She’s Taking Over (and care of) The O.C.
From left to right: Courtney Noelle-Maddox, Tiffany Bressan-Corbett, Anne Kelly, Tina Hashioka, Donna Kalez, Ana Brandt, Kathie Sadeghian, Lianne Nahina Pfister.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that during the most challenging economic period since the Great Depression, we’re seeing more and more women in business than ever before and many of them are mothers. What’s more, in the O.C., a large percentage of these ambitious women are their own bosses, dictating terms both at home and at work. Not surprisingly, they’re finding many lessons learned as a parent are helpful to the businesswoman. And in one woman’s case, visa versa.
Tiffany Bressan-Corbett’s first child, daughter, Brooke Taylor Corbett, is only two days old as we speak, and the new mother is still in the hospital, but giddy. Flanked by longtime business partner and best friend since college, Courtney Noelle-Maddox, the two entrepreneurs discuss the company they started in 2003 when, as roommates in L.A., they began collecting designs and looking for solutions to pressing fashion problems.
With Courtney’s sales background and Tiffany’s design acumen, the two easily came up with designs for the bridal industry based on what they thought was missing and a marketing strategy that included an online presence and donated product line items for high profile events.
Soon, Girl ExtraOrdinaire branched out to maternity wear and some sports/leisure wear. After that they launched the book series, Sweet Pea, The Bumble Bee, to spread the buzz of happiness. “Every page has a short, positive message of inspiration alongside a professional picture of my dog, Sweet Pea, dressed as a bumble-bee acting out these inspirations,” Tiffany says.
The final book, What do you want to Bee Come? is Sweet Pea dressed in various professional attire. The message for children is that the Sky is the Limit, dream big.
“Mothers are able to see what their children are drawn to becoming at a young age, and sometimes it’s surprising to them,” Tiffany says, and it’s apparent that she can barely wait until baby Brooke is old enough to enjoy the book. But it’s equally clear that becoming a mother will in no way hamper Bressan-Corbett’s entrepreneurial ambitions, not yet anyway.
“Another plan is to share our story, the tears, joy and hard work that’s gone into creating a million-dollar company,” the women say. And on the home front? Well, Tiffany and her husband plan on having more children while Courtney and her husband have decided to have only one child. “I was an only child and I loved it,” Courtney says.
One thing’s certain, now a mother and entrepreneur, Tiffany really has become a woman who “does it all”. Undoubtedly the two best friends will both be successful mompreneurs as long as they do what comes naturally: mother lovingly and market to women their own age so they know firsthand what their customers want. And in the far future, if that means GirlEO blinged-out orthopedic shoes, so Bee it! For more info: www.girleo.com
Home: Laguna Beachalt
Children’s Ages: Newborn baby girl
Profession: Fashion Designer, co-owner Sweet Pea, The Bumble Bee (A division of Girl ExtraOrdinaire) & Girl ExtraOrdinaire
Favorite Female Icon: Audrey Hepburn “For her style, class and grace.”
Interesting Fact: Though only seven years old, the company’s already been listed in dozens of leading magazines including Forbes.
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? Whether at home or at business, you’re always working with people so you can’t be rigid, you have to stay balanced, open and focused.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? Because my baby was premature, I’m learning that life is full of surprises; sometimes they’re personal, sometime business related, but you have to roll with the punches and trust that God has a plan.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? My advice is to remember that you really can have it all: you can be a great wife, mother, and businesswoman as long as you know your own boundaries and are good at managing your time, so nobody gets short shrift, including yourself.
Home: Huntington Beach
Children’s Ages: No kids yet
Profession: Fashion Designer, co-owner Sweet Pea the Bumble Bee & co-owner of Girl ExtraOrdinaire
Favorite Female Icon: Carrie Underwood “Unlike so many celebs, she sets a good example for young women”
Interesting Fact The company really took off when Trista Rehn, of ABC’s The Bachelorette, wore Girl ExtraOrdinaire’s pink bride tank top on her wedding episode.
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? I hope to stop and remember to pray and play; it helps in business and I’m sure it will help in parenting.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? That remains to be seen.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Play and Pray.
Lianne Nahina Pfisteralt
Home: San Juan Capistrano
Children’s Ages: Two boys, 18 and 13
Profession: Speech Language Pathologist and Hula Studio/Store Owner
Favorite Female Icon: Angelina Jolie “She’s a humanitarian and the ultimate working mother.”
Interesting Fact Learning that hula offers special benefits to children with autism. Lianne is working on her Ph.D. to show the connection between movement/expression/music and cognition and socialization in children with autism.
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? When I’m happy at what I’m doing, it influences my children to do the same, to go out, follow their dreams and be successful.
What have you learned from being a mother that’s made you a better businesswoman? How to be flexible and to pay attention to the little things because the little things mean a lot.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Don’t feel guilty. Your children will benefit from having a mother who is happy and successful; so set those business goals and don’t be afraid to pursue them.
Originally from Hawaii, Lianne developed her entrepreneurial skills early when, at age eleven, she started her own baby-sitting business, gathering a group of girls in the neighborhood together and passing out flyers. When she moved to the mainland, her eventual creation of Hula Connection was only natural. “I promised my grandmother when she passed that I would share my culture with others so that it wouldn’t die out.” For more info: www.hulaconnection.com
Home: San Clemente
Children’s Ages: Boy, 10
Profession: Owner Rejuvcard.com
Favorite Female Icon: Mother Theresa
Interesting Fact Kelly and twin sister, Deirdre, came from Dublin 25 years ago. Each married here in the States, built an Insurance Agency business, and never looked back.
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? I deal with people with serious illnesses all the time, and I tell my child you should be friendly and show everyone kindness, even when they’re grumpy because you don’t know what’s happening in their personal life. They could be dealing with a death or serious illness in their family and that may be what’s causing them to behave poorly.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? No matter how bad a day can get, knowing I have the love of my family at home holds me together at work. Our relationships are soul contracts and ultimately those are the only contracts that really matter in life.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Work is another outlet to grow and express yourself, but never forget: Family First, You Second and Work Third.
Anne is a big believer in giving back. REJUV Foundation features a prominent place in the day-to-day operations of the company. With the limitations of coverage for cosmetic services along with the recent changes in the medical insurance industry, Rejuv seemed like a natural solution. It offers women a minimum 20% reduction in the cost of procedures while also educating them on what’s new in the industry. “We have hundreds of exceptional doctors in Orange and San Diego counties,” she says. “One, Dr. Barnes, uses a new, non-invasive laser to emulsify fat, which is then excreted through the urine. You can lose up to 10 inches in two weeks.” For more info: www.rejuvcard.com
Home: San Clemente
Children’s Ages: Two girls, 11 and 8
Profession: Owner and GM of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching
Favorite Female Icon: Jackie Onassis “She shielded her children from the media glare and devoted her life to making sure they were safe.”
Interesting Fact Every Sunday, Dana Wharf holds a free kids’ fishing clinic from 12:00 to 12:30pm as a way of giving back to the community.
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? I love my job but I try not to bring my work home with me. I’ve learned that you need to keep the outside world separate from home life.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? I’ve learned patience and I bring that to my work.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Learn how to say no.
Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching has been an icon in Orange County since 1971. They were the first to offer Whale watching tours and Donna is proud of her family’s achievement. When asked what her greatest goal for the future is, she brings up another woman she admires. “Recently I heard Cookie Lee (of Cookie Lee Jewelry) speak at a luncheon for female entrepreneurs and she said that when she started her business she made a promise to herself never to miss one of her children’s events and here she’s been hugely successful while managing to keep that promise. I’d like to do the same.” For more info: www.danawharf.com
Home: Orange Hills
Children’s Ages: A boy, age 9, and two girls, ages 7 and 5
Favorite Female Icon: Oprah Winfrey
Interesting Fact: At age four, Ana was abandoned by her birth mother on a street corner in Manhattan
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? Patience, patience, patience and compassion for other moms.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? The importance of organizing and multi-tasking.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Write down a realistic schedule, stick to it, and most important: Be present. When you are at home, enjoy your children; be with them. When you are at work, concentrate on work.
With exquisite attention to detail, and a wonderful eye for lighting, Ana Brandt captures the beauty of a mother and child like no other OC photographer. But whether shooting a wedding, a woman in waiting, or a family portrait, with three children of her own, Ana knows the importance of scheduling. “I had an assistant write down every school calendar event the moment I got it, so I wouldn’t miss Back to School nights and now I do it with everything.”
Another great tip for the mompreneur, according to Brandt, is to give yourself a day off if possible. “Mine is Mondays and it’s great because I can use that day for anything.” And as for Ana’s challenging start in life, “I truly believe that if I wasn’t abandoned and then adopted into an amazing family, I would not be a photographer. Everything I have been through has led me to this moment in time and I am doing what I was born to do.” For more info: www.anabrandt.com
Children’s Ages: 8-year-old girl; expecting a boy in January
Profession: Co-Owner / Director Epicurean School of Culinary Arts in Anaheim and West Hollywood
Favorite Female Icon: Gwen Stefani, “Another Anaheim Gal who is multi-talented, a strong business woman, and she always seems to have her kids with her.”
Interesting Fact: Several Celebrity Chefs teach and film TV segments at the West Hollywood school
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? I was working 40 to 50 hours a week but now that I’m expecting it makes me prioritize and it makes me appreciate my family that much more when I’m with them.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? Definitely I have more patience in business and that’s important when it comes to customer satisfaction. I also have a stronger work ethic because I want to provide for my family. The need to contribute to the financial well being of the family is good motivation to succeed.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Stay organized, have a calendar, plan ahead and make sure your staff is happy and feeling appreciated; that way you won’t be left in the lurch when you need to make it to your child’s softball game.
She’s been cooking since she was a child. “I remember making my first batch of cookies all by myself,” she says gleefully. In college she took a two-year culinary program and upon graduating began working in restaurants making appetizers and pizzas. She eventually landed a pastry chef position. “Interestingly, during my culinary training, the bakery instructor was expecting a child, so much of my training was really experimental,” she says. Desserts are her forte but she enjoys it all. She also caters tea parties. “After the new year, I plan to market that aspect of the business more.” For more info: www.epicureanschool.com
Home: Garden Grove
Children’s Ages: 5-year-old boy, 3-year-old boy, 18-month-old boy,
Profession: Independent Chocolatier for Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Favorite Female Icon: Bette Midler
Interesting Fact: Chocolate is the only completely recession proof product on the market, according to Consumer Reports
What have you learned from your business that’s helped you be a better mother? Now that my oldest son is getting involved with the business, helping to unload, counting the product, it gives me the opportunity to teach him about math and business in a fun way.
What have you learned as a mother that’s helped you be a better businesswoman? Time-management, organization and the ability to improvise, which comes in handy when you’re in a sticky situation at work.
What’s your advice to other mothers who plan to work? Make work fun! Your positive energy will help sales.
Not since Tupperware parties has home-to-home sales been so lucrative or fun according to Kathie. “ We have no competition other than ourselves in that there are no other direct marketing companies doing this.” Another element that makes the endeavor gratifying is the product itself, she says. “Dove chocolate is special and the Dove chocolate martini mixes, smoothie mixes and peanut brittle are an easy sell that can’t be found anywhere else.” For more info: www.occhocolateparty.com