This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate and recognize some amazing women that excel in Arizona. They are leading the way and showing us examples of working hard and achieving their dreams.
We were able to ask them about struggles they may have faced in the business world and if they could give any advice to women just starting out. Below you’ll find more about these women and what they had to share!
International Women’s Day – Women That Excel In Arizona
Chrisie Funari – President and Founder of Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children (www.azcancerfoundation.org)
Chrisie Funari is the President and Founder of the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children, a local non-profit whose mission is to provide social, emotional and financial support to families who are managing the health and well-being of a loved one with pediatric cancer. An Arizona State University graduate with a degree in Marketing, Funari always knew she wanted to have her own business, but it wasn’t until she lost her daughter Ava to cancer that she found herself with the passion to start a nonprofit. In 2014, Funari’s personal experience inspired her to launch Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children which offers everything from navigating hospitals, providing financial assistance and other support needed by families. Funari enjoys spending time with her family, reading and traveling when she is not working on growing her organization and helping others.
“Any entrepreneur faces struggles along their business journey and yes being a woman in business can be challenging. Confidence goes a long way when you are starting out. Believing in what you do and portraying your passion to the world is very important. As a single Mom and President of a quickly growing non-profit foundation I have had people tell me – you can’t possibly handle all of that, you can’t do that, etc. Yes I can and I am – is it always easy no but is it worth it yes. Balancing home and work life is always challenging. I am currently working on taking time for myself – doing things for me – like taking a walk outside, etc. I believe in big dreams and know that women can take their unique experiences and ideas and make this world a better place.”
Brenda Rea – Founder of Olivespa (www.olivespa.com)
As the mother of 5, Brenda Rea was always concerned with keeping her children healthy and happy. When sensitive skin and dry Arizona days left some of her kids with mild eczema, she researched natural dry skin remedies and discovered that olive oil was the answer. Brenda’s research and experimentation led to a kitchen production center in her home, where her 3 daughters would all help after school. With positive feedback from family and friends, and a growing demand from Queen Creek Olive Mill customers, the decision was made in 2012 to create the Olivespa studio onsite at the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Olivespa is a boutique skincare company that produces clean products from high quality, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil. Their products are also non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. Produced in small batches so that quality and freshness are never compromised, Olivespa offers something for everyone – women, men, babies, friends, family, and even your dog!
“I didn’t start out with the intent of becoming a business woman. I was a mom of five small children when I started making my own natural skincare in my kitchen, really just for personal use. The fact that my husband and I owned a shop in our Olive Mill in Queen Creek gave me an outlet to share the products I was making with the public. The products grew in popularity among our customers and a business was born. The hardest part in the beginning was just the lack of time. My husband went to work every day and I was the stay-at-home parent. I worked from home while the kids were at school and my 3 girls actually helped out with labeling products after school. Eventually the business grew too big for my kitchen and we created a studio at Queen Creek Olive Mill where the products were made, and sold. There were a few times when I was ready to give it up because I couldn’t devote the time to it that I wanted to, but somehow got through those feelings and kept going. My best advice to other women would be to push through and don’t give up, even when it seems like things are impossible. Anything is possible!”
Lorrie Glaeser – President and CEO of Streets of New York (www.streetsofnewyork.com)
Lorrie Glaeser is the President and CEO of Streets of New York, a local privately-owned restaurant group that has been serving New York-style pizza and Italian dishes throughout the Southwest for 45 years. Lorrie has spent her career in the hospitality industry and has played an integral role in the successful growth of Streets of New York over the last five decades. She prides herself on being a female business owner in the male-dominated food industry and having established elite partnerships with all the major professional sports teams in Arizona. Lorrie remains the face of the company while overseeing culinary operations as the Chief Food Taster for all new menu creations. She works directly with many Streets of New York employees, some of which have been with the company for over 30 years. The restaurant is a true family-owned and operated business with many of Lorrie’s direct family members working by her side within the company, including her three children, their spouses and three of six grandchildren. Lorrie is active within the community and passionate about the local restaurant industry. She currently serves on the board for the Arizona Restaurant Association and is a proud community partner with Vitalant. Lorrie resides in Phoenix and in her free time can be found giving back to the community, researching new recipes, cooking, and entertaining friends and family.
“47 years of doing this has energized me to continue on. You have to love your industry that you choose to succeed in it. Every day I wake up, and the people that I work with give me desire to want to do more. The hospitality industry is very challenging, especially over the last few years, but it just excites me to continue. I just love what I’m doing and that shows.”
“I think like with anything else, you have to enjoy what you’re doing. What makes it work for me is that I am a very organized person. You have to be organized to fulfill all the requirements of the job. Those that have known me in my industry for all these years, know that Lorrie is attention to detail. It’s the biggest thing, in anything that you do. Whether you’re raising children, running a business or taking care of your personal life, it’s always about attention to detail.”
“Have I ever been let down because I was a female? Never. In fact, it gives me the desire to do more because there are few women-owned restaurants. Being a woman has never had anything to do with my success or anything to do with the people who choose to work with me. It has never been a detriment; it has always been a positive.”
We would love to hear from you on this International Women’s Day. Let us know about any other Women That Excel In Arizona.