I was born and raised in Rhode Island. My mother, an immigrant from Italy, came to the U.S. when she was 21, fell in love and married my father on June 27, 1970. They had my brother on June 27, 1971, followed by my birth eleven months later on May 23, 1972, and then my father passed away a little over a year later, on June 27, 1973. My mother went on to remarry, and my new father lovingly raised us as his own. My parents later had my two younger sisters, who will forever be my best friends!
Growing up, I felt a certain calling…I wasn’t a fan of following “the norm” and felt different from everyone else. I have always had a spiritual side to me, and I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school so I could pursue bigger things in my life and move away from Rhode Island. Besides moving to Florida four times, I have lived in Las Vegas, Chicago and Colorado. And now, I am happy to say that finally, my business, V’Enza, is located in Tampa, Florida. Sunshine, the ocean and warm weather have been my aspirations, and I just feel so alive and happy living in this environment.
Back when I was young, at the age of 11, I was diagnosed with a very rare skin disease, Linear Scleroderma, which was so rare that I was included as part of a case study out of Boston Children’s Hospital. I was told I would never have any function of my right hand and arm and that I should change and become left-handed. My hand looked awful as if I was burned badly, and I could barely make a fist. At about the age of 14, however, my school health teacher spoke to the class about the power of the mind and how we can create or heal things with it. I decided at that moment, I would no longer give attention to the disease ever again, and I would change it. I stopped taking any and all medications doctors had previously put me on and began strengthening my hand by squeezing a tennis ball. I started going to the gym and working out every day. I never again gave the disease power, and it reversed itself and became stagnant. I am proud to say that the disease has not progressed any further since, and I’m now 46. I have since gone on to use my hand and arm fully…even making jewelry! I honestly forget I even have it!
Five years after my diagnosis, I got to feel what it felt like to become my own boss at the early age of 16. I worked three jobs in high school: I was a consultant for a direct marketing company called Princess House, I was a waitress, and I worked in retail. It’s funny, but I loved carrying a briefcase, LOL! I later tried college but didn’t last a full semester; it just didn’t feel like me. So, I bartended and then at age twenty-one, I got married to my first husband, and we opened up a deli/café when I was twenty-three. This was my first REAL entrepreneurial adventure! It was very challenging yet also taught me so many lessons. I divorced at twenty-seven and sold the business.
Prior to starting V’Enza, I worked in many other areas, including sales, real estate, and even a catering business, just to name a few. During that time I married again and had two daughters. While raising my daughters I wanted to be with them as much as I possibly could, so being a business owner afforded me the time and flexibility to work around their schedule as much as possible without having to leave them. This also greatly helped to accommodate both of my daughters’ demanding schedules, as they were competitive figure skaters, which required a significant financial commitment as well. I never could have committed that time and dedication to them otherwise.
In the company’s infancy, sales were primarily through at home parties and word of mouth. In the fall of 2015, V’Enza began selling inspirational jewelry through its e-commerce platform. At that time, sales were also expanded through retail in selective spas/salons, boutiques and fitness studios (yoga/pilates/barre). Currently, V’Enza has wholesale accounts that are selling in retail locations throughout the US and Canada.
Growing V’Enza to the level that will meet my long-term vision has been challenging. Once I had done all I could possibly do on my own, I could not financially afford to grow it to that next level by myself. There had been so many NO’s, but I knew it would only take ONE YES to make it happen! I continued to pursue further growth and now, my biggest accomplishment has been in forming a strategic partnership with a like-minded investor/team that believes in the vision and mission as much as I do so we can work together to take it to that next level.
I have found I love being my own boss, but I never really truly realized it until my late 30s. I feel that as we get older and begin to process our life, our minds, likes and dislikes become more definitive. At this point in my life, I recognized I wanted to really pursue something I was truly passionate about!
I firmly believe you must do what you really LOVE and so my business style and practice are heavily influenced by authenticity. If you are truly passionate about something and believe in it with all your heart, you are doing the right thing. I realized that I didn’t love to cook. I liked the idea of having a restaurant, but it wasn’t a passion of mine. Whereby, this journey, V’Enza…comes straight from my heart, my soul and God! Even the name was inspired by my two daughters middle names (Enza and Vee).
I absolutely know now and knew then this was what I was meant to do.
God provides me with most of my ideas and inspiration, as well as, my dreams and simply talking with people. I love walks and jogs, and when I am outside doing either, the ideas and downloads I receive are intense—so intense, that I sometimes need to write them down as soon as I get home so I don’t forget.
Words of Wisdom for New Entrepreneurs
1. Value your time. Your time is money.
2. Saying NO Sometimes. We find it hard to say NO to people or certain things because we want to do it all or please everyone; however, sometimes there are things that are not really worth our time, energy or simply not who we really are or comply with our brand or image.
3. Take time for you. As entrepreneurs, we tend to over-work, over-think, over-do… our minds just don’t stop running. But, every engine needs to rest, get an oil change and get a tune-up every now and then. Taking some time for yourself, whatever that may be may actually fuel you even more and spark fresh, new ideas. Don’t feel guilty to take a break every now and then!
4. Ask for help. I know we tend to want to do it all, and even think we can do it all sometimes. One of the ways I asked for help was spiritual…I ask my angels for help twice a day. I actually set an alarm on my phone for noon and 9pm. At those moments I ask my angels and guides to help me with whatever it is I need help or clarity on.
5. Journal. I write every morning. It gives so much clarity to write what I am thankful for, what I want my day to be like and what I may be feeling. This is an exercise for your soul. It raises your vibration and sets you up for allowing any ideas, messages, and intuitions to be clearer.
6. Start an accounting system. As a creative, I avoided numbers as much as possible. They scared me and overwhelmed me. But, at the end of the day, you need to know your business and cannot grow if you do not know what you need to grow too!
7. Failures are not failures; they are lessons. If you can evaluate every bad experience, situation or decision and see where you went wrong or what you could have done better, that is SUCCESS!