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Sisters are Doing it for Themselves

Did you ever play the game M.A.S.H. when you were younger? Like the origami cootie catcher before it, M.A.S.H. gave you a peek at what your life would be. It wasn’t unheard of for a kid to spend the rest of the school day pouting after an unsatisfactory morning game of M.A.S.H. Live in a shack? I won’t be a doctor making lots of money? Life ruined. 

As I grow older, the idea of “Happiness”, what it truly means, changes for me.  In the past money, big houses and the perfect, respectable job… those were my ideals. Today I find more joy in waking up each day excited about my job and going to sleep at night proud of what I’ve given to the world. Of course I still want that dream house and I wouldn’t mind my bank account river dancing in abundance. Who wouldn’t? What if you could have both? What if you could wake up each day and do what you love, live that life you always dreamed of?

Every month, around 1 million Americans are saying goodbye to their current jobs in order to pursue more fulfilling ways to earn money. More and more people are jumping into the unknown and turning hobbies and creative releases into business ventures. I recently came across three amazing women who have done just that. These women are pursuing their passions and showing the world that whether you are a big city Doctor or a small town Florist, it can really pay to do what you love.

Who: Dolhathai S. (Pooh) (as seen in photo 1)

Business: Past Objects Art & Jewelry (as seen in photos 2- 4)

“Wearable History”

In 2008, Dolhathai joined a team of historians and collectors that dig for old glass in New York and other cities in the east. She became inspired to make beautiful, carefully made jewelry from objects found on those digs.  Each piece is unique and comes with a story from the original site where it was found. 

thalo: What ignited the spark for turning these amazing finds into jewelry? 

Dolhathai: All these artifacts were discarded and buried underground long ago. They are all small pieces of history and all display the beautiful craftsmanship from the old days. My interest is in preserving them as special objects from the past, objects that people can appreciate again indifferent forms. I enjoy this creative process.

thalo:  What is your process in creating these pieces?

Dolhathai :I use shards and little fragments that look like they have the potential to be restored. I clean and grind these pieces into shape. I use durable materials, which I wrap around the pieces and decorate them with antique findings. The whole process takes some time. I then let the pieces sit overnight before I clean them again for the final time and then put the pieces on chains.

thalo:  Is there a piece that you are most proud of? If so, why? What does it mean to you?

Dolhathai : Actually, every piece is a favorite because they are all one of a kind design each piece carefully to match the history and size of each piece. I also think about how all these artifacts were used before by someone in their everyday life. They make me feel as if I'm going back in time and it's very enjoyable to make them into jewelry that people can appreciate now.

thalo: What’s your favorite part about having your own business?

Dolhathai :Total freedom of the creative process, the time spent working on the pieces, being my own boss, the planning of building my own business and managing my own lifestyle.

thalo:  If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to take their passions and turn it into a business, what would it be?

Dolhathai :The most important thing is one should really enjoy what one does. When you make something with love, it will show in your work. Also, be original and as creative as possible. Don't think too big. Let it grow and develop little by little. And of course, be patient. Don't give up and keep following your dreams. Be positive and happy in what you do. Success comes from the good energy inside of you.

*For More information about Past Objects Art & Jewelry, please visit . You can also see more creations by visiting The Market NYC.

Who: Justine Lavazzon (as seen in photo 5)

Business: Lavazzon Gallery (as seen in photos 6-8)

“Uniquely Yours”

Justine creates limited edition accessories and clothing, inspiring acceptance and appreciation for individuality. Together, her and her husband Eric have taken their artistic expressions and built Lavazzon Gallery. Each piece is an exquisite, bold work of art.

thalo: When did you begin creating and designing?

Justine Lavazzon I have always recreated my wardrobe by adding lace and leather to existing pieces. I stared creating lingerie pieces to wear as outerwear in 2003. Then, I married Polish Artist Eric Lavazzon and was inspired to fashion leather accessories using recycled leather and stones in 2005.

th: You live in New York, NY.  Are your creations inspired by your surroundings?

JL: My creations are inspired by Music, Nature and my passion to inspire individuality. “Always be yourself “ is my motto.

th: How did Lavazzon Gallery come about?  Was it scary turning your passion into a business?

JL: Lavazzon Gallery is a play on words for my husband’s love of coffee and my obsession with volcanoes. I came from a small island in the Caribbean with active volcanoes, which mesmerized me as a child. Making your passion into a business is frightening and hard work. However, the rewards of leaving your mark on the world, is a fulfillment of the heart. All Lavazzon pieces are handmade with love and with a heart symbol inscription.

th: How do you go about marketing for your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

JL:Marketing is not my forte. I need a Rep!  I wear my products and use word of mouth to promote myself. Also, there’s the help of social media.

th: If you could give advice to yourself at the beginning of your business venture, what would it be?

JL: My Advice to myself would be to create a business plan and get a silent partner for the business aspect. I realize now one person cannot do everything to make a business truly successful.

*For more information on Lavazzon Gallery, visit . You can also find Justine at The Market NYC.

Who: Sophia Coaxum (as seen in photo 9)

Business: Âme Naturals (as seen in photos 10- 12)

“Natural Soul”

Sophia’s specializes in handcrafted essentials for bath, body and home. But, more than that, these products present you with the gift of pampered, calming relaxation. With the use of natural, local ingredients, Sophia has created a genuine experience designed to bring the spa to you. 

thalo: How did the idea for Âme Naturals come about?

Sophia Coaxum: Âme came from an idea I had a few years ago. I 've always been drawn to make my own products, whether it be my own hair pomades or oil mixes or body creams. I just liked knowing what was in my products and I wasn’t putting something harmful or foreign on my skin. I really liked that. So one day, I was in my kitchen, making some more of my “special” stuff for my hair or body or whatever, and I randomly put a label on it. It clicked! I looked at it and said “that’s dope! I can do this!” So, I did some research online, got some inspiration, and Âme was born! Âme means soul in French. I’m all about being connected, whether it be spiritual or personally. I wanted to feel connected to whomever I was offering my products to, so the word fit for me. 

th: What is your most popular product? What’s your favorite product?

SC: My Soy Candles are what customers are most drawn to. I really took my time with these, did a lot of research and lots of trial and error. I played with different scents and oils to get the right combinations and in the end, I was pretty pleased with the result. I think when people buy candles, they are really looking for a new experience. They like trying new scents and changing up the mood. Unless you have a candle guy, you are most likely going to try something different. That is what I offer people. Plus when they find out it’s all handcrafted by me, it’s a great selling point! I’m almost always going to sell out! 

My personal favorite product is the Aromatherapy Mineral Soak. I love baths, and unfortunately living in NYC, we don’t always have time to take a nice hot bath. A shower is quick and to the point and we move-on with our day. But sometimes, its nice to just sit and relax, light an Âme candle, and just zone out. 

th: Describe your Âme Naturals in 3 words.

SC: Passionate, Personal, Soulful

th: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about being an entrepreneur?

SC: Without failure, you won’t know what success is. I wouldn’t say that I have failed, but I know how frustrating starting a business can be. In the beginning, everything feels like you are losing. You aren’t getting the customers you want, or you aren’t getting recognition you think you deserve because you feel your product stands out from the rest. Over time, I started to realize that it’s not about that. It’s about understanding your business and understanding the mark you want to make with that business. You have to understand your personal goals and how to achieve them. I think those were the most valuable lessons. I’ve learned that I have to love what I am doing or otherwise why would do it in the first place. Once you get back to the love, you can really set and achieve any goal in your business. 

th: What can we expect from Âme Naturals in 2014?

SC: I plan to take Ame Naturals to the next level. I would love Âme to start on the road to becoming a household name. With lots of promotion and interaction with the public, I want to try to gain access to a whole new audience. I dream big always. With lots of hard work and persistence, people will know who Âme is. Most of all they will know who Sophia Coaxum is. 

*For more information about Âme Naturals, please visit

"Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life."

- Dolly Parton

All photos courtesy of Haley Powell


Casey, Erin. “What you should Start Your Own Business Today”

Special Thanks to Jen Brett for all her help