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In the COMPANY of Women

How The Women’s CEO Business School Builds Intentional Businesses

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Melinda Gipson

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Tina Johnson

Tina Johnson has successfully created and run several businesses and now she’s giving back with her Women’s CEO Business School, helping a new generation of women entrepreneurs do the same. She says, “I wanted to create a community that would support other women business owners during the struggles of building a business that would have a ripple effect not only for them but for their families and the communities where they live work and play. By focusing on women CEOs, we are able to provide a safe space to be both vulnerable and ask questions without fear of judgment. Our programs are designed to build a community of support that will last for years to come.”

Her CEO Consulting group helps “serious women” in structured classes, group sessions, 1:1 coaching and more, working to help them overcome obstacles, develop strategies, prioritize decision making, identify tools and resources that can help them and cope with growth. One of her signature themes is about being intentional because, “By understanding the foundation of your business, you’re defining its core values and using them as a compass day in and day out.” In her own life, she says, “Being intentional means living the life that is best for me, instead of living someone else’s dream or trying to live up to expectations. Focusing on being intentional, will help provide clarity when I am feeling lost. Sometimes I get so caught up in my life’s busyness that I forget why I am doing what I am doing. I want the time that I am spending this year to have meaning, not only in my life but in the lives of others that I touch.”

She touched so many lives in the past year to the good that the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce awarded her both Small Business and Executive Leadership awards at its Community Leadership gala. Each award came with $1000 that the winner could donate to her favorite cause. Tina’s first gift went to the Breeze Makenzie Foundation, a foundation she created to honor her brother who passed away suddenly seven years ago.  It provides support for homeless teens and teens aging out of foster care. “We were both in the foster care system for several years,” she explains. Her other gift went to the Loudoun First Responders Foundation in honor of her son who is a firefighter/EMT.

About giving, she says, “Giving back to the community is all about empowering and elevating the world we live in. If we have everything but do not give, we are missing out on the most important part of being human; giving.  I live daily by this quote by Mother Theresa: ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’”

In honor of our own women’s issue, we thought you’d like to meet some of these “serious” women business owners and get a peek at how they’re applying what they’ve learned about how to give back in their personal and professional lives to our community.

Dr. Kajal Roy

Dr. Kajal Roy, MD, the medical director of Niyan Medspa in Ashburn, takes a holistic medicine and preventative approach to cosmetic procedures designed to make clients feel better about how they look. She says, “My goal is not to change the way somebody looks. It's to change the way that they feel about themselves to enhance the beauty that they already have.” To accentuate this point, it might help to know that each student in the Women’s CEO Business Academy chooses a word to help focus her growth for the year. Kajal’s word, appropriately, is “Responsibility.” In part, that’s because the name of her clinic is a blend of her two children’s names, and she works with all the commitment to integrity and farsightedness that that implies. Like many moms, in other words, her work is intended to build something that secures their futures. But it also means that she is committed to longer-term solutions to her patients’ issues, not just a quick fix. One of her more break-through treatments in this context involves hormone therapy. Drawing on her medical degree as an internist, she now does Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which she calls, “Truly life-changing. It's helping patients age happier and healthier.” Beginning with blood tests to establish a baseline, the process develops a pellet that is injected into the body to slow-release the individualized mix of hormones that will treat symptoms like a decrease energy or libido, and brain fog. It boosts mental clarity and, in women, it can help decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes and increase bone density. Obviously, as we age, those needs change, but that’s okay too, Kajal says. Like the family for which her name stands, “we’re about long-term relationships.”

Olivia Dominic

“Let’s start your collection!” proclaims Olivia “Liv” Dominic’s artisan jewelry website, and she’s right. One pair of these stunning earrings or necklaces is not enough. Oh, that’s been said before, but Liv has a “hook” (pardon the pun.) Her pieces are all “skin conscious” and made to make a bold, colorful statement without the added weight of so many hand-crafted pieces. They are, we personally attest, so lightweight you can barely feel them, no matter the size. Her “day job” is as a public health epidemiologist at the Food and Drug Administration makes her professionally attuned to the best materials for sensitive skin. And, “I’ve just always loved earrings since I got my ears pierced at a really young age.” Her style? “My design language is bright and bold. Life is all about energy and that translates to me as color.” We can’t prove it, but are convinced: wearing her designs makes you happy. She has the same reaction to her interactions with Tina’s business school. Running an online business can be isolating so the interpersonal relationships with other women in business offer her invaluable support and perspectives she couldn’t gain elsewhere. Black designers like Kendra Scott inspire her as well, so don’t be surprised if Liv Dominic sparkles with the same recognition, sooner rather than later.

Sheryl Hine

After being in business for 14 years, you would think Sheryl Hine knows everything there is to know about being in business, but she said, “I feel you can always learn and I like the concept of working with other women.” There are twice-monthly calls with her classmates; “Just listening to their struggles or their wins – it just kind of makes you feel like you're not alone.” It’s not that men aren’t also supportive, but being in the company of women in business has helped her “drop my defenses and be more vulnerable” about her own challenges. The program’s built-in accountability also is helping her get her time management issues under control and be more focused on growing her business. That’s crucial to her success because, in providing promotional products to other businesses, she helps her clients save time and focus on the messaging they’re trying to share with their promotional products. Who are they, and how do they communicate that? “I love working with customers one-on-one and helping them figure that out.” In addition to pens, stress-relievers and other leave-behinds, Quail Creek produces branded apparel like hoodies, T-shirts, and polo shirts for company employees to wear. Though many of her clients have been with her for years, she particularly likes working with new businesses because “they get excited to get their logo on something they're proud to wear.... It really is a fun job and really rewarding.”

Lucia Tirondola

Lucia Tirondola and her husband Victor bought the painting company he worked for five years ago specifically so they could have more freedom to donate to their favorite charity, Passion for Community, in Fairfax. The organization’s local church chapter and alt organization helps provide homes for families coming out of shelters and in special circumstances like housing Afghan refugees. Though it was a bit overwhelming at first taking on a small business that had then operated for 15 years as owners, they realized, “Now we can give back the way we want to. That’s exactly what we did!” They sponsor the annual golf tournament for the group in April. Lucia also serves as an ambassador for the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce so she can welcome small business owners to our community.

As a family business, there are other perks to Lucia’s painting and carpentry company. Her husband, a third-generation painter, works directly with clients, making sure they have an estimate in hand the same day he assesses the project. Originally a graphic designer, Lucia manages the work teams made up of 20 employees and their schedules, hiring when necessary and handling any weather-related schedule changes, all while helping to renovate a horse farm in Aldie and raising two boys aged 9 and 12. Together they, and her mother-in-law Suzanne the office manager, specialize in taking care of the interior and exterior of clients’ homes and keeping neighborhoods beautiful. “We’re like a dream team at managing all the work flow of the business,” Lucia said. “When you're with family when one is kind of overwhelmed, the other person can help balance each other out and bring all of our gifts and talents together to make it work.”

Recently they expanded their business year-round to include holiday lighting for home-owners. The lighting and other decorations are custom fitted to each home and priced by the size of the home. “It really took off during COVID because people needed a little joy in their lives,” Lucia said. “I wasn't a believer until I did it's my own house. Every time I pulled down the street, I felt like I was in a movie. You really do shine brighter than your neighbor.”

Her word for the year is “Thrive.” She explains, “I love learning how to tackle different obstacles and how to have a really solid foundation. It’s a fast, deep dive on business and has been really rewarding.”

Christine Langley

Christine Langley considers herself a psycho spiritual leader, spiritual awakening expert, strategist, educator, facilitator and intuitive guide. “My main premise is to help people heal. I address stress, do loss and trauma reduction services, provide energy healing with Reiki and other integrated energy therapy.” Her company is called STREST because stress seems at the heart of so many of our modern maladies. Though she has a Master’s degree in counseling from George Mason University, her approach is to work without diagnoses or labels which she believes holds people back from self-healing. “I want people to understand that people have power. I empower my clients from the start.... Situational depression, anxiety, grief – these are all normal things.” All that’s needed is a change of perspective, especially coming out of the collective trauma of COVID. “My mottos are, we repeat what we don't repair,” and “what we fear we cover.” Her process essentially helps people feel their feelings – the stress, the loss, the trauma – by identifying, acknowledging and accepting them and, in effect, “unlearn” patterns that detract from authenticity. She’s working to diagram her process as a healing and balancing device that is complex and hard to describe. But, put simply, she says that, “For those people that want to do better, I show them how to do better so that they can have more fulfillment, because I believe that we're all meant for joy.”

Patricia Keller Gallardo

Patricia Keller Gallardo works as a realtor with Compass from her home in Broadlands and moderates a networking group for more than 300 moms who own their own businesses, on Facebook as “Moms Who Mean Business.” In integrating the demands of a busy life, she finds she can gain wisdom from both The Women’s CEO Business School, and members of her group who have quarterly, in-person events. Her specialties include relocation for home buyers, particularly those who may be working with Veterans Administration loans. A former business development director with AOL who negotiated very large deals, she also has a passion for raising the bar for Realtors generally when it comes to professionalism in negotiating and closing home sales. “Homes are the most important investment most people will ever have, so it’s critical to get everything right,” she explains; “Too many things can go wrong with a transaction if they’re not managed properly.” She’s keen to pass along all she’s learning from her fellow CEOs to moms in her group who have carried the brunt of COVID upheaval. One of her favorite of the group’s recent topics: “Pay Yourself First!”

Look for more profiles of women CEOs in our area online and in our Facebook pages. Tina's school is currently accepting applicants for the class of 2023. 

  • Tina Johnson, The Women's CEO Business School
  • Dr. Kajal Roy, Niyan Medspa
  • Olivia Dominic,
  • Sheryl Hine, Quail Creek Promotions
  • Lucia Tirondola, Manor Works
  • Christine Langley, STREST, LLC
  • Patricia Keller Gallardo, Compass Realtor

Businesses featured in this article