When Gleyann Fontanez came to the United States as a teenager, she didn’t speak English. Raised in Juncos, Puerto Rico, she knew she had a lot to learn if she was going to succeed in her new home. She graduated from Bulkeley High School in Hartford and went on to attend Capital Community College—all while mastering a new language and learning to adjust to a new culture. Her real dream, though, was to open a clothing business to serve the members of her adopted community in Connecticut.
Gala Flagello and Aaron Price met while studying composition at the Hartt School of Music, and like many of their fellow students, they spent a lot of time travelling around looking for music festivals where they could practice their craft and meet other musicians. “Festivals are an important way for musicians to network in a really meaningful way,” said Gala. “But Aaron and I weren’t finding festivals that offered everything we wanted. So we jokingly said we should just start our own festival.”
Customer-focused problem solving is the key to two decades of success for this CT environmental services firm. “I’ve always loved being innovative,” says Kimberly Ewalt, CEO. “I like looking at all aspects of a business and figuring out what I can bring that can make a positive impact.” Charter Oak tackles a wide range of environmental projects such as assessment, investigation and remediation, and non-hazardous and hazardous material transportation and disposal. With Ewalt at the helm, Charter Oak is establishing itself as a leader in the ever-evolving world of environmental consulting services.
Denise O’Reilly first came to the Women’s Business Center last year in an enviable position. The custom-designed wood spoons and cutting boards she was etching for her business, The Burnt Shop, were in high demand. Demand was so high, in fact, that she needed some coaching to figure out how to manage the growth and fill all the orders she was getting.
Like millions of other business people in 2009, Heather Conley found herself fielding the brunt of the Great Recession. A corporate operations professional with five years at Stanley Works in New Britain, CT, and another 20 in the marketing field, Conley was hit with the news of an impending layoff. Viewing this as a chance for a career reset, she skipped the usual panic, reactivated a long-held desire to work for herself and handled the would–be crisis with a strategic plan and unconventional implementation.
For Rebecca Tuttle, grants and a gluten-free lifestyle go together. If that sounds unconventional, it's because it is, and Rebecca wouldn't have it any other way. Oddly enough, her celiac diagnosis and the need to make drastic lifestyle changes were her catalysts for becoming an entrepreneur.
Donyelle McBride is a small business owner with a big heart for the people she serves. McBride Hair Restoration stands out from the crowd because it caters to people who are experiencing the trauma of lost or thinning hair. By the time they reach this salon’s door, people are looking for viable hair solutions and, if possible, a miracle.