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Dormont, Brookline Business Owners Win Awards

Cassandra Gillen and Jacqueline Capatolla were recipients of WSBA awards in April.

The Women’s Small Business Association has named two local women among its top women business owners of 2012.

Cassandra Gillen, owner of on West Liberty Avenue in , was named the 2012 WSBA Woman of the Year. Jacqueline Capatolla, owner of on Brookline Boulevard in Brookline, was named the 2012 WSBA Best Business Woman in Pittsburgh.

Although the awards were different, the criteria was similar – both required business owners to show professionalism and quality in their own business, as well as support to their communities and to other local businesses.

Owning a small business is hard work, the women said, but the “giving” part of the job seems to come easily to both.

Capatolla has participated in events with the Brookline Chamber of Commerce and the South Pittsburgh Development Corporation. Her staff also has collected canned goods and sponsored basket raffles for the Brookline food pantry, and has donated products to Mom’s House of Pittsburgh. She is in the process of writing a book about starting a new business.

She also started Jacqueline’s Inside Out program, with the goal of helping young women establish confidence and self esteem. Together with her daughter, Capatolla has hosted or helped organize events that feature
makeovers, motivational speakers, mentoring female students, and helping women prepare for job interviews.

“We want to help women feel better inside about themselves,” Capatolla said. “Here, we can help with outside beauty, which we’ve done, but we want to help them have that inner confidence, too.”

Gillen also has quite the resume of service work.

Her eclectic floral shop is, as she says, “not your grandmother’s florist.” In addition to her work as a full-service florist, Gillen also sells antiques, jewelry, bath products, hand-poured candles, greeting cards and other items in her store. Many items are handmade locally, and each display is accompanied by the business cards of other women business owners.

“This store is me,” she said. “It’s a representation of everything I love. When you have something in the community, you have to welcome people in. You have to be welcoming and invite people to be part of it.”

Gillen started a “Change for Change” program She has made either monetary donations or donated floral arrangements to Friends of Dormont Pool, the Dormont Athletic Boosters Association, Dig Dormont, , Mt. Lebanon High School marching band, the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, Pittsburgh Social Exchange, Dress for Success and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“It all goes back to treating others as you want to be treated,” Gillen said. “If I can help somebody, I will.”

Gillen said her business is always growing and changing, and Capatolla’s is, too - she recently opened a second location for her business in Downtown Pittsburgh. Both women said they were surprised and honored to receive
their awards.

“I was surrounded by women in the same position as me,” Capatolla said. “I just told them I was happy to be there, and that it was an honor to get the award, with everyone there trying to accomplish the same things.”

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Cassie from CASSANDRA'S FLORALS April 17, 2012 at 08:42 PM
THANK YOU SO MUCH Susan Miller of the WSBA for having such an awesome organization where you have the opportunity to give out such wonderful awards. I feel so lucky to be in the accompaniment of such amazing & giving women, whom I respect tremendously. There are some pretty fabulous and fearsome women nominated right along side of me. I HAVE BEEN SO LUCKY TO HAVE SO MANY BLESSINGS LATELY & I JUST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU TO EVERYONE. YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH ALL YOUR KINDNESS HAS MEANT.

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