Cool entrepreneurs who turned passion into profit.
There’s never been a better time to start a small business. Entrepreneurs can benefit from a wide array of tools and resources to give their fledgling companies a slick and successful look right from the start. Homebased entrepreneurs can launch from a garage, as did Amazon, Apple and Dell
but can easily give their startup enterprise the allure of a large company. It’s easy to give any small business a savvy look.
The Internet presents a global buying audience and can catapult your small venture into the international marketplace.
Despite the ups and downs of our roller-coaster economy, small business has continued to persevere and prosper. Small business generates more than 65% of net new jobs. This has been the case since 1995. Fifty-two percent of small businesses are homebased, and tens of thousands of small businesses are started each month.
Women make up a large part of the small business success story demographic. More women are starting their own businesses in order to live the lives they want, says Victoria Colligan, co-founder of Ladies Who Launch. Ladies who Launch provides a social network for entrepreneurial women. Women polled by Ladies Who Launch cite freedom, flexibility and control as the top reasons for starting their own business. The second most important factors are creativity, fulfillment and passion. Money comes in third place.
According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO.org):
• Women, employing nearly 7.8 million people, and generating $1.3 trillion in sales, own 8.6 million firms.
• Over the past six years, since the depth of the U.S. recession, the only businesses that have provided a net increase in employment are large, publicly traded corporations and privately held majority women-owned firms.
• Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 30% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 11% of revenues. Woman are entrepreneurial.
• Businesses owned by women of color total 2.7 million firms in the U.S. This figure is growing every year.
• These firms employ 1.1 million people and generate $226 billion in revenues annually.
• One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned and likely to continue booming.
• 4.2% of all women-owned firms have revenues of
$1 million or more. You can live the dream.
One common denominator in any small business startup is clear: if you love what you do, you will love succeeding at your work. This “passion into profit” formula will propel your business to the top.
We rounded up 25 cool business ventures run by company principals who are doing what they love. We hope these entrepreneurs will inspire you to live your dream of starting your own business!
COZY FRIEDMAN: COZY’S CUTS FOR KIDS
Cozy Friedman opened her first Cozy’s Cuts for Kids salon on Madison Avenue in 1994 and has since opened three salons along with launching So Cozy Hair Care for Children, the first-ever “designer” line of hair care products geared towards kids. As a female entrepreneur who took a single, innovative idea and created both a business and a brand, she’s now dedicated to inspiring women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams.
“The hardest step is the first one: believing in yourself enough to take the plunge,” she says about becoming a female business owner. “For me, it helped to put in the time to do my homework and research, research, research. Before I got into my business, I worked in different children’s stores all around New York for two years to learn about the industry and also went to barber school to learn about cutting and styling hair.”
Despite resistance from landlords that were reluctant to lease a space out to a young female without any retail experience, the first Cozy’s Cuts for Kids salon opened on Madison Avenue as the first salon dedicated to children’s hair.
“As an entrepreneur, you can never be afraid of rejection,” she says about what propelled her to push ahead. “I’ve learned that there is no such thing as no—you just haven’t gotten to the yes yet.” Since her first successful store and following store openings and hair care product line launchings, she’s also published Cozy’s Complete Guide to Girl’s Hair to bring her two decades of hair experience to parents in the form of illustrated instructions and photos.
“I got a lot of invaluable advice and support from women around me when I started, and I’m passionate about doing the same for future business leaders,” she says. Cozy has appeared on the panel of The Tory Burch Foundation’s Mentoring and Discussion for Women Entrepreneurs event, alongside other women such as Lauren Bush and Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour. To learn more visit www.socozy.com.
GLORY GALLUCCI: ANY LAB TEST NOW
Any Lab Test Now makes it easy for consumers and businesses alike to manage their health by providing direct access to clinical lab tests, paternity and other DNA family relationship tests, drug and alcohol and other toxicology testing services. The first franchise store was open at the end of 2007. Glory was one of the first franchisees buying the rights to the entire Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in liberal arts and an MBA from the University of Illinois, Glory was director of marketing for Cardinal Health, as well as a small pharmaceutical company in Greensboro, N.C. After taking a self-declared sabbatical for six months, she wound up in the world of career consulting, starting her entrepreneurial career as an independent consultant and later as a senior consultant for Right Management, a division of Manpower, Inc. Deciding she wanted to return to her entrepreneurial roots, she researched buying an existing business, as well as franchises, that fit her interests and background.
She discovered Any Lab Test Now and was able to develop a comprehensive plan with Benetrends, the leader in franchise and small business funding, to help her fund her business, which allowed her to open her first location in November 2008.
Glory will open her second location in Raleigh, N.C., in May 2014 with plans for a total of five in the Triangle (Orange County, Durham County and Wake County.) The business has grown every year, finishing 13th out of 150 locations in 2013. Visit anylabtestnow.com/ to learn more about the franchise.
CHRISTINA Di PIERRO: ADEA LINGERIE
Christina Di Pierro is the president and founder of Adea, a luxury lingerie and wardrobe basics company based in Shrewsbury, Mass. Christina began Adea in 2002, at age 26, while she was living in Italy. After becoming accustomed to the affordable and luxurious Italian lingerie that cost more than double in the United States, Christina realized there was an existing need for high quality, mid-priced layering pieces. Christina started Adea to fulfill the U.S. fashion market’s need for high-end, long-lasting lingerie, at affordable prices.
Within a few years Christina had successfully established a presence in the U.S. market and was selling each season to chain stores, such as Bloomingdales, and boutiques. Her business was growing, and she knew that in order to continue the momentum she would need to bring on a partner. She wanted someone with financial expertise to help with forecasting and budgeting and also interpersonal skills to help at the trade shows and to interact with customers. In 2005, she brought on a partner, Jacqueline Durkee.
In 2008, Christina decided to transition the business to an e-commerce site and eliminate the large stores. Working through the MyAdea.com website eliminated several expenses, such as tradeshows, sales reps and the time-intensive bar coding systems associated with the larger stores. The additional savings enabled her to expand Adea’s line of styles and colors, as well as make investments in marketing. This also enabled Adea to continue selling its items at affordable prices. Visit myadea.com.
At Adea’s peak revenue was approximately $1 million, but after transitioning the business online, it went as low as $350,000. Today revenue has steadily grown to $600,000.
URSZULA ABOLIK: AMBER CONNECTION
Amber Connection is a store in Emmaus, Pennsylvania that has become a hot gathering spot for artists, musicians, designers, craftspeople and patrons who appreciate the events and fine products the shop/gallery/art center has to offer. Art-preneuring at its best.
Amber Connection was established to sell an amazing collection of amber jewelry. Urszula Abolik has had a lifelong passion for and interest in amber. Walking the beaches of the Baltic Sea, Urszula would discover pieces of the natural gem, noting their distinctive bubbles of air and water that contained irreplaceable fossils. “Amber fossils are 40 to 60 million years old and have been used in healing medicine and arts since ancient times,” said Urszula.
Urszula met with local artisans who for generations had created jewelry. The partnership developed into a line of incomparable pieces fashioned from the beach finds.
“As we worked on the jewelry pieces, we were constantly discovering extraordinary fossil finds in the amber. We gave and continue to give the fossils and artifacts we find to museums to add to their collections,” said the endlessly fascinating Urszula.
In December, 2004, the Art-Preneur fulfilled her dream of opening a retail store. In addition to the inspired amber collections, classic or original silver or gold pieces, Amber Collection offers one-of-a-kind fashions made from natural fabrics like 100% organic linen, flax and hemp. There is a Vintage Room for those seeking a collectible form of retail therapy. Special Sales coordinate with every holiday of the year. Guest Designers from around the world participate in Meet & Greet sessions with shoppers.
Amber Connection also presents a wide variety of special evenings, gatherings and get-togethers, rallies and festivals to incorporate the community.
There is an Open Mike Night For Poetry, another night for Musical Performances, Trunk Shows, Pop-Up Art and Photography Galleries, a Consignment Shop for Art Clothes, Argentine Tango Classes and Performance, Workshops for Customers who want to create their own jewelry, and Educational Seminars dedicated to learning about some of the most pressing issues of our time including saving our waterways and understanding fracking. Recently artists Phoebe Legere and Barnaby Ruhe gave drawing classes at Amber Connection.
“Many of my customers that have met in the store have teamed up to work on projects—creative, political, inspirational and more. The customers are now active participants and creators. Many people have told me over the years that I should change the name of the store to People Connection,” smiles Urszula.
Hats off to human dynamo Urszula Abolik for creating the kind of small business that inspires and motivates so many people. Her inventive evenings, workshops and programs are a win-win for all. The events draw more customers into Amber Connection and the result is a wonderful time and experience for everyone.
The store is located at 420 Chestnut Street, Emmaus, PA 18049 Monday, Wednesday – closed, Tuesday 10-6, Thursday – 10-6, Friday – 10-6, Saturday, Sunday – 11. The phone number is: 610-967-5801. Wholesale distribution is available.
Check the website for more info and a list of events at www.amberconnection.org.
JIM DIXON: VALPAK
Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, is owned and operated by Cox Target Media. With nearly 170 franchises across the United States and Canada, the signature Blue Envelope® delivers coupons to nearly 40 million households each month. Annually, Valpak will distribute 20 billion offers inserted in more than 500 million envelopes.
Jim Dixon started in sales for Valpak in 1994, developed his own book of Valpak business on the east side of town of Columbus, and became 20% owner in 1998. Jim has grown the business from $6 million a year to over $9.5 million a year. Contact Jdixon@valpakusa.com.
KRIS GIRRELL: GODDARD SCHOOL
Kris Girrell is the franchisee of two Goddard School locations in the Boston area. Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) currently licenses over 400 franchised schools with more than 45,000 students in 35 states. With a proven system in place for 25 years and a strong network of franchisees like Kris, GSI is the acknowledged leader in franchised childcare and a premier educational childcare provider.
Kris has had a long and successful career in executive leadership consulting and has worked on business ventures ranging from small $10-$20 million start-ups to $2 billion multinational enterprises.
Kris and his wife Sarah own a Goddard School location in Reading, Mass. Kris just opened his second school in Middleton, Mass.that he co-owns with longtime family friend Margie Sutton. He co-founded Operation ELF, a holiday gifting program for homeless children. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-762-7620.
Bethenny Frankel: SKINNYGIRL
By Nissa Larsen
Bethenny Frankel is a former reality television personality, talk show host, author, and entrepreneur. She graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute, which specializes in healthy-food choices and recipes thus beginning her career as natural food chef.
In 2001 she launched BethennyBakes, a cookie company specializing in baking that catered to the health-conscious New York City elite. This company gained her enough notoriety and in 2005 she was cast on the television show The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. She made it all the way to the finale. The show led her to receive an endorsement deal with Pepperidge Farm and a monthly column for Health magazine.
In 2008 she was cast on Bravo TV’s reality show The Real Housewives of New York City, which followed the daily lives of five Manhattan women. The show was a success and landed her own spin-off Bethenny Getting Married later renamed Bethenny Ever After.
In 2009 she switched gears and launched her own company “Skinnygirl”, a food and lifestyle brand catered to healthy living. In March 2009 she published her first book Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting. In December 2009 she wrote her second book The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life. In spring 2010 she filmed an exercise DVD, Body by Bethenny, as well as recorded an audio book, The Skinnygirl Rules, which was a summarization of her two previous books.
In March 2011 she published a novel titled A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, which spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Frankel then started a highly successful low-calorie cocktail company also called “Skinnygirl”. Her yearly earnings were estimated to be $12 million. In April 2011, Frankel sold her Skinnygirl cocktail company to Fortune Brands’ Beam Global for an estimated $100 million. In December 2012, Frankel published a novel called Skinnydipping.
The success of Skinnygirl caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres and Bethenny became a frequent guest on her television show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In 2013, with the help of Ellen, she was given her own nationally syndicated talk show titled bethenny. The show is now ending and we look forward to Bethenny’s next entrepreneurial incarnation.
Nissa Larsen is a Contributing Editor. Follow her on twitter @nisnice.
NICK, SURAG, JEFF: GROVO
Grovo is an online video training platform that breaks down 130+ Internet tools, cloud services, and professional topics into easily understood and actionable skills. The company principals went from friends to founders to selling Grovo’s services to the Fortune 500.
Grovo’s principals are: Jeff Fernandez, Cofounder & CEO, Surag Mungekar, Cofounder & CTO and Nick Narodny, Cofounder.
According to Jeff Fernandez, “The team founded Grovo in the summer of 2010, with the aim of bringing people the tools they need to become better technology users.”
Surag and Jeff, best friends since first grade, promised each other that they would start a company together after college. As fate would have it, after graduating in 2005, Jeff joined Clickable as an early employee. Here, he met Nick, who had recently moved to NYC from LA to join its burgeoning tech scene. After sitting across from each other for only a few days, Jeff knew that Nick would be an important part of his future startup. Jeff introduced Surag and Nick in early 2010.
The “ah-ha” moment came when a friend sent a text message asking how to connect Google Analytics to WordPress. The team knew there was a need for simple tools that anyone could use to help them keep up with ever-changing technology. Grovo was born.
Today, Grovo is a SaaS platform that features 4,000+ video lessons, covering 100+ Internet tools, cloud services, and professional topics.
Every day, Grovo’s in-house team of product analysts, animators, and video editors produce the latest videos covering updates to the world’s most popular sites, apps and cloud services. Grovo has the most reliable, up-to-date training content: proprietary technology allows Grovo’s team to monitor changes to websites, apps and devices and produce needed video lessons in less than 8 hours. Visit grovo.com to learn more.
THERESA ROEMER: BIZ PHILANTHROPY
Theresa Roemer is an entrepreneur who specializes in business philanthropy, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities worldwide. She owns several home goods companies in Houston, Texas and is a partner in Roemer Oil.
A self-made millionaire who was raised on a farm in Nebraska, Theresa has built seven small businesses and is partnered with four larger companies.
Movie studios, television production companies, and large companies like LVMH and Saks Fifth Avenue engage Theresa Roemer, LLC to help raise significant funds for charitable organizations such as Child Legacy International and The American Red Cross. Through Theresa’s networks, she brings high profile celebrities and newsmakers to events and raises tens of thousands of dollars in just a few hours.
Theresa Roemer’s unique process—and her loyal network of fundraising resources—have enabled her to significantly raise awareness for cause-related marketing. .
Theresa has been on the Board of Directors for Child Legacy International for more than three years. Among other fundraising efforts, she donates her time in Malawi to help drill water wells and participated in that cause’s first Mt. Kilimanjaro climb in 2011, which raised $100,000 for the charity.
Theresa Roemer was a self-made millionaire by 1992 when she built a small yet successful chain of fitness centers and personal fitness consulting services in Wyoming. Theresa built her home goods business in 2010, including a line of specialty truffles and eco-friendly candles, and is currently in production for a fashion apparel line to launch in the fall of 2014. She is a partner in four of the largest Texas oil and energy companies in the state: Roemer Oil, Roemer Interests, Maximillian Productions, and Toto Energy. A personal fitness trainer herself, she went on to take the U.S. Open title for bodybuilding and has held the titles of Mrs. United America, Mrs. Texas U.A., and Mrs. Houston U.A., concurrently. To learn more visit http://theresaroemer.com.
CONNIE KADANSKY: EXCEPTIONAL SALES
Exceptional Sales Performance conducts sales training and coaches businesses to overcome Sales Call Reluctance.
How The Company Started: Said Connie Kadansky, “I was experiencing Sales Call Reluctance, the emotional hesitation to prospect and self-promote. After helping myself, I was so intrigued that I decided to help other people overcome this debilitating and career-neutralizing fear.”
Advice for a startup entrepreneur: “Be rooted in your value as an individual and know your value with every fiber of your body so that you can convey that value to your prospects/customers/clients. Own the fact that you are a professional lead generator first and foremost who happens to sell XYZ (whatever you sell). Prospecting will become an adventure opposed to a necessary evil,” said Connie. For more info visit www.exceptionalsales.com.
DEBBIE BLACHER: WHOLESOME TUMMIES
Debbie Blacher, is a mother of three who recognized a need for quick, affordable and healthy school lunches for her kids and decided to do something about it. In 2007, she left her former career as an HR executive and founded Wholesome Tummies. After testing the concept for three years in Orlando, Fla., the company began franchising in 2010. It is the country’s first and only kids’ food franchise that distributes healthy, fresh and delicious meals to school cafeterias across the country.
In addition to the Orlando, Fla. corporate headquarters, Wholesome Tummies currently has 23 individually owned and operated franchises. The company expects to have at least 40 units by the end of 2014 and double every year thereafter, with long-term goals calling for 250 units, 2,000 schools, and $200 million in system-wide sales by 2017.
Debbie has created a kid-tested menu with her chefs that is customized for kids who may have allergies or intolerance to gluten. Items on her menu include fruit kabobs, smoothies, pasta, pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders and whole-grain sandwiches among others. Visit wholesometummies.com to learn more.
MARIA EMMA: EMBROIDME
When Maria Emma opened her EmbroidMe business in Sept. 2008, she did so in a 400 sq. ft. room on the sixth floor of a non-descript building on W. 34th St. with nothing but a desk, a garment printer and an embroidery machine. Today she works from her new space at 5 E. 33rd St. and is the go-to embroiderer for some of fashion’s most elite brands including YSL, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karen.
“It can be hard to own your own business when you’re as young as I am,” she said, “but EmbroidMe has been my business partner from the get-go. Their support system has been crucial to helping me get where I am today.”
She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan where she was chosen to go abroad to work in international fashion forecasting. She was handpicked by Walmart to become their assistant to the vice president when she was only 18. The job with Walmart brought her back to the U.S.
“It was an exciting job, but it reminded me that my plan, my passion, when I started at FIT was to open my own company,” she said. “Being so young, I knew it would be difficult to accomplish on my own, and so I went looking for a franchise. That’s how I found EmbroidMe.”
EmbroidMe is the world’s largest diversified promotional products franchise, helping organizations brand themselves and make an impression by customizing marketing products .
Globally, EmbroidMe plans to open 120 new resource centers, 80 of which will be in the United States, through the remainder of the 2014, reaching 500 locations worldwide by the end of 2016. Visit www.embroidme.com.
TOM PAOLELLA: CAR CONCIERGE
Buying or leasing a car should be a joyful and exciting experience. Unfortunately, for most people the process is no fun at all, what with the hours of research, multiple dealer visits, comparing prices, endless negotiating, countless pressure tactics, and in the end, still wondering if you got a good deal. Car Concierge Plus, LLC recently announced its opening to aid the residents the tri-state area in the car buying and leasing process.
Car Concierge Plus is a personal, individually run consulting business that locates, negotiates, and delivers extremely competitive prices on all types of cars and trucks for clients, new or pre-owned. Through extensive knowledge of auto sales, the stress is taken out of the car-buying experience and provides significant savings of both time and money.
Car Concierge Plus is owned and operated by Tom Paolella of Middletown, NJ. Paolella founded Car Concierge Plus after hearing too many harrowing stories from friends and family about their car buying experiences. As a global communications and public relations professional, he has worked with some of the world’s largest car companies and leverages numerous personal relationships with auto dealers throughout the tri-state area.
“Over the years, I have watched far too many buyers pay way more money than they needed to because they were out-negotiated by the dealerships,” says Tom Paolella. “Recognizing the disadvantage and frustration that most buyers have when negotiating their own deal, I realized that there was a tremendous need for today’s buyer to have their own expert negotiator. My mission is to be a true advocate on behalf of my clients and to level the playing field between dealers and buyers.
Len and Adele Ruggieri of Lincroft, NJ are satisfied clients. They first heard of Car Concierge Plus at an event and were intrigued by the business concept. “I admit I was a bit skeptical at first when first hearing about this unique service, but Tom personally facilitated the entire process from that of an exhausting and frustrating experience in dealing with various dealers, to that of a Monday morning quarterback,” says Len Ruggieri.
Visit www.CarConciergePlus.com to learn about pricing and to read testimonials from satisfied clients.
DMITRY SHAPIRO: SARPINO’s PIZZERIA
A star multi-unit franchisee, Bill Hall of Dairy Queen, conducted a survey among his hundreds of employees a few years ago. With 27 units operating, he really wanted to know what motivated his employees and made them better performers. The results amazed him. “It wasn’t money,” Hall stated. “It was training. They wanted more training, better training.”
“That does not surprise me one bit,” says Dmitry Shapiro, president of Sarpino’s Pizzeria USA. “That’s why we built Sarpino’s on a math and science basis, rather than an emotional one.” Shapiro has a degree in systems and engineering and an MBA in marketing and finance. He has put them all to work at Sarpino’s.
Shapiro became a partner in Sarpino’s in 2003. He had previously served as a business analyst with Sears and Kraft Foods and owned a software consulting company. He works with vice president and original Illinois Sarpino’s franchisee David Chatkin, who has an extensive background as a restaurateur.
Pizza is a $36 billion industry and among the most dynamic sectors of the American food landscape. Sarpino’s Pizzeria, already ranked as one of the Top 50 Pizza Chains of 2013, has made growth throughout the United States their top priority for 2014. Shapiro and Chatkin have teamed up with Franchise Dynamics, a franchise development company based in Chicago.
Sarpino’s Pizzeria currently has 46 stores in eight states across the U.S. They have a presence in a total of 15 countries worldwide. Visit sarpinos.com to learn more.
KEN JENNINGS: MR. REKEY
Ken’s business sense and entrepreneurial passion began early – he started his first business at 13 years old selling garden seeds door-to-door. This adventure literally planted the seed that led him to start Texas Rekey Locksmith Service from the trunk of his car in 1995. The company was rebranded as Mr. Rekey Locksmith® Services when it expanded outside of Texas 10 years later.
Ken revolutionized and transformed an industry that was previously known for inconsistencies by creating a reputable brand identity and multiple opportunities for market growth to its franchisees.
Today, Ken is a hands-on CEO, leading a unique culture of locksmith professionals who are easily recognizable by their clean, uniformed and branded appearance. He wears many hats at the company, one of which is franchise owner and also franchisee to over 20 Mr. Rekey territories.
During the last 35 years, Ken has founded more than 40 businesses and spent time studying the success of other business leaders in thriving industries and applying them to his own business ventures. He also mentors numerous entrepreneurs in his hometown of Austin, Texas.
Anna Phillips: THE LASH LOUNGE
According to Anna Phillips, CEO and founder of The Lash Lounge:
“There was a time when women went to one salon to get their hair, nails and makeup done all in one trip. A daylong trip to the beauty parlor was the norm. Then, in what seems like a blink of an eye (or in our case, eyelash), the beauty service industry changed. Niche beauty salons are popping up across the country and are specializing in just one beauty regimen.
“The express personal care industry has risen out of the consumer demand for a fast, high quality, yet moderately priced experience. As CEO and founder of The Lash Lounge, I’ve experienced this trend first-hand. The Lash Lounge is the first of its kind and the largest salon franchise that specializes primarily in semi-permanent eyelash extensions.
“We live in fast-paced world and most people don’t have four-plus hours to spare to have their hair, nails, lashes, waxing, tanning, etc. all done on the same day. Niche salons fill the gap by giving consumers only the service they need.
“The niche salon has innovated every segment of the beauty industry – couture nail shops for specialty manicures, blow dry-only hair salons for quick and low-cost hair styling, ear cleaning salons have gained popularity abroad and eyelash extensions salons.
“According to a report by the Professional Beauty Association, the job growth rate for the personal appearance industry is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2011 to 2018, almost three times faster than the national job growth rate of just 18 percent (Economic Snapshot of the Salon and Beauty Industry Report).
“Running a niche business does have its challenges. One of these challenges is finding additional revenue streams, while still staying true to brand identity. Business owners and beauty professionals may have to think outside of the box to generate more income. For instance, The Lash Lounge offers a short menu of services that compliment eyelash extensions, including permanent makeup (tattoo makeup services), brow threading and an exclusive cosmetics line.” Visit www.lashlounge.com for info.
ANNA PRENDERGAST: PENN STATION
Anna Prendergast, a former Emmy Award winning investigative reporter for television news, recently opened her third Penn Station East Coast Subs location in Reston, VA. Prendergast left a life of travel and long hours in order to build a growing business in her native neighborhood. She plans to have 8 stores open and operating in 2014, growing toward a total of 15 Penn Station locations throughout Northern Virginia by 2016.
“I went into television news straight out of college,” Prendergast said. “I moved every two years and even covered the war in Iraq. I was introduced to Penn Station East Coast Subs while working in Louisville, KY. Once I tried it, I was hooked and I knew it would do really well in Northern Virginia. I grew up here and knew the area was filled with restaurants, but it was missing a great sub sandwich shop. Penn Station serves the freshest and most delicious subs I have ever had. We know people will keep coming to our restaurants because of one thing—the quality of the food.” Visit penn-station.com to learn more.
ALANNAH JOHNSON: EBAY MOM
“I’m actually in school right now at Grand Canyon University. So I go to school, I’m a mother, and I’m selling on eBay on the side.
“My husband works full-time so I can stay at home with my daughter and go to school. Last May, I realized that my family needed to make more money somehow. We made the bills, but never had money for extra stuff, my daughter’s clothes, shoes, or anything else we needed. That’s when I looked into eBay. I started selling baby clothes, and then got into women’s clothing which is what I love. In 6 months I made over $8,000.
“I paid $30 at a garage sale for a Fendi bag and ended up selling it on eBay for $400. It was very exciting for me.”
KATHY CONLAN: EBAY SALES
In 1999, my then 12-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. I quit my job so I could drive her the 50 miles to her treatments, and I needed a way to bring in an income while taking care of my daughter. At City of Hope cancer research hospital, one little boy we met was selling his toys and figurines on eBay. His parents were helping him, teaching him about finances. I’d heard of eBay but I’d never done anything with it. I started selling antique plates and some of the knickknacks I had around the house to make extra money.
I just loved selling on eBay. I started giving some thought to what I really wanted to sell and I decided on jewelry. Not only was I having a blast, but I was bringing in enough money to not have to go back to working outside the house.
GERRY WALKER: ONLINE AUCTIONS
I felt like I was living in a storage warehouse. My mother and my aunt were both collectors. Mother alone had 7 sets of dishes—I’ve sold 2 so far on eBay—and my aunt had all kinds of little collectibles. Plus I have a house full of my own stuff. My daughter, who’s done a lot of selling, encouraged me to try eBay.
And how was it when you started selling?
The biggest surprise is that it’s so much fun! And I make enough on eBay to pay the little bills: my dog’s haircuts, the TV, the phone. It’s a nice way to make some money.
What’s the best part of selling on eBay?
You don’t have to go through the rigmarole of running a physical store where you have to sit and wait. You can sell from your house any time you’re up for it. I can nap at 5pm and get up and sell at 2am if I want. With eBay, people are busy shopping when you’re not even there.
MAGGIE HARLOW: SIGNARAMA
Maggie Harlow wanted to open her own family business and in 2003 she was able to open a Signarama location in Louisville, KY.
Approaching 900 locations worldwide, Signarama was founded in 1986 by Ray Titus and his father, franchising pioneer, Roy Titus. The company provides comprehensive sign and graphic services to both private and commercial segments. The company offers impactful marketing solutions from digital signs to vehicle wraps, banners, monument, neon, LED and pylon signs.
Signarama resonated with Harlow. “I liked the core concepts,” she explained. “I fabricate what I sell, and I sell what I want, to whom I want. I work with a really creative staff and customers, and we produce no hazardous waste.”
After opening her store, Harlow’s husband, Brian, joined the business team and their children came to work for them during their summer vacations. They continued to grow until the recession hit in 2009.
In response to the U.S. downturn, Harlow cut all the excess from her business. They also began to turn away new clients. “I decided to focus on taking care of my current clients. I knew it was a risky move and I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. In reality, it was just what we needed.”
Harlow says a move to a smaller space put her in better contact with employees and customers, and energized the whole staff. Currently her Signarama location is looking at 50 percent growth this year over last year.
Signarama has been at the forefront of the $49 billion sign industry for more than two decades, providing cost-effective advertising and branding solutions for companies. For more information, visit www.signarama.com.
FATHER & SON: BURGER 21
Adam Booken & Bruce Booken have a father/son partnership as franchisees of Burger 21. Burger 21 is an award winning, better burger franchise featuring 21 chef-inspired burger creations, crafted signature shakes, fresh salads and more. Burger 21 is now seeking single- and multi-unit operators with restaurant and/or business experience to join its unique fast casual dining concept. Adam and Bruce are both attorneys and Adam (son) left his job of being an attorney to operate and run the restaurant full time.
Adam and Bruce recently opened the first Burger 21 restaurant on the East Coast of Florida. Visit burger21.com to learn more.
Million Dollar Mom-Preneurs!
Mom business owners are on the rise as more women are taking the leap by pursuing their passions and creating a business from the ground up. These inspiring moms become successful by learning how to juggle work and family life so they can balance being a mom and a business owner.
STEPHANIE PARKER: SLEEPING BABY
Fort Worth, Texas parents Stephanie and Brett Parker were a typical couple working hard to provide for their family. The Parkers turned their savings of $700 into a million dollar business. Their amazing Zipadee-Zip sleep garment was designed by Stephanie on her sewing machine after Charlotte began the transition out of swaddling and could no longer fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Visit www.sleepingbaby.com to learn more.
KAREN BARSKI: WOOMBIE
Karen Barski is a mom of five, 20-year nurse and a certified infant care specialist who built a multi-million dollar brand. Karen came up with the idea for the Woombie baby swaddle after her daughter Bella would not sleep longer than 15 minutes at a time. Bella had mighty-mouse strength and a super startle reflex that constantly unraveled her swaddle. Karen would find Bella time and time again with the swaddle up over Bella’s face making it hot and red. After trying every available baby swaddle to no avail, Karen took out her grandmother’s sewing machine and sewed the very first Woombie! As soon as she put Bella in, she fell asleep the entire night.
The one-of-a-kind baby swaddle used by over a half million babies has won over 16 awards and counting for its unique design and innovation. Visit www.woombie.com to learn more.
SANDY CLARK: DOUBLE BLESSINGS
For moms who breastfeed their infants, it can be a struggle to do so in a public space while attempting to maintain some sense of modesty and discretion. Sandy Clark, a San Diego mom of twins, once witnessed this exact scenario while at the beach and it inspired her to come up with an inventive solution that would lead to a million dollar business. Clark developed the San Diego Bebe(R) Eco-Nursing Pillow, that would provide moms with support, comfort, and discretion while nursing.
Clark went to work with some blocks of foam and an electric carving knife from her kitchen and invented a best-selling twin nursing pillow; a pioneer concept on the market 20 years ago! For more info visit doubleblessings.com.