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Archives for Women Leaders Campaign 2019

Chrissy Blair & Jayla Harnwell – Planning with Passion

“Speak to as many people in the field as you can that are reputable and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.”


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Chrissy Blair & Jayla Harnwell

Co-founder and Designer & Co-founder and Product Development

Chrissy & Jayla take dynamic duo to a whole new level of professionalism. After both having led successful modeling careers, these two women combined their knowledge and entrepreneurial powers to create a thriving company that has helped revolutionize the beauty industry.


Plan ahead. Trust your gut. And lean on others with more experience. 

Raised in Orlando, Florida, modeling originally brought Chrissy Blair to Los Angeles where she worked with companies such as Guess, Maxim, Sports Illustrated and L’Oreal to name a few. Utilizing her degree in graphic design, specializing in branding and marketing, Blair co-founded Kalumi in early 2017 with a mission to offer a more attainable beauty routine through beauty-boosting foods. Her eye for detail coupled with her obsession with wellness and beauty continues to influence her career.


Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Jayla grew up immersed in the world of wellness with a strong emphasis on internal health. Years later a successful modeling career allowed her to travel and live all over the world from Miami and Milan to New York and finally LA. Jayla co-founded and launched Kalumi in 2017 out of a personal need for nutrient-rich foods to keep her looking and feeling her best while traveling. Since launching the company, Kalumi is stocked by leading wellness retailers including Goop, Freepeople and Erewhon, and has been featured in publications such as Town & Country, Shape, well + good and women health. Jayla now works full time on Kalumi continuing to grow the company and educate people on the importance of health.



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What’s key to running a successful business?

C&J: Always be able to think three steps ahead and have a very clear direction on what you want to accomplish with your brand. Never compromise what doesn’t feel right for that plan.


How many people are on your team, and do you have any tips on hiring and growing a team of employees or contractors?

C&J: We’re a team of four right now, we hired where we felt our time wasn’t best spent and that would impact revenue growth to our company. For us, hiring someone who could handle the day-to-day business tasks in the office gave us more time to focus on more high-level things like large Retail relationships, product development, and Marketing.


What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

C&J: If you have an idea that keeps you up at night and feel it would bring something new and helpful to peoples lives, do it! Speak to as many people in the field as you can that are reputable and learn from their mistakes and triumphs. For us, we’ve never been scared to ask other people we look up to for help or about their experiences. We’ve been so fortunate to have such great advisors and friends in the industry.


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Marie Kloor – Winding Up For Your Business with Inspiration and Financial Support

“I’m not one of those people that always saw myself as an entrepreneur…”


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Marie Kloor

Co-Founder & CEO
Hydra Studios

Marie is a trailblazer for changing how we crank through our daily grind. Having traveled for much of her career, she knows how important it is to have a place to find inspiration and recharge.  Amidst the metropolitan hustle, she not only created a network of highly curated wellness studios that do just that but a culture around it too.


Fundraising is a hard, stressful and huge undertaking. It’s important to embrace and hone your negotiating skills.

Marie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hydra Studios, a network of highly curated wellness studios in metropolitan areas, providing a second home base for members to refresh, recharge and regroup while on the go. She loves the hustle of NYC and wanted to create a space that brings more convenience and flexibility to people’s lives, allowing them to do more with their day. The first studio opened in Manhattan on June 2019. Previously, she led Revenue & Business Development at News Deeply, a media startup building single-topic news platforms covering complex global issues. She began her career at Goldman Sachs in institutional asset management. Originally from Colorado, Marie is an avid snowboarder and hiker and tries to get outside and explore as much as possible.


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Marie Kloor, Co-founder and CEO and Dan Nielsen, Co-founder and COO of Hydra Studios.

Tell us about your first entrepreneurial venture: How did you come up with the idea, and how did you start your business?

MK: I’m not one of those people that always saw myself as an entrepreneur — Hydra Studios is my first entrepreneurial venture. I began my career in at Goldman Sachs, and worked at smaller and smaller companies before starting my own. That said, Hydra Studios was actually inspired by the amenities at the GS headquarters in downtown Manhattan. They have an onsite wellness center that I used constantly. I love boutique fitness, so would take a class in the morning, then come to the office to get ready before work. I also traveled a lot in my role, so it was great to have onsite showers and nap rooms available after a flight. In the evening, the space was always packed with people prepping for one of the many events going on every night in NYC. The wellness center became my second home base at the office.

I realized that everyone in NYC is hustling, and most of us don’t work traditional 9 to 5 jobs anymore. We’re always on. I’m usually out of my apartment from 7 am – 9 pm, and am trying to fit so many roles in during that time. From work to working out, to client events, socializing and trying to find some time for myself. I wanted to create a unique space that allows people to harness the city’s energy. Providing simple but beautifully designed amenities, like showers, steam rooms, lockers, vanity stations, and bookable nap/meditation suites. We also have a wellness showroom dedicated to discovery, where we bring in innovative wellness treatments, classes, workshops, and pop-ups. Although we’re launching in NYC, we’re planning on expanding nationally as we think our product can serve a lot of different places.


Did you raise venture capital? If so, can you tell us about that process?

MK: We raised a seed round of financing from a few venture capital funds. It was not an easy process. Raising venture capital as a pre-revenue company definitely has its challenges. Many investors won’t fund companies that don’t have revenue. For those investors that will, the pitch becomes a lot more about your vision and why you are the right team to execute. That said, we found that once we had a few notable venture capital funds onboard, the rest of the round came together and we ended up oversubscribed. I definitely honed my negotiation skills through this process, and am actually looking forward to raising our next round of financing.


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Hydra Studios Opens First Location with Convene at RXR’s 530 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan


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Esther Turner – Instincts, Research, and Problem Solving

“Each day brings with it a set of new challenges, new unknowns, and it’s my job to find ways to overcome those obstacles and help my team stay focused.”

Esther Turner

Founder and CEO

Esther unites creativity, critical thinking, and passion to inspire her team and drive successful business. Her brilliance goes beyond creating amazing products, expanding to leadership and growth.

Thinking creatively and maintaining a solution-oriented mindset is critical.

Esther Turner is the Founder and CEO of ESLENA, a lightly flavored enhanced water that unites health, purity, and flavor in one product. Uniquely designed, ESLENA is the only flavored water made with real, recognizable ingredients that also delivers superior hydration by way of full-spectrum trace minerals and electrolytes. Esther’s vision for ‘a better bottled water’ built the foundation of the business and continues to drive strategic goals. Prior to ESLENA, she served as VP of Operations for a custom software development company. It was there that Esther recognized her innate attraction to being involved in all aspects of a business and was propelled pursue her own venture.


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New Beverage Showdown – Semifinals 2018

What’s key to running a successful business?

ET: For me, it’s the ability to think creatively and problem solve. Each day brings with it a set of new challenges, new unknowns, and it’s my job to find ways to overcome those obstacles and help my team stay focused. Being bootstrapped adds another layer of complexity to that effort in that hiring outside expertise is not always an option. Here enters creative thinking. In some instances I have learned a new skill to support the business; in other cases, I’ve have made phone calls, knocked on doors or spent hours (or days) researching a topic to gather enough information to navigate effectively. Running a business is difficult, to say the least. Thinking creatively and maintaining a solution-oriented mindset has been a critical part of my journey.


What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

ET: First and foremost, trust your instincts. No one else will believe in your business idea as much as you do – so, seek advice and mentorship, but don’t expect others to validate your idea. Follow your instincts. They’re yours for a reason and will likely lead to something great. Secondly, research your industry. Dig in. Start looking at what makes your product/service different and define why a customer will choose your offering over the competition. I also highly recommend attending an industry event like a conference or tradeshow early on. I didn’t do this and have since realized how helpful the education and networking would have been.


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Lila Sharifian – Passion Meets Commercialization

“Find and pursue the opportunity where your passion meets commercialization.”

Lila (“Leela”) Sharifian

CFO Personal Care & Beauty
Stage 1 Financial 

Lila is an advisory genius in the beauty industry. Known for developing strategy, aligning resources, and accelerating growth, she is a pillar of support for growing companies.


Always start with passion. Always.

Lila (“Leela”) Sharifian brings 15 years of experience in consumer/retail, with 11 years focused on the beauty industry. She has helped brands such as Laura Mercier, Nyakio, and Cover FX across a wide range of areas including strategy, finance, home shopping, brand launch, and sale process. Lila has a Finance degree from Wharton and an MBA from Berkeley.


What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

LS: Find and pursue the opportunity where your passion meets commercialization. Passion makes the long hours and hard work fun. Commercialization ensures your business is financially viable. Then, believe in yourself!

You must be the driving force behind your emerging brand. Educate yourself. Build the right team. Then lean on industry experts. No one expects you to know everything. Working with the right people can save stress and set you up for success.


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Lisa Pineiro – 6 Best Pieces Of Advice For Starting A Company

“Be prepared, in some situations, to be treated differently because you’re a girl.”

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Lisa Pineiro

Founder and CEO

Lisa is a master of beauty, brand, and business. This mother of four has revolutionized beauty regimens with an inside-out approach that has retailers knocking at her door.

Whenever starting a business it’s important to know the ropes. You’re going to be wearing a lot of hats.

Lisa Pineiro essentially grew up on live television. She was barely 20 years old when she took her first on-air news job (Everyone looks good on TV at 20!) For the next 27 years, she honed her craft-anchoring, reporting, hosting, you name it. She covered breaking news, interviewed celebrities and Presidential candidates. She also fell in love with science and medical reporting. So, when she started to notice the signs of aging that were becoming impossible to hide from a high-definition camera lens, she turned to science for answers, and the regimen that would later become Glotrition was born.

As passionate as she is about her business, the thing she is most proud of is being a mom to her four amazing sons. They have all grown into amazing young adults. Lisa tries to get them to help with the business as much as she can.


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What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

LP: Starting your own business can be a rollercoaster ride, often with intense learning curves. It’s exciting and sometimes completely scary! Here are my 6 best pieces of advice:

1. Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked and put in more hours for zero pay. Seriously. Zero. Pay.

2. Learn and understand every aspect of your business. I think it’s important to wear all the hats when you first start out. On any given day, I could make tweaks to my website, manage my supply chain, source materials, study product chemistry, build a marketing campaign, take a buyer meeting, and end the day on-air at QVC! This sort of hands-on approach means that I know my business model and the intricacies of my unique brand better than anyone else. If you’re not learning something new every day, you’re not doing all you could be doing for your business.

3. That said, growing a business alone isn’t sustainable. Set revenue goals that allow you to hire help when the time is right. Until then, find a mentor who is willing to walk you through things for a free cup of coffee! You’d be surprised at how many successful business owners are willing to help someone just starting out.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Ask for better pricing. Ask for better terms. Ask an influencer to talk about your brand for free product. Just ask. Remember, getting a “no” is better than “maybe”. “No” saves you a lot of time.

5. So, I hate this tip, but it’s important. Be prepared, in some situations, to be treated differently because you’re a girl. This sucks, but it’s true. Know this going in and don’t take it personally. I work in the beauty industry which is very female-friendly, but the manufacturing and logistics side of my business is not. Smile, say thank you and take your business someplace else. You’re building a business and growing an asset…you have zero time to waste on difficult people.

6. Take the time to celebrate your wins! Success in business often comes with a whole new list of challenges. For me, a large order means instant stress over inventory and regulatory obstacles. I have our first check from QVC framed on my desk to help remind me to feel proud of myself and grateful for the personal growth that comes with the challenges. After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it!


Tell us about your first entrepreneurial venture: How did you come up with the idea, and how did you start your business?

LP: The idea for Glotrition came from my personal “Inside/Out” skincare regimen that included ingestible supplements and specific topical ingredients. I was working as a TV news anchor and medical correspondent and started to experience some age-related skin issues.

I went directly to some of the scientists and researchers who were studying the connection between skincare and nutrition and had them curate an ingestible supplement regimen for me, along with recommendations on which topical ingredients to look for in my serums and creams. Within just a few weeks my skin did a total 180. The regimen was so effective, but I was taking 13 huge pills every day and spending a fortune on topical products!

It became my mission to develop my program into a much easier regimen. In 2015, Glotrition was born. I was still working in television at the time, so I spent my free time working with a nutritional chemist and skincare chemist developing our products. After work, I would drive around to spas, selling as much product as I could out of the trunk of my car!


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Ellie Burrows Gluck – Building a Community Around Your Business

“Surrender: you can’t control everything.”

MDFL Meditation

Ellie Burrows Gluck

Co-founder & CEO

Ellie is a vision of balance, growth, and inspiration. She has built a team of diverse individuals and values their perspectives, creating a not only a collaborative environment but a community.


It’s important to have disciplines. They allow you to show up fully for the demands of running a business.

Ellie is the Co-founder and CEO of MNDFL as well as a Vedic Meditation teacher, certified personal development coach, and writer. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University, Ellie served as an executive in the film business for a number of years, focusing on the business side of film: producing, selling, financing and finding new talent. When her meetings began to evolve into coaching sessions around effective communication and interpersonal relationships, she chose to pursue mindfulness in a more meaningful way.

Ellie decided to travel the world as a spiritual tourist ultimately returning to New York where she received her Certificate in Coaching from NYU. Shortly thereafter, in 2014, she cofounded MNDFL, New York City’s premier meditation company which includes studios, corporate programming, teacher training, an on-demand meditation channel, and a non-profit arm, MNDFL Ed.

Along the way, Ellie was exposed to Vedic Meditation. What started as a daily practice turned into a full-blown love affair, and beginning in 2017 Ellie completed her 2000-hour teacher training program under master teacher Théo Burkhardt.



What’s key to running a successful business?  

EBG: Surrender: you can’t control everything. There will inevitably be high highs and low lows and it’s all a part of the journey. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you don’t know something. It’s helpful to ask your team for their perspective. Diversity in perspective not only helps you avoid personal blindspots but it also reinforces that team members’ points of view are relevant, welcome and important. It builds internal goodwill and morale.


Do you follow a certain morning routine or daily schedule to maximize productivity and well-being?

EBG: The first thing I do when I get up is meditate and then I meditate once again in the afternoon. My discipline around my practice allows me to show up more fully for my day and the demands of running a business. If my schedule allows I try to exercise or move my body in some capacity every morning – it just feels so so good.


How many people are on your team, and do you have any tips on hiring and growing a team of employees or contractors?

EBG: We have a core operations/management full-time team of about 8-10 people. We also have 45 expert teachers on staff as well as an incredible front desk staff of 12. I still like to meet with every single person during the hiring process so I can connect with them personally, directly manage their expectations and get a sense for who they are and the skills they bring to the table. I like multiple employees to meet potential hires because MNDFL is a collaborative environment and I want to make sure our team confidently makes hires together.

When it comes to our teachers we have rigorous requirements for training. We often set up a time for a practice class with potential teachers to see if their teaching style is the right fit for our community. Similarly, we might ask potential contractors to do some homework or offer feedback to see if they can use their expertise to make a meaningful impact.


What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

EBG: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Although I get the credit for being the co-founder of MNDFL, there were so many people along the way who helped me build this business and the business is better because of it. Also, don’t be afraid to be generous. We can often slip into a scarcity mentality when it comes to business and if we act from a place of abundance it can really shift the team morale.


Tell us about your first entrepreneurial venture: How did you come up with the idea, and how did you start your business?

EBG: It’s MNDFL! Honestly, I was struggling with my practice and I was finding it incredibly hard to meditate in my own home. The studio arose from a deep personal need. I wanted to meditate in a space that wasn’t religious and didn’t involve a weekend-long commitment. I loved the feeling of group meditations and I personally liked the format of boutique fitness studios—reserving a spot online or dropping in and joining class.

I think we can all agree that New York City is in desperate need of quiet and relaxing spaces. If I was struggling with the practice in this city, I felt others were probably struggling too. So we put together a business model, called a few family and friends to raise an angel round, brought the best teachers in the city together and opened our doors. That’s the short version!


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Melissa Palmer – Self-Care, Communication, and Taking the Leap

“Painstaking deliberation conflicts with productivity.”

Melissa Palmer

OSEA International

Melissa is a muse in the business world. Trailing inspiration in her wake, she has made OSEA not only a leader but a standard-setter in the growing non-toxic beauty community.


Don’t worry about being perfect. Routines are not for everyone, but self-care is a must! 

Melissa Palmer is the CEO of OSEA International and is a born and bred entrepreneur and marketer who is passionate about growing innovative wellness brands.


Do you follow a certain morning routine or daily schedule to maximize productivity and well-being?

MP: This is new for me, but for the past few months, I’ve been working to create a true morning routine for myself. I start each day with a self-care practice to set the tone for the rest of my day. When I wake up, for the first 40 minutes I try and make sure to put my phone on airplane mode. At the point, I’m able to meditate and practice Tai Chi without interruption. Once I turn my phone back on the emails start rolling in and it’s full steam ahead, so for me, that first 40-60 minutes of time to myself is really important.

I spend a lot of time at our offices in Venice with our team, having creative and business meetings with our staff about our latest marketing initiatives, and product development progress. I also typically do a daily check-in with our OSEA Skincare Studio on Abbot Kinney. Making this a daily priority keep me really connected to my team, and to the vision of the company, and helps me maintain both a macro and micro level view of the state of things.


What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

MP: Take the leap! As women, we can be especially hard on ourselves, so it’s a good reminder to let go of perfectionism. Painstaking deliberation conflicts with productivity. Instead of ruminating endlessly on how to do this perfectly, just get things done. Even if you don’t know where it will take you, it’s what will lead you to the next step. It might even mean failing, but always have the courage to take that first step.


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Stephanie Lung – From Good Ideas to Great Businesses

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be in a place where there’s ample opportunity for growth”

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Stephanie Lung

VP of Finance & Strategy
Y7 Studio

Stephanie is a guru of growing developing businesses through creativity and finance. Finding her ideal niche in the business world has lead to personal fulfillment, professional triumph, and successful businesses.


When transitioning with new companies, it’s important to know your happy place. It will lead to success.

Stephanie Lung leads finance and strategy for Y7 Studio, the premier yoga brand established in 2013. She oversees and provides overall direction for the Company’s FP&A, accounting, business analytics, and long-range strategic plan . Prior to her current role, she oversaw financial planning and business analysis for Blink Fitness, the premium quality, value-based gyms in the Equinox fitness brands. She earned a Masters of Finance from Saïd Business School at University of Oxford and a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in the City of New York.



A Tribe Called Sweat

Tell us about a company you helped grow: How did you come onboard, why were you passionate about the said company, and what were your goals there?

SL: I’ve been in the start-up space for almost a decade, beginning in retail (both brick & mortar and e-commerce), then moving into fitness. I’ve been with my current company, Y7 Studio, for just over 2 years. I came on board when they had 6 studios in 2 markets, and they were looking to add a financial and strategic member to their corporate leadership in order to scale. Today, we’ve doubled our studio count, with an aggressive roll-out plan that includes opening in a new market by the end of the year.

Y7 was the perfect opportunity to apply my diverse skill set and experiences to be an effective member of a small team. I love joining businesses when they have validated that they have a good idea, but now need to figure out how to scale it into a great business. It’s incredibly rewarding to be in a place where there’s ample opportunity for growth because everything is an investment in the future and has the potential to add tremendous value. Once companies mature, their focus tends to turn more towards cost savings rather than value creation; and when that transition inevitably comes, then I know it’s time for me to transition as well.


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