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We have often heard the phrase “beauty and brains”. One person who fits that description to a tea is Tyra Banks. She made a living by being beautiful then has gone on to run her own business.

You can say that Tryra came from broken home.  Born on December 4, 1973 in California, her parents divorced when she was six years old.  Some credits must go to her parents with the arrangement of having her stay with her mother on weekdays and with her father on weekends.

The arrangement seems to have worked just fine for her because she looked at it as having twice the fun.  She said she wound up having two birthday parties, two Christmas parties, and double the presents.  This is not the usual situation with divorced families. In any case at an early age Tyra was looking at the glass as being half full instead of half empty.

With her great looks and personality she experience being one of the popular girls in school only to become one of the freaky looking ones in high school and the butt of jokes when she started to grow very tall and lanky. She then used her height to her advantage by try her luck at modeling.

She faced rejections at first when apply at various modeling agencies until the world’s largest modeling agency Elite Model Management took her in. She went to Europe and became a hit super model in the early 90s. By mid 90s she was gaining weight and more curves, a no-no in the fashion model world.

This didn’t stop Tyra. She went back to the U.S. and did swimwear and lingerie modeling which appreciated the curves. She was one of the original Victoria’s Secret Angel models. She then used her successful modeling career and popularity to produce and host her own show “America’s Next Top Model”. It was a world-wide success and sealed her place as being an entrepreneur and not just another pretty face. This lady had brains, too.

She also produced and hosted the “Tyra Banks Show”.  She’s done movies, T.V. shows, singing, using her talents to as far as it would take her. She has her own fashion-related website, TypeF.com. and managed to take a course at Harvard University, no less.

Fashion model, entrepreneur, beauty and brains, that’s Tyra Banks.

In 1997 famed fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered in Florida.  The death raised questions about the future of his international fashion house. While there were people who could run the business side of things, fashion was all about appealing yet distinctive designs from the fashion house. The one tasked to continue this critical part of Gianni’s legacy (which was basically what the business was all about) fell on his younger sister Donatella. She was appointed head of design.

These were certainly large shoes to fill. While Donatella had her share of the limelight alongside her famous brother, she was more of her brother’s side kick than a star designer in her own right. She had to prove herself and this she did.

Today Donatella is the Vice President of the board and Creative Director of the Versace Group and has been credited with moving the company beyond clothing into a complete lifestyle brand. This includes among others, going into the hotel business.

Donatella rose to the occasion endured hardships and challenges and has come out on top. She filled her brother’s shoe and in the process has created her own legacy as well.

Former talk show host and media mogul, Oprah had a coveted “favorite things” list, where she featured products she felt were noteworthy or that would make a great gift. Most small business owners could only dream of earning a spot on that list, but for Jon Bresler, owner of high-end candle and soap company, Lafco, the honor and recognition did not only come once, but twice.

During Oprah’s final season, Lafco’s House and Home Candle Collection was featured in her list of “ultimate favorite things.” The experience has been a dream-come-true for Bresler, who is formerly a litigation lawyer who moved to Switzerland to work for a pharmaceutical company. The idea for coming up with his own business came after he encountered a Just Lady in 1995 (similar to an Avon Lady), selling aromatherapy oils and candles. In that instance he decided to create his own candle company. Inspired by Europe’s artisanal soap making, he used a design-forward bath and body concept.

Bresler first got lucky back in 2007, when Oprah featured their Claus Porto soaps. After this feature, their sales went astronomical, selling $1 million worth of products in just 30 days. According to the entrepreneur, there were times he wished it didn’t happen because they were seriously unprepared. Some orders were shipped late while others ended up at the wrong mailbox, and Bresler worried that complaints might reach Oprah.

But last year, he received the best news yet when Oprah contacted him yet again for her “ultimate favorite things” list. This time, they were given months to prepare, but they had to do it in secret. They were part of a big surprise for Oprah’s audience, but nobody was even more surprised than Bresler.

From being a stiff lawyer to one of Oprah’s favorites, Bresler and his products will be the subject of talk for many more years to come.