Running a thriving business takes drive, determination, and a whole lot of hustle! We’re spotlighting seven fierce, fabulous, and fearless BELLA BOSSES who have founded their own companies and proven how a little belief and a big a leap of faith can land you a leading role in your own life.
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Geraldine “Gerry” Viggiani is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Clinical Drug and Alcohol Counselor, and is Certified in Perinatal Mental Health. She is also the CEO and Founder of Lotus Blossom Psychotherapy in Eatontown, New Jersey.
MY BUSINESS: I utilize my knowledge and expertise treating clients at my private practice, Lotus Blossom Psychotherapy. My specialties and passion are helping clients who have experienced any type of trauma, including birth trauma or perinatal mood disorders, like postpartum depression and anxiety and addiction. I know how severely these challenges can impact my clients’ lives, so I utilize evidence-based therapies that provide much needed relief from their symptoms, leave their traumas in the past, or achieve long-term sobriety.
HOW IT BEGAN: Ever since I was a teen, I was always that person who was there to listen to and provide feedback for my friend’s problems. So, it made perfect sense that I would go into this field. I believe it is a calling, and so I held on to the dream while I raised my children. When life allowed, I went back to school with the end goal of opening my own private practice.
MOST REWARDING: It is incredibly rewarding to play a part in a client’s recovery. Being a witness to another human’s growth and healing is just amazing. In addition, many therapists forget that private practice is a business first and so nurturing that role through networking, financial planning, and organizational skill sets are roles I also enjoy. The result is a thriving practice.
GRATEFUL FOR: Every day that my clients open their hearts and minds and allow me to guide them through the therapeutic process. It is awe-inspiring to witness their strengths and growth. Their strength also allows me to reflect on the gratitude for things big and small in my own life—family and friends, an amazing career, my dogs, my home, and the freedom to live the life I love.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: I found what I like to do and never gave up working toward that goal.
Elizabeth Feudale is a Licensed Esthetician, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Owner/Creator of Décolleté Skin and Wellnessin Morganville, New Jersey.
MY BUSINESS: We are a boutique skin and wellness studio that focuses on creating customized facial and body treatments that promote health and balance within our clients’ body, mind, spirit, and last but certainly not least, skin.
HOW IT BEGAN: I have always dreamt of owning my own business. As dorky as it sounds, I had the name Décolleté floating around my head since I was in school way back in 2006! In early 2018, my hairdresser and I were having a conversation about our careers, and I had casually mentioned always wanting to have my own skin care studio. Immediately, her response was, “I have a room if you ever want it.” I left there that day not only with a beautiful new hairdo, but also an opportunity and lots to think about.I actually let the idea float around my head for about five months, and then I started to research what I wanted to offer, and what would give me an edge in the industry and it finally and it came to me: Integrating CBD into my practice. The desire to be a leader in bringing into CBD skin care, finding an incredible skin care line (Color Up), and knowing the benefits of using this ground-breaking ingredient in my treatments became my driving force. In September 2018, I officially formed Décolleté.
MOST REWARDING: Honestly, the greatest, most rewarding part of doing what I do is helping people look and feel well every day. Doing the work we do, you tend to develop a unique relationship with each and every soul that walks through the door. That’s pretty neat. The fact that people choose us and trust in what we do is priceless. The compliments are always nice too!
GRATEFUL FOR: This calling that found me. The fact that I can help people attain their goals and am able to take part in their health and wellness journey is one of my life’s greatest treasures. I am grateful to have a career where I can balance work and family life, because as a working mom that could be tricky. I am also so grateful to work beside the most amazing women I know. I’m a lucky girl!
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Being authentic, being knowledgeable, and most important, being humble. I am filled to the brim with gratitude to be where I am right now.
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Denise Cesare is the Founder and Owner, T SUIT Fits Every Body To A T in Staten Island, New York.
MY BUSINESS: I created my exclusive designs and selected fabulous fabric that really focuses on the fit. I love helping women feel beautiful and sexy in my swimwear designs. I also developed my own organic summer travel essential products to compliment my swimwear line.
HOW IT BEGAN: I created something different out of necessity and created a makeshift swim idea. It was my first prototype that I would wear to swim club because I didn’t want to cover up all the time when I got out of the pool with my son.
MY MISSION: Body positivity! It’s not about your size, it’s fit that matters. My products and designs enhance your body.
TARGET CUSTOMER: Women who feel self-conscious about their bodies, and who do not enjoy shopping for swimwear.
WHAT I STRONGLY STAND AGAINST: Not embracing all body types, body shaming, and feeling less about yourself because of your size.
MOST REWARDING: It is an amazing feeling that I can help women feel good about themselves!SECRET TO MY
SUCCESS: My swimmable T SUIT Top/Dress solves the issue of covering up. It is a beautiful addition to enhance a swimsuit with confidence to even wear a bikini top.
I AM THANKFUL FOR: My husband and son for their support and believing in my dream, my mentors that I am learning from, and my friends who also believe in T SUIT and are cheering me on.
Jene Luciani is a Bestselling Author, On-air Contributor, Brand Ambassador, and Bra Guru based in Schenectady, New York.
MY BUSINESS: I built a brand around bras and body confidence. Literally, I sell support! I am your “bra-blem” solver and breast friend. But seriously, I help millions of women via national TV news and talk show appearances, personal appearances, and regularly on QVC as SOMA’s brand ambassador. I’ve also written hundreds of articles and a bestselling book about how to find the right bra, now in its second printing. I did the first ever TEDTalk on the topic and have doled out advice on “The Dr. Oz Show” and many others.
HOW IT BEGAN: I was a style editor at a magazine and was assigned an article on bras and foundations garments. It was shortly after Oprah did her famous “Bra intervention” episode and everyone was talking about it. I realized that there was a lack of resources for women (social media was just getting started), and I thought about writing a guidebook for women on bras. That turned into a beautiful 225-page illustrated book with every piece of information under the sun. “The Bra Book” was published by BenBella Books in 2009 and also carried in many bra retailers, including Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor. It was printed in a second edition in 2017.
MOST REWARDING: I hear from women all the time [about] how appreciative they are to have an advocate for something so personal and so prevalent in their lives! It’s gratifying being able to help other women like myself.
THE SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Perseverance. No matter how many setbacks occur, I keep on going. I never give up. And, I go with my gut. I feel that is important. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. I do what feeds my soul.
HOW I HANDLED THE NAYSAYERS: When I started this journey, many people laughed about a “book about bras” and didn’t understand why it was so important to me. That motivated me even more. Do what you feel is right and you are passionate about, and you’ll never go wrong!
Lisa Marie Latino is the Founder and Executive Producer of Long Shot Productions; Co-Creator, Executive Producer, and Host of “Hip New Jersey,” based in Jersey City, New Jersey.
MY BUSINESS: Long Shot Productions is a full-service video production company. We specialize in all types of corporate, commercial and entertainment production. We work with clients on every aspect of their vision, from initial planning to the finished product. Additionally, we produce all the video content for “Hip New Jersey,” a lifestyle website and local television show that showcases the best the Garden State has to offer.
HOW IT BEGAN: In 2009, when digital content was becoming mainstream, I realized I didn’t need to work for a big network to be creative or wait around to have a decision-maker finally get around to choosing me from an on-air gig. Personal and professional circumstances pushed me to forge my own path and let my talents shine my way.
THE SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Owning a business has taught me to “not sweat the small stuff.” Literally every single day of my life brings a different adventure, a new challenge to overcome. Learning how to problem-solve in a calm and succinct way has helped me in true pressure-packed situations. I try to treat everyone I encounter with the upmost respect. Whether it’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a production assistant, I give them the time and attention they deserve. That’s something you can’t fake; I’m a curious person by nature and I’m genuinely interested by their journey. I’m sure others can sense that enthusiasm. I tend to be attentive and nurturing to my staff. I always joke that I’m the one getting the interns coffee! You don’t get anywhere by yelling like a lunatic; you just throw the balance of the office off. Instead of just pointing out mistakes, I offer solutions on how to do things an alternative way. Let them be part of the solution. A lot of my clients truly become family, and we tend to get a lot of repeat business. I think it’s because we display a fierce work ethic, vast knowledge in the space, and efficiently deliver the results they are looking for.
Elisette Carlson is the Founder of SMACK! Media, in SAN DIEGO, California.
MY BUSINESS: SMACK! Media is a boutique branding, marketing, digital, and what I trademarked as Public Relation(ship)s® focused on authentic brands in sports, fitness, wellness, and nutrition. We help authentic people and brands achieve relevance while driving positive conversation and change in the performance and wellness spaces. We are female-founded and owned. I am also board member at San Diego Sport Innovators, and I love working with entrepreneurs, alongside mentoring others. I also lecture and write on topics that revolve around marketing, PR, targeting women, being authentic, and integrating wellness into the workplace.
HOW IT BEGAN: I have always been entrepreneurial as I grew up traveling around the world with my father promoting World Cup soccer events and athletes. Whether it was drafting proposals, coordinating hotels, executing game-day logistics, or traveling to South America on scouting trips, the key principles of integrity, eye contact, and the value of strong relationships were deeply ingrained in my mind as pillars for excellent business practices. I saw this was lacking at many companies and it made for a less pleasant work environment where people referred to their day-to-day as simply a “job.” I knew that I wanted to do something meaningful where I could wake up every day with a passion to help companies grow and do so in a more personal and human manner.
MOST GRATEFUL FOR: The ability to only work with people and companies I admire and believe in. Throughout my work, I have developed incredible friendships that cross over into work relationships; it’s magic when you can have both, because you care about what you do and want to win together.
WHY IS TEAMWORK SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?I am a two-time NCAA All-American coxswain for rowing and a national champion in both Canada and the US. Having competed at Princeton on the women’s rowing team, I learned the values of true leadership and team-building, and what most people don’t understand or know how to do—extract the best from every individual with whom you surround yourself.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Remaining authentic and developing strong teams. I am fortunate enough to have worked with my colleagues at SMACK! Media long term because we have built a team where we trust and care about each other relentlessly. It sounds cliché, but teamwork truly does make the dream work.
Marcy Cortez is the President of LAI Financial Group LLC in Freehold, New Jersey.
MY BUSINESS: LAI Financial Group provides accounting/bookkeeping services on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to small businesses so that have all the financial tools they need to profitably operate. Our goal is to service our clients in a professional, efficient, and cost-effective manner, always keeping our motto to reduce overhead, increase profits, and improve cash flow as the foundation of our business.
HOW IT BEGAN: After working in corporate accounting for more than 25 years, I decided it was time to devote my knowledge and talents to my own business. I am a certified QuickBooks specialist with extensive accounting, management, and human resources experience. LAI Financial Group LLC grew out of my need to share my financial and business acumen with the community.
WHY OUTSOURCING MAKES SENSE: Small business entrepreneurs like to think they can do it all, but even the most organized business owners sometimes need some help running their businesses. To get that help, many business owners have turned to outsourcing. While the word may conjure up images of sending work overseas, small business owners can use outsourcing to their advantage by giving various functions to companies that have the professional expertise to handle them. Business owners have turned to outsourcing to handle bookkeeping, accounting, payroll and human resources, and marketing, among other areas of operation. Outsourcing these functions allows business owners to hand over the reins to experts who are familiar with those areas of business. This gives the entrepreneur a chance to focus on what they do best—the actual running of their business.
MOST REWARDING: I love the opportunity to help a business owner see the light at the end of the tunnel, whether it’s setting up their financial record keeping system or showing them where they can reduce their expenses and increase profits or that they are actually showing a profit after a period of losses.
GRATEFUL FOR: The wonderful relationships and friendships I’ve made over the past seven+ years.
SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: Since I am a “solopreneur,” I make my own hours. While this affords me the opportunity to make a nail appointment at 10:30am on a Thursday, it also gives me the flexibility to be there at 10:30pm to answer a client’s question or calm them down when they’ve received a letter from the IRS. Customer service 24/7 is what sets LAI Financial Group LLC apart from the competition.