Meet the Lady With a Business Platform Profitable Right Away.

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Lisa MOLINA

Owner MindFlight

Lisa MolinaDescribe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
We are a business that provides a solution where one can be a successful Parent AND have a successful career. (time and money!) We provide the entrepreneurial education and the business platform for one to be profitable straight away. Comparable to a franchise, we offer an award winning education product. the business platform and the community to thrive in.

Join Lisa this Thursday for the first part of her Free Three Webinar Series: “The Mental Shift”, as she helps you move from fear to flow.

What inspired you to start your business?
So that I could be a parent full time and also allow my husband the same opportunity. So him and I could pursue our passion for parenting.

How do you stand out from the crowd? What distinguishes your business from the competition?
Personally I stand out because I am willing to keep going until I get what I came for. I am here, in this lifetime to make an impact. I feel that anything else is a waste of time. I am happy to be a student, and as a lover of people, I enjoy getting better at communicating, leading, and parenting. My business is distinguished from others in that since I am willing to be evolving, I tend to attract others to me who, like me are also willing.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?
Speaking of WILLING, that is what it means to me to be “the entrepreneur of my life”. To truly be a successful entrepreneur one learns the art of receiving; allowing success in! This shows up in all ways in business. For me my life is my business. I live my life so I can do my business.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds? Is your business profitable?
I put about $25,000 into my business initially to get it started. I did not have the funds. I had to borrow them so that I could begin. My business is profitable, and now I receive a residual income.

How long did it take to get started and what business tools have helped you the most?
I feel like I am just getting started – after 10 years!! There was a MENTAL SHIFT that took place. The tools that have assisted me the most are our own success education! Actually implementing what our successful entrepreneurs have done.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?
Just one thing, huh? Discipline, Willingness, Gratitude,  that was 3!!!
What word would encompass all three of those things??!

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
DECIDE right now why you are starting your business, and that you will succeed at this. Most people do not make this decision out of the gate. They allow circumstances to make this decision for them. Then simply, do not stop until you get it.
Many challenges will come up, and it’s up to you to show the world what you came here for. Always remember the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Regret. Do today what most will put off, and you can not go wrong!

Are there any words of advice, books, role models, or mentors that really inspired and changed you?
The above statement – The Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Regret. I am not sure where it was originated, but my wise business colleague reminded me of that.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?
My ultimate future dream is in process! I learned that if I assist enough people get what they want, I will receive what I want. I am living what I want in many ways, and I know that I can make a greater impact. I see our Success Education enhancing the education that kids receive in our school systems. It is the Real Life Education that our kids require to be successful. If I could somehow have more of our teachers, educators and parents, zealously adopt the philosophy of Live by Example (be the example), our kids will turn out A ok! and we will have much to look forward to in our older years.

My business goal was/is to achieve financial freedom. My definition of this is where my “passive” income supersedes my living expenses. This is in process.

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Meet the Lady Who Teaches You How to Be an Informed Home Buyer.

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Atieno OKELO WILLIAMS

CEO, Owner District Home Buzz

Winner of The Jones New York Empowerment Fund Competition 2011.

Atieno Okelo Williams Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
My company provides Real Estate Brokerage services. We help people find the home of their dreams or to sell their current home. Our focus is on educating our community about the process of purchasing or selling your home, and making sound financial decisions during this process. In the past few years, we have expanded to include rental property management, renovation services and property development.

What inspired you to start your business?
When I bought my first home, I experienced the complexity of the the real estate market, and I wished I had someone like me back then to explain the process and to walk me through it step-by-step. Now, I pride myself on being that one resource that can explain the home buying and selling process to a client from start to finish, from the initial home search, throughout the process and even after the transaction is completed.

You have received the Jones New York Empowerment Fund. How will you use the grant?
I am excited and honored to receive the Jones New York Empowerment fund.
I will use the grant to establish a curriculum and a series of ongoing workshops that will help homeless women and women in transitional housing to reach the dream of housing independence by teaching them financial basics and then by building on that foundation of knowledge. My hope is that BUZZ HOPES (the not-for-profit side of my business) can partner with various community organizations that are already offering services to this population to develop the training curriculum and present the workshops as needed.

How do you stand out from the crowd? What distinguishes your business from the competition?
My company has a very strong mission to educate our clients on the market do that they can make the right decision for them when they invest in a home. We consider them our clients-for-life, and provide information and services long after the actual transaction is done. We pride ourselves on giving our client’s friendly, first-class service.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?
When I first started my business, it was very important for me to maintain a work/life balance. I saw my work life as being distinctive from my personal life. Over the years I’ve learned that my work life often spills over into my personal life and vice versa. Many of my friends have become clients and almost all of my clients have become friends. The energy and enthusiasm with which I live my life and conduct my business is contagious. I’ve gotten new clients while getting my nails done for a party, while celebrating my birthday at a Karaoke bar, and while vacationing overseas. Work/life balance for me is living my life fully.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds? Is your business profitable?
The start-up costs for my business were minimal for a number of reasons. My business is very service oriented, so I was the one and only initial hire. I never had my company set up as a traditional brokerage with a brick and mortar space. Finally, I was very creative in my use of marketing dollars and focused on getting the most bang for my buck.

I was fortunate to have had immediate income and was profitable from the very outset.

How long did it take to get started and what business tools have helped you the most?
My transition to becoming an entrepreneur was very quick- fascilitated by having been unfulfilled at my 9 to 5 job, coupled with having the gusto and fearlessness of an enthusiastic 23 year old. I never put too much thought into the process. (Disclaimer: I do not encourage this behavior, but certainly honor my journey and I am glad that is who I was at that time, because I did not get caught up in the ‘analysis’ of starting a business- otherwise, I may never have started at all)

I am a high extrovert, and realize that I get my energy from people around me. Therefore, my most useful business tool has been my business mastermind group that functions as a power-tribe of female entrepreneurs who meet regularly to share ideas, and to cheer each other on.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?
The biggest single thing and entrepreneur has to be armed with is courage…the courage to take that monumental first step of striking out on your own, the courage to give up a regular paycheck and to work in an environment of financial uncertainty, the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and into the unknown. For me, courage is not the same as fearlessness. I think we all have fears, but what makes us even stronger is having the courage to embrace those fears, and still show up!

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
To someone who is starting out, I would advice them to take some time to identify what there strengths and weaknesses are, what your values are, why you want to do this, what your goals are, and what your exit plan is- and then allowing these things to shape and define your role as a business owner, as well as the mission of your business. These things may change as your grow, but it is important to have some kind of compass.

Are there any words of advice, books, role models, or mentors that really inspired and changed you?
I am constantly inspired by my surroundings. I am inspired by people who have the courage to show up, who surround themselves with good energy, and people who have used their vulnerability to develop strong businesses. I am also inspired by my puppy Cooper who lives life to the fullest, and NEVER passes up the opportunity to go for a joy ride!

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?
My dream business is one that allows me to focus on doing the things that I enjoy most: being a rain-maker, inspiring and educating my clients and my staff, and contributing to my community.

Oh- and a check is always VERY NICE! I want to be able to sustain multiple streams of income so that I can have freedom and I can support causes that I am passionate about.

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Meet the Lady Whose Grilled Rueben Sandwich is Famous.

Google-AppsGoogle Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.

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Heather HAVILAND

Founder, Lucky’s Cafe

Heather HavilandWith her commitment to offering a creative menu using only fresh, locally grown ingredients, Featured Lady Heather Haviland took Lucky’s Café from a neighborhood coffee house to an internationally known eatery. In 2003, Heather rented space in Lucky’s Cafe for her pastry company and began baking out of a storage closet; three years later, she bought into the business and expanded the menu (and kitchen!). Last year Lucky’s Café appeared on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and was named recently 2010’s Best Brunch in Cleveland. Celebrity patrons include Chrissie Hyde of The Pretenders, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, REM, Quentin Tarantino and Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

Heather chose the road less traveled on her journey to becoming a professional chef and business owner. Although her mom owned a catering company, and Heather herself worked in kitchens from age twelve to pay for college, she didn’t immediately see culinary arts in her future. After majoring in the anatomy of peaceful change at Kent State University, Heather left school to join Amigas de las Americas, a precursor to the Peace Corps. In preparation for an assignment in Haiti, she learned survival training, how to give immunizations and dig latrines.

Unfortunately, due to Haiti’s unstable political climate, Heather never went. Instead, she headed to Washington, DC and worked for a restaurant. “It appealed to me that despite the politics, great food was bringing people together,” Heather says. “Then I had an epiphany. Cooking was something I did all my life, but I was being hard-headed about it becoming my career.”

With no money left to attend culinary school, for the next decade Heather traveled and worked for chefs in Chicago, Maryland, Upstate New York, Seattle, Portland and Washington, DC. “Then in 2001 I realized being a chef meant there was no time to see my family.” Back in Cleveland, Heather’s mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s and her siblings were starting families, so she moved home. She did culinary consulting and continued working as a chef. Two years later, Heather launched her baking business, Sweet Mosaic, out of Lucky’s Café. In 2006, she became a partner in the business.

Lucky's cafe“When I was asked about becoming a partner, I looked at the books. Unless you’re a big company, just selling coffee is a hard way to make money,” Heather explains. “You need buying power.” She began cooking food on a 2×4 table using camping burners and a small oven. Heathers creative menu, combined with her beautiful presentation and farm-to-table ingredients caught the interest of patrons and food bloggers.

When Heather got the call from The Food Network about appearing on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, she wasn’t familiar with the show. “When I heard the name of the program I said, ‘Who are you calling a dive?’” The Food Network discovered Lucky’s Café when researchers perused local cuisine blogs and surveyed local food writers about unique eateries. Lucky’s Café was always mentioned.

“Lucky’s is different than other restaurants because our food is a very eclectic blend,” says Heather. “Plus, I’ll take a classic dish and make it more natural by preparing it from scratch with ingredients I grow myself. I don’t know many other restaurants that do that.”

Getting its seven minutes of fame on The Food Network doubled business for Lucky’s Café, which isn’t on a main drag. However, the winter before appearing on the show, the restaurant was struggling. “I looked at my payroll and personally went nine months without a paycheck,” says Heather. “My employees are passionate people who I discovered were working for less than they should.” Heather looked at the payroll hours compared with the number of people working and realized things didn’t add up. “I began researching who worked but didn’t clock in and discovered that the staff figured out what they needed to earn to get by and only put in for that amount of time.”

Thanks to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Lucky’s Café is gaining well-deserved attention. “Even though we were at max capacity on weekends before the show, we’re now full two to three times a week,” Heather says. “Financially, I’m current with my farmers and closer to paying my staff what they should earn as an industry wage.”

Heather is dedicated to supporting and promoting Ohio farmers and producers by showcasing the bounty of their harvest in her products. “We offer our customers an alternative to the mass produced by committing our passion for the craft to creating good, wholesome food,” she says.

What we learned from Heather: “Really think about what you’re willing to give up to be a small business owner.”

Family Ties

“Be careful about going into business with family. When you own a business, you’ll struggle and fight. You need your family for support.”

Getting Fresh

“My father had a farm and we ate a lot of fresh food. We had no money to buy frozen, prepared foods. Being poor, there were times I wished we could have had Wonder Bread or Kraft Mac and Cheese.”

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 Can Get You Cash Over Gifts

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Dana OSTOMEL

Founder, Deposit a Gift

LWL member, NYC

Dana Ostomel Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

Deposit a Gift is a cash gift registry website that allows people to give and receive monetary gifts in a memorable way. Our service is for any occasion when gifts are involved and cash is preferred: weddings, babies, birthdays, graduation, fundraising and more. People even use it to fundraise money to grow their businesses, perfect for the Ladies Who Launch community. We give people what they truly want: flexibility.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Create structure for your day and stick to it. One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is finding meaning in your day and not feeling all over the place. So the first goal, especially when you work alone from home as I do, is to find a way to create structure in your day. For me, I build everything around a mid-afternoon workout routine. It provides a ‘before’ and ‘after’ to my day, and also makes sure that I actually leave the house, see other people and get some exercise.

How long did it take to get started?

Every entrepreneur has a more aggressive timeline that is realistic. It really is the only way to rev up your engine and go as full force as you can. As is pretty typical, development took almost twice as long as planned, but in talking to other entrepreneurs since launch, it seems that we were right on target and that the time it took to develop was absolutely normal for a site of our size. Not knowing this was definitely challenging because it was disappointing to not be live when we had hoped, but I just kept my head down and focused on our vision to bring this thing to life. From start to finish, launching the site took me 18 months.

Deposit a Gift_How It WorksAre there any words of advice, books or role models that really inspired and changed you?

I found Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers to be a great source of inspiration. I love the analysis of all the factors that lead to success and find it motivating to apply his thought process to my own life.

My “virtual role model” is Zappos. Customer service is a key component to our business and no one does it better than them, so I use my experience with their service as my model. I want our users to know that with Deposit a Gift they get online flexibility with real world support, and I make myself as available to our users as they’ll allow. This personal relationship with our users has helped us garner rave reviews in a short amount of time and has also helped me learn how we can improve our business because we constantly welcome their feedback.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

A gut you can believe in: Throughout this process, the biggest mistake I made was that I went against my gut in making a resource decision. I let myself be taken over by my fear of missing a self-imposed deadline and made a bad choice that was both emotionally draining and costly. I have learned to be better at listening to myself and having the judgment, even in a stressful situation, to properly evaluate the situation and make a good decision.

What business tools have helped you the most?

One of my favorite business tools is Dropbox. I use it as a centralized filing system to work with freelancers, but also as a one-stop-shop for PR contacts. Inside I house a variety of images that pubs and blogs can use freely for any stories they are writing about us. Since PR is a big component of our Marketing Plan, it has been instrumental to our success; contacts love it because it makes things easy for them, offers flexibility in image selection and avoids jpg-heavy emails that clog in-boxes.

Do you work from home? What is a “day in the life” like for you?

Once I got the hang of it, I LOVED working from home. My day revolves around my workout, so I do some things in reverse of other people. I wake up as early as possible and put on my gym clothes for the 1st half of the day to I ensure I make it to my class. I make some coffee and start going through my emails as my brain defrosts. Then it’s really just a matter of what’s on my to-do list. In the beginning it was much harder because I had to create all of my own to-dos and really motivate myself, but then once you start the development process or when you are live and you have clients, you have people to respond to which makes things feel more purposeful and orderly. After my workout, there is some sort of combination of checking emails, eating and showering (I like to do a lot of things at once!). Then I settle back in at my desk and often work into the evening. My day consists of everything from customer service for our users and managing our developers, to PR outreach and blogging. It’s really just a matter of trying to maintain realistic expectations about what I can feasibly get done in a day – I’m never bored, that’s for sure!

Who has supported your most in your journey?

I’m really lucky to have a great support system at home. My husband is 100% behind me, both emotionally (since we all know that living with an entrepreneur can be a bit crazy) and tangibly. He’s willing to listen to what’s gone on in my day, is wonderful at helping me think through strategic ideas and he’s a wiz with numbers. I really couldn’t be doing this without him.

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Meet the Lady Who Makes Everything Old New Again.

Google-AppsGoogle Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.

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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 Eats the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Jenny ALDEN

Founder, Dessert Darling

Jenny Alden, DessertDarlingDescribe your business in 3 sentences.

I am a dessert critic who rates and reviews dessert with a 5-cherry rating system. If you’re going to eat dessert, do it right and eat the Best! I eat the good, the bad, and the ugly so that you don’t have to.

Are there any words of advice, books or role models that really inspired and changed you?

My older brother, Chris Alden, is a serial entrepreneur who founded the Red Herring magazine and most recently, was the CEO of Six Apart. Chris has always been adamant that I do things for the love of it and not for the money. As I reflect on my success with both Dessert Darling and my other company, WhateverHollywood, I completely understand his wisdom. If I had crafted Dessert Darling as a scheme to make big money, it would have come off as inauthentic and turned people away. Instead, I started a hobby out of sheer joy and passion, and am now watching it grow into something so much bigger. The same thing happened with WhateverHollywood.com, where my two friends and I made YouTube videos out of our apartment for fun. Major brands took note of our genuine joy and started paying us real dollars to produce content for them.

In short, find your passion and make it happen! It will reward you even when you’re not yet making money.

How long did it take to get started?

The great thing about blogging is that the moment you conceive it is the moment you can execute it. While it takes time to create a design, build your library of content, and grow your audience, you can start blogging your thoughts today and for free at that. I started blogging about desserts one year ago, just for fun. In August I decided that I needed to venture out on my own and so I buckled down and wrote a business plan for Dessert Darling. Almost immediately, the universe opened up for me, sending incredible opportunities my way.

Is your business profitable?

It will be! Right now my biggest pay-day is a complimentary cupcake and the pride of seeing my work published. That said, I’m now represented by United Talent Agency, one of the most prestigious agencies in Hollywood, and have some exciting things in the works… I just can’t talk about specifics yet!

What business tools have helped you the most.

The most helpful tool for me was my liberal arts education at Dartmouth College. In a rigorous academic environment, I learned both the writing and organizational skills necessary to deliver on deadlines where I could have four essays due at once for various classes. Compared to that, writing daily on desserts is…well, cake!

My energy and passion also make me proactive. I don’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come to me. I’m always brainstorming ideas and connecting with people to make things happen on my own. As someone once told me, “No one cares about the Jenny Alden business as much as Jenny Alden.”

Do you have employees? If so, how many.

I am the sole creator, voice, and face of Dessert Darling.

What adjectives would you use to describe how you feel most days when you wake up?

Excited, energized, ready to make things happen and fast!

Do you work from home? What is a day in the life like for you?

Yes! I work from home, another huge bonus of blogging. The first thing I do every morning is an exercise called “Morning Pages” that I learned from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I write three pages in a spiral notebook, just to clear the cobwebs in my brain. This practice has been incredible for my productivity and creativity. Then I work-out, which in my book, is part of the job. How else am I going to eat all those desserts!? I never get a chance on the weekends, so I aim for 45 minutes a day of solid exercise. Then I finally get down to business, trying new desserts, rating and reviewing them, social networking, writing any articles that may be due, and connecting with my agents about ideas and opportunities that we’re fielding.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and or your business?

I envision Dessert Darling becoming the ultimate authority on desserts. Right now there is no face of Desserts. While bakeries have become a $4 billion business, there’s no trusted voice guiding people through the sea of options, informing them what’s worth the “weight” and what’s just a big fat “waist”, so to speak. I see Dessert Darling becoming a TV Show, like “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and then expanding to guide books, life-style books, and fun merch, like EZ bake ovens and fruity smelling play-dough for the kids! Ha! I dream big. I always have. Reach for the moon and you may land on a star.

Is your business your passion?

Yes, my business is my heart beat and soul! I’ve always loved desserts, I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always had strong opinions. Dessert Darling combines all my passions and sensibilities into one. It took ten years in Hollywood for me to find my way and my voice. Finally, my college, acting, and production experiences along with my sheer joy of desserts, have all come together to create a synergy and brand that I live, love, and breathe; it is Dessert Darling.

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Jenny Alden, Dessert Darling

Meet the Lady Who Founded ‘Small Business Television’.

Google-AppsGoogle Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.

Plus, it’s a great deal – it costs less than $5 per user a month (only $50 per user a year). You can try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.

Get more information.
Try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.

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Susan SOLOVIC

CEO, SBTV


Susan Solovic, SBTVHaving worked as a journalist in the traditional broadcast field, Featured Lady Susan Solovic was dismayed that there was very little coverage of small business. Her idea was to create an electronic mass media outlet focused on the needs of small business owners. In 2004, Susan and her partners launched SBTV.com (Small Business Television), the first and only video news and information destination site for America’s small businesses. SBTV provides credible, unbiased content, produced by award-winning small business journalists, thought leaders and experts, to help small businesses start, grow, protect and manage their enterprises. By the company’s second year it surpassed one million dollars in revenue.

A licensed attorney with a B.A. in history and political science, Susan’s career started in television as a news anchor and reporter. She then moved into the corporate world in the area of public relations, advertising and marketing. “I became Vice President/Director of Corporate Marketing for a division of ITT Corporation,” Susan says. “At the time, I was the first female executive in my division and one of the highest ranking women in the entire worldwide operations of ITT.”
While working in an executive capacity Susan attended night law school where she graduated with honors. A serial entrepreneur since the age of 15, in 1998 she launched Susan-Says® and began writing books, doing motivational speaking and consulting. “I’ve since authored four books and am getting ready to release my fifth next year,” she says.

To get Small Business Television started, Susan purchased the domain from a woman who had a website called SBTV. Then Susan began to think about what she wanted SBTV to be. Along with her two partners, she began to visualize the concept of television on the Internet. “When we launched the business in 2004, people said we were nuts,” she says. “Video on the internet would never work.”
Susan and her partners used personal funds to finance the launch of the SDTV and the business was profitable before the end of its second year. “We almost accepted a venture capital deal, but walked away,” says Susan. “Whether or not you bring in investors is up to each individual business owner, but if you do you have to be prepared to give up a lot of control.”
In fact, in October 2006 SBTV was selected as Best Investment Opportunity by the venture capitalists who attended a daylong Silicon Valley venture forum where Susan presented.

With SBTV, Susan knew she had defined a niche because there was a clear market need. She and the other partners originally thought about making SBTV a cable channel with a web component, but starting a cable channel cost millions of dollars, capital they simply didn’t have. “But we believed in the near future, media consumers would demand when, where and how they would consume media,” Susan says. “Therefore, it wouldn’t matter if you were on the Internet or traditional broadcast. Plus, producing and delivering via the Internet is much more cost effective.”
SBTV remains the only site primarily delivering news and information in a video format. Small business owners who are time and resource constrained can get information more quickly in an electronic media format than they can reading print on their computer screens.

With SBTV fully operational, Susan added yet another business initiative, Susan Solovic Media, where she positions herself, her content and her products as a small business expert, keynote speaker and media personality. “I am working with ABC News as a small business contributor in addition to appearing regularly on many other media platforms and blogging for major media outlets,” Susan says.

What we learned from Susan: “You have to understand that if you think small in the beginning, you’ll stay small.”

Add Passion, Mix Well
“Passion is an important ingredient when you are building a business, but passion doesn’t make payroll.”

At the Foundation
“You have to understand the fundamental building blocks of business in order to create a successful, sustainable enterprise.”

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 Captures All the Things We Adore

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Get more information.
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Pamela Joye

Photography & Design

Pamela Joye, Photography and DesignDescribe your business. What is it?

Fun. Creative. Original. Artistic. Candid. Photography.

I am a lifestyle photographer with an interest in capturing a candid story of life and how it’s lived through people, places, things and all we adore. I offer portrait services for kids, pets, home and garden, and lifestyle imaging and create images for fine art.

Are there any words of advice, books or role models that really inspired and changed you?

Wear Sunscreen by Mary Schmich; Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck; The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds?

I continue to take small steps and invest in the best gear I can. I won’t compromise on a less expensive product which means getting up/running takes time. And discipline. And is a process.

How long did it take to get started?

I have been photographing since I was 14 years old and spent 7 years in college with a focus on fine art photography and art history.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

I try to feed all sides of myself – eat fresh food and cook from scratch with a preference for simple, clean, straightforward items. I enjoy workouts that are fast paced and dimensional. I stretch. I exercise my mind by reading and reconnecting with new concepts. I love to walk and be in fresh air. I laugh every day. I connect with my family and close friends at least once a week and more often than not by phone as we don’t live near each other. I am rigorous with self-honesty and like to play –dressing up/down and listening to music.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?

Creating photobooks and art that tell stories of people, places, things and life in way that makes you smile or toggles a memory – something you can relate to.

Who has supported your most / least in your journey?

My husband; my family; my best friend of 35 years; my coach.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

There are three things I feel you need: relentless tenacity, clarity and business savvy.

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Meet The Ladies Who Are All About Curves.

Google-AppsGoogle Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.

Plus, it’s a great deal – it costs less than $5 per user a month (only $50 per user a year). You can try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.

Get more information.
Try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.

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Robin and KC CULVER

Founders, About Curves

Robin and KC Culver, About CurvesWhen Featured Ladies Robin and KC Culver couldn’t find sexy, well-fitting plus-size lingerie in the marketplace, they launched About Curves to fill the void. Founded in 2001, the company strives to offer a variety of products in sizes 1X through 7X. From bustiers to babydolls, chemises to gowns, About Curves offers the most online styles of plus size lingerie. As full-figured femmes themselves, Robin and KC want to feel confident, show off their sexiness and encourage other women to also embrace their physical selves, no matter what they look like. The mother-daughter team, who live in different states, use their different perspectives to ensure the company remains fresh, true to its mission and moving forward.

In 2000, when eBay had just been created, KC approached Robin and suggested that they start an eBay business together. They decided to sell something they were experts about – as curvy women, they were both frustrated with the lack of sexy and comfortable plus size lingerie available to them, so they founded their company.

“We started as an eBay business and created a website shortly thereafter. We knew absolutely nothing about websites, so we chose a poor name: Your Sexy Threads,” Robin says. “We discovered the name was terrible for two reasons. It’s at the wrong end of the alphabet and because it contains the word ‘sex’ in the title, it was excluded from search engines.” So in 2003, they changed the business name to About Curves. When they changed the company’s name to About Curves, Robin and KC had to completely re-invent their branding along with the website.

Robin and KC knew they had a winning idea because their products were something they both wanted but couldn’t find anywhere. “When we first started working with manufacturers, there were very few options available in plus sizes,” KC says. “The few styles that were offered in plus sizes were often sized very poorly and were unflattering because they were just ‘bigger’ versions of regular size lingerie.” The duo has dedicated years working with manufacturers to get sizing correct and create styles that are designed for the plus size body, as well as convince several manufacturers to begin offering larger sizes. “We honestly feel we were pioneers in the plus size lingerie industry,” Robin adds.

Working together and having different viewpoints from two generations has helped Robin and KC offer a range of lingerie styles. Robin will always choose styles that are more conservative and classic, and KC will choose styles that are more edgy and risqué. By offering this diversity, the About Curves’ catalog is very well balanced.

About Curves differs from its competitors in many ways. Robin and KC gift-wrap each item in purple tissue paper so when their customers receive their order, the items are packaged as a present. The women also work with a wide variety of manufacturers, so their customers have a greater selection in both style and price. In addition, Robin and KC design many of their own styles which are available exclusively through About Curves. Quite recently, they’ve created a special category for juniors, providing fun and comfortable plus size sleepwear that’s not too sexy.

With other brands flaunting thin models to show off their goods, Robin and KC are firm about the women who model their lingerie. “We have our own photo shoots where we use real plus size women who are different sizes and shapes, so that our customers can see what the lingerie will really look like on them,” KC says. “We find it insulting that some of our competitors show their plus size lingerie on size 0 models.”

Robin and KC are dedicated to growing their business and continuing to provide full-figured women with a diverse selection of lingerie choices. “About Curves will always be the best that we can make it. We don’t need to be the biggest, just the best at what we do,” Robin says. “Our success will come from that philosophy.”

What we learned from Robin and KC: “Be passionate about what you do. Find a product or a service that you would love to have, and it’s a certainty that there are others looking for that product or service. Then go for it.”

Risky Business
“We financed About Curves personally. We’ve learned that you have to take big risks, and you will inevitably fail sometimes, but that a great idea will pay off if you’re willing to put in the sweat equity.”

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 Tells You What’s Hot In Paris

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Doni BELAU

President and CEO, Girl’s Guide to Paris

Doni Belau, Girl's Guide to ParisFeatured Lady Doni Belau is passionate about Paris. In 2000, after many visits to the city of lights, Doni and her husband bought an apartment in the 6th Arrondissement during an impulsive moment. After many return trips to Paris with family and friends, Doni decided to share her inspiration, knowledge and love of the city with other women. Since launching Girl’s Guide to Paris, Doni has grown her website to include shopping, dining, culture and art, guides, travel tips and offers, Parisian bloggers and a membership option. Girl’s Guide to Paris has been featured by many magazines and blogs, as well as on The Martha Stewart Radio Show.

A University of California Los Angeles theater major, Doni spent ten years in the film business producing TV commercials and music videos. After taking time to raise her two children, she returned to the labor force and spent eight years doing political consulting (including Eliot Spitzer’s New York Gubernatorial campaign) and not-for-profit work. “After all of that, I finally decided to do what I truly loved and started Girl’s Guide to Paris,” Doni says.

Although she always wanted to be an actress, which evolved into being a director, then to working in politics, what Doni has always loved is doing something new, exploring new worlds and traveling. “I decided to launch Girl’s Guide to Paris so I could leave politics and combine what I love with my work – all things French and Paris, in particular.”

A trip to her local bookstore, along with some searches on Amazon and web surfing, convinced Doni her idea was viable. “I found an art lover’s guide to Paris, a wine lover’s guide, a shopping guide, etc., but no guide for women,” she says. “Women are drawn to Paris in a very strong way, because Paris equals beauty.” Doni also did research to determine whether or not the market was there. “As it turns out women make 90% of all leisure travel decisions and women 40 – 60 years of age are the largest growing niche market in travel,” Doni says.

A friend of Doni’s, who she took with her on a girl’s trip to Paris, suggested that the site be called a Girl’s Guide, and so it was. “Plus I had an apartment in Paris for about six years and everyone already asked me where to go and what to do there, so it seemed natural,” Doni explains.

Girl’s Guide to Paris focuses on what women want in the city of lights. “Since we’ve started, we’ve seen a few competitors, but our site continues to grow and expand,” Doni says. “We think we are on to something. We’ve noticed that women feel safer in a community of like-minded women giving and receiving advice, like you do with your girlfriends.”

Bringing authenticity to Girls’ Guide to Paris are the bevy of women bloggers on the ground in Paris who experience and write about the most up-to-date information regarding what’s hot in Paris.

The resources on the website are free, but a membership option is now available for women interested in getting discounts on tours, classes, hotels and Girl’s Guide merchandise purchased through the site.

Today, Doni has an agent working on selling the Girls’ Guide to Paris Guidebook. She’s also taken the Girl’s Guide to London, New York, Barcelona, Rome, France, Africa and Asia URLs. “We’d love to take it around the world via website and in book form,” Doni says.

Doni is also involved in Ubuntu Africa, a non-profit she founded. The organization is dedicated to providing lifesaving healthcare and support services to HIV positive children and teens in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

What we learned from Doni: “In the beginning you want to do it all, fast. Building something big takes time and must be done with care.”

Take Your Time
“Don’t feel you need to try everything all at once. Experiment and learn along the way.”

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

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