7 BELLA Bosses We Admire

Here are 7 BELLA Bosses we admire…

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Kristen Denzer

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Business/Brand/Company: Tierra Encantada

Title: CEO and Founder

Website: https://www.tierraencantada.com/

MY BUSINESS:

Tierra Encantada is the Leader in Spanish Immersion Early Education® and provides care for children ages 6 weeks through 6 years of age. The high-quality education program utilizes proprietary language-immersion curriculum focused on teaching a respect for diversity, and includes fresh-cooked, organic meals designed to expand children’s young palates.

IN THE BEGINNING:

In 2013, while searching for quality early education for her young child, Kristen founded Tierra Encantada’s first location in Eagan, Minnesota. She continued to operate all three businesses until 2016 when she sold her event rental company and dog daycare facility to focus solely on Tierra Encantada’s growth. In Spring of 2019, she launched Tierra Encantada’s franchising expansion to provide access to language immersion education to families across the country. Today, Tierra Encantada is an Inc 5000 company with five corporate locations in Minnesota almost a dozen franchise centers in site development, and over 100 full-time employees.

MOST REWARDING:

The most rewarding aspect of business ownership and success is the impact you are able to have because of it. Because of Tierra’s success, I have heard stories from parents about how their children translated for them when traveling because they learned Spanish at Tierra. I have heard families share about the tremendous impact we had on their children by offering a place for them in distance learning when schools closed. I have been able to take my mom on her dream trip to Italy and my little sister on her first international trip. I have been a donor to Wildcat Sanctuary for over a decade, and they took in a large cat unexpectedly a couple months ago and the pandemic has impacted donations – but because of Tierra, I was able to donate $10k to help support them to continue the awesome work they do. There is SO much I am able to do – both big and small – because of my business’s success and all of it is tremendously rewarding.

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

Being involved. I have literally done every aspect of my business from covering in a classroom because multiple teachers were out to doing the financials for eight entities to designing the template for our monthly lesson guides for our curriculum. That involvement means I really “get” every aspect of our organization and can see the opportunities for improvement – and act on them. No person – nor company is perfect, so always striving for improvement is critical.

Matt Sarafa

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Business/Brand/Company: Matt Sarafa LLC

Title: CEO

Website: mattsarafa.com

MY BUSINESS:

The Matt Sarafa brand has been a product of 16 long years of blood, sweat and tears. I wanted to create a fashion brand that was uniquely and unapologetically badass and most importantly inclusive to everyone. We are most well-known for our work with luxury faux-furs, but my brand has grown to include couture, accessories, jewelry, street wear, face masks, and so much more to come!

IN THE BEGINNING:

My interest in fashion was first piqued at 7 years old sitting on the couch with my mom when we stumbled across a marathon of Project Runway. I was so fascinated with the fact that these designers were able to take an idea in their head, put it on paper, and then bring it to life and translate it into a physical garment. I immediately knew that this was something I could see myself doing with my life! Fast forward a few years later and I found myself on the debut season of Project Runway Junior. Still to this day it feels so surreal to be a part of the very show that got me started in the fashion industry. PRJ gave me an amazing platform to be able to launch my first collection from my brand in 2015 and it’s been full steam ahead ever since!

MOST REWARDING:

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people’s reaction to wearing my designs. Fashion has always been very therapeutic in a way to me, and is an amazing form of self expression. I think life is too short to dress basic, and when you look good you feel good. I’m so happy that I’m able to bring joy to peoples lives through my designs & I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else!

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

Be different, don’t just be better. In the fashion industry especially, your uniqueness and individuality are your strongest assets. Anybody can copy and follow trends, but it takes a true visionary to break the mold and pave their own way. Perseverance is also huge. People always think the fashion industry is some glamorous walk in the park but it’s nothing of the sort.

Alexandra Lourdes and Lin Jerome

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Business/Brand/Company: Refined Hospitality

Title: Co-Founders/ Co-Owners

Website: https://www.therefinedagency.com/

MY BUSINESS:

Alexandra Lourdes: At Refined Hospitality, we focus on creating unique concepts that focus on quality food and one-of-a-kind experiences. Before we started our businesses, we lived by the slogan, “Love made us do it,” and we made sure that everything we created going forward was something we absolutely loved. Café Lola, Saint Honoré Doughnuts & Beignets, and Pizza Anonymous are all unique food & beverage concepts that have become Vegas hotspots in a very short time. Although we are very “Instagrammable,” I can confidently say that our food, drinks and pastries are some of the best you will find! We are honored to have won several awards in our short two years of business and work with some of the biggest companies in the nation.

Lin Jerome: I am co-owner of Refined Hospitality which is the parent company for Café Lola, Saint Honoré Doughnuts & Beignets, Pizza Anonymous, LolaXO and The Refined Agency. Our restaurants are so unique and have really become a huge hit with Las Vegas locals and visitors to the Valley. Café Lola was named “the most Instagrammable restaurant in Nevada” by Food Network in 2019 and continues to captivate audiences of all ages with our jaw-dropping décor and whimsical and delicious menu. Saint Honoré has become a go-to for couture doughnuts that are almost too pretty to eat, but taste even better than they look. LolaXO and Pizza Anonymous were concepts that were created during the COVID shutdowns to produce additional revenue and hours for our team members. Our LolaXO line of luxury gift boxes features pastries and desserts from both Café Lola and Saint Honoré, while Pizza Anonymous, our homemade, Roman-style ghost kitchen pizza shop featuring my husband’s family secret recipes, is hidden inside of Saint Honoré. I think what makes our businesses special is that we are always thinking outside of the box with our concepts and offerings—not to mention that we never let anything get in our way or slow us down, not even a pandemic!

IN THE BEGINNING:

Alexandra: It all started in higher education. I was pursuing an art degree and honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Instead of starting the job search, I decided to continue my education and go for a PhD in Higher Education. I was pursuing my PhD while simultaneously working on a foodie-focused passion project when I met my now business partner, Lin Jerome. We both had these foodie side projects, and by merging them together, we realized we had an idea for a company! After graduating, we both left higher education to take a chance on an idea. We created a social media marketing & events company focused on food & beverage companies. From that experience, we noticed the impact social media has on the restaurant industry. A few years after, we had an idea for a coffee shop that no one had seen before. We wanted to create a feminine coffee shop that had amazing food, creative drinks and the best pastries. Lin and I created an Instagram account based on that idea before we even had the lease or location picked out. We both believe in the power of manifesting, and a few short months later, we had Café Lola! That’s how it all began! A little over two years later, we have opened another Café Lola location, a new concept called Saint Honoré Doughnuts & Beignets, a couture gifting site called LolaXO, and a ghost kitchen concept called Pizza Anonymous, which opened during COVID.

Lin: People always ask my business partner and me how a doctor and a lawyer created a hospitality company? I know, seems like an odd turn of events, but it was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. In 2015, I took a huge leap of faith in myself and left my great position in higher education to pursue my dream as an entrepreneur. I was the Associate Director of Admissions for the Boyd School of Law at UNLV in Las Vegas and left behind a salary, benefits and 401k plans to pursue my passion alongside my amazing business partner, Alexandra Lourdes, who did the exact same thing! Together, we started an interactive marketing & events company called The Refined Agency, and eventually went on to create Refined Hospitality, which now includes three amazing and successful culinary concepts: Café Lola, Saint Honoré Doughnuts & Beignets, and “the new kids on the block,” LolaXO and Pizza Anonymous, which we just opened in July of this year. Growing up in Las Vegas, the capital of hospitality, I held positions in food & beverage starting in college. I worked for Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group and Wynn Resorts in undergrad before I ventured off to law school. I have always loved hospitality and knew I wanted to eventually add the title of “restaurateur” to my resume.

MOST REWARDING:

Alexandra: The most rewarding experience so far is Café Lola winning Food Network’s “most Instagrammable restaurant in the entire state of Nevada.” Las Vegas alone is filled with gorgeous, five-star restaurants, so for our little café in Summerlin to win that accolade was so rewarding. At that moment, we knew we had something special.

Lin: The most rewarding professional experience to date has been opening our first restaurant concept: Café Lola. This was such a passion project—something we had in the works since 2016. We wanted to create a café that catered to a largely female audience and filled a gap in the market in Las Vegas. When we opened our doors in May of 2018, it was such an amazing feeling to see Café Lola come to life after so many years of strategizing, planning and creating the concept. The way our community has supported us and rooted for us from the very beginning has made it even more special.

SECRET TO OUR SUCCESS:

Alexandra: The secret to our success is innovation, keeping up with trends, and staying authentic to our target audience. In everything we create, we always think of our target audience and then create quality items that we think they would love. There are many competitors that try to mimic our concepts and do what we do, but we stay focused on the future and all the exciting things we have planned. There is a big difference between doing something with love and copy/pasting…and your customers will notice. Owning restaurants is a 24/7 job, so make sure you LOVE what you do!

Lin: Entrepreneurship is tough but so rewarding. I think the secret to our success is always being aware of the five following ideals:

  1. Get ready for the long haul. Profitability does not happen overnight, within six months or within two years. Be ready to be in the game for the long run.
  2. If you don’t love everything about it, don’t do it. Days turn into nights, which turn into weeks and months of constantly working. The phone never stops ringing, texts are constant, and there is always a fire to put out. But seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they walk through your doors, celebrate milestones with you, post photos of enjoyment on social media and become a part of your family make it all worth it.
  3. You CANNOT make everyone happy! You have to stick to what is true to your concepts and your visions. Some will love it, and some won’t—and that’s okay. Take constructive criticism to perfect your craft, but know that you will never please everyone and do not beat yourself up over it!
  4. Keep it simple! You don’t need to overdo it with your offerings. It’s so important to have new items, but rotate them strategically. Focus on quality, not quantity.
  5. Less is more.

Taylor Norris

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Business/Brand/Company: LIT Method

Title: Co-CEO & Co-Founder

Website: www.litmethod.com

MY BUSINESS:

LIT stands for low-impact training. Through our retail locations and On-Demand platform, we deliver a high intensity, low-impact workout designed to build your body, not break it. Our patent pending Strength Machine allows users to stream live and on-demand classes anytime, anywhere and perform over 500+ low-impact exercises.

IN THE BEGINNING:

We launched our first studio location right when Instagram was becoming extremely popular. We continued to post our classes and our community and we suddenly had organic press approaching us for our unique method – no running, no jumping and no weights. We wanted to break the norm of these bootcamp classes that were constantly breaking down our clients bodies and create a life-long method that delivered results. So we partnered with different physical therapists and hospitals to refer their patients to our low impact training method! We then were featured on SELF, Glamour, Forbes, E!, and so much more within the first year.

MOST REWARDING:

On March 15, 2020, we had to close down our retail location that focused on group fitness classes. Luckily, we already had a product that we were going to launch later in the year that took our studio experience and delivered it directly to people all across the nation. Our Strength Machine gained traction immediately due to the Pandemic and we were able to gain more users and help people stay healthy both mentally and physically during this unprecedented time.

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

Adaptability. Even if you have a game plan that you are looking to follow you always have to expect the unexpected. Embrace change, and find ways to take advantage of any situation.

Nicole Humphreys

Location: Ojai, CA

Business/Brand/Company: BANDITS

Title: Co-Founder & COO of BANDITS

Website: https://banditsbandanas.com/

MY BUSINESS:

Based in Southern California, BANDITS is on a mission to build a better bandana. Featuring exclusive original designs by artists from across the globe, BANDITS bandanas are as impactful as they are eye-catching. With each bandana sold, 10% of sales proceeds are donated to a charity chosen by the design’s artist, transforming this centuries old icon into a platform for positive change. Washable, durable, and ready for adventure, BANDITS bandanas are ethically handmade from sustainably-sourced, 100% Organic Cotton. From farm to forehead, BANDITS is building a bandana that is better for you, better for the planet, and better for the incredible people that help us to create them.

IN THE BEGINNING:

In 2017, after 10+ years working for non-profits, I moved to Bali with my husband Connor to pursue a dream of creating our own philanthropy-focused company. One day, on the back of a motorbike, traversing the island and fed up with our old, scratchy bandanas, Connor came up with the idea for BANDITS – a brand of sustainably sourced, artist-driven bandanas. I quickly joined forces with Connor as Co-Founder and COO with a mission to build BANDITS as a platform for positive change.

MOST REWARDING:

One of our core principles is giving back – for every bandana we sell, we donate 10% of sales to charities chosen by our design artists. Only two years after launching, BANDITS has created over 40 different artist-designed bandanas that have helped us donate over $58K in give back funds to artist-chosen charities around the world. Discovering and getting to support these charities doing such incredible work is by far the most rewarding part of our business!

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

For me, making self care a priority allows me to do my best work. It is crucial for me to start my day with mediation and some journaling while having coffee and a nourishing breakfast. Getting out into nature everyday and fitting in yoga/movement between my meetings also allows me to center myself. I find the more I take care of myself throughout the day, the more present and productive I am when I am working. It’s all about working smarter, not harder and making sure we are taking care of ourselves along the way!

Adelle Archer

Location: Austin, TX

Business/Brand/Company: Eterneva

Title: Co-Founder and CEO

Website: www.eterneva.com

MY BUSINESS:

I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Eterneva. Eterneva celebrates remarkable people and pets by turning their ashes into diamonds. It’s an intricate eight-month process to create these soulful remembrances, so we’ve created a journey as special as the diamond itself. From interactive video packaging to hand-written letters, to a courier service that hand-delivers the diamond, customers experience a level of thoughtfulness they’ve never seen before, which brings brightness to their grieving. We’re not just a diamond company, we’re a grief wellness brand.

IN THE BEGINNING:

In 2015, my mentor Tracey was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and given three months to live. She was only 47 years old. A senior executive at a tech company in Austin, she had already accomplished much yet really was just getting started. She was afraid that she would die before having had the chance to create a legacy. What she didn’t know was that she had already made her mark on the world. When news of her diagnosis spread, people wrote to her with stories of how she had personally impacted their lives. Tracey died knowing that she had left the legacy she always wanted. As a guardian of Tracey’s ashes, I was looking for a new way to memorialize her remarkable life, however found the memorial options for ashes to be underwhelming. I learned about turning ashes into diamonds, but the options available weren’t very transparent. I ultimately ended up teaming up with my business partner Garrett Ozar to create a more meaningful experience, one grounded in the concept of reconnecting with your loved one. It was quite the journey of building a business around grief wellness, while actually grieving, but I was able to bring my first-hand experience into the foundation of Eterneva. In the end, I chose to have Tracey’s ashes turned into a black diamond to capture her sparkling spirit, and ensure that her legacy lives on.

MOST REWARDING:

Starting Eterneva is by far my greatest achievement because it couldn’t be more aligned with the vision I drew out for my life: to create something that helps someone through a difficult period in their life and will continue to have a lasting impact after I’m gone. But what makes Eterneva all the more special is that it’s also been the vehicle through which I get to keep Tracey my mentor’s legacy alive, because she’s the life that started it all, and I get to talk about her every single day #RememberRemarkably

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

Honestly, the real superpower is how our team, our investors, our scientists, and our supply chain partners all deeply and authentically believe in our mission at Eterneva. We won’t let anyone do work with us that doesn’t personally and emotionally resonate with what we do. What makes this powerful is when everyone is working passionately in pursuit of a shared mission and you get to see the impact you’re having on others, your motivation comes from a different place, you do the best work of your life, and you develop herculean strength to overcome obstacles because the stakes are too high and you care too much about those you’re serving to ever let them down.

Alison Bernstein

Location: New York, NY

Business/Brand/Company: Suburban Jungle

Title: Founder and President

Website: www.suburbanjunglegroup.com

MY BUSINESS:

Suburban Jungle is an award-winning real estate advisory and tech platform dedicated exclusively to helping families leave URBAN for SUBURBAN with offices in NYC, DC, Chicago, LA, Dallas, SF, Boston, Philadelphia, South Florida, Austin and the Hamptons NY. Our team of objective strategists describe their jobs as 2% real estate and 98% psychologyand our greatest offering are knowledge of “the intangibles”… the intricacies of a town that only experts and locals will know. Our company is based on the premise that community is everything and with our new normal, communities are showing their colors- some more brightly than others. We are gathering new data daily to serve the needs of our evolving clientele- and we know the consumer is counting on us now more than ever.

IN THE BEGINNING:

The first thing I did was create a solution to a problem. Everyone was assuming you knew WHERE to look – so every search started with bedrooms and bathrooms. I knew I could create a better product that can revolutionize how people found a place to live. I created the concept, and then pitched to my entire network— as a “beta”…before I invested anything into infrastructure. This lead to my first deal, and from there we went all to building out the concept, company, technology and infrastructure.

MOST REWARDING:

What I most rewarding is doing something I truly love- and making a difference for each and every client we work with. When you love what you do, it never feels like work. Every day is new and exciting, and cultivating an entrepreneurial environment for all of the incredible people we employ has been the best part!

SECRET TO MY SUCCESS:

Company leaders are often inclined to become bogged down with business plans, projections etc. This only leads to analysis paralysis and before you know it, you have fallen behind. Business is dynamic, and with tech and the world changing so fast, it is important for a leader and his/her team to stay nimble and at the ready to embrace a new course. Chances are, if you are forging ahead with blinders on, you might not see that the end of the road is just up ahead.

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