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Women of the week: Michele Romanow

For Michele Romanow, co-founder of Buytopia.ca, there are three words that easily describe both her and her business. “Fun, hardworking, and bold,” she says in her breezy, upbeat tone.

After speaking with her it is hard to disagree that her approach to business is one grounded in hard work. At only 27 this businesswoman has achieved goals that most people twice her age can only dream of. An entrepreneur starting from her days as a student—while completing her undergrad, she started the Tea Room, a zero consumer waste coffee shop—she is now at the helm of her third successful business venture with Buytopia.ca and the key to her success is hard work.

“You always want to be adding the most value,” she advises women who aspire for greatness. “If you’re that person making sure projects always get things done and driving the relationships — if you are constantly the most valuable team member, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or not.”

For Romanow, being bold is a second nature. “I think that we’re bold when we go out to find the best deals for Buytopia. We try to be innovative for brands and I think that’s a huge part of what has made us successful and a huge part of what makes our business work.”

But to her, boldness stems from her personality. Her strong interpersonal skills shine through in every situation, giving her the advantage of winning over others in every walk of life. “I think I’m just a naturally social person. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories, and I think that has given me an advantage in business.”

“I’m a natural extrovert, which means I come up with my best ideas by talking and sharing with people. What really balances my life are the people in it.”

And an advantage it has been. With Buytopia approaching 2 million subscribers the bond that Romanow forges between her company and Buytopia’s users is built upon the strength of communication, trust and, of course, great deals. By striking out to create the same kinds of bonds with national brands Romanow has successfully created a chain of trust from retailer to consumer that is unparalleled in Canadian business.

Romanow’s fun side is also displayed up front and centre. Her infectious laugh and easy demeanour puts others at ease. While many other 27-year-old women might balk at receiving a Mother’s Day note from an employee, to her it is a symbol of something more. “I think of my team at work as family.” As for her real family, she laughs as she explains the universally humbling nature of siblings despite the fantastic level of success she has achieved: “There’s nothing like a sibling to put you in your place.”

In her downtime she switches gears ever so slightly from running a business to running half marathons. For her, running is a calming, focusing experience. “Your body just falls into a rhythm,” she explains of her favourite pastime.

Buytopia is unique in the way it approaches the daily deals business, a field that can be tricky to master. By focusing on delivering quality unique experiences to subscribers they’ve managed to keep the colourfully decorated website in the hearts and minds of members even when they are offline.

“On Buytopia you should be buying things that make your life more wonderful: be it a spa packages or great restaurants, we want you to discover that gem in the city that you’ve never expected and try it out at half price. I want the website to have great pictures and be easy to use for a seamless experience. I don’t want you to be spending time there; I want you to be spending time in your life discovering these great services.”

On the future of web-based businesses, Romanow is looking up. “I’m optimistic the internet will have a lot of wonderful surprises in the years to come.”

Right now it seems like two lovely surprises, Michele Romanow and Buytopia.ca, are already here.

 

Women of the week: Heather Kleb

What do you think of when you think of nuclear energy?

Interim president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), Heather is striving to create a more positive environment for nuclear energy, educating the masses on the many positives of the power source while helping to advance the industry.

“I’m a big believer in nuclear energy, because it’s good for the environment and it’s good for the economy. We supply much needed power while minimizing the release of greenhouse gases. And our industry provides thousands of highly skilled, well paying and rewarding jobs while doing it.  Basically, it’s good for Canadians,” Heather says.

With a background in environmental science, Heather has a great deal of experience working in what she calls “responsible resource development.” After several years of working in the mining and logging industries, Heather was offered the role of environmental scientist with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and found her niche. Ten years later, she is serving as the interim president and CEO.

A female CEO in a scientific association might seem like an oddity to an outside spectator, but Heather sees it as an example of the way things are moving in this field.

“I think that the fact that our Board of Directors asked me to assume the interim president and CEO role speaks volumes about our industry.  There is definitely a growing number of women in senior roles throughout our industry,” she says.

A firm believer in the nuclear industry, Heather would like to see the number grow and encourages other women to consider the field.

“It currently provides over 30,000 interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs for Canadians.”

As part of her job, Heather works to combat the negative images of nuclear energy and has participated in a number of regulatory hearings.  When asked, however, about what stands out as memorable about these hearings, she chooses not to dwell on “the antics of the very passionate non-governmental organizations,” who tend to have a very vocal presence. Instead, she highlights the actions of Port Hope Mayor Linda Thompson.

“Mayor Thompson spoke thoughtfully to the benefits the nuclear industry would bring to her community and the families that live there,” Heather says.

This resolve, to highlight the positive elements of her field while refusing to get bogged down by the negative characters who seek to destroy nuclear power, stands out in Heather’s character. She believes in her industry and wants to raise awareness about the many ways nuclear energy can improve people’s lives.

“The nuclear industry generates more than just power,” she says. “We produce isotopes that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of many forms of Cancer. In fact, Canada provides between 20-30% of the world’s supply of isotopes.”

This alternate purpose of nuclear technology is important to note, given the rising rates of cancer. As a testament to this link, the CNA is partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society and raising funds for research. Watch for the Relay for Life in Ottawa on June 7, hosted by the CNA.

Women of the Week: Alison Dalglish-Pottow

For Alison Dalglish-Pottow, FPI Gallery is a labour of love.

“Art has always been a passion of mine, fostered at a very young age by my parents who took me to important art galleries and museums around the world as part of our summer family vacations.”

The greatest sign that she was meant to enter the art field was when she was admitted into Sotheby’s  prestigious Works of Art course. Attending the course meant leaving Canada for England, but this would prove to be a wise decision.

“Studying in the historically, architecturally and culturally rich city of London gave me a heightened appreciation for pursuing art as a possible career,” she says. “The art scene was vibrant and thriving, far eclipsing what was happening in Canada.”

Although the next several years would see her pursuing other career opportunities, working for companies such as IMG and CANFAR, she would eventually find her way back to the art world.

“Sometimes we sideline what we enjoy in favor of more practical, and oftentimes more prudent choices in life. It’s nice to discover that it’s never too late to revisit what we enjoy if a better time to do so comes along. That time came for me and when it did, I didn’t hesitate to run with it.”

Her baby, FPI Gallery, is a gallery for the new digital world. The idea for the gallery was born from Alison’s interactions with an emerging artist, Dean West.

“Dean West’s images were so captivating and compelling that I immediately knew he was a rising star in his field. All he needed was a little help in getting in front of the right collectors.”

Thus, Alison decided to create a completely online gallery. Why online? “A bricks and mortar gallery can be territorially restrictive,” Alison says. By focusing on a digital gallery, her clients’ works can be seen by collectors worldwide and news of the emerging talents can spread much more easily.

The gallery focuses solely on contemporary fine-art photography “where collectors can find the world’s best emerging fine art contemporary photographers in one place, without getting lost in the volume of art available on other websites worldwide.” This makes her site easier to navigate and much less time-consuming than galleries with wider ranges.

One of Alison’s major goals at FPI Gallery is to ensure the gallery is about the artists, not her. Unlike other online art websites, she keeps no standardized menu of dimension sizes and allows each artist to set his or her own price and edition size.

Knowing that many artists are uncomfortable with the typical gallery agreements, she designed a business model that would better suit their needs.  And by choosing to represent no more than 10 artists at a time, Alison ensures each will get the attention and promotion they deserve.

“At the end of the day, it’s about preserving value. I’m not going to permit profit to lead over sustainability of the artists and future appreciation of their work.”

This devotion to artists and their craft is clearly Alison’s greatest purpose. She stresses the need for people “to support the arts and the artists who dedicate themselves to pushing the frontiers of thought and influence.”

“Art is a living legacy of our history, politics and culture,” she says.

_____________________________________________________

Alison Dalglish-Pottow

President, Flash Photography Inc.

E: alison@fpigallery.com

www.fpigallery.com

Women of the week: Kathy Cheng

Do you “buy local”? With the ever-increasing globalization of the market and the growing awareness of the unstable working conditions of overseas factories, the buy local movement is gaining a strong presence in the marketplace.

Kathy Cheng, president of WS & Co., strongly believes in supporting this movement.

“Each time a Canadian buys something that is Made in Canada, they are supporting not only their local economy, but also contributing to the continuation of a skilled workforce – that’s located on our very own soil rather than across the Atlantic.”

One of Canada’s leading apparel manufacturers, WS & Co. maintain a factory here in the Toronto area. As “crusaders for Canadian garment manufacturing,” the company has rejected the potential of increased profit through outsourcing, choosing instead to ensure that their employees are working in an environment protected by the rules and regulations of the Canadian government.

Started by Kathy’s father, Chak Wai Cheng, in 1988, WS & Co was originally a much smaller operation, employing only five seamstresses. Business improved and the company expanded; at its peak, it employed 500 people.

Growing up, Kathy spent a great deal of time in the factory, learning about the various steps of the production process. Then, in 2000, Kathy officially joined the team. It was a change from her previous role in financial consulting, but she feels it was the right thing to do.

“The factory and those who make it successful have allowed me to experience many privileges over the course of my life. So when my dad asked me to join in the family business, I believed this was my opportunity to give back,” she says.

In 2009, after surviving two recessions, the company went through a re-structuring process. Debra Tse and Gary Cheng, Kathy’s aunt and uncle and co-founders of the company, retired and Kathy became her father’s new business partner.

Her role was “to put a North American spin on a traditionally Chinese company and explore a new revenue stream for the factory.” It was at this point that Redwood Classics Apparel, WS & Co.’s in-stock apparel line, was created. The website for this division has proven to be very successful, increasing its search engine presence by 650% since its launch in 2009.

But Kathy’s pride and joy is a new division of Redwoods Classics, the Heritage Collection.

“Featuring a limited-edition lineup of classic fits, vintage colours and retro styles for men and women, the collection is proudly designed and manufactured in Canada with principles rooted in quality and integrity. The line is really a tribute to the preservation of our country’ craftsmen.”

The collection is being launched at an apt time. Given recent world events in the manufacturing industry and the increasing awareness of consumers as to where their products come from, WS & Co. is in the position to “expand and thrive” with their socially-conscious collection.

But expansion is about more than just the product, and Kathy is quick to point this out.  Redwood Classics chose to partner with the Pay It Forward movement, giving a white bracelet to those who purchase a PIF x RW Kangaroo Hoody.

“[It] is a physical reminder to do good. It’s that simple: give someone the bracelet and ask them to pay it forward,” she explains.

As the market changes in the coming years, Kathy and WS & Co. will adapt and thrive, thanks to her clear understanding of the new world order.

“Business is no longer just about the bottom line. It’s about people first, the planet second and profit third. For a positive and fruitful business environment, all three of these components must be present.”

Women of the Week: Erin Deviney

Many people can cite exact moments in their lives that caused them to reevaluate their lives. When she was 20, Erin Deviney went on an Outward Bound Trip to Central America. According to her, it “profoundly changed how I see the world.”

“It opened my eyes to the difficult realities faced daily by so many people across the globe. Ultimately, I learned that poverty is such a complex issue and it is not about a single thing. It is about the environment, about education, about governance, about health and so many other factors.”

Initially, after graduating from Queen’s University in 2001 with a degree in Economics, Erin found work as a global market researcher, helping companies discover the best way to access potential customers.

“I found it fascinating to understand what drives people to make the decisions they do,” she says. “But ultimately, I struggled because while I was intellectually satisfied, I was emotionally empty. I wanted to use my skills to benefit people not companies.”

A decision to move to Australia in 2008 would prove to be the turning point in her career. “I saw this as an opportunity to make the shift to the not for profit sector that I had always dreamed of doing.”

After working overseas in Cambodia and Grenada—“Being given the privilege to work in other cultures, particularly one where language is a barrier is truly a remarkable experience,” she says—Erin retuned to Canada.

Now, back home, her primary focus is serving as campaign manager for the Canadian branch of the global movement Live Below The Line.

“Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way Canadians think about extreme poverty. We are challenging Canadians to step outside their comfort zones by living on just $1.75 a day for all of their food and drink for five days. Why $1.75? There are 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty who have less than $1.75 a day to spend to all of their needs in life from health, to transit, to food. “

The project, which is being taken on by people of every age group across the country, is a creative way to get people engaged in the poverty eradication movement by getting them to experience the daily struggles faced by a large portion of the people on this planet.

Her new focus in Canada is radically different from her former corporate life, but there are no regrets.

“Personally, the biggest difference is passion. When you do something that you love in a field that you deeply care about – it doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Erin says.

Although the initial shift was shocking, Erin adapted and learned from it. As she explains it, “that difference in resources has actually proven to be engaging – in that you have to be creative and resourceful. I think that makes work in the not for profit sector exciting in that there is room for new ideas.”

Not afraid to take chances, Erin has proven that she is willing to stand up for what she believes in. This, she believes, is what sets her apart from her competitors.

“You can’t ignore me,” she says.

Women of the week: Pauline Fleming

Pauline Fleming is truly unique. A professional life, business and leadership master certified coach who is also a certified speaking professional, Pauline is one of only three people in the world who hold these accreditations. Coaching clients through both personal and professional matters gives both Pauline and her clients a comprehensive coaching experience. “I’m not strictly a life coach… I cover all three: life, leadership and business coaching. Where those [aspects] intersect on a venn diagram is the sweet spot for the individual’s success. Those successes or learning opportunities are transferable,” Pauline explains, “We… go deeper, and [clients are] able to leverage what’s already in them.” By focusing on all aspects of her client’s lives, Pauline can pinpoint what’s missing and help them apply a solution to both their professional and personal lives.

Pauline first began coaching after moving across the country from British Columbia to Ottawa in 2001, finding herself in a new city shocked, and with no family nearby. Looking for guidance, Pauline hired a coach for herself to help with the effects of moving thousands of kilometres. Through being coached, she realized that coaching would be a great fit for her professionally. “I realized through the coaching that that’s what I had been doing as a teacher that I loved,” she says. Eager to begin coaching and helping others, Pauline organized a Ladies’ Retreat for the Heart and Soul at her home. “I knew about 50 women so I invited them over for [the Retreat]. It turned into a retreat for women on a quarterly basis. The first was in August of 2002 and 20 of the women couldn’t make it… but the other 30 showed up and asked ‘when’s the next one?’” Pauline reminisces.

The retreats eventually turned into pro-bono coaching for stay-at-home moms, but quickly evolved into a larger scale operation, with Pauline coaching Fortune 500 business leaders and business owners looking to improve and expand their company.

“I found a groove in working with service providers, people who care so much [it’s] to their own detriment… they’re people pleasers. They’re leaders who care, and I love working with people who put people first,” Pauline says. “Now I focus on both of those sizes, whether it’s a small business with a leader that has no employees but knows they need them or [a larger company.]”

Enthusiasm, Pauline says, is one of the most important aspects of coaching. While she is passionate about coaching and helping her clients, Pauline’s goal is to impassion her clients and help them realize their potential. “They’re not just there for a pay cheque; it’s not meaningful, it’s not giving them purpose. Whether they have a salary job or they’re running a business and they’re not sure if they’ll be able to pay their mortgage. Whatever it is, they all want to make a difference,” she says. “I’m an optimist, I’m not a Pollyanna. I’m a realist. I choose to look at the positive and strengths [in my clients].”

The passion and enthusiasm that Pauline exudes in both her personal and professional life are one of her strengths, but the qualities have tragic origins. “My dad passed away from heart disease at the age of 42. I was only 18,” she says. “So I learned at a young age that you shouldn’t wait until retirement to have a trip of a lifetime, or to do the things that we love. We have to do that sooner and stop wasting our lives.” Pauline’s unique philosophy combines Carpe Diem with analogies of chocolate. “We have a lot of things in our day that we have to do, but the things we love to do are our ‘chocolate’ for the day. In your life, what’s your ‘chocolate?’ What do you love to do?”

A self-proclaimed “recovering over-achiever,” Pauline Fleming has overcome personal difficulties and combined her unique set of skills to become a successful coach whose goal is, simply, to help and inspire.  Working with clients from different businesses all over the world, she works to help everyone and anyone find the “chocolate” in their professional and personal lives.

Woman of the Week: Kim Smiley

Beneath its glittering surface, the jewelry world can be a pretty ugly place. From blood diamonds to ivory poachers, the history of jewelry is filled with examples of the darkness to which a person can descend in the pursuit of precious stones.

That’s why it is such a relief to see people like Kim Smiley, the creator of Sapphô by Kim Smiley, using jewelry to create a positive impact on the world and giving these baubles a reason to shine.

“The essence of my vision,” Kim says, “is to use fashion as a platform for empowering women with meaningful work.” By providing marginalized women the opportunity to work for Sapphô and earn a living wage, Kim is changing lives.

“I have always loved fine art and fashion, but my heart has always drawn me to the charitable sector. Sapphô marries my passion for social justice with my love of aesthetics and style.”

Sapphô, Kim’s jewelry collection, is named after the ancient Greek poet. Known for her lyrical odes to the beauty of women, she is a fitting namesake for a jewelry company that is aiming to use its pieces to introduce people to great poetry.

Each one-of-a-kind and handmade piece of jewelry in the collection is inspired by a poet, and comes with a poem from said poet’s collection.

“We juxtapose Nobel Laureates like Pablo Neruda with brilliant emerging poets like American Jessica McFarland, whom I met while a graduate student [at Harvard] in Boston,” Kim says.

This unique marketing scheme is one of the many ways Kim sets her company apart from the pack. However, this was not a decision made just to creatively market her collection. Kim really believes in the power of poetry.

“We’re using fashion as a portal to open people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of poetry,” Kim explains. “Many people are turned off by poetry because they think it’s inaccessible or elitist. We want to turn them on. Who ever thought jewelry could get people to read Pablo Neruda? We’re feeling pretty optimistic.”

Drawing attention to beautiful poetry by linking it to stunning jewelry, the impact of Sapphô would be enough reason to laud Kim as a supreme businesswoman (as well as a fashionista). But she doesn’t stop there. Kim also has solid work experience in the non-profit sector.

Currently, she serves as the vice president of community capacity building at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. This role allows her to once again use her social consciousness to make a difference, but focuses it more on the Jewish community in the GTA.

Prior to her work with the UJA Federation, she served as vice president of marketing and development for Habitat for Humanity and assistant director for the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre & Museum.

Clearly, Kim has spent much of her life striving to make the world a prettier place, both literally and metaphorically. What’s the next step for her?

“I’m joking with friends that maybe I should start a modest poetry library where people can check out books and try on jewelry,” she says.

All joking aside, such an endeavour would be a natural fit for a woman who has so adeptly combined the worlds of charity, literacy and jewelry.

Woman of the Week: Helen Ziegler

At Helen Ziegler and Associates, located on the 24th floor on Dundas Street West, is a painted portrait of a nurse with her face turned away. What is interesting about this piece is that it is positioned in such a way that it seems she is looking out of the window and onto the heart of the city – the CN Tower. Though in Toronto this is considered a premium view, something in the nurse’s face looks unfulfilled.

Perhaps this scene is meant to represent any one of the 8000 healthcare professionals who come to Helen Ziegler and Associates seeking change and employment in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Kuwait. But instead maybe it is a depiction of the company’s president, Helen Ziegler, before she found formed her company and found her calling.

“I am just restless – I always have been, intellectually restless,” says Ziegler, who wears all black with a long, chain-link necklace she acquired in Europe.

Intellectually accomplished might be more accurate, with her masters in social work from Wilfred Laurier followed by an MBA from Western University. However, it’s really her experience—or rather the depth of it—that makes this woman truly fantastic. Having worked as a nurse, a marriage counsellor, the owner of the popular magazine Med Hunters, as well as a mother of three children and a wife of an equally restless cardiologist, Ziegler wasn’t sure where her mind would settle. Then her Middle-East healthcare provider agency “fell into” her lap.

“I went to Saudi Arabia with my husband and three kids where he worked as a cardiologist, after a year I came back,” says Ziegler. “I have always worked, I had always had a career and my operating motto has always been never depend on a man and I’ve been married to the same man for a long time. So I came home and formed this company in 1981.”

Thirty-two years is quite a long commitment to make for a woman whose brain is constantly searching, but given that her company is a marriage of all passions—counselling, research, nursing and communications – boredom has not been an issue to date.

“Every day I play a different role. I answer the phones just like any of the other employees here and see where the day takes me,” says Ziegler. “I don’t think of myself as a figurehead or icon at the office, I am just one of the workers. If I am a role model it’s because I can combine having a very demanding job and family while never losing sight of the details.”

In Ziegler’s profession of managing thousands of people’s careers and essentially lives (the company also finds housing for its American and Canadian workers), she feels details are what has kept her business a leading venture. A woman’s attention to detail is why she prefers to work with the fairer sex in her office and what she loves most about being a woman herself. Her advice to becoming a superwoman: snagging a fulfilling career while maintaining a successful home life are actually one and the same.

“Having interesting work that absorbs you and holds your attention is crucial. At the end of the day make sure you come to the table with your own story, if you are happy in yourself I think you are more tolerant and loving in your home – don’t be self sacrificing.”

Women of the Week: Helen Ziegler

At Helen Ziegler and Associates, located on the 24th floor on Dundas Street West, is a painted portrait of a nurse with her face turned away. What is interesting about this piece is that it is positioned in such a way that it seems she is looking out of the window and onto the heart of the city – the CN Tower. Though in Toronto this is considered a premium view, something in the nurse’s face looks unfulfilled.

Perhaps this scene is meant to represent any one of the 8000 healthcare professionals who come to Helen Ziegler and Associates seeking change and employment in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Kuwait. But instead maybe it is a depiction of the company’s president, Helen Ziegler, before she found formed her company and found her calling.

“I am just restless – I always have been, intellectually restless,” says Ziegler, who wears all black with a long, chain-link necklace she acquired in Europe.

Intellectually accomplished might be more accurate, with her masters in social work from Wilfred Laurier followed by an MBA from Western University. However, it’s really her experience—or rather the depth of it—that makes this woman truly fantastic. Having worked as a nurse, a marriage counsellor, the owner of the popular magazineMed Hunters, as well as a mother of three children and a wife of an equally restless cardiologist, Ziegler wasn’t sure where her mind would settle. Then her Middle-East healthcare provider agency “fell into” her lap.

“I went to Saudi Arabia with my husband and three kids where he worked as a cardiologist, after a year I came back,” says Ziegler. “I have always worked, I had always had a career and my operating motto has always been never depend on a man and I’ve been married to the same man for a long time. So I came home and formed this company in 1981.”

Thirty-two years is quite a long commitment to make for a woman whose brain is constantly searching, but given that her company is a marriage of all passions—counselling, research, nursing and communications – boredom has not been an issue to date.

“Every day I play a different role. I answer the phones just like any of the other employees here and see where the day takes me,” says Ziegler. “I don’t think of myself as a figurehead or icon at the office, I am just one of the workers. If I am a role model it’s because I can combine having a very demanding job and family while never losing sight of the details.”

In Ziegler’s profession of managing thousands of people’s careers and essentially lives (the company also finds housing for its American and Canadian workers), she feels details are what has kept her business a leading venture. A woman’s attention to detail is why she prefers to work with the fairer sex in her office and what she loves most about being a woman herself. Her advice to becoming a superwoman: snagging a fulfilling career while maintaining a successful home life are actually one and the same.

“Having interesting work that absorbs you and holds your attention is crucial. At the end of the day make sure you come to the table with your own story, if you are happy in yourself I think you are more tolerant and loving in your home – don’t be self sacrificing.”

Women of the Week: Shauna Podruzny

“True success happens when you pave your own path, not by riding on the coat-tails of others.”

Many years before she would give me that advice, when she was 25, Shauna Podruzny was planning to go into environmental law. Armed with a degree in Environmental Spatial Analysis, it was the logical (and typical) next step. Her heart and passion, however, were not in it, so she decided to change paths and become a businesswoman.

It was a risk, given her youth and inexperience, but Shauna believes it was the smart thing to do.

“I was 25 years old and naïve about the business world, which looking back, completely helped me,” she says. “By not knowing what I was getting myself into, I was able to dive right in and start my own game plan from scratch. “

Frustrated by the lack of “high-quality, natural based” skin care, in 2004 Shauna started Blossom Bath & Body: “an upscale bath & body care boutique offering young independent brands that were not common in the Canadian marketplace.”

Over the years, the company evolved and in 2008 Shauna expanded the business into clothing, opening Blossom Lounge.

Now the owner of two storefronts—one in the Distillery District, the other in Unionville—Shauna’s decision to explore the world of entrepreneurship has proven to be a wise one. The secret to her success? Originality.

“I’ve never had the desire to sell what someone else has. When I think a line, whether it’s clothing or bath & body, has become too mainstream, it’s time to be taken off of Blossom Lounge’s shelves.”

This original streak extends to her advertising plans. She maintains a fantastic blog, Blossom Everyday, and uses it not to explicitly hype her products but to “sell a lifestyle.” Through pictures, Shauna shows the many personalities you can express using the Blossom Lounge line.

“I find that consumers don’t want products or services pushed at them, but when it’s softly presented, you have much better results,” she explains.

Incredibly smart in terms of the importance of social media in today’s world, Shauna uses these new programs to connect with her market in a way that print ads never could.

“There’s no excuse to not use these free tools, it should be fundamental in everyone’s work day,” she explains. “It gives you interaction in real-time with real people, and helps to build relationships with your consumers.  Not using these social media tools mean you lose valuable contact with potential customers.”

Customer interaction is very important to Shauna, and she is using what she has learned to expand her company yet again. Harper 76, her upcoming clothing label, is a collection aimed at women aged 20-40.

“Working directly with customers over the years has given me an advantage to know the classic styles everyone gravitates towards, season after season,” she says.

But Shauna’s life isn’t all about work. The mother of a 7-year-old son, Shauna admits balancing home and work life is “a daily struggle.” Yet she has found the way to manage the roles.

“I’m fortunate to make my own work hours so I make sure that when school is out for the day, my work is put on hold until he goes to bed. I think it’s important to show your kids that they come first, but to also show them the importance of great work ethic.”

It is clear that Shauna has a fantastic work ethic. This work ethic, and the path she created for herself, are the reasons why the Blossom Lounge brand will continue to grow in the upcoming seasons and Shauna Podruzny will continue to achieve true success.