Gabriella (DiVirgilio) Mammone
Pilon School of Business
Degree: Business - Human Resources and Marketing
Year of graduation: 1995
When planning my wedding, I spent months driving around to find all the goods and services I needed for the big day. Following the birth of my first baby, I purchased favours and gifts online, but was somewhat disappointed in the lack of choices available and the cost. That’s when it hit me. I had found a gap in the giftware industry and was determined to fill it. People want fast, reliable and affordable products outside of retail store hours. I love event planning. I love shopping. So I put the two together and created www.occasiongiftware.com, a website that provides favours, gifts, keepsakes and bomboniere for special events. I formed my company following 15 years in the staffing industry, most recently as a Corporate Communications Manager.
One of the biggest challenges of running an online business is not just attracting customers to the site, but converting them into buying customers. This requires daily website management – search engine optimization tactics, social networking, researching new products and online trends. But the advantages of running a home-based business are wonderful. It’s such a beautiful experience to see how happy customers are when their event comes together as they envisioned.
I’m a big advocate of volunteering. I have participated in workshops in local high schools and also dedicate my time annually to the MS Society. On the academic side, I have returned to Sheridan as a guest speaker, promoting effective interviewing skills, resume writing and career management to business students. Last year, I served on the Grants Committee for the City of Mississauga. For three years I was a member of the Board of Directors for the Carassauga Festival of Cultures in Mississauga – Ontario’s largest multicultural festival. Most recently, I was the Auction Chair for Sheridan’s 2010 Big Picture Gala. I’m happy to give back to Sheridan, as the college has transformed me into the business woman I am today. Lending my time and experience to various organizations has allowed me to develop skills that help me in my business and also provide me with a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction. Giving back is an essential component of becoming a better person.
My dream of starting my own business is now a reality. But it’s one thing to dream; it’s another to act on your dream. If you make a critical path and plan out your dream, then you’ve made your map to success.
It’s important to be realistic, however, as there will be bumps along the road. The key is to make the best of your situation. Whether you have an illness, lost your job, or experienced a tragedy, don’t say, “Why me?” Instead, challenge your mind to say, “Why not me?”. Find a way to get your passion back and succeed. If you condition your mind to do so, then you will. It’s that simple.