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THE STATE OF WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES REPORT 2018 CLAIMS THE NUMBER OF WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES IN THE U.S. HAS INCREASED NEARLY 3,000% SINCE 1972 AND WOMEN NOW MAKE UP 40% OF THE COUNTRY’S NEW ENTREPRENEURS. MONACO’S NETWORK OF FEMALE FINESSERS WHO CALL THE SHOTS IS ALSO GROWING.
Sitting at the Hotel Hermitage half listening to a pitch for a realityshow in Monaco, a local producer’s phone rang. “Sorry, I have to take this. It’s my third wife calling from the plastic surgeon’s.”
Ah yes, the jet set macho millionaires and their ladies (wives, mistresses, girlfriends) who lunch. For the outside world looking in, this is the bubble that makes up our population. But there is another female community that co-exists, those who are not content to merely sit and bat eyelashes between school runs in stilettos.
In addition to the women who make up 40.2% of the country’s work force, according to Monaco’s official Directory of Trade and Industry, Monaco is home to a group of bright and passionate entrepreneurial women who refuse to be defined be gender, culture or age. Meet the Monaco Entrepreneurial Women 2019.
Natalia Cola Contemporary Arts
For Natalia Cola branching out as an art business entrepreneur was instinctive. Most ofher life has revolved around art and providing
greater access to it—not just for the privileged few but for mainstream society—became her mission.
In addition to advising aspiring and experienced collectors from her base in Monaco, home to many important private art collections, Cola hosts her own “Natalia Cola Presents” series of art events (see p. 30), which debuted in March with a gala and private auction at the Westbury, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Mayfair owned by the Cola family. (She married Azad Cola, a multimillionaire hotelier in Monaco.) Depending on the particular artist, she sells pieces from $10,000 to $100,000.
With a Doctorate in Philosophy, the Ukrainian enrolled at the Kiev Art Academy where she developed her skills as an art critic deepening her knowledge in theory and art history. After graduating she worked independently with a number of leading galleries and artists in Ukraine.
Cola believes “clarity precedes success” and focuses philanthropic efforts as a patron of the Serpentine Galleries in London.
The mother of three acknowledges that running your own business can disrupt your personal life, and you
need to find a balance. “Things might not be easy in the beginning, so it is important you start something you are really passionate about.”
Sabrina Monteloene - Øeino
The daughter of a tailor and a seamstress, Sabrina MonteloeneØeino opened a designer fashion-meets-home accessories store, a first
of its kind in Monaco, at age 30. Yet it was decorating her own apartment that led her to discover a niche market of chic outdoor furniture,
an alternative to abominable plastic patio chairs, and she launched her first Sabrina Monte- Carlo showroom in 1999.
“It took a lot of work but was an overnight success. Soon after yacht and villa clients started asking me for tableware, curtains and indoor furniture,” says the Monegasque, who started with one assistant and today has a team of 32—including her two daughters and sister—at
three stores in Monaco and one in Saint-Jean-Cap- Ferrat.
The interior designer, who has decorated over 150 of the world’s largest yachts, puts her success down to one rule: a happy client.
After an 11-year engagement to superyacht designer Espen Øeino, Monteloene-Øeino tied the knot to the Norwegian in August 2018 aboard
“Olivia” (where he had proposed), in front of close friends and family.
The go-to for yacht interiors recently started the “Active Women in Monaco” network, inviting key female entrepreneurs and leaders in their sectors ranging from finance to health, and from law to art. “We are finding ways to work together and learn from each other,” she says.
Sabrina Monte- Carlo partners with the Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean that takes place every September to support the prince’s environment foundation, and supports AMADE Monaco, an association created in 1966 by Princess Grace to help protect, educate and care for
children around the world. A project closer to home is sponsoring a student at Children of Africa MC, an orphanage in Tanzaniabuilt by her oldest daughter’s childhood friend.
Still Monteloene-Øeino finds time to develop her business. “We are soon launching an e-shop for tableware and accessories —the ‘net-à-porter’ of decoration.”
Lady Monica Bacardi Film Production
Over twenty years ago, Italian born Arts and Literature major Monika Bacardi moved to Monaco where she met and married Luis Adalberto Facundo Gomez del Campo Bacardi, a descendant of the spirit company that was founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. A widow and mother of one since 2005, she threw her lifelong passion for the arts into full-time work.
In 2013, she launched the film production company AMBI Media Group together with her Italian business partner Andrea
Iervolino. With a library of over 450 Hollywood movies titles, AMBI is known to support indie films, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s 2018 “Blue Night” (made for under $3 million) and James Franco’s John Steinbeck movie adaptation “In Dubious Battle.”
On September 6, she’ll hit the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival alongside Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson and Greta Scacchi for her.
AMBI production of “Waiting for the Barbarians,” filmed late 2018 between Marrakech and Italy, and directed by Ciro Guerra. Lady of Bayfield Hall, as she’s titled, is also a partner of Iervolino Entertainment, an Italian production company that produces Hollywood movies from Italy. Until 2017, she owned Photo Magazine.
Bacardi supports several charities in Monaco and is all about “working with goodwill.” In 2015, she launched the AMBI Gala charity event that backs various organizations, including the Prince Albert of Monaco II Foundation, Children’s Aid Foundation and UforChange.
The world-traveling polyglot—she speaks French, German, English, Italian and Spanish—encourages other women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. “Everyone needs to be happy and satisfied as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, and also as a business woman.”
Margaret Hepburn Sustainable Wastewater Products for Marine and Hospitality Industries
After graduating with a degree in Psychology and English from the University of Auckland, Margaret Hepburn launched her first business,
interior design, in London at the age of 23.
After 22 years of marriage and a lengthy illness, Hepburn’s husband passed away leaving the family penniless. “Necessity is the mother of invention I always say.” Ahead of her time, she founded Hepburn BioCare, which formulates and manufactures eco-friendly cleaning and wastewater treatment, eco-labeled and OECD certified biodegradable and non-toxic products for some of the world’s biggest corporations, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Norwegian cruises lines, plus Disney World, Chevron and BP to name a few. Today she is CEO and sole owner of the multimillion dollar Hepburn BioCare Group. Years before it was ecotrendy, Hepburn developed a business that could help reduce pollution and protect the oceans and the environment. She put in a lot of long hours and travel miles, which took her away from her family in the beginning. Part of her secret to success is staying diligent and committed to growth because “people’s
jobs and futures are always on the line and clients trustmand believe in you.”
“Entrepreneurs are born rather than made, and I for one am probably unemployable. This is the second global business that I’ve built and I guess one common driving factor is financial independence. I needed to look after my family.”
The Hepburn BioCare Group engages in philanthropy, locally supporting six young girls in India through Child Care Monaco, an association that helps promote education of disadvantaged children in the world. For years the group has sponsored Mercy Ships, a floating hospital dedicated to offering medical and dental care in various areas of Africa, and helped the preservation of the elephants in Asia through Save the Asian Elephants.
Kate Powers Restaurant and Environment
Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, Kate Powers of Stars’n’Bars is crazy about the restaurant business and serving people.
Powers, who arrived in Monaco age 5 with her mother (a stateside friend of Grace Kelly), was kicked out of the house at a young age. With no support and little education, she worked her way up in the industry, from a waitresscashier- barmaid to chef and eventually moving into management. She returned to the Principality in 1986 to help her mom run a Tex- Mex restaurant, which was an instant hit, especially with Prince Rainier who named it Le Texan. It was here that Powers met her long-term business partner Didier Rubiolo.
Powers and Rubiolo recognized that despite a jet-set reputation, Monaco was also a community with working moms and dads looking for reasonably priced but quality family restaurants. In 1993, they opened Stars’n’Bars, turning an abandoned warehouse into a 3-story, 1,500-square-meter entertainment complex with one of the largest celebrity sports collections in the world, including Mika Hakkinen’s F1 racing car. They serve over half a million customers every year. “It’s a tough business. You don’t have much time for a social life outside of the restaurant,” says Powers, who became a naturalized Monegasque citizen in 2008.
The mostly organic menu leads locally in the vegetarian, vegan and nongluten departments. It was, the first restaurant to have its own urban vegetable garden, and to stop the use of plastic straws and nonbiodegradable throwaway coffee cups. 100% of the restaurant’s electricity is provided by renewable energy sources.
Powers started an “ecolution” in Monaco. Two years before Prince Albert set up his environmental foundation in 2006, she cofounded Monacology, a non-profit association dedicated to raising environmental awareness especially aimed at young people. This led to
building a team of student volunteers, Eco Angels, who pick up plastic litter and cigarette butts along the port after major events like
the Grand Prix and Yacht Show.
In 2016, Powers, cofounded EcoHub, a series of free monthly community events in theform of eco-workshops and conferences tackling social and environmental issues.
“Love what you do and the money will follow,” she shares. But more importantly, “Make a difference.”
Sophia Vaharistsouvelekakis Retail & Real Estate
Coming from an entrepreneurial family that imported food and luxury items to Greece in the fifties, Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis started in the family business from ground level.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. My parents are still my best mentors.”
She studied marketing in Switzerland and in 1992 married entrepreneur Konstantinos Tsouvelekakis, who for the past three years has been an agent for the Permasteelisa Group, representing the territories of Monaco, Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans and Turkey. (The engineering contractor played a major role in the construction of One Monte- Carlo’s seven facades.)
Today the couple are shareholders in real estate and 45 retail stores (Replay, Brooks Brothers) and department stores (Attica) in Monaco, Greece, Cyprus and the Balkans, with over 2,500 employees. The Brooks Brothers boutique in Monaco, which opened with the inauguration of the Yacht Club in 2014, is the smallest in the world. They provide items to the club’s boutique to help promote new Greek designers “who are doing their best after a crisis that deeply wounded the country.”
The Athens-born businesswoman, who is a family friend of another Monaco resident, Sir Stelios Haji- Ioannou, realized at a young age that “the sky is not the limit.” She published a book in 1984 about the first woman to win a Formula One Championship, ice raced at the 24-hour Chamonix in a Lancia Delta Integrale (Group N), came third in the 2006 Women’s 10-meter air pistol championship in Greece and, since 2013, holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of wine and champagne labels, a staggering 16,700 labels from 60 different countries.
As well as participating in philanthropic galas and associations in Monaco, Greece, Cyprus and Saint Spyridon Orthodox Church in Nice, since January 2018, Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis is president of the Hellenic Community in Monaco.
Nancy Heslin Editor
Nancy (Wilson) Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.