Cristina Morara

Founder, Stellar Hitch

We actually started Stellar Hitch, a high-end matchmaking and image consulting business, on a hunch. As restaurant owners, my husband and I would constantly hear our guests ask us if we knew any nice, single ladies or gentlemen for them to meet. The questions were so consistent that we knew we had to look into it. After doing a little research, we discovered that Sarasota did not have a matchmaking service specifically for upscale professionals that was confidential (meaning not online), personalized and that actually helped people overcome their personal challenges and inspired them to be the best they can be before they met their match. We also capitalized on our previous professions: I’m a former casting director and my husband, Andrea, is a former Italian fashion consultant. 

Pam Eatrides

Founder, Bagnesia

My business partner, Caprice Ericson, and I thought of this idea about a year and a half ago. Caprice was visiting here, and when we went to the store together, we both forgot our [cloth] bags but didn’t realize it until we were at the checkout line. In order to remind ourselves in the future, we knew we needed something for the car. I wanted something that would be right at eye level, which is why we created the steering wheel reminder. Yet Caprice reminded me that I had also forgotten to put the bags in the car. This spurred the at-home reminder. In that car ride home from the market, the Reusable Bag Reminder Kit [with resuable grocery and produce bags, reminders and bag clips and storage pouch] was born.

Tim Mihm

Owner, Coconuts Family Entertainment Center

I came up with the idea for Coconuts about six years ago. I grew up here in Sarasota and noticed that the only family entertainment centers were in Bradenton. As a kid, I was tired of driving to Bradenton for those places. Now that I have kids, my wife and I noticed the need once again. We asked our friends and they felt the same way. We all wanted something local that would be able to provide family entertainment instead of having to drive to Bradenton.

Scott Cook

Owner, Sarasota Guitar Company

My wife is a lawyer and she was semi-retired. I’m a musician and also have a background in retail sales. At some point we thought it would be fun to open a general merchandise booth at a flea market. Our son was also taking guitar lessons, and when he began getting better, we bought him a new guitar. We brought the old one to a flea market and it sold so well that we began buying more guitars and selling them there. The guitars became so popular that we were overshadowing the general merchandise, so we decided to open Sarasota Guitar Company. We sell new guitars with small cosmetic blemishes. This allows us to sell them for low prices. Musicians, like a lot of people, are struggling in this economy, and our store offers them high-quality guitars for an affordable price.

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