Leap of Faith Leads to New Careers


Leap of Faith Leads to New Careers
Leap of Faith
Leads to New
By Janene Mascarella
The rocky economy proves no match for a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We found
four savvy small business owners who have proven you can live your vision at
any age – all you need is a dream and the drive to execute it. With a little courage
and a lot of hard work, these individuals followed their own paths and founded
their own companies. Let their fortitude inspire you...
Holly Xerri
Founder of Avenue
X Innovations, LLC
Age: 54
From: Oceanside, NY
My bright idea: The seed of my idea for an
entirely new fashion solutions product took
root in 2008 with the purchase of a pair of
yoga leggings. This particular pair of leggings
had a flap of stretchy fabric that hung down
low from the waist. I thought, wouldn’t it be
even better to have a pretty stretch band
that could be worn with all my leggings,
jeans and shirts? This band, I thought, could
cover midriff gaps or bulges (muffin tops)
if the rise on a pair of pants was too low, or
it could extend a shirt that was too short.
Over time, the more I thought about it, the
more possibilities there were: It could be
worn under a low-cut top for extra coverage,
over a bikini as a cute beach cover-up, or –
thinking of my daughters at the time – as
a layering item to liven up teens’ outfits.
dear husband handles all the technical
aspects and operations of the company.
Who needs ‘perfect timing’? It was October
2008 … the worst time to come out with a
new product. The recession had just hit – and
hard. I test-marketed the Camibands at a few
street and holiday boutique fairs. Attendance
wasn’t good, but the people who did come
said things like, “You should be on Oprah
or QVC,” but I wanted to keep the business
online only. I put my heart and soul into
creating my website, which took years to get
it the way I envisioned it. It wasn’t an easy task
for someone technically challenged like me.
My “wow” moment: I had met Jill Martin
(fashion contributor to the TODAY Show)
at an event called “The Holiday Lookbook.”
It was the only thing I really participated in
to show my product to the media. Jill was
the hostess for it, and she really liked the
Camibands. I thought, “OK, that’s nice ... Jill
Martin likes them.” Two weeks later, to my
surprise, I got an email from her requesting
some Camibands for the TODAY Show! I
never knew when it would air or exactly
what she wanted them for. Then one day I
was watching and all of a sudden, without
warning, I see Jill Martin on the segment.
She was on the show and wearing one of my
nude-colored Camibands over her pants. She
explained their multi-uses to the Kathie Lee
and Hoda audience. The deluge of orders that
started coming in immediately shut down my
website! That was a defining moment for sure!
I also wanted to make myself available to talk
to my customers on the phone if they had
size questions or other issues (something
most online businesses don’t offer these days,
which I find annoying). My kids helped me.
My older one for modeling and my younger
one for graphics, art and editing, while my