This is an article that published in the Boston Voyager
Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosemary Farina.
Rosemary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My willingness and ability to take on new challenges, learn new things, work hard, act with integrity, and persevere through adversity all have helped shape my career and contributed to my success. While there were many twists and turns along the way, my ability to connect with people and follow my instincts with respect to business situations has served me well over the years. These attributes have all combined to make me the successful entrepreneur and business owner that I am.
After graduating from Boston University, I decided to stay and work in Boston for a year. Originally from New York, I wanted to experience life living in the city as a young professional and not as a student. Truth be told, I really fell into my job not realizing it would be my career. While in college I worked in an Italian clothing boutique. I always loved clothes, selecting colors, and putting perfect outfits together for customers. It came naturally to me. It was in my heritage as both my grandfather and mother had been artists.
I realized that a successful career in retail would be a long and frustrating journey. I also considered becoming an investment advisor as I had a strong interest, drive, and desire for the investment profession. However, after much deliberation, I concluded that as a very young woman without any investment experience, it would be hard to sell myself to prospective clients. This didn’t stop me from wanting to be successful.
After ruling out retail and investment services, I interviewed for what was then called a personnel consultant, what we know as a recruiter or job placement agency. I was hired on the spot. It was a tough job, but I found that my experience in the retail business helped me to learn the new job. I was always great at sales and customer service. Those skills helped in working with a broad range of people. I could always connect to people, engage them, and earn their trust. I realized pretty quickly that being in the right company would be critical to my success.
My new job was with a small agency that would become a very big one over the next few years. I was in my early twenties and worked with other young people. We were mostly a year or two out of school. Eventually, some older and more mature people joined the company. For the most part, it was a work hard, play hard environment. We were all making money and having fun. Everyone was single or had a significant other and no one was married. We were all living the good life as young professionals in the city.
I loved my job and the people. It was a bit like a dysfunctional family. I learned a lot and my instincts were always spot on. I was having fun and making a good deal of money for my age. I didn’t have nearly the confidence that I have now. It was a perfect place for me at the time to really get to know the business. I learned about different people and different styles and came to understand that my own intuition would always serve me well. Later on, in my career, I realized how invaluable the intuitive part of me would become.
Changes in the economy played a huge part in the challenges of the job. When the recession hit, companies stopped hiring. I learned quickly that those of us who were committed and really great at our jobs had a higher level of accomplishment and success in what was a very tough business environment. Surviving the economic downturn showed me the importance of hard work and perseverance.
During this time I was living with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. Many years later I landed a new job at a small but successful firm. I became very close to the owner and the management team. Again I was very happy, making more money than I ever dreamed. To top it off, I also married my husband during this period.
I am someone who has an insatiable appetite for knowledge, learning new things, and taking on new challenges. At one point during my time with this small recruiting firm, the owner of the firm offered me a great opportunity which involved working both my regular job and also serving as the HR Recruiter at one of the Big Four Accounting Firms in the city. It never occurred to me to say no. I took on my new role with excitement and energy. I was working two full-time jobs simultaneously, half a day at the Accounting Firm and the other at my regular office. To be successful I had to learn my new job quickly. A quick two-hour training and I was ready to go. I was never fearful, I just took on whatever was thrown my way and did my best using a. keen sense of focus and determination.
I had a good situation and a great relationship with the owner of the firm. I was promoted to Executive Vice President and pretty much came and went as I pleased. I had all the advantages of being the owner but none of the responsibilities or headaches that come with that.
After a time, however, I felt that I needed more of a challenge. Perhaps it was time to have my very own business. With my many years of experience and my savvy business instincts, it was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. I knew, without question, that I could do it. Of course, I had some concerns, but I also realized that if I did not pursue this now, when would I do it?
With that same fearless gusto I’ve had throughout my career, Signature Staffing Inc. was born in July 2000. There was a lot of work to do in getting the office ready to open. After finding the perfect office location, hiring an attorney and an accountant, buying computers and office equipment, etc., Signature Staffing, Inc. officially opened after Labor Day 2000.
It was successful from the start. But things change, the economy goes through cycles. Other businesses had a strong impact on my company. I knew I had to be lean and mean in order to survive. It was important to keep my overhead low, to never take too much money out for personal gain but just keep putting it back in the company, to have integrity, and never lose sight of the importance of that. I stayed true to my mission throughout, running a boutique recruiting agency with high standards for both the candidates and the clients. This proved to be my recipe for success. It was critically important to listen carefully to both what the client wanted and what the candidate was looking for. Making good solid matches was key; if the client was happy then I would get more business and referrals. The same held true for the candidate. I did not want to send a parade of people in for a job. Finding the right person for each job was my goal.
Again, my good instincts and hard work paid off. When the recession hit in 2008 I barely felt it. It helped that I was diversified in the industries and job types that I represented, including Administrative, IT, Healthcare, Finance, Real Estate, Marketing, Engineering, etc. I was always reinventing myself and taking on challenges whenever they presented themselves. I never considered the possibility that I would fail.
An interruption was on the horizon that I never saw coming. Sadly, I lost my mother on Labor Day Weekend of 2014. Having already lost my father years before, I was not prepared for how much my mother’s death would turn my world upside down and leave me so grief-stricken.
My mother lived for ten years with four types of cancer. Despite her illnesses, she lived each day to the fullest. A world traveler she continued to travel with her husband to exotic and rugged terrain such as Israel, Alaska, and Asia. She would be gone for weeks at a time. She lived every minute with vim and vigor. She rode elephants, swam with the dolphins, and experienced tasting new cuisine. She truly lived each day to the fullest and never let her illness stop her. She was truly inspirational to me.
My mother lived in New York City and Laguna Beach, a bicoastal life. And as I mentioned earlier, she was also an artist. Her father was a very successful real estate developer and a fabulous artist. He was very entrepreneurial. My mother would always tell me I inherited my creativity and strong work ethic from my grandfather.
The last few weeks of her life were so unbearable. The cancer had gone to her brain. She was in excruciating pain and went from driving her car, painting, and grocery shopping to a wheelchair and unable to walk. It was heartbreaking.
Why do I tell the story of my mother? I am a spiritual person and I believe in good coming from bad situations. A month after her passing I was contacted by a company and they urged me to get my FBO and SAM certifications. As a woman-owned minority business, it would prove profitable for me. It took three years for all of that to finally happen. These are government approved designations that allow small business owners to bid on jobs with all types of government business, including municipalities, state, and federal government offices. It is very hard to get and extremely time-consuming. If I knew what I was getting involved in, I never would have said yes. There were so many roadblocks and problems in achieving this designation. The company that was supposedly helping me through the application process went out of business. Somehow, I managed to get through it all by having courage and faith in myself.
I also have an all-consuming love for animals. One of my charities is the MSPCA. I am a dog lover. My husband and I now have our third dog. We have a beautiful golden doodle. He is a second generation Standard White Poodle and Golden Retriever. Our dog is the love of my life; he gets me through the rough patches. If you are an animal lover, then you know what a great source of joy and unconditional love these creatures bring to our lives.
In many ways, I inherited my mother’s fearless attitude and belief in my abilities, a feeling that there is nothing I could not do. The fortitude and the focus are intense, but it is just a drive I have always had. She also loved dogs!
Out of nowhere, the spring following my mother’s death I was contacted to be interviewed by the Huffington Post about my business.
Remarkably a month later, I was offered a segment on AM radio twice a week as the station’s business expert. Without an ounce of prior experience, I was on the air and a true natural. I loved it.
A few months later I was offered the opportunity to create my own show. I called it Signature Style. It was about me, my life, travel, and interviewing esteemed guests that I knew and had invited to be on my show. I would host the show when I traveled and brought the audience to my destination. I discussed the food, the wine, and the culture of whatever place I visited. I know a lot of successful and interesting people in the city who were willing participants as my guests on the show. It was a delight to share them with the listeners. I produced and created the show by myself.
It was great, but my baby, Signature Staffing, was getting pushed to the side. As much as I hated to, therefore, I asked to be released from my contract so I could concentrate on my business.
After leaving Signature Style I gave 100% to Signature Staffing, Inc. I found that it allowed me to have a little more time to pursue a few things I wanted to try.
I just starting playing golf and I love it. My days of being thrown from horses in Cabo, and spraining my ankles playing tennis are behind me! Again I am learning something new as I have done throughout my life. I think the secret to my success is a combination of always treating everyone fairly and with respect, being open to anything, being fearless, and constantly recreating myself. It is also paramount to keep remembering that everything must change, that a bad market turns good and a good one turns bad. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for the rainy day, and never bite off more than you can chew. Have integrity no matter what. Go with your gut and take a chance. I did all of that and I am so glad that I did. It has helped make me the successful entrepreneur and business owner that I am today.