told over and over again that I would never be able to compete with other luxury handbag designers,” she says. “Now I am proud to report that my handbags are one of the best selling handbag lines at Bergdorf Goodman and have been picked up nationally by Neiman Marcus.”

Kara’s ultimate vision for her company is to expand into small leather goods as well as footwear. “Right now we have fine jewelry, boutique jewelry, handbags and belts,” she says. In the near future, Kara is focused on partnerships. “I am participating in a collaboration with Saga Furs,” she says. “I also designed a jewelry collection with my childhood friend Tory Burch which will be available in her stores and on our website this fall.”

In addition to adorning Hollywood’s A-List, Kara’s accessories have been featured in Vogue, Lucky, O – The Oprah Magazine, In Style, Fashion, People, Women’s Health, Easy Living, Glamour, Women’s Wear Daily, Cosmopolitan, Self, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.


What we learned from Kara: “Believe in yourself and in your product.”

Bounce Back
“Resilience is a quality absolutely every business owner must have.”

Leadership Philosophy
“It’s extremely important to lead by example and to develop my employees through self-empowerment.”

Live and Love
“I lead a very balanced life and am devoted to both my business and family. While I do work during the evenings and on weekends, I am able to put it aside to spend quality with my beautiful family.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Susan Gregg Koger

Meet the lady who Oprah called “the next big thing in fashion.”

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Tory Burch

Founder and Creative Director, Tory Burch

Tory BurchFeatured Lady Tory Burch launched her namesake company in February 2004 to fill a void in the fashion industry. By offering an affordable, accessible, luxury lifestyle brand, Tory innovated the marketplace. Today, her collections are available at Tory Burch boutiques,  and in 450 select department and specialty stores worldwide. Celebrity fans include Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman and Hilary Swank. As a nod to her innovative brand, in 2008 Tory was honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America with what is considered the Academy Award of fashion – Accessory Designer of the Year.

Tory’s retail days began when she was a sophomore in high school and worked at Benetton folding sweaters. Later, her first job in fashion was as an assistant for the designer Zoran doing everything from sales to press relations. “It was an incredible experience,” she says. “And I learned so much.”

After years working in the fashion industry and as a customer, Tory noticed there was a gap in the market for clothes that were not only beautifully made, but also accessibly priced. She wanted to create classic American sportswear that was luxurious and sophisticated at a more attainable price point. So, in 2004 Tory started Tory Burch out of her apartment and opened her flagship boutique in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.

Tory also wanted customers to feel like they walked into her living room rather than a store, so she bucked the popular minimalist retail decorating trend by adorning her boutique with bright orange walls, green carpet, vintage chandeliers and white couches to give the location a unique and luxurious feel.

The next year was big for Tory Burch. Brand recognition for her company changed overnight after Tory appeared on Oprah as “the next big thing in fashion.” That day, toryburch.com received eight million hits. Oprah also wore Tory’s tunics on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, in June 2005 and July 2006. Tory was also acknowledged for her store’s design aesthetic when Fashion Group International awarded Tory Burch the 2005 Best New Retail Concept for going against the minimalist retail design concept.

Over the next several years, Tory added stores in major United States cities, began international distribution with prominent retailer Harvey Nichols in London and Dubai, and established her retail presence in Milan, Tokyo and Manila.

The Tory Burch collection is influenced by many forces including Tory’s childhood on a farm near Philadelphia and her mother and father’s unique sense of personal style. “My parents Buddy and Reva are my greatest inspirations,” she says. “They were such an effortlessly chic couple and so gracious and welcoming to everyone they met.”

Photography, art, films, travel and the work of interior designer David Hicks drive Tory’s designs, as well.

storeInspiration at Tory Burch also comes from team members. “Many people on our team have been with the company since we started it out of my apartment six years ago,” she says. “We keep each other motivated by coming up with new ideas and finding inspiration everywhere. It’s very collaborative, and people feel like they are an integral part of something special.”

“We have an extraordinary group of people who all have different opinions and experiences. This diversity makes us stronger, more collaborative and pushes us to come up with great ideas, business-wise and design-wise.”

The goal at Tory Burch has always been to build a lifestyle brand that customers return to season after season, year after year. “Every season we think about the collection as a lifestyle – what do women need and what do they want?” she says. “We think about that across all our categories.” Within her collections, Tory strives to offer special, versatile pieces that women can make their own.

After six years in business, Tory Burch is poised for more expansion. “We have managed our growth, making sure that everything was done at the right time and for the right reasons,” says Tory. “We want to grow worldwide slowly and strategically, while always maintaining our quality, prices and relationship with the customer.”

When Tory started her company in 2004, she wanted to create a foundation to help other women achieve their dreams. “Last year, we started the Tory Burch Foundation with our partner Accion USA to financially empower women,” Tory says. “Through microfinance, we enable women to start, sustain and grow their own businesses. They in turn can help their communities, revitalize local economies and support others.”


What we learned from Tory: “Have confidence in your unique idea and be tenacious.”

Will to Win
“My parents and family instilled in me a strong work-ethic, the confidence to do anything and a desire to follow-through.”

Customer Commitment
“We work hard to maintain a high level of design at a price that is attainable.”

Good Times
“One of the most exciting moments was the first time I saw a woman wearing something from our Tory Burch collection, I was so excited and flattered.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Meet the Facialist to the Stars Who Reveals the Truth About Skin Care.

Tips for Managing a Business Crisis

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Tammy Fender

Founder and President, Tammy Fender Holistic Skin Care

Tammy FenderAs a child, Featured Lady Tammy Fender was interested in living a holistic lifestyle although back then she didn’t know why. When other kids wanted gum and candy in the grocery store check-out aisle, she bought the 99 cent pocket books on vitamins. “Nutrition has always been part of my being,” Tammy explains. Through her company Tammy Fender Holistic Skin Care, Tammy offers luxury products that are pure, natural and energetically balanced. Her Pure Living Energy® collection ranges from cleansers, exfoliators and moisturizers to products that repair tissue damage in post-operative surgery patients. Tammy’s unique approach to skin care formulation has positioned her as a pioneer in the industry, and her expertise is constantly being sought.

Tammy’s exposure to skin care started when she 18 and working at a cosmetics counter. Noticing there were many chemicals listed in the products’ ingredients, she questioned their safety and effectiveness. “I wondered, ‘Do these products really work?’ I went home at night and researched them,” Tammy says. “Twenty years ago, cosmetics made of all chemicals were common, but I knew there had to be a better way!”

Thus, Tammy began her journey to learn all she could about alternatives to these products. She took a holistic approach and explored the use of botanicals and essential oils. Tammy also discovered how the chemical-ridden products adversely affected the skin, the body’s largest organ, and designed a more natural option. “We absorb more toxicity through the skin than during digestion,” Tammy reveals.

Tammy describes the evolution of her business as “a visionary process.” She built a client base in Palm Beach through word-of-mouth – one client had an experience with Tammy and saw the results of her products and others followed, made her products in a blending room, sold them locally and even hand-delivered customers’ purchases. “My business grew through word of mouth and my reputation.” Today, her clients (including celebrities), come from all over the world to experience Tammy’s facials and skin care line.

In 2003, when her youngest son was in school full-time, Tammy opened the doors to her own location on the second floor of a red brick house. She self-financed her launch using personal funds and reinvested profits right back into her company. Within two years, Tammy expanded into the entire building. Today, Tammy Fender Holistic Skin Care is available through web sales and national distribution.

Tammy Fender Holistic Skin CareA licensed aesthetician for the past 22 years, Tammy dedicates her life to more holistic and spiritual practices. Her path led her across the US and overseas to study botany, aromatherapy, holistic chemistry and medical science. Tammy focuses on the healing properties of essential oils, plants and vitamins. “By gaining extensive knowledge my choice was clear,” Tammy explains. “I made a personal commitment to take a holistic path in my life and in the creation of my products.”

Tammy’s loyal clientele certainly understands the difference. Tammy custom makes her collection of holistic facial products. With her knowledge and ability to combine aromatherapy, chemistry, botany and medical science, she creates the perfect line of holistic facial products – all natural and handmade.

Focused on the well-being of the person as a whole, Tammy not only treats her clients but also educates them. “The skin’s condition is a reflection of what’s going on inside,” she explains. “Our vital organs take what they need first and the skin gets what’s left over.” Tammy’s elite skin care line provides nutrients that feed the tissues of the skin, creating an immediate therapeutic effect that promotes healing on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.

From the beginning, this mompreneur steadfastly separated her work week from family time in an unexpected way. She set her business hours as Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. People immediately questioned Tammy’s decision, especially not being open on Saturdays – traditionally a spa’s busiest day. “I was asked, ‘How are you going to do this? You aren’t even catering to people who work,’” Tammy explains. “But I made a commitment to spend time with my sons. Balance is very important to me.”

Tammy’s dedication to balance continues to generate a profitable and rapidly growing business with a devoted international following. Tammy and her skin care collection have been featured in Allure, W, Vogue, Natural Health, Z!nk, Elle, Essence and Palm Beach Illustrated.

What we learned from Tammy: “Stay true to your path…”

A Team, A Family
“My biggest challenge is finding the right fit for every position as we grow. It’s time consuming, but I need to find people with the right mind set, lifestyle and philosophy. Our company has a family dynamic where we feel daily nurture and love.”

Passion and Brand
“My advice to women entrepreneurs is to understand that your brand encompasses your lifestyle. You and your passion become a reflection of your brand.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe™ Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Susan Gregg Koger

Heather Moore

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Founder, Heather Moore Jewelry
www.heathermoorejewelry.com

Heather Moore was a successful entrepreneur from the start. Her one-of-a-kind gold, silver and glass necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets were wearable works of art sold at Barneys New York and in catalogues like Sundance and Anthropology. This small business woman was getting big-time recognition in magazines like Lucky, InStyle, Elle, Mademoiselle and Real Simple.
But Heather believed beautiful jewelry should commemorate experiences, both happy and sad, and she was always interested in, and moved by the individual reasons people were buying her creations. So she reinvented her business. Free from a mass-producing mindset, these days she hand-engraves pendants, rings, earrings, cuff links and bracelets with names, initials, phrases, symbols and dates using turn-of-the-century tools. Each keepsake is made for a specific, unique reason making it the perfect way to transform a story into something solid, lasting and special.

Just in time for the holidays, Heather is offering the Ladies Who Launch community 10% off all purchases from Heather Moore Jewelry! Use promo code LWL2008 until December 23, 2008.

What we learned from Heather: Love your product but also love the people who buy it. Provide customers with superior quality not only because you want to be successful, but because you care about their happiness.

Starting out strong

After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art I started a jewelry company intending to use my income to open a glass shop. But the jewelry business really took off. I focused on making it casual with a lot of personality, but well-made and high quality. Even back then I knew I wanted to create pieces that people would feel attached to, that would give them strength and confidence. Pieces that would remind customers of when they got them and why.

Story time

I believe that jewelry is the perfect way to commemorate an event, and I was always happy to hear that my customers thought so too. This was why I shifted my focus 2004. It was an organic shift in that after I created some pieces for myself featuring family members’ names I started doing it for my customers. I was offering them a chance to participate in the creative process and tell their stories in a truly unique and meaningful way.

Personal Touch

I love peoples’ stories. I never make the same thing twice because obviously each person’s story is unique. When I get an order for something that is clearly an inside joke I am really curious to know what it’s about. I know that whatever it is, it’s something that is bringing people together, that they’ll always laugh about. The pendants are perfect for poignant sentiments too. I made a pendant for myself with my late sister’s name on it in Braille. I touch it all the time.

What’s in a name

I love what I do. And because everything I make is personalized I know that whether people order for themselves or for someone else, they’re putting a lot of thought into the engraving, and I’m a part of it. I get to aid in the creation of something so meaningful that’s about much more than just the jewelry itself.

Personal effects

Whether customers want initials, names, dates or inspiring words, there’s a story behind their order every time. That’s what makes it all worthwhile – knowing that I’m literally making memories. I know life is short. It should be celebrated.

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Lisa Hoffman

Creator and Founder, Lisa Hoffman Beauty
www.lisahoffmanskincare.com

For nearly three decades Lisa Hoffman was kept busy honoring the vow she and her husband, Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, made when they married: to keep their family together no matter where his work took him. With six kids that meant a whole lot of packing and unpacking. Hoffman strove to perfect a technique that would take as little time as possible, in the process becoming so obsessed with transporting her toiletries that she dreamt up the concept for The Lisa Hoffman Night & Day 24-Hour Skincare Collection. Literally.

Nine years ago, Hoffman had a dream that she was going away for ten days and packed ten individual skincare packages, each containing one day’s worth of products. The next morning, she drew the packages. Her family and friends thought it was an inspired idea. Six years later when her youngest child left for college, Hoffman hired a branding consultant who helped her launch her skincare line.

Hoffman has since expanded to offer a spa collection and a fragrance line. All are available at high-end department stores and boutiques and on Hoffman’s Web site. Hoffman is still dreaming up new ideas. She’s got a few great packing tips as well.

What we learned from Lisa: “Learn as you go. The Web is very lucrative but never forget that most grass roots brand awareness comes from retail distributors.”

Friends Make for Good Consumer Research

“I showed my drawings to my friends and inevitably they would come back to me later and say, ‘I’m packing to go away for the weekend. I wish I had what you drew right now!’ I found myself saying the same thing when I was packing.”

Launch What You Love

“I’m a skincare junkie. But for many, many years I’ve been using skincare products from all around the world without being satisfied. So I started creating my own concoctions from those products. The chemists that I worked with loved me because after mixing things like moisturizer and collagen and heating them my microwave, I had done much of the work for them already.”

Entrepreneurs Need Experts

“I started meeting with lawyers and designing the packaging. I also met with a brand building consultant. She more than anyone else really got the concept, saw the potential, and encouraged me to move ahead and give it my best shot. She introduced me to chemists, designers, and operational consultants.”

What Women Want

“The philosophy behind the 24 Hour Packette came from me. But my consultant did have me meet with a consumer research company. We went across the U.S. to various cities and tested the Packette concept with consumers ages 25 and up to see how they responded to it. We learned a lot from that. We learned how confused women are.”

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Meredith Barnett and Cristina Miller

Co-Founders, StoreAdore
www.storeadore.com

It’s rare enough for childhood friends to stay in touch when they outgrow their Barbie dolls. It’s even more unusual for both to attend Harvard Business School and turn a mutual love for shopping into a successful entrepreneurial venture. But that’s exactly how Meredith Barnett and Cristina Miller came to launch StoreAdore, a Web site that dishes about the best boutique shopping, online and in a half dozen cities.

Barnett conceived of and wrote the business plan for StoreAdore during her second year of business school, while Miller was working in London. She revealed the concept to her friend during a New York City reunion devoted to engagement ring shopping. The two immediately decided to partner up. They not only trusted each other implicitly, but their skill sets were complementary, too. Miller had a management consulting background and Barnett had been an editor at Lucky magazine.

With their business plan in place and the necessary finances secured through angel investors, the two partners planned to launch their site in January 2008. But they happily jumped the gun when they were asked to appear on an “Oprah” segment about mentoring in conjunction with a book written by Barnett’s onetime mentor, Hearst Magazines President Cathie Black. Since launching in October 2007, they have revamped and expanded the site and are thrilled to find themselves becoming trendsetters in their two favorite areas—fashion and business—while still getting to be the BFFs they’ve always been.

What we learned from Meredith: “Write a business plan. Even if you’re self-funding, it helps to go through that process. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be really long. But part of the process of writing the business plan is the process of proving to yourself that you have a viable idea before you have to prove it to everyone else.”

I Need, You Need

Meredith: “I would go to different neighborhoods in New York, or in new cities, and go, ‘I know there’s great shopping here. I know there’s a boutique shopping scene or neighborhood, but I just don’t know where to go. And if this information isn’t readily accessible to me, then other people must have that same problem.’ And that applied to online [shopping] too.”

Vision Quest

Meredith: “Very quickly [after the idea for StoreAdore came about] I started thinking: What were the operations? Who were going to be our tech people? How were we going to build it? How long was it going to take? I think, before you do that, you really have to take a step back and ask yourself: Just because this is my vision, is it the right vision for this business?”

Retail Research

Meredith: “We contacted some retailers in different cities and said, ‘Can you get a group of 10 of your best customers together? Tell them it’s a focus group about shopping, hold it in your store, and we’ll give them each a $20 gift certificate to your store.’ We could just ask them a million questions, and we learned so much from them. We still reference that data, so that was really helpful.”

Next >>

Josie Maran

Owner and Founder, Josie Maran Cosmetics
www.josiemarancosmetics.com

Meet Josie at the Ladies Who Launch Speaker Series, where she’ll be discussing how to launch a product, on July 9 in Los Angeles. Click for more info.


Whether you realize it or not, you’ve seen Josie Maran countless times. Not only was she the face of Maybelline for nearly a decade, but ever since she started modeling at age 12 she’s graced the pages of nearly all the top fashion magazines, has appeared in movies, TV shows, music videos, commercials, and video games and even did a stint as the Guess girl. Now her latest big project, motherhood, has inspired her to give back: In the fall of 2007 she launched Josie Maran Cosmetics, a fully non-toxic, organic, biodegradable line of makeup that is, as she calls it, her “chicological” contribution to the beauty world. Everything from the products to the recycled packaging to the soy ink on her labels passes the green glove test. With write-ups in such publications as Elle, Allure, Glamour, Lucky, and People, Maran is about to show the world that she’s not just another pretty face.

What we learned from Josie: Always keep the big picture in mind so you can keep growing. Even if you stray a little, you need to have a clear picture of where you’re going so you don’t get lost.

DIY

“After sitting in the makeup chair for so long I knew there was nothing out there that was glamorous AND really good for you. So I decided I’d just have to make it myself.”

Believe in Your Brand

“I based my brand on my own personal style. I wanted something that was feminine, earthy, and chic. My goal is to show that you don’t have to sacrifice your sense of style just to be green.”

Talk to the Pros

“I had no idea what I was doing—all I really had was the dream. Then I got really lucky and was introduced to a woman who has a huge makeup line; she took a meeting with me and told me how she did it. She pointed me to a great product development place, a great designer, and even some labs. We just had the one meeting, but she was really supportive after that.”

Love Thy Mistakes

“I’d never owned my own business and I’ve learned soooo much since I started. I appreciate the bad days because you learn from your mistakes. So I get to learn a lot! I also know that the good days are right around the corner.”

Just Do It

“I think Richard Branson said it best in his book Screw It, Let’s Do It. I totally jumped in blindly. I had a dream and believed I could do anything, but that was all I had. I didn’t even picture 90 percent of what I find myself doing now. I just did it step by step. I started by taking all my favorite makeup products to the lab and telling them that I wanted the same thing only without all the bad stuff.”

Green 411

“The three worst things to look out for in body products are petrochemicals, fragrances, and parabens. For moisturizer, I recommend organic Argan Oil. There’s nothing like it. As far as shampoo goes, I’ve tried everything and have yet to be satisfied. Looks like I’ll have to start making that too!”

Boss Lady

“It’s really challenging because I have to be the boss and pay the bills rather than just have fun with my employees. I have to constantly be honest with myself and other people, treat it like a business first and worry about being nice all the time second, which is really hard for me. Also, since I haven’t been to business school it’s hard to always look at the bottom line and know when to cut back. I put all my money into this company, so it’s been a really good reality check about what money means to me and how it affects what I do.”

Passion Is the Best Research Tool

“I’ve always been very conscious and green so I was really passionate about researching how to do this. I also had 17 years sitting in the makeup chair as a model, so I knew everything that was out there. The idea came about because I knew I wanted to do something to promote health and eco-consciousness, and I was a known entity in the fashion world, so creating my own line of makeup made the most sense. Plus, I really just hated all the toxic makeup that I was wearing for so long.”

Finding Balance

“Being away from my daughter is both good and bad. I spent my first year with her and I actually enjoyed my time away from work. Now it’s hard when I have to be away from her for too long. And I know that if I didn’t have a family I’d be at work for twice as long, so she really forces me to have balance by pulling me away.”

You Vs. Your Brand

“The company is built on my values of being socially and personally responsible. I hope if I ever sell the business that they keep those values. I’m as green as I can be and so is my company.”

Biggest Challenge

“Timing. Getting the distribution and the products organized. So much goes into each product—labels, packaging, etc.—and because it’s organic it has a shorter shelf life. You have to ship it off at precisely the right time.”

Biggest Obstacle

“There are so many right now. I guess the biggest obstacle though is making a lot out of a little.”

Advice

“If you’re going to put more stuff on the planet, make sure it’s sustainable. Practice eco-preneurship. Also, be more aware of what you put on your skin!”

Next Up …

“I’m working on becoming the green Martha Stewart. I want to do home and apparel and then baby clothes and toys and gardening. It’s a whole ecopire. Or greenpire. Something like that!”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Jen Sincero, an author, columnist, and Ladies Who Launch Incubator leader based in Venice Beach, CA.

Patricia Handschiegel

FL - Patricia Handschiegel

West Coast Bureau Chief, StyleHive.com
www.stylehive.com, http://mystylediary.stylehive.com, www.dailypatricia.com

Patricia Handschiegel will be speaking at Ladies Who Launch LIVE in Los Angeles, taking place on May 31. Click for more info.

I used to think I was down with the online shopping scene, but apparently, I’ve been retailing it old school: (1) Go to fashion Web site. (2) Buy something. (3) Check e-mail. Fortunately, I saw the error of my Web shopping ways after chatting with the eternally hip Patricia Handschiegel, the founder and now West Coast Bureau Chief of the social media company StyleDiary, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007, three years after creating it.

StyleHive.com draws 2 million unique visitors and gets 7 million page views per month, reaching women from 18-40 who are predominantly high income and urban shoppers. The site is filled with fabulous finds, from fashion to furniture. The common denominator? Style rules.

Within StyleHive is StyleDiary, where you can discover the latest fashion trends and see members’ photos of themselves in their top fashion finds. Their entries include comments on what they like and where to buy it. You can even create a style diary of your own.

By pairing experience with instinct, Patricia found just the right buyer and launched the career of a lifetime.

What we learned from Patricia: “Little tiny steps make you an entrepreneur. Once you take them, things will start opening up. You don’t always need to have everything in place and perfectly set up to take action.”

Trendspotting: Think Two Products Ahead

“The site was launched in August 2004, so social networks weren’t anything anyone was talking about. I got the most fashion inspiration from people I saw on the street, so I made a magazine online about what people were wearing. That’s how the concept was born. I encouraged people to send pictures and I would take pictures of my friends. I think part of being an entrepreneur is to go by your instincts.”

Be Your Audience

“I came out of that online community. I was my user. I was my audience. I was the girl that was out talking about marketing fashion on the Internet. It evolved from there.”

An Ear for Fashion

“One thing that’s wonderful about the Web is that there’s a lot of conversation happening and you can get your ear on the rail. I saw a lot of magazines that weren’t telling people what to do. Ballet flats are all the rage, but will they make your ankles look thick? There are all these intricate things about putting clothes on. StyleDiary came from things that I thought girls would be interested in and what I as a girl was interested in.”

A Mix-and-Match Partnership

“I found a technology partner—a talented engineer. We’re so different, but our skills are complementary. One day we were talking and the idea of a community [for StyleDiary]. Shortly after that, MySpace was bought, and then suddenly everyone understood [the social media concept], so it ended up being a really good time to be doing something in that space.”

Being in the Black Is the New Beige

“I come from the school of doing it as cheaply as you can and seeing how things go. There’s a lot of free brand-building you can do on a blog while you’re getting your ducks in a row.”

Business Plan or Seat-of-the-Pants Execution?

“I never needed to write anything down because I really understood exactly what I thought it should look like, but when you’re going to get financing, that’s a different story. I had to do both. As a founder, I went by what I believed should be possible and where I knew the market was tracking.”

Work It, Girl: Strutting the Media Catwalk

“After the site started taking off, I subscribed to ProfNet. You can find journalists who are looking for sources. I tried to do as many interviews as I could and made an effort to evangelize the site.”

Networking With the Girls: They’re Not Just Shopping Partners Anymore

“The best thing women can do is network. Women entrepreneurs are different. There’s a loyalty between us … an honest bond. When you’re dealing with the balance of having to grocery shop or take care of an ailing grandparent or whatever is part of a woman’s life, it helps to have girls around you who get it.”

Market Knowledge Is Trés Chic

“I tried to up the profile of the brand and myself as an executive in every possible way. I read BusinessWeek for two years solid, mining for contacts. I tried to connect with the right people and let them know that StyleDiary was there. I tried to make relationships with them and see what opportunities could be there.”

A Pattern for Success

“When you go into a market, the best thing you can do is start rattling all the doors. I started raising that awareness in Silicon Valley. I tried to do speaking engagements. In 2006, I met Michael Carrier, CEO of StyleHive—we sat on a panel about social networking. We stayed in touch. Over a year’s time it made sense to potentially merge with them.”

Finding Just the Right Fit

“I wasn’t trying to sell it, I was trying to be valuable to the audience and to stay stable. I knew that StyleDiary would have the best chance if it had capital and if it got purchased. I love StyleHive’s mindset, how they understand women’s media and where their heads are.”

Driving Traffic: The Scoop

“I believe in good old-fashioned community development and brand-building efforts for this. Online, that can mean being part of conversations through non-commercial commenting on other blogs (business, fashion, etc.) in the category, and just including your URL in the signature (most blog sites allow comments this way), which I did quite often; or having pages on other social networks. But I think it’s very important to also go out to local events in your town and share information or business cards, recruiting members if it’s a social network, etc. In addition to this, you can do linkbacks and search engine optimization. Don’t be afraid to contact media outlets you’d like to get your site into if you can’t afford a PR firm. Today, you can find a lot of those contacts online, like on WSJ.com. It’s a lot of work, but it can also really work!”

Top Three Page-View Increasers

“1. Build brand and personality presence/awareness (as noted above).
2. Search engine optimization.
3. Build a community.”

Page Views Plus Unique Visitors—Why So Important?

“It’s the way that site size and audience value is measured. Initially, sites were almost entirely judged by page views alone. In the past year or so, it was page views and uniques, with the expectation that top sites would always have really high numbers regardless of being mainstream or niche. Today, there’s a lot deeper understanding of various elements of traffic. People talk about session times and repeat visitors, and are starting to have different expectations in terms of value. Numbers for niche sites aren’t always going to match those of big, mainstream players. I believe this will help smaller and niche sites in the future.”

Overnight Success? Walk a Mile in Her Jimmy Choos

“Nothing prepares you for entrepreneurship. There’s a misconception that it happens easily. This is blood, sweat, and tears. You will get to a point where you say, ‘What was I thinking?’ Every aspect of it challenges everything that you are. And it’s okay. You’re going to recover.”

The Next Big Thing

“I’m very committed to StyleHive. I want to develop ideas, work with women, and inspire them. I can’t tell you everything, but one thing I can tell you—I’m only getting started.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Sandra Sellani, a member of the Orange County, CA, Incubator and an author and brand consultant.