by Elizabeth Cossick | Photos by Matt Druin
I Did It My Way
9 Cobb business owners took the road less traveled … and have never looked back. They all admit that owning your own business offers its ups and downs – as well as an incredible opportunity to impact the world around you. Here are their inspiring stories.
WHAT SHE DOES | During her own treatment and recovery from breast cancer, Carol Largent found herself in a near panic. “After surgery, I realized that I would not be able to dress myself. How would I get to the doctor? How would I leave the house?” she says. So, Carol took a pair of scissors and some Velcro to a tank top and reconfigured it into a garment she could get on and off independently – her first, fateful “tender tank.” Today, she has perfected the design and production of her Tender Tanks, which are made of soft, resilient fabric with armholes that accommodate drain tubes and Velcro closures on the straps. They are the saving grace for women going through breast cancer and reconstructive surgery, as well as nursing mothers.
WHY SHE DOES IT | “This business was birthed out of such a personal need, but now my motivation is a want,” she says. “I want to get Tender Tanks to other breast cancer survivors to make it easier for them. For those of us who have gone through it, I believe it’s our role to make the journey better for those who are yet to come.”
WHAT KEEPS HER MOTIVATED | Inside each Tender Tank is a small tag that says, “I CAN” – a message Carol wants to send to each woman who wears her tanks. “No matter what you’re going through, you can do it. Don’t give up,” she says. “Before cancer, I was a second-grade teacher, and teaching was my passion. Cancer took that away from me. But, when life happens, you have to be open enough to allow a new purpose to emerge. You have to allow yourself to become a different person, knowing it will be a better, stronger one.”
WHERE TO FIND TENDER TANKS | Order on Amazon Prime: bit.ly/tendertank. facebook.com/tendertanks | tendertanks.com
FITNESS TOGETHER EAST COBB
Mike & Katie Warechowski
WHAT THEY DO | Mike and Katie met at KSU, where they both earned exercise science degrees. Now, this husband-and-wife powerhouse runs Fitness Together, a private personal training studio in East Cobb. Their no-itimidation, high-accountability fitness model attract a gamut of people – from self-proclaimed gym haters to elite athletes. “We break down the barriers of intimidation,” says Katie. “Once a client joins with us, they become our family.”
WHAT SETS THEM APART | Katie and Mike say their success hinges on providing all the benefits of a big gym (equipment, flexibility), but with an emphasis on personalization. “Really, what sets us apart is how we customize the experience,” says Mike. “Each client receives a tailor-made program, and they work out with a certified, degreed trainer in a private suite. We can do it all – yoga, Pilates, TRX suspension training, HIT, or sports-specific skill training. The key is focusing our clients’ energy and time on the most efficient program and nutrition plan for them, as individuals.”
WHAT KEEPS THEM MOTIVATED | Katie and Mike’s biggest motivation is their 6-year-old son, Michael, who was diagnosed at age 2 with a rare degenerative condition called Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, or MLD. “Running the studio has allowed us flexibility to care for Mikey, which is huge,” says Katie. “Plus, we get to live out our dream jobs. People come to us all the time who think fitness just doesn’t ‘work’ for them. So, to see those same people
meet – and exceed – their goals is so rewarding.”
WHERE TO FIND THEM | Fitness Together East Cobb. 1000 Johnson Ferry Road, Bldg. 400, Ste. 412, Marietta. 770-321-1347. facebook.com/FTEastCobb. fitnesstogether.com/eastcobb
PEACHES & CREAM
HOW SHE STARTED | Jessica always had a flair for decorating, even as a young girl when she’d rearrange her bedroom. But turning a talent into a trade often takes “a boost,” as she calls it. “Around
2007, I was working in furniture design in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was in charge of designing a house for the town’s Street of Dreams,” says Jessica. “Our house won! It was the boost I needed.”
HER SECRET WEAPON | Being a great shopper. “I am a bargain hunter! I am very respectful of my clients’ budgets and love challenge of pulling together a unique, collected, cohesive look from a variety of sources,” says Jessica. “My favorite sources are locally grown shops. I’ve even found amazing vintage items at Goodwill
and in my clients’ own basements!”
HER BIGGEST INSPIRATION | “My inspiration comes from my clients – their likes and lifestyles. Every project begins with an interview where I get to know them. They inspire the design,” she says. “My other great inspiration is my family. I want my daughters, ages 12 and 16, to see that you can use your talents to support
yourself – that you can be confident in what you offer the world.”
HOW TO REACH HER | 678-446-4270. Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Peaches & Cream Designs, LLC on Facebook.
WHAT HE DOES | Josh is the third generation to help run Dupree Plumbing, which was started by his grandparents, Robert and Faye, in 1958. For nearly 60 years, they have been Cobb’s residential plumbing experts.
WHY HE DOES IT | “I was first attracted to the craftsman side of things; I like working with my hands,” says Josh, who currently operates Dupree Plumbing alongside his dad, Mike. “These days, I don’t do as much fieldwork, but I still think nothing beats a job done well with your own two hands.”
THE BEST JOB PERK | As a dad of five kids, ages 8 years to 5 months old, Josh and his wife Jolynn appreciate the flexible schedule that comes with running your own business. “Of course, we all put in long hours sometimes, but having some autonomy to my schedule helps,” he says.
WHAT KEEPS HIM GOING | “I’m motivated by our relationships with our clients. We’ve had some of our customers for decades, which says something,” Josh shares. “Our other commitment is to the people who work for us. It really is a team effort.”
WHERE HE GETS TO MAKE AN IMPACT | “I can’t think of a time when someone came to my dad or my grandpa for help and they said no,” says Josh. Dupree Plumbing has helped many families who couldn’t afford a plumber, as well as donated labor and supplies to nonprofit building projects. “We feel like it’s our role to be open-handed with our success,” he asserts. “It’s not just for us. It’s for our community.”
HOW TO REACH THEM | Dupree Plumbing. 869 Worley Drive, Marietta. 770-428-2291. email@example.com. dupreeplumbing.com.
MATILDA JANE CLOTHING
WHAT SHE DOES | As an independent trunk keeper for Matilda Jane, Shelley is a personal stylist for the brand. She takes orders via email and online and schedules parties, pop-up shops and personal styling appointments.
WHY MATILDA JANE? | “Of course, the clothing is adorable and great quality, but it was the heart of this company that won me over,” says Shelley. “First, the mission is to keep little girls young and innocent, which I love as a mom. Second, the company is unbelievably giving, running The Mighty Acorn Foundation that builds orphanages and runs a sponsorship program for children in the Kipsongo Slums of Kitale, Kenya.”
BIGGEST HURDLE SHE’S OVERCOME | For her pop-up shops and parties, Shelley brings samples of the current Matilda Jane line. “To make this easier, I purchased my ‘swagger wagon’ – a Tiffany blue mobile boutique. I just open the back and people shop inside,” says Shelley, who has the only MJ mobile shop.
HER BIGGEST REWARD | “Styling women and their daughters is just plain fun,” says Shelley, who earned a tangible reward this year, as well. She is one of 45 trunk keepers nationally to earn the first-ever incentive trip, to Scottsdale, Arizona.
HER ADVICE FOR STARTING A HOME-BASED BUSINESS | “Wade in at first, and then when the time is right, jump,” she says. Shelley signed up with Matilda Jane while still working full time and then quit once she had a client base. “The mom I get to be, the friend and wife I am now, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.”
Shop online at matildajaneclothing.com/shelleysegars. 404-304-7170.
WHAT SHE DOES | Adept at communication, organization and business matters, Anne’s company has three branches: assisting and helping manage the affairs of aging seniors; serving busy professionals as a house manager; and supporting individuals through the transition process of divorce, separation, and losing loved ones.
HOW SHE LAUNCHED HER BUSINESS | “I have always been drawn to helping people through life transitions. I have served as a personal advocate, resource, house manager and notary, and I have a decade of experience assisting with legal matters,” says Anne. “When I looked at all of my experience, starting a company to support others in these areas made sense.”
HER SECRET WEAPONS | Resourcefulness and diplomacy. “I am very good at getting things done and caring for others,” she says. “For aging seniors, I ensure no one is taken advantage of, help manage their property, hire contractors, pay bills and run errands. I also visit elderly family members in assisted living situations to ensure they are being cared for and their needs are being met. For busy executives, I come in and get their bills paid, manage service providers, run errands and manage their personal affairs. And for separating or widowed spouses, I save time and ease the burden of starting over in life. Overall, my goal is to give people peace of mind and keep them from being overwhelmed through life’s transitions.”
ADVICE FOR OTHER WOULD-BE ENTREPRENEURS | “Do something you’re passionate about,” says Anne. “It will grow your inner strength and bring you much joy!”
TO REACH ANNE | Call 404-323-7936 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. More info: taskanne.com
WHAT SHE DOES | Stephanie is a certified personal trainer who owns Warrior Fitness Training & Nutrition. She trains clients at Anytime Fitness off Mars Hill in Acworth, as well as offering group sessions, nutrition planning, online personal training and monthly boot camps.
HER BACK STORY | “I taught high school and college-level English for 20 years, so I am an educator at heart,” says Stephanie. “I made this leap into health and fitness, which is a good mesh of educating people in a new way on something I’m very passionate about.”
WHY THE NAME WARRIOR FITNESS? | “My youngest daughter, now 10, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 2. At the same time, the market crashed, and my husband lost his job three times. I hit a very low point and remember standing on my deck thinking, I can’t do this anymore.’ Then, I looked around and saw my little girls with their baby hands pressed against the glass door, grinning at me, and I thought, ‘Yes, I can,’” shares Stephanie. “There’s a saying that warriors fight the battle in front of them to protect who is behind them. Right then, I took back control of my attitude and my reaction to life. I became a warrior.”
HER GREAT REWARD | Seeing people physically – and emotionally– transform. “I love seeing clients walk in with confidence they didn’t have three months ago; it’s how they hold themselves,” says Stephanie. “I work harder now than I ever worked teaching, but it doesn’t even feel like work.”
CONNECT WITH STEPHANIE | E-mail email@example.com. Join her free online 30-day weightloss
challenge groups at bit.ly/online30fit. Follow WarriorFit1 on IG and FB.
O’DELL & O’NEAL, PC
Justin O’Dell & Leslie O’Neal
WHAT THEY DO | They provide legal representation to individuals, families and small to medium business owners – including family law, probate matters and general civil litigation (business and property disputes).
WHAT SETS THEM APART | They excel in the courtroom and both have tremendous experience trying tough cases. Their experience–combined with being unafraid to go to court – often secures advantageous settlements and outcomes for clients. “Our clients also appreciate that we are straightforward,” says Justin. “We give them our unabashed legal opinions and let them make a decision.”
THEIR GUIDING PRINCIPLE | The firm’s motto is “Serving Clients and Community” – a statement they live in earnest. “We work incredibly hard to achieve results for our clients. And, we work just as passionately for Marietta and Cobb County,” affirms Justin. “For example, it’s one thing to handle family law cases where spousal abuse takes place or handle litigation matters where addiction is part of the issue; it’s another to take the funds earned in those cases and donate a portion back to organizations combating those same issues.”
CAUSES THEY SUPPORT | To date, their firm has invested well over $50,000 in charitable causes, including YWCA (now Live-Safe Resources), Reconnecting Families, Marietta Kiwanis, Center for Family Resources, MUST Ministries, Good Samaritan Health, Atlanta Legal Aid, The Strand Theater, the American Cancer Society, multiple school booster clubs, and countless others. “We both enjoy that our profession gives us the ability to help people in crisis and also allows us the resources to invest back in the community,” says Justin.
CONTACT THEM | 506 Roswell Street, Ste. 210, Marietta. 770-405-0164. firstname.lastname@example.org. odelloneal.com
WHY SHE’S CALLED “THE BEAR OF REAL ESTATE” | “I’m like a mama bear, tenacious in protecting my clients,” she says. This trait was valuable during Melissa’s eight-year Army career, during which she served as Captain in the Air Defense Artillery in the Persian Gulf. “The military teaches you perseverance, loyalty, work ethic, leadership and integrity,” she says – all skills that now work to her clients’ advantage.
HER GREATEST IMPACT | Aside from serving her clients, Melissa says the biggest reward in running her business is having a platform to help military families. “I am able to give back to those that sacrifice for our freedoms. I want to be able to say ‘yes’ to every donation request. God and my business allow me to do so.” Her team sponsors regular movie events, Santa photos, holiday toy drives and school supply collections for military families, in addition to organizing overseas care packages.
HER BEST BUSINESS WISDOM | “Be flexible,” she advises. “Have foresight in your field and be willing to adjust your business direction to meet changing needs.” For her, this meant anticipating the recovery of the real estate market and becoming a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.
THE DEFINING TRAIT OF HER BUSINESS | Service. “We are here to serve our clients’ best interests and also to make a positive impact in our community. The more we can accomplish in real estate, the more we can accomplish in the community,” she affirms.
CONTACT HER | Think Melissa Team & Associates. Atlanta Communities. 404-793-2327. email@example.com. thinkmelissa.com. facebook.com/thinkmelissa