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Next Wave

BY Jayne Chase | April 9, 2018 | Feature Features

Palm Beach's business community is growing by leaps and bounds as more and more people make a conscious choice to make Florida their home. The young men and women in our “Next Wave” feature represent those making lifestyle choices for their businesses and families. To them, they wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

ELISABETH MUNDER
FOUNDER,
LUXURY INK: MEDIA, MARKETING & EVENTS

“My business was born out of 15 years of marketing and public relations in the luxury retail and consumer goods business. I started my career in New York City, where I worked for Ferragamo and Cartier, and when I met my husband there, we decided to relocate to Palm Beach because the quality of life was so much better than anywhere else. We thought it was a better place to raise a family; we had extended family here, and we just knew the work-life balance would be so much better in Palm Beach. I began working as an executive at Saks, and after six years and being approached by luxury brands to do special projects over that time, I felt that the market was in need of a company like mine. I had all this big-city/national-level experience with top luxury brands and in a unique place like Palm Beach, where the scope is so small, but the expectations and quality level is so high, I knew it was a great opportunity to take all my experience with these brands and execute them here with amazing clients. And the business in Palm Beach is a part of why we love living here so much. The people you work with are the people you see socially, or your paths cross for some reason. There is a real sense of solidarity and camaraderie here, which makes it so special. Palm Beach is a great place to work, and not a week goes by that I don’t have a conversation with someone in a Northern city who says, ‘If you can find me a job in Palm Beach, I’d move in a heartbeat.’ Dana Gers, global marketing and communications director at Net-A-Porter is my business mentor. I was so lucky to have worked for women like her who incubated my talent and gave me advice along the way.”

NICHOLAS AND MOLLY MELE
OWNERS, NICHOLAS MELE PHOTOGRAPHY

“We had been in living in New York City and Los Angeles, and when we got married and had our first child, we knew we didn’t want to raise our family in a big city. I had been coming to Palm Beach since high school and thought it was an exceptional place. It’s a small city, but the people come from everywhere, and it has the level of sophistication we wanted. We can still see all our friends from New York; Washington, D.C.; and other cities because everyone comes down here. During the season, there’s always something going on. The restaurants are amazing; the weather is fantastic—what’s not to like? We spend our summers in Newport, R.I., and so many people from there come to Palm Beach, so we had a level of comfort already in moving here,” offers Molly. “I knew,” Nicholas enthusiastically adds, “I could have a successful photography business here, and I didn’t need to be in a big city. Palm Beach is close to Miami if I have to work there, and it’s easy to fly to New York City, so if I need to travel, I can get to anywhere from here. I don’t have any one business mentor, but I have photographers that I admire and have learned from. When I began my career, I worked for Patrick McMullan, and I learned a lot from him about the personal side of the business. I love Slim Aarons obviously, Mike Freeman, and Wes Anderson as a filmmaker. Palm Beach has a lot of young people and new businesses, and we all want to support each other. Other people starting businesses helps my business. There’s no question—Palm Beach is a great place to be.”

MELISSA PSITOS
PRESIDENT/FOUNDER, LILY POND SERVICES


“We provide domestic staffing for private families in New York City and the Hamptons, but recently many of those clients need assistance in the Palm Beach area, so we moved down here and have been busy servicing their needs for the past two years. I love living here during the season and doing business here. Our business is exploding in Palm Beach as more and more people are moving here. It’s an easier place to live, and the weather makes everyone happier, so I think that lends itself to having a more personal relationship with our clients. Although everyone’s needs are different, we staff nannies, butlers, bodyguards, ladies’ maids, housekeepers, estate couples and anything, really, for the private home—our elderly-care business has grown so much since we’ve been in Palm Beach. A lot of our recruiting is done by word-of-mouth, as is our business, so if we hire a nurse for one family, she has a friend she can refer to us who is also looking for work and so it goes from there. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, was the last person I worked for before starting my own business. She’s the youngest self-made billionaire on the Forbes list, and she created her business on her own. She was a great role model and business leader, and I know how lucky I was to have that experience before striking out on my own.”

CHRIS VILLA
OWNER/DEVELOPER, GRANDVIEW PUBLIC MARKET


“We moved to Palm Beach for the outstanding quality of life [and] the weather; my family was living here; and we wanted to live in a place where we could get involved in the business community. There are so many people moving here, and since we moved to Palm Beach, there have been opportunities for us as developers that I don’t think we would have had up north. It’s not that it’s easy doing business here, but it’s a smaller ecosystem; you get to know who all the people are, and there is a certain amount of camaraderie—more of a team atmosphere here. Palm Beach business is growing like crazy and people are moving from the Northeast all the time. People come down, check it out and then stay just like we did. It is a wonderful place to be, and we are lucky to have my parents, our business mentors, here. They both are involved in business decisions and give us advice. We want to make sure Grandview Public Market is fulfilling everything we want it to and doing well, but we are already planning for a Grandview Public Market in Nashville, Tenn. Business is good.”

PAIGE BELLISSIMO
FOUNDER, GREAT CHARITY CHALLENGE


“I think there’s a very diverse community in South Florida, and there are so many different outlets for businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs who want to try something different. It’s also in a great location, with close proximity to all of the major cities in Florida, which makes it a central hub for a huge range of business concepts, strategies and structures. My dad and I started the Great Charity Challenge. It’s been a true labor of love for the past nine years, and every season, we see more participants and more people getting involved and giving back including some incredible families who are committed to helping us ensure the longevity and success of the GCC every season. The way it works is a corporate sponsor and a family sponsor both partner to support one team of three equestrians that compete in a relaylike format. The team with the fastest cumulative time wins the overall competition and, in turn, is able to present a check for $150,000 to their paired charity. Typically, we have between 30 and 40 teams each year and randomly select charities to pair them with before the event. One-hundred percent of the proceeds and donations collected for the event go straight back to the selected charities. Even if a team finishes in last place, their charity still receives at least $15,000, which is more than some charities will receive in a year. To date, we’ve distributed more than $11 million to more than 200 charities in the local Palm Beach County region, and it’s an amazing feeling to see how impactful this event is and how it transcends so many different facets of life for people in South Florida.”

SARAH AND ANDREW WETENHALL
OWNERS,
THE COLONY HOTEL

“Palm Beach is a really unique place on the planet,” begins Andrew, when asked why he loves Palm Beach. “We have personal history here, but, like most everybody who has been to this island, find some connection to the past with its history. Palm Beach has a multigenerational component to it, and there have been articles in the news recently about how Palm Beach is getting younger. There is a new drive for opportunities as well, but we are drawn to this place because of a common heritage and that it’s a unique place to live.” Adds Sarah, “The Colony Hotel turned 70 this past year, and Andrew grew up coming to the hotel since his father was one of the owners. We have been coming here for the past 20 years as a family, and we felt the heritage and the story of its past was ready to be told. Palm Beach and The Colony are so special. Everywhere you look on the island, you see water, so you feel like you’re away, but, at the same time, the juxtaposition of the amazing businesses, incredible shopping, fine dining, bars and things to do makes Palm Beach a great place to live, visit and work. We started new programming for the hotel this year—including fitness programs, musical entertainment, art programs and beach buggy service to and from the beach for hotel guests—that we hope will make it relevant for all ages.” Adds Andrew, “My father has been a part of this property just short of 50 years. He is my business mentor, and this hotel is a part of all of us.”

WYATT KOCH
PRESIDENT/FOUNDER,
WYATT INGRAHAM

“Palm Beach is a great place to meet new people, do business and exchange ideas. I love working here because many of my shirts are bold and colorful, and the colors really work here. Many people in Palm Beach like colorful clothing and dress a little flashier, so I think we fit into this niche very well. But like any place, it’s all about the people, and I love the people in Palm Beach. At the moment, our shirts are being made in one of the oldest factories in New York City, and they are sold on our website, but we are working on growing into other retail stores and throughout South Florida. Palm Beach is growing so quickly and is such a hot spot that I hope over the next 10 years we get into women’s clothing and Wyatt Ingraham becomes a full lifestyle brand. I hope we can develop cologne, pocket squares, belts and a lot of accessories since I know people here appreciate fashion and nice things. My business mentor is my father, who is a great businessman and who has persevered through hard and good times. I also liked Steve Jobs, who was a creative thinker, an out-of-the-box kind of thinker. I try to do the same by adding unexpected touches to my designs.”

Photography Courtesy Of: