I’m Michelle Burrola, founder of AZ Staging and Design.
I transform homes, allowing them to sell for top dollar on their first day of listing. I take empty houses and make them come to life with staging and appeal to a wide audience. I also take occupied homes, EDIT and re-work them so buyers can see past the current lifestyle and belongings and see themselves living in the home. My technique and strategies get homes sold fast and for top dollar. When I walk into a home, I visualize its potential, asses weak spots, envision the home’s ideal design , and map out an attractive furniture layout. I create a space that is desirable – one that highlights the home’s best features by adding thoughtfully selected furniture, accessories, and custom art work. I then use my background in visual perception and psychology, along with my eye for design, to transform the space into a home where people can see their future and want to live!
I first felt the entrepreneurial itch after being home with my son for a year. It wasn’t the best timing, so I put the brain child of a staging business on the back burner. A year later, a friend asked me to stage their flip, it lit a fire within me and I took the leap of faith to create my own staging business.
I attended the University of Arizona for my psychology degree, then went on to grad school where I researched visual perception. I conducted experiments to better understand how people saw financial value in 3D images on a computer screen. That is basically what I do now. I stage homes and use professional photography to create listing photos that communicate to online shoppers: this listing is a must-see, must-have property. My end dream goal is to create a system that merges the science of psychology and choice with the process of curating design for others. It is tricky to pull a picture out of someone’s brain, see it for yourself and replicate it in the physical world. This is basically what an interior designer does. I would love to create a process that utilizes psychological profiling to help create design plans that truly fit the personality and lifestyle of my clients!
Find a mentor! Reach out to someone who is doing what you want to do and see if they will download information into your brain. Ask and learn as much as you possibly can from them! Also, try to gain the support and encouragement of your family! My husband works hard alongside me, doing the heavy lifting, literally! He loves to talk business strategy and tries to set me up for success with his support. My Dad is an outstanding support too! He helps me dream big and discusses strategy and marketing. Knowing he is rooting for me pushes me to work harder and smarter.
My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity I have to work with other women who are also paving their paths in business. For example, I work with a local artist, Megan Speirs Mack. She creates custom artwork based on the design plan for our higher end homes. Her pieces are for sale, and this is a way for her to grow her portfolio and market herself. It has been such a rewarding partnership. It is so exciting to be a new business women and reach out to other women around me and see their talents marketed and their businesses growing! I really believe in women helping women. I am successful because I have an extensive network of supportive women alongside me, contributing their talents, encouragement and love.
After my first stage, I realized I needed an assistant. The qualities I was hoping to find in an assistant were a mile long. I also needed someone who had a very flexible schedule and lived nearby. I started to panic about finding someone and worried about how I would pay that person.
Then a light came on. I thought of a lady in my ward. I had seen her post on Instagram some DIY projects. I reached out, and she joined me that week for a stage. She jumped in, worked hard, and contributed valuable suggestions. Now, with every stage that goes by, I am more certain that it was no coincidence that we are now working together. I consider it a match made in Heaven. Morgan Flores has been such a support and source of relief as an assistant and partner in staging.
“So, the boys and I are going to do an act of kindness every day,” sharing with my husband my new goal, I looked over at him.
He paused and returned my look, “That’s great! For how long?”
“For the rest of our lives.” I continued folding the laundry. Wow! Vocalizing it felt real and right.
After he didn’t respond for a moment, I glanced over. His face basically said, “Whaat?” and “Yeah, right,” all at the same time.
“Like EVERY day?” He clarified.
“Yes.” I answered simply.
I didn’t know it, yet, but that conversation sparked a movement that would grow into a worldwide nonprofit.
The Nonprofit: Pennies of Time. “It only takes a moment of time, a penny of time, to be kind.” At Pennies of Time, we provide the example and the support to teach and mentor families that all kids can be engaged in kindness and community service, even from their earliest years.
My name is Sheila Sjolseth, and I am the President and Founder of Pennies of Time. With my two boys, we bring to life acts of kindness and service projects that kids can do. We started serving daily with each other in 2012, when Big Brother and Little Brother were 5 and 3 years old. What started as a way to teach my kids empathy has transitioned to a way of life and a connection with thousands of other families.
In the daily adventures of serving with my young boys, I witnessed the awe-inspiring things that happen when kids serve others. As I wrote about what we did, other families started reaching out to me for ideas, for support, to help answer questions, and to share the triumphs that they are experiencing in their journey to raise kind kids. Because this daily act of serving others and talking about it started requiring more time than I could fit in while balancing my other areas of life, I turned to incorporating the work into a nonprofit. With this transition in 2014 and with the help of our Board of Directors, we’ve been able to help thousands of families more fully integrate kindness and serving others into their daily lifestyle without going crazy.
The path to this point didn’t start with the intent to be an entrepreneur or leader of a global movement. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Special Education from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before having kids, I taught in a variety of settings from a classroom in small town Texas, to a child psychiatric unit in Chicago, to supporting education at a national level at the US Department of Education.
As an educator and professional with 20 years of experience in working with children and parents, I truly believe that teaching kids to be kind results in a happier family. My goal in this entrepreneurial endeavor: For families to choose to complete an act of kindness as often as they go to soccer practice or to the movies. “Let’s elevate the meaningful activities that we do as a family and lessen the activities that isolate us from one another.”
Pennies of Time provides ideas, inspiration, and examples of acts of kindness that kids can do as well as the expertise of how to engage with nonprofits in our communities that are not “kid” or “family friendly.” Our 100% volunteer organization stays active through mentoring families, presenting at conferences and PTA events, providing workshops, and through teaching classes on our online platform The Kindness Academy.
Right now, our Virtual Kindness Summer Camp is going on, and we are having a splendid time engaging with families across the world to infuse kindness into their lives!
Five years have passed since that initial conversation with my husband. I turned to him last week and asked him about it.
“How crazy did you think I was when I said EVERY day?” I asked my husband.
“Well, I didn’t know how you were going to do it. I mean, we didn’t really see many people actually including young kids in service in a way that was more than having them along for the ride. After you guys left a thank you note for the mailman that day, I thought that would be it. I didn’t know how or where you were going to find ideas. At the same time, I did know that if anyone could figure it out, that it would be you.”
He then ended with, “I could not have guessed how much of a transformation would occur with this daily focus on kindness! That change has brought such great joy into our home. I am grateful for that crazy day and idea you were inspired to follow.”
One of the biggest surprises for me, maybe not for others, has come from the negative attitudes from adults on kids being kind and helping others. I didn’t expect everyone to love the concept. I didn’t expect that our messaging would resonate with everyone. We don’t need it to. BUT, what I really didn’t expect was the negative attitudes around the idea that we can raise kind kids and we can see great things when they are involved with community service. That wasn’t just surprising for me that was shocking! At the same time, I learned from their perspectives, which is always key in moving any work forward.
I wished I had known how to fundraise and how much grit this process would take. I get the comment so often: “But, you are a nonprofit. You don’t need money or need to make money.” Being a nonprofit doesn’t mean that we don’t need money or need to make a profit. In order to be self-sustaining and exist for the tomorrow, we need profitability in the skeleton of our strategy and operations so that we have the necessary capital to move forward and develop new programs and services. Fundraising is hard, hard work, and any time we are focused on fundraising, we aren’t spending time helping families. Further, fundraising is very capricious. Some years are better than others, and the environment around us affects this. Grit. I have developed more grit than I thought possible. For me, having grit is more than just the idea of sticking it out. I have to actively seek it out and keep it in my bag of tools. Worthwhile endeavors, particularly ones that blaze new paths, require grit to get through the hard seasons. Just because the going gets rough is not a signal to stop. Would have loved a booster shot of grit at the beginning! (wish such a thing was possible!)
I think that my biggest failure is a lack of acceptance that failures are part of the process. Intellectually, I would say I understood and accepted that as true. But, when the failures really happened, I struggled with it emotionally. I am pretty hard on myself, have a high level of expectations for myself, and although high expectations are great to have, it is more important to recognize what is reasonable. As you start ventures, you are going to be drinking out of the firehose. Often times, the blast of the water will sting, your best plans will be washed out, and it will seem too much. It is humanly impossible to get it perfect every time. So, learning to accept the times when it didn’t go “just right” as points of ways to grow has been my biggest area of development. Failures or things not going “just right” will happen. Learning to have joy and seeking ways to laugh in those moments . . . those points are when I know I am embracing that failures will happen. It is part of the rollercoaster ride of our experience.
Time is one of the biggest sacrifices, for sure. In order to get the nonprofit started and sustained as we grow the organization, there are also financial sacrifices that are made. Though, I would say that the most surprising sacrifice is the willingness to learn anything. I mean anything and everything. Getting Pennies of Time up and off the ground meant that I needed to take the time and learn html, website development, social media ins and outs, marketing, graphic development, public relations, fundraising, and so much more. Never in my life have I had to learn so much in such a short amount of time. Some of the things I learn I really enjoy. Others, not so much. As odd as it sounds, learning to do stuff that I don’t enjoy is a sacrifice for me. In the end, as with most sacrifices, all of it has been necessary and fruitful.
Name: Sydney B. Donaldson
School/University: Northern Arizona University
City/Location: Flagstaff, AZ (however, it’s an online program. I’m located in Tucson, AZ)
Major/Field of Study: Master of Education, Educational Leadership
Marital status/children?: Married for 8 years, with one child (a two-year-old)
Growing up, my dad was a college textbook sales representative and editor, so we visited lots of college campuses across the United States. I was always amazed by the unique energy felt on college campuses. My parents placed a heavy emphasis on going to college and obtaining a degree. It was expected. My dad and I began looking at potential colleges when I was in 8th grade. I was taught that a college education is exciting and wonderful and fulfilling.
My first job out of college was at a university, and I quickly fell in love with working in higher education. I want to build a career out of helping students achieve their dreams of a college education, so I enrolled in a Master of Education program that focuses on educational leadership in higher education. I graduate in two months!
My family has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. Friends think it’s an amazing accomplishment. I didn’t initially tell colleagues about my full-time student status – I didn’t want to give them any idea that I was slacking at my job because of my schoolwork. I recently told my supervisor that I’ve been working on a graduate degree for the past year, and she is amazed that I have been able to work full time, take care of a little one at home in the evenings, AND pursue a graduate degree.
When I started my program, I committed to being fully present with my two-year-old daughter while she is awake. My degree is online which gives me incredible flexibility to work full time and be present with my family. I have completed this degree 100% during lunch breaks and after my little one goes to sleep. Some nights I don’t get into bed until one in the morning, but it’s important to me to be fully present with my daughter for the few hours I see her after I come home from work.
My parents are very encouraging parents and they are proud of this accomplishment. My mom is the only one in our immediate family who has a Master’s degree, and I am excited to have this in common with her. My mom passed away about a month ago from cancer. (To say my year has been a very busy and challenging one is an understatement!) As well, my husband has been an incredible support. He believes in me and pushes me to achieve. As cheesy as this sentiment is, he is the wind beneath my wings.
Higher education is evolving. Forget what you think you know about the “traditional student.” Thirty-eight percent of today’s college student population is over 25 years old; they’re likely to also have a family, a full-time job, caretaking responsibilities, and other personal obligations. And this percentage is projected to grow over the next five years. If you think you don’t fit the mold of the traditional college student, think again. Universities and colleges are aware of the changing student population and are developing student services to address the needs of this changing group. I am fiercely passionate about access to education for all, and I want others to know that the right program for your unique circumstances likely exists. A more educated society is a better one. Go get that degree!
Specific to my field, it’s an exciting time to be involved in higher education. Many colleges really are striving to create a campus ethos that embodies social entrepreneurial thinking. Some of the great challenges of today’s society begins with solving issues through formulating ideas on college campuses.
Any program of study is going to be easier if you have the passion for that field of research. I was lucky in that every course I took directly impacted my day-to-day work – and it impacted it very positively. I am a better employee because of my program.
I didn’t realize just how positively my schoolwork would impact my job. The two go hand-in-hand: I apply what I learn in class to my job as an academic advisor, and I use my job as motivation for continuing with my academic research and studies. I work full time and I am so proud of myself for balancing full-time employment with full-time education. I am also very fortunate to receive generous education benefits because of my employment at a university. I would like to think that I would take advantage of education regardless of access to funding, but I am fortunate that I never had to make that decision.
Throughout my program, I learned that there is a time and a season for everything. Right now, it is my season to pursue education and work full time. Although it is a commandment given to me, it is not yet my season to work on genealogy, for example, or even my season to work out. (I wish it was never my season to be folding laundry, but that’s one task I have to do, despite my very busy season of life!) I am grateful for access to the Holy Spirit which confirms to me what season of life I need to be in.
I also learned that education is one way that my Bucket of Joy is filled. I feel energized and invigorated by gaining a formal education, and I feel my happiness reserves are filled when I engage in an academic setting. Arguably, being in any educational program can take time away from family, social obligations, callings, and the like, but I believe I am my best self when I participate in things that fill me with joy. I cannot give others joy if my own Bucket of Joy is empty. Women should not feel selfish by gaining an education. You are bettering yourself and making yourself happy! That’s something to celebrate!
Being in school fills me with so much pride and accomplishment. It’s a great feeling to have – to be proud of yourself! I enjoy many things about school, but I enjoy most how accomplished I feel as a student while managing professional and personal obligations.
I love what I do professionally and I do not see myself making a major job change in the near future. But I do hope to grow in higher education administration. I want to be a leader in higher ed. I want to help all students realize their potential and pursue a college degree. I want to ensure that student services exist to serve the at-risk or underrepresented populations, especially students with children or adult caretaker responsibilities, students with disabilities, transfer students, veterans, and refugees.
I plan on pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership. I’m not sure when it will be my season to do this, but I’m ready to begin when it’s time. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a summer of going to bed at a reasonable hour. And maybe taking a few naps.
My name is Kristy Sevy. I am a mom, wife, hair fanatic, and founder/CEO of FuzePlay (an EdTech company). I have a background in Piano Pedagogy and Marriage Family Therapy.
I entered the startup world a little over a year ago when I decided to build FuzePlay! I didn’t have a background tech or business, but worked hard to develop the competence needed to run a company and develop a technical platform.
About two years ago the topic of identity theft became personal. I was aware identity theft happened; I had several clients who’d had their identities stolen, and I had attended hours of trainings on how to protect yourself from identity theft. However, on a certain level, I was in denial that this was something that could happen to me. After all, I had credit monitoring—I was fine!
Then one day I grabbed the mail on the way into my home and was casually flipping through all the junk, about to throw the entire stack away, when I noticed a letter addressed to me from Golden Valley Lending. My initial reaction was that it was just another piece of junk mail, but there was something about it that made me decide to go ahead and open it up. Inside was a not-so-nice letter explaining that I had defaulted on my payday loan and that they were going to commence collection efforts. My reaction at that point was still that this must be a scam, someone trying to get me to pay them. Like I said, I had credit monitoring—this couldn’t be real!
I spent the next several months unraveling what had happened, and I learned quite a bit in the process. Someone had obtained my personal information and had applied for eighteen online payday loans with Indian Tribe lenders. I learned that by doing so, this person bypassed the entire credit monitoring process, as these lenders don’t actually report to the credit bureaus. I also learned that the most likely next step for whoever had applied for these loans was to steal my tax identity.
Another annual income tax deadline has come and gone. Maybe you had to pay, but perhaps you were owed a refund. If the latter is true, did you receive it?
A lot of taxpayers didn’t, because hackers swooped in and stole their sensitive tax-related information. Tax identity theft is a serious problem, despite the IRS’s efforts to stop it.
But there are steps you can take to keep from being a victim, some of which are simply a matter of common sense. For example, consider the security of any wireless network you use when you’re working on your taxes. Don’t ever do so on a public network, and make sure your home or office wireless is password protected.
You don’t have to be online to be at risk for tax identity theft. Hackers can grab your personal information in other ways. For example, do you ever carry your tax-related papers back and forth to work or some other location? Know where they are at all times; don’t ever leave them lying around where someone can copy your Social Security number and other details.
Always be aware of your surroundings. If there are other people around when you’re working on your taxes—if you’re in a coffee shop or library, for example—make sure no one is reading over your shoulder.
Phone calls can be risky. A good rule of thumb is to never provide someone who calls you with any sensitive personal data—unless you can verify it was a call you were expecting, like one from your bank or a medical office. When you place a call to a legitimate number, it’s generally okay.
You’d think that a call from the IRS would be safe. In reality, the IRS doesn’t ask for personal information over the phone. They send letters through the U.S. Mail. If you ever get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the agency and is demanding some sort of payment immediately, hang up. This is a popular phone scam. You can always contact the IRS directly to see if there is some sort of issue.
Don’t make a practice of carrying your Social Security card with you. Keep it in a safe place unless you absolutely need it away from home for some reason. Also:
Be especially careful if you’re preparing your taxes on a website. Before you even begin, investigate the publisher’s security protocols to ensure that your very sensitive tax-related data will be treated with great care. Also, update any applications that will be involved, including your browser and antivirus/antimalware tools.
The IRS will never send you an email out of the blue asking you to click a link or download an attachment or fill in fields to update personal information. In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid taking those actions ever unless you’re expecting an email and can verify the sender’s address.
Finally, use a very strong, unique password—one you don’t use anywhere else. You’re probably tired of hearing that piece of advice, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re working with a tax preparation application.
Take Action Quickly
It’s possible to get stung by a tax identity thief even if you’re being careful. If it happens to you, you’ll need to complete and submit IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and watch for responses from the agency. Contact your credit bureaus and financial institutions to apprise them of the situation. Tax identity thieves sometimes try to open new credit cards, for example. You should also file a report with the FTC
Completing this affidavit was the final piece of recovering control of my identity. Once I filed this form with the IRS, I was assigned a PIN to use when I e-filed my tax return. The IRS would not accept a return using my personal information without this PIN.
Recovering from tax identity theft isn’t a quick process or an easy one. However, taking these precautions will go a long way in prevention. If you are a victim of tax identity theft, be assured that there is help available!
Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?
My name is Lucinda Hall. I grew up in Southern California and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from BYU and I graduated from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. I completed a one-year residency (called an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency or AEGD for short) immediately following graduation from dental school. During my residency, I had the opportunity to provide dental treatment for disabled patients in an operating room setting. I worked in the oral surgery clinic at a local county hospital, extracting teeth and draining abscesses for patients transported from prisons and detention centers as well as individuals who unfortunately have no access to dental care and come to the hospital oral surgery clinic as a last resort. I worked in community clinics in low-income neighborhoods, providing basic dental services for some of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. I worked with several dental specialists on all sorts of interesting surgical cases, the likes of which my professors in dental school would never have let me take on! I currently work in a family and cosmetic dental practice where I treat 2-year-olds coming in for their very first dental checkup, 92-year-olds who may only be coming to see me for a few more years, and everyone in between.
What does your job entail?
My job is to diagnose and treat problems with the teeth, gums, and other related structures within the oral cavity. Part of my job entails educating patients on how best to take care of the teeth and gums. Most dental problems are preventable! I screen patients for oral cancer and talk to them about their diet and about habits like grinding or chewing on ice that can damage their teeth. I spend a lot of time fighting tooth decay. I treat infections and extract teeth that can’t be saved. I restore dental implants and fabricate dentures for patients who are missing teeth. As a general dentist, I am responsible for providing referrals to dental specialists when needed and act as the “quarterback” of the dental team in managing patient care. On a typical day I might see 6-8 patients for treatment or new patient exams plus another 3-6 patients for checkups after their cleaning appointments.
What drew you to dentistry?
I participated in a career workshop at a dental school in Southern California during the summer between my sophomore and junior years at BYU. We took x-rays, carved teeth out of wax, met dental students and professors, and even sat in on a couple of lectures. One of the dental assistants helping me take x-rays remarked that dentistry was a wonderful job for women because of the flexible schedule. I didn’t have any friends or family members who were dentists and her perspective stuck with me. Read More
In 1893, Relief Society sisters from Utah made quite a stir at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The group of women from the western territory had won a gold medal for their silk exhibit. This unlikely outcome, which caught the eye of French judges and Japanese silk experts, led to the final surge of interest in Utah silk. Many had doubted that producing silk in such a dry climate was even possible.
The industry began just a few years after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Brigham Young stated, “I wish to see this people manufacture their own clothing, and make as good cloth as is in the coat I now have on, and as good silk as in the handkerchief around my neck, and as good linen as is in the bosom and wristbands of my shirt. … I want to see the people wear hats, boots, coats, etc., made by ourselves, as good as ever was made in any country.”1 Depending on which account you read, the woman deserving credit for the experiment varies. Susan Stringham reported that it was a “Mrs. Dunyon from Draper” who first approached the prophet about importing silk worms into the territory. In any event, by the mid-1870s, the Deseret Silk Association had been established and Zina D. Young, also serving as General Relief Society president, had been named leader of the enterprise. Before the end of the operation in 1905, more than 5 million silk worms had been brought and more than 100,000 mulberry trees had been planted.
Nearly every one of the 150 local Relief Societies in the area had participated. “The strong organizational structure of the Relief Society, combined with the spirit of sisterhood among the women, resulted in an effective cooperative system. Each ward Relief Society was asked to send one sister to Salt Lake City to be trained in the art of silk production. These sisters then returned to their own communities to educate others.”1
Sister Stringham recounts how labor intensive the work of caring for the silk worms was. Eggs, as small as the point of a pin, were kept warm on paper until mulberry leaves were ready to eat in the spring. Then they were placed on special frames that took up an entire room in the house. Temperature had to be maintained at between 75 and 80 degrees and the worms had to be protected from any drafts and weather. The silk worms would molt every five days and required constant feeding. By the last two weeks of the worms’ growth before spinning, they even required feeding at night. Droppings had to be frequently cleaned as well.
Women were often surprised and overwhelmed by how large the silk worms could get and many discovered they had taken on more than their house could handle. “You could take what worms that you could place comfortably on your hand and they (placed on hurdles) when fully grown would fill a room sixteen by sixteen feet and eleven feet high,” Stringham explained.2 “At times some families had to move out of their homes to accommodate the ever-growing worms, which, if too crowded would not be able to breathe. One young woman reported that it was difficult to sleep with the sound of so many worms chewing, and that it was like a train thundering though the house.”1
Once the silk worms had finished growing they would spin a cocoon out of silky threads. A chemical was applied to kill the chrysalis and the women could finally harvest the long-awaited silk threads. One ounce of worms produced 160 pounds of cocoon material that then had to be boiled, spun, and wound. Relief Society sisters, many of whom were also active suffragettes, used some of this silk to make a dress for women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony.
Despite the success of the Utah silk makers at the World’s Fair, in 1905 the state legislature defunded the project and the church lost interest as well. The railroad made high quality silk from overseas much easier and cheaper to obtain than had been available previously.
Not much remains of the early Utah pioneer silk industry today. Most of the mulberry trees planted during that time to feed the insatiable silk worm appetites are gone. But Relief Society sisters proved that the “impossible” was indeed possible and that beautiful things can come from some of the most surprising of places.
Our AMW Meetups are back in full swing, starting at the end of May and running through June.
If you’re in the Salt Lake City area, our meetup will be a tour of the Relief Society Building on Temple Square with historians Jill Derr (co-editor of the recently published The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History and who worked as a senior research historian with the Church History Department) and Cherry Silver (General Board of the Relief Society from 1990 to 1997 and who is currently helping edit and annotate forty-five years of diaries written by Emmeline B. Wells). Due to limited space, this is a ticketed, but free, event. So join us on Wednesday, May 24 at 7pm. For more information and ticketing, please go here.
Women who have attended prior meetups share that they appreciate face-to-face connection and networking with other aspiring Mormon women.
If you would like to have an AMW meetup in your area and are interested in hosting, please contact us.