22 Hoboken + Jersey City Women to Watch in 2022

2021 has been packed with uncertainty, challenges, joy, sadness, new opportunities, and more. It forced us to reflect on what we really want out of life both professionally and personally. The world transitioned out of quarantine and back to in-person living (for the most part) this year, which presented opportunities for many – including many of the women on this list. This year in Hoboken alone, over 30 businesses were launched, an amazing achievement for the community as a whole! As we look towards 2022 and set our goals and expectations, we wanted to highlight some of the women within this community that have made waves this year that will undoubtedly ripple into next year with bigger ones to come. These women come from all backgrounds, education, industries, levels of experience – and yet at this very moment, they have all achieved amazing things in their careers. From industry experts to women just discovering entrepreneurship and everything in between – this list of 22 local women inspire us and those in the Hoboken and Jersey City community with their professional careers.

Maria Cristina Ledesma-Rivera

Owner + Head Baker of Baking Mama

tina baking mama

Tina is a self-taught baker who founded Baking Mama in 2015.  Previously, she worked with a technology company, a commercial bank, and a non-governmental organization. She has a degree in Economics. In late 2021 Baking Mama opened a second location in Hoboken, where Tina plans to host private events like parties and cooking classes. Customers love the made-with-love vibes in all of the baked goods served at Baking Mama, including cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and seasonal goodies.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Most of the time, things will not turn out the way you want them to be. If it does not work after giving it your all, don’t be afraid to take another path. Just be patient.

Shayla Cabrera

Owner of Tia Planta + Cannbis Entrepenur

Shayla Cabrera

Shayla Cabrera is fueled by a love of plants, entrepreneurship, and community. Shayla is the Owner and Founder of Tiaplanta, a local plant shop that is rooted in community, inclusion, and education. The company is known for its signature Plant Parenthood workshop where Shayla teaches the fundamentals of houseplant care. Shayla is currently assembling a small business coalition in Jersey City and applying for a New Jersey cannabis cultivation license. She hopes to bring social equity to the cannabis market by providing employment opportunities to those most affected by the previously restrictive legislation.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

My advice for someone starting out their career is to always show up for yourself and keep pushing even when you feel like all of the odds are against you. Expecting obstacles, the ability to pivot, and trusting your intuition will get you to your goal.

Nicole Rosso

Chief Nursing Officer + VP Patient Care Services at Hoboken University Medical Center

Nicole is more than a nurse: she is a Hoboken BNR who considers it an honor to care for her community. Nicole’s career began as a nurse and she has now taken on administrative roles in her career at Hoboken University Medical Center. She is the Chief Nursing Officer/VP of Patient Care Services at Care Point Health System in Hoboken. Nicole says that the pandemic’s challenges have kept things interesting and that she “enjoys the challenge of utilizing and growing my executive leadership expertise to keep our hospital, outpatient care centers, physician practices, rehabilitation units, and all associated systems running smoothly.”

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

No matter where I am in my career, I always recall what it feels like to be the new girl. My career advice would be to have a clear vision of where you desire to be in five years from now and challenge yourself. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable, that is where you grow. I find it important to surround yourself with motivated people and always embrace where you are in your journey!

Elizabeth Schedl

Executive Director of Hudson Pride Center

Elizabeth Schedl

Elizabeth Schedl, (she/they) is a community activist devoted to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. During their time at Hudson Pride, Elizabeth has raised awareness about LGBTQ+ issues while strengthening and growing the Center’s services and cultural programs. Elizabeth has developed new and maintained existing Center partnerships with outside agencies, businesses, community organizations, and individuals to advance services for the LGBTQ+ community. Elizabeth is also the Chair of the Early Identification of Individuals with HIV/AIDS Committee and an active member of both the Executive and Minority AIDS Initiative Committees in Hudson County.

Answer this question: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t go after a job opportunity, or speak up in a meeting with your ideas, or even leave a job that is no longer serving you and your goals. Everyone’s journey is different. Enjoy yours. And remember we all have dreams. Keep your commitment to yourself to do whatever is needed in order to make your dream a reality.

Son-ja Haile

Owner of Satya + Sage

Son-ja Haile

In pursuit of more balance in her life during her corporate career, Son-ja pursued and completed yoga teacher certification, which led her to start Satya + Sage in 2018. Satya + Sage creates eco-friendly products to share the joy of rest, ritual, and sacred space. The company’s intention is to allow moments of peaceful connection and self-reflection in a world where ‘doing’ is more valued than ‘being.’

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Get clear in your vision, then be intentional about how you will make it happen. It’s important to be clear in your vision because once you start to grow, there will be different challenges, and as a founder, you will need to have a solid brand foundation to make sure you fulfill your brand mission. Then be intentional about the actions it takes to make your vision come to life, meaning, take the time to get familiar with subjects like unit economics, SEO, conversions, etc. You don’t have to become an expert, but at least become familiar, so you will get an idea of what it will cost to run your business. Last but most important, make whatever self-care is to you a non-negotiable.

Danielle Tullo La Testa

CEO + Co-founder of Partier + Deputy Editor at Seventeen Magazine

Danielle Tullo La Testa

Danielle is the CEO and Co-Founder of Partier, a design and branding service dedicated to creating custom merch for parties and events. She is a magazine-editor-turned-entrepreneur with more than seven years of experience creating content and directing digital strategy for brands like Cosmopolitan, House Beautiful, Her Campus, and Seventeen. In August 2021, alongside her Partier co-founder Alyssa Fiorentino, Danielle turned an idea for a wedding party favor into a full-blown business. Since the launch, she has applied her editorial talents to oversee day-to-day operations for the business and grow the brand.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Be able to see pivots and challenges as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.  When this happens, you’ll surprise yourself and learn that you are extremely capable of—maybe even incredible at—doing something you never imagined yourself doing. I’d encourage you to welcome these times because if they didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be on this list discussing the launch of my business.

Also, know how you should be treated. If you aren’t being listened to or looked out for, walk away. It only takes one person to believe in you—find them and don’t settle for less. I was an assistant in my first job out of college and my boss (who quickly became my mentor) would tell me that I deserved to be there, which built my confidence and reminded me that I was capable. This eventually opened new doors and opportunities for me. If you don’t have that, you deserve more.

Alyssa Fiorentino

Creative Director + Co-founder of Partier

Alyssa Fiorentino

Alyssa is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Partier, a design and branding service dedicated to creating custom merch for parties and events. With a background in digital media and more than six years of experience managing the social strategies of brands like Delish, Glamour, Vogue, and House Beautiful, Alyssa is an expert on all things trending. In August 2021 she added “entrepreneur” to her resume when she and Partier co-founder Danielle Tullo La Testa launched their small business out of Hoboken. Since then, she’s put her editorial skills to good use, turning clients’ party themes into stylish designs and brand logos.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

It’s so easy to dwell on that job you didn’t get or to compare yourself to someone else who seems to “have it all” career-wise, but this is a huge waste of your time and energy. Instead, focus on making the most of where you’re at because that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. What’s meant for you won’t miss you—remember that.

Shamika Lynch

Owner of Maximizing Tiny

Shamika Lynch

Shamika is a mom of 2 young kids who lives in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood of Jersey City. Her business, Maximizing Tiny, focuses on designing small spaces because she noticed the lack of focus in that area in the interior design industry. Shamika says her superpower is optimizing small spaces to maximize function while maintaining a cohesive aesthetic. “Many times in design, small spaces are overlooked because massive homes are glorified in the interior design space, but so many of us live in smaller homes and I firmly believe that we deserve to have homes that function beautifully, too!” Shamika wants the world to know that you can live small and still have a big life and big style and big joy and she lives to help her clients achieve that.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Give yourself a fair chance. Don’t be afraid to learn as you go and ask a lot of questions. The worst thing that can happen is that you end up exactly where you are right now. The risk is worth the reward.

Diane Ferrara

Brand Development + Mindset Coach + Founder of Babes in Business Jersey City + Hoboken

Diane Ferrara

After working in corporate America for 13 years, Diane left NYC to follow her heart and start her own empire. Through her journey of launching and creating several businesses, Diane found a deep desire to help women get on their feet and start running towards the business of their dreams. Diane offers one-on-one coaching to help you develop your brand, launch your new idea, and make your vision become a reality. In addition, she hosts bi-monthly networking events and workshops in the Jersey City area, called Babes in Business, where women can grow their businesses and connect with a community of local female entrepreneurs. Connect with her on IG @xo_diane_ or @babesinsbusinessJC.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

If it is inside of you, then it is meant for you, so put your blinders on and start running!! Many people will offer you their advice or opinions along the way, but take it ONLY from people who have or created what you want!

Stephanie Scott-Bradshaw

Founder, CEO, + Communicator-in-Chief of First and Last PR

Stephanie Scott-Bradshaw

Stephanie Scott-Bradshaw is a strategic communications champion and entrepreneur who gets brands noticed. Stephanie began her career working as a top beauty editor for major publications. Prior to opening her agency in 2012, her career highlights include working as the global communications director for a luxury skincare company and working with Grammy Award Winning artist Usher. Stephanie is a proud graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; Rutgers University for her mini-MBA in Digital Marketing, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

You have one life to live and how you choose to live it matters. Take time to learn what you are truly good at and what you were put here to do. Once you figure that out, go full force at it and find your way to make an impact in your industry and the world. Research everything, be a sponge of knowledge and understand the trends. Learn the numbers. Remember to time for yourself, give back and always be willing to share with others in your pursuit of excellence. Also, know your value and never be afraid to ask for what you deserve.

Caroline Haines Henderson

Owner + Head Baker of For Cup Sakes

Caroline Haines Henderson

Caroline the Cookie Girl, as she’s most known around town, is the Owner, Head Baker, and Cookie Artist at For Cup Sakes. For Cup Sakes specializes in custom-designed and hand-painted sugar and ginger cookies, and edible images for every occasion. Founded in South Africa in 2009, the online bakery has now been based in Hoboken since 2019.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

My advice to anyone starting out in a career in entrepreneurship is don’t expect anything to come easy. You might have some wins and some days, sometimes, some things do come easy but owning your own business and running a successful one is HARD! Owning a bakery is by far the most courageous thing I’ve ever done and I know my success is a result of the hours and hours of work I have put in.

I would also say stay true to who you are. My bakery was founded on the principle of giving back and providing baked goods for those less fortunate and I will always work with that in mind. I believe that my charitable endeavors and my nature to want to help others have in a way helped me build my client base too. As a result of donations, I now bake for several high-profile clients and celebrities who are ongoing supporters of my business. Despite the success that I have, I love what I do because of the joy it brings others, and baking for nonprofits will always be important to me.

Kyra Huxel

Owner of MEGA JC

Kyra Huxel

Kyra was a real estate professional with an adventurous spirit and a background in intensive ballet who found herself more and more enthralled with the world of fitness and, more specifically, her weekly Lagree Megaformer® classes. Kyra made the leap of faith to join the Lagree community of trainers, and soon joined a prominent Megaformer studio in the Metropolitan Area where she honed her skills and zeal for the Lagree Method. The innovation and evolution of the Lagree equipment have fueled her passion and have now become the soil to grow MEGA JC. She’s all about experiencing something together, finding life balance through movement, pushing boundaries, and more importantly having fun.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

From a young age, my parents stressed the importance of hard work. No matter your ideas, your degrees, or your education, your drive and work ethic is what will set you apart in a crowd. The best advice I could ever share is the one my mom gave me, “work for the job you want – not the one you have”. I have always encouraged every person in my life to find what they love, and form a career around it. Passion and hard work are the paths to success. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Michal Prevor

Owner + Head Baker of Babka Bailout

Michal Prevor

Michal is the founder and owner of Babka Bailout, a pandemic-born business that has gone on to become a local favorite. Michal says, “I didn’t set out to become a baker. I wanted to help when help was needed, but I have never done anything that feels as right as Babka Bailout. While it has given me the opportunity to offer support to a fellow mom, my entire family has been given the gift of a meaningful endeavor during these challenging times. Often we set out to make a difference in the lives of others only to discover we have made a difference in our own. The babka flavors are a big part of who we are, I am Israeli by birth but raised in the Dominican Republic. I love to mix cultural influences and flavors.”

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Be persistent in everything you do and you will be successful.

Hannah Taub

Founder + Owner of Sunny Side Up Social

Hannah Taub

Hannah Taub is the Founder & Owner of Sunny Side Up Social. Readers may also know her as @talkdirty2yourfood. Sunny Side Up Social is a digital marketing business specializing in social media management, photography services & content creation. The company works with small businesses in the area, from restaurants & eateries to beauty studios. Hannah started her career working at agencies including @merchantshospitality, @ipgmediabrands as well as other agencies in the NYC area. When Hannah moved to Hoboken, she started working with a few restaurants to help them transform their social media strategies. This past summer Sunny Side Up Social was brought to life and it’s just getting started.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

To anyone who is just getting started in their career, whether it is a full-time job at a large agency to those who are turning their side hustle into something full-time – I want everyone to know that you truly can do anything you put your energy and mind into. It is so important to do what you love. If you are not happy, change something. Rejection is redirection and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the work you do come full circle & have amazing results!

Jayla Vega

Detective for the Hoboken Police Department + Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit

Jayla Vega

Jayla Vega was sworn in as a Police Officer at the Hoboken Police Department in 2017. For two years Officer Vega was assigned to the midnight shift on patrol. Since January of 2020, she has been assigned to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit on loan where she investigates cases of sexual assault and child abuse. During the last year, she was promoted to Detective at the Hoboken Police Department.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

When I first started out in my career, I took it day-by-day learning from my coworkers as much as I can. My advice to someone starting out in their career is to learn as much as you can from your peers and give 110% in everything you do. It will pay off in the end.

Joi-Louise Hall

Founder + Designer of Joi Louise + Digital Content Creator

Joi-Louise Hall

Joi-Louise is a digital content creator from Jersey City, NJ. She loves to share topics like fashion, beauty, skincare, and hair with supporters. Joi-Louise has a condition called Lymphedema, a chronic swelling condition caused by a disruption in the Lymphatic system. She loves to spread awareness and support for other women who love fashion but feel the condition limits their self-expression. She hopes to grow all my platforms so I can continue to be of service to my community.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Be prepared for ups and downs but no matter what keep going. It’s the journey that makes the destination all the better.

Joon Choi

Owner + Designer of Ally’s Bridal

Joon Choi

Joon is the magician behind all of the beautiful brides who shop at Ally’s Bridal: the alterations. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Pattern Making and has worked for several big-name designers including J. Mendel, Vera Wang, and Reem Acra. She specialized in customizing bridal gowns and trained in hand draping, hand embroidery, hand pleating, and appliques, and other precision techniques. Everything Joon learned in her training and in her experience in high-end couture ateliers comes into play in the fitting room at Ally’s Bridal. Brides truly get an NYC boutique experience right in Hoboken with Joon.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Be professional. Do not take anything personally at work.

Jordan Lacey

Event + Wedding Planner + CEO + Founder of Light The Candle

jordan lacey

Jordan Lacey is a Black 25-year-old, Philanthropist, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), and New Jersey/New York-based Event and Wedding planner. Jordan is the CEO & Founder of Light The Candle, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that creates birthday cards for foster children living in group homes and The Children’s Specialized Hospitals of NJ. Jordan has planned and executed numerous events and weddings in New York and New Jersey and sits on the Awards and Emerging Leaders committee for Greater NY Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).

What advice do you have for someone just starting in their career?

Network and get as much experience as you can. I have learned that network is net worth, and more internships, volunteering, and “raising your hand” for things that you can do will set you up for success in the future. Remember that no experience is a bad experience and get your name out there as much as you can! It’s not about who you know, rather who knows YOU.

Megan Ixim

Founder of PlusThriftJC + Social Media Manager

Megan Ixim

Megan is an entrepreneur, advocate, and all-around content creator focusing on body acceptance, fashion, sex education, and women in business. She currently works full-time as a social media manager and brand specialist with a knack for community building. Megan believes in the power of social media to bring people together and use my passion to create organic brand development both personally and professionally. Megan continues to use her platform as a sounding board to cover topics most important to these core values. Her work focuses on combining passion with accountability, with stellar visuals as a bonus.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Lead with your passions and the work will follow suit. Don’t ever let someone put you in a box, that’s when progression stops and stagnation starts. You don’t have the be the best, but you have to be the most consistent.

Kelli Brown

Founder of Bounce Mkt

Kelli Brown

Kelly recently launched Bounce Mkt, which buys and sells pre-loved kids’ clothes, as part of a mission to change the experience and perceptions of secondhand shopping. Kelly believes that a customer experience can be delivered that is as good as buying new but with the added benefit of being more sustainable. While launching this venture is a new experience in many ways, designing new customer experiences has been a passion throughout her career.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

Take it one step at a time. With each opportunity or job, you have a chance to gain a unique skill or experience that will become a stepping stone for the next. You don’t need to have it all figured out at the beginning and, even if you do, you might find that what motivates you at the beginning of your career is different from what you’re looking for later on.

Shruti + Jasmine

Co-Founders of Zesty Kitchen

Shruti and Jasmine have created a food called Mewa-Sesame Chikki. The duo chose to create Mewa-Sesame Chikki, which is a sweet mix of nuts, seeds, Ginger, and Cayenne, as a way to represent their culture through their business Zesty Kitchen. They started Zesty Kitchen to bring real change in how the world perceives food. With a growing focus on eating right, we are truly striving to break the snack barrier with our exciting flavors and functional ingredients. Additionally, Shruti is a nutritionist and plant-based chef. Jasmine has a Master’s degree in Food Science and has worked in the food industry for eight years.

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is also a Board Member of LUPE Fund – a nonprofit by Latinas for Latinas. Victoria is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, trying new restaurants, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.


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