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Smart Wedding Planning for Busy Business Women

Posted in EVENTS by msceonet on April 28, 2010

Delegation Isn’t Just for Business, it Applies to Weddings Too

Wedding Planning Entrepreneur Hosts Events to Help Women Connect with Professional, Affordable Help

By Felicia Joy
Ms. CEO Correspondent    

First comes love, then comes the proposal, then comes the headache. Event planning can be stressful to begin with, then add to the mix the fact that it is your one special day—your wedding—that you are planning for and it is easy to understand how a woman who is already busy can turn into a Bridezilla if she doesn’t find the right help.    

Michelle Gainey is a wedding planning entrepreneur.

 

Thank goodness for small miracles like Michelle Gainey’s businesses: Lemiga Events and Studio Wed Atlanta. Michelle says there are lots of bridal shows and planners but her concept and vision are different. “When you go to a bridal show it can be very overwhelming because you often don’t leave with the help you needed.  Instead you leave with a bunch of business cards,” Michelle says. “The next day you can’t remember who does what or which service provider you liked best.”    

When it comes to weddings, the importance of the day, too much information and so many options can get a busy business woman’s blood pressure up. After all, you have enough to worry about. But Michelle says you have options.    

Lemiga, founded in 2004, is a wedding planning and management firm.  Michelle says they plan weddings from beginning to end with every single detail in mind. For brides who are a bit more brave and have time to do more themselves, Michelle suggests keeping stress to a minimum by having vendors come to you. She has launched this concept at Studio Wed Atlanta. “We have put together a team of about 32 vendors in various categories and they are the best,” Michelle says. “They have combined experience of more than a hundred years and a bride can find everything she needs for her wedding, all in one location. It simplifies the process.”     

Michelle’s passion and confidence in the right process also led her to launch “The Wedding Experience,” a one-day educational bridal seminar where, she says, couples can learn the inside secrets on how to make wedding planning manageable, right down to the right questions to ask when you meet with various vendors. “We want brides to know what to look for, and our presenters and exhibitors at this event will make sure they do,” Michelle said.    

Photo Credit: Lemiga Events and Studio Wed Atlanta

 

The Wedding Experience event will be held on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead from 11am to 6pm. The event includes lunch and will end with a cocktail party. Learn more about it on the Studio Wed Atlanta website.

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Pretty Successful: Profiles of Amazing Women Entrepreneurs – Rashidah Ali

Posted in INSPIRATION, NEWS by msceonet on April 9, 2010

Celebrity shoe maven expands her New York-based brand to Atlanta

 

Women with department store budgets can now step out in ‘bourgeoisie’ style

 

By Felicia Joy
Ms. CEO Correspondent 

Rashidah Ali is like your typical successful entrepreneur. Except she’s really humble. Surprisingly so. Like the twist at the end of a movie that was building all the time, but you didn’t see it coming. 

Rashidah Ali is an entrepreneur based in New York. She is opening B Chic Shoetique in Buckhead, an upscale suburb of Atlanta, on April 14, 2010.

 

Daughter of a nurse and train engineer, the Bronx-born entrepreneur says she wasn’t groomed for business success and nothing in particular sparked her to start.  It was something that simply built over time. “I’ve been this way since I was a child. It was just in me. I wanted to make my own rules,” Rashidah says. 

She has.  

By typical “rules” and expectations, the average 23 year old is in college, has just graduated or is working a job. In 2007, at that age, Rashidah launched Bourgeoisie Shoes, a shoe boutique in Harlem that has since become the go-to spot for celebrity shoe styling.  Rashidah is regularly called upon to find the perfect pair for a long list of celebrity clients including A-listers like Alicia Keys and Kim Kardashian.  She travels to the biggest shoe show in the world every year in Milan, Italy to stay on top of trends, and make the connections that enable her to bring the latest styles back to her everyday and celebrity clients. 

With her New York location flourishing, Rashidah is now expanding her shoe empire to Atlanta with the opening of B Chic Shoetique in Buckhead on April 14. “Every market is different. When I opened Bourgeoisie, I felt the New York market needed that kind of store. In Atlanta, I want to cater to the woman who wants to wear glamorous looking, designer shoes but pay a little less for them,” she says.  “Prices at B Chic will range from $100-$300 and we will provide the same great service we provide in New York.” 

Rashidah, who is also part owner in an importing and exporting business, has apparently learned the successful entrepreneurial tactic of collaborating.  The savvy young woman is partnering with Dia Simms in the Atlanta-area to launch her second location. Though she has partners and business is doing well, Rashidah says she never stops to admire her accomplishments. “Everyday is hard work and a struggle. I never sit back and say I’ve arrived.  There are things I might like to do in the future but one of the ways I have been successful is to focus on the goal at hand,” she says. 

Having started her business when the economy was tanking Rashidah says she did lots of research and prepared for the worse possible circumstances. “I approached my business with ‘rainy days’ in mind. I knew that great merchandise and expert knowledge would be key but my research indicated that I should be ready to work five years before seeing anything.” 

Word-of-mouth, the most powerful kind of marketing, has carried Rashidah a little bit faster and farther than she imagined. If you’re intrigued by her success you’ll soon be able to see how she makes it all happen. She shared an exclusive tip with Ms. CEO: Her reality show, Deals in Heels, will soon be airing on national television. Stay tuned. 

Atlanta Store Information
B Chic Shoetique
2770 Lenox Road
Atlanta, GA 30324
www.bchicshoes.com 

New York Store Information
Bourgeoisie Shoes
2366 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10030
212-234-7899
www.bourgeoisieshoes.com

April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month: Mimi Tin

Posted in GENERAL, INSPIRATION by msceonet on April 5, 2010

Artsy entrepreneur finds her inner peace in the snow

International human rights abuses would be her topic of conversation with the President

During our recent chat with April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month, Mimi Tin, we learned that we picked the perfect time to feature her.  Our theme this month is “Cool and Carefree” which fits Mimi well.  Her business, Sushi Style, is all about cool creativity and carefree whimsy.  She makes ottomans that look like sushi.  And for children she has created Sushiami, a fun collection that includes the most adorable dolls, jewelry and sushi-style poufs.     

Mimi Tin, founder and CEO of Sushi Style Inc., is the April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month representing the theme, "cool and carefree." (click image for larger view)

 

Mimi shared with us that Spring just so happens to be her favorite season. What a coincidence!  We love these lofty and simple surprises—and we are delighted by all that we learned about Mimi’s amazing life experiences so far. What a woman she is—and a business woman to boot.  Here’s what she shared with Ms. CEO correspondent, Felicia Joy:    

Who named you and what does your name mean?  My parents named me Khaymar Than, which means “cool girl million.”  Mimi is a nickname and means “little daughter” in Burmese.    

Did you have a business as a child or an interest in sales and leadership (for instance, Girl Scouts)? My cousin and I tried to have a lemonade stand in New York City once but a homeless man came by and ate all our cookies.  We cried and ran back upstairs.    

What was your favorite subject in school? Art.    

What is your favorite color? My favorite color of the moment is aubergine. (Ms. CEO: We scratched our heads too.  It’s a “dark purplish color” according to the dictionary.)    

What is your favorite food? Burmese and Thai—equally.    

You mentioned that snowboarding is your favorite past time; how in the world did you get into that?  Through the years, I have challenged myself to face my fears head-on until I learned to be fearless. I had always been afraid to speak in public, so I started teaching design classes.  I had been afraid of water, so I learned how to surf when I lived in Sydney, Australia. I was afraid of heights, so I learned to snowboard. I loved it so much, it eventually became part of my lifestyle. I feel a sense of absolute freedom when I am gliding through the snow; it clears my head and keeps me grounded. I wish I could do it year round.    

Winter, spring, summer or fall?  Spring!  I love everything about the Springtime—the color of the new leaves, flowers blooming everywhere, and the sense that everything is new and beautiful again.    

Are you intentional when it comes to business or are you laid back, allowing things to come to you as they may?  I am intentional, but throughout the process of creating and operating Sushi Style, I have learned to be more laid back about situations that are beyond my control.    

If people could describe you in only one word, what do you think ( or hope) that word would be? Gracious and inspiring—sorry, that’s two!    

What’s the most unusual place you have ever traveled? I am passionate about traveling so I have had the opportunity to see some interesting places around the world.  I guess one of the most unusual experiences I have had happened during a mission trip to a small village in Honduras. When we arrived, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to stay in the huts so a few of us volunteered to sleep on a concrete slab in the middle of the village. The area around us was clear when we went to sleep but when I opened my eyes in the morning I was face-to-face with a curious pig. I looked around and realized we were surrounded by a field full of other large pigs, goats and chickens; and I could see the silhouette of three men in sombreros sitting on a fence somewhere in the distance. It was crazy.    

  

April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month, Mimi Tin, represents her business savvy, boldness and style in a classic Ms. CEO tee. Her company, Sushi Style Inc., brings a breath of fresh air to the world of furniture with ottomans designed to look like sushi! (click image for larger view)

 

 Is there a cause that you are super passionate about?    

Yes, I have been working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help Burmese refugees in Atlanta. My family had to start over when we arrived in the United States so I am very passionate about helping the Burmese refugees get settled here. I’d like to visit the refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border to see first-hand what can be done. I think it would be nice to deliver some of my Sushiami dolls to the children.    

What’s your favorite television show? Seinfeld was my favorite show.  I could watch the episodes over and over again. I don’t have a chance to watch a lot of TV these days but I try to catch episodes of Project Runway whenever I can.    

What would people be surprised to know about you? (Laughs.) Not too many people know that I was born in a remote jungle village in the middle of Burma. Our “house” was surrounded by exotic creatures that would visit us occassionally. My dad killed a cobra with a baseball bat and ran over a python with his jeep. He and my uncle used to go tiger hunting. For some reason, people often think that I’m a city girl who is afraid of bugs and getting dirty. I think they’d be surprised to know it’s quite the opposite.    

Are you married? Are you a mom? No, marriage has never really been a priority for me. I feel that if it is meant to happen it will happen one day and if it doesn’t, that’s fine too.    

Who, or what, makes you laugh out loud? My dad. He says the funniest things without meaning to and it makes us laugh hysterically. I love laughing with my friends as well. Sometimes we laugh until our cheeks hurt.    

If you could have a meeting with President Obama what would you talk to him about? I would ask what we can do to help countries like Burma that have been oppressed by a military junta for years. What can the United States do to help free political prisoners like the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi? What can we do to raise national and global awareness about human rights abuse that takes place in these countries? 

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I’na Saulsbery | The Starfire Group

Posted in INSPIRATION by msceonet on April 2, 2010

Emerging, ‘explosive’ entrepreneur runs a red-hot event planning firm

She is working to create a legacy like her hero, Madam C.J. Walker

By Felicia Joy
Senior Correspondent     

Once you meet the red-headed I’na Saulsbery you’ll never forget her—and if you see her card before you meet her you won’t forget that either. She is the founder, and energetic CEO of The Starfire Group, an event planning and management firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.     

I’na Saulsbery, CEO of The Starfire Group, is our Ms. CEO of the Month for March representing ‘Meaning & Legacy’. She has the bold and spirited work ethic of one of her heros, Madam C.J. Walker (click for larger view).

 

Typically we think of a CEO as the chief executive officer—but I’na might tell you she is the chief explosive officer at her company. They don’t do anything with fireworks—at least not yet—but she has branded herself and her company as the creators and producers of the hottest, most memorable events for clients and their guests. Judging by her schedule and reputation she’s living up to expectations.     

“People talk about thinking outside of the box,” I’na says. “I don’t ever have to think outside the box because I already live there.”      

This gutsy, bold mentality, wrapped in a professional and diplomatic demeanor has sparked success for I’na who started planning events at the ripe young age of 16.  “It was something that I always enjoyed doing,” she says.  So she stuck with it.     

Unique branding and ideas, plus her three Es—explosive, exuberant and extraordinary—have given I’na entree to work with some of the most well-known personalities in entertainment including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Atlanta-based recording artist, Monica, best known for her top hit with singer Brandy, “The Boy Is Mine.”  I’na says she loves planning and managing all events—from small get togethers like baby showers to big-deal events like television show launch parties.     

Beyonce’ and Usher are the dream celebrity clients that she has yet to work with, but she has her hands full, in the meanwhile, with plenty other projects. “How many hours are in a week?” she asks, smiling. “That’s roughly the amount of time I work. I am always working,” I’na says.     

I'na Saulsbery, March 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month, shows off her business savvy, boldness and style in a classic Ms. CEO tee.

 

She is endeavoring just as one of her heroes—Madam C.J. Walker—did to build a substantial business that creates a legacy for others to admire and emulate.  A quote from Madam Walker in I’na’s e-mail signature reads: “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. If I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”     

Madam C.J. Walker was the first self-made woman millionaire in America. A widow, working mother and daughter of former slaves, she turned her beauty product business into a multi-million dollar empire before her death in 1919.

 

I’na who thought at one point that she would be an entertainment attorney says, “I decided to become an entrepreneur because I felt like it was time for me to showcase my true talents as my own boss. The toughest thing about being in business so far is having to be responsible for making all of the decisions. I have to make sure I am making the best decision for my business all the time and that can be a lot of pressure.”     

When asked if building a multi-million dollar business and hiring others—like Madam C.J. Walker did—are important to her, the Columbus, Ohio native doesn’t hesitate. “Absolutely!” I’na says.