All Hail The Queens

With every move, groove and handshake, the women you’re about to meet are leaving their mark in their respective fields with an unwavering passion to fulfill their professional dreams while working toward making the world a better place.
Text by Estrellita S. Sibila Photos by Ximena Etchart | May 23, 2018 | People

Amy Zakarin
Zakarin Martinez Public Relations

Amy Zakarin is a publicist and natural storyteller who builds profiles for people, companies and causes through her firm Zakarin Martinez Public Relations. “My work revolves around the creation of strategic editorial media and partnership campaigns for successful brands,” she says. “My goal is always category leadership and excellence.” Zakarin has always been interested in why people do what they do, not just what they’re doing. “When we agree to work with someone and sign a contract, I can guarantee I’m personally determined to play a vital role in their success, no matter what it takes.” She learns about her clients’ respective businesses, what motivates the leadership and what drives profits so that she can craft solid and thoughtful campaigns. During her downtime, she loves Nutella by the spoonful, can spend an entire day in bed reading a great novel or watching murder-mystery movies and is deeply passionate about animal welfare issues. She’s the chair of the Humane Society’s Annual Brunch and is playing a central role in the Lolita The Whale retirement campaign. “The important thing that I’ve realized, at this point in my career, is that I can personally step up to the plate with a strength and conviction that brings national attention to causes that matter to me,” she says. “The rewards of my years of hard work feel very real at this stage. I’m extremely grateful.”

Avra Jain
Vagabond Group

Avra Jain swapped a career trading bonds on Wall Street for a career converting neglected properties into desirable holdings. She turned her hobby of converting languishing lofts into fabulous spaces to a full-time endeavor and has been rehabbing properties and amassing real estate ever since. “Where people would pass on opportunities, I would see the volume, the future light and an incredible space,” she says. Leaning on her skills as an engineer, she takes a hands-on approach in the design and execution of her projects. “Though people see me as a risk-taker, I’m actually not – the fundamentals behind why I do what I do are pretty sound…although they are outside the institutional box.” Always paying attention to what is trending and in demand, Jain particularly enjoys making historically important properties relevant again. Next on the restoration agenda: the Miami River Inn, the oldest hotel in Miami built in 1909 in Little Havana. “So many people don’t even know this place exists near Downtown and across from the Miami River,” she says. “I think people will be surprised to see what has been in their backyards all this time and to learn the history of the Riverside area.” Jain herself is full of surprises. Among them, she’s competed in the National Track & Field Championships for Race Walking, co-produced an award-winning documentary called Dark Days about homeless people living underground in the NYC train tunnels, and posed for Steven Meisel for a Dolce & Gabbana international campaign. Her best advice: “Do your homework, be courageous and always trust your instincts!”

Joanna Schwartz

Joanna Schwartz wanted to create, grow and lead a business that would fundamentally change how an industry operates and that’s exactly what she’s doing every day at EarlyShares, a company that makes capital-raising and investing more accessible, transparent and data-driven. “It’s thrilling to build the future of real estate finance and help the industry adapt to an online world,” she says. EarlyShares enables individuals to invest in commercial real estate for as little as $5,000. Her focus is on building the “next big thing” in commercial real estate:, a new portal that will be the web’s largest online marketplace for crowdfunding deals and property investments. “Women are vastly underrepresented in both the commercial real estate and technology industries, and raising venture capital as a woman entrepreneur is incredibly challenging,” she says. But, she adds, she hopes to see that change in the years to come. Currently, she’s obsessed with 3D printing, shows off her ski chops on double black slopes, and credits her first job as a camp counselor as great preparation for leading a team. Her secret to success is recognizing and seizing opportunities when they arise. “Reputation is everything,” she says. “Shortcuts are never short. Be confident and bold and success will follow.”

Elena Linares
Founder of RazzleDazzle

Looking for a fresh start after fleeing an abusive relationship and moving to Miami in 1983, Elena Linares joined the team at Supercuts where she quickly climbed the corporate ladder, learned the ins & outs of the hair and beauty industry and reached her goal of not just becoming a Supercuts franchisee, but expanding her beauty-centric empire to include 12 locations throughout South Florida and Puerto Rico. “The key to my success is following 3 core values: outstanding world-class service, an amazing ambiance and exceptional quality.” Being in the business helped her hone in on the untapped niche of male-centric grooming. In 2008, she created RazzleDazzle Barbershop, an oasis where men receive pampering with an edge of sexiness. “I grew up watching my mother pamper my father and I wanted to offer men who visited us the same genuine kind of primping and grooming,” she says. From the moment customers enter, it’s like walking into a The Godfather meets Moulin Rouge movie where stylists wear corsets and tutus and are armed with razor-sharp straight-blades to tantalize and tame unruly manes and gnarly beards all over the city into perfectly groomed faces. Now that she’s grown the RazzleDazzle brand and it’s now a successful franchise, Linares’ fairytale is quickly becoming a reality. “My dream has always been to give others a platform to own a unique and successful business,” she says. “And I’m thrilled to be able to give people that chance.”

Lori Ann Wardi
Co-Founder of .CO
VP of Registry Services for Neustar

Working at a big law firm in NYC may sound like a dream job, but Lori Ann Wardi vowed to quit practicing law before she turned 30 and chart a new course for her career. “While I didn’t know exactly what I would end up doing, I realized that a life spent climbing someone else’s career ladder was not going to work for me.” As business ideas came to mind, she would buy the related domain names, not knowing that one day she’d be known globally as the “Domain Diva.” “Before I knew it, I had hundreds of domain names representing different business ideas, but no business built on any of them,” she says. Her “aha moment” came when she was offered a substantial sum of money to buy one of her domain names. “That’s when it hit me that there was real value in the portfolio of domain names I had amassed.” She later went on to co-found the company that launched the .CO domain, which has become one of the fastest-growing domains in the world. After Neustar acquired .CO, Wardi took on the role of VP of Registry Services at Neustar, a position that has allowed her to help launch, build and grow the world’s most compelling new top-level domain brands. “Thanks to a historic expansion of the domain name system, there’s currently an epic boom in digital real estate,” she says. “Forget .com, .net and .org, now you can build your brand on a .buzz, .ninja, .guru and soon to include .miami.” She’s so passionate about the domain name game that her license plate appropriately reads “DOMAINS”. So what’s next? “I plan to stay in the middle of it all!”