‘Women Entrepreneurs in NYC’ Panel to Feature Successful SU Alumnae


By, Erica Blust, Syracuse News

Three Syracuse University alumnae who successfully launched their own businesses and ventured into new realms in the professional world will come together on Tuesday, Sept. 24, for the panel discussion “Women Entrepreneurs in NYC: Creative Ideas and New Beginnings” at the Joseph I. Lubin House, 11 E. 61st St., New York City. Emme ’85, Cindy Touma ’82 and Ryan Wilde ’02 will be joined by moderator Nicole Samolis for the 6:30 p.m. discussion, which will include an audience question-and-answer session. A reception will precede the panel discussion at 5:30 p.m.


The panel discussion and reception are presented by the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and the WISE Women’s Business Center of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.






Emme, a 1985 VPA graduate with a bachelor of science degree in speech communication, is an iconic supermodel; TV host; nationally recognized women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem; adult and children’s book author; sought-after national lecturer; creative director for her women’s community EmmeNation, EmmeNation Whole You National Tour series and clothing lines; and proud mom. The main goal of EmmeNation, her newest business venture, is to help women connect with their bodies, minds and spirits. Her tour series includes the EmmeNation Whole You Cruise, which will take its maiden voyage to Bermuda in May 2014 on the Norwegian Breakaway.


Emme is also a member of the Healthy Media Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls and is a proud ambassador of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).


Cindy Touma

Touma co-founded CanUWorkTomorrow.com, a New York City-based, women-owned company. This dynamic job search web site and social network is directed at the underserved return-to-work and mid-career woman. Touma co-founded CanUWorkTomorrow with friend Karen Frankel after seeing a need in the current job market and discovering that no one was meeting it. Her idea was to make positive connections with businesses and educated women who needed short-term work and would be available to work tomorrow, on site, at local businesses. She is determined to change the way companies hire, re-introducing them to brainpower ready to work hard and smart.

After a career at Macy’s New York, Touma left the corporate world and for 10 years owned and operated her own retail store that offered fabrics, furniture and interior design accessories. She is an avid supporter of St. Jude Children’s Hospital and a 1982 graduate of the Whitman School, with a bachelor of science degree in retailing.


Ryan Wilde


Wilde, a 2002 VPA alumna with a bachelor of fine arts degree in art photography, has become an integral part of the New York City hat-making community. Ryan Wilde Millinery was founded in 2005 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 2008, she opened her shop Tria and then IDA in 2011. Her hats have been carried in Henri Bendel, Patricia Field and Harvey Nichols. She has also been featured in Vogue, Bazaar and W Magazine, along with many other notable publications.


Most recently, Wilde took on the role of millinery director for J.J. Hat Center and Pork Pie Hatters. J.J. Hat Center is the oldest hat store in New York City and a staple in New York menswear since 1911. J.J.’s and Pork Pie will be launching Phrenology NYC, an in-house, handmade collection that will include both men’s and women’s headwear. Wilde will be designing and handmaking this new bespoke collection out of the Morgan Fine Arts Building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. See her work at http://ryanwilde.com.




Nicole Samolis


Samolis, a Certified Special Events Professional, is the president and founder of the Events Company, an event design, planning and production firm headquartered in Syracuse. Founded in 1996, her firm works with corporate, not-for-profit and social clients predominantly in Central New York, with a handful of national clients. She has more than 20 years of experience in sales, business development and operations, product design and presentation, project management and human resource training and development, with 15 of those years specifically in event management.


Samolis, who holds a bachelor of professional studies degree in fashion design and business management from Marist College, is an active member of the Central New York business community and a connector. She sits on the CenterState CEO advisory board, the WISE Women Business Center’s board of directors and the Entrepreneurial Society of CNY board of directors. She is also a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

The panel and reception are free. SU alumni who wish to attend should R.S.V.P. at invite.syr.edu/WomenEntrepreneursEvent/. For additional questions, contact Traci Washburn, VPA director of alumni affairs, at 315-443-4728 or tmwashbu@syr.edu.

Canuworktomorrow Founder’s Update: Falling Forward

Category : FOUNDERS

Founder’s Update: 

by Heather Prantis

Officially fall  has arrived.  What is fall?  What does fall mean to you?  Literally, it’s the transition from summer to winter but, really it is a whole lot more.  A few off the top of my head…  Cool, crisp nights.  Football and Soccer  Sundays.  Apples, apples and more apples.  The fall foliage:  beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.  Let’s not forgot raking leaves into piles so, that you can jump in them.  Fun times, right?  Yes, they are.  Oh, and let’s not forget the kids heading back to school!  For most of us this is the epitome of fall.  And I’m sure you can think of a few to, right?

Let’s head to the East coast and check in with our Founder’s, Cindy and Karen, and see what fall means to them and find out what’s hot and happening in their neck of the woods.

Here’s what Cindy says…


As Cindy leaves a busy summer behind she’s excited for her kid’s to be back in school and to be back to work.  With her kids back to school it gives her the extra energy and motivation to get back to it!  It’s time to leave those comfy workout clothes behind and step into fabulous fall fashion.  Back to it with a vengeance!

There’s something special about fall to Cindy, any guesses?  Let me help you a tad bit: visualize a very young Anthony Michael Hall singing to Molly Ringwald “You say it’s your birthday…!”.  Remember his drum-roll on the dashboard?  Your smiling right now, aren’t you?  I thought so.  A birthday shout out just for you Cindy courtesy of Sixteen Candles and the Beatles.  Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist!  Everyone deserves a little excitement on their special day, right?  Right.  Happy Birthday Cindy!  I hope you had a magical day.

Besides celebrating and working hard,  Cindy loves fall shopping.  Shopping that is, for those key fall pieces that will one day soon be making their way into her closet.  And let me point out that someone [Cindy] is rather intrigued by the season’s reddish brick hue that has been popping up around town and on the runways.  A few dashes of the bold shade will definitely be added to Cindy’s fall looks.  Her key wardrobe picks will of course include: jeans, wool pants, and black leggings.  Cindy loves jeans, a definite staple to her fall wardrobe, and they are the new wool pant.  Cindy’s signature look: a chic pair of True Religion or AG jeans paired with an over sized black sweater, a classic Gucci bag, a fabulous pair of boots, and crisp white shirt or maybe even a splash of color.  And let’s not forget the accessories.  Yes, yes and yes!  Her list definitely includes a stop by the Michael Kors store for a belt or two or three, and how about an Hermes scarf that special texture, elegance and color.

Her absolute must-have item for fall is boots, boots and more boots.  Oh, yes!  Short boots, tall boots, winter boots, rain boots, sexy boots.  Cindy will be on the lookout for a very special pair of black (her signature color) over the knee, sky-high, designer boots are calling her name.  Each of us needs the one sexy pair, right?  Oh, yes we do!  They are so calling her name right now.  Can you hear it?  I can.  And to finish off her new fall look Cindy will most assuredly make her way over to the Lancôme counter for a few favorites.  A little drama for those lashes, a little color shine for those lips, and a fabulous bright eye for fall.

What does fall mean to you?  What key pieces are you adding to your wardrobe?  Any colors calling your name?  The Founder’s of canUworktomorrow, Cindy and Karen, would love to hear from you and all about what fall means to you.  Please share your comments on Facebook, Twitter or here on Spotlight.

Heather Pranitis, Guest Writer, signing off.  Can’t wait to check with Karen for her early winter plans. For more buzz on Heather head over to this & that…

Canuworktomorrow: How It All Started

Category : FOUNDERS

It all started with an idea. And a few important “key” components. A grande skim latte. A car ride. A conversation. And her hubby. As Cindy savored the latte she discussed a business dilemma with Joseph. Little did she know, she helped solve his problem and a new idea began to brew.

Cindy’s husband was looking for a way to grow his lighting business. He wanted to branch out and grow in other states but, with little to no additional overhead. And let’s not forget the painful process of interviewing, training, and hiring new employees. When you are looking to grow a business you don’t want to be “bogged” down with the idiosyncrasies that are involved in the growing pains. As Cindy listened to her husband’s excitement and his concerns of the possibilities that lie ahead she thought “what” can I do to make this situation easier, go smoother, and successful? As she sipped her latte she thought “who do I know in that state, that town, that area of business…”?

Cindy took another sip of her latte and called her friend. Low and behold, her friend, Katy had the expertise needed, the ambition required, and the confidence to succeed. The confidence came rather easy due to Katy’s prior work history and college education. In essence, she had all the skills that Joseph needed. Obviously a little more “discussion” went into the assignment or expectation of the position. And “wa-la”…the end result: Joseph gained a new client and was able to step into the lighting market of a new state.

The excitement about this “idea” is that the position allowed Katy flexibility and versatility to maintain her own life all while utilizing her existing talent and job skills to complete the task. The idea of “Can U Work Tomorrow?” began to percolate. An online social job board was in the works. In comes her friend Karen, a partnership is born, and over the course of a year, and many lattes they fine-tuned the business plan.

The core values of the business reflect how Cindy and Karen live their lives, raise their families, and those they instill in their children. Flexibility and versatility are the key components. Each member of Can U Work Tomorrow needs to have a minimum one year of college and be available to work tomorrow. A crucial factor to the success of the concept is that the members are able to multi-task. The members are moms, college students, or working professionals in transition. Does this sound like you?  If yes, read on and found out “how” to sign-up.

This online job board is unique in that it reflects you the member and highlights your attributes as you see fit. It is not a temp agency and requires no resumes. It is always free to work. The profiles allow members and employers to connect one-on-one in a social, casual yet professional atmosphere. Can U Work Tomorrow or you cannot, it’s your decision entirely. The flexibility is all yours. And the versatility of the position is there for you to choose.

It’s amazing the inspiration one can get from a grande skim latte, a conversation, and a car ride. Each and every time Cindy has her “special” drink she thinks the opportunities are endless and Can U Work Tomorrow? Check out www.canuworktomorrow.com and see what it’s all about and don’t forget your latte of choice. Good Luck, and let us know about that fabulous task or project you connect to from the Can U Work Tomorrow job board. We would love to hear back. And don’t forget to share your “special” drink to. Cheers.

Posted by Heather Prantis. Visit her website http://heatherpranitis.blogspot.com to get the buzz on our newest blogger!