Working Women Wednesday: Lora DiFranco

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Free Period Press, Lora DiFranco.

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Lora DiFranco

Owner of Free Period Press

Your Local Girl Gang (YLGG): Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Lora DiFranco (LD): Free Period Press makes nice paper things for a thoughtful and creative life.  In a world full of technology designed to steal your attention, we create tools to help you slow down, take care of yourself, and focus on what’s most important to you.  Our most popular products are our Habit Calendar, Self Care Zine, and Schedule Magic Notebook.

We launched in 2013 with a series of adult coloring books and evolved over time to be more focused on grounded productivity.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

LD: I don’t think I had one job in mind, but I knew I’d be trying to make the world a better place (as cheesy as that sounds). I remember considering being an artist, teacher, joining the Peace Corps, and becoming a nun!

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

LD: I highly recommend creating a support group of other business owners, collaborators, and friends that will hold you accountable, provide advice and feedback, and give you a pep talk when you need it. Don’t be afraid to make it official-- set up a regular time to check in with each other. It can be so easy to get stuck in your own head with business stuff-- but you’re not alone!


YLGG: Have any mistakes shaped the way your run your business today?

LD: Um, YES. For the first four years of running Free Period, I made a ton of money mistakes. I would “reinvest” everything I made into my business, but not in a smart way. The book Profit First really helped me view my business finances similar to my personal finances-- I created guidelines for what to pay myself, what to save for future projects, and what to put aside for operating expenses. I highly recommend that book to anyone starting a business.

 

YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

LD: To-do lists! I feel totally lost at sea without them. I’m trying to be better at enjoying an unstructured day, but… I’m a work-in-progress. :)


YLGG:Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

LD: I find a lot of inspiration from women like Miranda July and Janelle Monae who don’t try to fit in, but rather totally own what makes them stand out.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Barrie Spang

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Sapphire Pear, Barrie Spang.

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Your Local Girl Gang (YLGG): Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Barrie Spang (BS): Sapphire Pear is a full service interior design studio and home decor store which opened in November of 2015. Sapphire Pear is all about color, good design, and getting our clients to challenge their design comfort zone a little bit.  

We help clients from something as simple as selecting wallpaper for a Powder Room to all design decisions for an entire new construction home. It is very important to get to know our clients, truly listen to what they are looking for, and design their spaces with them in mind.  We learn how they live, who resides in the home (kids, adult parents, pets), what they like to do, what their interests are. All of that plays into how we design a space for our clients. We design for the life our clients are living. If you look through all of our design work, you will see a lot of variety, and I am so proud of that! That means we are capturing our client’s personalities in their homes and delivering something unique.

YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?  

BS: I think I always thought I would eventually own my own business. I had been working at another local interior design studio for 20+ years when I started to dream of starting my own interior design firm. The idea grew and evolved over time and eventually became what Sapphire Pear is today.

The space where we are now became available and I just knew we had to rent it. It was the perfect location & size. It also opened up the opportunity to have a storefront which led to our Home Decor Shop. Coming up with the name was far more difficult. It took months to find something that fit, was memorable, and wasn’t already a taken handle on social media. I had been thinking about colors and how they really represent what I wanted to the company to be about. I started to think of my favorite color, Pear Green, and I reached out to Ashleigh Clark, the designer who has been with the company from the earliest stages, and asked what her favorite colors were. She responded right away, Sapphire Blue and Coral. Sapphire Blue,  I knew we had the name right away! I immediately jumped on social media to grab the handle, purchased the domain, and started to imagine the branding.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

BS: Honestly, it was always interior design. My dad remembers over hearing me when I was about nine  years old telling a visiting cousin that I “wanted to make people’s houses prettier”. After our family cookout that day, he pulled me aside to ask me about what I said and told me that is an actual profession called Interior Design. He then made it more real by explaining that Lee and Quen, men I knew well as they helped us with building our new home, were interior designers. It made it clear to me what that meant & I started to dream about being an interior designer.

I would sit for hours on the floor of Lee & Quen’s design studio looking through wallpaper books as my parents met with them about our home. We moved a great deal when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time in their studio. My dad sells real estate and I think my parents were “flipping houses” before that was actually a thing. I am sure that helped form what I wanted to do for a living as well.

 YLGG: What characteristic do you most admire in other entrepreneurial women?

BS: Organizational skills! As a creative person, I am often scattered, jumping from project to project, getting interrupted by phone calls, drop bys, and work emergencies. A lot of times, I  feel like I am not organized. I grow envious when I read about female entrepreneurs and they reference their flow charts, planners, color coded calendars, scheduling tasks, white boards, etc… I yearn for that skill.

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

BS: It will be the hardest, most time consuming thing you ever do, but it is totally worth it. I knew starting a business would be hard and a great deal of work, but I completely underestimated just how hard and just how much work it would be. That said it is completely addicting. It is a rush and I am so glad I did it. There is nothing more rewarding than building a business, creating systems, putting protocols in place and then see them start to work. Opening Sapphire Pear is the single thing I am most proud of in my life and I highly recommend to anyone thinking about it to go for it.


YLGG: What do you like most about your workspace?

BS: I love that our space feels like a home. We have had clients and shoppers comment as they come in that our store feels so homey and I love that! We have actually had a client fall asleep on one of our sofas. That is a true compliment to my book. Having our office spaces with in the store makes our workspace so creative.


YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

BS: Coffee with Simon. Every morning I get up early with my dog Simon. While he eats breakfast, I make coffee and then we cuddle up on the sofa in my Living Room during cold months or the one on my screen porch in the Summer. While he goes back to sleep, I sip my coffee while  I scroll through emails and texts, check my to do lists, brainstorm design ideas, watch a little news, and all that helps gets me mentally prepared for the day. It is a ritual I really miss when I travel.


YLGG: Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

 BS: I have always admired my business partner, Betty Kemper, the founder of Kemper House, since I was a little girl. Having been family friends for decades, I watched her raise her large family of five children with the appearance of ease and always with a lot  humor.

As her children grew older I got to witness her transition into a business owner. After watching her mother-in-law suffer almost two decades with Alzheimer’s, she recognized the need for better care for memory support.

She created Kemper House and broke the mold on how to  design a living environment where the memory support residents can feel safe, happy, and stimulated. I was beyond excited when she agreed to be my partner in Sapphire Pear. I most admire her for her hard work, kindness, and grace in which she runs her businesses. She is kind to everyone and that has left a huge impression on me.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Jessica Parks

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is Jessica Parks, Owner of Lotus Life Coaching, Inc.

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Your Local Girl Gang: Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Jessica Parks: Lotus Life Coaching, Inc. features the life coaching services of Jessica Parks, a Gestalt Professional Certified Coach and Cleveland State University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Jessica specializes in providing a holistic approach to helping her clients enrich their mind, body and spirit. Lotus Life Coaching services are personalized for the individual and help clients with self-discovery and determining their purpose.

Lotus Life Coaching launched last January (2018)  and has been growing ever since!

 Mission Statement: Lotus Life Coaching offers one-on-one coaching encouraging clients to rise above the stigma of societal norms and be themselves by addressing self-care, increasing motivation, overcoming obstacles and practicing gratitude. Lotus Life Coaching can help you break through roadblocks that are holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself so that you can radiate your light into the world.

 YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?

JP: My business is a complete reflection of who I am, where I have come from, and what I want to be in the future. After meeting one of my professors in college while earning my Bachelors in Psychology degree, who was also a life coach, I became interested in pursuing that path. From there, I researched The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and applied for their coaching program. I was the youngest applicant to ever apply and eventually complete the program! I knew coaching was my purpose so I took a leap of faith and started Lotus Life Coaching.

 Why “Lotus”? Lotus is the only flower that grows from mud and when blooms is completely free from the mud underneath it. This is symbolic of where I have come from and where my clients come from. I believe they have the power to write their own narratives, instead of falling into the ones that have been written for them.

YLGG: What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

JP: “Don’t compare your chapter 2 to someone else’s chapter 20”

 YLGG: What characteristic do you most admire in other entrepreneurial women?

JP: The characteristic I admire most in other entrepreneurial women is the ability to lift other women up. When we are put in a position to grow and prosper, it is important that we rise together instead of putting someone down to make yourself look more successful. One woman’s dream is never more important than another. When we realize this, forward movement happens and we foster an attitude of women’s empowerment.

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

JP: Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from living your dream. As a business owner, you will hear lots of “No’s”, and it is easy to feel discouraged and question if this was the right thing to do. Just trust that every “No” is preparing you for an even bigger “YES”. Everything happens for a reason and if you believe this is where you are supposed to be, then it is!

YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

JP: Gratitude.  Even on the bad days, I am grateful for the lessons that are revealed to me. When we express gratitude we tell the universe that we appreciate what is happening and we are ready for more positive things to come our way.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Andrea Pierce-Naymon

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is Owner of OY-L, Andrea Pierce-Naymon.

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Your Local Girl Gang: Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Andrea Pierce-Naymon: I started OY-L in 2016 with the mission to find a non-toxic yet luxury skincare that would be safe for my daughters and myself and for every other Mom who would be concerned about what they put on their bodies. I wanted to be a brand of “beauty without secrets” meaning that when you read the label, you knew what was in the product, not a bunch of chemicals you have no idea what they do or whether they were safe to use.

 YLGG: When and how did the idea for OY-L come to you?

AP-N: When my youngest daughter was 16 she came down with an illness no doctor was able to diagnose. It took 2 years, many consults, a misdiagnosis before being diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). During this time I was sitting in the hospital during countless tests and admissions and wondering what it was that was making her sick. I started reading labels on everything from household products to cosmetics. I googled the words I didn’t know and was horrified by what I learned. Though my daughter’s illness was not a dermatological one, I started looking into natural cosmetics. Through much research and consulting with a cosmetic chemist, I came up with formulas that were safe and also effective.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

AP-N: ER doctor

YLGG: What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

When I was interviewing companies to develop my website, I had 3 interviews with the one company I thought would do the best job.  But by the third interview there was less interest and an uncomfortable meeting. The guy said, “in reality, I could build you a website and take your money, but my best advice would be to take that money and get rebranded!” Yikes, I was pissed! But what happened was that I did take his advice, worked with a Cleveland ad agency who refined my label, went to a beauty expo in New York and got tons of press because of the rebranding. It was a Saks Fifth Ave buyer that came to my booth and told me she loved my brand and 6 months later, I was selling on Sak’s website. The BEST advice, I ever got!!

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

AP-N: It takes a village! Starting a company is not easy. You need support from family, friends and business professionals that want to help. You need a lawyer, accountant, marketing, reputable suppliers and employees. They all don’t work out at first, so know when it’s time to let go and find other support. Realize at first you are going to have to do everything from ordering, making product, throwing out the trash and mopping the floors. If you love what you are doing, even mopping the floors is exciting!

YLGG: What do you like most about your workspace?

AP-N: With my initial investment, I was able to secure space at the Akron Global Business Accelerator , now called Bounce Innovation Hub. It is the old BF Goodrich plant that has been revitalized. It houses many start-up companies from tech to medical to software companies. It is such a cool entrepreneurial space.

YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

AP-N: Besides my Starbucks, I could not go without my pets. I have two senior cats and a rescued French bulldog. They are so much fun and great stress relievers. They are also the reason, I wouldn’t use any products that are tested on animals.

YLGG: Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

AP-N: Jo Malone

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.