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.
Masala Bhangra® – New York City
My Business: Masala Bhangra® is an Indian dance-based program designed for people of all ages and fitness levels who love to stay physically active. Specifically, it introduces high-energy Bhangra and Bollywood dance movements in an easy-to-follow fitness format, and is a mechanism by which thousands of people have been moved, touched, and inspired to become physically active. With the dance choreography directly influenced by the music and dance of modern Bhangra and Bollywood styles, Masala Bhangra is a fresh and exciting addition to the world of fitness and dance.
My Reinvention Journey: I was doing PR for the beauty, fitness, and fashion industries. I represented pretty amazing products and got the media to talk about them in a positive light. There were some successful products that we still use today. While I was working at KRPR in Beverly Hills, I used to teach aerobics as well. My side hobby was fitness and doing all the aerobics classes. It was around this time that my father passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 47. My mom was 40 years old at the time. It got me thinking that I have to take my aerobic background and combine it with my Indian culture and create an Indian dance workout that all the aunties and uncles can do so they don’t suffer a heart attack.
Leap of Faith: I knew at a young age that staying healthy and fit was the way to a longer life. While working at the PR agency, I put together my first workout video and launched it in 2000. I then decided to take my PR skills and apply it to my own business. Today, I am celebrating 20 years of Masala Bhangra being born with over 15 workout videos and about 250 instructors in 15 countries.
Secret to My Success: My secret has been that this passion of mine of getting people up and moving turned into a mission. It was my mission to have people try Masala Bhangra®, stay fit with my program, and learn something new. When the world starting to react to my DVDs in a positive way, it fed my soul. There was something inside of me that felt good knowing that I was making a difference in someone’s life.
LynetteWork – Freehold, NJ
My Business: LynetteWork meets with small business owners to find out what challenges are keeping them from taking their businesses to the next level. We customize and create a game plan to put systems in place and implement strategies that will help their businesses grow. Our focus is to free up time for the business owners so they can spend more time doing what they do best and more effectively run their companies.
My Reinvention Journey: I reached a pivotal point in my life after I had been running my financial business for over 15 years. I had trained many people over this time to become independent leaders, ran my own office, made a great income, and had associates open their own offices. My kids were getting older so I had more free time, but I felt stuck and in some ways, unfulfilled. I made a difference in thousands of people’s lives financially but I was missing something. I knew there was so much more I could give, but I didn’t know how exactly I was going to go about it.
One morning I decided to go onto Meetup.com and create a small networking group for women. We started to meet the next week at my office. I was excited to connect with new people. I knew I could use the skills I had developed over the years to give back and help women grow their businesses regardless of the industry they were in.
Perfect Timing: One day a woman came to a meeting—she has since become my business partner for the last eight years. We went for coffee together to get to know more about one another and talk. She had skills I didn’t have, and I had skills she didn’t have. We were excited to find we had a common goal that we were both extremely passionate about—mentoring women entrepreneurs and creating a support system to help them thrive. We wanted to make a difference in as many women’s lives we possibly could. LynetteWork was formed a few years later because of the need to assist these women not only with their finances but in all aspects of building their company.
My newest venture I recently added to my repertoire was to put my 23+years of sales to work by becoming a sales representative for BELLA. It’s exciting and sometimes challenging, and I am looking forward to taking it to the next level.
Secret to my Success: I can honestly say what had the most impact on the success of my business has been my ability to network, make connections, and build relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs. Throughout my journey, these connections opened the door to so many different opportunities that helped my business grow and thrive. Also, I’ve always had the willingness to learn new things and be ready to take on new challenges. My passion to help and support women entrepreneurs is what drives me and gets me out of bed excited in the morning.
The EveryBody Wrap® – New York City
My Business: The EveryBody Wrap® is a simple dressing system that flatters every body shape, size, and age. The design works miracles to accentuate a woman’s best shape, while the technical fabrics lift, mold, and hold to boost her confidence. Its endless versatility transforms any look or attitude on a whim, empowering women to reinvent and do more with less. It’s truly a fashion game-changer.
My Reinvention Journey: I started designing teeny-tiny knit bikinis over 10 years ago but despite eight Sports Illustrated Swimsuit features and other successes, something was missing. I saw how real women cringed at the word “bikini,” becoming crippled by inhibitions and pressure to be swimsuit-model “perfect.” I wanted to change this and saw a void in the market for flattering, supportive clothing that empowers, which crystalized my purpose—to help women love and embrace themselves exactly as they are. Enter The EveryBody Wrap®
Wise Advice: Second act careers come with an experience gap that education can help close. I earned a second degree in Image Consulting at age 50 to establish myself as an expert in body shape, fit, and proportion. It has given me authority on size diversity and better informs all design decisions. Street cred matters, so get the necessary credentials to legitimize your career pivot and accelerate your way to the top of your field.
Challenge—ACCEPTED: “The EveryBody Wrap®” is a lofty promise that I take seriously. I knew the material and design had to be everything, so I spent four years sourcing fabric and made over 100 prototypes nailing the design. It was a grueling process but necessary to ensure the brand promise. Staying close to my higher purpose to serve women got me through the darker moments. Women need this!
Secret to my Success: The fabric is The EveryBody Wrap®’s superpower. It contours and sculpts without binding and has intelligent stretch and recovery to hold shape all day long—and beyond. It provides emotional support like nothing I’ve ever seen before, transforming women into their most beautiful, confident, and happy selves. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Jersey Cookie Girl – Millstone, NJ
My Business: We create custom sugar cookies for all occasions.
My Reinvention Journey: I was previously an architect; the career change came with the gift of my youngest child. He is brilliantly autistic and is the reason I created Jersey Cookie Girl. Working with clients to create custom cookies for their events allows me the ability to express my creativity in the form of edible architecture.
Overcoming a New Challenge: The only difficulty in the beginning was the isolation, since I enjoy working in a team environment. I generated more business and hired a staff to once again create a design studio full of positive energy.
Secret to my Success: Working hard, providing the best customer service possible, being open to receiving constructive criticism, and being a part of a networking group that has endless expertise and support.
All4UDad – Miller Place, NY
Photo credit (both images) – Wild Ginger Images
My Business: After losing my father in a tragic crash, I dedicated my life as an influential speaker to educate, encourage, and empower individuals to make smarter choices behind the wheel.
My Reinvention Journey: On St. Patrick’s Day 2006, I received a phone call that no one ever wants to get. I was told my father, Patrick Mapleson, was hit and killed by a distracted driver. I was devastated and heartbroken. I turned my tragedy into advocacy and began speaking in high schools, businesses, and highway safety conferences about the dangers and deadly consequences of distracted driving. I left my secure position as a program director with a non-profit agency to pursue this new venture. It has proven to be the most rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Saving Lives: Texting while driving is a deadly epidemic. It has now surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of death and accidents among teens ages 16-20. Too many lives are being lost. Our teens are freshman drivers and it is vital we ensure their safety by showing them the hazards of distracted driving. My high school presentations are a powerful approach to helping teens understand the deadly consequences of distracted driving. Sharing my father’s story, along with a well-designed, audiovisual presentation, keeps teens engaged and makes a true connection to their hearts and minds.
Overcoming the Challenge: As with many people, I was extremely fearful of public speaking. My legs would shake uncontrollably for the first several months of presenting, but my passion for saving lives was much stronger than having shaky legs.
Secret to my Success: Receiving such positive feedback from my audience has definitely empowered me to keep pushing forward with this endeavor. Knowing I have inspired so many people to make changes while driving is the most rewarding part of making this career change.
Wise Advice: Your purpose is driven by reason. When you find that reason, believe in it and the rest will fall into place.
Diane Turton, Realtors – Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
My Business: Diane Turton, Realtors is a full-service residential and commercial real estate company with sales offices strategically located throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey and its corporate headquarters in Point Pleasant Beach. Since 1985, the Diane Turton, Realtors name has achieved renowned recognition as the premier real estate company in the markets they serve.
The Diane Turton, Realtors brand is the recognized leader in providing complete residential and commercial real estate ownership services and support. Our distinguished affiliations with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and Mayfair International ensures an extremely powerful domestic and international visibility for Diane Turton, Realtors. As a full-service real estate company, Diane Turton, Realtors conveniently offers in-house title, insurance, relocation, and referral services. Through our professional marketing campaigns, web-based technologies, and social media networks, we are best positioned to reach the global real estate market.
My Reinvention Journey: I graduated college and became a real estate agent, following in the footsteps of my dad. I always loved real estate, and I realized that I had the right skill set and drive to own and manage my own real estate brokerage company.
I was a women entrepreneur at a time (1985) when the real estate industry (and most businesses) were led and managed by male business owners. I enjoyed the challenge, and from day one I forged ahead to prove my worth and make my mark on the industry. My 34 successful years as the head of my own real estate brokerage, with 16 offices covering 80 miles of the Jersey Shore, has been a dream come true.
I take great pride in my personal and business success. I have raised a beautiful family, have a wonderful husband who is my partner in the business, and have the adoration of my sons and their spouses and children. As in the day I founded Diane Turton, Realtors, my company continues to operate based on the following core values: Trust, Communication, Service, Knowledge and Courtesy. And to those who 34 years ago tried to keep a woman from rising to the top—I take great solace in proving them wrong.
Secret to my Success: Hard work, the support of a loving family, and never fearing rejection.
ALAINA “LAINEY” ACOSTA
VerucaStyle Boutique – Matawan, NJ
My Business: My gift and accessories boutique showcases designers and brands that give back, local talent, and items made by yours truly.
My Reinvention Journey: I worked as a sales and brand manager within the fashion industry for over 15 years. Upon making Matawan, NJ my new home base two years ago, there was a strong sense that this would be the perfect opportunity to create a foundation and connection, set deep roots here, and turn my dream shop into something that does good for the community.
In the Beginning: VerucaStyle Boutique started as an online boutique featuring new jewelry designers, and has morphed into a brick and mortar boutique with an expanded selection of items to include home decor, beauty and bath items, and fun unique gifts. The name was suggested by a dear friend based on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” after building an assortment of offerings that anyone would want to spoil themselves with, and now featuring collections of goods that give back. It’s my own kind of candy store with purpose.
The Challenge of a New Start: The hardest part of making such a big change is creating new connections and asking for help, and we all need to ask for help when we need it. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to so many people in the community who helped me grow my business and get involved in the community.
Secret to my Success: Absolute perseverance—even when the tank is on empty—and surrounding myself with people who keep me sharp.
Wise Advice: Trust your gut, and practice harnessing that intuition. It is a powerful tool that has served me well—and I am still working on harnessing. And never be afraid to ask for help!