WHIRL’s Women in Business 2015: Meet 99 Prominent Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs

WHIRL Magazine Women in Business 2015 networking event, Omni William Penn Hotel Pittsburgh

By Andrea Bosco
Photographs by Catherine Palladino + Ben Petchel

It’s been a groundbreaking year for women in business in Western Pennsylvania. From small business owners to corporate executives, we’re honored to present to you 99 exceptional entrepreneurs! All nominated by colleagues, friends, and peers, these lively ladies had the opportunity to mingle at our Women in Business event, held at the Omni William Penn Hotel. The high energy in the room was contagious as the women shared stories, mutual networks, and support for one another. As relationships formed organically, we witnessed our mission of making connections come to life! Meet these deserving leaders below, and read about how they got their start, the best part about being a woman in business in our community, and their sage advice. Congratulations to our Class of 2015 for rising to the top of their industries!

Aubre Stacknick, Verve 360

Aubre Stacknick
Verve 360

Aubrey Johnson, Moxie Mind & Body Pilates Studio

Aubrey Johnson
Moxie Mind & Body Pilates Studio

Erica Miller, One Brilliant

Erica Miller
One Brilliant

Darla Cisek, Darla Photography

Darla Cisek
Darla Photography

Nikki Remic, Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

Nikki Remic
Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

Meagan Roppo, Young Professional Women in Energy (YPWE)

Meagan Roppo
Young Professional Women in Energy (YPWE)

Elaine Schweikarth, The Olive Merchant

Elaine Schweikarth
The Olive Merchant

Nadine Hall, Salon Eleven Fifty Four

Nadine Hall
Salon Eleven Fifty Four

Theresa Bayer, Schafer Interiors

Theresa Bayer
Schafer Interiors

Christina Nguyen, Ragged Row

Christina Nguyen
Ragged Row

Leisa Anderson, Cioppino Restaurant Group

Leisa Anderson
Cioppino Restaurant Group

Dodie Hall, Vanilla Bean Salon & Spa

Dodie Hall
Vanilla Bean Salon & Spa

Dana Sellitti, SerenDipity Boutique

Dana Sellitti
SerenDipity Boutique

Ruthi Bosco, DoTERRA Essential Oils, Intl., EsScential Wellness, LLC

Ruthi Bosco
dōTERRA Essential Oils, Intl., EsScential Wellness, LLC

Leslie Bonci, University of Pittsburgh Physicians Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Leslie Bonci
University of Pittsburgh Physicians Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Cora DeLoia, Spoiled Chics the Boutique

Cora DeLoia
Spoiled Chics the Boutique

Sara Ruth, Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, LLC

Sara Ruth
Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, LLC

Angela M. Grossic, Marie Couture Designs

Angela M. Grossic
Marie Couture Designs

Brittany Fradkin, Marbury Group

Brittany Fradkin
Marbury Group

Grace Betancourt, Heart of the Earth

Grace Betancourt
Heart of the Earth

Elizabeth Craig, Elizabeth Craig Photography

Elizabeth Craig
Elizabeth Craig Photography

Stacy Dougherty, NoWait

Stacy Dougherty
NoWait

Jen Mascaro, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services

Jen Mascaro
Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services

Kate Kill, Himalayan Institute

Kate Kill
The Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh

Valarie Panei, Valarie Panei Professional Makeup Artist Pittsburgh

Valarie Panei
Valarie Panei Professional Makeup Artist Pittsburgh

Patricia A.M. Ingram, Ingram Portrait Design

Patricia A.M. Ingram
Ingram Portrait Design

Kristen Peckich, La Pomponnée Salon & Spa

Kristen Peckich
La Pomponnée Salon & Spa

Kristen Hackett, Acrobatique Creative

Kristen Hackett
Acrobatique Creative

Lynne Popash, VisitPittsburgh

Lynne Popash
VisitPittsburgh

Veronica Varos, Veronica Varos Photography

Veronica Varos
Veronica Varos Photography

Lea Guarino, Guarino Group Productions

Lea Guarino
Guarino Group Productions

Christi Stephens, S&S Candy & Cigar Co.

Christi Stephens
S&S Candy & Cigar Co.

Kimberly Stephens, S&S Candy & Cigar Co.

Kimberly Stephens
S&S Candy & Cigar Co.

Diane Robison, Above All Grand Salon & Spa

Diane Robison
Above All Grand Salon & Spa

Andrea Carelli, The PNC Financial Services Group

Andrea Carelli
The PNC Financial Services Group

Debra Tempest, Above All Grand Salon & Spa

Debra Tempest
Above All Grand Salon & Spa

Sandy DiGregory, Jeffrey Smith Salon

Sandy DiGregory
Jeffrey Smith Salon

Kym Pelcher, Splurge

Kym Pelcher
Splurge

Kathleen Meier, Independent Certified Massage Therapist

Kathleen Meier
Independent Certified Massage Therapist

Joan Enz-Doerschner, Tusa Bella

Joan Enz-Doerschner
Tusa Bella

Amy Baron Brourman, Samuel Baron Clothiers

Amy Baron Brourman
Samuel Baron Clothiers

Rania Harris, Rania’s Catering

Rania Harris
Rania’s Catering

Carolyn Klasnick, Post Script Productions, LLC

Carolyn Klasnick
Post Script Productions, LLC

Michele Hammerbacher, Post Script Productions, LLC

Michele Hammerbacher
Post Script Productions, LLC

Carmel Vandale, Mt. Lebanon Floral

Carmel Vandale
Mt. Lebanon Floral

Clare Westwood, Clearly Pilates

Clare Westwood
Clearly Pilates

Cooper Munroe, The Motherhood

Cooper Munroe
The Motherhood

Ronda Zegarelli, Acrobatique Creative

Ronda Zegarelli
Acrobatique Creative

Holly Kepins, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company

Holly Kepins
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company

Nicole Orlando, Painting with a Twist

Nicole Orlando
Painting with a Twist

Eileen Graham, EG Associates Group, LLC

Eileen Graham
EG Associates Group, LLC

Patricia Klug, George Co.

Patricia Klug
George Co.

Kate A. Lambert, Stage AE

Kate A. Lambert
Stage AE

Renee Lutz, Stage AE

Renee Lutz
Stage AE

Vasso Paliouras, Lending Hearts

Vasso Paliouras
Lending Hearts

Diane Cuscino, Diane’s Boutique

Diane Cuscino
Diane’s Boutique

Erin Tuladzieck, National Kidney Foundation

Erin Tuladzieck
National Kidney Foundation

Nina Khan, The Elite Show Band

Nina Khan
The Elite Show Band

Christina Knieriem, Knieriem Designs

Christina Knieriem
Knieriem Designs

Krista Peckyno, WESCO Distribution, Inc.

Krista Peckyno
WESCO Distribution, Inc.

Brigitte Nguyen, Ragged Row

Brigitte Nguyen
Ragged Row

Hannah Roth, Gateway Clipper Fleet

Hannah Roth
Gateway Clipper Fleet

Louise Pittavino, Aveda

Louise Pittavino
Aveda

Jennifer Salac, Hey Baby! 4D Ultrasound Studio

Jennifer Salac
Hey Baby! 4D Ultrasound Studio

Mary Lynn Jimm, Diane’s Boutique

Mary Lynn Jimm
Diane’s Boutique

Melissa Sidick, National Kidney Foundation

Melissa Sidick
National Kidney Foundation

Jade Mills, National Kidney Foundation

Jade Mills
National Kidney Foundation

Claire Baer, Yoga Innovations

Claire Baer
Yoga Innovations

Heather Kitson, Keller Williams Realty — Shadyside

Heather Kitson
Keller Williams Realty — Shadyside

Dee Dee Troutman, Ladies Hospital Aid Society

Dee Dee Troutman
Ladies Hospital Aid Society

Lauren Levant, Lauren Levant Interior

Lauren Levant
Lauren Levant Interior

Gemma Leigh, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Gemma Leigh
Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Rebecca Kroll, Starboard Cruises & Tours

Rebecca Kroll
Starboard Cruises & Tours

Aja Jones, Pittsburgh CLO

Aja Jones
Pittsburgh CLO

Kristen Kane, The Atrium

Kristen Kane
The Atrium

Leta Koontz, Schoolhouse Yoga

Leta Koontz
Schoolhouse Yoga

Maggie Pratt, National Kidney Foundation

Maggie Pratt
National Kidney Foundation

Christina Dickerson, Dickerson Creative Communications

Christina Dickerson
Dickerson Creative Communications

Megs Yunn, Beverly’s Birthdays

Megs Yunn
Beverly’s Birthdays

Jackie Hooper, SoundAdvice

Jackie Hooper
SoundAdvice

Jennifer Thomas, Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie

Jennifer Thomas
Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie

Sara Hargreaves, Scribe Fine Papers

Sara Hargreaves
Scribe Fine Papers

Rachel Gogos, BrandiD

Rachel Gogos
BrandiD

Dee Dee Adams, Northwood Realty Services

Dee Dee Adams
Northwood Realty Services

Stacie Adams, Club Cycle

Stacie Adams
Club Cycle

Danielle Price, Hawthorne Ventures

Danielle Price
Hawthorne Ventures

Amanda Badini Hildabrand, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Amanda Badini Hildabrand
Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Shannon Morrissey, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Shannon Morrissey
Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Suzanne Beinlich, Triple B Farms, LLC

Suzanne Beinlich
Triple B Farms, LLC

Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products

Toni Shelaske
Healthy Pet Products

Melissa Tyler, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company

Melissa Tyler
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company

Jennifer Saffron, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Jennifer Saffron
Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Erin Szymanski, GlitteR & GRit

Erin Szymanski
glitteR & gRit

Jackie Sorrenti, Gals On and Off the Green

Jackie Sorrenti
Gals On and Off the Green

Stacey Vespaziani, South Hills Power Yoga

Stacey Vespaziani
South Hills Power Yoga

Karen Poirier, KeboWorks

Karen Poirier
KeboWorks

Janelle Pica, Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC

Janelle Pica
Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC

Lisa McNamara, MCN Salon

Lisa McNamara
MCN Salon

Ginny Corbett, Salúd Juicery

Ginny Corbett
Salúd Juicery

Get to know this year’s Women in Business honorees!

Click on a name to read each woman’s Q+A responses.

Aja Jones, Public Relations & Marketing Manager, Pittsburgh CLO

Aja Jones, Pittsburgh CLO

Aja Jones

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about my community is that I have the opportunity to work with incredibly smart and talented women (and men) every single day! Whether it’s the cast of “Girls Only” at the Cabaret or my extraordinary office colleagues, I am constantly inspired by the people I encounter in this industry.

2. How did you get your start?
After completing graduate school abroad I came home for what I thought would be a brief stay. I spotted an ad for a position at Pittsburgh CLO in the Post-Gazette classified section. Ten years later…

3. What advice do you have for others?
Remember that you are responsible for your own experiences, both personally and professionally. [Mostly] everything is what YOU make of it — for better or worse.

Amanda Badini Hildabrand, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Amanda Badini Hildabrand, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Amanda Badini Hildabrand

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I really love that I’m entrenched in an exciting ecosystem of smart business women in Pittsburgh. Not only is it a community that rallies around each other, but it’s also amazing to find so many women that share our same mission of empowering and inspiring confidence in women.

2. How did you get your start?
I grew up watching (and working for!) a woman that successfully owned her own business for over 40 years — my grandmother, Germaine (Jelsamina’s daughter — half of our company’s namesake.). She started an ice cream store/bakery in the early ‘60s and built it from the ground up. She never considered it work. She just considered it working hard at making people happy with her pies and cakes. And so, at some point I realized that I had that ability too with makeup — and I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. Once my best friend and I put our heads together and took the leap with Mina Rose, it’s just been one thrilling moment after another.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Figure out what you love doing and just do it — it may turn into a career you never realized that you could have! Just take it one day at a time and keep moving forward. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek advice from mentors and people you admire.

Angela M. Grossic, Co-Founder/Owner, Marie Couture Designs

Angela M. Grossic, Marie Couture Designs

Angela M. Grossic

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
For me, the best part about being a woman in business in my community is having the opportunity to meet, work with, and create strategic alliances with other businesswomen in the area. Women are under an intense amount of pressure from societal expectations to successfully balance work and family life. As a young mother, wife, and business owner, I am very familiar with having to wear multiple hats during the day in order to make sure all tasks and needs are taken care of. I think it is very important that all women work with one another, and never against, to support each other’s professional development and advancement whenever possible.

2. How did you get your start?
I’ve known since a very young age that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration in 2009, my sister Kristen Hrizo and I began the preparation to start a business together. Our backgrounds and experiences in art and business complemented one another very well, and shortly after, we officially launched our luxury custom graphic design company called Marie Couture Designs. We create all designs in-house, with each starting as an original hand-drawn sketch and/or watercolor painting. Art has always been a large part of our lives, and it has been wonderful to be able to build our own business around it.

3. What advice do you have for others?
There is no such thing as waiting for the perfect time to start a business and/or follow your passion. There will always be chaotic moments and surprises in life that challenge you and test your strength and resilience. Just set your mind on your goal, take the plunge, give it your all, and most importantly, keep getting back up each and every time you’re knocked down. Otherwise, you will forever wonder “what if”. I am a strong believer of the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Aubre Stacknick, CEO, Verve360

Aubre Stacknick, Verve 360

Aubre Stacknick
Verve360

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a woman in business in Downtown Pittsburgh is the ability to assist with the growth and development of the city I love so much. I continue to encourage and build a sense of community with hotels, the film industry, developers, residential buildings, and both corporate and independently-owned companies. We have been called the “original visionaries” over the years because we planned Verve360 more than 10 years ago and officially opened eight years ago, prior to 95% of the Downtown development. I don’t think I’d go that far. However, I have had the pleasure of witnessing and supporting many of the developments and improvements that have come to fruition in our Downtown community. Success breeds success. We’re a family, and a family sticks together.

2. How did you get your start?
My entrepreneurial spirit kicked in long before I started my first endeavor at the young age of 18. This yearning came from a long ancestry of talented, creative, and intelligent individuals. I spent many successful years as a business owner in both New Jersey and the Poconos, building and designing custom homes. Self-motivation and professional experience in financing, client relations, and project management prepared me for my next entrepreneurial leap of faith. Being a visionary, I decided that returning to my long-time love of holistic medicine, fitness, and bodywork was what best suited me. After contemplating the “where’s” and “when’s” of opening a wellness facility, I returned to Pittsburgh, where I always knew I’d eventually end up. I knew the minute I moved here that it was only a matter of time before Verve360 would be in motion. We are creating our own market here in Pittsburgh; nothing new to me. We are ever developing “the” center for health and wellness in Downtown Pittsburgh. Much experience and many hours of education have proven to be the right formula for another successful undertaking. After three years of consideration and one year of planning with our current partner, Micah, Verve360 opened in December of 2007. Verve has had a tremendous beginning, even through the economic downturn in 2008, and looks forward to the incredible opportunities the future holds. I believe in the balance of body, mind, and spirit. Our work emphasizes this importance. Over the years, we have had the pleasure to work with professional musicians, singers, actors, dancers, athletes of every sort, and business people. My goal is to create bodywork sessions that address clients’ specific needs. My focus has always been to support fluidity and vitality, and to restore the body to its original integrity. Each experience should facilitate the healing process on every level through guidance from our intelligent and intuitive team of professionals. My unique experience with massage in various medical fields such as plastic surgery, pre- and peri-natal, neuromuscular, sports therapy, and rehabilitation creates a thorough understanding of movement and healing in the human body. I am a firm believer in centering one’s life. Knowledge is power! Bringing these facets of wellness and health together continues to be my goal. This concept prompted the inception of Verve360. I love the historical aspect and dense population of Downtown Pittsburgh, and decided it was the only place to be.

3. What advice do you have for others?
You can will anything to happen. Work hard. It looks easy, sometimes, but trust me — it’s not. Determination, late nights, and sacrifice are at the top of you and your family’s list as an entrepreneur. I absolutely would not have it any other way.

Aubrey Johnson, Owner/Instructor, Moxie Mind & Body Pilates Studio

Aubrey Johnson, Moxie Mind & Body Pilates Studio

Aubrey Johnson

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I’m so proud to be a woman who owns a business in the Downtown community. Seeing the transformation within Downtown, especially in Market Square, over the past few years has been such a positive experience. It feels like a family of businesses within the square and I’m honored to be a part of it.

2. How did you get your start?
I started out as a dancer but always knew I wanted a career that would allow me to help others. Pilates fulfills my love for movement while teaching others how to move intelligently. It keeps my clients pain-free allowing for a happier and healthier lifestyle. When I saw the opportunity to open my own studio, I jumped and never looked back!

3. What advice do you have for others?
ALWAYS go with your gut and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn and grow.

Brittany Fradkin, Account Manager, Marbury Group

Brittany Fradkin, Marbury Group

Brittany Fradkin

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
There is a lot of opportunity for women. Being young in business has been especially nice because there are so many successful women in Pittsburgh who are eager to help you succeed and give you advice on how they got to where they are. There is so much to learn from other women.

2. How did you get your start?
My internship during college with my current company turned into a career upon graduation. I was the first employee two years ago, and now I am one of three. It is great to be a part of a small, growing, successful company.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice for young women is to never become complacent. Always look to take that opportunity which will allow you to grow individually and allow you to be an asset to your company.

Carmel Vandale, Owner, Mt. Lebanon Floral

Carmel Vandale, Mt. Lebanon Floral

Carmel Vandale

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a business owner in my community is the overwhelming support that has been lavished on me. When I first bought the shop 11 years ago, people want out of their way to say how thrilled they were to see another woman in business. In addition to the support I get, I am surrounded by strong, successful, and talented women right on my block. Tami Sampson of The Fabric Place, Elizabeth Boyd of Uptown Coffee, and Rania Harris of Rania’s Catering all set the dynamic of strong women in our community.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start from the ground up. I came to the shop 23 years ago and was told I was overqualified to be a sales clerk. I had a background in management and greenhouse work, but had never designed florals. I begged to be given a chance, and answered phones, swept floors, and watered plants until they let me try my hand at design. I am an overachiever by nature and made the owners take notice of me…the rest is history.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice to other women is to surround yourself with smart, capable people and be prepared to WORK! If you choose a career in which you are passionate, the work will feel much lighter! Foster and nurture relationships with women of all ages, the youth are so full of life and enthusiasm, and the more mature have so much experience to share. Be kind and loving, and most of all sincere.

Carolyn Klasnick, Co-Owner/Executive Producer, and Michele Hammerbacher, Co-Owner/Editor, Post Script Productions, LLC

1. What is the best part about being women in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business in the Pittsburgh community is the support we get from mentors, clients, and networking partners — especially those that are experienced professional women.

2. How did you get your start?
We got our start by producing an informative film for a local school district. We were passionate about getting involved in the public education sector by telling the many encouraging stories of how public education is thriving in our region. We then expanded into producing nonprofit films, lifestyle films, and training films for a wide variety of businesses and organizations.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Follow your passions. Focus and get better every day. If you don’t like something about your day-to-day life, whether it’s your career or not, take steps to change it and make it better. We all have the power of choice and it’s up to us to use it to not only benefit ourselves, but to ultimately benefit our communities.

Carolyn Klasnick, Post Script Productions, LLC

Carolyn Klasnick

Michele Hammerbacher, Post Script Productions, LLC

Michele Hammerbacher

Christina Dickerson, Owner, Dickerson Creative Communications

Christina Dickerson, Dickerson Creative Communications

Christina Dickerson

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Pittsburgh is an extremely supportive business community. When I had the chance to start my own media, marketing, and event planning company 10 years ago, I leaped at the opportunity to be a woman entrepreneur because I knew that this community welcomes and supports so many incredible women leaders. I am passionate about finding ways to give back to the community and because of my partnerships with so many incredible organizations over the years, I feel that I have been able to make a difference.

2. How did you get your start?
It is so important that I have a career that inspires and challenges me daily. With a reporting background, I wanted to take my knowledge of the newsroom and work the story from a different angle as a publicist. So I searched for opportunities like that early in my career. Thankfully, as my network grew, so did the business opportunities to represent highly respected organizations, corporations, and individuals. I knew I had hit the target when I started landing major opportunities because of professional referrals.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Embrace all of the opportunities that Pittsburgh has to offer. It is a city that is constantly changing and highly regarded nationally. In addition, you need to be bold in business and constantly network. You never know where the next business opportunity is waiting for your expertise.

Christina Knieriem, Owner/Designer, Knieriem Designs

Christina Knieriem, Knieriem Designs

Christina Knieriem

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a women in business in my community is that in all of the businesses I’m involved with, I get to work with and help other women. At Knieriem Designs, I get to help women make their wedding even more special with custom dresses and special touches. At Fire Within and YPWE, I get to create clothes to help women get their jobs done in the energy industry, and I get to help connect women to resources, education, and jobs. The community of women in Pittsburgh is so welcoming and willing to work together that it is a really rewarding place to be.

2. How did you get your start?
I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl, so I got my degree in fashion design. I studied abroad in Paris, which confirmed for me that I wanted to start my own line and do custom clothing. I connected with Amelia Papapetropoulos, who was looking for someone to design fire-resistant clothing for her startup, Fire Within. From there, she brought me in to assist with YPWE and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Be open to new possibilities! I never would have thought that I would be designing industrial clothing and working in the energy industry, in addition to making custom wedding dresses. But, I love both sides of it and I am so glad that I was open to the opportunity. It’s allowed me to learn a lot about myself, and develop my skills as a designer and a businesswoman.

Claire Baer, Teacher and Owner, Yoga Innovations

Claire Baer, Yoga Innovations

Claire Baer

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I think the best part about being a woman in business in the community is the natural connection you find with others. Family seems to be an underlying component of the Pittsburgh way, and that is a value we hold close to our hearts at Yoga Innovations. As a mother of two (one just a few weeks old) balancing the household, a marriage, a business, and time for myself — it’s a juggling act others can identify with. We try to keep all the balls in the air at once and pray everything doesn’t come crashing down around us. Sharing this struggle acts as a level of camaraderie from the beginning. Let’s face it, it’s hard to make friends as a “grown-up,” and I believe Yoga Innovations is setting the foundation for those connections to naturally happen.

2. How did you get your start?
I guess this answer depends on where you consider the “start.” Long version: In high school, I participated in the DECA club and knew owning a business was what I wanted to do. Then, I went to college at Northwood University, a small business school in Michigan where I majored in advertising, marketing, and management with a minor in language arts. There, I met my boyfriend — now husband — and he and I decided to move to Colorado. There, I dabbled in just about every avenue of business — PR, brand management, advertising, marketing, sales, etc. You name it, and I felt like I had tried it on. Then, one day while working at an advertising agency in Boulder, Co., I learned their philosophy: You must sell the truth of the product. I was floored. And then, thrown for a whirlwind, as I realized EVERYTHING is sales. Just about every single career I had considered had sales attached to it somehow. The question was, “What did I believe in enough to sell for the rest of my life?” The answer at that moment escaped me, until I unloaded my dilemma on my then fiancé, and he looked at me and said, “Why don’t you own a yoga studio?” The answer was so perfect and clear. I had finally found a way to combine my two passions: business and yoga. I formally went through yoga teacher training to solidify what I thought I knew as true. In Denver, the yoga market was completely saturated, and with his family in Pittsburgh, the only next logical option was to move here. I taught from Washington to Dormont, at every and any studio, gym, or audience that would have me. Dana Barone was the owner of Yoga Innovations, and I must have either bothered her enough with my suggestions or she saw something in me (maybe a combination of both) because she asked me if I wanted to take her place and adopt what she was working so hard to build. I said yes. From there, it was a matter of connecting with other teachers to build our staff and find all of the right pieces to make the puzzle fit together properly. Three years later, we are a heck of a lot closer than when we first started.

3. What advice do you have for others?
If you don’t mind hard work, then owning a business is for you. Be prepared to wear multiple hats. You become the janitor, maintenance person, marketing, accounting, etc. of the company. And, be real with people. Stay humble and accept responsibility. More times then not, if you are coming from an authentic place in your heart, people will see that and connect with what you are trying to accomplish, and often go out of their way to help your cause.

Clare Westwood, Owner/Operator, Clearly Pilates

Clare Westwood, Clearly Pilates

Clare Westwood

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Having worked in a corporate career, been a stay-at-home mother, and now a small business owner, I can relate to the unique needs of fellow business women and of Clearly Pilates clients. Women are challenged on so many physical and psychological levels; I appreciate helping women when they need it, and I greatly appreciate the support of women when I need it. We are out there for each other — and I’m proud of that.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start from strong parental guidance telling me that if you’re going to do something, do it well. If you start something, finish it. The way you do something matters — do it with love; say it with kindness. (XO to my wonderful Mom & Dad!)

3. What advice do you have for others?
I wish people would stop worrying so much and slow down. It’s all good. Enjoy it!

Cora DeLoia, Owner, Spoiled Chics the Boutique

Cora DeLoia, Spoiled Chics the Boutique

Cora DeLoia

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I think we as women have a natural gut instinct that we use. We use it in developing relationships, creating and using our networks and our contacts to help us get to where we want to go. As a woman entrepreneur, we are setting the stage, serving as mentors and role models for other young women. I love sharing the things I’ve learned over the years, good and bad, with my daughter, with interns, younger co-workers, and peers — just anyone who wants to know. I tell them, to just go out and do it — design your business around who you are. One of my favorite sayings is, “Strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

2. How did you get your start?
My sister, Carina Perrone, and I started over 15 years ago, doing private house parties. After an article was written by LaMont Jones, (the then fashion editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), our already full calendar escalated to a one month in advance waiting list for parties. Then customers began asking us, “How can we see your products if we don’t have a party to go to?” That is when we decided to open our brick-and-mortar storefront on Beaver Street, and we’ve been here since. However, after Carina and her husband decided this spring to leave the cold Pennsylvania weather for North Carolina, I then determined that it was a good time for the store to change direction as well by going solo, renovating, and rebranding.

3. What advice do you have for others?
As a small business owner, I feel that it’s often a better strategy to focus on select products or services that fit into your market niche. Don’t be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. Identify your niche, bring in products that are attractive to that market, and stay focused on that. When deciding what I want to bring in to the store, I ask myself, “Does this item fit into one of the five or six pillars of merchandise that I am carrying?” Once you find something to do that you love, be the best at it.

Dana Sellitti, Owner, SerenDipity Boutique

Dana Sellitti, SerenDipity Boutique

Dana Sellitti

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Having the opportunity to make women feel good about themselves and express themselves through fashion. I created my own brand for all of us women to empower each other. When you wear something with my symbol on it I hope that it inspires you, empowers you, reminds you to have faith and strength, and most importantly, to love yourself no matter what struggles you might be going through.

2. How did you get your start?
I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 25 years and it has always been my passion. To open my own boutique and design my own line of clothing was a dream come true. I took a chance and opened a boutique that features unique items from all over the world at reasonable prices.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Follow your passion, take a chance, and work hard to achieve your goals.

Dee Dee Troutman, Executive Director, Ladies Hospital Aid Society

Dee Dee Troutman, Ladies Hospital Aid Society

Dee Dee Troutman

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business in my community is the opportunity to meet and interact with other like-minded professionals. I welcome the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas about both business and the community, not to mention the amount of knowledge that can be gained through this interaction. One just has to be open-minded and willing to listen in order to grow, and move forward in their respective business ventures.

2. How did you get your start?
I was fortunate enough through hard work and some of the interaction I spoke of in the first question to be given an opportunity to apply things that I had learned and skills I had developed from previous employers, and put those to work for the organization I am with at present. And with time, perseverance, additional skills, and of course, hard work, I was able to achieve the level of success I am blessed with now.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Always be willing to listen and always be willing to accept advice from those who have gone before you. There is no such thing as a bad idea, regardless of where it comes from. Of course some ideas are better than others, but if you shut yourself off from listening to other ideas, sooner or later the ideas will stop coming and progress will slow and possibly stop all together. And, never underestimate the advice of those who have been there and done that. That, without a doubt, is the quickest way to learn. And through learning you continue to grow and with growth and knowledge comes success. I have always said that if I learned something new today, today was a good day.

Elaine Schweikarth, Owner, The Olive Merchant

Elaine Schweikarth, The Olive Merchant

Elaine Schweikarth

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business in my community is meeting so many other business owners, networking with each other, sharing knowledge, and being able to help local organizations.

2. How did you get your start?
I started this business after visiting a similar olive oil and vinegar store in New York. It was a product that I loved and hoped that the people in the Murrysville area would too.

3. What advice do you have for others?
I would simply advise anyone to thoroughly investigate your endeavor first, then, realize that success takes a lot of work and time. Hasty decisions are usually bad ones, so don’t let anyone pressure you.

Elizabeth Craig, Owner/Photographer, Elizabeth Craig Photography

Elizabeth Craig, Elizabeth Craig Photography

Elizabeth Craig

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part, for me, is working woman-to-woman. Through our wedding photography, I get to live vicariously through my brides on one of the happiest days of their lives (can’t beat that). Through my beauty portraiture, I get meet and work with some of the most incredible, generous, powerful, and beautiful (inside and out) women with some amazing life stories, which a lot of times is what brings them to me in the first place. It’s both humbling and empowering at the same time.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start when my husband and I decided to open a wedding photography business when I was pregnant 10 years ago (when all good ideas come to a woman…of course). We invested a bit of money to get off the ground and (thankfully) have never looked back. That led to me being able to open a second business for beauty photography, specifically focusing on women, five years later. Both have allowed me to work full-time doing what I love, even encouraging me to fulfill a dream of mine: starting a 501c nonprofit organization to photograph women that have had incredible journeys of survival, achievement, and triumph, and to share their stories with other women to be used as a source of inspiration.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Fail, fail forward, get up, and start again. Failure is the best teaching tool you have and you cannot have true success without failure giving you the chutzpah to learn from your mistakes and move forward.

Erica Miller, Owner, One Brilliant

Erica Miller, One Brilliant

Erica Miller

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a woman in business is exactly that: being a women in a world of business; being surrounded by other strong women in business; being part of that special club and watching each other’s successes and struggles.

2. How did you get your start?
I come from a long history of family retailers. After leaving the corporate world, I was doing home parties and charity functions, selling jewelry and accessories. A small retail store became available in Aspinwall and the rest is history!

3. What advice do you have for others?
When you pursue your dream of having your own business, make sure you are at a point in your life where it won’t be a hardship to work hard and often long hours. For me, I was fortunate that my children were older and much more independent. The balance of being a mother and a business owner is much like a seesaw. That said, it’s very much worth all of the challenges.

Erin Szymanski, Owner, glitteR & gRit

Erin Szymanski, GlitteR & GRit

Erin Szymanski

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I see such collaboration between women in business that I’m not sure exists otherwise. We lift each other up, cheer each other on, and work together to create communities of unexpectedly complementary products and services.

2. How did you get your start?
From working my very first job, I always knew that I wanted to open a store of some kind. I had so many ideas over the years, but nothing really stuck. Beginning with when my friends started getting married, and solidified while planning my own wedding, I noticed a great lack of options if you were looking for anything different for your wedding in Pittsburgh. From venues to ceremony specifics, décor to dresses, there was no resource of information or products on a local scale if you didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I ordered my own wedding dress online, and even though I had a very positive experience doing so, I realized that not every bride is willing to take that risk. There are so many amazing, unique options out there; I just wanted to put those pieces in front of like-minded brides!

3. What advice do you have for others?
Surround yourself with inspiring people making amazing things happen, and you won’t be able to help but do the same. And don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Erin Tuladzieck, Executive Director, National Kidney Foundation

Erin Tuladzieck, National Kidney Foundation

Erin Tuladzieck

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business is the fact that I have a chance to be a role model to younger women in our local community. I certainly have worn many hats in my 13 year tenure. I truly have climbed the ladder to success and am so grateful it did not come easy. I had to certainly work for it, and if I can be an inspiration to other women, then I have truly done my job.

2. How did you get your start?
I graduated with my undergrad in 2002 from Robert Morris University, 9/11 happened, and the job market crashed. After several, non-successful interviews for corporate marketing positions, I decided to visit a local temp agency for help with finding an entry-level marketing / communications position. Within 24 hours of meeting with the temp agency, I had an interview at the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh for a marketing communications assistant position. Within 48 hours, that’s all she wrote! My career in nonprofit began, and I have had the opportunity to build my network and meet so many amazing people that carried me to my next role. I haven’t had to look for another job since 2002 and plan to stay in the “for impact” world for life.

3. What advice do you have for others?
For one, my classic advice to others is to treat others how you want to be treated. Kindness goes a long way. Also, relationship-building and networking are key! I certainly would not be where I am today without my personal and professional networks. Lastly, never give up. Regardless of how rough the road to success may be — remember if it’s for you, it won’t pass you. Good things often come to those who wait and prove themselves.

Gemma Leigh, Production and Logistics Manager, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Gemma Leigh, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Gemma Leigh

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Being a woman who is allowed to take her childhood dreams and pay them forward to young girls and boys interested in musical theater is the very best part about working for Pittsburgh Musical Theater in Pittsburgh’s West End. Through my work at Pittsburgh Musical Theater, I am allowed the opportunity to inspire children every day through creative entertainment, and didn’t have to move to NYC, Orlando, or Chicago to do it; rather, I have been able to stay in Pittsburgh and close to family. Through the support of the community and those around me, I was constantly able to take the next step, achieve the next goal, and manage an amazing product. (In my case, expanding on an established children’s program, and managing professional theater productions.)

2. How did you get your start?
I grew up in a family where my father was a musician and my mother was a dance instructor. I knew that I would be in this industry my entire life, and the best part was that I never had anyone fight with me or tell me that I can’t, which so many of my peers experienced. Through their support, I was able to attend a university for something that I loved. There I am at school rehearsing for “Civil War” and someone was ill, so I filled in because that’s what you do, you support each other. After the day was done my (now) mentor approached me and asked me to join her professional team — (Mental fist pump in the air!). There I stood with this amazing opportunity laid out in front of me. Of course I take it! (I then secretly snickered because I would no longer be the last kid to be picked in gym class.) There I am “living the dream” not thinking that things could get any better. A few years after that I was asked to be a RESIDENT artist in the company. These moments are so vivid for me, and through all of the excitement and nerves I knew one thing — that I was home.

3. What advice do you have for others?
The best advice that I can give is to support one another. Support your children’s dreams, support your student’s strengths, and above all, support the girls and boys, and the women and men who work with and around you each day. Remember to find the beauty in the chaos. As is my signature phrase: Stand By. Keep Calm. Go.

Ginny Corbett, Owner, Salúd Juicery

Ginny Corbett, Salúd Juicery

Ginny Corbett

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I see my community as being the health and wellness community. In this community inclusion is the mindset and women lead the charge. There is a lot of sacrifice, passion, and camaraderie. It isn’t about who we are; it’s about what we do. We motivate and inspire each other to be our best. When we pull someone out of the mud, they don’t care who we are or where we came from. They are just grateful.

2. How did you get your start?
It’s a long journey and I still have a long way to go. The journey started with the sacrifices and inspiration of my parents and grandparents. It continues with an eclectic life/career path. There are very few things I have not done. Every experience contributes to the “now.” I have been accused of being a “serial entrepreneur” and to that I say, “a builder’s got to build.”

3. What advice do you have for others?
It may be a bit cliché but it is honest: Don’t rob the world of your gifts and talents. There is only one you and you have one life. Be passionate, be authentic, and give it all you got.

Hannah Roth, Executive Manager, Private Events, Gateway Clipper Fleet

Hannah Roth, Gateway Clipper Fleet

Hannah Roth

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
It’s no secret Pittsburgh is becoming more of a “hot spot” every day. The list is endless when considering the new and exciting things happening in our area. The Gateway Clipper Fleet has been lucky enough to be a part of the Pittsburgh landscape for many years. We’ve seen the city change and have worked hard to progress alongside our fast-paced evolution. It’s been a special pleasure for me to grow up in the city and witness all of our changes; I feel a connection with our people and have always loved our unwavering sense of community. Being in the business to serve others is a great reward. We get to solve problems and make lasting memories for people by providing a unique venue and experience. Our experience is centered on showcasing our city and our three rivers — an easy job really, just look at Pittsburgh! How could you not be proud to call Pittsburgh your own?

2. How did you get your start?
I had internships with a nonprofit organization as well as a local magazine — I wrote marketing plans and reported on Pittsburgh’s “Renaissance,” collecting details on Point State Park and the Wood Street corridor. It was all great work experience, and gave me an introduction to the work force and a taste of the business world. After college, I joined the crew at the Clipper, my family business since 1957 — It’s always felt like home. The fast-paced environment of sales always peaked my curiosity. Currently, I manage our Private Event Team, a group of professionals who teach me new things every day. We have a puppy in the office, we have pizza parties, and we celebrate our victories together. It’s a special place to work — for that I’m lucky.

3. What advice do you have for others?
As a young professional, one of my goals is to absorb as much as I can from my predecessors, colleagues, and other citywide peers. I’m lucky to have a lot of experienced professionals around me. I try to ask a lot of questions and see things from their points of view. Using what you learn from others and combining it with the perspective of a younger generation often leads to many new ideas and initiatives. “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Try to keep an open mind and open ears.

Jackie Sorrenti, Owner/Founder, Gals on and off the Green

Jackie Sorrenti, Gals On and Off the Green

Jackie Sorrenti

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
At Gals on and off the Green, our mission is simply to help women look and feel better about themselves. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful women — both customers, as well as team associates — of all ages and all shapes and all sizes, learning about their life experiences and careers and families and vacations and failures and successes. We have developed a tremendous sense of community among our customer base! And, we help women support each other in business and connect with each other socially. We also work tirelessly with our supplier partners on behalf of our customers, by providing feedback on design and fit and lengths and sizing. The better the fit and styling, the better we are able to assist our customers. We are passionate about helping women find the right styles and fit that will help them look and feel more confident!

2. How did you get your start?
By taking action on an idea! From writing an initial business plan, to soliciting input from a tough peer group about that plan, and then rewriting that business plan, to creating a store fixturing plan and buying plan. By taking action every day towards the idea — Gals on and off the Green became something real!

3. What advice do you have for others?
These are more so ideas to consider, rather than advice: First, help others be the best they can be. Second, if every decision we make in business is for the benefit of our customers and our associates, we are successful. Finally, take chances. Success is not final and failure is not fatal. And the courage to continue in either case is what makes the difference!

Janelle Pica, SFG1, RKC II and GFM Instructor/Owner, Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC

Janelle Pica, Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC

Janelle Pica

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best past about being a women in business (especially my business) is being able to lift other women up through strength training. Over the past two years, we have worked with a number of women — some as young as 26 and some as old as 70 years old. We have worked with them closely to help the gain a sense of confidence through Kettlebell and calisthenic training programs. Helping enrich that innate need to feel empowered has been a huge blessing for myself and other women who work with us at our facility. It’s an incredible thing to see!

2. How did you get your start?
I originally started a blog, primalburgher.com, years ago as a way to document my training for my Level 1 Kettlebell certification and to also talk about healthy eating around the city of Pittsburgh. That website took flight and soon turned into my new website, primalfitnesspittsburgh.com. Because I had gained some momentum online, I was able to market myself as a private personal trainer. Through the power of social media and the Internet, I gained three private clients right out of the gate as soon as I made an announcement on Twitter. From there, word spread and I was able to make enough to build into a facility on the North Shore and launch small group training on top of my private training, which became our formulated company, Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC. We are in our second year now and the business has grown to 20 clients! It’s been an incredible journey!

3. What advice do you have for others?
Be willing to love — that really is a two-fold statement. First, love yourself. Perhaps the biggest “wake up call” for me over the past year and a half was really understanding who I was and what my true purpose was in the fitness world. I went through a series of personal hardships this past year that really made it difficult for me to focus on what I wanted to do for my business. I think sometimes you can reach a great amount of success, but at the same time suffer internally, because of having to manage some tough situations outside of your usual work. I was starting to become emotionally symptomatic, which really wasn’t good at all. I decided to hire on help, and alleviate some hours for some much-needed “me time.” Once I took the steps to spend time working on fostering a healthy and strong relationship with myself, things changed for the better. I truly believe that the more in tune you are with how wonderful and blessed of a person you are, well…that sort of positivity just enriches other people. I swear it’s the reason we had such great growth thus far. Second, be willing to love others. Businesses are centered upon loving relationships with your clients and other business owners. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and talk about what your mission is and how you can help others achieve similar feats. I am constantly writing, speaking, and moving around Pittsburgh telling the world about how healthier they can be with intelligent eating and personal training protocols we offer at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, LLC. I also never cease to share our success stories with others to give hope to those who yearn to be just as strong and healthy themselves. Be bold! Be courageous in your willingness to love others! That kind of energy shines a radiant light of joy on other people, and trust me, they’ll be asking you about what you do the more you share that joy with them.

Jen Mascaro, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services

Jen Mascaro, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services

Jen Mascaro

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I love networking! Being able to surround myself with other successful women in this business who have the same passion as me is what drives me. The support and guidance I have received from them has been invaluable. They understand my highs and lows because often they’ve been there, too. They know exactly how to get me back on track when I need it.

2. How did you get your start?
After the arrival of my son in 2012 and the upcoming arrival of my daughter this May, I knew it was time for me to make a career change. It was a risky move leaving corporate America after 11 years, but the 9-5 wasn’t ideal for my family anymore. I received my real estate license and hit the ground running! This career allows me flexibility, I determine my own income, and best of all, I am living my own dream, not someone else’s. I love sales, and real estate has always been on my radar. I’m glad I finally followed my heart.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Take a chance. You only live this life once. I also think it’s important that you don’t see your work as work. It has to be something that you can truly enjoy. If you are lucky enough to find that, you can build a great career and enjoy what you are doing every day.

Jennifer Salac, Owner/Sonographer, Hey Baby! 4D Ultrasound Studio

Jennifer Salac, Hey Baby! 4D Ultrasound Studio

Jennifer Salac

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a woman in business in this community is the support from other women. They are so motivating and helpful anytime I need help! I feel friendships are blossoming and I love learning about all of the women-owned businesses and supporting them as well!

2. How did you get your start?
I just recently opened in October 2014. I have been an ultrasound tech for 20 years, working in hospitals and outpatient centers. I stayed home with my two kids for a few years and now that they are both in school full-time, I started looking at going back to work. I knew about other 4D ultrasound centers across the country, so I did some research and decided I wanted to do it! I started the process in May and opened in October! I absolutely feel like it is the best job in the world. Being able to share in a small way in a couple’s joy of finding of the baby’s gender or seeing the baby on 4D, is pure joy!

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice is never give up on dreams or goals. It may take some time, but it has to be the right time to do it. I knew when I had a 4D ultrasound with my first born at a 4D studio, that is something I would love to do. So, for seven years, it was in the back of my mind and when the time was right, I made it happen.

Joan Enz-Doerschner, Owner, Tusa Bella

Joan Enz-Doerschner, Tusa Bella

Joan Enz-Doerschner

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
“Entrepreneurship is the new women’s movement,” according to Forbes magazine. Tusa Bella Dermal Enhancement, LLC, is located in Venetia/Peters Township. We find the community to be supportive of our mission of enhancing our clients’ natural beauty through the use of permanent cosmetics, organic skin care, and salon services. We serve clients of all ages and customize our services to benefit each client. Our staff received certification in permanent cosmetic procedures at the prestigious Beau Institute in Laurel Hill, N.J. Our product line is Eminence, the ultimate in green luxury skin care products (100 percent organically grown, hand-picked botanicals, and spring water).

2. How did you get your start?
I have always enjoyed being in business. The ability to bring together two of my passions (business and aesthetics) aligns with where I am right now personally. I believe that the best thing we can do for those we love is to take care of ourselves. Having a well-cared for body is important for stress relief, makes you a better caretaker for others, and conveys to others that you value yourself.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Take risks. Don’t expect perfection; failures go along with success. Don’t work at it — own it!

Karen Poirier, President, KeboWorks LLC

Karen Poirier, KeboWorks

Karen Poirier

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Pittsburgh has an amazing economy filled with fascinating people who have diverse interests, talents, and backgrounds. Thanks to the rich fabric of our business community, I have had the opportunity to work within many different professional environments in Pittsburgh — for-profit, nonprofit, and foundations. This given me invaluable experience across marketing channels and target markets which enabled me to launch my own company. Now I am fortunate to be able to bring that unique perspective and depth of experience to benefit my clients. I have also built up a large network of exceptional colleagues across these sectors who are doing things of great value in the world. As an entrepreneur, I have the privilege of working with all of them now, and making mutually beneficial strategic connections.

2. How did you get your start?
I majored in art history in college, which was the ideal preparation for a career in marketing. Because art — just like marketing — is a reflection of everything about the culture, values, and events happening in the world when it was created. And the way we look at art and react to art is affected by what we bring to it — both in the physical sense of how our brains react to images, color, and text, and also psychologically — by our own human experiences and emotions. Marketing is a similar process, a fascinating interplay of thought, feeling and behavior. I still draw on my training in visual perspective and human reactions in my work today.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Trust in your own strengths. Whether you are in-house at an organization or pursuing your own venture, they will lead you to your own best success.

Kate Kill, Director, Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh

Kate Kill, Himalayan Institute

Kate Kill

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
As the director for a nonprofit organization, the best part of being a woman in business is being able to see the impact our service has in the lives of our community members. As more and more people incorporate the techniques of yoga and meditation into their lives, they become happier, and more skillful and empowered in their lives.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start by being willing to take a chance! I worked in finance prior to opening the center and it was a great job; it just wasn’t my dream. I had to be willing to take a risk and listen to my heart.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice to others is to never give up and believe in yourself. You know better than anyone else what you can accomplish. Break down your goals into manageable parts and focus on one at a time. Before you know it, you will have accomplished a lot.

Kate A. Lambert, Director of Sponsorship, PromoWest/Stage AE

Kate A. Lambert, Stage AE

Kate A. Lambert

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business in Pittsburgh are the people and the connections. We might be a big city, but the business community feels small and intimate. People are friendly and willing to make introductions.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my career re-started by networking. After a leave of absence to raise my children, I really had to rely on who I knew in the business community. I believe this holds true for every stage of your career path.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice in general would be to put yourself out there, support and mentor others, and always give back to the community. Volunteering your time and skills to a nonprofit organization can be so rewarding, and can make Pittsburgh an even better place to work and live.

Kathleen Meier, Independent Certified Massage Therapist

Kathleen Meier, Independent Certified Massage Therapist

Kathleen Meier

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I would say the best part about being a woman in business in my community is knowing that I have a large client base of men and women that come to see me on a regular basis because they see and feel the need to take care of themselves. I am trusted because I listen with my ears and my heart. I am respected because of my knowledge and my technique. It it a wonderful feeling to know that it is my job to help people to relax, feel peace, and feel rejuvenated. I help to relieve stress and assist in healing. Who wouldn’t want that?

2. How did you get your start?
I started my business in Bedford, Pa., in 2007, working out of my home. I was able to build a large client base in a few short years. I have since relocated to Bethel Park and although I have worked my own business, in addition to being employed by a corporate company, I am in the process of branching out on my own once again as I plan to specialize in other healing modalities.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice for others would be to never let anyone tell you cannot do something. If you have a vision and a dream (and a business plan, of course), then you can do it. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and treat others (in my case, massage others) like you want to be treated (like you want to be massaged).

Krista Peckyno, Contract Management Attorney, WESCO Distribution, Inc.

Krista Peckyno, WESCO Distribution, Inc.

Krista Peckyno

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a woman in business in Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh…it is a tough town, but a welcoming town. Pittsburgh is full of brilliant people. Pittsburgh isn’t pretentious — you don’t have to go out of your way to prove yourself. You just have to show up. The business community here is made up of the same thing — tough, smart, kind women who show up for the things they believe in. And, lucky for us, we get to do it in one of the greatest cities in the world.

2. How did you get your start?
Despite everyone in my life telling me I was going to be a lawyer from a very young age, I fought it. Despite starting out as a business major in college, I ended up in Pre-Law. Despite not taking the LSAT and refusing to go to law school after graduating, two years later I found myself beginning 1L. I firmly believe that my “start” began long before I had any idea — sometimes you’re just born with it. Despite me thinking otherwise, being a commercial lawyer was my destiny.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice is that from Steve Martin’s book, “Born Standing Up.” “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Even though they are not my words, I embrace them and really believe they are true. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, African-American, Latino, or Caucasian — if you are good, the light will always find you. Be good and never compromise your integrity in business and in life — it is all you have.

Kristen Hackett, Account Manager, Acrobatique Creative Branding Boutique

Kristen Hackett, Acrobatique Creative

Kristen Hackett

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Women in business continue to show themselves as leaders in the community, influencing others to excel. In my modest experience in the business world, I hope to present a leadership model for others as my career matures.

2. How did you get your start?
After graduating with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Duquesne University, I had the gracious opportunity to begin an apprenticeship with Acrobatique, which became a full-time job as of last year. I gained important skills that I continue to use both in my personal life and on a professional level. I am eager to continue to evolve as a business woman in the market, as well as become active in the nonprofit community through volunteer work.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Remind yourself of everything you’ve achieved and believe that the next best triumph is just around the corner!

Kristen Kane, Banquet Manager, The Atrium; Owner, Sugar Social, LLC

Kristen Kane, The Atrium

Kristen Kane

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Being able to help other women fulfill their goals and offer a support system when needed.

2. How did you get your start?
When I was in college, I had my heart set on being a fashion buyer. However, once I graduated, reality set in. I wasn’t exactly an overachiever in college and didn’t have the greatest grades. Other than a part-time sales position, I had no experience to be a fashion buyer. Overall, there was nothing to really make me stand out amongst other job candidates. Fast forward two years, and I was still waiting tables at the same restaurant I worked at throughout college. My hopes and dreams of being a fashion buyer were long gone. However, during my post-college years, I discovered a love for planning and hosting parties. I was actually pretty good at it, but party planner jobs in my small town aren’t extremely easy to come by. Well, this career path is where I think I’m meant to be. Shortly after I started entertaining the thoughts of professionally planning events, there was an ad in the local newspaper for an event manager. I applied, interviewed, and got the job! I am still ever so grateful to my first boss for giving me a chance. I’ve worked at a few venues throughout the years, but have been with The Atrium for over seven. As for Sugar Social, that started off as a hobby. I thought that cupcakes and other small, sweet treats were just so adorable (and delicious, too!). I honed my skills by making goodies for friends and family. Over time, my referral base really built up and things took off. I do several events every week in addition to wholesale orders. I never in a million years would have thought I would be baking cupcakes for people’s special events. I must say that I do enjoy it though.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Let’s face it, things aren’t always going to go as planned. And when they don’t, it’s great to have someone that will give you a shoulder to cry on. Occasionally, you will just need to rant, and it never hurts to have someone that will listen. Your support group will also be there to motivate you and push you harder when necessary. Most importantly, these people will also be the first on board to help you celebrate your success. Also, get experience in your field. You may have a degree, but nothing is going to prepare you to work in a field like on-the-job experience will. It will also help you get to know if you actually like that job or not.

Kristen Peckich, Owner, La Pomponnée Salon & Spa

Kristen Peckich, La Pomponnée Salon & Spa

Kristen Peckich

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I have the unique ability in the salon industry to work with clients from their first haircut to their prom upstyle, to their wedding party, to fitting them for a wig while they endure chemotherapy — and even as most recently having my staff give our sweet client her last hairstyling as she left this world.

2. How did you get your start?
I found my passion doing hair from my college dorm room. I eventually worked for wonderful people who inspired me to go further in my career. My dear friend, Tomasina, who passed in 2005, encouraged me to open a small salon beside her bridal shop in Mt. Lebanon in 1992.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Find something you love to do, and find a way to make a living doing it.

Kym Pelcher, Owner, Splurge

Kym Pelcher, Splurge

Kym Pelcher

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business in my community is being able to see my customers outside of the store and know that we are making a difference in their lives. Knowing that we have made their lives even just a little bit easier by helping them decorate their home, or helping the find just the right gift, means a great deal to me.

2. How did you get your start?
I was working as a sales person in a home furnishings store in New York while attending college. After I graduated, they offered me a full-time job as a buyer. I did that for 13 years, and then left to start my interior design business, knowing that one day I would love to pull the two fields of expertise together to open a home décor retail store.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Find what your passion is. The things that we are most knowledgeable about in life are the things that we have a passion for, which is the foundation for any great entrepreneur. And don’t be afraid to take a risk. I know that sounds cliche, but it is the biggest hurdle that people have to overcome to be successful.

Leisa Anderson, Director Of Sales & Marketing, Cioppino Restaurant Group

Leisa Anderson, Cioppino Restaurant Group

Leisa Anderson

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I take great pride in working within the city of Pittsburgh! It thrills me to think that our fine city has become less of the industrial stereotype of the past and more of a destination for college graduates and young adults to live, work, and launch their careers! My hope is that they will look to those of us already doing so and become inspired to plant their roots and also call Pittsburgh home!

2. How did you get your start?
Upon deciding to leave my retail management life behind me, I was uncertain as to the new path I wanted to forge ahead of me. I discovered a job posting for an event planning position with McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant and decided that sales and events are one in the same — whether you are selling retail items or retail space — so I decided to take a chance and dive into the restaurant world. After all, what could be better than combining my love of food and everything culinary with my sales and management background? I was given my start by two of the best, Michelle Kirsop and Chef Ricky Kirsop, and worked to learn the business inside and out! With a large amount of studying on my part while staying arm-in-arm with each of them daily, I decided this was definitely for me!

3. What advice do you have for others?
My best advice for anyone who is unsure of their purpose would be for them to remain open-minded! Don’t lock yourself into one field or position because you feel your degree or background states you should! Broaden your vision, work to constantly learn something new, and you just might find the unexpected is just what you were looking for!

Leta Koontz, Owner/Founder, Schoolhouse Yoga

Leta Koontz, Schoolhouse Yoga

Leta Koontz

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
One of the best parts about running a yoga studio is that I get to work in an environment that is saturated with women. The teachers at our school are kind, intelligent, strong, and happy — they’re a good influence on me!

2. How did you get your start?
One of my first instructors was planning to study in India and told me that I was the one she had chosen to teach her class during her absence. I was honored — and terrified. I opened Schoolhouse Yoga in 2002 in the former schoolhouse (hence the name, Schoolhouse Yoga!) located in the Strip District so that I could have a place to teach that was dedicated solely to the study and teaching of traditional yoga practices.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Don’t be afraid of whimsey! Today I run a yoga studio with three locations and 23 teachers all because I saw a flyer for yoga classes on the wall at my son’s daycare 16 years ago and thought it looked like fun!

Lisa McNamara, Owner, MCN Salon

Lisa McNamara, MCN Salon

Lisa McNamara

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a women in business is being proud of my success and having pride for the success of my staff; enjoying watching people around me being able to achieve a happy work-life balance; and knowing that I’m a self-made businesswoman who worked very hard and saw my way to the top. Every forward step I took was earned and not given, and for that, I am very proud and grateful!

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start by having a lot of perseverance for learning the business side of hairdressing, by being patient and taking the time to develop a strong business plan, and not just opening another hair salon. And, by not being afraid to take risks! MCN has been in business for 16 years, and is still going strong.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice for others is: Realize that it is OK to make mistakes, if you learn why you made them and the mistakes are not repeated. Also, surround yourself with like-minded, ambitious, and honest people who bring you up, not down! Find and pick the brain of an amazing business mentor!

Lynne Popash, Vice President of Partnership Development, VisitPITTSBURGH

Lynne Popash, VisitPittsburgh

Lynne Popash

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I love the camaraderie and genuine support amongst women in our business community. I hear it time and time again from newcomers — that they sense something different here in Pittsburgh and that the level of welcome and support is unlike other places that they’ve lived. There are so many tremendous resources for women to build networks and referral partners. We have an abundance of educational and entrepreneurial development offerings through our academic institutions. We also have amazing role models who take the time to volunteer, lead, and mentor our young women. It all adds up to a great culture for women in business.

2. How did you get your start?
I began my career in the nonprofit sector by working for the American Heart Association. It was a terrific learning ground and provided a fast track development experience in all facets of fundraising, event planning, and marketing. The generalist experience at a nonprofit lends itself to many career opportunities, and it’s a great place to begin.

3. What advice do you have for others?
There is truly one degree of separation in Pittsburgh, and it provides for a wonderful level of connectivity and relationship building. It is so important to develop a very diverse network of contacts, not only in your industry, but throughout all markets. Don’t always attend the same networking events and just talk to the same people. Branch out and get to know other industries and the stakeholders in them. You never know how these connections will impact you or your business.

Mary Lynn Jimm, Proprietor, Diane’s Boutique

Mary Lynn Jimm, Diane’s Boutique

Mary Lynn Jimm

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Women have a wonderful advantage in business, which is our natural ability to nurture relationships. This enables Diane’s Boutique to grow our business into the definitive place in New Castle’s fashion scene. Women also bring a strong ability to multitask through managing business, social, and family matters.

2. How did you get your start?
Working with our aunt at the family-operated business at an earlier age of 10 is where I was taught the fundamentals of business ownership along with maintaining the same core family values honesty, integrity, and remaining genuine. These are necessary values to succeed in life and to own and manage a business. Those values were always encrypted and instilled in us by our parents.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Explore new ideas and research new trends. Be assertive in your business decisions, but take calculated risks to enhance one’s organization. Take the opportunity to learn from others. Network, join business groups, and take professional courses. Don’t be a “Superwoman,” but rely on others who can complement your skills. Lastly, success is not created overnight, but through hard work, passion, and dedication.

Meagan Roppo, Chief Operating Officer, Young Professional Women in Energy (YPWE)

Meagan Roppo, Young Professional Women in Energy (YPWE)

Meagan Roppo

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The fact that I can be a woman in business in my community. American women in business are still held back every day, and are very much a minority, but there are corners of the world where my opinions, ideas, and passions would not be valued because I am female. There’s a lot to be done everywhere. But this is a great start.

2. How did you get your start?
I’m a 23-year-old COO, and as you can imagine, I get questioned quite a bit about that. Others like to think that I was in the right place at the right time. But I set an intention my senior year of college: To run a nonprofit that focused on women’s empowerment. From that conviction, the universe starting connecting the dots. Now I’m in the process of launching my own business that brings peace to women and girls. And that intention was all I needed.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Redefine your definition of success. Immediately. Almost nothing comes out of putting in the hours and intelligence unless you have the enthusiasm and passion to back it up. If you have at least one moment a day where your heart is even slightly moved by something that you’re doing, that single moment is a miracle — and you’re already succeeding.

Megs Yunn, Owner/Founder, Beverly’s Birthdays

Megs Yunn, Beverly’s Birthdays

Megs Yunn

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Being able to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families in my community. I met a young girl, named Beverly, who shared with me she had never had a birthday party or even her own slice of birthday cake. This was an “aha moment” for me and I was inspired to take action.

2. How did you get your start?
I entered my idea for Beverly’s Birthdays in a national contest to create change and I won a $2,500 starter grant. Three years later, we have served more than 1,200 children!

3. What advice do you have for others?
Do not be afraid to seek out answers. If you are willing to learn and others see that you are genuinely trying to do a great job they will support you. I had to teach myself new skills with the support and guidance of others who specialized in that area.

Nadine Hall, Owner, Salon Eleven Fifty Four

Nadine Hall, Salon Eleven Fifty Four

Nadine Hall

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
There are a lot of new businesses that have recently opened and everyone supports each other. Being personally involved in your community builds loyalty to you and your business. It’s easy to forget that and become dependent with social media.

2. How did you get your start?
I was at a time and place in my career where my work environment was changing. It helped lead me down a path where I felt it was time for me to grow on my own.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Never stop learning! Sometimes we learn more from our failures than our successes. Admitting that you don’t know everything (and never will) is the key to growth.

Nikki Remic-Bannon, Founder, Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

Nikki Remic, Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

Nikki Remic

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
By far, it is the ability to have a positive impact in the lives of so many others! Helping others to relax and restore their health and well-being is rewarding beyond belief. To know that my business is making a difference, not just with one-on-one time with others, but also with the ripple that the positive changes in their lives carries through the rest of their lives and through the community.

2. How did you get your start?
I was always interested in spas and relaxation, but the depth of my awareness came by having a need myself to explore holistic health and complementary healing modalities. Before I started my business, I had serious health complications due to having Crohn’s Disease. When I learned first-hand the positive impact of living a more mindful life I knew I had found my passion. By using tools like massage, energy medicine, yoga, and other stress reduction techniques, along with a healthy lifestyle, I was able to surpass limitations of traditional medicine. It was from this awareness that I found a passion to educate and assist others combining these two worlds.

3. What advice do you have for others?
First, maintain a balance in your life, so that you can always stay connected to the passion that inspired you to start a business in the first place. Second, surround yourself with an amazing team — both in work and in daily life. Surround yourself with others who inspire you to shine brightly! And, finally, RELAX! Don’t buy into self doubt and fear. Relaxation is important not only for the health and well-being of your body, but also for your business. You are your driving force of energy in your business, and it is only as healthy and vibrant as you are.

Nina Khan, Founding Member and Lead Singer, The Elite Show Band

Nina Khan, The Elite Show Band

Nina Khan

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a woman in business is that I have the opportunity to try to set a great example and lead the way for other female entrepreneurs. I strive to show other businesswomen that you can have it all. You can be a mother, a wife, and rock a great career that provides for your family.

2. How did you get your start?
I grew up in a performing family, so I have spent my whole life onstage. I trained at Pittsburgh Musical Theater and went to high school half-day, while the other half of the day, I was studying singing, acting, and dancing. I got hired right out of high school as the lead (Lola) in the national tour of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. From there, I lived in NYC and toured the country on various musical theater national tours. Then, I got a contract with Disney and ended up working with the company for over nine years. I worked as a manager/dance captain in the entertainment department and I got to play some of my favorite roles (Cinderella, Cruella de Vil, Princess Aurora, Belle, Ariel, etc.). Most importantly, I met my husband at Disney and we came together to create Rockhan Entertainment, LLC, featuring the Elite Show Band. We performed across four continents for 7 years for some of the largest corporations and celebrities in the world. Then, we decided to make the move back to Pittsburgh to be closer to my family in 2012. We now live in Upper St. Clair with our 3-year-old son, James, and we get to do what we love — all while spending time together. We love performing at weddings and events, as we get to be a part of one of the happiest days in a person’s life. As corny as that may sound — it’s the truth!

3. What advice do you have for others?
The more you give, the more you will receive (This could be anything from hugs, positive energy, money, and beyond.). Set annual goals, but don’t be afraid to change the plan when something points you in a new direction. Follow those you admire on social media to keep you focused on reaching your goals (My favorites are Marie Forleo, Ivanka Trump, and Natalie MacNeil). Meditate. If you are new to meditation start simple with a beginners app, like Headspace. It will change your mind and change your life. Focus on love and you will get powerful results.

Patricia A.M. Ingram, Owner/Photographer, Ingram Portrait Design

Patricia A.M. Ingram, Ingram Portrait Design

Patricia A.M. Ingram

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
In my professional life, as a portrait artist, I have the joy of working with people of all ages and walks of life within Sewickley and the Pittsburgh community. For example, I’ve loved watching teens we’ve photographed as high school seniors grow into married young adults with babes of their own. I’ve enjoyed working with couples who are newly married as well as those who are celebrating anniversaries of 50 or more years. It’s also been my privilege to photograph business professionals from a variety of career sectors: musicians, models, attorneys, physicians, interior designers, authors, business leaders, and so on.

2. How did you get your start?
My parents gave me a basic camera at the age of nine. I was thrilled! I started photographing everyone I could, trying to freeze relationships on film to enjoy over time. During and after college, my jobs would often entail photographing colleagues and other professionals. My dad was a small business owner in Pittsburgh. I always loved discussing the dynamics of business with him, so it was a natural for me to pursue an advanced degree. I graduated from CMU with an MBA in 1983. Getting married and having children of my own provided ample opportunities for me to stretch my artistic/photographic skills. Eventually family and friends began asking me to create beautiful portraits for them. Just as I wanted to do the best that I could in business, I followed the same path in photography, studying under the top professional photographers in the industry and earning my Master’s of Photography degree and my Certified Professional Photographer’s degree from Professional Photographers of America (ppa.com). I now incorporate both my MBA and my professional photographic degrees into my art and business, which is a wonderful blend for me.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Before beginning a new business venture with yourself at the helm, learn about the business side of the work for which you have a passion. Decide if you want to put your shoulder to the plow of the hard, not always “fun” work of understanding the financial side of what it takes to run a successful business. Look to the best in your field of interest/industry for advice, inspiration, and guidance, but at the same time create your own identity and branding. Make sure you are doing the work you love and for which you have a passion, and you you’ll feel blessed as you go to work each day! Recognize there are ups and downs in every business. Learn from the difficult times, ask questions of others who are further along in their business, and make an effort to encourage those who are coming up behind you.

Rachel Gogos, Founder/CEO, brandiD, iDentityShoppe, and MyPath101

Rachel Gogos, BrandiD

Rachel Gogos

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being in business in Pittsburgh is the incredible innovation that takes place all around us daily. From CMU and Pitt, to the Symphony and the Museums, to the philanthropic community and the business community — it’s pervasive here and it’s inspiring!

2. How did you get your start?
I continue to stay in touch with my inner guidance system and tap into what is pulling me. Then, I figure out how to “get there,” focus in on it, and make it happen. Over and over — persistence pays off.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Take the time to figure out who you really are, then show up as the authentic you consistently. YOU are your biggest differentiator.

Rania Harris, Owner, Rania’s Catering

Rania Harris, Rania’s Catering

Rania Harris

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
When I started my catering business in 1980, it was mostly a male-dominated industry with very few women owning their own food service business. It was a tough hill to climb and it took many years to become not only established, but also to be recognized. It’s very interesting to see how the dynamic has changed, and how many women are now established in the food service and hospitality industry. I love being part of this group of creative and interesting women.

2. How did you get your start?
I started my business as a result of being a stay-at-home mother with a desire to step out into the workplace. I called my cousin, who was then the general manager at WTAE-TV, to arrange for a screen test for a show called Grade School Quiz. He was shocked that I made the request and gently suggested that I should stay home and bake cookies — because that was what I could do best. Clearly, that didn’t sit well with me, as my major in college was television, radio, theater, and communications. However, he did give me the idea to sell my pastries and baked goods, and frankly, one thing led to another and Rania’s Catering developed. The best part of the story is that I now and have been since 1988 on local television, combining my passion for cooking with on-air cooking segments. I started at WTAE-TV and landed at KDKA-TV, and absolutely love this part of my business.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Whatever it is that you do professionally, love it with all your heart and never consider your work as drudgery. If you can’t be passionate about your work and your career, it’s time to move on. Never complain about the amount of work you have on your plate, and be grateful that you have a job and a business that continues to thrive.

Rebecca Kroll, ECC, President/Owner, Starboard Cruises & Tours

Rebecca Kroll, Starboard Cruises & Tours

Rebecca Kroll

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
One of the best parts about being a woman in business in my community of Bethel Park is setting an example for the young local women and girls that they too can achieve their goals in business. Also, having my own business during the child-rearing years was a perfect solution to the need for flexibility that is always an issue for working moms — another plus is being able to serve the travel needs of locals in our neighborhood, which keeps the dollars flowing within our community. Buying from a big box store or an online company destroys that sense of community. Working with a local professional in your own community helps to keep your neighborhood vital and alive. I’m proud to be able to support my own community that way, employ people from within our city, and serve as a model for young entrepreneurial women looking to be strong business owners.

2. How did you get your start?
I got started 18 years ago being fueled by my passion for travel and wanting to help others experience that same kind of passion. I took time to become educated about selling travel, aligning myself with partners in the travel industry who would help me reach my goals. I planned my marketing well prior to getting started, and worked out of my home office for the first few years while building up a loyal clientele and keeping overhead low, making sure my business was profitable before expanding by moving into a storefront office and hiring employees.

3. What advice do you have for others?
One of the most important elements of operating your own business is having a passion for the products you sell or the services you offer! But just having that passion does not make you a good business woman. Know your competitors well. Know your market well and exactly who you want your target audience to be. Focus on specialization and find your niche! A recipe for failure is to try and be all things to all people. Learn to say no when it is right for the business! Know your products and services inside and out, there is no such thing as too much education. Best of all, love what you do each day with your heart and soul, sincerely appreciate and be grateful for your customers, and that will be returned to 1,000 times over!

Ronda Zegarelli, Owner, Acrobatique Creative Branding Boutique

Ronda Zegarelli, Acrobatique Creative

Ronda Zegarelli

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
It is thrilling to be among a growing number of successful women entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh, especially at a time where this city is seeing great success and making significant strides as a top destination in the country. I also have three beautiful nieces, and being a role model to them is one of the greatest driving forces in my life. As a woman, I want to set a positive example and inspire young women to blaze their own trails of success, and this is all possible through hard work, vision, and dedication.

2. How did you get your start?
I started in media sales after I graduated at Duquesne University, and eventually grew into a sales manager, general sales manager, non-traditional radio director, and ultimately, the director of integrated marketing at Clear Channel Communications, now iHeartMedia. I then transformed my career path to director of marketing at Giant Ideas, and then out of the unfortunate and unexpected departure of Giant Ideas, I was to start up my own boutique integrated marketing firm, Acrobatique, with the former creative director at Giant Ideas, Gary Kalinosky. I had the great fortune to have clients that have worked with me since Giant Ideas and I am grateful to continue to work with clients, such as Premier Medical Associates CEO Mark DeRubeis, who believed in our talents and who has continued to work with me and Gary, and stuck by us through the transition with Giant Ideas. I have always had a strong work ethic and have the desire to continue to evolve and learn. I believe in personal and career evolution. This year, I presented an idea to the Office of Mayor Bill Peduto and became the branding company to begin a new event tradition, Pittsburgh Earth Day, which is a citywide celebration of sustainability on April 22. It is our goal to have Pittsburgh Earth Day become a new city tradition, like Light Up Night and First Night. The position has taught me how to work with high-level challenges and has been a labor of love for me. I again have been working with a team of passionate, dedicated, focused, talent enthusiasts that have and provided me with the best opportunity to evolve and take on a leadership role. I am also a singer-songwriter, so creative is at the heart of my soul. I have been singing since 1975, so 2015 marks 40 years of being able to express myself and continuing to collaborate with musicians, such as David Werner and Rick Witkowski. My plan is to record again in the fall. “NUIT NOIRE” is the working title only, but is setting the tone for me musically.

3. What advice do you have for others?
I owe much of my work ethic and passion to my dear father, Arnold Zegarelli, and I think more than anything, I have learned that in business and in life it is crucial to be open and honest and to lead by example. “To inspire and aspire” and to be passionate, and also have integrity even when no one is watching. I believe that through challenges comes opportunities and maintaining a strong sense of self, a positive attitude, and holding on to core values has helped me to build respect among an extraordinary network of entrepreneurs.

Ruthi Bosco, dōTERRA Essential Oils, Intl., EsScential Wellness, LLC

Ruthi Bosco, DoTERRA Essential Oils, Intl., EsScential Wellness, LLC

Ruthi Bosco

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Being a woman over 50 can be challenging in any community due to pay scale, seniority, etc.; it is a constant hot topic in the weekly news. Owning a business is extremely empowering for many reasons — flexibility and creating your own financial future are two of the best.

2. How did you get your start?
For over 40 years, I have had a strong interest in Aromatherapy, however, my discovery of an essential oil that helped me tremendously with pain and inflammation three and a half years ago prompted me to change direction in my life, from having an interior design business, back into the world of essential oils.

3. What advice do you have for others?
From many years of being in business, the best advice I could give anyone, regardless of their interests, is to be passionate, persistent, and positive.

Sara Hargreaves, Owner, Scribe Fine Papers

Sara Hargreaves, Scribe Fine Papers

Sara Hargreaves

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
There is a great network of like-minded female business owners here in Shadyside and the wedding industry in general, and our skills and interests definitely complement one another. It’s great fun to add my personal touches to the boutique, many of which come from other fantastically talented women, from florists and letterpress printers, to bakers and antique dealers. I am very proud to help spread the importance of the handwritten note to the people who stop by Scribe Fine Papers. I meet some of the most fascinating individuals on Filbert Street and it is a privilege to share my passion with them.

2. How did you get your start?
I have had a lifelong love of penmanship, stationery, and gift wrap. Friends and family would often comment on my holiday packages or thank you notes, and I always flirted with the idea of owning a small retail shop. After years in the nonprofit world, the big push actually came from my son, who with his graphic design background helped get me off the ground. We found a small space, previously a frozen yogurt shop, renovated, and dove in headfirst. It was really trial by fire, but my liberal arts education and experience in event planning gave me tremendous reference and insight into social correspondence and wedding stationery.

3. What advice do you have for others?
If you have passion for what you do you will always find a way to navigate both the calm and choppy waters of being an entrepreneur. We only offer the best most unique products and do it with personalized service. It is not an easy thing. Offering customers something they cannot just get anywhere will make you irreplaceable.

Sara Ruth, Owner, Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, LLC.; Director of Marketing, The Dog Stop®

Sara Ruth, Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, LLC

Sara Ruth

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Being a woman in business in Pittsburgh allows me the opportunity to give back to my community. Through Philip Pelusi®, The Dog Stop®, and Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, I have been able to use the resources I have and relationships I’ve made through the years to support various charities and organizations. During my time at Philip Pelusi®, we raised over $40,000 for Susan G. Komen through an annual fashion show I organized. Now through The Dog Stop®, we have the opportunity to support countless rescues and causes, including Animal Friends, the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, and Ladies Hospital Aid Society Pups with Purpose. This summer, The Dog Stop will host an event at the James Gallery to raise a goal of $20,000 for Perfect Fit Canines — a non-profit organization that raises service dogs for children with autism and special needs. Through my own business, I support the Ladies Hospital Aid Society’s Orchid Fund, through both event planning and marketing support, in addition to various other nonprofit organizations. Additionally, I have the honor of being included in this year’s class of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest and will have the opportunity to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I love that I have the opportunity to impact so many organizations in need in my community.

2. How did you get your start?
I graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communication design, with concentrations in advertising and graphic design. Following graduation, I started working for Philip Pelusi®, where I was promoted to director of marketing. I continued to work in salon marketing for a number of years until I had the opportunity to meet the owners of The Dog Stop®, Chris Kane and Jesse Coslov. They explained their plans for expansion, and their need for someone to come on board to define and direct their brand. In speaking with Chris and Jesse, I was immediately drawn to their excitement and hunger for taking their small business to the next level. After two years, three additional store openings, and more on the way, I have to say that I made the absolute right move! In addition to my work with The Dog Stop®, in late 2013, I created my own business — Sara Lucille Marketing & Graphic Design, LLC. In working with primarily small businesses throughout my career, I’ve realized how important it is for any business — regardless of its size — to define and project a clear brand. I created this business to specifically cater to small businesses that need to hire large design and marketing firms to create, manage, and maintain a consistent and coherent brand, but don’t have the budget to do so.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Always have a clear goal in mind, for whatever you do, and don’t be afraid to set BIG goals! It can be easy to get lost meandering in everyday life — doing what we’ve always done, getting the results we’ve always gotten. When we have set goals in mind, it gives us direction and drive, presents us with a sense of accomplishment upon completion, and contributes to our overall growth and evolvement. Always aim to improve. Aim that tomorrow will always bring a better YOU!

Shannon Morrissey, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Shannon Morrissey, Mina Rose Beauty, LLC

Shannon Morrissey

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The love, trust, respect, and support that everyone provides to you. Being a virtuous women takes strength and courage, and without the community and the people that would not exist.

2. How did you get your start?
By being motivated and inspired by many leaders, my family, and my best friend! And never ever giving up on my passion in life!

3. What advice do you have for others?
Follow your heart! It will take you on a journey that is unexpected, bumpy, and 100 percent rewarding! Always be true to yourself and to others, and be sure to enjoy the ride!

Stacey Vespaziani, Owner, South Hills Power Yoga

Stacey Vespaziani, South Hills Power Yoga

Stacey Vespaziani

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Getting to connect with other women who serve the community through their work and meeting my neighbors by sharing something that I love.

2. How did you get your start?
I had the chance to teach yoga all over the Greater Pittsburgh area and felt pulled to bring it to my own backyard. After teaching a weekly community class at the Dormont Library for a few years, I knew it was time to open a studio when we started running out of space.

3. What advice do you have for others?
You don’t have to have all of the answers at the start!

Stacie Adams, Owner, Club Cycle

Stacie Adams, Club Cycle

Stacie Adams

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
I think being known as not only a woman, but someone at the age of 27 who started a business and through the ups and downs, I have inspired and motivated a lot of women and men to live healthier and be active. Club Cycle was a chance I took. I quit my nursing job and put every penny I had into Club Cycle with only $300 left in the bank account, and I never stopped fighting to keep going. Club Cycle is now well-known and is a hub for people in the South Hills to go. Through the last year, I now have people from West Virginia, Ohio, Irwin, Greensburg, Monroeville, Slippery Rock, etc. travel just to come to Club Cycle.

2. How did you get your start?
I started when I met my soon-to-be-husband. He is a well-known DJ and has been for 17 years. I taught spinning for 11 years, and we thought how cool would it be to combine both of the things we love to do. That is when Club Cycle was born.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Never stop. No matter how bad it gets, don’t ever forget why you started in the first place.

Stacy Ruger Dougherty, Customer Success Manager, NoWait

Stacy Dougherty, NoWait

Stacy Dougherty

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Pittsburgh is known for education, medicine, and banking, however, the tech and oil and gas industries are booming here. Women are making a difference in both of these fields and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to strive and empower women to prosper in any type of industry.

2. How did you get your start?
After graduating from college and working for two years in NYC, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I moved to Pittsburgh. NYC was so expensive and we realized pretty quickly that we’d never be able to save money or have a yard for our dog. Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect place to settle down as his family lived near by. After a few months here, it became obvious that Pittsburgh was a special place, almost like a best kept secret. You can literally live like a king here because the cost of living is so low and the city has so much to offer. I started working in various account management and customer relations roles. After a few years at one of the largest financial institutions in town, I decided that I wanted to be more than just another number. I wanted more. I craved a challenge and I also needed to make a difference in the world. I wanted to work for the greater good and use my skills to the best of their abilities. I seriously considered going to back to school for business or nursing. I do love helping people, but I cannot stand the sight of blood and the thought of jabbing someone with a needle just freaked me out. I knew pretty quickly that nursing school was out. Getting my MBA seemed like the next best option, but with my student loan debt from going to a private school in NYC, it didn’t seem smart or logical to take out additional loans. I started looking for companies in Pittsburgh that needed help. I wanted to contribute to a small, yet growing team. Through this search, I found NoWait. When I started, our company was small and nimble. In a way, we still are, but our company has doubled in size and is still growing. We raised $10 million in Series B funding, which helped launch our growth, but also the hard work of each and every employee has contributed to the success of all of our customers. I travel nationally about twice a month to our biggest clients for onsite NoWait training with VPs, regional directors, area directors, general managers, and hosts. It is my job to make our customers successful and also to ensure that they love NoWait.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If you’re unhappy with your career, position, company or life for that matter, then change something. You are the only person who can do so. Be authentic; if you’re trying to be or do something you’re not, you’ll never be successful or find true happiness.

Suzanne Beinlich, Co-Owner/Marketing Manager, Triple B Farms, LLC

Suzanne Beinlich, Triple B Farms, LLC

Suzanne Beinlich

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Working in our family business ensures I am never bored! I face new challenges and experience something or someone new daily! The best part of being a mother in business is demonstrating to your children: business owners get out of it exactly what they put in it. The harder you work, the bigger the reward mantra is a valuable tool for any child in today’s society. Finally, I have the opportunity to create an authentic, meaningful, honest, educational, and sustainable farm–to-table avenue for our society. Learning and understanding where and how our food is grown is a life lesson no one should go without.

2. How did you get your start?
I have been a family farm member my whole life. I grew up on our family’s dairy farm in New Jersey, where we continue to milk 200 cows today. I was lucky enough to meet my husband of 17 years at Penn State. He brought me back to Pittsburgh to support him in his endeavor to be one of the highest quality growers in Western Pennsylvania’s fruit and vegetable industry. And now, we get to raise our four children with similar values we both learned growing up in agriculture.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Learn to live with flexibility. Although life provides twists and turns you wonder about, it all fits together correctly in our own puzzle. Enjoy and learn about agriculture. Visit your local farm this season! You will learn a lot!

Theresa Bayer, Owner, Schafer Interiors

Theresa Bayer, Schafer Interiors

Theresa Bayer

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part about being a women in business in my community is the personal aspect of how people respect the expertise and what I have to offer.

2. How did you get your start?
How I got started in business was more than just a star was born. I grew up in the furniture business and always knew I wanted to be a professional designer and have my own gallery. I had a lifetime of exposure to the many rewards of being a business owner.

3. What advice do you have for others?
My advice to the wannabe business owner is be willing to take chances, do your homework, know your product, and good luck.

Valarie Panei, Owner, Valarie Panei Professional Makeup Artist Pittsburgh

Valarie Panei, Valarie Panei Professional Makeup Artist Pittsburgh

Valarie Panei

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
Having been born and raised in this area, I have been fortunate enough to have built a referral-based business from my lifetime of living and working in the community.

2. How did you get your start?
I started at the age of 19 working in the cosmetic industry. I worked my way up and though the popular cosmetic lines, while building a reputation at the same time. Eventually, this led to a network that would allow me to continue to do what I love and be my own boss.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Developing long-term relationships and a great reputation in the field, by doing the best you can, being on time, and staying true to your word, matters most.

Vasso Paliouras, Founder/Executive Director, Lending Hearts

Vasso Paliouras, Lending Hearts

Vasso Paliouras

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
The best part of being a woman in business in our community is the ability to combine purpose and passion into a business that creates a benefit to others and overall social change.

2. How did you get your start?
I got my start by creating my own nonprofit business. I followed a dream and have been blessed to meet and know amazing individuals who have taught me, and continue to teach and inspire me daily.

3. What advice do you have for others?
Advice I would give to others is to always keep your heart and mind open to changes and learning. You never know the new chapters you’ll be able to write when you do.

Veronica Varos, Owner/Photographer, Veronica Varos Photography

Veronica Varos, Veronica Varos Photography

Veronica Varos

1. What is the best part about being a woman in business in your community?
We are incredibly lucky here. Unlike so many other areas, women in the region are so supportive of other women and their businesses. Instead of competing, we bolster, mentor, and lift one another up. Because of those amazing support systems, new female entrepreneurs of all ages have the courage to finally follow their passions and female-owned businesses are popping up all over the region. It’s a wonderfully beautiful movement to be a part of.

2. How did you get your start?
Beginning in 1997, at the age of 11, I began creating and selling websites and fan-sites for bands. By the time I was 13, I had been approached to work with Rolling Stone magazine along with nearly all of my favorite bands. As a “thank you” from one band in particular, I was sent a few press passes and I quickly handed them over to my mother. I had no interest in using them but, being the artist and music lover she is, she loved the idea. (My father is also an artist and has been a musician all of his life, so this was nothing new to either of them.) During that concert, I remember standing at my seat and watching my mother, alone in the orchestra pit. She danced around with her camera as the band interacted with her every chance they had. It truly looked like the most fun anyone could possibly have. A few months later, another band sent press passes. I took my mom and dad’s 35mm camera, a couple of rolls of film, and also had the most fun anyone could possibly have. I continued photographing concerts until I was around the age of 22. At that time, I was feeling a lot less passionate about what I was doing. But, at just the right time in my life, in a very “meant to be” sort of way, a friend asked me to photograph her wedding and the rest is history.

3. What advice do you have for others?
As women in business, we need to work hard to move past the structures and walls society has put up around us. We have to work to silence that nagging voice inside, whispering that we’re not good enough, that it’s too hard, that we won’t succeed. We must push that fear out of the pit of our stomach. We have a choice in the way we approach everything — either from a place of fear, a negative, or from a place of love, a positive. The most successful people in the world will tell you that they made it to where they are because they knew they were worthy and capable. They truly believed it. So, believe it. Believe in yourself, maintain a positive attitude, keep your head held high and a smile on your face, and make the magic happen. Your thoughts truly can move mountains.


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