Running a thriving business takes drive, determination, and a whole lot of hustle! We’re spotlighting seven savvy entrepreneurs whose immense success proves how a little belief and a big leap of faith can land you a leading role in your own life. Looking to recalibrate your career path? Let their accomplishments be your compass.
UNTOURAGE THE LABEL LLC
OWNER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
MY BUSINESS: Untourage The Label is the denim brand I recently launched to appeal to hip Generation X and millenial women looking for an edgier style of jeans. I not only own the brand, but also serve as its creative director as I design the line myself.In addition to operating my own businesses, I also serve as chief operating officer of my two sons’ (Branden & Bryce Thompson) multi-million dollar enterprise, Thompson & Thompson LLC. I oversee a team of professionals hired to manage the day-to-day operations of our offices in Houston and Los Angeles.
IN THE BEGINNING: I began my career as a hairstylist and opened my first business, “Untourage Salon Retreat,” 20 years ago. Many years later, after much thought and consideration, I decided to start “Untourage The Label” after experiencing frustration in not finding denim that suited my particular style. After spending nearly two decades making women feel beautiful through hairstyling, I slowly ventured into fashion and began experimenting with design—which I feel was always my calling! Now I’m creating on a different type of canvas with designs that not only embellishes a woman’s style but reflects her taste.
MOST REWARDING: I love witnessing a client’s reaction after receiving just a simple haircut and I understand the impact it has not only on a women’s self worth, but on the image she presents to the world. I’m very focused on details in everything I do and my reward comes when seeing the results of my labor bring pleasure to others.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: I’ve always believed that if I dream it, I can achieve it, and even though it may seem out of reach at times, I don’t stop and keep going no matter what!
SUFFOLK COUNTY HOUSE BUYERS – CEO
MY BUSINESS: We buy, renovate, and resell homes all around Long Island (mostly Suffolk County). We are extremely passionate about revitalizing neighborhoods one house at a time. We also provide cash offers to homeowners in need of a fast and convenient closing on their terms.
IN THE BEGINNING: I was an attorney working for a labor union when I realized I would never have the upward mobility I always desired. I grew up in construction and have always had an entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a desire to invest in real estate so I knew this was the right path for me. Above all, I wanted to show my children you can live life on your own terms and do the things you have always dreamed of versus being stuck in an environment that does nothing for your growth.
MOST REWARDING: Creating opportunities for others while also creating the life for myself that I always wanted. Also watching houses make these massive transformations in a matter of weeks never gets old.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: I never get greedy. I look to give to those who believe in me, whether it is my staff, my contractors, investors, or people I buy from or sell to. In the end I am focused more on building relationships than I am about the bottom dollar.
DOREEN LASKIEWICZ PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
MY BUSINESS: My company focuses on people. I also restore old photographs and help families retain memories for future generations. One of the things I use to set myself apart in an oversaturated market is the ability to combine my photography with graphic elements. This is especially popular with the young athletes and dancers who I photograph. I also enjoy nature photography, which I have loved seeing in the recent issues of BELLA Magazine.
IN THE BEGINNING: As a life in the arts (I’m a graduate of Westminster Choir College and a music teacher for three decades), this has been another way to express myself. It evolved naturally from wanting to take better pictures of my kids when they were little. I was hungry to learn how to produce the types of images I would see professionals create, so I took every opportunity to learn, practice, and be critiqued by professionals.
MOST REWARDING: The most rewarding aspect of my business is knowing that what I create will be there for generations to come as a reminder of the people in their lives who love them.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: The secret to my success is my continuous drive to learn the technical aspects of photography and graphic design. It’s the technical mastery of your craft that allows you to reach your artistic potential.
Los Angeles, CA
LUIS CASCO MAKEUP
MY BUSINESS: I am a well-known beauty expert and make-up artist with over 20 years of experience in the industry. I have been lead makeup artist for award shows and other high-end events, including the Primetime and Daytime Emmys. Leading makeup teams for some of the top Fashion Weeks in the world, including New York, Moscow, and Paris, I have also worked with leading celebrities, photographers, and fashion designers.IN
THE BEGINNING: Born in El Salvador as a diplomat’s son, I emigrated to the United States at the age of 15 after my family had to flee their country due to a civil war. Despite a privileged childhood, I arrived in the US with next to nothing and experienced many hardships. Soon, however, my passion for beauty and fashion lead me down a successful career path, becoming a self-made expert. I returned to my country of birth in 2012, when I accepted an award for my trajectory and was featured in the book, “The 100 Most Successful Salvadorans in the World.”
MOST REWARDING: I am a gifted speaker who loves transmitting the passion for my work. I frequently travel around the world to offer my motivational beauty expertise. I have engaged in a range of speaking tours and have spoken at major beauty trade shows, where thousands of people have listened to me offer makeup tips and discuss fashion trends.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: I’m passionate about my work. I love makeup, beauty, and helping others follow their dreams.
Staten Island, NY
NACIONALES NAILS – CEO
MY BUSINESS: Nacionales Nails is a private label nail polish company. I run the day-to-day operations, including maintaining our website, fulfilling orders, meeting regularly with our manufacturer, photographing and editing, managing social media, and everything else that goes along with sustaining a new business. IN
THE BEGINNING: Back in 1999, one of my sisters and I launched the company after noticing there were none specifically targeting the Latina community. For many reasons, including working full-time jobs and raising children, we decided to close down our company after a few years. The timing was just not right. In September 2018, after retiring from my teaching position with the New York City Department of Education, my husband and I decided to give the idea another go. Fortunately, our manufacturer, who had always been super supportive, welcomed us back with open arms and with the same enthusiasm as years before.
MOST REWARDING: The most rewarding aspect is the number of connections made with customers and other business owners excited about our nail polish and our “Polish the World” focus. I have also met such an impressive number of female business owners out there hustling and doing amazing things. I am so proud to be part of a community that is excited for us and what we do and is willing to share and engage so that we all can do better and be better.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Celebrating the diversity of our country through something as simple as nail polish has really touched Latinas and our non-Latina sisters in ways I never imagined. Whether it’s the beautiful array of colors we offer or the Spanish names of the polishes themselves, it connects us as humans.
Los Angeles, CA
MY BUSINESS: I’m a hairstylist based in Los Angeles, CA. I specialize in editorial and celebrity hairstyling. Giving someone self-love and confidence through hair gives me so much joy as a human.
IN THE BEGINNING: I’ve always been in a creative field since I could remember; before hair I was a musician touring around the world. Playing the drums in a band, I’ve always loved working with my hands and heart.
MOST REWARDING: I absolutely love making people feel as beautiful as I can! Giving someone self confidence when they look in the mirror is the best part of my job, hands down.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Consistency, focus, and never giving up!
New York, NY
GLOW GLOBAL EVENTS
FOUNDER AND CEO
MY BUSINESS: I’m the founder and CEO of Glow Global Events, an award-winning full-service event management agency based in New York. My team and I manage more than $20 million in event budgets each year, and we strive to not only help companies achieve their business goals but also ensure their events have true, long-lasting impact. We work with amazing non-profits, including United Way of New York City and the Africa-America Institute, as well as foundations investing in emerging markets like the Omidyar Foundation, innovative corporations like LabCorp, and entertainment powerhouse A+E Network, to name a few. We were thrilled to be ranked No. 145 on the Inc. 5000 2020 list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately-held companies in America, with a three-year impressive revenue growth of 2585.56% percent.
IN THE BEGINNING: At the beginning of my career, I worked for Marriott Hotels Corporation, and a large part of my job included planning corporate events, parties, and seminars. I went on to work in the music business at Arista Records and the fashion industry for IC Isaacs, the licensee for labels like Hugo Boss and Girbaud. Both music and fashion are really event-driven. I gained even more exposure on what it took to produce great events, and I took note of how those events affected the attendees. I realized then that I was more passionate about event planning than any of my other duties, and I branched out on my own. I founded Glow Global Events in 1998, and fast-forward to present day…we’ve been in business for more than 20 years and we’re still growing.
MOST REWARDING: I believe that there is no better way to influence how people think, act, or feel than through an event. So, of course, I’m proud every time an event runs smoothly and a client is pleased, but what really excites me is impact. Did we do something more than just pull people together in a room or on a virtual platform? I get really excited about connecting people from different countries, raising money for underserved communities, and increasing awareness about important causes.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: More than anything, I’d say my fearlessness has driven my success. Outside of work, I’ve skydived at 10,000 feet, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, walked with lions, and gone gorilla trekking in Uganda. I’ve applied that same sense of adventure and risk-taking to my business. For example, though the pandemic presented a lot of unexpected challenges, Glow pivoted to virtual events and we’ve seen the business grow at a time when a lot of companies are struggling. We weren’t afraid to try something new, and it worked in our favor. That has always been my approach.
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