These women are CEO’s, owners, founders, entrepreneurs and vision builders of businesses all over the world.  What can we learn from them?  Read on and find out some words of wisdom from their entrepreneurial brains.

Words of Wisdom from the Women Running Your Businesses

Melissa Horvath

Owner, Designer

Sweet Water Décor


Coined on Instagram as, “Modern + Chic Design Studio Creating Beautiful Items for Your Beautiful Life! We Sell Retail + Wholesale” – she pretty much nails it.  Melissa started Sweet Water Décor in 2014 from her basement (classic!) and launched her dream come true.  And it truly shows in her work.

Her Etsy shop was the start of it all and is booming now more than ever!  From motivational coffee mugs to hand lettered bags, candles, you name it – she has written her beautiful handwriting on it.  As far as entrepreneurs go, she had early dreams!

Straight from Sweet Water Décor’s website: “Growing up, I loved designing, and could always be found in the stationery section of every store I went in to.  I’d always be saving motivational quotes (before Pinterest) and writing them in a notebook.”

Melissa and I chatted about life goals, love of the job and being a good old-fashioned Entrepreneur.

What do you absolutely love about your job?

Motivating our customers, every day.  We appreciate every post, seeing how happy there are to receive their products.  It keeps us going.

What was one fear you had prior to being an entrepreneur?

Just curious to see if it could work.  Back in 2014, I had no idea you could own your own business and had to work in corporate.  I wasn’t sure if it could work, so I took a leap of faith and I listened to my gut and my heart.  You have to listen to your heart, even if you have those scared moments.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

“Don’t stress and keep going.  Still listen to your gut and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.  If it’s right, go for it!” – Melissa Horvath, Owner, Designer, Sweet Water Decor

What are your personal life goals?

After corporate, I made a lot of plans.  I am so excited to see what plans just happen in the future.  I am going to embrace what happens.  It’s been great to be in that mindset instead of putting that pressure on us.  It’s ourselves and our company and we have a lot of great things down the pipeline.


Ashley Reynolds


Cloth & Paper


Founder of Cloth & Paper, Ashley Reynolds is an online manufacturer and retailer of luxe planners and planning accessories.  Started in 2015 – this line of planners, pens, notes and more are the quintessential classy choice for your desk.  She is in the lovely list of entrepreneurs as a woman on a mission!

Ashley has always had a love for stationery and left the corporate life to pursue her dream!  From finding stationery groups online she saw the passion and kickstarted her journey down the paper trail.

She started by designing them from scratch and people would say, “Where did you get that?” And off she went!  For the first year it was her, doing it all.  Now, years later, she has grown into a beautiful office in Richmond, VA with a fantastic team.

We sat down and asked Ashley about her journey:

Looking back, is there any advice that you would give yourself today, knowing what you know now?

Just go for it!  I did a lot of going back and forth.  I felt that I needed to be perfect and worried what people would think.  I was holding myself back.  I would say now, just go for it.  I had no idea what I was doing, and I propelled myself forward with my own hard work. I learned every day.

What are your life goals?

I want to get out there!   I want to be where you shop, in stores everywhere.  We just want to continue to grow, hire and offer jobs and have fun doing it.

The biggest events in history were always written down, that’s why we know about them. I am just continuing this history with my style.

What advice do you have for other Women Entrepreneurs?

“Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand to someone beside you.  Everyone thinks that we can’t share information to all be successful, but as long as we work together we can.”

 – Ashley Reynolds, Owner, Cloth & Paper  


Lorena Garcia Rodriguez


The Bloguettes



Coined in Forbes as the “Co-Founder Behind Bloguettes Who Wants To Help More Women Launch Successful Brands” Lorena Garcia Rodriguez runs the show!

As Vivian Nunez writes, “It comes as no surprise, then, that she (along with her fellow co-founder, Sakura Considine) created the one-stop shop that every female entrepreneur can benefit from.”

If you haven’t visited The Bloguettes site yet, stop what you are doing and go, now.  It is well worth your time.  Their Instagram is absolutely gorgeous too!

We asked Lorena a little more about her goals.

What is the biggest challenge or roadblock you find as the founder of a company?

I feel like sometimes the biggest challenge for us is to be able to disconnect from the business! When you are the founder, work is all day every day. Your business is a big part of your life, so finding a good work-life balance can be very challenging.

What do you do in the morning to start your day right?

I wake up super early! This allows me to clear my email as much as possible and create a task list for the day. I have found that this makes me happier and more productive throughout the day.

If you had one piece of advice to your former self, years ago prior to your success, what would that be?

“Don’t care about what anyone says! If you believe in something, DO IT! Give it your best, and don’t give up!”

– Lorena Garcia Rodrigues, Founder, The Bloguettes


Jessica Durrant

Entrepreneur, Illustrator

Jessica Durrant Illustration


Jessica Durrant is an amazing illustrator specializing in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle genres. But she is so much more than that.  She is inspirational, positive, very real and very very talented.  Her work is featured at the head of this blog and all over her lovely Instagram @Jessillustrator.

Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Target, Sephora, Lancome, and so many more (too many to even count!) have all had Jessica’s beautiful artwork aligned with their brands.  You will get lost in her website of beautiful artwork at

She represents all that is sacred with actual handmade (with love), painted and drawn artwork! Artists everywhere all over the globe LIVE to do what she is doing. From a group of artist entrepreneurs she definitely stands out.

Her work has been featured in Marie Claire, Better Homes & Gardens, ELLE Brazil & Australia, Country Living, Harper’s Bazaar Art Singapore, Living Etc.,, and Elie Saab’s Light of Now online publication.

Jessica also recently completed three fully illustrated books for L’Oreal Paris Kérastase.  Amazing! The list goes on!  If you don’t know Jessica by now, you are surely missing out.

What was one fear you overcame to be where you are today?

I think it’s the fear of failure. As simple as it sounds. I think I was so afraid of feeling like I would be told “you are just not good enough”. I think I began to slowly, the more I worked and realized making art was really my way of life-that it didn’t matter if I failed. It matters more to create the art. Once I let go, and believed in myself, things began to change.

What advice do you have for the younger female generation that are seeking to be Entrepreneurs?

Be patient. Whatever dream you have, it will never come overnight. Because we live in a digital age-and we see our idols doing amazing things we can often compare ourselves constantly to others. And comparing their years of hard work, to us when we are just starting out. You have your own story, and own path. Put down your phone and get to the work you love.

“You will find everything you want-when you are willing to have faith in your dreams and the grit to keep going even when you are told no, ignored or don’t get the job you want. Keep Going.”

– Jessica Durrant, Entrepreneur, Jessica Durrant Illustration

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Tell yourself everyday how awesome you are and believe it.


Sally Hurley


VIPdesk Connect


Sally is a fearless and bold entrepreneur with a history of building companies, raising venture capital, merging with a large global brand (okay selling), managing post-merger integration (fun) and spinning-off (actual fun). With years of strategic planning, operations, and business development, she never stops!

Sally is rather obsessed with the company culture and building a company that cares deeply about the team.  She believes if she can take care of the team, this will foster a team that in turn takes great care of clients and customers.  She even helped launch a podcast- Path to Good, which chronicles the journey of her business which is constantly improving.  We think it’s her 25 years in the concierge and customer service industry. For that matter, she’ll happily make you an awesome dinner reservation or recommend a cool hotel anywhere in the world.

A woman of many talents; she can ride a 15-foot unicycle. It’s true, she can and she has. When she’s not working (which isn’t very often), you won’t find her on a unicycle anymore; she will more than likely be traveling somewhere fabulous with her family sailing, paddle boarding or skiing. Next trip- Croatia.

Her inspirations? Dad, a fighter pilot in WWII, Mom, bravely stayed home to raise 5, Son Eli-pure joy and would like to have 5 more just like him, her love Mo- fellow entrepreneur and her fearless and bold family, friends and team members.

What is a challenge in Customer Service that you feel have overcome?

We’ve brought humanity back into the outsourced customer service industry.  Our value of transparency is changing this industry.

We do this by illuminating the fact that amazing service is only possible when delivered by incredible people who are well compensated and supported by an authentic culture that cares about them.

“All roads lead back to your team.”

– Sally Hurley, CEO, VIPdesk Connect

Dani Apgar

EVP and Co-Founder



Danielle is a Co-Founder of RapportBoost.AI, and one of the world’s most successful enterprise artificial intelligence sales professionals. She led the sales, customer success, account management, and sales engineering teams for more than 3 years at Persado, a CNBC Disruptor Top 50 Artificial Intelligence company funded by Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital.

She has personally closed six and seven-figure artificial intelligence/SaaS/ARR deals and has worked with companies like Microsoft, Travelocity, Caesars Entertainment, Pottery Barn, Expedia, and Zulily.

Her clients had the highest rate of customer retention and satisfaction in the 200+ person company. Dani first worked with Tony in a Silicon Valley tech company in 1999. Dani was a founding Executive Director for Humans for AI, which aims to build the diverse workforce of the future leveraging the existing AI technologies. Dani volunteers and has traveled to Africa with Just Like My Child Foundation. Their mission is to empower vulnerable adolescent girls by enabling them to create healthy, self-sustaining families who prosper without further aid.  Follow them on Twitter here:

What was one fear you overcame to be where you are today?

We all have fear.  Being courageous and brave takes one through fear to a place where our dreams come true.
If I had to choose one fear I’ve overcome is the fear of being judged. I’ve always worked in very male-dominated fields. Women do business differently than men. For many years I tried to be “man-like” which wasn’t true to myself (because I am a woman). It took a while to find my voice yet I embrace that I am successful because of the woman I am and the emotional intelligence I bring to the table. I do things differently than a man which is extremely valuable!

What advice do you have for the younger female generation that are seeking to be Entrepreneurs?

Do your research, always be inquisitive, study your field of choice/craft obsessively.  For example, I still read many books, white papers & watch webinars on entrepreneurship, business, customer service, sales, and technology.

“Surround yourself with people smarter than you; you will never know it all, and that is okay. Always listen to and spend time with your customers given they are the future direction of your successful business.”

– Dani Apgar, EVP & Co-Founder,

Celebrate & congratulate others’ success. Lastly, stay true to yourself, and you will enjoy the rollercoaster ride of being an Entrepreneur. 🙂

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Take more risks. If you fail, you will bounce back and be okay. Seth Godin said, “The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.” I agree 100%!

Sue Duris

Founder, CEO

M4 Communications, Inc.


Sue hails from the communications world as the Founder and CEO of M4 Communications. M4 Communications, Inc. is a strategic marketing and customer experience consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations grow through a combination of marketing and customer experience initiatives.

She is “customer obsessed” and passionate about helping organizations differentiate and grow by coaching them to be customer-centric, advising them on their digital transformation initiatives and collaborating with them to design omnichannel experiences that engage employees and deliver customer value.  Check out her Tweets or connect with her on LinkedIn.

What sparked your idea to become an entrepreneur?

I was running product marketing at a VC-backed startup when the ‘dotcom’ bubble burst hit. I lost my job and because just about every marketer I knew also lost their job, I was unable to find suitable work with a company as marketers were a dime a dozen. So I did freelance marketing work. I transitioned from freelance to founding my own marketing firm as it was on my bucket list to do and timing was right.

What kinds of things do you do personally for your customer service at M4 Communications?

We are customer-obsessed at M4 and very customer-centric. In fact, we coach startup and established companies on how to be customer-centric and collaborate with them to build experiences that engage employees and deliver customer value. We’re big believers in feedback so we are very methodical in how we set up employee and customer feedback programs for our clients. Of course it’s not just about the feedback it’s also about closing the loop, which means enabling the ability for the employee and/or client to effortlessly provide feedback, identifying the insights from the data and implementing them to improve processes, and then notifying the employee and/or client of what actions were taken.  Our trifecta is VoC/VoE programs, journey mapping and metrics. Tying them together improves the customer experience and drives value.

It’s important for us to really bring a deep level of empathy and authenticity to everything we do because if the would-be-customer doesn’t feel we get them, then the story ends there. Customer trust and loyalty enables us to survive and thrive and that’s what we attempt to do every day – build customer trust, nurture the relationship and help our clients achieve their perceived business outcomes.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself before it all started?

“Above all else, follow the LEAP approach – listen, engage, assist and then promote.”

 – Sue Duris, CEO, M4 Communications

We started (2001) pre-social media and smart phones and back then it was harder to get in front of the client. Today, with social media, you are right there with your prospect, face to face. It takes seconds to make a first impression, so we have no excuse but to know our prospects and take actions to resonate with them immediately.

What advice would you give the younger generation of women interested in running their own business?

Research, ask questions, network, find a mentor or mentors, build your personal brand, and strive for two things – (1) product market fit and (2) a strong culture – early in your company’s evolution.


We hope you have gotten some wonderful words of wisdom from these ladies.


VIPdesk Connect Team

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