Celebrate HSN’s 2nd annual American Dreams series, where we share the intimate stories behind some of our most iconic brands like Mine Finds by Jay King, Benefit Cosmetics, Serious Skincare, and R.J. Graziano. Hear firsthand advice from these entrepreneurs on how they turned their visions into a reality, and the most important lessons they’ve learned along the way. See an exclusive look into the histories of all your favorite brands and the risks they took for the rewards they always dreamed of.
1. Jennifer Flavin Stallone of Serious Skincare
Jennifer Flavin Stallone’s business is beauty but to start Serious Skincare it took sweat and grit. From being one of 7 children to raising 3 girls of her own, Jennifer knows the importance of hard work to achieve her dreams. During her early career as a model, Jennifer struggled with acne. As she worked to solve her own skincare issues she realized the basis for her future business. In 1995 Jennifer co-founded Serious Skincare to help give other women renewed confidence in their skin, the same way it’d worked for her. It’s been over 16 years now and one of her secrets to success has been to never let that original passion and conviction for her products fade.
2. Donatella Arpaia
People often tell someone to follow their gut when making a big life decision. This is the advice that Donatella Arpaia followed both figuratively and literally when she left her first profession as a lawyer to pursue a career in the culinary world. After the success of her first restaurant, numerous collaborations, and various accolades it looks like she made the right choice. Growing up with her father’s restaurant business, Donatella keeps close ties between the kitchen and family life. Later when Donatella was a chef and a mother for the first time she realized a new dream to combine those two daily passions to help feed other families. With her Donatella line of prepared foods, she uses only the best, freshest ingredients to make this dream come true.
3. David Roth of Wakaya Perfection
David Roth understands that what creates perfection in the business world is the endurance to go the extra mile, then go another extra mile after that, and still keep going. Roth applies that principle to Wakaya Perfection, a company dedicated to providing only the highest quality of spices, beauty creams and scrubs. Co-founder of Wakaya Perfection with David Gilmore, Roth realized a cultural movement happening in society where more individuals were caring about their own personal wellness. Turmeric, ginger, and sea salt became the focus of Wakaya Perfection’s answer to the consumer need for organic, sustainable wellness products. “There are billions of new ideas spinning around,” Roth says, “the entrepreneur grabs one and helps that idea blossom and grow into something real.”
4. Jonathan Pinsky of VIOlife
Jonathan Pinsky grew up surrounded by enterprising minds. His father and uncle had a business, his mother opened up her own ballet school, and this early opportunity to observe so many people bringing their dreams into helped form his perspective on entrepreneurship. VIOlife is partly the result of these influences. Started in 2004 with one product, the Original Countertop Sanitizer, Pinsky teamed up with world famous designer Philippe Starck on an iconic design, which went on to win the coveted IDSA Gold Award in 2005. But all of this greatness began with humble beginnings in Pinsky’s garage, placing calls, making deals, and putting the sweat equity into his business to “make the reward outweigh the risk,” he said.
5. Jay King
Jay King got his start making jewelry to support himself through college. His frustration at the lack of desirable options in jewelry motivated him to try designing. Thirty five years in business with Mine Finds by Jay King, the risk he took to begin proved to be a huge success. Jay’s family has a history in hard rock mining and ranching; he attributes his love of the outdoors and appreciation for nature’s gifts with this background. Finding a way to integrate his greatest loves in life into his work is one way Jay keeps his passion for his business alive. Travel, flying, and collecting unique rocks and specimens are all part of the job but he admits that it isn’t always easy. “There’s got to be some kind of risk involved or everybody would be doing it,” he says.
The de’Longhi family went into business in 1902 with a small industrial parts workshop, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that they came to be a major name of the appliances industry. It was Giuseppe de’Longhi’s idea to introduce a portable oil-filled radiator, during a major national energy crisis that revolutionized the business. Over a century since De’Longhi’s founding, the business is still run by family, with their initial workshop now transformed into a global entity. The de’Longhi family is a prime example of entrepreneurs who saw the challenges of their time presented and found a way to overcome them, while creating a useful product to society at the same time.
7. Maggie and Annie Ford Danielson of Benefit Cosmetics
Maggie and Annie Ford Danielson lead Benefit Cosmetics by the example their mom and aunt, the founders of Benefit, set for them. Rule #1: There is no job too big or small that you can’t be willing to do. These dynamic sisters aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to nurture the family beauty business in San Francisco. Originally launched by Jean and Jane Ford in 1976, the decision to go into business boiled down to the flip of a coin. If the 50/50 odds had gone the other way we might be hearing about a Ford Family Casserole Cafe today. As luck has it though the Ford twins from Indiana excelled in makeup, still well known for one of their very first products, Benetint. Their work philosophy is simple, “make the hour, then make the day, then make the month,” and never give up.
8. Carl Banks of G III Apparel
Carl Banks is a former All-Pro NFL linebacker and two-time Super Bowl Champion, in addition to being a versatile visionary and entrepreneur. Throughout his career, Banks found a market that wasn’t being tapped: NFL apparel. The first designs of G-III Apparel approved by the NFL were for big and tall suede jackets, then leather jackets, and the rest is history. Now as the President of G-III Sports, a company he founded more than 20 years ago, Banks personally designs entire collections of sports apparel. Banks reverse engineered the skills he relied on most on the field like strategic thinking, problem solving, and discipline to apply it to business.
9. R.J. Graziano
R.J. Graziano got his jewelry education while on the job in New York over 30 years ago. Everything he learned then is still the basis for his best work today. Fashion changes quickly and Graziano immediately saw a shift towards youthful, exuberant accessories when he entered the business. Focusing on this modern change, Graziano’s first order was exclusive collection for Bloomingdale’s to display in their Lexington Ave. windows. It was an immediate sell out. Today, Graziano is a highly regarded brand name at a multitude of major department stores and specialty stores around the globe.
Who is the inspiration in your own life that motivates you?