Business Owners Speak Out: Spotlighting Solon’s Businesses

Here’s a collection of interviews from local business owners with amazing insights into today’s challenges.

ActionCOACH’s Mark Phelps virtually sits down with fellow members of the Solon Chamber of Commerce and dives into what’s really happening.

Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic, and learn how to avoid making common mistakes. Be sure to check out special offers from these businesses. We can all use a little extra help right now!

And, most importantly, visit the company websites. Reach out to those who offer services you can use. Let’s support each other and get through this together!

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More of Solon Owner, Orysia D’Aurelio
More than just custom apparel printing, Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More of Solon is about celebrating life’s special moments with you — your child’s first soccer game, a milestone birthday, your school’s spirit wear, or your company fundraising event — which is why we specialize in Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing so you can personalize your apparel design without the hassle of minimum orders!

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Orysia D’Aurelio (OD): I work with churches, sports teams, schools, businesses, restaurants, insurance agencies, nurses, doctors, day cares, and nurseries all across Northeast Ohio. The beauty of our business is that everyone wears garments.Because I can do decorating five or six different ways, I cover the whole gamut so I’m not just your typical screen printer. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
OD: We now offer masks with custom prints and logos. Part of it is surviving and hearing what people out there are looking for…so we offer masks and do decorating on them. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
OD: I have the floors taped. I offer the customers that when they come and pick up their items, we will come out and hand it to them, so they don’t have to come into the store. We try to make everybody as comfortable as possible. We do do a lot of our artwork via phone and emails now. We’ve also used FaceTime to show customers the garments and walk them through the store. We do ask people to schedule by appointment if they want to come into the store. We are also only open Monday through Friday now from 10 to 5:00 PM which is more cost effective for me. Before I was open on Saturdays.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
OD: I guess the biggest mistake I made is when I started the business, I felt like I had to know everything. I had to have my hands on everything. And I was spending, probably, 16 hours a day sometimes here at the store.  I couldn’t pull myself away, and I was burning out. I recognized that I was burning out, and I knew that I needed someone to help me pull myself out, so I ended up getting a store manager. 

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
OD: The customers who come through the door are most inspiring. I find them to be very positive and that’s all I need. I don’t need people who are scared or nervous. People are happy. What’s inspiring is to see people’s faces when they really light up and say that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Contact: You can reach Orysia D’Aurelio by email at orysiad@bigfrog.com, by phone at (440) 715-7007, and online at www.bigfrog.com/solon. Be sure to check out their collection of apparel on their website or make an appointment to visit their store. They offer no setup fees and no minimum or maximum orders! They also match competitor prices and offer volume discounts, starting at a quantity of 10. 

EverStaff Owner, Danny Spitz
EverStaff specializes in the recruitment of professionals and is the premier resource for providing the most qualified and skilled individuals to organizations of all sizes. EverStaff strives to optimize our efforts and resources to exceed our clients’ and candidates’ expectations.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Danny Spitz (DS): We focus on building partners, and finding the companies that are interested in the services and value that we provide. We help Mom and Pop businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Our target audience includes industrial businesses, the call center customer service sector, office administration, accounting, and sales.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
DS: Navigating through the safety piece of COVID. Making sure our prospects are set up for success and limiting exposure to COVID. The biggest impact that we’ve had is the lack of candidates and people who really want to go to work. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
DS: On the safety side, we’ve made sure that again, we find the clients that are true partners and committed to the right protocol and the right procedures to make sure that it is a safe environment. We also gave employees a temporary bump in pay and helped them get set up to work from home.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
DS: For the last 20 years, I’ve had a lot of success but also I’ve learned you can’t handle everything and make sure to invest in your internal staff. Hire the right people and make sure that you’re not just hiring people because you need somebody. Hire the right person and make sure to provide them resources. Then step out of the way. Make sure to check your ego at the door, and listen. Listen to your key employees, and to their feedback.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
DS: EverStaff is what I deem as my family. I’m always inspired to take care of my family. We check our egos at the door. We roll up our sleeves, and work hand in hand. Twenty-some years later in this industry, I still have a passion, and it inspires me to take care of my internal employees and to provide quality resources to our clients that they might not receive from other companies. My employees inspire me to do better. It’s inspiring to help not only our internal employees, but also help people find employment and better themselves in their careers, and help companies grow and meet their goals by providing them talent.

Contact: You can reach Danny Spitz by email at danny@everstaff.com, by phone at (440) 349-4800, and online at www.everstaff.com. Be sure to reach out to him about a strategic conversation concerning your workforce and the economic environment, and how it plays into hiring strategies. They’re also offering 10% off the first direct hire search, and one day free for a temp to hire assignment contingent on the timeframe of the assignment!

Vio Med Spa Owners, Sachin Patel and Hetal Patel
VioMed Spa is your one-stop shop for all of your skincare needs. They provide services such as facials, injectables, and body contouring, as well as medical grade skincare products, which are administered by highly skilled professionals, such as registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Our purpose is to help men and women of all ages to look beautiful and feel confident in their own skin. 

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Hetal Patel (HP) and Sachin Patel (SP): A lot of people think facials and injectables are only geared towards women, but our target audience is actually both men and women who want to feel a little bit better about their skincare needs. A typical age range would be between 25 and 67 years old. We’ve been pulling from the Solon and neighboring areas like Aurora,  Twinsburg, Moreland Hills, and even from the other side of Cleveland, like the Avon and Strongsville area. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
HP and SP:  Our business is very new. We were supposed to open in March but it got halted because of COVID. We ended up opening in June. Some people are scared to come into the spa. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
HP and SP: We’re following COVID protocols and social distancing. Our clients aren’t waiting in the lobby area. They are taken directly to their rooms to get their services done. Every room is disinfected before and after the next client comes in for service. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
HP and SP: Obviously, with this pandemic, it has been a tough situation. I think we could prepare ourselves better for the next time, should there be a second wave and a shutdown happens again. I think we could do things differently in the sense of operations. I think we would do more marketing and try to get more brand recognition out.
Even though we were closed, I think what I would have done differently is to still let people know that we are going to reopen. We are going to make it out of this situation, and we are going to come out of it stronger. We would have kept the marketing aspect going, try to gain followers, and try to reach out to clients just to check in and see how they are doing because we care about them. 

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
HP and SP: We’re in the health and wellness category so we’re changing the lives of the communities that we’re opening up our businesses in. We’re making them feel great, look great, and build their confidence over time. Also, it’s inspiring to see our teams working together and how far they’ve come. They’re not complaining, and they’re attitude is positive. We’re going to do whatever we can to stay open. We’re going to do everything we can to make this place successful. That’s huge. 

Contact: You can reach Hetal Patel by email at hetal.patel@viomedspa.com or Sachin Patel at sachin.patel@viomedspa.com, by phone at (440) 290-6600, and online at https://viomedspa.com/locations/solon-oh. Be sure to make an appointment to get 50% off a spa facial for new customers, and Bogo Botox for up to 40 units. For the Emsculpt (body contouring), you can also get a complimentary consultation, and up to 30% off for your first year of treatment!

Pine Lake Trout Club Sales/Marketing Director, Amanda Lassiter
Pine Lake Trout Club is a private fishing club in Bainbridge Township. The members-only club offers fishing all year long. It has seven interconnecting streams and a large lake, which are stocked three to four times a year with four varieties of trout. It also has fully-equipped cabins, a member lodge, bar, and banquet room, which accommodates up to 100 guests.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Amanda Lassiter (AL): A lot of our clientele are between 50 and 60 years old. Our membership is older, but they’ve been members for 40 plus years. I’m trying to reach out to more families and the younger generation because they are next in line to be a part of the private club. Even though Pine Lake is a private club, we do allow non-members to use the facilities for cabin rentals and events.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
AL: The greatest impact has been the loss of events. It has taken a toll on dining as well because people are not comfortable sitting inside, and we have limited outside seating. Those tables book quickly as well so you have to have a reservation. We have to turn a lot of people away because we don’t have room for them outside, and they don’t want to sit inside. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
AL: One thing that we’ve done is brought back our girls night, which is a popular night that our members like from the past. The staff has picked up the cleaning a lot more in terms of sanitation and cleanliness. Our staff is making sure that we’re following the state guidelines in terms of wearing masks and gloves when serving others. We’ve also provided our guests with fliers on what we’re doing on our end to ensure their safety. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
AL:Be prepared. Make sure when a situation like COVID-19 pandemic happens you take the time to prepare a clear code of conduct for all to follow, and communicate it fully.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
AL: I think having a huge support system and a great staff here at Pine Lake who are continuously working hard every day to take care of the membership. I love having a staff that’s 100% on board with everything.

Contact: You can reach Amanda Lassiter at amanda.lassiter@millenniumhotels.com, by phone at 440-243-9593, and online at http://www.pinelaketroutclub.com. Be sure to follow the Pine Lake Facebook Page for upcoming events and ask about their 30-day membership trial!

Zarufa Creations Owner, Rumana Hawa
Zarufa Creations is a clothing and jewelry boutique. It features beautiful custom designs from Lahore, Pakistan, and jewelry from Jabo, India. 

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Rumana Hawa (RH): My target market is Indians and Pakistanis of all ages. I also have American customers because I sell short tunics for men that are hand loom made with lightweight cotton. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
RW: Business has been very slow. People are not going to weddings or parties so it’s affecting my business a lot. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
RW: I’m trying to give discounts, and I’ve had several events at the store. I’m also trying to do virtual sales via FaceTime. They pick up the orders outside the store or I mail them and take payment via Apple Pay and Venmo.  

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
RW: I’ve learned to learn from my customers and stay firm with my policies.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
RW: I’m inspired because after three years I’ve been able to move into my own home. I own a house now, and I’m so happy about that. 

Contact: You can reach Rumana Hawa by email at zarufacreations@gmail.com, by phone at (330) 990-0488, and online at https://www.facebook.com/zarufacreations. Be sure to mention this interview and get 10% off your order!

Cuts N Curls for Boys & Girls Owner, Lindsey Terry
Cuts N Curls is a unique adult & children’s hair salon, toy boutique and party place all wrapped up into one very neat package. Our mission at Cuts N Curls is to take the stress out of getting you and your child’s hair cut in a safe and worry-free environment.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Lindsey Terry (LT): We specialize in haircuts for children, but we do adult haircuts as well. Our customers are mostly from Solon and the neighboring cities – Twinsburg, Aurora, and Orange. We even have customers drive over an hour to our salon, specifically for the children haircuts.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
LT: It’s impacted the business in a lot of different ways, but definitely getting people to come back into the salon. It’s hard to get people to come back in because it’s a scary time to have your child outside of the house.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
LT: We’ve gone above and beyond with precautions. We’ve separated all of our stations to more than 6 feet apart. We have limited stylists working to make sure that we don’t exceed more than 6 people in the salon at a time, that includes parents. All of our stylists are wearing masks, face shields, and aprons. We’re also cleaning everything like crazy and have a medical grade cleaning company come into the store once a week. We also sanitize each station after each client and wait 10 minutes before the next client gets into the station.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
LT: Be very open with employees about transition. I purchased the company almost three years ago after working here for nine years. Also, make sure to find out all of the information before buying a company so you don’t have any surprises afterwards.  

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
LT: Honestly, other business owners. I have had the pleasure recently of talking to probably more of the business owners in the plaza that we’re in, than I have in previous years. I’ve just loved connecting with them. They’re all very inspiring. A lot of them have really great ideas and are really great entrepreneurs. It’s been helpful to have other people that I can relate to and look up to. 

Contact: You can reach Lindsey Terry by email at lindsey@cutsncurls.net, by phone (440) 542-1750, and online at http://cutsncurls.net

PenCo Industrial Supplies Owner, Penny Scocos
PenCo Supply is a woman-owned small business enterprise (SBE) committed to value-added MRO supply solutions that reduce the Total Cost of doing business. We are Edge and DBE certified. With over 50 years combined experience in the MRO market sector, PenCo’s Management team offers its customers a proven mix of programs that target Vendor Consolidation, Inventory Reduction, Product Cost and Process Improvement.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
PS: Most of my customers are manufacturers in Geauga County, Summit, Portage, and Northeast Ohio. We do business with schools as well as municipalities that manufacture rubber, plastic extrusions. Those are our big customers.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
PS: We’ve had to adapt and change how we do business. Customers couldn’t get products. We had to help them try to figure out how to find products.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
PS: We’ve had to get creative on how to get these products. We’ve actually had to help produce wipes because you couldn’t find Clorox wipes. We worked with a manufacturer of paper and chemicals, and started producing wipes. The biggest impact has been producing wipes and being able to work with our suppliers and these manufacturers to get these products to our customers. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
PS: Take the risk. I sometimes error on caution and am afraid to take risks. I wish I would have taken some more risks. We’ve taken a few extra risks these past few months and they’ve paid off.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
PS: Even though this is uncharted territory and we’ve never experienced this before, it’s inspiring to see that people in general are trying to figure out a way to make life somewhat normal. It’s inspiring to see people keep things going, and keep life going. I’ve spent more time with my family than I would have under normal circumstances. It’s been nice to spend time with my two teenage sons. 

Contact: You can reach Penny Scocos by email at penny@pencosupply.com, by phone at (440) 893-9506, and online at http://www.pencosupply.com/index.html. Be sure to mention this interview and receive a free cost-savings analysis!

Adrenaline Monkey Owner, Denise Carkhuff
Adrenaline Monkey is an indoor adventure and training facility. We offer patrons of all ages, sizes and abilities the opportunity to engage in physical activity in adventurous ways, like our rock climbing walls, ninja warrior obstacle courses, aerial ropes course, fitness programs, corporate team building, and more. Our mission is to provide empowering experiences, encourage a sense of adventure, and develop the skill and passion for movement for anyone who is willing to try.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
DC: We are open to everyone from children, who we call our “wee warriors,” to adults. Our most consistent customer though is between the age of 6 and 12. All of our customers are called “warriors.” We also train people on how to do obstacles – whether it’s recreational or people who are serious and want to compete. Schools are very important to us, as well as companies for corporate team building. We also partner with charities for fundraisers and sports organizations for cross-training programs. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
DC: Loss of customers. Parties and events have been cancelled. In the last few months, our revenue is only 20% of what it was compared to last year at this time.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
DC: We’ve always been a safe and clean facility but we layered on even more safety measures. We take temperatures at the door and have Purell dispensers throughout the facility. Also, every hour for 15 minutes we are cleaning. One thing that we have done is we have focused on our outdoor space. We built an outdoor obstacle course on the backside of our building, and have been able to hold an AAU ninja-style competition at the regional level. We also got a Mobile Monkey (a mobile obstacle course that we bring to customers wherever they are) that we can take with us. This way, if people aren’t willing to come to us, we’ll go to them.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
DC: The biggest mistake I made originally was I hired a management firm to help me. I thought it would help, also with getting financing, because this is a new area, and it’s not something that’s known to lenders. They did not share my dream and did not have the same level of passion or have the same core values.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
DC: We’re all able to find what’s good and work on self-improvement even during this challenging time. I have more intentional effort to be present in the moment when I am talking to people. There’s a lot of negativity right now, but I tell my team that this is an opportunity for us to work on things that we didn’t have time to do before and find ways to make our business even better. I truly believe that our business is better because of COVID. Finding the silver lining and appreciating each moment.

Contact: You can reach Denise Carkhuff by email at denise@adrenalinemonkeyfun.com, by phone at (216) 282-3100, and online at https://www.adrenalinemonkeyfun.com. Be sure to check out Adrenaline Monkey for a free training class for adults or children, and a free, 30-minute tour to see how you can safely entertain at the facility! We are hosting Adventure School for students doing remote learning who need a space, structure, a proctor to help them and active play and fitness between classes.

Chagrin Valley Soap Owner, Sam Friedman
Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve is a small family owned and family operated company dedicated to crafting high quality, healthy and effective skin and hair care products that will nourish your skin and be kind to our planet. Each of their 350+ products are made in small batches and with ingredients that are USDA certified organic, sustainably produced, cruelty-free and ethically traded.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Sam Friedman (SF): Someone who cares. Someone who cares about and wants to learn about the products that they use on their baby, their pets, and their own skin. Someone who wants to reduce plastic waste, support local business, support their local economy, reduce their carbon footprint, support a woman-owned and family-owned business with products made in the USA. Someone who thinks organic matters. We check a long list of checkboxes because we’re such a great business. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
SF: Our retail store downtown in the Arcade had to close, and we don’t foresee it being able to open again. That’s a hard one to swallow.  With many of our shoppers coming from sporting events and concerts, we hadn’t had traffic in months. Also, for the entire months of April and May, our staff of 19 went down to six. Thankfully, we’re back up to 18 employees and 15 of them are the same individuals that we had on staff from before. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
SF: One thing that we continue to communicate is that we are and always have been an online business. We’re so lucky that we’re an online business, and now it’s just about messaging. I’ve also personally highlighted local businesses on my Facebook and Instagram account as a way to support other small businesses. I bought their product online, took pictures of it, and said please go to their website and buy the products you love. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
SF: The hardest part is knowing what’s on your plate and how to manage it all. To understand that you can’t do it all, but in the beginning you have to do it all. And then at what points throughout, you learn how to not try to do it all or not have to do it all. It’s very hard. I think every business owner would do everything, if they easily could and life worked that way. But they can’t. You have to understand delegation, time management, the workforce, and automation.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
SF: I got a call from the chair of one of our local Ohio Senators’ campaigns, because they got a call from the media Chair of one of our current two presidential candidate campaigns. The presidential candidate was asking the senator if they knew of any local small businesses that they might want to highlight in a video at the convention. Our business was the first on the Senators’ list and mind in all of Ohio.

Contact: You can reach Sam Friedman by email at info@chagrinvalleysoap.com, by phone at (440) 248-7627, and online at https://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com. Be sure to visit their website and enter code Solon2020 for a free soap or free lip balm. Your whole order will also be discounted by 15% and you can pick up your order outside of the store!

Wild Bill Prints and Promos Owner, Bill Wagner
Wild Bill Prints & Promos is a promotional products distributor, apparel decorator and printer that has been in business for more than 25 years. After having successfully owned and operated a retail printing business in Solon Ohio, Celeste and Bill Wagner combined their collective 22 years in the printing, marketing and advertising fields to form Wild Bill Prints & Promos in 2005.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Bill Wagner (BW): Race directors, mostly in Northeast Ohio, because they buy a lot of t-shirts and swag, especially the longer trail races. I also do business with marketing companies. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
BW: Most of my business is based on events, and when the pandemic hit, every single event got cancelled. All of my promotional products and shirt business went to nothing. Everyone wanted PPE, hand sanitizer and masks, and it took awhile for my factories to make all of that stuff. Since you had to make sure the products were legitimate, I only wanted to work with my A+ factories, and they couldn’t make it fast enough.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
BW: I’m a big networker. I started networking via Zoom meetings. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
BW: Before I built Wild Bill Prints and Promos, I had a family business with employees, equipment leases, and a building lease. When I sold it and built my current business, I felt like a monkey came off my back. I moved to a simpler model where it’s only me and that has been a huge help.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
BW: I like to help people. I really do. I work very hard for my customers. 

Contact: You can reach Bill Wagner by email at bill@wildbillprints.com, by phone at (440) 487-3774, and online at https://www.wildbillprints.com. Solon Chamber Members: Be sure to check out Bill’s website and ask about end-quantity pricing on minimum orders!