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  • 12 Hudson County Women To Watch in 2017

    Every year, the ladies of Hudson County continue to impress us with their ideas, actions, and creativity that change the world and community around us. 2017 is going to be no different. Below, our list of Hudson County women to watch in 2017 — who collectively are QUITE the impressive bunch. From non-profit founders to entrepreneurs to creatives {to all of the above in one shot}, these women are sure to impress you.

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    After the jump: Hoboken Girl’s list of Hudson County women to watch in 2017 {and maaaay see as a Hoboken Girl of the Week, coming soon!}:

    1. Kirsten La Greca, Television Producer and Owner of ROSA GOLD

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    About Kirsten:

    To pay the bills, Kirsten works as a television producer, but her passion project is ROSA GOLD, an accessories and apparel company that specializes in monogrammed goods.A portion of her profits go straight to charity — at the moment, RG is supporting Pencils of Promise, an amazing organization that builds schools in developing countries. “I am committed to helping more kids, especially girls, get access to quality education,” Kirsten shares. Her business has experienced massive growth in a very short amount of time, and she’s aiming to merge the personal and professional in fall 2017 — when she takes her monogram business full time!

    Advice for someone just starting out in a career?

    Nothing comes for free and overnight successes are few and far between! If you want to build a career, start a business, whatever, know that you are going to have to do the work, even when it feels like nothing is happening (that’s actually when everything is!) Oh, and most of the time, keep your own counsel – your intuition knows best.

     

    2. Alessia Aron, Owner of Jersey Girls Food Tours

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    About Alessia:

    Before entering the business world, Alessia was an artist — but quickly she found her passion in food {and Jersey City}. Alessia, along with her business partner, Janis Borroto, own and operate New Jersey’s only multi-city food tour company, Jersey Girls Food Tours, based in JC. “Some people ask me, ‘So you eat good food for a living and then share it with others?’ but it’s SO much more than that!” Alessia notes about her venture. After leaving her full-time job in April and doing her passion project full-time, she is exploring ways that she can combine the food tour business with her 2017 travel goals and plans {internationally} and hopes to quadruple the business model. “We’ve been approached by different cities to expand, so now it’s a matter of re-doing our business plan to reflect all the growth and changes we want to see with JGFT! Very exciting times.”

    Advice for someone just starting out in a career?

    I have two pieces of advice. One is more tough love than the other: You are entitled to nothing. Don’t think just because you have a college degree and you did an internship that you are entitled to rule the career world instantly. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you think this way.

    But on another note, don’t let anyone [parents, friends, significant others] dictate your path. If you want to travel for a bit to explore interests, do it while you’re young and don’t be sorry for it. We don’t all have to graduate, find a job and climb the career ladder immediately.

    3. Meika Roberson, Chief Medical Officer at CarePoint Hoboken/Clinical Director at Rape Crisis Services

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    On a daily basis, Meika is making a true difference in our local community. As the CMO of CarePoint Hoboken and Clinical Director of Rape Crisis Services, Meika oversees and advises quality assurance, case management, infection control, utilization review, risk management, patient safety, physician education, the allied health professionals and the medical staff as well as strategic planning, business development, and community service and outreach. She also co-chairs “Take Back the Night” in Hoboken, which is an international event dedicated to ending sexual assault. She also speaks at the event each year, and is working towards making bars safer for the female community training 1 bar at a time {see more about this here!}, in addition to working with a company to hopefully bring female-driven car service to Hoboken area. If that isn’t enough, Meika is on the Board of directors for Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS). Founded in 1988, GEMS’ mission is to empower girls and young women, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. On a personal note, Meika is getting married in 2017 to her best friend Rich in May and running a 10K — making it a pretty amazing year for her before it even starts.

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    Don’t think small.
    Don’t be afraid to turn directions.
    Don’t be like everyone else, be yourself.
    Don’t compromise.
    Do what matters to you. Go to sleep proud of what you have done, and ready for where you will go in the morning.
    Leave your mark.

    4. Kelly Lynn Adams, Motivational Speaker, Podcaster, Business Strategist and Coach

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    Kelly Lynn Adams is a motivational speaker, podcaster and business strategist/coach for women who are still in their 9-5 jobs who desire to grow a profitable business from their side hustle — whether just starting out or already have a successful company. Kelly started a movement called “The After 5 Club” for female entrepreneurs to learn tools, tips, and strategies to manage their mindset, maximize their time and monetize their business while ending the struggle of working full time in a job they’re less than passionate about. She also co-founded a podcast called “The Making Moves” Podcast {commuter candy for the 9 to 5’er and entrepreneur} within a few months — and taped all the episodes during her summer Fridays! “When you have a desire, a goal, and unstoppable hustle & hard work you can accomplish anything you put your mind to!” Kelly notes. Not only is she building a successful businesses impacting hundreds of women entrepreneurs, she’s also climbing the corporate ladder in her own right in the fashion industry. 2017 plans? A book is on the way.

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    It’s progress not perfection and to just get into action and pursue your idea, dream or passion by taking baby action steps everyday. If you have a dream, passion or desire it was put within you for a reason and that reason is for you to bring it into the world in only the way you can do it!

    5. Lauren Hainsworth, Owner of Passion For Pitties and The Walking Dog Pet Care

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    You may know Lauren from the wildly popular Insta handle, “Passion for Pitties.” Helping spread Pitbull awareness and changing minds of people about bully breeds is her mantra — and recently, Lauren started pet care services in Hoboken and Jersey City called The Walking Dog Pet Care Company. “Although I am very proud of The Walking Dog Pet Care [opening this year], Passion For Pitties is what made this all happen and come together. What I am most proud of is the Pitbull community that it has created. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people come together to spread awareness and show what the breed is all about…love.” Her plans for 2017 events including Pitness In The Park with pittie partner {and former HG of the Week!} Vanessa Checchio of bachata and barbells – all which help to raise money and awareness about saving bully breeds. There will be two different fundraisers to keep spreading awareness with adoptable pitbulls aw well as free fitness classes from local gyms in Hoboken.

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?  

    My advice for anyone starting out in their career is to ask yourself if you’re doing what makes you happy. I say this because I worked years at a job that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. When you follow your passion your ideas will be endless, you will be excited to work every day and most importantly you will feel fulfilled. Another thing is to never let your doubts and fears get in your way. You will feel scared, alone and might even want to give up at times. You will even have other people that don’t want to see you make it. Use it as motivation…prove yourself and the others wrong.

     

    6. Lauren Mazzei, Fashion Blogger at Auburn Robes and IT at Estée Lauder

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    You may know her as the blogger behind fashion and lifestyle blog Auburn Robes, but by day, Lauren works in IT for Estée Lauder. Managing PR and creating content for her blog while working full time has helped her grow her network quickly. “Surprisingly, most people think that I blog full-time and don’t know that I work in technology!” Lauren laughs. “I have a lot of goals when it comes to my career, and I definitely want to fine-tune my technical skills even more over the next year. I’m a nerd! My favorite classes in college were focused on Computer Science and programming [at Lehigh University].” Having been featured in InStyle and several local publications for her fashion and lifestyle , Lauren definitely embodies the fact that you can have great style and know how to code a website like nobody’s biz.

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    Continuously make attempts to grow your network – it can be the most helpful thing in your career. Whether you are starting a blog as a hobby, or completely on the road to a new career, look for people within your niche that you admire as role models and take the initiative to reach out to them.

    7. Dawn Catherine Pascale, Owner, OM Sweet Home and Creator, BKLYNBUTTAH

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    When she was 5 years old, she watched the Galloping Gourmet in the mornings, so she had to go to afternoon Kindergarten classes. But it was all worth it. Nowadays, Dawn is the owner and head baker at Om Sweet Home, a plant-based and gluten-free specialty bakery {and you may remember her as one of our Hoboken Girl of the Week features}. But, there’s a reason that she’s on this very powerful list. In addition to building out her own retail and commercial kitchen space in Cliffside Park as of the end of December 2016, she is the current chairperson for the Women in Business Council and active board member of Hoboken Chapter under the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. She also created a delicious non-dairy butter alternative product called BKLYNBUTTAH that is now on retail shelves around the area. Make sure to stop by her new retail spot coming in the new year in Cliffside Park!

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    Find your passion, create the vision, list your goals and design a plan. Seek a mentor if you can.

    8. Tiffany Onorato, Director of Pre-College Programs at Stevens Institute of Technology

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    By day, she’s Director of Pre-College Programs at Stevens Institute of Technology and runs summer residential camps for high school students to prepare them for post-secondary education {and inspire them in the fields of STEM education}. By night, she’s a doctoral student, planning a wedding, and managing some health issues. Talk about a busy schedule! In all seriousness, however, Tiffany is really doing it all, making a difference in the lives of young students. Having been a first-generation college student herself, she knows the challenges that come with enrolling in post-secondary education, especially if you’re the first in your family. “I’m really proud that I am able to prepare students for that experience.” While conquering the world at Stevens, she also lives with a chronic, incurable auto immune disease, Myasthenia Gravis (MG), which causes fluctuating weakness of the voluntary muscle groups with common symptoms such as drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, slurred speech, difficulty chewing and swallowing, weakness in the arms and legs, and difficulty breathing. “Because it’s an invisible disease, many people don’t even know I’m sick or disabled. I look like a perfectly healthy person! I’ve gone through many treatments and surgeries since I was diagnosed in 2013.” But the road to healthy living was difficult, and continues to be, to this day. “This past year, I finished my 12 rounds of chemotherapy while working full time. I would take one day off a week, and on my day off, I would go to the hospital then go to work the next day. The only person that ever knew I was sick was my boss. Currently, I have a nurse that comes to my apartment 2 days a month to administer monthly IV treatments for 6 hours at a time.” Tiffany notes that she would work 9AM-5PM then come home and have treatment from 6PM-12AM. Then she’d head to work the next day like any other healthy person would. “The treatments are exhausting but I never let that stop me from living my life.”

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    Find something you absolutely love to do and pursue it. Do. Not. Settle. I remember when I graduated from graduate school, everyone told me I would never get the job I wanted in the city that I wanted. I didn’t let their opinions shape my aspirations. Go after what you want and never settle until you get it. Work your ass off until you get to where you want to be. You will feel so much more fulfilled personally and professionally when you’re doing work you really care about.

    Don’t get stale. A lot of people can fall into staying in the same job at the same company for forever. You will never grow or learn if you stay within your comfort zone. Change can be scary but don’t stop that from achieving the best version of yourself.

    9. Djenaba Johnson-Jones, Founder and CEO of Hudson Kitchen

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    Having been laid off from her job as the digital brand development director at W Magazine in late 2014, Djenaba took a chance on herself and started her own business which would soon become Hudson Kitchen. Now, as the founder and CEO of Hudson Kitchen, a business incubator that supports early stage and established food companies, Djenaba helps culinary entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses with low risk in a healthy and professional environment. She houses a rentable commercial kitchen and storage rental, consulting services {logo/package design, marketing/public relations, brand development}, networking events, and professional development courses. “The explosion in the number of food businesses has highlighted the need for a local commercial kitchen,” she explained. So she made it happen. “I am a personal trainer. I started Hudson Kitchen after my own experience with facing countless obstacles when planning to launch my initial business, a health and fitness concierge service. I decided to create a business, at first, that was a food delivery service, where I would provide healthy meals to my personal training clients. While I was creating this business, I discovered all of the hurdles that you have to go through to start a food business: developing a viable business plan, registering your business, obtaining a health department permit and finding a commercial kitchen for rent. That’s when I had the inspiration to create a business that actually supports food entrepreneurs with a turnkey service that helps them clear these obstacles and move forward.” In January, she’ll be launching a series of seven classes designed to shatter the logistical roadblocks that prevent many food entrepreneurs fro getting started or taking their businesses to the next level, entitled “Food Business Bootcamp: From Concept to Farmers Market in Four Months.” Participants will gain the expertise needed to develop a solid business plan and prepare them to sell their culinary creations in a retail environment. At the same time, she’ll also be founding a permanent Hudson Kitchen space! “While I am working on selecting a permanent location, we have launched a pop-up kitchen rental space in Hoboken that will be available at the beginning of January with more cities to follow in the coming months.” And that’s not all. Through Hudson Kitchen events, Djenaba has supported The Sharing Place Food Pantry at St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Jersey City and Feed JC, an organization that feeds and clothes the homeless on Christmas. “Food insecurity is a huge problem in the Unites States and in New Jersey, more than one million people lack access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”

     

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?
    Think of your career as a journey. Your first career, may not be your last. I’m on my third — I started out working in product development for a regional clothing retailer, moved into magazine publishing after grad school and now I’m a food entrepreneur. The most important thing is to use your previous experiences to help you in your current career.

    10. Jessica Lisboa, Theatre Educator/Director and Lifestyle Blogger at This Season’s Gold

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    A theatre educator and director by day {along with being a mother and wife}, by night Jessica is a lifestyle blogger at This Season’s Gold. Born-and-raised in Jersey City, she is also planning a foundation to honor her daughter lost at 34 weeks stillborn {to support research and awareness for stillbirths and provide college scholarships to students who show perseverance after enduring a personal hardship}. “My biggest obstacle for 2016 was balancing all of the various roles I play in my life. But I think that is for most woman who try their hardest to be successful or be at their very best at all they wish to accomplish.” In 2017, Jessica will be producing more content for her site — including a dip into YouTube. She’ll also be starting her foundation “and continuing to support the children that mean so much to me and deserve a great education!”

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    Don’t expect this to be the start of one straight line to the end. Plan to find yourself exploring the curves and sudden turns on your career path, and you will be all the better for it. It is in your allowance and expectation of these changes that your biggest success will derive.

    11. Niki Klaczany, Hairstylist and Owner of Up & Out Salons

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    After growing a brand new business from the ground up, literally, at 26, hairstylist and Up & Out salon owner Niki Klaczany is conquering the beauty world, especially in the Mile Square. Her blowout bar, which opened several years back, has now expanded to a second location uptown. “The immediate challenge was letting go of the reigns a little bit and trusting that my team of managers will be able to lead when I was not there.  Once I let that happen, we were able to accomplish so much more.” Next on her to-do list? Helping cosmetology students that are just starting out in their careers — with a local cosmetology school. “When we open the school, I want to have open office hours and free classes for resume building and business etiquette for students.  There isn’t anything available, and I just see so many cosmetology students struggling with portfolios and cover letters.  I have to do something about it, and I can’t wait to get started.”

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?
    Expect pivot points.  I don’t know too many people that started out doing one thing, and continue to do that 10 years later.  Follow your gut, and if you need to change directions, just do it.  It’s never too late, and you’ll never regret giving it a shot even if it isn’t perfect in the beginning.

    12. Jeannine Morris, Beauty and Wellness Journalist / Yoga Instructor and Certified Health Coach

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    You may recognize Jeannine, as she has been featured on a variety of TV networks and once even reported live from the E! red carpet. As a multimedia beauty and wellness journalist, Jeannine shares trend reports on TV networks like NBC, writes for various outlets including Refinery29, Women’s Health, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and more — as well as blog at jeanninemorris.com. As a yoga teacher and certified holistic health coach, she gives people the tools they need in order to feel their personal best. The past year has had her finding the tools to survive and thrive as a freelancer. “I’ve been a freelance journalist for the past seven years, and have been fortunate to maintain steady work that I was always super passionate about. This year, it took me a few months to find my groove and I launched The JM Collective, a boutique branding and marketing agency focused on the beauty and wellness industry. I’m excited for 2017, because I’ve been working behind the scenes on a few exciting projects that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but can’t wait to share! I’m also currently taking on new branding and marketing clients for The JM Collective.”

    Advice for someone just starting out in their career?

    I always tell my interns these three things:

    1. Be authentic.
    2. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
    3. Do something that sets your soul on fire and it’ll never feel like work.

     

    On that note, we’re ready for you, 2017. 

     


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HobokenGirl.com. She started the site to discover the wealth of fun things happening in Hoboken and Jersey City and surrounding Hudson County areas. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog Pierre, or watching some really bad {but oh-so-good} reality TV and ordering takeout with her husband.


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