2018 Business Women of the Year
On November 2nd, women (and some men, too!) from our community came together at BW NICE’s Red Shoe Event Luncheon and Fashion Show to raise awareness for domestic abuse and celebrate women in our county who are making a difference in the lives of others.
During this event, one businesswoman from our area, nominated by her peers, was given the Businesswoman of the Year award. This year’s award went to the President and CEO of Big Apple Beauty Supply, Inc., BABSHair.com, and LadyD’s Hats & Fascinators, Donna Heath-Gonzalez.
Donna is a mother, grandmother, and avid supporter of her community who believes in the importance of “paying it forward.” Not only does Donna give tirelessly to her family, she also supports various women’s organizations in our community and the American Cancer Society. She even donates countless turkeys and desserts for Thanksgiving meals. We had a chance to learn more about Donna to see just how this busy woman does it all.
Q. Tell us about yourself and how you started your career.
A. I am originally from the beautiful island of Jamaica. I have two sons and one grandson. I am a graduate of Baruch College in New York City with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. I moved to the Poconos twelve years ago and was commuting to New Jersey for work. I knew it was a sacrifice, so I decided to invest that same time and effort in pursuing my entrepreneurial dream. Realizing my passion would also fuel my purpose in an industry that would meet the needs of women and their families. I did some research because I knew how important hair, beauty, and self-expressions were for women, especially those experiencing hair challenges due to medical reasons. With that being said, Big Apple Beauty Supply was birthed.
Q. When did you establish BABS and how has it grown?
A. Big Apple Beauty Supply was established in June 2008 in East Stroudsburg, PA. We opened a second location in October 2013 in Scranton, PA, and I launched my online store
BABSHair.com in May 2017.
Q. How were you able to manage raising a family and running a business?
A. When I started my business, both of my sons were already in junior high and high school, so it was much easier for me to transition from working in Corporate America to becoming an entrepreneur.
Q. What piece of advice would you give other women working towards success of their own?
A. My advice to women who are working towards success is for them to identify their passion, because your purpose corresponds with your passion. Once they realize that concept, working towards success seems more attainable, because they are passionately driven to pursue the journey towards success. While they are on the journey towards success, they must also realize that success comes with sacrifice, so be prepared to be persistent.
Q. Businesswoman of the Year is a huge accomplishment. What does winning this award mean to you?
A. Winning the Businesswoman of the Year Award is truly an honor and a huge accomplishment for me. It means that if I can perceive it, I can achieve it. It reminds me that I’ve kept my promises that I will be an entrepreneur who cares about and gives back to my community.
Q. You are very involved in the community and strive to give back. What are some of the causes you are most passionate about?
A. I am very passionate about the well-being of our children, education, hunger, women’s issues, and the elderly. I work on community events to support each of these causes, including an annual back-to-school supplies giveaway, a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Winter Coats for Kids, and providing toiletries for men and women in halfway houses and shelters. This Christmas, I will be giving robes to the elderly in nursing homes, and next spring I will be helping to provide prom attire for high school seniors
Q. You recently established a scholarship fund. What led to the establishment of this fund?
A. As I said before, I am very passionate about the well-being of our children and education. As a mother of two sons, I know how challenging the cost of education can be. I strongly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to achieve an education. I also believe that assisting one child with a textbook will make a difference in that child’s life, future, community, and the world.
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A. I normally have a long work day between my East Stroudsburg, Scranton, and online stores, so getting some well needed rest and catching up with family and friends is very relaxing for me.
*Photo courtesy of: Shawn Stewart @ LightMaster Studios, LLC
Big Apple Beauty Supply, Inc.
5224 Milford Road, Suite 153East Stroudsburg, PA 18301