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July/Aug 2011 Volume 3 Issue 4

Celebrating real women in business and life

STACIE FRANCOMBE: A One Woman Powerhouse PLUS:

TRACY EVANS: Meet 3-time Olympian and UAF’s 2011 Female Athlete Philanthropist of the Year



Volume 3 Issue 4

JULY/AU G 2011


Copyright © 2009-2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, online, or mechanical including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.











K. L. Wallace

Teresa Bowman

Emma Looney

DISCLAIMER: Stiletto Woman and its editors have made every effort to provide accurate and timely information. The publisher, contributors, editors, and other related associates do not assume responsibility for information that is incorrect or omitted. Stiletto Woman disclaims neglect, liability, and damages as a result of erroneous information. We do not express endorsement or validity of any company, website, or blogsite. The content provided is solely for informational purposes.




ONLINE: Volume 3, Issue 4 (2011) ISSN: 1947-9999 (Print) ISSN: 1948-0008 (Online) 2

Zoe (Chic & Sassy)

Teresa Bowman Leslie Walker

T. Hardiman Janet Allebre Amy Barnes Nicole Greer

Susan Porter Kimberley Hostetler Maureen Francisco Stacie Francombe

Cover photo by Damion Hamilton

From the Publisher If you’re familiar with the wedding industry or are a fan of reality wedding TV, then it’s likely you’ve heard of my friend, Stacie Francombe. If this is your first introduction, sit back and enjoy, as you’ll be enlightened by this entrepreneur and mommy powerhouse! Francombe chats with us about her successes, how she’s reinventing herself, and ways she’s helping wedding professionals advance their businesses. Along with that, you’ll be inspired by Olympian, Tracy Evans, and her humanitarian efforts to empower the children of Africa. And Jane Park gives insight on transitioning from Ivy League schools to Starbucks to launching her own innovative nail parlor. As always, we bring you more personal stories, professional profiles, and advice on solo entrepreneurship—giving you valuable and inspiring content for today’s contemporary woman!

Until next time,

Karlena L. Wallace

Celebrating women in business and life.

Stiletto Woman

features Cover Story





Stacie Francombe A One Woman Powerhouse


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STACIE FRANCOMBE: A One Woman Powerhouse

TRACY EVANS: Olympian & Humanitarian by K.L. Wallace

FAB TO FITNESS WITH AMY: Waving the Magic Wand by Amy Barnes

JANE PARK: Good is the New Perfect by Maureen Francisco

MEET GABBY: Founder of Gumdrop Swap

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❤❤ Lori started making jewelry in 1990 when she became weary of paying so much money in the stores for cool styles. She is classically self-educated in the art of jewelry making through ferociously reading volumes of books on the subject and through the labor intensive method of trial and error. Lori’s sole intention is always to craft something that is so unique and so emotionally evocative that each woman who wears her jewelry would immediately catch Lori’s aesthetic vision and make it her own.

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Photos: HeartWorks by Lori



Tracy Evans:

Olympian & Humanitarian Interview by K.L. Wallace

Tracy Evans is a three-time Olympic aerialist. Recently, she was named Female Athlete Philanthropist of the Year by the United Athletes Foundation, and joined the ranks of such athletic superstars as former pro football player, Jerry Rice. Evans is the founder of People Helping People International, a non-profit organization that focuses on three sustainable programs including Kids Play International, an after school program that organizes short-term volunteer service trips, and uses sports to educate and empower the youth of African nations. K.L. Wallace: Tracy, tell us about your start in sports. How did you know skiing was the career for you? Tracy Evans: I come from a very skiing-avid family. Both my brother and I were on skis probably about age two. Actually, I didn’t get into free-style skiing (which is the sport that I competed in) until I was 21. I was very active as an equestrian horseback rider, as well as in gymnastics growing up. So I didn’t get into competitive skiing until later in life. Also, my brother was a competitive aerialist on the US Freestyle Ski team as well. So I was exposed to my sport through my brother. KLW: Often we don’t hear about the accomplishments of women in sports, what do you think about that? Do you think it’s changing somewhat? TE: A lot is driven by the media, as to whom they want to promote. Also, the mainstream sports are male dominated. You’re talking football, basketball, baseball, hockey; and granted basketball has the WNBA, but I definitely think it’s changing. Especially with Olympic sports—and leading up to the Olympics, you always see more emphasis and media promotion on women doing well in athletics. More can be done by the media. I think the media likes to focus on negative things. Unfortunately, that’s what people want to hear about, and maybe the guys get in more trouble than the girls do. [Laughs.] But there are a ton of great female athletes that are incredible role models for girls. It’s all about branding and


marketing these days with athletes, and maybe there needs to be a little more done with that. KLW: Along with your love of sports, as mentioned, you are also a passionate philanthropist. Tell us about your efforts to empower others. TE: I was very fortunate. My mom is a registered nurse, and she has done medical volunteer work all over the world for the last 20-25 years. I’ll be honest, even after my athletic career was over, it didn’t dawn on me how I could use everything I learned through sports to help others. I was trying to figure out how I was going to make a career after I retired from my sport. My mom encouraged me to take a volunteer trip in June 2008. So I did that and went to Malawi, Africa with another organization, and it was my “a-ha” Oprah moment, so to speak. We went over and our team leader asked what we wanted to do with the kids in the orphanage. I had asked the group if anyone was interested in teaching some new sports and everyone was on board with it. What astounded me about these THERE IS ALWAYS kids was, here we A WAY TO FIGURE OUT are teaching them softball or baseball, HOW YOU CAN REACH and they didn’t YOUR GOALS. know how to hold the bat and run bases, or volleyball for example; where they didn’t know what the net was, nor how the game was to be played. But it was the fact that even with the language barrier, with no shoes on these kids feet (one kid showed up with a snowboard boot on one foot, and another kid came in a high heel— one high heel!). [Laughs.] You know, it was these kids’ enthusiasm and their eagerness to learn. In Africa—in developing countries—they don’t have the resources and opportunities that we are so fortunate to have here in the United States—just being born in this country is such a blessing. There’s nothing for the kids to do after they get out of school and that’s when everyone gets into trouble, even more so over there. It was that trip that inspired me and made me figure out what I wanted to do to give back. And that was to come back and found Kids Play International, and start putting together a sports education program.

KLW: The United Athletes Foundation named you the Female Athlete Philanthropist of the Year. Now joining the ranks of pro athletes like Jerry Rice, how has it been receiving such prestigious recognition? What does it mean to you?


TE: Well, it’s not about me. It’s about what I’m hoping Kids Play can do to impact the lives of these kids in Africa—to educate the kids and give them the opportunity to become industrious, independent adults to give back to their own communities and make their countries and communities better. The award is really for Kids Play International and the group of people helping me do this. It’s about trying to impact the lives of kids that are so much less fortunate than we are. KLW: That’s what makes your story so fantastic—that’s the difference—knowing that “it’s not about me,” it’s what I’m able to give; what I’m able to offer to the world. Taking a piece of me, and a piece of what I’ve learned to share with others. TE: Yes. Absolutely. KLW: Now being a three-time Olympian, what can you share about perseverance and tenacity? TE: I was brought up to never say you can’t do something. There is always a way to figure out how you can reach your goals. Is it going to always be easy? No. And most times you learn more from the difficult hurdles you experience along the way, than you do just a nice clear track of success. If you want something bad enough, you will figure out a way to make it happen. It’s all about setting goals and being motivated. When you get knocked down and someone says you can’t do it, you just have to look at them [and say] OK, that’s your opinion, everyone’s allowed to have one, but I’m now going to figure out another way to reach my goals. KLW: In addition to your philanthropic endeavors, what’s next for you in the future? TE: I’m taking a group of nine volunteers to Rwanda for our first volunteer trip of the year. We’ve got a special guest volunteer coming; his name is Amadou Dia Ba, who is a silver medalist in track and field and president of the African Olympians Association, part of the World Olympians Association. We’re excited to have him come down to get the African Olympians involved with Kids Play to serve as great role models within these African nations. And we have another volunteer trip in October (there is still room available). You can go on our website and get more information about that trip. Those are the short term impact trips for Kids Play. Ultimately, what we are working on and striving for is developing and implementing our after school sports educational program as a year-round program for kids to learn life skill lessons, and other things they can use on a daily basis. One of the biggest issues is gender equality, empowering girls—giving them confidence, and getting them educated and in school. So that’s my sustainable long-term impact of educating kids over there, and giving them an after school program that’s engaging. Those are the future programs we’re working on.

To learn more about Tracy Evans and Kids Play International visit




Mommy & Business: Best of Both Worlds! by K.L. Wallace

After all, I was a pro at this. I was soon to be a three-time mom, and in my book that made me an expert-in-training. I was experienced. And besides, this was exciting because I was having a girl—my last child, my only daughter. I had the skills, right? Sure, I had the skills, but what I quickly realized was that with each child it was like riding a bicycle all over again. Yes I knew the principles, and had the concepts down, but every child is different. Every pregnancy is different. I had to familiarize myself with the life of a new mom again. It had been years—10 to be exact—since I pulled out my infant rule book. And that, in itself brought about anxiety. I reminisced how I juggled working full-time with my two children—going to school at night, transporting the boys here and there, and navigating day care and after school, all while being a single mom. It wasn’t easy back then. So when I realized I’d be a new mom all over again, I often thought, “What are you doing?” I had waited years for this—for my boys to be independent. They dressed themselves. They could make meals in the microwave. They could do what they were told without much explanation. They were becoming self-sufficient. It was great. Then one day, due to my “high-risk” pregnancy, I had a “special” appointment to assess my daughter’s progress in the womb. I will never forget that day. Although, I had an ultrasound previously, this one was classified as a “Level 2” ultrasound, where the doctor could get a better synopsis of how she was developing. I remember seeing my daughter on the computer screen in front of me. There were flashes of color—red tones and blue hues sprouting with each twist and turn. The technician was finally able to find a good image that showed my daughter taking

breaths and moving around rambunctiously. It was a beautiful sight. Her body was so tiny. She relied on me—everything relied on me. My daughter’s life had begun, and there could be no more “what-ifs” or “how comes.” It was time to get ready—and that I did! When she was born I was so grateful. I was still scared, but I felt chosen. I was the lucky one. Soon after birth, my daughter had complications, but was able to fight through them. Today, she is my biggest inspiration. When in doubt, she makes me believe that all is possible. I feel as though my life has changed. It is enriched, and so is that of my two other children. Giving birth and experiencing life with those you love should never be taken for granted. We have learned so much from her already, and she’s just a toddler! Whether you’re a first time mom or a mommy with one, three, or eight children—celebrate life. Whether you’re a single mom or have been married for 20 years, and are expecting a child, you are not alone, and the anxiety you may be feeling is not uncommon.

It’s important to realize that

you’re not Superwoman — and no woman is!

I remember the day I found out that I was having a baby girl. It was surreal. It was wonderful. It was scary. It was a blessing! After having two boys; a newly turned teenager, who couldn’t wait to embark on the things that teens do, and an emerging pre-teen, who wanted to follow in his big brother’s footsteps, I couldn’t help ask myself the questions . . . Was I ready for this? Did I have the energy I once had? Was I geared up for the packing, preparing, and hauling off to day care? My quick response was “Of course, I am ready.”

It’s important to realize that you’re not superwoman, and no woman is! Release yourself from this unrealistic expectation. You CAN fit in the obligations of business, career, and mommy duty. Will you lose sleep? Yes. Does it get overwhelming? Yes. Will you need time to recharge? Yes, yes, and more yes! But you can do this! I’ve done it three times, so take note when I advise to cherish this moment because you will never have it back. You’re blessed. Enjoy all you have. If you’re a mommy—relish in it, it’s a gift! If you’re an entrepreneur—appreciate it, it’s a gift! You have the best of both worlds!


Stilettopreneur: Trading in Your Corporate Stilettos for the CEO Mindset › by K.L. Wallace



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A Stilettopreneur is a woman rockin’ business her way. She’s on fire for her business, and not playing it safe!


STACIE FRANCOMBE TV Host, Author, Mentor, Speaker, Wedding Media Entrepreneur, Mom

Stacie Francombe: » A One Woman Powerhouse


fter a successful career as a television producer, Stacie launched Get Married in 2006, growing the company into a nationally renowned wedding planning resource, connecting brides and advertisers through three unique media platforms— online, television and magazine. During her time at Get Married, Stacie developed and served as executive producer for Get Married with David Tutera & Get Married with Colin Cowie, both on Lifetime, then as host in its final season on WeTV & Wedding Central. She was the visionary behind the publication Get Married—The Shopping & Trend guide for the Savvy Bride, serving as editor-in-chief, filling a gap in the bridal market, and growing the title into a nationally distributed quarterly magazine. As Get Married’s founder, Stacie was a sought after public speaker and industry insider, addressing wedding professionals and brides around the country, and appearing on CNN, Fox, WABC, and more. Now having sold Get Married, Stacie recently launched a mentoring program for small business owners called Inspire Smart Success.

When conceptualizing, what was your intention? What did you set out to accomplish? When conceptualizing my intention was to create a unique resource and platform for brides in a fun, fresh, hip way that didn’t exist in the marketplace. Having a TV show, website, sharing content and ideas was something brides really loved and craved. I set out to be the #1 wedding resource for Brides planning their wedding on TV, in print and online. How did you build a new company from the ground-up to become the leading resource in its industry? Were there specific strategies used? Hard, hard, hard work and no sleep for a number of years! A lot of sacrifices were made with my family and friends over the years in order to pour my heart, soul and financial resources in to get my business up and going. People don’t realize what it takes until you live through building this kind of a start up in such a short period of time. And at the same time I built my company, I also built my family raising three young boys during the growth of Get Married . . . that is a challenging juggling act. Specific strategies: I surrounded myself with people I trusted

and would work hard to help the company grow. I always tried really hard to remember that I couldn’t do it alone. I also accepted early on that I was not always going to succeed. The biggest strategy from a business standpoint, when I was at the company was to always stay true to the message of being unique and not a “me too.” Having moved on from, in retrospect what was the most challenging aspect of managing your business? And what is your proudest accomplishment? Most challenging: Hiring and keeping good staff, growing from five people to over 60 and giving up control and delegating tasks to others. Proudest accomplishment: At first it was selling the company to a multi-billion dollar print entity after only being in business one year . . . but now after leaving the company three years after selling it, I would say . . . after enduring the changes with new management and watching my vision of the company change, my proudest accomplishment was having the courage to walk away from my baby and move on to new ventures.

As a woman engaging in the new ways we do business today, what should women be doing as new business owners? Are there areas we’re overlooking? Find a mentor or someone to shadow that you respect and can learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know you will spend some money but also know there are a lot of free resources out there on the internet! I am a HUGE believer in the power of social networking. I have built up my Twitter following to over 28,000 people; that is a lot of eyes with a click of a button to get my message out. As part of my new mentoring program, I will be teaching courses on “Creating a Social Networking Strategy” and why it is so important in growing your business and how to do it properly.

I surrounded myself with people I trusted and would work hard to help the company grow.

Surprisingly I feel like I am busier now than ever because I have so many different projects in the works and my phone has not stopped ringing with well-wishes, offers and ideas since I left the company. I have been so humbled and overjoyed with the outpouring of support from the wedding and television industries, that it has really kept not only my spirits up but gave me inspiration for new business ventures.

I took some time off to be with my kids and then about a month after that I jumped right back into being a strong female entrepreneur going a zillion miles a minute. I am creating and launching a variety of celebrity related blogs, I am speaking at events and doing appearances all over the country on being a female entrepreneur and my journey to success. I have started a mentoring program for small business owners to consult with them on all things business related called Inspire Smart Success. I am working with some great production companies on new television concepts both from a hosting perspective and executive producer perspective. I will be launching a new website project called Celebrate the Small Things launching later this year, and if that’s not enough, one of the most exciting projects I have started is writing a book due out in a couple of months! You’ve been able to accomplish what many women aspire to do, in terms of broadening your audience, and getting the attention of national media. How do we take our businesses to the next level and attract major media markets? There are a lot of easy, simple ways to broaden your audience without spending a fortune . . . get on social media outlets and network, network, network! LinkedIn is a great resource to find out who is in charge of what in small and large companies. DON’T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT and INTRODUCE YOURSELF! To get national media attention you have to be different, stand

Today, you’re shifting in a new direction. Tell us more about your latest endeavors.

out, give producers a reason to reach out to you and don’t forget there are hundreds of hours of television being produced every day and not enough guests to fill those hours. So you are needed, exude confidence in your area of expertise and go for it! As part of my new mentoring program Inspire Smart Success, I will be teaching courses on “Pitching to the Media to get on TV” and “Pitching to blogs and Magazines to Get Published.”

Areas we are overlooking: Sometimes the people that can help you the most are right in your circle of family and friends; reach out to them for help and allow them to help you. Most of the time they are free/cheap and can be your most trusted employees. As a veteran entrepreneur, who has found enormous success, what area or element of business should new solopreneurs steer clear from? What’s a surefire pitfall? I would say from my experience of growing five companies in 10 years, don’t give up! You will have your ups and downs but at the end of the day if you are an entrepreneur stay true to that . . . it’s in your DNA and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Stay strong, and be positive. Here are the things I live by from one of my husband’s mentors Bill McPhail (one of the founders of CBS Sports):

Think: It’s the source of self renewal Play: It will keep you young Read: It will rejuvenate your mind Worship: It’s the acknowledgement of your limitations Help Needy People: It will return more than you can give Show Love: It’s the key to life’s greatest satisfactions Daydream: It will provide a road map for your future Laugh: It restores your balance We are excited to hear about your new endeavors and can’t wait to see them flourish. In the next five years, where do you see this new direction taking you? Wherever my new ventures take me, this time around I have promised myself that I will remain a tried and true entrepreneur who is not only business savvy but also a creative visionary. To learn more visit: Connect with Francombe online:



beauty is i n t h e eye o f t h e beho l der

Model: Anna Lark Makeup Artist: Katie C. Photographer: Scot Woodman




I am here to tell you . . . it’s NOT the diet’s fault. As long as I decided to blame everything but myself for my failed diet attempts, I always struggled with my weight. Why do you think they call it yo-yo diets? I would start a diet. Lose. Get frustrated. Quit. Then gain the weight back. And usually add on extra pounds! Up and down, up and down. I’d lose, I’d gain and I had yet to take responsibility for myself in knowing the only thing stopping me from losing weight was ME . . . stupid! Haven’t we all wished at one time or another to have a magic wand and make things appear or disappear? A wave of the wand could make unwanted pounds vanish, a washboard stomach appear,

or instantly have sculpted, muscular arms. The thought of getting what you want when you want it (as appealing as it sounds) is actually not as rewarding as you might think. Trust me when I say, it was so much easier for me to put blame on everything and everyone else around me for me being fat; for me continuing to gain weight; for me failing yet again on another diet. You know, it’s funny, every time I told family and friends that I was going on a new diet, they would simply reply, “Ok, great!” In other words “We’ll see how long this one lasts, and how much weight she’ll gain when it’s done.” Again, easier to make excuses and blame others for not being successful. In order to lose weight there are a few things that you need to do first before starting yet AGAIN another fad diet, or exercise program. The questions you need to ask yourself, “WHO is responsible for me gaining weight?” “WHAT am I hiding from?”

“WHY am I fat?” “WHY can’t I lose weight?” Without asking yourself these easy questions (with some really hard answers) you will NEVER cure your food addiction. And you will forever be on that yo-yo diet, regardless of what the fad diet is. You have to get to the root cause to your eating. Stress, emotional eating, boredom, bad relationships, bad job, bad childhood, I could go on. And I am sure you have said yes to at least three of the four of these. Am I right? The first part of the journey of finding your true health is digging in deep and finding out WHAT you think is holding you back. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and move forward! I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you what worked for me! There is one really important question that needs to be addressed, and the hardest one I couldn’t ignore anymore,”WHY am I addicted to food?” Yup, I said it. Food addiction is an entirely different topic I will write about at a different time.


week, reward yourself. Plus, slowly chipping away at your weight is a healthier, more realistic option. If your goal isn’t weight loss, but it is to be more fit or toned, you can use smaller goals to meet your bigger goal. Each week, make your workout a little more challenging, with more reps, heavier weights, and a longer work out time or a higher intensity. Make each new week an opportunity to set and hit a new, small goal!

Stay off the scale already! I know, I know . . . easier said than done. We often become fixated on the three digits on the scale. If we go up a couple pounds, we starve ourselves or if the scale doesn’t move fast enough, we give up and surrender with a box of Little Debbie’s. Those damn three numbers shouldn’t send you into the black hole! Decide not to be so reactive when you step on the scale. It’s okay to weigh yourself daily, but don’t expect dramatic, or steady declines downward. The scale can help keep you cognizant of how you are doing but you should always expect a little fluctuation. Use the scale as a gauge and something to help keep you accountable but do not let it dictate whether you are a success or failure. BIG goals into baby goals. If weight loss is your goal, it’s great to have an ideal weight that you are targeting, but then break that goal down into smaller goals for each individual week. Be realistic. If its 30 pounds in the next three months, that’s great but for week one only concentrate on two pounds. During that week, only think about that two pound weight loss. Don’t think about how far you have to go. It is way too daunting and you will only get frustrated. After you have hit that goal for the

About the Writer

Be reasonable. You see an old picture of yourself when you were thinner. You know you don’t look like that anymore, so you decide to try some radical diet so you can regain your old self faster. Really?! Sure, some people do drop lots of weight from crash diets, but let’s keep it real. As soon as they lick a piece of bread, what do you think is going to happen? The results don’t last and they don’t learn anything about living healthier in the process. The pounds crept on slowly when you weren’t paying attention, and now they can come off slowly as you start to pay attention. With a healthy eating plan and exercise, you will immediately see and feel the results. You will feel more energized and gain the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing the real work and seeing real results. Change your limits. Back to that magic wand . . . if you had one, you wouldn’t have the sense of satisfaction that comes from realizing that you can do more than you thought you could. I think about how I feel when I finish an intense workout, run; when before I could hardly walk, or finish a new weight lifting routine, and even venture to a new fitness class I haven’t tried before (still working up the nerve to try Zumba). I have a feeling of accomplishment! Soon, you get excited to see what your results might be if you keep it up. How far are you willing to go to have what you really want? Answer that question honestly and begin the magnificent journey that will take you there. You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, just have FAITH, and each step forward will light your path—to guide you to your final destination!! You’ll find out you don’t need shortcuts. You can create your own magic.

As a fitness expert and mother of two, Amy understands firsthand the challenges of balancing healthy habits with the demands of a busy life. She is a fitness competitor and lifestyle and fitness coach who’s been featured in various media outlets from Oxygen Magazine to NBC’s Today Show. After losing 340lbs, Amy wants to give back and help others live healthier lives.


Good is the New Perfect : Jane Park, a Former Starbucks Executive Nails her Passion By Maureen Francisco


ith a growing nail parlor business and recognition by the national media as a beauty expert, Jane Park admits it’s taken a long time to find her voice. “It’s really hard to let go of the idea that everything is perfect. When you are starting something new, there are so many things going on and especially those with family and kids. You are juggling a lot. And, women put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect in a lot of dimensions. I think as a generation we have to let that go.” The former Starbucks executive and graduate of two Ivy League Schools spoke to members of the diversity business organization, Ascend. The non-profit group nurtures today’s Pan Asian leaders as well as tomorrow’s. Her speech was on entrepreneurship, something she didn’t imagine in her future. “No. I had no idea.” [Laughs.] “I’m not a serial entrepreneur. I only want to do Julep.”


She’s come a long way from being the owner of a green nail salon. In fact, it wasn’t something her parents imagined for their daughter. They believed in the importance of higher education and emigrated from South Korea to Toronto, Canada when Park was just four years old. “They always found apartments next door to libraries when I was growing up. So, they were really encouraging of me spending time at the library. I think they actually used the library as a babysitter frankly.” [Laughs.] Growing up, Park remembers an environment where her parents expected a lot from her. “If I brought home a test that I had gotten a 99 percent on, the first statement was always ‘What happened to the (other) one percent?’” After high school, Park knew that college was certainly in her future. The University of Toronto was a likely choice. According to Park, her parents thought it was the best university in Canada. Park, though, had her eyes set on Princeton, but not for the reasons you’d think. “It was an attempt to try to have some independence and have the college experience and not have to live at home while going to college.” Park got accepted into Princeton and majored in public policy. After college, she wanted to go to India with her professor to work for a non-profit organization that gave loans to women to help fund their projects. “But, I knew my parents would never be excited about that.” As a daughter who always wanted to please her parents, Park applied to Yale Law School to assure them India was just a one-year stint, not a long-term decision. “But, when I told them my plan, they both broke down crying. I had never seen my dad cry before. So, I went to law school.” [Laughs.] “I got guilted into going to law school, which was never the plan. It was supposed to be the excuse to do this other India project.” After law school, Park worked as a consultant and eventually was hired on to be an executive at Starbucks. She worked as a director of new

ventures, looking for different growth opportunities for the company. At Starbucks, Park often attended corporate events that centered on sports. This made Park ask a question, “What happens if you’re not a huge sports fan? Are there activities that build morale in a setting that’s geared toward women like salons and spas?” Park found plenty of such places for women, but these accommodations were small and the socializing aspect was taken away because quieter “spa voices” were encouraged. That’s when an idea sparked in Park’s mind: create a nail salon where customers can socialize and have fun. At Julep Nail Parlor, you get what you pay for in more ways than one. “The cost of a pedicure at Julep is much higher, and it’s because of all the things that we’re doing to create a good working environment and to not exploit women.” You won’t find carcinogens in the products or toxic fumes at Julep. The tools used at her parlor are sterilized in the same way as those used by dentists and doctors. In addition, its workers have access to healthcare benefits. “We have a true commitment to improving and empowering women.” Park reveals that Julep keeps getting better and better. No entrepreneur gets it right from the get go. “Even Howard Schultz [the CEO] at Starbucks initially didn’t think that there should be seating. He thought everyone should be standing up and drinking espresso out of ceramic cups. He didn’t want to do paper.” Like any good entrepreneur, Park said, you need to listen to your customers. “Out went the opera music, in came in some chairs so people can hang out, and Starbucks became a third-place gathering place, which is kind of a core part of what Starbucks is . . . a special part in American history.”

Park said, “I’m always thinking what’s the ‘opera music’ in my business model that I should be throwing out.” Well, after four years and four nail salons, Park is doing something right, professionally and personally. She followed her passion and listened to her inner voice, even though her parents weren’t initially supportive of her idea. “There’s something about being a child of an immigrant where you are supposed to be responsible for your parents’ hopes and dreams. They’ve given up so much for you in a way that’s very different than when your kids are already growing up in American society.” What does her parents have to say now that Park is a successful entrepreneur? She said, they’re supportive, and it helps that she’s the mother to two children. “When it comes to their grandkids, they can do anything.” [Laughs.] “And, it’s okay. They’re wonderful. Oh, ‘what a good job you did!’” [Laughs.] The businesswoman, who has always strived for excellence, gives this last piece of advice to anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur—something that’s taken her a long time to embrace. “The most important thing that you can be doing is making mistakes and learning from them.” Park said it’s also healthy to be able to have a good sense of humor.

To learn more about Jane Park or Julep Nail Parlor visit

About the Writer: Maureen Francisco is a contributor for the #1 reality show website and is a featured guest on Valerie’s New York. You can listen to her on She is also the CEO and founder of MoProductions LLC.


Meet Gabby,

Founder of Gumdrop Swap launched in September of 2009 and was intended to be an online business. But response from local parents encouraged me to open a retail location in April 2010. As a new mom in 2008, I discovered how fast children grow and the strain to keep up with the demand. I was unhappy in my corporate job and at odds with my employer after I announced I was expecting my first child. I needed a recession proof job. Being a thrifty person who loves the bargain of buying second-hand, I saw a need in the consignment/ resale market. I wanted to create a way for parents to get rid of the things their kids had outgrown and be able to get “new” clothes with little cost. Consignment and resell shops often only accept certain brands; turning away quality clothing and sending away unsatisfied customers. When someone takes their clothes to a consignment shop, their items are there until they are sold and proceeds are split with shop owners, or until a time limit has been reached. When items don’t sell they must be picked up. Parents are left


with few options if they don’t want to just give items away. Gumdrop Swap is a unique spin on children’s consignment based in Bridgeport, CT. Until Gumdrop Swap, parents had to spend more money each time their child outgrew a size. Gumdrop Swap has a minimal fee which allows parents to SWAP their unwanted items for credits (called “gumdrops”) which they use as currency to shop from an ever-changing inventory of new and like new merchandise. Swapping isn’t required. Anyone can shop the name brand inventory and most are surprised at how many new items we have with the tags still on. The online store allows parents to purchase what they need and pay at the end of their transaction like other online retailers, but without the retail prices. We swap and sell children’s’ clothing sizes Newborn to 16 as well as toys, books and shoes. As of late 2010, we began accepting clothing vouchers from clients of the CT Department of Children and Families as payment which helps families being served by social services. We were nominated by the BRBC as a 2010 Business in Bloom.


How is your business innovative, different or empowering?

What advice would you give about obtaining a goal?

I approached my business model as my target customer: a middle class parent looking to save money in a rough economy. Not many businesses exist to SAVE the customer money. I use my sewing and fashion knowledge to upcycle and repurpose garments that were destined for our landfills. I am retraining families to stop hoarding and add their unwanted items to this perpetual community closet. People are amazed at how relieved they feel to get the clutter out of the home. And when they realize how much money they are saving, they are ecstatic! Since I became a vendor for DCF and now accept vouchers from their clients I have heard stories from the women that let me know I am truly helping families in my community.

Goals are usually something you have to work at consistently for a period of time. It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t get immediate results. I suggest breaking the big goal into smaller more manageable pieces so the task isn’t so daunting.

How do you define success? By being financially stable and self-sufficient. By doing what I love on my own terms. What’s one challenge you experienced, and how did you overcome it? I didn’t expect to have so many customers that are not parents—people come in looking for last minute baby shower and birthday gifts, so I now keep the new items with tags prominently displayed.

Is there one woman who has influenced you? How has that impacted your life? My mother has supported my business since it was just an idea. She painstakingly started her life over after divorcing my dad after 26 years of marriage. She relocated to be closer to me and my growing family, went back to school to finish her Bachelor’s Degree, and took her career in a new direction. Her resilience inspires me to step out on faith when I am hesitant to make a move. What have you learned from your journey to share with others? Great customer service is underrated. It’s much easier to retain a customer than to attract a new customer. Never let them see you sweat. Give great service and value to keep them coming back and telling everyone they know. To learn more about Gumdrop Swap visit:


S T I L E T TO WO M A N w w w. s t i l e t t o w o m a n . c o m

July/Aug 2011

Stiletto Woman Magazine (Jul 2011)  

Stiletto Woman Magazine: Featuring: Stacie Francombe, founder of as well as executive producer and host of Get Married (the t...

Stiletto Woman Magazine (Jul 2011)  

Stiletto Woman Magazine: Featuring: Stacie Francombe, founder of as well as executive producer and host of Get Married (the t...