[UPDATE] Recession Reinventions

By: CBS Email
By: CBS Email

UPDATE 11-12-2010 Part 5
Saratu Nafziger saw the future in her own backyard when she lost her job at a Park Avenue law firm. The Harvard educated attorney decided to open a general store in Brooklyn.
As Manuel Gallegus found out, she's back in business and happier than ever.

Brooklyn, NY - "All the store front is new."

A storefront in Brooklyn is a world away from the Park Avenue lawfirm where Saratu Nafziger lost her job last year.

Nafziger says, "Most of our clients were banks, so the banks weren't doing any legal work and that means the law firm had to do layoffs."

The Harvard-educated lawyer struggled to find work in the recession.

Nafziger says, "I started thinking well let me make my own job. I want to be my own boss anyway I don't want someone else giving me a pink slip."

So she took a bold step - leaving her Ivy League career to take a chance on a small business in her own Bedford Stuyvesant community.The "Tin City" Drug and General Store…

Nafziger says, "We were trying to create kind of an upscale convenience store and drug store where people can get every day amenities."

There's a soda fountain with organic ice cream, fruit, and foods from local vendors. It's a bright spot on the block for families.

You might think that opening up a general store that sells specialty items and organic goods in a neighborhood with a rough reputation would be a bad investment, but Nafziger saw a need.

Nafziger says, "It's working I mean people come in here and they keep on telling us 'we really appreciate the store'."

It did take time and money to get up and running. The space was a mess and no bank would give her a loan. So Nafziger cashed in her retirement fund and convinced her family and friends to invest.

Nafziger says, "It's scary because once you make up your mind to do something and then you start doing it and you convince other people to give you money you have to believe your own story (laugh)."

Nafziger takes pride in "Tin City" a nickname for her hometown in Nigeria, and she's relieved to be her own boss.

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UPDATE 11-11-2010 Part 4
Losing his job may have been the best thing that ever happened to Alex Andon.
The San Francisco entrepreneur decided to make a new beginning, and that brought Sandra Hughes into the beautiful world of jellyfish.

New York, NY - Alex Andon saw his future in jellyfish, and these fascinating creatures helped him bounce back from the recession with a whole new career.

"These guys are 1803 moon jellies so they don't sting."

He created a water flow system that wouldn't suck the fragile creatures into the aquarium's filter and built an online following for his tanks.

Andon says, "That was really all I had was my determination. I didn't have a lot of experience with aquariums..I didn't have business experience."

But he did sense a trend. Even several years earlier, as a college student, he noticed how public aquariums were drawing crowds with giant jellyfish displays. It stayed in the back of his mind as he graduated and started a career in a different industry.

A biotech job in San Francisco area seemed like a stepping stone to a bright future until the economy crumbled and Alex was left to pick up the pieces with nothing more than credit cards.

Andon says, "I was working 100 hour weeks weekend nights / until things starting clicking."

And click they did. His bigger tanks sell for thousands of dollars.

"A week ago we were operating out a one car garage and now we're in a 15-hundred square foot warehouse."

Alex hopes to sell his aquariums in retail stores, too.

"I'm very happy with the way things have turned out, I'm going a lot better than I would have if I stayed at my old job."

The failing economy forced him into uncharted waters where he found success.

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UPDATE 11-10-2010 Part 3
The recession wiped out millions of jobs in this country. And for some of the unemployed, the crisis brought out an entrepreneurial flair they never knew they had.
Alexis Christoforous met up with a laid-off attorney - who cooked up a gender revolution - with cupcakes.

New York, NY - When David Arrick is in the kitchen, expect an extra shot of testosterone in your cupcakes.

"Good, right? Explosive flavor!"

Arrick started the Butch Bakery - to make cupcakes for men. You won't find pastel frosting or sprinkles. Think camoflage...Herringbone - and a shot of booze. Flavors like rum and coke, or beer with peanuts are making headlines - and selling through his web site by the thousands.

Arrick says, "95 percent of my business is women. They're buying for guys. No more cufflinks, no more ties, no more pens."

Pens and cufflinks used to be a big part of Arrick's life. Before he started baking for a living, he spent his days in this high rise office building working as an attorney.

His practice was tied to the mortgage market. One of the first casualties of the recession. Arrick was laid off and out of work for more than a year. Until the day he noticed that in spite of the recession, New York's expensive cupcake bakeries had lines out the door.

Arrick says, "I thought I'm going to figure out how to do this, how to do it my way, how to do it differently. And I did. I thought I'm going to make cupcakes for guys."

Which doesn't mean women don't like them too.

"Mmm, is that the caramel inside? Yeah, yeah, yeah"

Arrick's been in business for about a year and is already delivering about 400 cupcakes a week in New York City. Just enough to break even. It's a long way from his six-figure salary as an attorney, but the rewards are still sweet.

Arrick is working on opening his first storefront..and has a reality TV show in the works.

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UPDATE 11-9-2010 Part 2
A lot of people lost their jobs in the recession and are struggling to find work. Aarin Sinclair took a gamble and cooked up a whole new business inside her apartment.
Sandra Hughes shows us how she reinvented herself in our special series Recession Reinvention:

Torrance, CA - Aarin Sinclair makes, sells, and ships all her products right from the kitchen of her studio apartment:

"Ivi scents has three products currently sugar scrub, a lotion and a soap."

Launching Iviscents without a dime to spare for advertising, Aarin invested in social media

Coaxing YouTube testimonials out of online reviewers. Her unique scents like birthday cake, hawaiian cake and sandcastle are all natural ..

"What is this one? Smelling it? It's called night in shining armor. It smells heavenly!"

She's discovered the sweet smell of success after a dark time in her life. The recession hit California hard forcing teacher's to take days off without pay and then layoffs. Aarin had just gone to work as an eighth grade history teacher at XX Stanford Middle School in Long Beach when she got her pink slip.

Sinclair says, "I took the last $500 out of my bank account and bought the first batch of overhead to start this business, and that was the last $500 to your name? TO MY NAME!"

Walking away from teaching wasn't easy, but the recession focused Arrin like nothing else and now she's glad it did:

"You have to have a vision and you have to have a plan. I'm making more now as a business owner than I did before when I was teaching."

But she's not stopping here:

"In five years I hope to be on the shelves at Sephora."

Right now, Aarin Sinclair is focused on creating what her fans on Facebook and Twitter have requested - a sulfate free shampoo, conditioner and an iviscent perfume.

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11-8-2010 Part 1
For the first part of our series on Recession Reinventions, Alexis Christoforous met up with a laid-off banker - who found out she's really an entrepreneur.

New York, NY - Christine Marchuska has always had a passion for fashion, but never thought she'd see her own name on the label.

Christine Marchuska,fashion entrepreneur, says, "It's a lot of hard work. I didn't think it would happen overnight. I didn't think I would have the success I would have"

Especially since she came to the fashion world with no experience at all. An Ivy League grad, marchuska had followed a different path to Wall Street until the credit crisis in 2008. That's when Morgan Stanley laid off her entire department.

After six years in banking, Marchuska says she was burned out and ready for a fresh start. So she gathered up her savings, took a sewing class -- and C. Marchuska was born.

It's an environmentally friendly label... Using materials like hemp and organic cotton. Everything's made locally...And the line reflects her tastes and values.

Marchuska says, "I wanted to make sure it included all these different aspects I'm passionate about. Fashion, the environment, philanthropy."

She sells her clothes on-line and through a network of small retailers., and though she doesn't expect to be profitable for several more years, she has no plans to head back to Wall Street.

Marchuska says, "I wasn't particularly ecstatic about finance at the end of my career. I enjoyed it, it was easy to take the paycheck."

Marchuska works harder now, and makes less money, but says getting laid off may have opened the door to designing a more fulfilling future.


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