…And the Business Makes Three

And the Boutique Makes Three

GILLETTE AND ZAK WING vividly remember the day in 2009 when they were walking down Atlantic Avenue on the cusp of Brooklyn Heights, peering into an abandoned store front and casually fantasizing about opening an antiques business. A local real estate agent was walking by and noticed the couple. “He basically said, ‘You want it? It’s yours.’ ” Mrs. Wing said.

 

Three years and two babies later, they are now the proprietors of Holler & Squall, a meticulously edited furniture and oddities shop capitalizing on the neighborhood’s old-is-cutting-edge aesthetic (the store’s name is from a Jimmy Martin bluegrass song).

Mr. and Mrs. Wing are part of a new generation of mom and pops that has thrived in regentrified Brooklyn, doling out attainable indulgences (freshly baked vegan cookies, American-made chinos, really good cheese) to customers who prefer to know their proprietors by name. On the surface, these “co-preneurials” seem to be living a new American dream.

But not so fast. Behind these perfectly imperfect facades, there is often mold on the cheese, wrinkles in the chinos.

“Merchandising is probably where it gets the hardest because it’s more sensitive,” Mrs. Wing said. “It’s one thing to tell the other person they did the accounting wrong. But taste is a little bit different. I don’t think either of us is very delicate about telling each other we think something looks like …” Well, let’s not stir up any more trouble.

“We’re both the bosses and we butt heads a little,” said Adele Berne, 32, who with her husband, Michael Kuhle, 35, owns a Smith Street clothing boutique, Epaulet, and a second store in Manhattan. “I’m like: ‘We should be happy. We’re working together!’ ”

In 2005 Dawn Casale, a former buyer at Barneys New York and founder of One Girl Cookies, decided to open a cozy bakery in Cobble Hill with Dave Crofton, a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. The two had met and married in a whirl of flour worthy of a Nancy Meyers movie.

But what Ms. Casale dubbed an “urban Mayberry” in the company cookbook soon became a thoroughly exhausting endeavor.

“We actually had a really great lifestyle before the shop opened,” said Ms. Casale, 41. “Because it was Monday through Friday. Then the brick and mortar happened and we were working like animals. We were a slave to the business.”

Mr. Crofton, 42, said it took the couple five years before they could take a three-day vacation.

“All we know is spending every day together, and that’s our relationship,” he said. (The business has since expanded to Dumbo.) “And talking about it in the morning and at night. And we love it. But if you were 30 and had two separate careers and you suddenly jam yourself into owning a business together, I don’t know how you would do it. I think you would kill each other.”

Indeed, a joint business venture has hardly proved a fount of bliss for Ralph Gorham, 54, and Susan Povich, 49, the proprietors of Red Hook Lobster Pound.

A furniture maker and former contractor, Mr. Gorham had tried for years to persuade his wife, a successful lawyer and graduate of the International Culinary Center, to start a business with him.

“Whoever made the most money in the house always rules the roost,” Mr. Gorham said. “And that never sat well with me.”

After one vacation of gorging on cheap, delicious lobster in Maine, he came up with the idea of hauling the live creatures on ice back to Brooklyn in his pickup, cutting out the middlemen.

Ms. Povich at first thought her husband was out of his mind, but gamely went in with him on a no-fuss picnic-style shellfish shack on Van Brunt Street. They were in the black within three weeks.

But though Mr. Gorham said he believed opening the Lobster Pound with his wife strengthened his position in the marriage, Ms. Povich had several bones to pick.

“I would say there are at least 10 days throughout the course of the year where I wake up and say I’m going to divorce him,” she said. “We are huge fans of each other, but we fight like cats and dogs. And we were never this way. Those arguments are all about the business. It’s really hard to remember to enjoy your relationship and your life because you’re just so dog tired. Date night doesn’t exist. Date night is literally like, ‘No one is here, it’s 7 p.m., what can we order on Netflix?’ ”

The couple also believe the constant thrum of shoptalk (the restaurant is six blocks from their house) has had a detrimental effect on their daughter, 7, and son, 13.

“The fact is, your family suffers,” Ms. Povich said. “It’s all work all the time. At dinner — well, after the first few years when we could come home for dinner — the kids are begging us, ‘Can we please not talk about work?’ That’s their mantra. But within 10 minutes Ralph and I are having an argument about it. And we can’t leave. We have to be in troubleshooting range.”

Mr. Gorham agreed. “It’s getting to the point where it’s affecting the kids and our quality of life,” he said. “We need to get one step removed.”

The Casale-Crofton team has also struggled with dialing back the industry-speak in front of their 3-year-old son.

“We’ll be deep in a conversation about work and he’ll be doing something and then all of a sudden he’ll say, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Ms. Crofton said. “And we’ll always say ‘the cookie shop.’ I have this feeling like, ‘Oh, my God, is this kid going to grow up thinking like all they do is talk about that damn cookie shop?’ ”

What about the working parents’ fantasy of toting the little ones along to scamper about the cake stands and antique coffee tables?

“We don’t bring him here,” Ms. Casale said incredulously. “The kitchen is a dangerous place. And we’d have to give him like 7,000 whoopie pies. How do you bring a 3-year-old and say you can’t have anything?”

Then there is dealing with employees, who can seem like unruly stepchildren themselves.

“When you have a couple that runs a business, they never know who to go to,” Ms. Povich said. “Or I have my crew that goes to me and he has his crew that goes to him. They can make it really difficult. They can drive a wedge.”

Ms. Casale said she would not be surprised if one employee, who is also an actress, wrote a play about her bosses.

“I feel like sometimes she looks at us like we’re Archie and Edith,” Ms. Casale said. “Like we’re having the same old arguments.”

The Wings get by with only one hired hand, which perhaps keeps the dynamic simpler.

“I worked for a couple that has a business together and they would literally fight in front of us,” Ms. Wing said. “And we’d get pulled into it. That was like watching your parents fight. The last thing you want is to witness somebody else’s misery, especially in a retail setting, where I feel like we all put on a big happy face.”

One couple whose happy faces seem genuine are Michele Pravda and Patrick Watson, who oversee four food and wine endeavors in Brooklyn: Smith & Vine, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, the JakeWalk and Stinky Bklyn. Maybe that’s because they no longer have a strict down-the-middle collaboration.

During a recent visit to Stinky, executives from the Brooklyn Nets were being wooed at a tasting by Mr. Watson in hopes of supplying the Barclays Center’s corporate suites with cured ham and creamy rennets. Ms. Pravda offered coffee and doughnuts to a reporter, laughing wearily as she recalled dust-ups over the placement of Parmesan on a shelf or Mr. Watson’s obsession with researching fudge while his wife labored over product descriptions and wine pairings on four hours of sleep.

Both used to work 80-hour weeks. But after the birth of their daughter, Ms. Pravda decided to step back from the businesses, though she still subs for absent staff members and manages the books.

“I always hear, ‘Oh, I never see you anymore,’ ” she said. And “I was there all the time. I’m still obviously having some issues about it. It’s hard.”

But the dream of small-town entrepreneurial bliss in the big city is compelling, and even when the issues overwhelm the enterprise, some couples keep on hauling, baking and folding.

In 1998 Melissa Murphy opened Sweet Melissa Patisserie on Court Street in Cobble Hill with her husband at the time, Wade Hagenbart, with $60,000 from selling a Corvette he had won at the telecommunications company where he used to work. They eventually divorced, due to, as Ms. Murphy said, “a combination of things,” but continued to run the business together for two more years before they split their ventures (he got a bar they owned, she ended up with the bakery).

“It was pretty awful,” Ms. Murphy said. “The problem is, if one’s person’s stressed with their job and the other one is not in the same place, you have someone who can balance it out. But when both of you are stressed about it, it’s hard to find a way out of that feeling.”

And yet Ms. Murphy is taking another shot at the Brooklyn mom-and-pop ideal with her fiancé, Chris Rafano, who runs the wholesale arm of her confectionery.

“In my relationship now, I’m constantly warning, this is what you have to be careful of, you have to know when to shut it off,” she said.

The pair hoped to marry this month after a six-year engagement, but those plans are on hold.

“Every time we save money to put toward the wedding, the walk-in fridge goes down or we need a new washer,” Ms. Murphy said.

 

 

ALL OURS – Do couples do best when they pool all their money, old-fashioned as it may seem?

Whenever my husband, Mike, and I talk about merging all our money, I flash to the purchases I don’t want him to know about. For instance: I don’t want him to know I blew $400 on a Rachel Comey blouse to wear to his birthday party. I imagine what he would say if he saw the receipt. “Is it made of gold?” or “I like you just as much in a T-shirt.” I can justify the expense to myself. I can afford occasional fripperies; it’s important to me to feel attractive at big events. But that’s me, not him. As for his habits, do I really want to know how much he spends on DVDs, when most of them are sitting in the corner of our living room, still in their plastic wrapping? The question recalls for me Elizabeth Weil’s quip in the New York Times Magazine about her foodie husband’s predilection for purchasing haute staples like Blue Bottle coffee at $18 a pound: “We spent far more money on food than we did on our mortgage.

In our quest for a system of financial management, my fear that Mike and I will judge each other is one of my hang-ups about the Common Pot method, my name for putting all our money in joint accounts. Another worry is that I’d lose some fundamental, hard-won autonomy.

Later this week, I’ll explore what I call the Sometime Sharer method for couple finance, a combination of joint and individual accounts; and the Independent Operator system, which entails strict financial separation. Today, I’m focusing on the Common Pot, and what I have to report comes largely as a happy surprise for me. The Common Potters I spoke to, drawn from the survey I posted on Slate last fall, were largely accepting of each others’ spending habits. And rather than feeling confined by old-fashioned mores, many couples said that sharing all their resources is a tangible demonstration of their bond to each other. At the same time, my reporting didn’t assuage all my concerns that this method stifles individual freedom—particularly for women.

I’ll start with Tamara, 28, a lawyer, and her husband Peter, 27, a paralegal. (I’ve changed their names at their request.) Tamara and Peter met as trumpet players in their high-school marching band, which means they’ve been together since before they had driver’s licenses. They started pooling their money when they moved in together during college. They continue to pool all their earnings and savings, and though at the moment Tamara makes nearly four times what Peter does, she does not begrudge any of his spending. “I can’t see myself getting mad at him for splurging on a little something,” she says. This is Peter’s last month at his job: He just quit so he can figure out his true calling, and Tamara says her attitude toward his spending will not change even when he’s not bringing in a salary. “All money is our money,” she explains. When she was in law school, Peter supported her—now it’s his turn.

And yet, some of Tamara’s friends from law school are not so comfortable with her financial arrangement. They tell Tamara she’s a “fool” for becoming the sole breadwinner and make comments like, “I couldn’t be with anybody who didn’t work as hard as I do.” The peanut gallery didn’t say a word when Peter was working and Tamara was in school. So why does the couple’s Common Pot bother them now?

Perhaps Tamara’s friends got messages like the one I got from my grandmother—women should have their own money—and, like me, they hadn’t thought through the way advice like this actually applies to their modern lives. My grandmother had a Common Pot by default, not by choice, because she never earned her own money. If she and my grandfather had divorced, she would have been in major financial trouble. She was living the norm for the time: only 32 percent of wives in 1960 were in the labor force.

Even though circumstances are different now, many women have internalized the message. Like Jill, 29, who wrote to tell me that her mother was left with nothing when her parents split and drilled into her, “Keep some money separate so if the ‘spit’ hits the fan you’ll have a little something to fall back on.”

Click here to read the rest of the article

The original article was written by Jessica Grose for Slate.com

Realmemories.com – Kimberly Rock & Eric Haggard

Real Memories was founded by Eric Haggard & Kimberly Rock, a former NYC graphic design firm owner and former advertising executive who now live in a restored farmhouse in rural NW Connecticut with their two daughters, Jessy, 5 and Jordan, 3. Since 1997, Eric & Kimberly have also owned Pulp Paper Products, Inc., a successful wholesale and retail manufacturer of high-end photo related products sold online and in stores nationwide. Our design philosophy has always been to develop elegant, artful, and affordable products using the highest quality materials possible.
 
Real Memories simplifies the traditional framing process by combining high quality digital photo printing and custom framing. You can upload a digital photo, choose a frame, personalize a mat and see your entire creation before buying it (even hanging it on a virtual wall to match your home or office). Real Memories frames cost less and deliver faster than a traditional frame shop, allowing you to custom frame your photos without ever leaving home.
 
The latest online technology and a simple, intuitive design make the Real Memories site easy to navigate and use. You can create your own custom frame and personalize it with a caption – in less than 5 minutes. Plus, the "My Address Book" feature allows you to save multiple addresses so that you can send gifts to as many friends & family as you like with just a few clicks.
 
Gone are the days of the standard 4"x 6", 5"x7" or 8"x10" frame! Real Memories provides an extensive choice of custom frame sizes, shapes and mat configurations as well as digital photo editing for enlarging, cropping and photo enhancement. You can also beautifully emboss any mat with a personal message to mark a special occasion, enhance a memory or create a truly meaningful gift. All this gives you the ability to own a frame that is uniquely yours.
 
 
by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Professional House Sitters -Alicia Shea & Kevin Shea

We are a semi-retired, mature couple currently residing in Belmont, Massachusetts, a quiet bedroom community about ten miles west of Boston. We are in our late fifties and have been married for almost 40 years. We have no children, and we are each other's best friends. We have been non-smokers for our entire lives. We are both retired from our professional careers, Kevin from management consulting and Alicia from technical work and executive management in high-tech software companies. We each have a very strong focus on, and commitment to, customer service. We continue to do some part-time work and can work from virtually anywhere, as long as there is a high-speed internet connection. We have the wisdom to understand what needs to be done to take care of your home while you are away. We've been homeowners for over 30 years, and we understand that issues do arise that need to be addressed quickly. We have the common sense skills needed to look after your home, pets and gardens. We have travelled extensively and have had many exciting adventures, and we have collected many good friends along the way. We are outdoors people who enjoy the mountains, skiing, biking, hiking, fly-fishing, snorkeling and windsurfing, and we have enjoyed these activities across the United States and in the Caribbean and Europe. We enjoy taking on new projects, learning new things and continuing to challenge ourselves. In 1996, at the ripe old ages of 46, we pedalled our bicycles 3500 miles across the country in 58 days, completely self-supported. We prefer to immerse ourselves in a new area and to get to know its people and culture. The days of five cities in five days are well behind us. We are equally happy dining out at the finest restaurant or camping out under the stars in a remote wilderness. Kevin is very handy around the house, having renovated our 1900 home. He is an accomplished gardener, restores antique automobiles, and is a natural around pets, especially dogs. He can undertake small projects of carpentry, electrical or plumbing, or direct larger ones if you need someone to oversee a construction project while you are away. He recently organized and directed about forty people to paint a cancer-stricken friend's house in a single day. Kevin likes to work with his hands and get them dirty and always enjoys the rewards of a job well done. Alicia's passion is cooking, and she loves to entertain. She has prepared everything from casual menus for a few friends to formal five-course sit-down dinners for 30 to an outdoor wedding reception for 80. She is also the creator of the popular and comprehensive cooking website cookingwithalicia.com. Alicia is also a self-professed "geek" with very strong technical skills. She is the creator of this and other websites. In her "spare" time she likes to knit and sells her elegant and fashionable accessories on another of her websites,orangemooncreations.com. Read a complete New York Times article about how the Shea's run their business here. by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Nikaya Handcrafted – Andrea Ross & Brandon Ross

Nikaya is an ancient Buddhist word for ‘community’ and our community is who we support. Started in Cambodia in 2008 by Brandon and Andrea Ross Nikaya is a true labor of love. Having lived in Southeast Asia for five years the Ross’ wanted to find a way to bring the traditional crafts they so admired to a wider audience while at the same time ensuring the survival of these ancient skills and empowering local artisans. Taking the community involvement one step further proceeds from Nikaya benefit local based projects with 10% of all profit going to Journey's Within Our Community, a non profit organization working in poverty reduction and education throughout Southeast Asia. Nikaya also features a Giving Back page where 100% of proceeds of all products go to support these community initiatives. The Ross’ moved to Cambodia five years ago and started Journeys Within Our Tour Company, running custom tours to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. Having traveled extensively in the region they set up Journeys Within B&B and Bungalows, a boutique resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia, moments from the Angkor Wat temples. After living in Cambodia a few months they saw the overwhelming need for grass roots community based projects and Journeys Within Our Communitywas born. Now registered as a 501c, Journeys Within Our Community has many projects throughout Southeast Asia and has become a huge support for the local communities, offering scholorships, language schools, clean water programs and microfinance. Brandon and Andrea have two children, both born in Bangkok, Callie and Couper. The family now splits their time between Cambodia and California, where they have a home in Truckee. Click here to visit Nikaya Handcrafted's website

By: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

OperationSmile.org – Dr. Bill Magee & Kathy Magee

n 1982, Dr. Bill Magee and Kathy Magee, his wife, traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children's cleft lips and cleft palates. They discovered hundreds of children ravaged by deformities, and although they helped many children, the volunteers were forced to turn away the majority of those who sought help. The Magees saw the need and Operation Smile was born. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz39y7vUvCg] Operation Smile is a charity organization healing children's smiles, making the world a better place. As a children’s charity, they measure themselves by the joy they see on all of the faces they help. Operation Smile is more than a charity organization. More than an NGO (Non Governmental Organization). They are a mobilized force of medical professionals and caring hearts who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. More than 200,000 children are born with a severe cleft condition each year — often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places these children are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life. That's where Operation Smile comes in as an international charity providing much needed surgical services. Since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided free surgeries to children around the world. As one of the most prominent children’s charities in the world and with a presence in over 50 countries, they are able to heal children’s smiles and bring hope for a better future. Thanks to the generosity and spirit of volunteerism shown by their supporters, they heal thousands of children per year and, today, more than 150,000 girls and boys have a new chance at a new life because of the organizations work. With your help, how many lives can Operation Smile change tomorrow? To make a donation, click here by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

NovaSim – Kerrie Paige & Jaret Hauge

Kerrie Paige and Jaret Hauge

A mathematical couple find one thing indispensable to their love-and-work relationship: walls.

When couples move in together, disagreements inevitably arise, and a 40-hour-plus work week normally offers a respite. But that wasn't the case for Kerrie Paige, a Ph.D. in mathematical analysis, who with her partner, Jaret Hauge, launched their simulation-software business, NovaSim, in January 2000 – she from her house in Bellingham, Wash., and he from his base in Toronto. When they started the company, they were both undergoing separations, and romance was the furthest thing from their mind. Perfect business partners, they earned profits early on, and Hauge decided to move to Bellingham that summer. By year's end, the two realized they were a great romantic match as well. He eventually moved into Paige's home and office – which were one and the same. And so, they shared a work space. More than disputes over the décor or laundry or Paige's kids (who live with her and were 5, 9, and 12 when he first arrived), it was the business calls that drove them a little crazy. "We had to be on the phone with clients a lot, and our work is technically difficult so it requires concentration," said Paige. "It got distracting for one of us to be on the phone while the other was trying to concentrate. We'd have to lower our voices when speaking with clients or put on headphones to drown out the other person's conversation." They married in 2003 even though the office layout, says Paige, "just wasn't working out." For a while they worked from separate floors of the house, but last fall they moved into a separate office building, where they hired a contractor to put up a soundproof wall between them. "We're much more productive this way," says Paige. With their office space revamped, they turned their attention last year to restructuring their roles in their company. In the past, each would shepherd his or her projects from beginning to end, and whoever had spare time would pick up the administrative tasks. "We soon realized that we needed to define our roles more clearly," says Hauge. They've now carved out their duties by function, with Paige overseeing sales and management and Hauge making sure their products and services are delivered smoothly. Results soon followed: In 2007 they earned $357,000 in revenues, a 17 percent jump over 2006. Profits aside, the company has inspired Paige's 16-year-old son Alex, who has lived with Nova-Sim since grade school. "I think it would be fun to start my own business, choose what I'm interested in, and have my own hours," he says. "And if I got married, I definitely wouldn't mind starting something with a spouse – we'd spend more time together that way. And that would be pretty cool." Original article written by Phaedra Hise, with additional reporting by Ingrid Tharasook for Money.com by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

ModCloth – Eric & Susan Gregg Koger

Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger took a love of vintage clothing and some tech know-how and built a popular online retail site. The husband-wife team is expected to bring in $15 million this year.

When Susan Gregg Koger and her then-boyfriend, Eric Koger, were about to start Carnegie Mellon in 2002, the Florida natives set out on a search for cold-weather gear to help them survive those harsh Pittsburgh winters. Susan, who always loved vintage wears, led them to thrift stores, where she enjoyed browsing so much, she even bought clothes she couldn't wear because they weren't quite her size or style. One day, Eric convinced her to set up a site to sell some of her finds. Today, that site, ModCloth, is on track to sell $15 million of women's clothing and accessories this year.

The Kogers launched ModCloth in January 2003, during their winter break. The site operated out of Susan's dorm room, and she personally fulfilled all orders while maintaining a full course load. "I'd get phone calls in the library," she says. Eric, who had experience hosting and designing websites for retailers back home, provided technical support for the site. As Susan approached graduation in 2006, she and Eric decided to run the site full-time. They realized, however, that it would be difficult to sustain ModCloth as a business selling only one-of-a-kind frocks. So they decided to offer retro-inspired pieces from independent designers in addition to actual vintage clothing. That year, Susan traveled to the MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas to buy inventory that fit the site's new concept. She and Eric married later that year and moved into a house in Pittsburgh, which they initially used as ModCloth's headquarters — until the company outgrew it. "When we moved out, we had 16 people working out of there," Eric says. "The living room was our conference room. We had to get a second fridge for the kitchen." After receiving his MBA from Carnegie Mellon in 2007, he joined ModCloth full-time as CEO. The next year, the company moved into a converted steel mill in Pittsburgh's Strip district. Since then, ModCloth has only continued to grow. The site now offers fashions from more than 300 designers. The Kogers have ramped up their staff, which totals 92. In the past year, to keep up with demand, they have added nearly 60 positions — from fashion writers and stylists to Web developers and fulfillment staff. ModCloth sets itself apart from other online clothing retailers, Susan says, through its authenticity. She and most of the company's employees are women in their 20s — the company's target demographic. Susan, in consultation with ModCloth's buyers, still handpicks each piece sold through the site. The site also holds regular contests through Twitter, Facebook, and its own blog in which visitors submit names for new items and photos of their fashion ensembles. "We really want the customers to be truly involved," Susan says. "We're not some big retailer telling you, 'This is what you should be wearing." ModCloth has also succeeded in extending its online visibility. In the beginning, Susan swapped links with mom-and-pop vintage retailers in order to spread the word across the Web and increase ModCloth's page rank. The site is now one of the first results on Google for both the terms "vintage clothing" and "clothes." But the Kogers have a larger vision for the site. Ultimately, Eric says, they aim for ModCloth to emulate the feel of combing through racks in a boutique. ModCloth has taken a small step toward that goal by allowing visitors to browse through ensembles worn by its models, similarly to how a brick-and-mortar shopper might browse mannequins' outfits. "The way that fashion is purchased is dramatically different than how books and electronics are purchased," he says. "Apparel is much more about the browsing experience. But every single e-commerce site is built with a books and electronics mindset." That concept has helped ModCloth gain some impressive backers. In March, the company closed a $3 million round of funding led by Maples Investments, which has also invested in Digg and Twitter, and First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture firm led by Josh Kopelman, the founder of Half.com. Developing that technology, the Kogers say, will help them build upon their strong rapport with their customers, which remains their top priority. "I think we're verunique in that there aren't many other retailers with a specific point of view," Susan says. "I'd much rather buy from a company where the founders are similar to me." Orginal article written by April Joyner for Inc.com by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

The Body Evolution – Jason & Heather Hansen

The Body Evolution Jason and Heather Hansen The Body Evolution was founded by two fitness and supplement gurus. Jason and Heather Hansen.  After competing and winning the 2000 Mrs. Utah America pageant, Heather ( who was on a strict diet) tried to continue drinking protein shakes but could not stand it anymore. She would complain to her husband Jason about the thick, hard to mix what she called ”Sugar filled mudshakes.” After her competition, she challenged Jason to lose some weight. Being an athlete his whole life, Jason paid attention to the physical aspect of running, lifting etc. in his sports, but never focused on the nutritional side. He took Heathers challenge and had no problem with the workout side of losing weight, but could not stand the taste of the shakes and supplements he was taking. Jason decided to begin his quest in formulating a great tasting Meal Replacement Protein Shake that would have an 85% absorption rate with no artificial flavors, colors, sugars, unnecessary fats, hydrogenated oils or lactose in the product. He thought it was ridiculous that he had to take a protein shake, amino acid supplement, glutamine supplement for muscle recovery and a multivitamin pill, instead of just drinking one shake. He told Heather he was going to come up with the first ever complete MRP product. What he never expected was he was about to develop a David amongst Goliaths. Jason visited with over 10 manufactures and suppliers of nutritional supplements. The majority told Jason that there is no way to place all of those ingredients in a shake and make it taste good and mix easy. Jason, didn’t give up. After much research, Jason found a bio-chemist formulator that has created some of the best selling supplements and cleanest supplements found in America today. With Jason’s insight and vision of providing such a profile in a protein shake, Evolve was born. Initially, Jason bought the supplement himself and began to take it to the gym with him. It was at the gym, that many people would ask about the unlabeled white bottle he would carry around in his gym bag. Jason began to give people samples and no one could believe that this was a protein shake. It tasted way too good and mixed way too easy!  Even Jason’s world known trainer and Professional Powerlifter, David Edgell had a hard time believing the product was for real. Jason achieved fantastic results and competed in the Utah Natural Mountain States Bodybuilding show that year. He put on an amazing 20lbs of lean muscle for that show! The supplements had worked. Jason went from a mere 162lbs to 182lbs of pure muscle in just one year. After six months of trial and error, Jason sold his first bottle of protein to a small Health Shop in Utah and opened The Body Evolution. Over one million shakes later, Jason and Heather Hansen still believe in providing the highest quality lineup of products at a reasonable price. As food costs and protein costs have soared, Jason and Heather have remained steady and constant in providing the same level of protein that they have for the last eight years at almost the exact same price. They are continually approached to dumb down their product and make more money.  But, have stood steady in providing a product that really works! Jason enjoys competing as an Open Natural competitor in bodybuilding. He has competed in over 8 shows and has never placed lower than fourth in his class. He also has competed in a National Strongman competition where he placed sixth out of 56 competitors and weighed in as one of the lightest competitors at the competition. He consistently powerlifts and supports the sport of powerlifting. He also has consulted and helped hundreds of athletes and everyday people achieve their high level dreams. He also loves to snow ski, waterski, hunt, fish and play with his 3 beautiful kids.  He is extremely active in his community, church and neighborhood. Jason believes in his products more than anyone else. He drinks two MRPs a day and two blended whey shakes each day. He also is an avid believer and user of both Creatine Power Plus and glutamine empowered products. But, his favorite thing in life by far is his beautiful wife Heather. When you see them together, you know they are in love. Heather enjoys an active lifestyle with her family, scuba diving, powerlifting, pageant consulting, figure fitness training, snow and water skiing, cycling and is a great Mom! She is a friend to all and also has consulted with hundreds of people to help them lose weight and feel good about life. She competed in pageants for years and won the most esteemed pageant in Utah the Mrs. Utah America pageant in 2000. She is very active in her community, church and family.  Her favorite thing in life is laying by a pool with Jason and reading a good book. When you see her, you will know. It is hard to not stare at her, because she is so beautiful!! Heather is a firm believer in food that tastes good. She loves the shakes mostly because they taste good mix easy and have all of the RDA for her daily vitamins and minerals. For more information visit www.thebodyevolution.com by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

blacknetart.com – mendi + keith obadike

Mendi + Keith Obadike make music, art and literature.

Their works include The Sour Thunder, an Internet opera (Bridge Records), Crosstalk : American Speech Music (Bridge Records), a suite of new media artworks, Black.Net.Art Actions (published in re : skin on M.I.T Press), Big House / Disclosure, a 200 hour public sound installation (Northwestern University), and a poetry collection, Armor and Flesh (Lotus Press).

Their intermedia work has been commissioned by, exhibited at, and performed at the New Museum, The NY African Film Festival and Electronic Arts Intermix, The Yale Cabaret, Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), The Gene Siskel Film Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Whitney Museum of Art, among other institutions.

Their projects have been featured on New York and Chicago public radio, as well as on Juniradio (104.5) in Berlin.

Keith received a BA in Art from North Carolina Central University and an MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. He is an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University.

Mendi received a BA in English from Spelman College and a PhD in Literature from Duke University. She was a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute.

They are currently developing a new series of performance works including Four Electric Ghosts, an opera-masquerade (mmanwu) commissioned by the Kitchen NYC (2009), and TaRonda Who Wore White Gloves (agbogho mmwo), as artists in residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

For more information visit www.blacknetart.com

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

 

They Open Their Motel To The Homeless – Tim & Nancy Nicolai

 

Sioux Falls, S.Dak. Retired steelworker Tim Nicolai envisioned a quiet second act for himself and wife Nancy when they bought the Arena Motel in 2004. But just a few months later, on a frigid winter day, a woman and her daughter showed up at the front desk, with no money and nowhere else to go. "I had empty rooms," recalls Tim, 48, "and they didn't have a roof over their heads." Four years later, after converting four of the motel's 26 rooms to family-friendly setups with hot plates and cribs, Tim and Nancy, 47, have provided free shelter to more than 100 homeless people. Staying anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year, these guests have morning coffee with Tim, who helps them comb "help wanted" ads and has hooked up several with work from friends. "I'd be on the streets if it wasn't for them," says 27-year-old Heather, a mom of four young children, who now works as the motel housekeeper. "They're such caring people." Original story can be found at People.com by:Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Power Couple Jack & Suzy Welch – The Welch Way

Jack Welch is the legendary former CEO of General Electric. His many books include the best seller Winning, written with his wife, Suzy. Suzy Welch is the former editor of the Harvard Business Review. She attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School and has written numerous articles about leadership, creativity, change and organizational behavior. Together, the Welches write a column for BusinessWeek, "The Welch Way," which delivers nononsense, getitdone answers to readers' questions about business and careers.

Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist.

Her latest book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Widely featured in major media outlets including The Today Show and Time Magazine, 10-10-10 became an instant New York Times bestseller and is now published in 29 countries worldwide. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestseller Winning, its companion volume, Winning: The Answers, and The Welch Way, a weekly column on business and career challenges which appeared in BusinessWeek magazine from 2005-2009 and was published in 45 major newspapers across the globe by The New York Times Syndicate. In 2010, the Welches launched an online MBA program through Chancellor University. On her own, Suzy has written extensively about work-life balance and other cultural issues for publications ranging from O, The Oprah Magazine to The Wall Street Journal. In addition, her candid and incisive commentary has made her a popular commentator on television programs including Good Morning America, The View, Morning Joe, Your World With Neil Cavuto, and Power Lunch. Born in Portland, Oregon, Suzy received her BA from Harvard University in 1981 and then joined The Miami Herald as a reporter. She left daily journalism to attend Harvard Business School, where she graduated as a Baker Scholar in 1988. Suzy joined the Harvard Business Review in 1995 and was named editor-in-chief in 2001. During her tenure at HBR, Suzy was the author of numerous articles on leadership, change, creativity and organizational behavior, as well as the contributor to several books on management. Suzy is the mother of 4 children and lives in New York City. She serves on the board of several non-profit organizations in the fields of education and homelessness.

Jack Welch is the author of Winning, a #1 Wall Street Journal and international bestseller.  In 2001, he wrote his #1 New York Times and also international best-selling autobiography, Jack:  Straight from the Gut.  From 2005 – 2009, together with his wife Suzy Welch, he wrote a widely read weekly column, The Welch Way.  This column appeared in BusinessWeek magazine and was published by the New York Times syndicate and appeared in more than 45 major newspapers around the world, reaching more than 8 million readers. He recently launched the “Jack Welch Management Institute,” a unique online MBA program aimed at giving students around the world and at every career level the tools to transform their lives and the organizations of the future.

Jack is the head of Jack Welch, LLC, where he serves as Special Partner with the private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and is a advisor to IAC (Interactive Corp).  He speaks to business audiences and students around the world. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Jack received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MS and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois.  He began his career with the General Electric Company in 1960, and in 1981 became the Company’s 8th Chairman & CEO.  During his 20+ year tenure as CEO, the Company's market capitalization rose from $13 billion to $400 billion.  In 2000, he was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine. Jack is the father of 4 children and has 10 grandchildren.  He is an avid Red Sox fan, is a life-long golfer, and is a fanatic about sports and business news in every medium.

For more information visit www.welchway.com


by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Managing Growth at a Pet-Insurance Business – Natasha & Chris Ashton

http://images.businessweek.com/story/09/370/0424_petplan.jpg The British-born married couple moved to the U.S. in 2001 to attend the The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly after enrolling, their cat, Bodey, became sick. The ensuing $5,000 vet bill forced the couple to move to a smaller apartment and prompted them to look for pet insurance. Their search did not prove fruitful. Even though the pet products industry was booming, pet insurance was practically nonexistent. The Ashtons thought the few available insurance products were overly complicated and restrictive, so they put their business degrees to use and started their own company to fill the gap. Following their graduation, in July 2006, the Ashtons launched Petplan Pet Insurance in the U.S. with coverage for all hereditary conditions for the life of an insured pet. Petplan now insures tens of thousands of pets across the country. Revenues: Estimated $15 million for 2009

Their Story: Anyone who's ever had a pet knows that accidents happen. Take one of our client's dogs, Cooper, an 8-month-old lab, that ran head-first into a mailbox while chasing a Frisbee. He fractured two of his vertebrae, landing him in the ER and his owners with a $12,000 veterinary bill. Luckily, Cooper made a full recovery and we picked up the tab. As a pet health-insurance provider, we are in the accident business. And it was accident, though of a different sort, that made us change our management and operations strategies to be able to handle growth. A year after launching our company, Chris shattered his ankle and broke two ribs. He endured several surgeries and six months of rehabilitation before he walked again. Complications from blood clots sent him back to the hospital twice. This accident could not have come at a more critical time in our business' short history. Demand for pet insurance was huge. By July 2007 we were seeing double-digit growth each month. We were selling policies nationwide, and we needed to expand our operations to accommodate the growth. Though we had built a strong team of 10, like many entrepreneurs, we had trouble delegating responsibility to enable us to push the business forward rather than just focus on the day-to-day tasks. After the accident, our hand was forced: We had to create more structure to enable our team to function in our absence. It was incredibly difficult at first. Chris and I were both hands-on managers. We were used to being in the office, doing everything from designing and marketing our products, to answering the phones and stuffing envelopes, to recruiting. There were many late nights where we would sit on the floor surrounded by hundreds of policies and completed claims that had to be collated and mailed. Often we would work through the night to make sure that everything got out. With policy sales and call volumes increasing at a rapid rate, we were so immersed in the doing that we became further and further removed from the strategic vision that fueled our early growth.

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT

Chris' accident really forced us to rethink the company's organizational structure. For two (British) kids straight out of business school, with no experience of living or working in the U.S. and no experience in the insurance industry, let alone pet insurance, we had achieved a great deal. For instance, the Humane Society of the United States selected us as their exclusive pet health-insurance provider. Landing such a renowned client prompted us to seek clients of similar caliber, to build the strongest foundation possible for our business. And although we also had a number of strong external business partnerships, the accident prompted us to realize we couldn't do it all ourselves. We needed an internal partner who would help us refocus on the bigger picture to continue to drive growth.

ack during our days at Wharton, Chris had met Vernon W. Hill II, founder and retired chairman and CEO of Commerce Bancorp. Hill is known for having put the retail in retail banking, building his company to an $8.5 billion market cap from an original investment of $1.5 million in 1973. He is famous for reinventing retail banking in the same way we wanted to reinvent pet insurance in the U.S., so we approached him for help. Our first meeting took place in January 2008, with Chris still on crutches. Four months later, Chris was finally off his crutches—and Hill was now Petplan's chairman of the board. From the outset, we quickly learned that Hill is not one to procrastinate, and his get-it-done mantra meant the pace of our decision-making increased significantly. We learned to seize the moment. When we were presented with the opportunity for a partnership with a major pet products company, we got on a plane and flew halfway across the country to meet with the execs face-to-face—securing the deal. Prior to Hill's involvement, we would not have moved nearly as fast. In retrospect, that may have lost us a few deals along the way.

TAKING CARE OF THE BASE

With Hill's guidance, we spent more time looking at the business as a whole and got back to discussing and formulating strategy. It was during one of Chris' many hospital stays that we discussed automating document processing. The office was coping remarkably well but only because our team was staying late and working weekends. It was taking three people a day to complete the printing of all of the documents and to mail them out. By automating administrative tasks, we could focus on taking better care of our rapidly growing customer base. When we finally introduced electronic documents three months later, we saw huge cost savings of over 90%. It also enabled us to reallocate resources to customer service, which was an area we had neglected. Additionally, we began to review customer feedback more carefully. Hill showed us that there was still room for improvement in terms of customer service. We had focused our business almost exclusively on building an unmatched product but what we really hadn't accounted for was servicing our customers once we secured them. As we looked at some of the comments we received from policyholders, we realized that all of our efforts had been focused on sales and claims but little or no thought had been put into the day-to-day experience of existing clients. One immediate change was that we extended our hours to cover West Coast business days fully. This small change resulted in an even bigger increase in sales—over 30% in a single month after implementation—and it practically eliminated complaints regarding our opening hours. We also received plenty of feedback regarding the length of our claim form from both clients and veterinarians alike. Upon close review, it became apparent that we could scale our claim form down from three pages to one. This was another small change that had a huge impact. From the client's point of view, completing and submitting a claim was a much simpler process. From an operational standpoint, it reduced the average time it took to assess a claim by 70%. Six months after his accident, Chris and I returned to the office full time. Since then we have continued to see double digit growth each month. Though there are times where we still answer the phones and get immersed in "doing the doing," we have learned that building a strong team and relying on it to handle the daily machinations is the best way forward. Doing so allowsus to continue to build the engine that drives our growth. We have always known that accidents happen. What we have learned since Chris' accident is that it's how you deal with them that really matters. One of Hill's favorite expressions is, "you got paid for yesterday." The accident made us focus on tomorrow. Reprinted from Businessweek.com by Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Mining For Gold Marriage – Jesse Johnson and Melva Thomas Johnson

Marriage Counselors Jesse & Melva Johnson Jesse and Melva Johnson are married and have been working together for over 30 years.  They know the ups and downs of relationships from their personal and professional experience. They have learned, practiced and taught others the tools and strategies that have worked to help couples like you to have more satisfying relationships. Jesse and Melva believe that our society deserves to have happy, healthy couples who raise healthy, happy children. Even childless couples are important role models in our communities in many ways. Jesse and Melva know how to “mine for the gold” that lies beneath the frustrations and conflicts of daily life to transform your relationship and family to the experience of your dreams. You will be able to spend more of your time and energy expressing love and care to each other and having fun like they do. As a couple Jesse and Melva are surrounded with their love for each other, as well as their family, friends, colleagues and the couples the they have the good fortune of working with. The Johnson's enjoy dancing, fine dining and “hanging out”. Let them support you in enjoying your life again too! Melva holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan and is a certified Imago Relationship Therapist, Workshop Presenter and Consultant.  Jesse holds a Master’s Degree in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Michigan Graduate School of Professional Psychology and he is a certified Imago Relationship Therapist and Consultant. They are both licensed psychotherapists in Michigan. Melva is the former President of the International Association of Imago Relationship Therapists and  Jesse is the former President Elect.  Jesse is also an ordained minister and a retired Director of School Community Relations for the Detroit Public Schools. Both of them have received numerous awards and recognition for their work. Their 60 plus years of combined experience as psychotherapists, relationship educators, workshop leaders, public speakers, authors and consultants, have given them the opportunity to work together as colleagues in the Detroit Public School system.  They worked together to build a better working environment for students, parents, staff and the community at large. This evolved into becoming a couple, starting a private practice for individuals, couples and families and then getting married. Their commitment to support healthy relationships expanded to supporting organizations and businesses to help create more fulfilling relationships. This has taken them throughout the United States and abroad. Jesse and Melva have also appeared on local and national radio and television shows and have been featured in numerous print media including newspapers and magazines. In 1994, they added the imago relationship counseling and seminar training to their work. In 2007 they published their first book, Mining for Gold in Your Relationship, a guide for couples with a 5 step plan to improve the quality of relationships. Shortly thereafter they added the “Couplehood as a Spiritual Path” course to the programs we offer. The Johnson's have worked hard to live the message they teach—in their marriage and family, and as business partners. Their marital journey began as a “blended family.”  They were determined to create a successful life experience for themselves and their two minor sons from Jesse’s previous marriage. To be successful, they had to overcome the internal and external influences, pressures, and conflicts that often tear families like theirs apart. Through the study of marriage and family therapies, marriage education programs, “trial and error,” an ongoing shared commitment, continuous dialogue, problem solving, goal setting, planning, cooperation, and mutual support, they have successfully created the kind of marriage, family, and professional life they desired. Jesse and Melva are excited whenever they have the opportunity to share these tools with other couples to enable them to also create the relationship they’ve also longed for. For more information visit their site at http://www.mfgmarriage.com/.

by Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Cold Stone Creamery – Donald & Susan Sutherland

Cold Stone Story Founders, Donald and Susan Sutherland, scoured the world in search of the perfect ice cream.  Not surprisingly, they found that not all ice cream is created equal. From traditional hard-packed to soft serve varieties, until Donald and Susan pursued their "Ice Cream Dream"– everyone was stuck with some pretty disappointing alternatives.  But after 1988 and the opening of the first Cold Stone Creamery in Tempe, Arizona, things changed. The Sutherlands fundamentally redefined ice cream and the world would never be the same. Cold Stone Creamery ice cream is categorized by industry experts as "Super Premium." Cold Stone Creamery's ice cream is better because they make it fresh every day in every store, which puts Cold Stone completely in a class of its own. At Cold Stone Creamery, they are proud of their heritage as Ice Cream Innovators. This heritage is based on a tradition of continuously redefining plain old regular ice cream into something truly extraordinary. They call every ice cream they serve a "Creation" – because each one is a work of art. Freshly made, smooth, creamy ice cream blended on a frozen granite stone with endless combinations – fruits, nuts, candy, cookies, brownies…you name it – you can mix in to your heart’s content. Donald and Susan are so proud of theirr redefinition of ice cream that they're almost inclined to do away with the words "ice cream" altogether.  Why not just call it Cold Stone? by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Our RV Life – Jose & Jill Ferrer

So what exactly is an RV lifestyle anyway? All sorts of things: RV camping trips, full-service tailgating, a great way to follow NASCAR races, extended vacations, a seasonal home, fulltime RV living…and the list goes on. In fact, there is no list. Your RV lifestyle is what you want it to be. And that's really the point of Jose and Jill's website. Simple steps on how to get the most out of RVing – in a style that fits you. For Jose and Jill, one day they were talking about refinancing their townhouse. A few exciting months later, they had sold the townhouse and started living fulltime in their RV. It happened fast! Friends, family and co-workers were politely aghast. But it didn't really happen in a flash. They didn't just wake up one day and throw all caution to the wind. They had been preparing for their RV lifestyle – long before they made the dramatic move. Jill and Jose knew what we wanted. They had spent plenty of time churning through lots of information. Trying to figure out where to start (and equally important, when to stop "trying to figure it all out"). So they offer our lessons learned and suggestions – whether you are just starting out, are back in the market for a new or used RV, or are a seasoned RVer looking for other perspectives on how to get the most out of your RV lifestyle. For more information, visit their website – http://www.your-rv-lifestyle.com/

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

 

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Mamabargains.com – Jessica and Stanford Singer

Singer Family

Mamabargains.com is an idea Jessica and Stanford Singer had toyed with for a long time – it was an obsession with another popular site which focuses on selling premium outdoor clothing for killer deals that was so exciting to them. This and a combination of having two young children, being frustrated with websites that are far too complicated and the fact that everyone loves a bargain! From these thoughts, in early 2008, the idea of Mamabargains.com was born. Their official launch was May 19th, 2008.

Here they are, the original one deal at a time website for anyone interested in buying top notch parent, baby and kid items at the best prices you will find anywhere. Jessica and Stanford work tirelessly to find the best vendors, and it is not easy! They both feel that if there is a bargain to be found out there for a brand name, high end, mom, baby or kid item, than they will find it.

The Singers have grown organically and from the ground up from their own savings. They have no investors. They have no media contacts and have done no marketing campaigns, yet they continue to grow at the rate that any company that has those advantages does. Jessica and Stanford would much rather spend their dollars on passing all the savings on to the customer, as humanly possible.

Mamabargains.com was publicly nominated 19th place winner in Startup Nations Top 200 Leading Moms in business competition in 2009. Of hundreds, possibly thousands of applicants, Mamabargains.com placed 19th in the nation.

Most recently, Jessica Singer was asked to speak at the Rural Utah conference for business owners and entrepreneurs by Senator Bennett here in Utah (August 2009). What an honor, and amazing experience for a growing business to be given the opportunity to share their success story with other future entrepreneurs.

Mamabargains.com is for you, by you and about you, the moms and dads of the world who want a great deal on a great product. It’s about time – Are YOU Hooked Yet?

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:ESSpa Kozmetika – Eva Kerschbaumer & Scott Kerschbaumer

We received another great email.  This time the email was from a husband.  People often wonder “who’s the boss” when a couple operate a business together.  The following email definitely shows that there is no “I” in team.

“My wife’s name is Eva Kerschbaumer. She just turned 35. In 1996, she sold all of her grandmother’s jewelry and bought a plane ticket from Hungary to New York City. She arrived in June of that year with literally nothing more than $50 and the clothes on her back, no relatives and no understanding of or ability to speak English. Through the kindness of an Amtrak conductor on the day she arrived in the USA, she somehow made her way to Pittsburgh where she met the young local man (me) who would become her husband in 1999.

ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare initially opened 02/02/02 with three employees operating out of 800 sq.ft. In 2005, we relocated and built the spa’s current 5,000 sq.ft. “Green Certified” sanctuary. In 2008, this female-led small-business grossed $1.9 million in 2008 (a 22% increase vs. 2007), operates 15 treatment rooms and employs a team of 39 professional therapists and support staff that delivered over 16,000 spa treatments last year. In December, our spa was named “The 3rd Best Spa in America” by The Industry Source Magazine and we won 3 other national industry awards in 2008. Additionally, the spa was just named “The Best Green Spa”, “The Best Organic Salon” and “Best Skincare” in Western Pennsylvania by Pittsburgh Magazine (Sept.’09). The success of our spa is directly attributable to nothing more than Eva’s incredible work ethic and her uncompromising attention to delivering the most effective, organic spa treatments to her guests. Eva goes to work every day as an aesthetician and she sees 9-12 guests per day on a regular basis, spending well over 100 hours per week in the spa. As her reputation has grown, the best therapists from all over the country and the world have relocated to Pittsburgh specifically to work for Eva.

More important than the success of our business, Eva is the proud mom of the most amazing young 6 year-old boy, named Kristian, who was recently diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Kristian requires a tremendous amount of time and effort and rewards us with unconditional love and the incredible matter-of-fact intelligence of a Preschooler. What makes her such a special mom is that Eva doesn’t treat her youngster like an overachieving grandparent or as a ‘friend’ rather than a parent.  She simply treats Kristian as she treats every other toddler, tween or teen that visits her spa for treatments – with respect and honesty, just as she was treated growing up in Hungary. Eva takes this same approach with other children and does not try to play ‘dress up’ and present her treatments as a ‘princess party’ or other fluffy service and it is her unique mission to design and deliver effective, organic spa treatments for children of any age or gender.

Oh yes, Eva is the primary breadwinner in our family – she is my wife and my boss. My one and only job (she signs my paycheck) is to help her in whatever way I can, either with her business or taking care of Kristian. As I handle all aspects of marketing and PR including building and maintaining the website, graphic design, logos, direct mail, ads, email, social media, et al) I always make the comment “I get the customers in the door and Eva keeps them coming back.” When it comes to a high-performing business team, there is none better than Eva and I.

There is so much more about Eva and how our relationship (though at times somewhat rocky as we spend 24 hours a day, every day, together) has made our business a success that is unique, interesting and worthwhile.”

If you are ever headed to Western Pennsylvania, make sure you visit Esspa.com, and make an appointment for a spa treatment.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Peppyparents.com – Eric Mindel & Heather Mindel

PeppyParents.com was started by a husband and wife team with two young, active children. It has been built by parents, for parents.

The founders of PeppyParents.com, Eric and Heather Mindel had unsatisfying experiences with baby superstores and big department stores when shopping for baby gear. Products looked similar, and there was rarely helpful guidance from the employees. Boutiques were hit-or-miss, since the little shops often have a very limited selection. At the mega-stores online, it was overwhelming to sort through hundreds of strollers, carriers, blankets, and accessories. The founders realized the value of doing work to evaluate products first, and then let the customer benefit from it.

Every product at PeppyParents.com has been selected by real parents! We have a wide range of prices on items, and we feel a responsibility to deliver great value for your dollar no matter what you order.

 Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:

In Love and War – Husbands and wives can now serve together in the Army. How three couples try to juggle marriage and mission in Afghanistan.

Original article written by Michael M. Phillips for The Wall Street Journal

Maybe the couple that fights together stays together.

The 293rd Military Police Company is a rarity in American love and American war. Among the 150 soldiers deployed to this restive Afghan city are three married couples.

The couples’ first few months in the combat zone have revealed the tensions of married warfare: The shared experience of purpose, fear and trauma brings each couple closer together, while the constant worry makes them wish they were apart. Like their civilian counterparts, they struggle to balance life and work, trying to fit in a few moments of comfort and affection among a grueling schedule of patrols, ambushes and convoys.

There are the Glynns, Sheree and Rob, corporals on their second combat tour. He survived a scrape with death, and she glimpsed widowhood. They’ve been drawn together by danger and loss.

There’s Thomas and Bergan Flannigan, young lieutenants who believe that their roles as commanders require them to maintain a façade of marital indifference. They feel watched from above and below.

And there’s Seth and Jessica Bivens, 19-year-old privates first class, new to the Army and each other. Freshly in love, they chafe at the limits that the war imposes on their relationship, and their superiors feel obliged to remind them that marriage comes second to mission.

Not long ago commanders would have balked at putting spouses this close together. First Sgt. Danny Knell, the company’s top enlisted man, says that in 21 years of Army service, he has never before seen three couples in one company.

But the military is increasingly worried about the stress that repeated combat deployments have created in military marriages. The Pentagon said last month that 3.6% of married active-duty military men and women went through divorce in the year ended Sept. 30, compared to 2.6% a year prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

So commanders are trying to be more flexible with service couples. In October, the Army adopted new rules making it easier for couples to deploy simultaneously. Army regulations leave it to local commanders to decide whether to put married couples together. Today, the Pentagon counts 284 couples deployed overseas together.

The Army’s concern is that a husband and wife serving together would distract from the mission, says Sgt. Knell, a 45-year-old from Vanceburg, Ky., whose job it is to look after the welfare of the 293rd’s enlisted soldiers and enforce the rules. Those opposed to allowing openly gay soldiers to serve often make a similar argument—that homosexuals would damage unit cohesion and morale. To work around any worries about the effect of the couples on the group, the 293rd, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., separates spouses among its four platoons, units of some 40 soldiers stationed at different outposts and bases around Kandahar. No husband is more than an hour away from his wife, but along routes that must be traveled in armored convoys.

Read about all three couples here.

Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Hale – Williams Interior Design – Robert Hale and Tom Williams

Married July 25, 2008

Located on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, Hale-Williams Interior Design is convenient to Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Monterey, Carmel Valley and the village of Carmel.  The principals, Robert Hale and Tom Williams, have over 57 years experience in the Interior Design Profession.  Dealing primarily in residential design both Mr. Hale and Mr. Williams are conversant in Computer Technology and how this powerful tool can best be applied to their needs and the needs of their clients. In April of 2006 Mr. Hale and Mr. Williams opened an office in Palm Springs, California and spend a part of each month working with clients in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta.

Robert Hale was raised on the Isle of Wight, England.  Prior to entering the field of interior design he received degrees in hotel and restaurant management.  While working for British Airways Mr. Hale began developing and cultivating his interior design skills.  In 1981 he, along with Tom Williams, created Erithbond, Ltd., an interior design firm located in London.  Then in 1983 he moved to the United States and worked in the design and related fields in New Jersey until finally moving to Baltimore, Maryland where he and Tom Williams founded Federal Hill Interiors in 1987.  1993 marked the relocation of the firm to Ruxton and the new name Hale-Williams Interior Design.  The year 2000 offered Robert and Tom the opportunity to create a new office in Carmel, CA.

Tom Williams was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to his undergraduate studies in English literature at the University of Tennessee, Mr. Williams also studied Interior Design in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1977 he formed T. Lawton Williams Interior Design in Philadelphia, PA. and, after meeting Robert Hale, created several successful businesses both in Europe and America.

With over 37 years experience in the interior design profession, Tom Williams brings an unparallel passion to the message of success with a business in interior design. Currently operating an office in Carmel, CA, Mr. Williams has experience managing design businesses as a sole proprietor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a partnership in London, England, the residential design division of a large New Jersey based commercial and residential interior design firm in the 1980’s and Hale-Williams Interior Design in Baltimore, Maryland with 12 full and part-time employees during the 1990’s.

Mr. Williams has served on National Professional Boards, written for regional and national publications and is currently an adjunct professor at Monterey Peninsula College teaching Business Practices for the Interior Designer. He is also a past National Board member of the International Furnishings and Design Association.

Hale-Williams Interior Design opened for business on May 1, 2000.  Locally Mr. Hale is a graduate of Leadership Monterey Peninsula, active in the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the Carmel Rotary.  In the summer of 2004 Robert Hale appeared with his partner Tom Williams in a segment of the popular television show on the national channel HGTV called “ Designers’ Challenge “ and were the selected design team from the competition.

Mr. Hale’s and Mr. Williams’ Latest book, “Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer” from Allworth Press, Inc. is a “how-to” book for entrepreneurial designers interested in succeeding in the ultra-competitive world of modern residential interior design. Conveying classic lessons through personal anecdotes and design parables, the team shares more than 57 years expiernce with designers who want to understand the secrets of success without slogging through a dull text book. A fun, edgy and informative read, Robert and Tom candidly share fundamental lessons and innovative solutions to any issue entrepreneurs may encounter when independently launching a design firm. Learn from the best how to innovate, adapt and prosper without selling your soul or losing the farm.

With partner Robert Hale, Hale-Williams Interior Design was named Design Firm of the Year in 2008 by the Best Practices Network, a national organization of interior design professionals focusing on the business of interior design.

Mr. Williams has appeared on local and regional television during his career and has spoken at conferences, meetings and seminars in the United States, Europe and Mexico.

by: Sam Leccima and Sam Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:ImagoDeiGallery.com – Jeremy Wells and Jaime Wells

Angels are meant to inspire and awe. Louis and Alice Varela’s angels, depicted in murals that adorn their home’s ceiling and doorway, are no exception. “Seeing people’s faces and reactions when they see it is fantastic,” said Alice of her specially commissioned images. “There’s something so beautiful in the art that it moves people and makes them feel that they are somewhere else.”

To achieve their artistic vision for their home, Varela and her husband Louis called on artists Jeremy and Jaime Wells, founders of Imago Dei. The husband-and-wife team, who live in Copperfield, have been working together since they married in 2002. However, Imago Dei, which is Latin for “Image of God,” had its beginnings in 1999 in Ventura, Calif., where Jeremy was attending college. He moved to Texas after meeting his wife, a Houston native, at a Christian gathering in Tennessee where he was attending as a pastor and Jaime had been hired to create art for the event. The Wells’ first attempt to get their business going in Texas was with an Imago Dei Gallery on Galveston’s famous Strand from 2002-2003. “We didn’t do one (decorative) painting job in Galveston the whole time,” said Jeremy.

Instead, he was forced to make daily trips to The Woodlands and Sugar Land where he was able to work on commissioned art. The long commutes soon took their toll and the couple headed back to the Bayou City where they opened Imago Dei out of their home.

Heading home seemed to do the trick. Their name and reputation soon grew, as did their business. “Our garage was our studio, but after a year or two our business was growing faster than our house,” said Jeremy.

Now, with their business housed in a studio near Beltway 8 and Texas 290, the Wells work with a staff of 14, including 10 artists. Jeremy and Jaime attribute their success to their easy collaboration and passion for their art. “We encourage and motivate each other,” said Jaime, who holds a bachelor of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. “In our case we’re extremely blessed because we work together so well. My greatest strengths are Jeremy’s weaknesses and his strengths are my weaknesses.

“Together we are able to be stronger than we would be alone.”

Alice Varela praised the Wells’ unique working relationship, which involves Jeremy handling the technical aspect of the project and Jaime, Imago Dei’s lead artist, focusing more on the creative elements. She added she was particularly impressed with Jaime’s ability to intuitively tap into what she and her husband were looking for in their artwork.

“We had a sense that she understood (what we wanted) and that she was truly listening,” said Varela. “She understood what we were trying to express, as if she could see what was in our head and heart and interpret it.”

The Wells, who are fans of the Renaissance art they have seen in Rome and other parts of Europe, said they are particularly proud of the work they’ve done for the Varelas, which will also include a mural of the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mother once it is complete. “This is like a dream come true to do these large-scale works on the religious theme,” said Jaime. “I don’t think anyone else is doing this in Houston.”

In addition to custom murals, Imago Dei specializes in fine art, faux finishes and public art.

Jeremy and Jaime have been in business for 9 years and employ about 15 artists full time.  They have 2 children and live near Houston, TX.

For more information, go to www.imagodeigallery.com.

Original article written by By Carissa D. Lamkahouan for the Houston Chronicle

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Beyondus.com – Karen Renzi & Alessandro Renzi

Karen and Alessandro Renzi started their design & marketing business, Beyondus (www.beyondus.com) in 2002. They now have 2 daughters (6 and 2) in addition to the business.

  • They’ve been co-workers almost constantly since they started dating while waiting tables at the same restaurant in college, through to working at the same start-up in Boston, then on to their business.
  • Karen and Alessandro work from a shared home office, which adds its own unique set of challenges.
  • They’re both very idealistic and community-minded, but especially given this year’s economy, they are now making conscious changes to cut back on some business group involvement (which we do out of support for the community) in exchange for more focus on their business and on activities which “feed the soul.”
  • On a more personal business note, the couple found themselves a little unprepared for the pregnancy and birth of their second baby 2 years ago – since the 1st was a breeze they didn’t anticipate the added challenges of the time off Karen required with no “maternity leave” safety net as a full-time entrepreneur.

Alessandro Renzi, Founder and Executive Director, Technology and Operations
Alessandro began Beyondus with the sole purpose to provide high quality Web design at costs that would allows small businesses to fit it in their budget. Alessandro strongly feels that a Web site can be an immense tool for small businesses to interact with their clients, and expand their business. Additionally, through Beyondus Alessandro decided to provide additional services like video, webcasts, print, and marketing which follow the low cost for high quality philosophy.

Alessandro formerly worked for four years in the Broadcasting division at CCBN. During his time at CCBN he managed a team of professional event and account managers, and was responsible for managing the relationships with over 500+ clients of webcast, IVR, and fulfillment products. Some of these clients included: Apple Computers, AOL, 3Com, Qwest, and organizations like the New York Stock Exchange, Security Exchange Commission, and the National Investor Relations Institute. Alessandro has drawn from his experience at CCBN because it has allowed him to have worked with such diverse clientele, and has allowed him to understand the needs that each industry has regarding the Web.

Alessandro holds a B.F.A. in Film and Video Production from the Rochester Institute of Technology at Rochester, New York.

Karen Renzi, Founder and Executive Director, Sales and Marketing
Karen has a passion for working with smaller sized businesses because she thrives on the entrepreneurial spirit that is so common among them. Karen’s hands-on experience in marketing communications enables her to identify targeted marketing strategies for our clients. She not only suggests solutions that will bring results but also those that will be the most cost-effective; and she routinely shares the tips and tricks for free and low-cost marketing she’s discovered with clients and colleagues.

Karen’s experience reveals a common thread of work with start-ups. Most recently, Karen worked to build a marketing program at GeoVantage, a high-tech start-up in the geospatial industry that specializes in digital aerial photography. Prior to GeoVantage, Karen served as marketing manager at Safari Books Online, a joint venture between technical publishers O’Reilly and The Pearson Technology Group. Karen also spent four years at CCBN, where she witnessed its growth from a 40-person start-up to a 250-person corporation. At CCBN, Karen managed all marketing activity for the Institutional Investor business unit.

Karen holds a B.A., summa cum laude, from William Smith College (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) in Geneva, New York.

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Judith Sherven, PhD and Jim Sniechowski, PhD – TheHeartofMarketing.com

Judith Sherven, PhD and Jim Sniechowski, PhD are a husband and wife psychology team. With no background in sales or marketing they’ve created an expansive online career in less than four years. The leading voice for the Soft Sell approach to marketing and sales, they are best known for producing the only Internet marketing conference for the Soft Sell Community which they call “Bridging Heart and Marketing” http://bridgingheartandmarketing.com

They have founded the Soft Sell Marketers Association (SSMA) http://softsellmarketersassociation.net to provide training and support for soft sell marketers who are thinking about, have begun, or are on their way marketing their products and services online.

They also provide their popular Soft Topic/Soft Sell Copywriting Home Study Course http://softtopiccopywritingsecrets.com And with partner Tom Justin they developed the only course for the true Internet marketing beginner – First Step Internet Marketing – with students in 17 countries http://firststepinternetmarketing.com

Judith & Jim are the bestselling authors of five relationship books. Be Loved for Who You Really Are (St. Martin’s Press), The New Intimacy (HCI ), Opening to Love 365 Days a Year (HCI), The Smart Couple’s Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams (New World Library), and Living Your Love Everyday (eBook).

The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back (Morgan James, May 2009) is their first, but not last, book about marketing and sales as a mutually beneficial process between seller and buyer, transforming commerce through consciousness and conscience, caring and connection. It is already a #1 best seller!

Judith is a clinical psychologist who worked in private practice for twenty-two years. Jim holds a doctorate in Human Behavior and co-founded the Men’s Health Network in Washington, D.C.

They are popular and inspiring international speakers and trainers who demonstrate the groundbreaking personal and professional benefits available through soft sell, heart-based  marketing.

As guest experts they’ve been on over 2100 television and radio shows including Oprah, The View, The O’Reilly Factor, 48 Hours, CNN, and Canada AM.

They’ve written for or been interviewed by hundreds of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Cosmo, O, Bridal Guide, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Playboy, Essence, Women’sDay, Family Circle, Parents, Brides, Men’s Health, Best Life, and Today’s Black Woman.

Married 21 years, Judith & Jim currently live in Las Vegas.

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

This couple lives in the smallest apartment in NYC

The article has absolutely nothing to do with business, but the article was too good to pass up. While many couples can’t see themselves working together on a daily basis; imagine what living in the apartment described in the article below.

Cozy-crazy couple makes tight all right in the city’s tiniest studio

By ANGELA MONTEFINISE for the New York Post

If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.

Zaarath and Christopher Prokop — and their two cats — live in the smallest apartment in the city, a 175-square-foot “microstudio” in Morningside Heights the couple bought three months ago for $150,000.
 

 

At 14.9 feet long and 10 feet wide, it’s about as narrow as a subway car and as claustrophobic as a jail cell. But to the Prokops, it’s a castle.

“When you first see it, the first thing you say is, ‘Holy crap, this place is small,’ ” said Zaarath, 37, an accountant for liquor company Remy Martin. “But when I saw it, all I could think of is, I can do something with this. This is perfect for us. We love it.”

The co-op is on the 16th floor of a doorman building on 110th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. But it’s only accessible by a staircase on the 15th floor.

It has two small windows with views of upper Manhattan; hardwood floors; a tiny kitchen with a mini-fridge and hotplate; and a closet-sized bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet.

“I’m amazed we can fit two people and two cats in there,” Zaarath said. “But it’s harmonious at this point. I have friends who say they could never live with their husbands in a place this small. It’s a good thing we like each other enough to live there.”

The couple wakes up every morning in their queen-size bed, which takes up one-third of the living space.

They then walk five feet toward the tiny kitchen, where they pull out their workout clothes, which are folded neatly in two cabinets above the sink. A third cabinet holds several containers of espresso for their only kitchen appliance, a cappuccino maker.

They turn off their hotplate, and use the space on the counter as a feeding area for their cats, Esmeralda and Beauregard.

“We don’t cook,” Zaarath said, adding that their fridge never has any food in it. “So when you don’t cook, you don’t need plates or pots or pans. So we use that space for our clothes.”

Once in their running attire, the two change the cat litter box (stored under the sink) and start their small Rumba vacuum — which operates automatically while they’re out, picking up cat hair.

They then jog to their jobs in Midtown, picking up along the way their work clothes, which are “strategically stashed at various dry cleaners.”

Just in case the cleaners are closed, both have emergency clothes at their offices.

“I have a closet at my office,” Zaarath said. “You don’t want to be standing outside a closed cleaners at 8:45 in your workout pants thinking, ‘Greeeeeat’ . . . It’s a great strategy. You always have fresh things to wear.”

The only other furniture in the apartment is a 27-inch flat-screen TV attached to the wall; a brown leather storage bench at the foot of the bed that stores linens but also acts as a sofa; a cat climbing “tree,” and a shelf/wine rack system that holds a radio, cable box, and several bottles and glasses.

One of the kitchen cabinets is full of champagne because Zaarath’s job allows them to order cases of it.

They don’t have a trash can. The second something needs to be thrown out, they walk to the chute in the hallway.

Their bathroom — about 3 by 9 feet — has a small pedestal sink with mirror, and a stand-alone shower.

“Every bit of space is utilized,” said Christopher, 35, also an accountant, who beamed as he showed off the apartment. “We really have everything we need.”

The Prokops, who met in Texas where they worked, lived in New Jersey before moving to the Big Apple. They started with a 1,600-square-foot apartment in Glen Ridge, then moved to a 900-square-foot place in Jersey City. Once they decided on Manhattan, they wanted to go even smaller.

“We used to be kind of frivolous,” said Zaarath, a California native. “I used to collect vintage clothing, for example, and the cost of storing it and moving it was just not economically viable. So when we decided to move to Manhattan, we realized we’re not home that much because of our jobs. We don’t need that much space. We could go smaller. When I saw the ad in the paper, I knew I had to see it. And I knew it was right for us as soon as I saw it.”

Real-estate broker Steven Goldschmidt, senior vice president of Warburg Realty, showed the Prokops the apartment, which used to be one of about nine maid’s quarters in the prewar building.

“We converted eight of them into four apartments,” Goldschmidt said, with each apartment going for a little less than a half-million dollars.

“But we could not configure that one room within any of the floor plans we were looking at without spending oodles of money. So I came up with the idea to just make it the smallest apartment and see how it goes. I know a number of the luxury buildings are selling servants quarters and they’re not this small.”

He said he got “a lot of calls” from parents looking to find apartments for their Columbia students or business people looking for a pied-à-terre.

“It was not on the market all that long,” he said. “And the Prokops made us a great offer, and that’s it.”

The couple will pay off their mortgage in two years, when they plan to remodel some of the apartment, adding a Murphy bed and larger windows. They will then be saddled only with their maintenance fee, which is just over $700 a month.

“It’s like having a rent-controlled apartment,” she said. “We’re going to own something in Manhattan in two years. How many people can say that? And we’re very happy doing more with less.”

She added that because they save money on their home, they can spend money in “areas that make our lives better,” like restaurants and vacations. The two just got back from Beijing and have been to Japan and other countries.

“We get to really experience life and enjoy ourselves,” she said. “We eat out all the time. On the weekends, we’re outside exploring the neighborhood. We’re at Riverside Park all the time. We’re not nesters. This apartment is perfect for someone active. If you want to stay home or entertain, this is just not the apartment for you.”

She joked that the tiny apartment gets her out of hosting duties and dissuades long-term guests.

“No one ever stays too long,” she said. “It’s too small.”

She said Christopher’s parents stayed in the apartment while they were in China, and the two suitcases they brought was too much.

“They were sort of fumbling over each other,” Zaarath said.

With the holidays coming, the Prokops plan to hang a wreath and put up Christmas bushes — but in the hallway.

“Maybe I’ll just get Christmas-tree pajamas and wear them around,” laughed Zaarath. “That’ll be good.”

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:GrandCruClasses.com – Tracy Ellen Kamens & Jared Skolnick

Founded by Tracy Ellen Kamens and Jared M. Skolnick, Grand Cru Classes was created out of a serious love of wine and a desire to share that love with others. Believing that wine is always fun, they want to make learning about wine an entertaining and enjoyable experience.

Moreover, while they focus on taking the mystery out of wine and making it more approachable, they are consummate educators and thus do not “dumb-down” their classes.

Tracy and Jared  firmly believe that tasting wine is one of the most important aspects of learning about wine. Accordingly, all of their wine events include the opportunity to comparison taste through several different wines.

From vine to wine, they embrace the entire process of wine production. To this end, the couple planted an educational vineyard adjacent to their tasting classroom to further enhance students’ experiences and produce a small quantity of wine. Overall, the world of wine is an ever-changing one and they venture to stay abreast of the latest news and developments to keep themselves and their students up-to-date.

Why they are unique:

  • Credentialed wine educators: All of the class instructors have completed extensive courses in wine.
  • Customized learning materials: Participants receive educational tools.
  • Guided wine tastings: Participants learn to taste wine like a professional while comparing and contrasting different wines.
  • A true learning experience, not just a wine tasting: Events are engaging and entertaining, but also include extensive content on the theme or topic.

The CEO (Chief Education Officer) Tracy Ellen Kamens adores wine and loves to teach. So much so that when the idea to combine her love of teaching with her passion for wine presented itself, she jumped at the opportunity.

Over the past several years, Tracy Ellen has pursued wine studies in earnest (yes, life is tough) to provide herself with a solid foundation in wine knowledge. She then uses her vast experience in education and professional development to craft classes and events that educate as well as entertain.

She is a self-professed wine geek, but is not a wine snob. In fact, she is an equal opportunity drinker, ferreting out wonderful wines at all price points. However, she does draw the line at anything out of a jug.

While she promises to make wine more approachable for consumers, she is proud of her wine credentials, which include the Certified Specialist of Wine credential from the Society of Wine Educators, Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s Diploma of Wine & Spirits (with Merit) and its Intermediate and Advanced Certificates (both with distinction), the International Bordeaux Instructor title from L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux. In addition, she has completed the Napa Valley Vintners’ Wine Educators Academy as well as the Wine Australia USA AusWISE program.

As a journalist and member of the Wine Media Guild, Tracy has written forWine EnthusiastLong Island Wine PressLong Island Wine Gazette and Wine Sediments, and is the author of a monthly educational newsletter, Grand Cru Grapevine, and the Grape Matter blog.

She holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. degree from Cornell University.

Jared M. Skolnick serves as Grand Cru Classes’ COO – aka our Cork Opening Officer. In this capacity, he ensures that everyone’s glass is always at least half full (never half empty). While he has earned a master’s degree (MBA), he prefers hands-on learning and has been the lead for Grand Cru Classes’ forays into grape growing and winemaking. To that end, he serves as Winemaker for our Trajadoja basement winery and successfully created his first wine, Sous-sol Chardonnay (everything sounds better in French), in 2006. Jared is also responsible for full vineyard management of our small (99 vines to be exact), but educational vineyard.

In addition, Jared has pursued extensive studies into the world of cheese, earning the moniker “Cheese Wiz” and building a solid foundation in cheese types and pairing principles.

Presently in the technology field (perhaps just an all-around geek?), Jared spent more than ten years in the hospitality industry, eventually serving as General Manager of a well regarded family restaurant in South Florida.

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Dearly Beloved, Please Send Cash

Venture capitalists are playing Scrooge. Banks have locked their vaults. Even successful business owners are scrambling for cash.

A startup today needs a new strategy when it comes to raising cash. And Drue Kataoka and Svetlozar Kazanjiev have come up with one: Matrimony.

When the Palo Alto, Calif., couple got engaged last year, they came up with the brilliantly cheeky idea of tapping their wedding guests as funding sources. They dubbed the project “The World’s First Startup Registry” and researched exactly what it would take to get their tech company, Aboomba, off the ground.

Take a VC to lunch? $291. A week’s worth of health insurance? $134. Garage rental for a month? $250.

“We wanted to make sure our guests were part of both important ventures that we are embarking on,” Kazanjiev says. “And we leveraged the wedding and brought a lot of people in the [Silicon] Valley to create buzz and excitement around Aboomba.”

Indeed, Kazanjiev and Kataoka, two Stanford grads with deep connections in the tech world, engineered their nuptials as if it were a serious business plan.

On the guest list: Venture capitalist Tim Draper, Bill Fenwick, co-founder of Fenwick & West LLP, one of the area’s leading law firms, plus a coterie of the Valley’s engineering and academic elite.

On the wedding website: A video of Kataoka, 31, an artist and blogger at ValleyZen, and Kazanjiev, 32, a tech entrepreneur. “Our registry is simple,” he says, “and powered by PayPal.”

The wedding announcement? Forget the society page. Kataoka hit the press circuit, landing coverage on local television and newspapers, and scads of blog entries on sites such as Gawker and NYTimes.com.

Soon, the list went viral, and people who weren’t invited were inspired to give. Amazon Web Services offered a week of cloud hosting, a VC asked them to lunch and an entrepreneurship group, TiE Silicon Valley, threw them a fancy reception.

Kataoka and Kazanjiev tied the knot in Stanford in August, and they report it was in all ways a success: They got every item on their registry at least three times over–particularly impressive considering they’ve said almost nothing about what Aboomba will actually do once it launches next year.

“It’s a platform that will empower entrepreneurship,” Kazanjiev says. “We don’t want the idea to leak out.”

Draper, who gave a toast at the event (and bought the viral warfare item), didn’t mind being tapped for cash. “I would rather people raise money for a startup than to end up with toasters and demitasse cups they don’t need.”

As for the honeymoon? There wasn’t one, of course. The newlyweds have a business to launch.

Original article written by Jennifer Wang for Entrepreneur Magazine Dec 2009

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:AmericanAcu.com – Kristen Burris & Tony Burris

The subject line of the email stated that, “We get women pregnant together in business.”  I dare any one of our reader to NOT open that email.

The opening paragraph of that email was just as intriguing. “From across the room standing on worn wooden boards mimicking my first attempt at Tai Chi I knew he was the one.  Two months later he walked into my graduate level massage class as one of the instructors.  Two years and two firemen later we finally went on our 12 hour dream date that hasn’t ended in over 10 years.  Two babies later we have gotten hundreds of women pregnant-together!”  Find out how: www.AmericanAcu.com.

Kristen Burris, L.Ac. is a nationally-recognized acupuncturist and herbalist for women’s health.

She has been featured on National Public Radio, KUSI-TV News, KPOP Radio, and Pregtastic Radio Podcasts. Ms. Burris has also been interviewed by Parenting magazine, Natural Health magazine, Better Nutrition magazine, Achieving Families magazine, Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine, Today’s Local News, the Quad City Timesand most recently, the Eagle Independent newspaper. Kristen is also a contributor to the Eating Healthalisciously and Review Anti-Aging blogs.

Ms. Burris’ primary focus is women’s health. She treats patients for infertility, menstrual irregularities, ailments during pregnancy and hormonal imbalances throughout menopause.  Kristen is one of the only acupuncture experts in Idaho with extensive experience in the IVF process and has provided acupuncture to patients during IVF and IUI procedures. Ms. Burris often accompanies patients during their In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures to increase pregnancy by 50% (Sterility and Fertility)April 2002 and 2006.

Her practice is not limited to women’s health exclusively.  She treats patients for everything from migraines to low back pain to irritable bowel syndrome. Ms. Burris is an advocate for integrating Eastern and Western medicine for optimal health. Kristen combines her skills of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and nutrition with her compassionate approach to promote healing in her patients.

Ms. Burris and her husband, Tony Burris L.Ac., M.S., are the founders of the wellness center American Acupuncture Center in Eagle, Idaho Her vast experience enabled her to treat patients at San Diego Hospice, UCSD Free Clinic and UCSD Dental Acupuncture Study. The majority of her referrals are from medical doctors, including several of the most prestigious fertility centers in the country.

Tony Burris, L.Ac., provides women in mid-life with acupuncture and natural health solutions for menopause and perimenopausal syndrome. His practice focuses on long-term wellness strategies for bone health, weight maintenance, cardiovascular health and hormone balancing and all of the 34 symptoms associated with menopausal life transition.

Tony is a 15-year practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and was an instructor at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) in San Diego. His reputation and successful work with professional athletes was the inspiration and subject of a feature story in the San Diego Union-Tribune . More recently he was interviewed by theEagle Independent, the Valley Times, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the Morning Call, and the Hartford Courant as well as Fox News 13 in SeattleFox News 5 in San Diego and WGN-TV in Chicago.

Tony graduated with honors from Bowling Green State University and went on to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine where he was a Helio Scholarship winner and graduated magna cum laude. He is a long-time practitioner of tai chi, qi gong and meditation and spoke at the University of California at San Diego Medical School on the subject of alternative therapies.

Tony studied the classic Chinese medical texts Shang Han Lun and Jing Gue Yao Lue with Dr. Jian Min Fan, one of the foremost experts on those books. Tony also spent several years of formal study at the Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego, where he was ordained as a Tao Shih (道士), a title given to those formally recognized for their knowledge and cultivation of Taoist traditions and practices.

by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Reachachild.org – Paul Gilbertson & Chris Gilbertson

“Together all things are possible!”

Paul and Chris Gilbertson are the Co-Founders of Reachachild.org.  They have watched it start from just an idea and today  it is becoming the fastest growing “Crime Prevention” program in the country!  They started by placing 350 backpacks into squad cars and ambulances in December of 2007 and are now in over 15,000 squad cars and ambulances with these “B.A.C.K. Packets” ( Means, Become A Cheerful Kid!) filled with books for children!

There is never a dull moment for the two of them.  Chris works as a RN at a local hospital and Paul is the driving force behind the expansion of this initiative!  Together, they are making a difference in the lives of thousands of children across the country!  Please visit their website at www.reachachild.org to find out more information and to help them spread the word throughout the country regarding this heartwarming program!

The story of how this organization was created is unbelievable.  We have posted the story that Paul sent us via email.

“It was May of 2007 when my wife Chris and I decided that it might be a good time to give my children’s book author ideas another chance!  I had been involved in an extensive real estate and condominium project over the past five or six years as one of the partners and was now ready to start a new chapter in my life.  Especially since the bottom was falling out of the real estate market and the area that I was working in was high priced luxury condominiums. They were the first ones being hit with the major recession and the collapse in the housing market!

I had written about twenty children’s stories back in 1999 and 2000 and actually published my first book “Kind-Hearted Pig… With Wings and a Halo” back around that same time.  It was a neat story about a family of piglets, sibling rivalry, and the importance of loving your brothers and sisters.  It actually circulated in all of the Walgreen stores in Wisconsin the first several months after it came out.  But with four young children ( Erika Faith, Chelsea Joy, Shyla Hope and Luke Thomas) it began to feel that if I were to pursue this children’s book author idea I would have to  travel all over the country promoting the book, doing book signings and readings to as many people and in as many states as I could… taking me away from my family for extended periods of time!  That wasn’t what I really felt like doing.  I am the kind of dad that loves to watch his kids participate in everything from a soccer game or basketball playoff to a softball tournament or supervise an overnight when all their friends wanted to camp out on the living room floor!

But times had changed and there seemed to be no better time than the present to resurrect the idea of becoming that famous children’s book author that I had thought about so many years ago!  Well, we set off to an author’s and illustrator’s convention in New York City over the Memorial Day weekend in 2007 with hopes of doing just that!  However as things unfolded while in New York, (and especially after a tour of “Ground Zero” the site of the 9/11 disaster) a new idea began to surface in my mind.  The idea that kept coming back to me involved reaching out to children in crisis situations with the gift of a children’s book to help them cope with the trauma and stress of a crisis moment.

When we returned from the trip to New York, I began to try and figure out how a person could get children’s books to kids in crisis situations just as they are happening!  My youngest daughter, Shyla Hope, and I tried to drive out to a disaster site in Gays Mills, Wisconsin after it was declared a national disaster  because of all the flooding that took place in that area.  Well, to make a long story short, we arrived at the site of all the flooding with about three boxes of my own children’s book ready to hand out to all the children affected by the tragedy… only to find a deserted town roped off by the local police and sheriff departments.  So much for that idea!     On the drive home it became apparent that if we wanted to reach children at the moment of a crisis the only way we were going to do that was if we teamed up with the local police, sheriff and first responders to help us get these books into the hands of children when they needed that distraction and comfort the most… at the scene of the accident or crisis!

After a call to my local Chief of Police in Waunakee, Wisconsin I got the contact information to the chairman of the monthly Dane County Chiefs of Police Association and asked him if I could come to one of their next meetings and talk to the members about my idea .I wanted to put children’s books into a backpack and place this backpack into every squad car or ambulance for the officers and volunteers to give out ( one book at a time) to children that they saw at the scene of an accident or fire or other domestic situation where children were involved!  He was more than interested and invited me to attend their meeting in November on the 8th day of the month.  I confirmed that meeting date and time and was now getting excited about seeing how the first responders and police would react to the idea of giving books to children in crisis!

By the time November  arrived, I had already developed the idea a bit further and started to call this program the “B.A.C.K. Packets” program, ( the acronym stands for Become A Cheerful Kid… and that is exactly what we are trying to do!).   In preparation for the meeting, my wife Chris and  I  developed the name for our  organization and registered it on August 16th of 2007 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit under the name of “With Wings & a Halo – R.E.A.C.H. a Child, Inc.”   We thought of naming it after our original book series and the R.E.A.C.H. acronym would stand for Reading Enjoyment Affects Childhood Happiness, which is one of the outcomes that we are trying to achieve from this program in the first place!   Just before the 8th arrived, I invited a friend of mine , Lory Goetsch, to join me!  She had written a children’s journal and had it published herself and was excited about the idea that we had come up with. She wanted to share her perspective on it with the officers as well and welcomed the chance to join me at the meeting so I wouldn’t have to go in there all by myself!

Needless to say, standing in front of a group all dressed up in blue and brass with badges and handcuffs can be a bit intimidating!  However, after our ten minute presentation to the group the President of the Association, Assistant Chief Randy Gaber, stood up and said, “Paul , that is the best idea I have ever heard!!  How soon can you get the program going?”   I looked at Lory and she kind of gave me that …what are we going to do now, look!  I asked the president of the association when their next meeting was going to be held… only to find out that they were having their next meeting on December 13th in Mazomanie…  and they were wondering if they would be able to get it launched before Christmas.  My next question was, “How many squad cars and ambulances are we talking about?”  Randy thought a moment and then replied, “About 350, give or take a few!”  I did the quick calculations in my head and figured out that with about twelve books in each backpack we would need about 4,000 books to kick off the program!  Yikes!  I thought it is either now or never!  So I gave them all a big thumbs up, even if I had to go and buy the books myself we were going to launch it next month!

Our prayers were answered and it now seemed that we were soon to be off and rolling with our new initiative!  In fact, I remember walking into my home office when I returned from that first meeting to find the phone ringing on my desk.  I answered it and was delighted to find out that the person on the other end of the line was a local woman that had read about or program in an article that was published in the local “Waunakee Tribune” that had just come out that day.  She wanted to donate 500 children’s books to help us get started!  Believe it or not, one of the next phone calls came from an old friend of mine that I used to work with in the Boy Scouts of America and he wanted to tell me about an organization that donates books to children!  I  quickly made the call to “First Book”, the organization that he was talking about, and they, too,  were happy to supply us with over 3,000 books for our start up efforts!  Now… to get some backpacks and volunteers to help assemble all of these “B.A.C.K. Packets”!

Fortunately for us, Lory was quick to line up half of the varsity football players from Waunakee to help stamp, sticker and stuff the backpacks!  Together, we managed to assemble them all and after several long days and hard work, we were able to load up a Penske truck with all of the 350 “B.A.C.K. Packets”  and headed to the “Kick Off” meeting in Mazomanie!

During the course of getting this program up and running, I remember one time at the dinner table in our home when I first shared the idea of what we were about to involve ourselves with… to all of our children.  I was telling them that things were about to change for us in quite a dramatic way!  I was no longer going to be making any money starting up this non-profit organization, and as a result   we were going to be simplifying our lifestyle somewhat.  There wouldn’t be any more of those vacations to warm places in the winter, or dining out as much anymore, and likely, we would be moving out of this home and into one that would be somewhat smaller and less expensive.  When I said these words, the room became very silent.  The two older girls in college offered to stop going to school and help out if that was something that might help the situation.  Their selflessness in this comment nearly brought tears to my eyes!  I quickly assured them that that shouldn’t be necessary and I told them that I am hoping and praying that good people will help this program become what God wants this program to be… and that every day is a gift… and we will see where this path leads us!

As you likely imagined, the “Kick Off” went without a glitch and today this “B.A.C.K. Packets” program is in over 14,000 squad cars and ambulances in over 12 states and growing daily!  In fact, the local police have begun to call this initiative, “The fastest growing crime prevention program in the country” because of the positive relationships that are developed between an officer and a child, through the gift of a children’s book, in a time of a crisis!  One officer commented to me the following, “You know Paul, these kids that we are giving books to who are 6, 7  and 8… will in ten years be 16, 17 and 18 and either running from the law or embracing it!”

Our hope is that you will want to join our efforts of expanding this initiative across America and into every squad car and ambulance in this country!  We are hoping to take this initiative to the national level within the next three years and globally within the next ten!  For further information on how you

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:

can help out our organization visit our website at www.REACHaChild.org or contact us by email at paul@REACHaChild.org Together all things are possible!”

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Sittercity.com – Genevieve Thiers & Dan Ratner

Genevieve Thiers is the founder and CEO of Sittercity.com and her husband Dan Ratner runs the business with her and acts as Chief Technology officer of Sittercity.com.

Genevieve came up with the idea in 2001, when she was in college.  She was doing some research for her business model and checked out Match.com – and there she found her soon-to-be husband and business partner Dan Ratner.  It’s been a very successful marriage both professionally and personally.

Sittercity.com is America’s largest and most trusted online source for child care, pet care, senior care, home care and tutoring. As the industry leader in online care, Sittercity has a network of more than a million caregiver profiles nationwide, and helps families and individuals across America find the perfect in-home care provider quickly, easily and safely.

Care seekers on Sittercity have full access to hundreds even thousands of experienced sitters in their area with detailed profiles including photos, experience, background checks, references and reviews.  They can either search for their perfect match using a wide range of caregiver criteria or post a job and have caregivers apply directly. Care seekers can use Sittercity’s four-step screening process to select the perfect match for their family, which includes checking references, reading caregiver reviews, conducting interviews and reviewing background checks. Caregivers can sign-up for free and care seekers can join with unlimited access for as low as $8 per month, substantially lower than the $2,000 most agencies charge.  Care seekers can read and post reviews on caregivers and use Sittercity.com’s interactive rate calculator to determine the pay rate.

[Full disclosure: Shani and I are huge fans and users of Sittercity’s services.  It’s an amazing service for a family with four children.]

 

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Bluemontcapital.net – Carolyn Stys & Mark Stys

Bluemont Capital Advisors, LLC is an independent registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Bluemont is made up of professionals with over 60 years of expertise in numerous areas of financial services.

The Bluemont investment philosophy strives for global diversification and low equity correlation while tactically allocating assets to help clients meet their risk and return goals.

Bluemont actively manages a client portfolio and does not believe in a “set it and forget it” philosophy, or tell their clients, “don’t read your statements, just throw them in the drawer” ignoring poor performance.

Bluemont Capital is run by the husband and wife team of Carolyn and Mark Stys.

They started their firm a year ago. Carolyn and Mark have been married for 24
years, and they have 3 sons. The Stys have worked in the industry of financial services for a total of 38 years  for top tier firms but decided to strike out on their own.  “It can be tough to close the office door at times but so far so good.”

Carolyn Stys – President

Carolyn has been working in the financial services since the early 1980s and has a breadth of experience that encompasses roles of increasing responsibility at many top firms.

Carolyn began her career with Merrill Lynch in operations, account reconciliation, and securities processing in Boston in 1985 supporting Merrills’ branches in the New England Region. After moving to California, Carolyn worked in the private client group for Drexel Burnham Lambert and in institutional sales for Lehman Brothers before joining PIMCO in 1992. She became Senior Portfolio Analyst where her team was responsible for the
pricing of PIMCO’s institutional portfolios.

Upon returning to Boston in 1994, Carolyn joined State Street Bank & Trust as a Client Service Officer for State Street Capital Markets. Carolyn later joined Fidelity Investments as development manager for FACTS – Fidelity’s portfolio management accounting system. Carolyn moved to Investors Bank &
Trust in 2000 where she was asked to combine her securities accounting and processing knowledge, client service skills and understanding of technology in the role Program Manager for IBT’s flagship product offering.

As President of Bluemont Capital Advisors, LLC Carolyn oversees the day to day
operations and implementation of the client service model for the firm.

Carolyn attended Trinity University in Washington DC. Carolyn, in addition to being the mother of three sons is active in a number of philanthropic efforts including 100 Women Strong and in charities that work with children who age out of foster care.

Mark Stys – Chief Investment Officer/Chief Compliance Officer

Mark started his financial services career at Fidelity Investments in 1993 as a bond trader with Fidelity Capital Markets where he spent 5 years trading US government debt and mortgage backed securities. He later became head of Fixed Income and International Strategy where he worked with numerous Fidelity companies, US, and foreign investment firms in coordinating brokerage and investment strategies as well as Fidelity’s offerings to its customers. Mark also held other senior positions within Fidelity including VP-Investment
Manager Product Development for the Investment Advisor Group.  Other experience includes work as a partner with an alternative investment firm where he assisted numerous start-up and early-stage public companies engage private placements with institutional and accredited investor clients.

As Chief Investment Advisor, Mark oversees the portfolio strategy, asset allocation and the trading of securities for client portfolios. He is a past member of the NASD Fixed Income Pricing Committee, a speaker for the NASD Town Hall meetings and often serves as a panel member for various investment and trading seminars.

Mark is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds a Masters Degree from Webster University. He is a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot and currently advises the United States Marine Corps’ Strategic Initiatives Group on the implications of rapidly changing economic conditions and their effect on threats in various areas of operation. Mark is very active in coaching his three sons youth teams.

 by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Word-Nerd.com – Jenn Cohen & Gary Cohen

Jenn and Gary Cohen have been married about 2 1/2 years now, and they started their business, Word-Nerd.com, this past summer.  It is truly an amalgamation of their strengths and abilities, and has been a “source of a lot of joy for us (frustration, too, but then again, it is a start-up business!).”  They both have “day jobs,” too, so they are juggling the demands of their other careers with the sweat and tears of running their own business.  “As you might imagine, life is crazy!”

Word-Nerd teaches vocabulary to students for the SAT and other standardized tests.  Jenn has been an occasional SAT tutor and former class instructor for years, and in the spring was tutoring a student that needed vocabulary help.  Her day job is psychological testing, and she knows a bit about learning theory, and wanted a resource for this student that grouped hard-to-learn words by category to make them easier to remember.  After researching what was available, Jenn quickly determined that everything in existence at that point was pretty useless.  She complained to Gary, and he said “well, why don’t we do it?”  And that was the beginning…

Gary is a former attorney, who has recently emerged from creating a start-up online media company, which was eventually sold. He’s currently working as a  legal recruiter, but he obviously has a lot of business experience and as a bonus, could do all of Word-Nerd’s legal work!  He found and engaged the company’s web designer, and has been the primary person for handling all of the “business stuff,” while Jenn has done the majority of the site content and marketing efforts.  “Business is slowly picking up, and we have high hopes for the future, with lots of ideas for related sites to pursue next year.”

 

by : Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:ESPY Hair – Shira Jacobs & Larry Jacobs

Shira and Larry Jacobs own and operate a Specialty Retail store in Beverly Hills called ESPY Hair.  They import and sell high-quality human hair.  Sounds strange, we know.  But, you’d be surprised how many women rely on hair enhancements for added length and fullness to their own hair. More importantly, how having beautiful hair impacts a woman’s overall confidence.

Few would argue that for decades Mercedes Benz has been a world leader in luxury automobiles. Discerning drivers prefer the unparallel quality and performance the brand embodies. When it comes to hair, ESPY understands that many require these same attributes: quality and performance.

That’s why ESPY Hair hand selects only natural virgin hair with all the cuticles running in the same direction. That means matting is simply out of the question. The company’s signature hand tied wefts are thin, yet sturdy – helping to make enhancements undetectable. These are just a few of the characteristics of ESPY Hair. In short, clients can be confident in the company’s commitment to provide their customers with the very best.

Why the name ESPY (pronounced es-pie)? Because ESPY mean “noticeable or to catch sight of.” Like the recognition one gets from driving an elegant automobile, ESPY Hair’s luxurious strands are sure to bring you admiring glances and the attention you deserve.

Shira and Larry have been doing business at the same location for 5 years.  They’ve been together for 13 years and married for 6.  “Running a business together is total bliss, and at times, a total nightmare.”

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:Moisturejamzz.com – Sandy Abrams & Ron Abrams

Dry hands are usually not a good thing, unless you are Sandy Abrams, the founder of Moisture Jamzz, Inc. who updated, upgraded and modernized the old white-cotton-glove beauty secret. The secret has been passed down for generations… because it works.  With Moisture Jamzz, it works even better.

Moisture Jamzz has built a reputation for quality fabric and craftsmanship.  Their signature designs make Moisture Jamzz a top selling accessory in the beauty/spa industry and the Moisture Gloves have been featured in top lifestyle publications such as In Style, The New York Times Style section, Cosmo, Redbook, Modern Bride, Launch Pad.

Sandy runs Moisture Jamzz with her husband, Ron.

“My husband retired from being a trademark lawyer 15 yrs. ago when my business started taking off.  We still run it together today & love working together.  Its been such a blessing for our kids. We work out of the house and are around for the kids, who are now 11 and 13 years old.  My husband absolutely loved  as he says “checking his ego at the door” 15 years ago, leaving an unsatisfying law career behind to do jobs that he was way too over qualified to do like be our shipping clerk and deal with  accounts receiveable etc…But because it was our own little business, he was thrilled!

I had developed a moisturizing glove for the spa industry and nobody could believe my husband left a lucrative law firm job to run the business side of my beauty product business, no one thought it would last!

We have sold our line, Moisture Jamzz, in Bed, Bath & Beyond, Linens NThings, Brookstone, Bloomingdales, QVC and private labeled the moisturizing gloves for many of the big names in beauty like Estee Lauder, H2O PLUS, Bath & Body Works, Crabtree & Evelyn and more…

Because my husband handles all the stuff that would give me headache (insurance, accounting, employee issues, etc) , and I handle sales and marketing, we don’t nag each other and neither one of us in the “boss” , we are each in charge of separate things, so its a perfect partnership!”

by: Sam Leccima ans Shani Leccima

DrSlovin.com – Brenda Slovin & Erik Slovin

When we created Marriedmillions.com, we knew that we would find couples like the Slovin’s. Read their wonderful story below.

My husband and I met while in Chiropractic school in Marietta, GA.

It seems as though Erik had been wanting to meet me for a while. He would comment to his roommate when he would see me that he really wanted to meet me.  He never initiated contact.

At synagogue during the High Holy Days, a friend of mine invited me to break fast with her and some other graduate students at Emory U.  She invited Erik to attend too….  I decided last minute not to go… I was too hungry to wait!

Erik went and met my friend.  He asked her, “Do you know any Jewish girls at Life University?”  “Sure” she said, “You mean you don’t know Brenda?”  “Who’s Brenda?” he asked.

Well he wrote down my phone number, and for the next few weeks in school we would talk on the phone.  He would still see me in the common areas at school, wanting to meet me.  He didn’t know the girl he was calling at night, was the same girl he was staring at while in school!  LOL!

We finally met.  And after about 3 months he had the guts to tell me the story.

We dated all though school, and got engaged while at a chiropractic seminar.

We graduated school, moved to Connecticut, got married, and opened our practice all within a year of each other.  We’ve been practicing all day together ever since.

It’s been 8 years, and we couldn’t be happier.  We have a busy practice and we love being together throughout the day.

He takes care of the items I don’t enjoy, accounting, statistics… all the number stuff and I  take care of the employees, advertising, software, marketing etc.

It works well, and we still love waking and practicing with each other each day.  We’ll be married 8 years in November.

You can learn more about the Slovin Chiropractic Center by clicking here.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.



5 Things That Happy Couples Do in Their Relationships

1. Be a detective of your spouse

We all want to feel important, especially to our spouse. Pay attention to what makes your spouse light up. Spend a week to learn the following about your partner and if you can’t figure it out just ask, “Honey, what is your favorite…?”

  • Show
  • Food
  • Flower
  • Time of year
  • Dessert
  • Outdoor activities
  • Date

When you decode this you will have a whole arsenal of things to feed your spouse’s spirit.

2. Make time to connect with each other daily

This is a very important step in a healthy relationship. It’s funny, because I always thought that when you lived with somebody, you would automatically know everything that was going on. But I have found that if couples don’t take that time to connect with each other, it’s really easy for life to get in the way.

My husband and I have what we call “water time” with each other. We go into the hot tub or take a shower together in the morning and talk about our day. We find if we don’t do this we start to get frustrated with each other because we feel out of touch.

3. Remind your spouse how attractive they are to you

We all like to fee like we are attractive to our spouse. It is very important to communicate our desire for each other. We want our spouse to look to us for validation, so doing this is the only way we can achieve that success.

When a couple experience rejection from each other, it is hard for them to want to give complements. But this is a very important step to rebuilding a relationship, and keeping it strong. Be authentic with your spouse when you complement them. Don’t be fake in your words, your spouse won’t believe you and it will defeat the purpose.

4. Keep a clean slate every day

This is a really important step in creating an honest, healthy relationship. In your alone time, every day, talk about the things that are bothering you, and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. My husband has done something that has helped us keep a clean slate, and not get mad at each other. He says, “I know you didn’t do this on purpose and I know if you knew that it upset me you would have never done it, but…”. This simple statement lets me know that he knows that I have his best interest in mind always. It keeps me from getting defensive and helps us get to a resolution fast.

5. Get spiritual together

In another University of Chicago survey, this one of married couples, 75 percent of the Americans who pray with their spouses reported that their marriages are “very happy” (compared to 57 percent of those who don’t pray). Those who pray together are also more likely to say they respect each other, and discuss their marriage together.

Talk about incorporating a simple grace at dinnertime, or maybe some soul-searching meditation as a couple. Partners that routinely pray together say that a shared spiritual life helps keep them close.

This post was written by Meg Anderson at www.coachingyourdestiny.com

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Tpgtex.com – Orit & Robert Pennington

TPGTEX is an experienced labeling and solutions provider of all aspects of AutomaticIdentification and Data Collection (AIDC). With over 20 years experience in the Hazardous, Industrial and Commercial Labeling business, their client list includes both large corporations and small companies alike.

Orit and Robert have been working together – running their business for 7 years now. They have 4 kids and work from their home offices.  They have 2 offices at home.

The Pennington’s met in another place ( a company that is no longer in business).  He was the boss and she was a help desk technician.  It is the second marriage for both of them.

Like most couples that work together the Pennington’s basically spend 24 hours a day; 7 days a week together and neither one of them would have it any other way. After 7 years they still love what they do, love each other more every day and they are doing well in our small business.

Orit and Robert run their business with three distinct philosophies in mind:

1. The clients needs come firstTPGTEX is committed to focusing on the clients needs. They will only recommend solutions that fit a business’ budget, timeframe and requirements. Over the years they have saved thousands of dollars for their customers by insuring that they only get the barcode and labeling software, scanners and labels they actually needed.

2. Education and Training: The Pennington’s strongly believe in educating their customers, empowering them to solve basic problems on their own, without the need to call for support every time they experience a problem. The company’s training is customized to the skill level and knowledge of each customer and each user.

3. Implementation: Implementation should be easy and not a complicated process. TPGTEX strongly believes that there is no “One-Size-Fits-All”, an approach so common in the labeling industry. The company prepares the ground work with the customer, so when the time comes to install – the client company is ready.

Robert Pennington has extensive experience of over 30 years in the chemical industry, specializing in computerized hazardous chemical Databases, Labeling and MSDS systems. In 1995 he designed for ELT it’s leading product “DrumMaster” and integrated it with various databases and packages. i.e. SAP, J.D. Edwards and other ERP and MSDS systems. In 1999 he helped form EV1 – a very successful ISP, and as VP was responsible for over 250 people in support and software development as well as instrumental in the creation of one of the largest web hosting companies in the US. In 2002 he founded TPGTEX, as a Label solutions company. The company concentrates on finding solutions for any industry or business wishing to print labels using existing data resources or creating new ones for them.

Robert holds a BBA from Emory University in Computer Science and Finance and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

Orit Pennington – prior to joining TPGTEX, Orit’s background included designing and the implementation of numerous training programs for various organizations, beginning with the Israeli Army. Since 1998 she worked as a support team leader becoming the Supervisor’s manager, at RackShack – which at the time was one of the largest web hosting companies in US. Orit performed analytical evaluation of customer needs and designed customer focused support procedures, followed by training and supervision of the ongoing work. She has designed number of web-based systems, including an intricate inventory control package. Also Orit was involved in the marketing strategy decision making in the company. In 2002 Orit helped form TPGTEX, implementing the motto: “fit the solution to the customer – not the other way around”

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Allenpromo.net – Deb & Allen Nelson

Deb and Allen Nelson started Allen Promotional Products in 2006 as an additional source of income while both of them worked other full time jobs.  Allen Promotional Products combines custom imprinted items with targeted marketing campaigns that produce exceptional promotional results.

Later that year, Deb was laid off from her postion at a major non-profit just before she was to return from maternity leave after their second son was born.  Deb ran the business on the side for a while but ramped up to more of a full time basis late in 2007.

The next year (2008), her husband was laid off from his job and all of a sudden they were running their business together full time.  Well, as full time as is possible with three kids now (4, 3 and one – all boys) at home.  They love what they do and they love doing it together!

Allen Promotional Products has  grown every year and October 2009 will mark the first time that they will hire their first two sales people.  The Nelson’s have also partnered with two retail establishments who mostly do shirt embroidery and screen printing but who often get requests for what the Nelson’s do (promotional products).

Until recently, Allen has done much of the business development and, Deb handled sales and order processing.  Her role will change with the addition of sales people but they will still be running the business together.

Take a moment to visit their clothing and hat website:

www.companycasuals.com/allenpromo

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Blackwingforpets.com, Blackwing.com – Two Couples That Run Two Businesses – TOGETHER! – Anthony & Amanda, and Roger & Beth

Amanda, and Anthony own a natural pet treat company, along with another married couple who are their partners. Their partners, Roger and Beth, also own a fantastic natural and organic people food company. They use the same organic meats for their pet treats as for the people foods!

Anthony and Amanda sold another business recently.  Because of the sale Amanda has played a more active role in their business, Blackwingforpets.com.  Blackwing for Pets was born to begin creating new alternatives for the most discerning dog lovers! The Blackwing Five Star Organic Beef and Buffalo Bones are unlike any other dog bones, since they are made from only Organic piedmontese Beef and Organic Buffalo. This guarantees a superior healthy dog bone free of toxins, pesticides, hormones and other added chemicals which are bad for your dog and bad for the environment.

Amanda works trade shows with Anthony and she calls on customers.  They originally met when she was managing a natural pet supply store and her knowledge of the field has been a tremendous help to the business.  The Bennie’s have a 5 yr old and a 12 yr old.  It’s a lot for them but they are finding that it makes their already great marriage even better to be working on their new dream together.

Their partners, Roger and Beth run Blackwing.com.  Blackwing has been offering healthy organic meats to retail and wholesale customers in North America for more than 15 years.  Blackwing is a leading supplier of meats to 5 star chefs throughout the U.S.

One couple handles the “pets” side of the business while the other handle the “human” side of the business. Both businesses are run from CT and IL.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Harmonycomputing.com – Susan & Kris VanHemert

Ninety percent of small business owners would still rather start their own business than work for someone else, despite the recession (http:// blogs.bnet.com). We could not agree more.

Greetings from northwest Atlanta, Georgia. We are Susan and Kris VanHemert, owners of Harmony Computing Services, Inc. You guessed right – we are married and in business together. June 2009 marked Harmony’s six year anniversary, and our own nine year wedding anniversary.

In late 2002, both of us were presented with opportunities to depart our fulltime jobs. During the midst of what seemed to be a forced mass exodus out of IT jobs in this country at the time, we knew we would have to be creative in our next career choices. Hence the beginnings of Harmony, a managed IT services group specializing in taking exceptional care of small business technology needs and challenges.

Being married and in business together creates a unique relationship. Our business education is an ongoing and a never ending journey. In the past few years some of our best education has come from our diverse client base. Their insights and advice have helped us along the way, as well as hours of networking, business coaching, and yes some meaningful dialog between our- selves. (Let’s be truthful!) We have employed the objective talent of a third person on our management team to break the tie in decision making obstacles. We needed someone not related to us, that has our business interest at heart, that can take the emotion out of differences in decision making. The three of us run the company, make decisions together, and plan the future of the company.

We have unique and individual roles within our organization. We learned early on that we needed to work separately. Anyone who has survived a start-up knows that there is never a lack of work to be done. The three of us (our management team) have clearly defined responsibilities. Business Development is Susan’s primary focus. Technical Direction is Kris, and billing/accounting/ peace maker falls on Alecia. Dividing responsibilities clearly, discussing strategic planning and bringing in dispassionate third parties when appropriate is a management model that works for us.

We came to the entrepreneurial battleground equipped with a strong, relevant mix of experience. Kris entered with 10 years IT management experience and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Susan joined the fray with 10 years marketing experience and an ongoing B.S. in Business Administration (marketing concentration). We both have advanced knowledge of business process improvement, work flow analysis, and quality management system implementation.

In February 2009 Harmony was awarded the coveted WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) certification. (www.wbenc.org). An arduous process, we are one of 483 WBE certified companies in Georgia. With this certification we are now eligible to bid on local and national government jobs that we were excluded from without certification. We’re very excited about the doors this will open for us. We are ready to grow. To be part of one of the most dynamic and fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy: the 10.1 million businesses owned by women is a unique position for us to be in and we are game-on.

Working with Microsoft technologies, our clients trust us with Managed IT services (flat fee server, workstation and network support) design, installation & mainte- nance of networks, Exchange, SQL, Ac- tive Directory, Remote desktop, IT strategy consulting, disaster recovery planning, monitoring, remote data backup and more. We partner with those who specialize in complementary services to provide a full spectrum of technical capabilities. Our ideal new client will be in commercial office space, 10 desktops minimum, and at least one server. Some of our clients have been with us since our humble beginnings in 2002/03. We are truly grateful.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently had an article entitled “Entrepreneurship is Alive and Kicking.” We believe this to be true. No one can deny that small business in this country will continue to fuel the economic engine that drives business. We can attest to the trials of being self employed. We’ve made every mistake in the book at some point over the last six years. However, with the Georgia unemployment rate currently at 8.6% and the national where we are – in business. We have a motto for the times and that is “Reject the recession, let’s get to work!”

The article above was originally written in THE INDEPENDENT, a Publication of ICCA. (March/April 2009 Issue)

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

 











Mygovcoach.com – Kelly & Brian Fleury

Kelly and Brian Fleury operate a young business together called www.mygovcoach.com. Kelly is the “face” and Brian is behind the scenes. He is a former professional hockey player who now works with emotionally disabled children in the Fairfax County public school system. Kelly is an 18-year veteran of federal contracting. They’ve put his passion for teaching leadership and his coaching skills, and her industry knowledge and passion for small business together to create a business that is helping to solve a problem that is near and dear to their hearts—the plight of small businesses in federal contracting. Their business operates on a membership model. Kelly and Brian began creating this concept at the end of December 2008, registered the business in April 2009 and began populating the site. They went into beta in September 2009, and the site will go live to the public in November. They’ve gained the partnership of the ASBL (American Small Business League) and AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association). They have a minority partner, Bob Reynolds, who is a retired Air Force Colonel and former pilot.

Important Fact:

“Did you know that only about 2.5% of all U.S. small businesses have an sort of federal work at all? Small businesses make up 99.7% of all employers, and account for 97% of all new jobs (and 75% of net new jobs), yet they are promised only 23% of all federal contract dollars. And by the way, the government doesn’t even make good on that. It has missed its annual goals consistently for years. Part of the problem is the way the government functions. Other contributors are lack of access to and relative affordability of resources, and lack of correct knowledge (versus the incorrect information the government routinely distributes) of how to proceed. MyGovCoach stands in the service of small business by acting as a resource aggregator, reducing the cost of necessary resources by about 82% for small businesses, and by acting as educators, mentors, coaches, and community-builders. We hope to do our part to revitalize the community by helping small businesses succeed in federal government contracting, and by making the government pay attention to our vital small business community.”

Brian and Kelly have kind of an unusual “meet” story as well. They’ve been in the same towns, even the same facilities at the same time, for years without ever meeting. This has gone on since Kelly was 13. They have lived in four separate states (in the same precise neighborhoods) over 15 years and never met. Kelly had been friends with Brian’s brother for years, and they didn’t meet for years. Kelly has also been roommates with their now-sister-in-law, and she had lived across the street from Brian’s mother. After 15 years of this going on, they finally met (he rescued her from a drunk in a bar), and married in 2004.  They have three beautiful children, and a great extended family household that includes Brian’s parents, in addition to their fledgling business.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Milkstars.com – Jamie Rubin & Jonathan Gordin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkstars was created by a new mom who, like so many others, dreaded getting dressed after her baby was born. While she was pregnant, Jamie Rubin had her pick of designer clothing to flatter her growing bump. But, the party ended once she gave birth and took up nursing. Suddenly her clothing options ranged from boring, to ugly, to downright odd. The designers who had her back (and her belly) for 9 months were suddenly nowhere to be found and she couldn’t understand why. In her opinion there was no reason the cute and trendy looks she saw in her favorite boutiques and department stores couldn’t be available to the nursing mother.

So, after months of searching for clothing that made her feel like herself again and turning up empty handed, Jamie decided it was up to her to create a chic nursing shirt she’d want to wear even if she wasn’t breastfeeding. The result is Milkstars; a brand new clothing line designed from the ground up to strike the perfect balance between fashion and function. By placing an emphasis on style as well as innovation, Milkstars is thrilled to bring some flair and sophistication to the neglected and growing market of nursing women.

Jamie and Jonathan spent months interviewing nursing mothers about what they wanted in a nursing shirt and tested a number of fabrics and fits to get it just right. The result is a super soft top with a remarkably stylish fit. Many women have told the company they want to wear our shirts even when they aren’t nursing!

Based on the input from those and many other women, they created the entire Milkstars line from a super soft rayon/spandex blend to offer nursing mothers a comfortable and flattering fit from day one. The fabrics are particularly absorbent which means our tops are better at concealing the leaks and sweat stains common for new nursing moms.

Their shirts are perfect for nursing on the go, lounging around the house, and for working mothers looking for a polished top that can easily accommodate a breast pump.  Their special design offers a mother two ways to access her nursing bra; one is perfectly suited to nursing a baby in a sling or other baby carrier.

The entire Milkstars line is designed and manufactured in the U.S.A.

About Jamie

Before she began Milkstars, Jamie’s fashion background consisted of a lifelong love of clothes (and shoes and bags and accessories…). She earned her shopping money as a news producer, most recently at Yahoo! News where she co-produced a number of high profile interviews and events including the first online-only interview with then President George W. Bush and the first online-only debate among the Democratic candidates for President in 2007.

Before joining Yahoo!, Jamie spent almost five years at the cable news network MSNBC producing segments for primetime talk shows including the legal program “The Abrams Report,” hosted by Dan Abrams and the political show “Buchanan and Press” hosted by Pat Buchanan and Bill Press. She also contributed to financial and entertainment news programs and blogged for MSNBC.com.

Jamie began her career as an associate at the National Basketball Association helping NBA and WNBA teams grow their fan bases and increase ticket sales. She was also a researcher for the award-winning documentary “New York: A Documentary Film” by Ric Burns.

Jamie is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University. She now lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband where she spends her days chasing her daughter Julian around the house and her nights dreaming up fashion-forward looks for nursing moms.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Gordin has over 10 years of experience as a Human Resources Professional. He spent the bulk of his career at Mercer, consulting to Fortune 500 clients in the New York and Los Angeles offices. He is thrilled to support his wife Jamie in their new business venture. As Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan’s role is to oversee finance, purchasing, and production. He has also gotten very involved in specific sales projects including targeted marketing campaigns. Jonathan has a BA from Columbia University.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Janejordan.net – Jane Jordan-Meier & Norm Meier

“I am an Australian now living and working in California with my former East Coast husband. Ours is the big love story! Love brought me to the States and love keeps me here!”

NJ JJM at Nikki wedding

That was one of the opening lines in our email.  Needless to say, we wanted to know more about this couple.

Jane and Norm run www.janejordan.net and they train, coach and advise on holistic risk management and high-stakes communication.

They met at a Risk Management Conference in New Zealand in June 2000 where Norm (Meier, a guru in business continuity) was the opening guest speaker and Jane the closing guest speaker – her area is more niche – crisis media management. She trains and coaches executives on how to handle the media in a crisis and she was presenting a case study analyzing a major crisis and how the company handled the media (not well).

At the dinner on the evening prior to the opening of the Conference Jane was asked by Executive Producer to introduce Norm the next morning and MC the morning session. After much protesting she agreed and over dinner she used herjournalistic skills to interview Norm. Anyone could read a CV, she wanted the  opening session to be different, memorable and for Norm’s unique capabilities to be known! “Well a glass or two of Cointreau later, an outrageous kiss and a successful introduction the next morning, we were on our way to a fabulous working and personal relationship!” They married in 2004 and she moved her base from Sydney and Norm from New Jersey. They set up home and an office in Green Valley (part of the wider city of Fairfield) in Northern California.

Jane Jordan-Meier is a former journalist with more than 25 years’ experience in the media and communication management. She is a licensed and accredited media trainer and coach and has a Masters Degree in Communication Management.

Jane has been at the forefront of media training for 15 years developing unique and powerful methodologies in crisis media management. She is recognized as one of the top media and crisis management trainers and is comfortable consulting and training at CEO level or guiding a novice through the media maze.

Throughout her career Jane has worked at the highest level in strategic planning and communication including the Australian bicentennial celebrations the Sydney Olympic Games. Many of her programs and training have won awards from her peers in the public relations and communication professions.

She co-founded the Media Skills™ Network with former high profile journalist, Susan Templeman developing methodologies for media training and crisis management. The Media Skills™ methodology is now licensed to a network of trainers and used in several countries around the globe.

Jane is a frequent guest speaker on crisis communication and media management at conferences in Australia, New Zealand and North America. She has also run several professional development programs and workshops for the Public Relations Institute of Australia, IABC and PRSA.

Norm has extensive international consulting experience in these fields as well as information security, corporate governance and business ethics.  This experience was gained dealing with multi-national clients, international government agencies, major global and Fortune 1000 companies covering a broad scope of industries. Norm also served two terms as mayor bringing significant change to the town’s local infrastructure.

In the field of training, Norm has designed and taught courses in business continuity, crisis management, disaster recovery and computer and network security.  He has chaired several international conferences and symposia, and spoken nationally and internationally on business continuity, crisis communication and operational risk management.

Norm leads their team in the business continuity assessments, diagnostic work and preparation with his unique Report Card methodology. He provides a very calm head in the midst of a crisis having dealt with several national disasters. His wisdom (and wit) are highly valued not only in training and coaching but at the post-crisis debriefs.

Norm has a MS in Engineering Management from NJIT.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Scribendi.com – Chandra Clarke & Terence Johnson

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Scribendi.com provides fast, affordable, and professional English-language editing and proofreading services to individuals and businesses around the globe. Individuals who use Scribendi’s services include native and non-native English writers, students, authors, playwrights, journalists, business professionals, academics, and web site designers. Scribendi also provides editing services to large corporations, including international banks, publishing houses, and NGOs.

Scribendi.com operates as one of the world’s leading document preparation services. In a highly fragmented industry, Scribendi.com provides their clients with stability, honesty, and integrity. From term papers to business plans, Scribendi.com can help anyone handle all of their document preparation needs.

Chandra Clarke is the founder, co-owner, and president of Scribendi.com, an online English-language editing and proofreading company. Clarke founded Scribendi.com in 1997 after encountering error-laden press releases as a newspaper journalist and editor. A pioneer in the male-dominated field of computer programming, Chandra developed and implemented Scribendi.com’s original proprietary backend workflow system. A self-professed “robot geek,” Chandra loves technology, science, and knowledge acquisition. She graduated with honors from Athabasca University with a double major in English and Psychology and also holds an MSc in Space Exploration Studies from the University of North Dakota.

Terence graduated from the University of Oxford in 2000 and holds an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. While at Oxford, Terence was elected national youth chairperson of the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom and served on its board of directors. After graduating, Terence became Program Officer of the Europaeum association of universities. In 2003, Terence moved to Canada and became Vice-President of Scribendi.com, an online English editing and proofreading company. As Vice-President, Terrence is in charge of both the technical aspects of the Scribendi.com web site, as well as the financial aspects of the business. He is currently a member of Toastmasters, VP of the Cultural Coalition of Chatham-Kent, VP Policy of a federal political party riding association and a director of a provincial political party riding association.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Jukemfootball.com – Michelle & Jeff Spellman

Jeff and Michelle have been married 15 years.  They have 3 boys 10, 6, and 3 years old.

Early 2007, Jeff created a card game for their kids.  It was supposed to be something that would help them with math skills, and he wanted to connect with them, having some quality time doing something fun and teaching them about something he loved:  Football.

There were no intentions to do anything else with it beyond that.  However, after sharing it with friends and family, they were urged to “do something with it.”  They decided to “go for it” and had about 8,000 games printed up.  Michelle and Jeff were lucky in that one of the largest playing card manufacturers in the world is in our hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Since then, the couple has sold thousands of games.  They’ve shipped online orders to people in over 30 states.  They have also placed the game in dozens of independent specialty toy stores, childrens bookstores, sports stores, gift shops, and teacher supply stores in 10 states.

When Jeff and Michelle realized they had a hit, they went back and took all the feedback they’d received and gave the game an extreme makeover.  Now it’s much more colorful and expanded to accomodate more players.  They also rebranded it – giving it a FUN new name.

It’s just the two of them.  Jeff is CEO for their new company, Flying Pig Games LLC.  Michelle manages the sales,marketing, and pr.  They both wear whatever other business hat the day demands from order fulfillment to product developement, marketing research to webdesign.

“If you had told me 5 years ago we’d be doing this today, I would never have believed it.  We’re having a blast!”

Here’s a brief article that tells you a little more about this amazing couple and their business.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Mom-and-Pop Multinationals – Improved software and services allow the smallest businesses to outsource work around the globe

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From the outside, the gray Victorian with the stained-glass windows on a gentrified block in Dorchester, Mass., is a typical middle-class dream house. But it also is the headquarters of what you might call a micro-multinational. Randy and Nicola Wilburn run real estate, consulting, design, and baby food companies out of their home. They do it by taking outsourcing to the extreme.

Professionals from around the globe are at their service. For $300, an Indian artist designed the cute logo of an infant peering over the words “Baby Fresh Organic Baby Foods” and Nicola’s letterhead. A London freelancer wrote promotional materials. Randy has hired “virtual assistants” in Jerusalem to transcribe voice mail, update his Web site, and design PowerPoint graphics. Retired brokers in Virginia and Michigan handle real estate paperwork.

Global outsourcing is no longer just for big corporations. Increasingly, Main Street businesses from car dealers to advertising agencies are finding it easier to farm out software development, accounting, support services, and design work to distant lands. Elance, the Mountain View (Calif.) online-services marketplace that is the Wilburns’ main connection to the cyber-workforce, boasts 48,500 small businesses as clients—up 70% in the past year—posting 18,000 new projects a month. Sites such as Guru.com, Brickwork India, DoMyStuff.com, and RentACoder also report fast growth.

Forecasts that the Web would revolutionize work by creating a vast global market for professionals have been around since the early ’90s. Venture capital legend John Doerr thought so much of the idea in ’99 that his firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, bet nearly as much on Elance as it did on Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN). Kleiner managing partner Raymond J. Lane is chairman.

But while other forms of e-commerce caught fire quickly, Web sites for freelancers have only recently begun to generate much momentum. Market researcher Evalueserve estimates that revenues for online service marketplaces will grow 20% in 2008, to $190 million, far from the initial hype.

Why has it taken buyers and sellers of services longer to get comfortable trading online than companies dealing in physical goods? An eBay (EBAY) for services, says Elance CEO Fabio Rosati, “was a brilliant idea that started too soon.” But improved software, search engines, and new features are boosting the industry. Several sites now allow buyers to view detailed work samples and customer ratings for thousands of service vendors. Guru launched a payment system to mediate disputes and lets buyers put funds in escrow until work is received. Elance developed software to track work in progress and handle billing, pay, and tax records.

MOVING WITH THE MARKET

Those upgrades are starting to make a difference. Elance, which makes money by charging subscription fees and a 4% to 6% cut of each project, expects total billings to rise 50%, to $60 million, this year. Guru predicts similar growth, to $26 million.

Small entrepreneurs are the biggest source of growth. Queens (N.Y.) Lincoln Mercury dealer Ariel Tehrani hired Brazilians to develop a multimedia Web site to sell cars online. San Francisco real estate agent Jonathan Fleming uses graphic designers in Portugal, database managers in India, and writers in Hungary for his blog.

The Wilburns began buying graphic designs through Elance in 2000. They say they shifted to radical outsourcing after reading the 2007 Timothy Ferriss best-seller, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, which extols the merits of freeing up time by hiring cheap offshore “virtual assistants” to handle scheduling and other routine tasks.

Remote help has allowed 38-year-old Randy Wilburn to shift gears with the economy.

His real estate business has slowed, so he spends more time advising nonprofits across the U.S. on how to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Virtual assistants have handled routine correspondence and put together business materials while he’s on the road, all for less than $10,000 a year. He figures a full-time secretary would run $45,000. Nicola, a 35-year-old designer, decided to work from home after she had their second child. Nicola now farms out design work to freelancers and is starting to sell organic baby food she cooks herself. She is setting up a Web site for that business and offered $500 for the design work. Of the 20 bidders who responded via Elance, 18 are from outside the U.S.

The couple uses two main offshore vendors. One is GlobeTask, a Jerusalem outsourcing firm that employs dozens of graphic artists, Web designers, writers, and virtual assistants in Israel, India, and the U.S. It generally charges $8 an hour. The other is Kolkata’s Webgrity, which has a staff of 45 and charges $1 to $1.20 an hour. Five years ago, says founder Amit Keshan, 32, his company designed Web sites for Indian clients. Now he does all his business through Elance, handling up to 300 jobs each month for U.S., British, and Australian clients. For $125, Webgrity designed a logo for Wilburn’s real estate business that Wilburn says would have cost as much as $1,000 in the U.S.

A worldwide market where even mom-and-pop businesses outsource could still be years from attaining wide appeal. But micro-multinational entrepreneurs like the Wilburns may not be rarities for much longer. “People will do it the old way until it becomes a no-brainer to do it the new way,” predicts Elance’s Rosati.

Original article written by Pete Engardio for www.businessweek.com

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

The Rise of the “Homepreneur”

New research shows the economic importance of home-based businesses: They account for more than half of all U.S. businesses and employ more people than venture-backed companies.

More than half of all U.S. businesses are based at home. These companies often are dismissed as quaint hobbyist ventures, but new research suggests that’s a mistake. An estimated 6.6 million home-based enterprises provide at least half of their owners’ household income. Together these “homepreneurs” employ one in 10 private-sector workers, and by many measures they’re just as competitive as their counterparts in commercial spaces.

Ask Stephen Labuda, the 35-year-old president of Agency3, a Web development firm he runs from his home in Cambridge, Mass. A former programmer at Deutsche Bank (DB), Labuda started building Web sites as a side job in 2003 and took the venture full time three years later. Agency3’s revenue is in the millions, and Labuda is about to hire his fifth employee, who will work remotely, like the rest of the staff and the slew of contractors he taps. “I’m not intending to go rent office space,” he says.

You can trace the rise of home-based businesses to the early days of telecommuting in the 1980s and the mass adoption of the Internet in the 1990s. Cloud computing,online collaboration, and smartphones have accelerated the trend, and recent research clarifies the economic significance of companies like Labuda’s. “We’re seeing more and more home-based businesses that are real businesses,” says Steve King, who coauthored the new report with his wife, Carolyn Ockels. (The couple runs Emergent Research, a small research and consulting shop, from their home in Lafayette, Calif.) The pair analyzed U.S. Census data and Small Business Administration research, along with data from the Small Business Success Index, a survey of 1,500 companies sponsored by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’sRobert H. Smith School of Business.

WIDE ACCEPTANCE AND LEGITIMACYHere’s more of what they found: The 43% of home-based businesses that provide at least half of the owners’ household income are, on the whole, smaller than non-home-based companies. Only about 35% have revenue above $125,000, compared to 75% for non-home based businesses. But they measure up to other small companies on key aspects of doing business, including access to capital, benefits to workers, marketing, and innovation. On average they have two employees, including the owners, and together they employ more than 13 million people—more, King notes, than venture-backed companies. (Venture-backed companies employed 12.1 million people in 2008, according to the National Venture Capital Association.)

In some of these companies, the operations are concentrated in the owner’s home. Others use their residence as a headquarters but do most of their work at clients’ homes or offices. The variety of home-based businesses cuts across industries, but the top sectors are business and professional services, construction, retail, and personal services.

A few trends are driving the growth of sophisticated home businesses. First, technology has made it easier to start and run a business from anywhere. But just as important, there has been a change of consciousness in the business world to recognize home-based enterprises as legitimate.

Labuda has seen that shift at Agency3. “When I first started, I really felt compelled to go rent an office. I felt like in order for me to be taken seriously as a business, I had to have an office that my clients could come to,” he says. It didn’t matter—clients didn’t want to visit him. Labuda meets most of them at their businesses or at coffee shops. He also uses on-demand office space, where he can rent a conference room by the hour, if needed.

LOWER COSTS ARE A COMPETITIVE EDGE

Now, Labuda never feels that his working from home damages Agency3’s credibility. Instead, it’s a selling point. “It’s reflected in our pricing that we don’t have the same kind of infrastructure costs and fixed costs that some of our competitors do,” he says.

Indeed, the most obvious financial benefit for home-based entrepreneurs is lower operating costs. A 2006 SBA study compared tax returns of sole proprietors who deducted home-office expenses with those who deducted commercial rent. That analysis found that home businesses, on average, had lower sales and net profits than companies in commercial spaces. But profitable home-based ventures retained a greater share of their total receipts as net income: 36%, vs. 21% for non-home-based businesses.

King predicts that as large companies try to reduce their fixed costs by outsourcing business functions, small home-based enterprises will play an even larger role in the economy. “Over the next 20 to 30 years, you could see the percentage of people who are self-employed and home-based double, potentially,” he says.

Original article written by John Tozzi for www.businessweek.com

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Building the Cleanest Rooms in the Office Park – Deric Haddad & Heather Wylie

Building the Cleanest Rooms in the Office Park

After graduating from San Diego State University, Deric Haddad tried to make a living as a screenwriter, but Cannes Man, a mockumentary he co-wrote, was the only feature he managed to get produced. At 29, trying to pay bills and decide what to do with his life, the Bakersville, Calif., native took a $10-an-hour job driving a truck for a Silicon Valley contractor. The company specialized in building cleanrooms for the likes of Intel and Hewlett-Packard to test and make circuitry in a dust-free place. Intrigued by the esoteric trade and buoyed by the steady paychecks, Haddad spent the next seven years working on a swath of design-build construction, maintenance, and manufacturing jobs. By 2004, Haddad says he had accumulated enough confidence in his skills to invest $25,000 with his wife, Heather Wylie, to launch cleanroom construction company Haddad-Wylie Industries. Aware of a new federal mandate that required certain types of hospital pharmacies to install cleanrooms, they focused on the life sciences industry and landed Duke University as their first customer. Haddad, 42, says the Pittsburgh-based company became profitable in 2006, now has 12 full-time employees, and has expanded into manufacturing its own systems as well as doing turnkey design-build jobs for other industries, including nanotech, aviation, and semiconductors. Most jobs are in the $500,000-to-$3 million range in the U.S. and abroad for clients that include the Cleveland Clinic, AstraZeneca, and W.L. Gore. The recession has forced the duo to impose temporary pay cuts and outsource some work. Still, Haddad says the company had around $5 million in revenue in 2008, will have $7 million this year, and $10 million to $20 million in 2010. He thinks Haddad-Wylie could go public within five years.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

Bake-It-Yourself Pizza – Audrey & Eric Fosse

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Eric Fosse knows that if you want pizza, your options are almost unlimited. So when he told friends that he had left his job as a loose-diamond salesman to open yet another pizza joint in Chicago and that his pies would be truly different, he was ready for snickers. Today, with 23 HomeMade Pizza locations in metro Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and plans to move into Washington, D.C., later this fall, it looks as if Fosse’s career leap wasn’t as reckless as it seemed.

HomeMade Pizza’s pies are made to order and can be picked up or delivered—same old, same old. But unlike pizzas from Domino’s or the prepared-food section of Safeway, its take-and-bake pies are uncooked and unboxed: Customers slide the fresh pizzas, which come on heatable parchment paper, into a 425-degree oven, and in 10 to 15 minutes they have dinner. They’re also premium-priced: Pizza Hut may offer three medium pizzas for $15. At HomeMade, a 14-inch pie with wild mushroom toppings and a whole wheat crust costs $19.90.

Fosse, 47, and his two initial partners—Audrey, his wife; and Matthew Weinstein, his brother-in-law— spent $500,000 of their own money and two years cooking up 270 batches of dough before opening their first site.  The business turned profitable in Year Two. Fosse expects sales to hit $9 million in 2008, up 50% from last year. Its first pizza—Wisconsin mozzarella—remains the most popular.

Samuel Leccima and Shani Leccima are the co-founders of Marriedmillions.com – The Essential Business Website For Married Couples.  They are also the authors of “Married Millions: The Ultimate Business Guide For Married Couples.” Download a free copy of the book here.  Feel free to leave a comment about this post.