Dressed For Success!

Five Local Business Women Share Their Success Stories And Show Off Fashions From Island Way Boutique

Shauna Boichut

Owner + Island Way Boutique

(Venice Lifestyle thanks Shauna for graciously styling this photo shoot with fashions from her boutique!)


What do you love best about your business? I love the interaction I have with my customers, seeing the joy they experience when they are browsing in the store and they find something they love. We shop very carefully to stock our store, we source from over 40 different vendors. It’s totally fun to buy things and then see the customers find them and love them. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. We have customers who bring every one of their family members to us, every one of their guests.

What are some business challenges you have faced and overcome? We certainly suffered during the red tide outbreaks and again during the road construction downtown last year. We just didn’t have the usual foot traffic. But we managed to come through all of it just fine because the community supported us. We had friends come to the store and say, ‘I’m just going to buy something so you don’t close.’ It’s wonderful to feel that loyalty and support.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out in business? She must love what she does, she has to dig in her heels and go for it, but she also has to be willing to change. If the concept is not attracting customers, she’ll have to admit it is wrong and redirect herself.  

225 West Miami Ave., Venice. 941.451.9668 Facebook.com/DownIslandWayBoutique

Nella Valenti

Owner + Valenti’s and Allegro Bistro


What do you love about being a business owner? I love everything about it! I love my customers who have come to my restaurants for years and years and I love serving them. I have known some of them from the beginning, for 32 years. I love when they dance at Allegro and have a good time. I love seeing them come back over and over again. I wouldn’t change this business of mine for anything.

What is a specific challenge you face in your business? Some of the people who come to work here don’t love the job they are doing as much as I do. It can be hard for me to make them understand how important their work is to the business. But I don’t just let them go; I love my people. I talk to them. A lot of them are young. I try to teach them that if they learn to love their work and do a great job, their customers will know it and reward them.

What advice do you have for a young woman hoping to start a business? You have to work to succeed. You cannot leave a manager to do the work while you go off to act like a millionaire. You have to be here to serve your customers. I came from Italy with nothing and decided to work hard. And that’s what I did.

1740 E. Venice Ave., Venice, 941.484.1889, Allegro-Bistro.com

MaryBeth Hansen

Owner + Paradise Grill


After 40 years as a restaurant owner in both Michigan and Florida, what continues to inspire you? I love the independence, the satisfaction of knowing we put out an excellent product, and the pride I feel in my team. I have 42 employees. There’s a sense of accomplishment in seeing people grow in the positions you give them. I love seeing each one become great at what they do. In turn, they help the business thrive.

How do you face down a business challenge? I have faced more challenges in my 20 years in Florida than I did in Michigan! The hurricanes are the big ones. You have to be a strong leader to weather a crisis, you have to move your people forward and you have to do it so they are not afraid. You stay optimistic, you think outside the box, and you tell your team, ‘We are going to get through this.’

What advice do you have for someone starting out in business? Find a mentor. Mine was one of my customers, a Michigan State social science professor named Louise Segal. When I opened my first restaurant at 23, I was a young girl and had no business in having a restaurant. Louise taught me to believe in myself. She gave me the encouragement and inspiration to succeed, and sent so much business my way.

1097 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, 941.786.1524, ParadiseGrillFL.com

Kate Hyland-Mercer

Owner + Ferris Wheel Finance, Inc.


What do you enjoy best about being a business owner? I love being at the helm of Ferris Wheel Finance, Inc., because I can help my clients as effectively as I have always wanted to--I can spend extra time with those who need it. I’m independent and able to offer the sort of client care I really believe in. 

What is a memorable business challenge you faced and overcame? All the times I haven’t known ‘how to do something in the business’. You have to learn to do everything when you are your own boss, from creating a scanned document or getting the phones to transfer correctly, all the way to learning how to manage employees.

What advice do you have for a younger woman starting out in a business of her own? Only go into business for yourself if you love the business of the business, not just your trade. While eventually you can hire people to set up the computers and balance the bank accounts, in the beginning it is all up to you. Generally, there is more of that than the work of your work. So, you have to love the game of owning your own business as much, or more, than just the trade work. The trade work is what you get to do. The office work you have to do to stay in business, and often people forget how important that is.

417 Commercial Court Suite F, Venice. 941.483.3600, Info@FerrisWheelFinance.com

Karla Blake

Owner + Karla Blake Medicare Specialist


What do you enjoy best about being your own boss? I love that I have control over my business, and that I am compensated for my efforts. I get to create my own hours. As a single mother of four, being my own boss gives me the flexibility to not miss events, to be home to cook dinner, to be present whenever my children need me. 

What is a memorable business challenge that you faced and overcame?  I started my business from scratch and without a safety net. I had a vision, but no start up capital, and it was unsettling to say the least. Determined, hungry, and needing to be successful, I met my clients with a bubbly personality, sincerity, and a big smile. I offered exceptional customer service, and asked for referrals. With a strong faith in the Lord and a conviction for excellence, my business was built.

What business advice do you have for a younger woman?  Take that leap of faith, believe in yourself, and work hard. Keep it cheeky, fun, but be sincere and personable. Always ask for the referrals. Writing an application, or for you it may be closing a deal, will be the easy part; it's your customer service that will set you apart. Send out handwritten thank you notes, personal touches make a difference. Get out in your community, be involved and network. Marketing your business and advertising is crucial and beneficial.

954.612.1754. KarlaBlake.MedicareSpecialist@gmail.com, KarlaBlakeMedicareSpecialist.com

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