#60 Margarita Womack

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Margarita Womack PhD, MBA is a business executive and science professional. She holds a bachelor of science from Tulane University, a PhD from Princeton University in biology, and an EMBA from Georgetown University. Currently, she is dedicated to developing her own start up, M’panadas, a company bringing fusion South American street foods to fuel people on the go. Previously, Dr. Womack was involved in science education and research through teaching K-12, leading the development of a non-profit to foster science in her home country, Colombia, and carrying out primary research at Princeton University.

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?  

1. Grit: I heard recently one of the founders of Sweetgreen say that at the beginning: “everyday you are both on the edge of bankruptcy and world domination.” I thought it is the perfect description of what it feels like to run a start up. Grit and determination help to cope with this completely chaotic MO - you can never give up, and you have to be ready to adapt to an ever changing landscape. 

2. Curiosity: I am an insatiable learner and problem solver. I wake up in the morning looking forward to what is the next challenge to tackle in my business, and what i need to understand to do so efficiently. 

3. gratitude:  Success in business (and life!) does not occur in the void - it is largely the interface of others around you. I keep this in mind everyday, and always look to pay it forward and be fair to others. 

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?  

The biggest mistake that I have made so far was to block a large portion of my capital into packaging materials, thus restricting my flexibility. Purchasing a large volume of lowered the price per unit. I wanted those savings, so I placed an orders as large as I could afford, and kept them in the finished basement of my home. It became physically impossible to walk between the wobbly towers of pizza-like boxes for the catering side of the business. And more were on the way… thousands more corrugated cardboard boxes for food service. Then trays and outer sleeves for the frozen line. They also filled the playroom and then the guest room. Made for unhappy husband, and an amazing maze for the kids to play hide and seek. We finally had to move them out. It took a whole day of work and hiring a crew to move everything to a storage facility next to the kitchen. Not only had I spent a good fraction of my capital on these boxes, but I also had incurred the cost of the move and the recurring cost of the storage. Then, of course, I realized that updates to my original box designs needed a number of tweaks. But for now, I am stuck with the boxes I have!

I learned a lot from this misstep. Even though I saved some money on the front end, I lost it on the back-end. Also, in start up mode, everything is a prototype. Locking myself into a high number of boxes kept me “locked” from making changes as I learned more about what works and what doesn’t with my packaging. 

 

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future? 

New flavors, new packaging and new product! Launching in the Fall meat and chicken m’panadas, moving to a more sustainable and better value packaging, and also by popular demand our chimi sauce will sold on it own in a squeeze bottle. 

#59 Nadine Kahane: CEO & Founder of Stone and Strand

Nadine conceived of STONE AND STRAND while getting her MBA at Wharton. She wanted to do away with the boring world of high-end jewelry, as it felt dry and irrelevant for the modern, self-purchasing woman. Instead, she wanted to create an online space for fine jewelry, combining super-relatable customer service with an offering of expressive, cool, and on-trend pieces.  She grew up between Singapore and London, before happily settling in NYC.

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

Accountability - 

I’m a big believer in taking ownership and being accountable in different aspects of your life. Not just in what you say you are going to do, but also emotionally in terms of how you are feeling and the energy that you bring into a room. I often reference Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” where he writes “You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you”.

Curiosity -

I crave novelty, something that serves me well in our trend-driven business. I love trying new things, going to new places, and place huge value on continuous learning in life. I believe in surrounding yourself with people from whom you can learn and who expand your world. In a work context, this means hiring people who are way better at what they do than you are and really trying to figure out what will make someone succeed in that role. 

Resilience - 

I think a lot about how to best help my children develop resilience and believe that being able to bounce back gracefully from failure is one of the most important skills in life. This partly comes down to self-confidence, but I also believe that resourcefulness plays a huge role in allowing someone to try out a different path to the same outcome after experiencing failure going down the first route.

Success in entrepreneurship rarely follows a linear path, and as a CEO I’m constantly having to deal with unexpected curveballs. I need to be able to have a bad day, but bounce back and be back on top of my game very quickly in order for us to move forward.

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

In the early days of STONE AND STRAND, we did a pop up in Philadelphia that was a huge flop. I remember driving there in a packed car loaded with jewelry displays, props and diamonds only to then proceed to sell absolutely nothing over the entire weekend (that is, apart from one sale to my friend whom, in total desperation, I asked to come buy something). One sale seemed better than nothing!

The experience taught me a lot about doing trunk shows and the importance of really knowing your customer base at a personal level. We jumped at the opportunity because it was an established brand-name store, but I didn’t take the time to really evaluate whether or not it was the right place for us as a company. 

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future? 

I’m personally very inspired by the power of femininity an am constantly motivated by the ambitious ladies both at STONE AND STRAND, as well as the wider community that surrounds me in NYC. One of my favorite parts of this role is dreaming up new collaborations under our “GOOD GIRL” platform and we have a really exciting one coming up. So watch this space!

#58 Domonique Rose: Founder of Domonique Rose Florals

Born and raised in Southern California, Domonique Rose is a self-taught florist with an education in apparel merchandising and marketing, which led her to a career in fashion event production, e-commerce management and operations for start-ups. In addition to experience with business operations, she has over 10 years of retail experience ranging from department stores, boutiques, pop ups, and trade shows. 

After years of grinding in the corporate world, Domonique needed a change and found her way back to her true passion. Since launching her floral business, she has designed for several weddings, events and clients including NBCUniversal, Stassi Schroeder, MAGIC Tradeshow's SWIMLessons, and MR Mag Awards in New York.

Domonique would describe her aesthetic as Boho meets English garden. No design is like the last and her goal is to create a new experience for her clients with every event, delivery, arrangement, and gift she creates.

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

I N T E G R I T Y

I put so much thought and care into each design not only because I want the best possible result, but also because each piece is representative of who I am as a person and of my brand. I'm being trusted with bringing my client's vision to life and aim to exceed their expectations. I wear my heart on my sleeve and this translates through to my work.

R E L A T I O N S H I P S

I'm a firm believer that people buy into products because they connect with the person behind the brand. I know my designs are only as good as the relationships I cultivate as a businesswoman, mom, and friend. As I grow my business, I am making a point to connect with people in different industries and networks, planting seeds where I can. 

E D U C A T I O N

Education is the path to enlightenment and offering more to the world. From an early age I was taught that you can never stop learning because when you stop learning, what's the point?

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

On one of my first events I didn't account for labor costs (read: thought I could handle more than I could and realized I needed more help) and it ate into my margins. As I was first starting off, I felt uncomfortable asking for what I needed, but one of the biggest takeaways I've learned, especially since becoming a mom, is my time is valuable and in order to achieve the designs and aesthetic I want for my clients, I need the proper resources to get the job done. 

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

I just recently designed florals for Brittany Cartwright's (Vanderpump Rules) bridal shower. That was so fun, and I can't wait to see them on aTV once the episode airs!

I'm also working on designing capsule collections for consumers to order directly through my site. Florals have always created the perfect accent to any event or space. My goal is to make the flowers part of the experience, no matter how big or small the event or setting is. These collections make it easy to plug-and-play with your event, dinner, etc. All you'll have to do is select the color scheme, designs, and quantities you'd like, give us the delivery date, and we'll take care of it from there. Ideally, I'd like to launch within the next month or so and update the collections occasionally throughout the year. 

Lastly, I've had this itch to go brick and mortar. My vision is for the storefront to become more than just a flower shop. It will be a destination for locals and passersby alike to be intrigued to come in and, most importantly, come back for more. Quality products, in-store experiences, and a sense of community are the key ingredients to making this a success. I'm actively looking for the best location to make this a reality and am excited to bring this to fruition!