Home CultureBlack-Owned These 5 Hudson County Ladies Are Raising the Bar

These 5 Hudson County Ladies Are Raising the Bar

by Danielle Farina
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Women’s History Month isn’t over until we say it is — and that means, there’s no better time to highlight some of the many Hudson County women who inspire us daily. Dileiny Baron (a fashion influencer), Aishia Martinez (a pastry chef), Lauren Parisi (an art law paralegal day, trivia host by night), Shaleeka Ahuja (a designer), and Ilana Maider (a spin instructor) might have their toes in totally different waters, but they’re connected by a common thread: they’re making our community proud. Read on to learn more about these amazing local ladies. 

Dileiny Baron — Jersey City Influencer

dileiny baron jersey city

Jersey City resident Dileiny Baron quit her corporate marketing job about 4 years ago after feeling like she “was wasting [her] life at a desk.” While working 9-5, she created a blog, lovefashionandfriends.com, where she shared easy and chic style tips for busy women + moms. She knew that if she didn’t put her “whole heart into the blog,” it wouldn’t grow as she believed it would. About leaving the corporate world, Dileiny says: “it was a hard decision to make, I was in my mid-30s with a family who depended on me financially — but my intuition pushed me to make the best decision I’ve ever made.” Dileiny is now a full-time Style Influencer and a few months ago, signed with a modeling agency. She made this video last year, celebrating the anniversary of her corporate walkout to show how far she’s come in these few years.

Local inspiration: “I don’t always wake up and want to take another photo, create another video, or write another blog post. Someone from my community will message me, tag me in a recreation of one of my style tips, see me in the street, and tell me how much they love me or how I help them get dressed, and it’s really the main reason I keep going. Social media can be an ugly place so I really try to be a light for my community by keeping things light and fun, my community is always behind my inspiration to create.”

Favorite thing about Jersey City: “My husband and I are a bi-racial couple and you see so many interracial couples and families in Jersey City. My favorite part of living in Jersey City is how inclusive and diverse it is and that my kids are growing up learning about many different cultures.”

Favorite local business: “I love supporting minority or woman-owned businesses so here are a few of my local faves:

  • Last Place Winners — Upcycled thrifts, custom jeans, and jackets — super cool streetwear finds. (Minority Owned)
  • Attain Medspa for all my skincare needs — Lauren the owner is awesome and her girls do a great job! (Woman Owned)
  • Keyfood Organics — Small supermarket Downtown, the staff is so warm and helpful, and products are always fresh (Minority Owned)
  • Harry’s Daughter — My favorite Caribbean restaurant, their ox-tail is amazing!
  • La Brujeria — Best Mexican food in Jersey City!!”

Local business owners she admires: “MJ Carlson from Electric Picks. I met MJ at one of her events a few years ago, and I am so impressed by how dialed in she is to our community. Through her, I met so many other amazing women and their local businesses. Electric Picks is everywhere now, and I am so proud that it’s woman-owned and it’s run right here out of Hoboken. MJ is also a mom and one of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet, she’s a girls girl and I will always aspire to be that.”

Dial into Dileiny: If you’re interested in my style tips follow me on IG @lovefashionandfriends I keep it more fun and light on my Tiktok but also share tons of tips and style hacks on there as well.

Read More: A List of Women-Owned Hoboken + Jersey City Businesses

Aishia Martinez — Pastry Chef + Food Network Star

aishia martinez union city

Aishia Martinez is a Hudson County native who has lived in Union City for most of her life. She’s been a pastry chef for over ten years, working in kitchens here in Hudson County as well as across the river in New York City. She started her career at Daniel, a two Micheline star modern French restaurant on the Upper East Side. After wetting her toes in the Michelin experience, she’s since moved on to bringing my work back to Hudson County and my community for the past few years and has worked in multiple departments at the W right here in Hoboken. Most recently, Aishia represented Latina chefs on Season 9 of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship.

Local inspiration: “Hudson County is the love of my life. I think if you’re a Jersey native you have an innate ability to appreciate the beauty hidden in the grit. I have always been very open when it comes to trying new cuisines and absorbing the flavor profiles of culture and Hudson County makes me so proud of its unapologetic representation of so many global cuisines. It is no mystery to cooks working in NY and NJ that the restaurant industry is held together by that fabric of immigrant cooks, cooks who travel here from their home countries to practice their art in our restaurants.

Thankfully Hudson County is home to those same chefs who opened their own restaurants and are gracing the community with recipes from back home that first sparked their love of cooking. To be able to travel across continents through your plate while restaurant hopping in the county is the greatest gift these chefs have given back to their community.”

Favorite thing about Union City: “Honestly, my favorite part of living in Union City is how much of a refuge it feels like to Latinos. As a second-generation Puerto Rican, the love this city shows me has no limit. After spending 14-plus hours in a restaurant, working in a starched rigid white chef’s coat, sweating, thinking of nothing but cover counts, and speaking English for most of my day, the code switch back to Union City is the best part of each day. Walking down the street and hearing cumbia, merengue, salsa, trap music, and reggaeton blaring into the night from apartment windows truly feels like letting my hair down and unfurling myself back into the warmth of my community.”

Favorite local business: “Working at Bucket and Bay afforded me the absolute pleasure of knowing the owners of Sloan Square. They truly do a beautiful job bringing gorgeous design and art to Jersey City with such respect and honor placed on the artists they work with and source from. Taqueria Downtown is also on my absolute love list, a world without their lengua tacos is not one I want to live in. Torico in Downtown JC is a pillar for me, I have to show the utmost love to my fellow Boriquas! Their ube and black sesame are the year-round flavors that tide me over until their seasonal Coquito flavor makes its return to the menu.”

Local business owners she looks up to: Pete + Pura Berrios, the owners of Torico are definitely THE food service power couple of Jersey City for me. Torico’s longevity is without a doubt something to admire, especially for a seasonal ice cream business. They are a family-owned business, serving a product first conceptualized from Pura’s longing for the piraguas of Puerto Rico, with flavors developed by a man self-taught in the art of ice cream making. Torico consistently slays its field and keeps its fingers on the pulse of the flavors people love experiencing while also remaining authentic in their business model is proof that they are definitely a company to look up to.”

Keep up with Aishia: You can learn more about Aishia here.

Lauren “LP” Parisi — Art Law Paralegal + Part-Time Trivia Host

lauren parisi hoboken

Hoboken resident Lauren Parisi is known as “LP” to many.  She’s lived in Hoboken and has worked in the Hoboken/JC/NYC area for over fifteen years, being first introduced to the area by attending Montclair State University. She works in art law by day and hosts trivia nights with Trivia AD and other events all over Hoboken/JC/NYC, including hosting at New York Comic Con and Liberty Science Center. Also, it has been my pleasure to host various charity events in town throughout my years living in Hoboken.

Local inspiration: “Community is everything to me and I am inspired every day by our small yet large neighborhood and all the amazing people who contribute to it. We have so many unique local businesses and organizations that truly care and you can feel it!”

Favorite thing about Hoboken: “Living in Hoboken is fabulous. It is one bustling square mile packed with nightlife, amazing shops, and fabulous restaurants, yet still maintains a small-town comfy vibe. It’s a place where I wave to neighbors, and bump into friends and colleagues while running errands, but still experience new and exciting things every day.”

Favorite local businesses: “Trivia AD, Black Bear, Urban Souls, Grimaldi’s. Charities: Hoboken Shelter, Hoboken Community Center Pantry, Party with a Purpose, Round2Resources, Charity Quest (app)”

Where to find LP: “I personally host trivia at Black Bear every Wednesday and I will be hosting The Hoboken Shelter 80’s dance party/costume contest on May 6th at the Elks Club which I hosted virtually during the early pandemic so we are excited to be back in person!”

Shaleeka Ahuja — Fashion Designer + Founder of Shaleeka ID

shaleeka ahuja jersey city

Shaleeka Ahuja is the founder and Creative Director of Shaleeka ID, a luxury handbag line inspired by fingerprints. She has always had a passion for art and began exploring fingerprints over a decade ago in her artwork. She wanted to find a way to extend her interest in fingerprints to fashion and that’s when Shaleeka ID was born. Each Shaleeka ID bag is a highly personalized, unique piece of art that serves as a daily reminder of individuality + uniqueness. The artists create the texture of a fingerprint on fine leather, which can be the fingerprint of the artist, the customer, or the customer’s loved ones. The leather is then sent over to skilled artisans who bring each bag to life. Shaleeka recently debuted her latest collection ‘The goddesses’ at NYFW in February.

Local inspiration: “I’m inspired by the city’s vibe. JC is the most diverse neighborhood in our country. And I feel proud to say that we have people from all over the world so you feel like you are a part of this great mix of cultures. We celebrate art events, festivals, and concerts, there is so much to appreciate and learn here.”

Favorite thing about Jersey City: “I have lived in Jersey City for the past 5 years and I love it! There are too many favorite things to list, but I absolutely love the Jersey city art scene. It is so vibrant and we have some amazing artists here. I am grateful for the bright and airy studio that I have at Mana Contemporary, which is a very close-knit artist community. It is here all my ideas are born and where I make my Shaleeka ID handbags.”

Favorite local business: “I consider myself a foodie and am glad there are tons of great options in Jersey City and Hoboken. Some of my absolute favorites are Razza, Sam a.m in JC and Amanda’s in Hoboken.”

Local business owners she admires: “Not so much a local business owner but an artist who has her studio in Mana Contemporary, Carole Feuerman. I have followed her work from afar and have been impressed by how she has pioneered a new category of art; hyperrealism. In my quest to create a unique art form of my own and also transform it into fashion. I look up to artists and creators like her and learn from their journey.”

Putting the ID in identity: “As an artist, fashion lover, first-generation immigrant, woman of color, and entrepreneur; there are different facets of my individuality that make me the person I am today. As an abstract artist for over a decade, I have learned to cherish my individuality and artistic freedom and I am striving each day to build a brand on the core values of empowering individuality and supporting artists.

I am proud to say that my brand contributes towards sustainability, as each of our bags is personalized and only made on order. At Shaleeka ID our mission is to create a community of individuals who share our passion for individuality and self-expression through luxury handbags.”

See More: 23 Montclair Women to Watch in 2023

Ilana Maider — Fitness Instructor At Prime Cycle + Body

ilana maider hoboken

Ilana Maider is a spin instructor here at Hoboken’s Prime Cycle + Body. She started her career in New York City publishing, where did marketing + events for almost 8 years. She started at PEOPLE Magazine, then jumped over to SAVEUR where she “got very wrapped up in the epicurean culture.” Both were fast-paced worlds, which she says “definitely took a toll on me mentally.” At a tough time for the industry, Ilana was already questioning what her future looked like when she got laid off —  but instead of sulking, she took that as a sign it was time to make a change. At the age of 28, Ilana found solace in spin and committed herself to fitness instructing full-time. Now, seven years later, she’s garnered something of a cult following here in Hoboken, and this past February was named a Best Instructor of 2022 by Class Pass.

Her inspiration: “Spin started to encourage so many positive changes for me – I got out of a bad relationship, left a toxic job, reevaluated what I wanted to do with my life, and started working towards new goals. I swear spin classes gave me the strength for it all, and I honestly felt I could inspire others to feel the same. I wanted to share the same fire and passion I feel both on and from the bike with others.”

Favorite thing about Hoboken: “I love the vibe of this town. Young and energetic, family-oriented and community-based, evolving while still giving an old-school charm.  I love how its historic elements seamlessly blend with a contemporary lifestyle. Having grown up on the Upper East Side, I appreciate that energy. The music I play in class also pulls from different eras and genres. I feel like Hoboken and I get each other on a lot of levels.”

Favorite local businesses: “I think Panela is great! I love their SICK private speakeasy room in the basement where Frank Sinatra used to hang out. And for sure JP Bagels, and Fiores for roast beef with mozzarella and gravy.”

Hoboken *musts* before + after a spin class: “Before class – the dirty chai at Hidden Grounds is gorgeous. If you like a double workout, definitely pop across the hall before or after your spin class at Prime for any of our Body classes – barre, strength, HIIT, or pilates. All are taught by INCREDIBLY talented instructors. Also, a smoothie at Prime is my KEY to recovery. If you didn’t know, you can order a smoothie before class and it will be waiting for you at the front desk afterward!”

Final thoughts: “Yes! I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my husband, Craig, and all he does for our family in order for me to maintain a schedule at Prime. He’s an attorney with pretty grueling hours and still manages the morning shift with our kids three days a week as well as Saturdays – which isn’t easy by yourself – so I can go teach at Prime. He is so understanding and supportive of what it means to me and lets me do my thing. I know I’m a lucky girl, and I love him to infinity.”

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