Women in Business Day features success, wise advice


The Newtonite

by Adam Clements
Laurie Halloran, President and CEO of Halloran Consulting Group, spoke to students A-block as part of Women in Business Day in the auditorium.
Halloran, a North parent and longtime Greater Boston resident, spoke at length about her path to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Her corporation, which serves as a consulting firm for the biotechnology field, has seen great success in recent years. She made it clear, however, that the path to her current standing was quite long and difficult.
Remarking on the greater opportunities women have in business now compared to the past, and the wide range of options available to those growing up today, Halloran said, “When I was in your seats, as far as my parents were concerned, the thing you became was either a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher,” said Halloran.
Halloran’s story began with her work as a nurse, a career which she moved away from to find work at a startup company that grew exponentially during her time there. She eventually transitioned to work at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Center, a temporary job that gave her the experience to start her own biotechnology consulting firm.
Halloran started her business from the basement of her home, running operations from a room she referred to as the “closet of doom.” Her first few years as an inexperienced business owner were difficult, particularly when the country faced severe economic turmoil. In 2009, her business nearly failed because of economic struggles. “Calling it a low point would be an understatement,” she said.
The early troubles of Halloran’s business were contrasted with her situation today; a thriving corporation headquartered in a 3-floor office in Boston’s Seaport District.
The presentation was concluded with words of advice to students interested in entrepreneurship. “If you have a good idea, run with it,” said Halloran.
by Samantha Fredberg
Cynthia Fisher, managing director of WaterRev, LLC and co-founder of ViaCord gave advice to students on entrepreneurship and success in the business world during C-block a a part of Women in Business Day April 15.
Fisher told students stories on her journey to become the successful businesswoman she is today. She made many choices in her life that were not anticipated, but the choices have led her to her career and success today, according to Fisher.
Fisher urged students to utilize unexpected opportunities. “There are going to be people that you know from your parents’ friends who are going to know someone else that maybe will shed an opportunity to you in the course of your career or your school,” Fisher said.
She encouraged students to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in whatever field they are interested in, much like she did in biology.
Invested in the education of business, Fisher explained her project with former North principal and current North Andover superintendent Jennifer Price to integrate business and finance schools into curriculums. “We will train teachers and provide them with financial curriculums that are grade appropriate,” said Fisher.
“Tenacity goes a long way. Confidence goes a long way. You can be confident and tenacious when you have competence behind you,” Fisher stated in closing.
by Lucy Lu
Tracey Noonan, co-founder of Wicked Good Cupcakes, spoke E-block in the auditorium as a part of Women in Business Day.
Noonan first spoke about her journey to success with her multi-million dollar brand that has appeared on shows including Shark Tank, the Kris Jenner Show, and Beyond the Tank, later opening up to questions from the audience.
As teenager from Milton, Massachusetts, Noonan faced constant rejection and suppression from her parents, but eventually, she pursued a career of her own, from dance to photography to writing.
When her daughter, Dani Vilagie, moved out, Noonan insisted on taking cake-decorating classes with her once a week, and in 2010, together they founded Wicked Good Cupcakes.
“People often say that I am a lucky person.” Noonan said, “But if they actually understood where I came from, they would know that luck had very little to do with it.”
In April of 2013, Noonan and Vilagie accepted a loan of $75,000 from Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary as they debuted their product to over ten million viewers.
Today, Noonan continues to expand Wicked Good Cupcakes nation-wide and is proud of her accomplishments as a woman in business.
“You walk into a room and there are a bunch of businessmen that think it’s cute that we we wear aprons and bake cupcakes everyday,” said Noonan. “But I think of how far I have come and it doesn’t bother me anymore.”
by Maya Waldman
Yael Alkalay, founder of beauty product store and spa Red Flower in New York City, described the process she went through to create her organic, environmentally friendly business as part of Women in Business Day April 15 during F-block in the auditorium.
According to Alkalay, her motivation to start the business stemmed from her value of health and wellness.“I wasn’t healthy. I had a stroke, and I felt terrible. The only thing that made me feel better was when somebody came to wash my hair with mint smelling shampoo,” she said. Alkalay continued to describe how the refreshing smell of mint helped her feel better, inspiring her to start a business that would help others feel healthier.
Alkalay continued to explain the importance of living life to one’s full potential, finding the beauty that is within every human being, feeling healthy, and being connected to nature. “If you put a lot of passion and hard work, anyone can create something to call their own,” said Alkalay.  
“The idea for the name, ‘Red Flower’, emerged from what I consider the ultimate symbol of nature’s beauty: fire.” said Alkalay. “Flames are also very significant because our first product was candles, and from there, we only expanded.”
Red Flower offers a variety of lotions, oils, and candles that are unique and made from all organic ingredients. There is no animal testing of the products, and the company is very environmentally responsible, according to Alkalay.
Alkalay also discussed the importance of getting loans and money to start a business. “In the beginning, equity is the easiest and best way to get money,” she said. She also described the importance of persisting even if a company doesn’t want to help out and sponsor your business. “You have to have some chutzpah!”
Alkalay added, “My mother and father both filled me with the idea that if you believe in something, and you work really hard, you can take something as simple as a candle and you can create something as amazing as Red Flower.”