Four Sussex County Woman were recently nominated for the 2021 Womanprenuer of the Year Award.
The Red Shoe Sussex County Chapter wanted to honor a local business woman who inspires others with their leadership, energy, concern for people, and commitment to business and the local community.
The announcement was made at The Red Shoe Sussex Stepping Out for DASI held at the Lake Mohawk Country Club in Sparta, a fundraiser for BW NICE and DASI (Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Intervention), a nonprofit with a 37-year history of serving victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The women nominated for Womanprenuer of the Year are Dr. Michele Takacs of DC of Vitality Health Center in Lafayette; Dodie Guardia of Brighter Than the Sun, LLC SUP & SUP Yoga, located in Sparta; Sarah Ziccardi of Sparta Dairy and Anthony Ziccardi Studios in Sparta; and the winner, Rosie Sanchez of Plentifull Kitchen in Wantage.
Rosie Sanchez, winner
Sanchez grew up in the Bronx, the sixth daughter to a single mother. She was the first of her generation to be born in the states.
She grew up in poverty, but a few school trips to Sussex County and upstate New York showed her a better life. After a tough road, she graduated high school and received a scholarship to Temple University.
At age 21, she found herself in an abusive relationship that caused her to flee to Shelter our Sisters Domestic Violence women’s shelter in Jersey City. She completed the program, graduating from the Hudson County Community Action Corporation Program. Ten months later she was recruited into an affirmative action program and was able to find employment for customs and logistical, maritime and international trade work. All along she had side hustles: real estate agent, loan modification officer, cleaner of offices and apartments with her oldest daughter after work, short sale specialist, mobile notary, caterer.
She’s been baking since learning she was pregnant with her first daughter, who is now 22. Plentifull Kitchen has been operating for two years with a five-month shutdown in between. She aspires to grow her business to the place where she can put her three remaining daughters through college debt free.
Sanchez said she owes her success to God, to the unending support of the Beemerville Fire Company, and to her daughters, who believed in her vision and whose help in the kitchen at the start is the backbone of the company. She also credits the Referral Roundtable, the business group that helped her navigate through rough waters, and Joanne Vallone, who helped her to “basically sort her entire life out.”
Today, Plentifull Kitchen is licensed for both retail and wholesale operations. Their products are found in 16 stores in Sussex, Ocean, Warren, Washington counties in New Jersey and and Orange County in New York.
Dr. Michele Takacs, nominee
For over 35 years, Dr. Takacs (“Dr. T”) has helped Sussex County residents eliminate pain and regain health and function through wellness. In an often hectic and fast-paced health care system, she has maintained a close doctor-patient relationship and prides herself on getting to know each patient’s life story before recommending a personalized wellness program.
She was raised on her family’s farm in Sparta, where she worked side-by-side with her dad baling hay and raising bees, vegetables, and apples. After graduating Sparta High School, she attended Carnegie-Mellon University and Chatam College in Pittsburgh and went on to get her Doctor of Chiropractic at Life University in Marietta Georgia in 1984.
Over the past 35 years, Dr. Takacs has supported fundraisers for Project Self Sufficiency, DASI, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sussex County, Ginnie’s House and Father John’s Animal Shelter. Through outreach programs for her church, she has held volunteer executive positions helping raise money for programs dealing in anti-drug education, literacy, and ethics.
She volunteers more than five hours a week to these causes and often contributes well over 10 hours a week, in addition to her other interests.
She lives in Sussex County with her husband, Larry, and can often be found bicycling the Paulinskill Trail, skiing Whiteface in the ADK or simply playing grandma. She has three children and two grandchildren who bring her much joy.
Sarah Ziccardi, nominee
Sarah Ziccardi of Sparta Dairy & Anthony Ziccardi Studios is 35 years old, born and raised in Sussex County. A mother of two beautiful boys, she currently lives and works in Sparta.
In 2020 she purchased and revitalized a 60-year-old landmark in town, the Sparta Dairy. She worked tirelessly to build a brand that not only brings joy to customers via delicious ice cream but also continues to support the local community.
In the short Covid year, they have been operating she has raised funds for local sports teams, clubs and non-profits, and created and sponsored local scholarships for the Sparta’s graduating seniors.
When Ziccardi isn’t running the local ice cream shop, she is co-owner, alongside her husband, of Anthony Ziccardi Studios, which s specializes in wedding photography and cinematography. Voted Best Photographers for over 10 years, her team photographs over 250 weddings each season.
Committed to reinvesting in her community, Sarah is a strong supporter of Susan G. Komen North Jersey and Benny’s Bodega as well as other local non-profits, Ziccardi is also a board member of the John Wright Memorial Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit started after her brother died at age 17 to award scholarships to graduating seniors in the art and business fields.
In 2022, Ziccardi will cross off another item on her bucket list and run with the St. Jude Hero’s in the NYC Marathon.
When she is not managing her businesses, she can be found dressing up as Wonder Woman with her boys, traveling with her husband, dancing in the kitchen or working out on her Peloton.
Dodie Guardia, nominee
Dodie Guardia of Brighter Than the Sun, LLC SUP & SUP Yoga began her journey in Wilmington, N.C. She was just returning from Colorado, where she and her husband spent four years raising their two children.
Her studies began with hatha yoga, the unification of asanas with pranayama, bringing peace to body and mind. Bringing two things together to balance a whole resonated with her.
After completing her yoga certification, she began teaching. Her strong desire to be in nature drove her to move her classes outdoors.
Her introduction to paddleboarding opened her to the world of paddleboard yoga. She studied in one of the first-ever programs, developed at Wrightsville SUP in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and completed her certification. She fell in love with letting go of expectations and judgment. There is only one place you can be out on the water, with your breath.
Guardia and her family moved in 2015 to Long Island, where she refined her paddling skills. Intrigued by the USA Paddleboard team, she learned under their coach.
While settling her family in Sparta, she trained to became a Core Pad-dleFit coach and a year later completed her PaddleFit Pro certification. They purchased a home on Lake Mohawk, where she could share her passion for paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga. She opened the doors to Brighter Than the Sun, LLC SUP & SUP Yoga and began teaching members and their guests on Lake Mohawk and privately on other lakes nearby.
Her reward is her students’ bright smiles when they come in from the water. It has taken four years to develop an active SUP community on Lake Mohawk. It takes courage to try something new, to change safe, old habits. Paddle-boarding and Paddleboard yoga let go of the safe and play to your edge.