We celebrate local entrepreneurs in every issue of SFBW, but this issue is something special as we shine a light on founders in some unexpected corners of the South Florida business community, showcasing not only the region’s dynamism in general, but the resourcefulness and drive of individuals.
And, yes, since this is South Florida, all of them look glamorous whether their businesses seem so or not. Maxine Gomez stuns in a photoshoot, but she’s not in fashion or communications—she’s the president of Dry Tech 24/7; the company she founded is the one to call if you need certified experts in water damage and mold remediation. It might not be sexy, but is it essential for our tropical way of life.
On the other hand, Alejando Russo, the founder and CEO of the spiced rum Candela Mamajuana certainly looks the part. What Gomez and Russo share is an openness to possibilities: Gomez founded her company because of a suggestion of a friend, and she ran with the idea; Russo had his lightbulb moment, aptly enough, in a hotel bar in the Caribbean.
The origin stories continue to fascinate: In love with his Porsche Design aviator sunglasses, Tony Brown learned computer-aided drafting decades ago, but then life intervened. It was only in the last few years that he picked up where he’d left off, debuting the Tony Brown Collection of boldly stylish eyewear. And after years of wowing event goers with his culinary stylings as a principal at Shiraz Events, Yaniv Cohen, the star of our Vision Board, struck out on his own, created his viral Spice Detective persona, and opened earthy, addictive Middle Eastern restaurants in Miami and Hallandale Beach.
Entrepreneurship requires a belief in yourself, regardless of the naysayers—and circumstances beyond your control. The interior design firm Concepto MV was doing fine before the pandemic, but how do you achieve full-service during a lockdown? By innovating and adjusting, transforming itself into a digital design studio that has beautified the homes of 350 clients since the end of 2021.
On a much larger scale, readers will catch the fever of entrepreneurship that heats up our cover story, “The Bonding.” Jay Parker leads Douglas Elliman in Florida, and Kenneth Baboun is a major developer; the two have joined forces on Alba, a unique condominium project on the West Palm Beach waterfront. These are big names—two seasoned guys with long careers—but their giddy enthusiasm for introducing a new product to market practically leaps off the page.
That drive to create can be just as intoxicating whether it’s your first launch or your 100th project—if you feel the passion.