3 Long Island moms who turned passions into businesses
The spotlight on women and their amazing accomplishments shines brighter this March, which is a great thing. Then again, it’s always a good time to celebrate what women do — at home, at work and beyond.
We’re seizing the moment to showcase three Long Island moms who turned passions into businesses — and reaped rewards for themselves and their families.
Love, MiMi: Blinged-out hair clips crafted with love
The businessmom: Nicole Mogil, 39, is a former elementary school teacher who lives in East Islip with her husband Greg and their kids, Gavin, 11, and Mia, 7.
What’s the biz: Love, MiMi is a line of bold and colorful handmade resin hair clips that run around $3 to $17. She launched the business in September 2020, when her daughter Mia (aka, Mimi) headed to kindergarten. “I’ve always been very drawn to creative hobbies,” says Mogil, who’s enterprise has gone from kitchen table to a dedicated studio workshop in Bay Shore. The line has expanded to include blinged-out bookmarks, keychains and sunglasses.
Success secrets: Early on, Mogil joined Babes In Business Long Island, a networking group. “It was really empowering,” she says, adding that she learned how to maximize the power and reach of social media as a marketing tool. “Tags turned into shares, shares turned into follows, and follows turned into orders.” Another asset: An appealing and easy-to-use website.
Labor of love: Being a one-woman business appeals. “It’s just me. I really enjoy making every single item. It’s something I always look forward to.”
Looking ahead: “Love, MiMi has turned into something greater than I anticipated, but I look at it as my side hustle. I enjoy the flexibility of being a mom and staying involved in the kids’ school events and activities,” she says.
Alegna soap: Raising the bars changed her life
The businessmom: Angela Carillo, 66, has two adult children — Steven, 40, and Elaine, 37, and lives in Bethpage with her husband Brian Bofill.
What’s the biz: Alegna soap (her name spelled backward) began as a hobby Carillo explored after her kids left home. She has an associate degree in medical technology and a bachelor’s in biology. Mixing essential oils and other ingredients appealed to her love of science. She launched her business in 2010, selling soap made in her basement studio at craft fairs. “My house might not be clean,” she says, “but it always smells good.”
Success secrets: It’s all in the timing. “I started making and selling soap about three years before everybody else started doing it,” she says. Alegna soaps sell online and in shops, including Hitch in Babylon. Peppermint scrub, lavender-lemongrass and anise-orange are her top-sellers and retail for $9 a bar.
Labor of love: “Finding something that I loved and making it a business has taken me out of my shell,” says Carillo. “Soapmaking has taken me to do things I never thought I would do. I wrote a book called “Bath Bonanza.” I’ve spoken at conferences. I traveled to Haiti to teach women who were living in tent camps after the earthquake how to make soap.”
Looking ahead: Carillo diversifies. She teaches soapmaking and makes soaps for retailers who sell it under their own label. “I’m actually trying to get more private label orders,” she says.
Be Clear Handbags: Transparency is good business sense
The businessmom: Joey Bowen is a mother of two — Brooke, 20, and Collier, 17, who lives in Bethpage.
What’s the biz: Be Clear Handbags are transparent and come in styles and sizes that range in price from $65 to $188. The accessories are handy at sporting and other events that require see-through bags for security reasons. Bowen founded her company in 2019, after her divorce was finalized. “I needed to support myself and my kids,” she says. “It was a necessity.”
Success secrets: In 2020, Bowen’s bags, which are made overseas, premiered at a trade show at the Javits Center in New York City. “When I started it was just me in my living room,” she says, adding that there now are sales reps and a shipping warehouse. “It’s grown really fast,” she says. Beyond the website, Long Island stores including Lets Bag It in Merrick carry the product. “What comes through is that I love what I do. And if I wouldn’t carry the bag, it’s not in our line.”
Labor of love: “I’ve loved handbags and accessories since I was a kid,” says Bowen, who studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and held sales and account executive jobs before finding the role that clearly fit her best — businesswoman.
Looking ahead: “My business has taught me to never give up, to work hard, and that if you dream it you can make it happen. I’m really excited to see where this takes us. I see us one day sponsoring the Super Bowl.”