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Business Spotlights

Business Spotlights
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Merletta Martin – From Crayola to Masterpieces

Since the age of eight, Merletta began doodling with crayons. Well, her doodles have now become masterpieces of nature.

She has chosen to use her talents as a celebrity artist to fund school art programs and bring wisdom into the classroom, while also helping young kids express their creativity.

In a way, she’s gradually becoming a legend in her own right. Martin has struck gold in the sense that she has become the bridge between extraordinary leaders in communities across the nation and young kids who need inspiration and role models to inspire them to realize their potential.


Steve Jobs – CEO, Apple

He is a visionary, an innovator and pioneer who helped change the face of technology, the personal computer.

At an early age, Steve Jobs had an inquisitive mind – a mind for electronics, gadgetry and independence and his ingenuity would later prove to change the lives of millions of prospective consumers. Born in San Francisco, Jobs would one day shock the world with his creativity. Photo courtesy of Apple.


Sandra Pena – Classic Hair, A Style for Every Occasion

Hair styling — a combination of art, skill and talent. Her style is versatile and it’s her sense of style that keeps her customers coming back.

A native of El Salvador, Sandra Pena came to America as an immigrant to fulfill her dream of becoming a successful hair stylist.

For over 20 years Sandra worked as a stylist in various salons, perfecting her craft and waiting for the perfect opportunity to open her own shop.


Joni Moss – Your Wedding, Your Way

City lights, entertainment, Las Vegas. It it’s a place that’s been called many things, including Sin City. Las Vegas is also known as the wedding capital of the world. Who knows that better than Joni Moss, Las Vegas’ wedding expert? If you can dream it, she can help you execute it. Joni has helped many couples have the wedding of their dreams, whether in parking lots, drive-ins or the Grand Canyon.


Geir Ness – Seet Smell ofSuccess, Part II

Looking great, smelling great and a savvy businessman! He’s got what it takes! What is “IT”? “IT” is the daring spirit of being in total control of his entrepreneurial destiny, the ability to know when to go against the grain and when to ride the wave. Geir Ness has men and women all over the country smelling, looking and feeling great. He’s helping women feel good about themselves, not only through his products but also through his inspirational presentations.


Evelyn Wynn-Dixon – Mayor, Riverdale Georgia

As a person who had no prior political experience, Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon has embraced her role with fortitude, dignity and grace. Her ability to make things happen is phenomenal. She attributes her success as Mayor of Riverdale, Georgia to the staff and city workers she calls her family and, of course, to her faith and her deeply rooted belief that with God all things are possible. Mayor Wynn-Dixon is truly changing the face of Riverdale, in areas of education, youth programs, the environment, business and economic development and the community as a whole.


Karen Mager – CrèmeMagnolia

What does it mean to make a positive impact during our stay on the planet? Is it how many possessions we acquire, how much money we make, the THINGS we leave behind; or more specifically is it ALL the lives we touch over a lifetime that creates our legacy?

When I began the journey of creating CremeMagnolia it was as though an unseen force was guiding my mind, creative self and energy. Clarity seemed to be dolled-out in small measures – when the timing was right and as I was able to conceptualize, completely, the inspiration. And I must admit in retrospect, inspiration has come from unlikely sources and at unexpected times. These events have changed my life to the extent I hardly recognize my former self. It is as though my former self is dissolving from my memory like melting snow flakes and the new me is forming like mist.


Ivan Seidenberg – Verizon, Tel’ Tel’ Signs of a Great Company

What makes a company great is not only its end product or service but the working elements behind the product, including its people.

Over the past several years, Verizon has been among leading companies when it comes to corporate citizenship, diversity and innovation.

Verizon has been recognized many times for its dedication to workplace diversity from an employer standpoint, as well as working with diverse suppliers, including women-owned businesses. .


Paula Marshall – Flour Power, Bama Does It Right

Have you every tasted a pie, biscuit or donut and said to yourself, Hmmm! Ah! Delicious!? Perhaps you’ve been Bamatized!

From pies, to cakes to biscuits, it’s perfection from the oven. Who’s behind such delectable treats? The Bama Companies, Inc. and its employees who believe in delivering perfection. At the center of such perfection is Paula Marshall-Chapman, CEO of the Bama Companies, Inc.

It began in 1927 as a family owned business in the kitchen of Cornelia Alabama “BAMA” Marshall when people would line up outside her door to sample her delicious homemade pie.


Sue Urda – Change Begins with Inspiration

Every person who has walked this earth has come to a point in their life when they felt a need to make a change. Sometimes the need for change comes from boredom, sometimes it comes from impatience or discontent and sometimes the need for change comes from something much deeper.

For me, the need for change was sparked in 1999 as I was preparing to enter my 40th year. At that time, I was the co-owner of a manufacturing company that was in the process of making a substantial leap in our revenues. The company was in its sixth year and many of the clients we had been pursuing were finally starting to place sizable orders. After much blood, sweat and tears, we were finally ready to reap the rewards of a job well-done.


Marlene Gordon – The Next Stage – My Dream

The Next Stage began in the autumn of 1978…with a dream and scouting trips that began in the mid 1960’s. The “next stage” was beckoning me to ride it with people of all ages to explore the wonders of the world around us. Some they might have been yearning to see, others I would reveal to them: great canyons, giant redwood forests, ghost towns, island caves and coves with abalone shells just a-sparklin’ in the sun. My dream included mountain meadows, wave-splashed coastlines, sand dunes and colorful desert wildflowers, viewed from a bus, jeep, train or hot air balloon. I would offer visits to secret gardens, country places, and to forests with a thousand shades of green.

Here was my chance to offer the public discovery tours of nature, history, cultural experiences and adventure and to make a “living” at it too!  That dream is in its 30th year of realization.  My hair has turned from black to “essence of pearl” but my imagination hasn’t quit, and I still have a child’s curiosity and an adventurous spirit. “The Next Stage” was more than the name of my tour company– it was THE NEXT STAGE of my life.


Rosalyn O’Neale – Changing the Face of Corporate America

O’Neale’s passion for diversity and inclusion has inspired many corporations to re-evaluate and change their human resource strategies that have resulted in new levels of success. Her wit and humor combined with true leadership skills is the reason behind the success of many corporations and the success of employees who have applied her principles and keys of success to their daily lives and their approach to employee/employer relationships.


Sean Thomas – From Passion to the Plate

Chef Sean Thomas has made his mark in the culinary world as a dynamic, highly-motivated and creative chef. Originally heralding from Washington, D.C., Chef Thomas, often known as the “business savvy chef,” began his career with Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc., more than eight years ago.

Willing to start at the bottom and as he puts it, “I asked them if I could peel potatoes.” While doing whatever he was asked to do, Sean paid attention to what was happening around him – how the chefs were preparing daily meals. “I saw some of the same things Grandma made except they had a professional name to it, like mixing the butter and flour. That’s called rue in the real world. I thought, Oh Yea! I could that! It happened and here I am.

Dennis Stanley – Layers of Sweetness Any Way You Like It

Ever since I was a small child I would watch my mother and grandmother in our South Carolina kitchen, learning the ins and outs of creating cakes, biscuits and teacakes. When I got older, I entered the military. The scenery changed but my passion for cooking did not.

I started Chantel’s Cakes & Pastries in Leesburg, Virginia, (which I named after my daughter) so that I could be free to unleash my potential and establish a niche in the community that has yet to be filled by other bakeries. From wedding cakes to catering corporate meetings to life’s celebrations, Chantel’s provides cakes, pies, cheesecakes, breakfast pastries, cookies and other tempting creations. Not only does Chantel’s offer traditional treats, there’s also a menu of allergen-free and special dietary selections, including vegan as well as desserts free of gluten, eggs, dairy products, soy, nuts, and sugar.


Betsie Miklos – Lessons Learned From a Successful CEO

At an early age it seemed that Betsie was destined for success. Not only has Betsie succeeded in an industry that has been considered by many to be male oriented, but she obtained her Mathematics degree in 1965, during a time when it was certainly an extraordinary achievement for women. In her own right, she has broken records.

Betsie founded a software engineering company, Miklos Systems, Inc., which supports government contracts. The environment at Miklos Systems is one of family. Everyone is encouraged to learn and grow. Employees are also encouraged to consult with co-workers to learn more about specific technological areas prior to moving to new positions within the company.

A major reason for the success of Miklos Systems Inc. is that Betsie has hired employees that she likes being around, respects, and trusts.

Betsie’s approach to business can be used as an exceptional guide for anyone who wants to follow their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Whether you want to start a technology company or a business in another field, many of the principles she has applied to her business can help you achieve success in your company. If your goal is to run a 100+ person company or a one person business, preparation, trust and respect will help you set a solid foundation for success.


Carl Ferrell – The Man, The Brand

As a young child, Carl Ferrell, believed in setting himself apart from those who wanted to follow the crowd. At a very young age he knew deep inside that he would have an impact on the lives of others.

More widely known as Versatile, Carl used his gifts as an artist to create a solid foundation for an entertainment empire that has all the ingredients of longevity.

Why the name Versatile? Because his vision, his way of thinking and his approach to business has produced extraordinary results on various levels.

Versatile’s innovative spirit and ability to think outside the box have allowed him to create a amazing platform for other entrepreneurs and artists of various genres to showcase their products and talents. His brand attracts people of all ethnicities.


Keasha Lee – Striking Statements

Two years ago, my mother reunited with her ex-husband that she had virtually no contact with for more than 30 years. In the summer of 2004, he reached her with a phone call; after the initial conversation, they continued to talk on the phone, started spending some weekends together, and fell back in love. By the following spring they were married again.

A story like my mother’s is not common by any means, so I wanted to make sure that their wedding party celebration was one that they would remember forever. As my wedding gift to them, I coordinated their entire wedding party from finding the perfect venue to hold the event to ensuring that the menu contained their favorite foods, flower arrangements contained my mother’s favorite flowers, and members of both families were present to experience the wonderful occasion. The party was a huge hit and others were very impressed that I managed to plan and coordinate the whole thing which took place in the Southern Virginia town of Charlottesville, from where I live in Northern Virginia.

Since my mother’s wedding party, I decided to turn my talents into a service to make other people’s romantic celebrations a statement about their lives, whether it’s a reflection of where they have been, where they are currently, or a transition to where they want to go. My goal is to make their statement striking; one that others won’t forget. It is on this concept that I created Striking Statements Special Events.


Kristina Pickett – Never Alone In Home Care

I have a poignant question for everyone. “What preparations have you made to help an aging loved one?”  If you were like me the answer is …none.   The National Family Caregivers Association states that people over the age of 85 are the fastest growing segment of the population.  This would include some of our loved ones.
Thus begins my journey.  About 4 or 5 years ago my elderly mother in-law took ill and was diagnosed with cancer.  She had always been an independent woman but due to her illness she could no longer live alone in her apartment so my husband and I moved her into our home.  The thought of one day having to move in an aging parent had never even crossed our minds, so not only were we not prepared mentally, we did not have the physical space for another bed.  We decided to turn our office into a bedroom and quickly redecorated our cold hard office into something that would be pleasant and comfortable.

Suddenly we were caught in what has been coined the “sandwich generation”, caught between caring for an aging or ailing loved one while raising a family and/or nurturing a career.  Our children at the time were young, elementary and middle school aged, and my husband and I were determined not to disturb their normal schedule of sports, friends and various school activities.

I decided to start a non-medical home health care company in which I would draw from my personal experiences and offer assistance to the many families facing the same or similar circumstances.  After much thought and much help from my husband, I decided to call my company Never Alone In Home Care.  Our mission is to maintain dignity and quality of life to the aging loved one and their families by providing services that would allow professional and compassionate care givers to assist those in need with their daily activities.  These services include but are not limited to: assisting with bathing and dressing, light cooking, light housekeeping, transportation, errands, companionship and respite care (assuming the duties of a family/primary caregiver so that they could have some time for themselves).  It is my sincere hope that by providing dependable and high quality service to families in need, we would alleviate most of the stress and strain that loved ones go through.


Yvetta Drayton – The Sewing Diva

When I moved to Loudoun County about 8 years ago, I noticed that there were a lot of young people here but very little activities for them.  I wanted to start a sewing school then but it was not feasible.  Years later, when my work schedule changed, I started teaching sewing part-time in my home.  When my work schedule changed yet again in spring 2006, I decided to take the plunge and pursue my dream of opening a sewing studio where people, young and young at heart, could learn to sew.  I want to empower others to unleash their creativity through sewing.

The Sewing Diva, LLC operates The Studio of Fiber Arts, a school that offers classes in garment sewing, home décor sewing, quilting, knitting, and crocheting.  The Sewing Diva, LLC also designs and fabricates custom window treatments and bedding.

When I ‘retired’ from my television job and transitioned into my business full-time, I acquired students and clients immediately.  One year later, in addition to myself, I now have 5 great teachers and great classes for the summer.

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