Be Flexible and open to suggestions. When you are flexible and open to suggestions, sometimes your original vision of the business may need to change, but change does not mean bad. Sometimes change means growth and something far better.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Adreanna Spezzaferro, Robyn Dillon and Amanda Barnhart, founders of Peace & Plenti.
Amanda, Robyn and Adreanna are three best friends who knew that one day they would start a business together.
Like most other small business owners, the Pandemic brought about challenges and uncertainties they each faced in their previous individual small businesses. Specifically, the lack of in-person opportunities to grow.
The time to act was now, not to wait for “things to go back to normal”. Act not only in the interest of growing a business together for themselves but to make the mission of the business to inspire and support other small business owners to take action as well.
Combining all of their previous individual experience, as well as experience from working together in the network marketing industry, they took to the digital platform to create a Virtual Marketplace.
A Marketplace where Collaboration thrives over Competition and Support reigns over Shopping. A Marketplace, full of Peace and Plenti. Born out of the spirit of their friendship, Amanda, Adreanna and Robyn remain at the ready to share their secrets of success to help small business owners rise together.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I’m originally a Floridian. I grew up in Boca Raton, Florida as the middle child of seven, in a blended and diverse family. I was primarily raised by my mother and stepfather. My grandparents emigrated from Italy in their teenage years to escape poverty and pursue the “American Dream”. My Grandmother, a seamstress, owned her own business out of her home and instilled the entrepreneurial “spark” in me. I remember spending hours each day with her, watching in awe as she interacted with her customers. She never kept an appointment book, but she knew every single detail about her customers, from their personal life to their waist size. I distinctly remember being ten years old and asking her, “Nonna, why do you talk to your customers so much? Do you like them all?” She replied, “When you know your customers, and you really care about getting to know them, they don’t want to go anywhere else. If I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t let them in my house. If you don’t like what you see, don’t be afraid to say no. That’s the key to being great at anything. You have to want to know them, fall in love with who they are and most importantly, be the best at what you do for them”. Her response changed the trajectory of my life forever.
My mother and stepfather were as different as the day is long, but that was the beauty of my parents. My mother is a Puerto Rican from the Bronx who worked as a nurse and subsequently a high-level executive and has a huge personality. My stepfather, a Jewish doctor from Brooklyn, while very reserved also has an entrepreneurial heart — owning his own successful practice for over four decades. While they seemed to be very different on paper, they agreed on the values they instilled on us: acceptance and tolerance of all individuals and the importance of education, hard work and determination. Their resolute work ethic and unwavering dedication to providing a better life for us, drove me to become the woman I am today.
I grew up in Ontario, Canada. I lived on a farm with many farm animals that we loved and cherished. I have two loving parents, Tim and Deb Dittmer, and two older brothers. My brothers had hockey skates on, and I had a sequin dress with figure skates.
My family taught me that I could do and be whoever I wanted to be in life. As cliché as it sounds, they not only taught me, but they also showed me. So, when I told them at the age of four that I wanted to play hockey, which at the time was a “boys” sport, my father went out to get me hockey skates. My father set out to help me break down barriers. At the time that I played, girls playing hockey was not something you did, girls played Ringette or figure skated. I didn’t see limits because my family never let me limit myself based on the fact that I was a girl. I would get dressed in bathrooms, under bleachers or in the car because in those times there were no dressing rooms for girls. My teammates accepted me, and opponents had some choice words for me, but that never deterred me from assisting on a goal, defending our net or putting one past the goalie. Hockey is a sport that has a very special place in my heart, one I hope to continue with my children. Hockey taught me the value in team, and I will be forever thankful for my parents getting up in the early hours of the morning to bring me to practice. Hockey taught me perseverance, and that despite being a girl in a guy’s game that I could be among the greats. Hockey went on to pave the way for many amazing life experiences including meeting my husband, a full scholarship to Clarkson University, playing for Team Ontario and recently being inducted to my Local Hockey Hall of Fame with my Girls Hockey team. Hockey built the foundation for which my strength, sense of teamwork, collaboration, humility, drive, determination and need to help raise others up is based upon. I grew up in a classroom and on the ice and would have it no other way.
To be asked to tell the story of how I grew up is a crazy thing. When you know you have to begin with the words, “I didn’t have a good childhood” there is a fear of appearing extremely cliche, knowing you have to recount all the obstacles you faced and how you fought through to overcome; tale as old as time right?
I grew up about 10 minutes north of Boston and, like most of us here, have always felt every fiber of my Bostonian Irish American roots. I lived with this family member, and that family member, spent weekends with my mother and eventually moved in with her and my Brooklyn born and bred Step-Father in Middle School and finally moved out to be on my own in the middle of my Senior Year of High School.
Because home was never the place I wanted to be, I threw myself into every other thing I possibly could. From academics to sports, to extracurricular clubs, to part-time jobs, I filled the space with anything that made me feel better. Well, almost anything. Thankfully, something in me kept me from making bad choices. Although I will 100% admit, Over Achievement was my drug of choice.
I always knew deep down inside from a very, very young age was going to be entirely up to me to create the life I wanted. And the only thing, aside from faith and God, that I can think of that got me though, is I saw with crystal clear vision exactly what I didn’t want my life to look like.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Peace & Plenti:
About three years ago, we met through our prior company and instantly clicked. Each of us had something unique to bring to the table, and that was the beauty of our friendship. As our relationship grew, we knew that one day we would start a business together with the mission to help others. We didn’t know what that business would look like, but we knew that loved working with people and making an impact. We all told ourselves that we would NEVER work for anyone else again, and we committed to that. The idea first started when Adreanna mentioned that her business was really suffering due to the lack of in-person events. We discussed hosting a one-time online event to get things moving but quickly scrapped that. We realized that a single event wasn’t the way to go. Now was the time for us to put our ideas into motion and not wait for things to get back to normal. So, without a business plan, we created our mission statement, named our company and the rest is history.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Peace & Plenti:
The most interesting thing to happen to us is coming to the realization that we limited ourselves. As a company, we found that we had boxed ourselves in. Our initial goal was to host a few virtual events, but as we evolved, so did our mission. Knowing we have so much to offer to business owners, we not only aim to teach entrepreneurs how to be successful, but also change the public perception of individual Small Businesses. We now realize that our duplicatable systems have the potential to be the industry standard for training, and this growth has allowed us to implement our ideas on a much larger scale.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Peace & Plenti:
Thinking this would be a onetime thing. We learned to never underestimate the need for what we have to offer.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Peace & Plenti:
At the core of our mission, we are committed to the success of the entrepreneurs that chose to work with us, so we are excited about expanding our services to include business coaching, a Masterclass series, business supplies and specialty events. At the heart of Peace & Plenti, our business is small business, and we want to ensure that our small business owners have continued support, every step of the way.
We’re working on ways to expand the definition of what the definition of a Small Business Owner is. The days of solely Brick and Mortar are gone. Small Business Owners are Crafters, Jewelry Makers, Network Marketing Professionals, Singers, Artists, Designers, etc. We are working to incorporate a specific platform for the not so typical small business owner to showcase in their own media as well as provide specific and individualized coaching for their businesses that will aid them in “going social.”
We are very interested in the importance of diversity in leadership. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I absolutely love this question!
1. First, there are too many people who still don’t realize the beauty of diversity. While on the surface, even those who truly feel they have no bias may not have yet realized the limited beliefs they may have blindly inherited. My oldest son, who is an Acting Student, helped me gain the most beautiful perspective on this. He often expresses to me his frustration with the association of skin color and roles when auditioning. It’s a goal of his to someday write a script with characters whose race, ethnicity, gender, etc. can’t be determined so anybody can play the role. It’s vital that we get to this place in the entertainment industry as this is where our societal images stem from. The entertainment industry has a huge opportunity to change what our culture celebrates. From the images we see, to the songs we sing, to the clothes we wear.
2. ACCEPTANCE: As a culture, the progress we have made with tolerance and acceptance is still centuries behind where it should be. The future of our country is in the hands of the children that we raise. WE have the power to change the future by how we raise them, and by raising them through example. How can we expect to create a culture of tolerance and acceptance, if we only preach that and refuse to exemplify it? Diverse representation in both film and television is not optional for the future but mandatory.
3. Diversity in the entertainment industry is paramount and equal. This will be very short, but I feel it will accurately reflect my feelings on this matter. My daughter and son can look up at the TV at any given moment and see a representation of herself. Every child should be able to do the same. They should be able to look at the TV and see a bit of themselves up there. They should be able to open a book and see a representation of them in the pictures they see. Diversity in the entertainment industry needs to go beyond typecasting. Media is so highly consumed by our everyday life, the impact that this type of movement forward could have on our society and culture is immeasurable.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Motivation is not what makes you successful, discipline is. Discipline serves you MOST when motivation says do otherwise. Motivation is the “why to do” while Discipline is the “what to do” and they work hand in hand.
2. There is ALWAYS a better way. Continue educating yourself on your craft, including trends in that arena. If you do not always strive for improvement, there will be someone else who does, and they will capitalize on your hard work. When looking at any business decision, I ask myself “what would the Sharks (Shark Tank) ask?” and I always replay the same question in my head: “What can we OFFER that someone else with millions of dollars and unlimited resources can’t figure out on a zoom call?”
3. Don’t underestimate the need for what you have to offer.
4. Never underestimate the value of Personal Development. There’s always time and room for it.
5. Be Flexible and open to suggestions. When you are flexible and open to suggestions, sometimes your original vision of the business may need to change, but change does not mean bad. Sometimes change means growth and something far better.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Peace & Plenti:
Set boundaries and stick to them. Whether those are “off hours” to be with your family or time for yourself to practice self-care. The most successful people in this world set boundaries because you can’t fill another person’s cup if yours is empty. Owning your own business is a grind. There are going to be days that you work 24/7. So, on the days that you don’t, play as hard as you worked. Treat yourself and soak up the company of your loved ones.
You are each people of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Peace & Plenti:
We wholeheartedly believe in our mission to spread positivity through collaboration and co-creation. With that Take what fits leave what doesn’t. We would love to see small businesses of all types come together and perhaps inspire new ideas, sub businesses or even inspire new movements. We stand for equality, inclusion and advocate for ANY person feeling marginalized. There is no “I” among us, there is only a collective, we. We hope with our platform with our voices we are able to amplify all of our vendors voices, shops, products and services. We hope that in seeing us you see every single one of them. All of their hard work, their beautiful products, one of a kind heartfelt customer service and endless nights spent on bringing you products built from their passion, their vision and hands.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Husband, David Spezzaferro. Dave has owned multiple successful businesses and one of the first pieces of advice he gave me was to “always be hungry”. What separates you from every other person in this world is HUNGER. Hunger for success, hunger to always do better, and hunger to make a difference. When you’re HUNGRY, you work to set the expectations not to meet them. That is the most important lesson that I refer to, each and every day as a businesswoman.
My husband, Paul Barnhart. I don’t think there has ever been a moment in my life where he hasn’t supported me. From being in the stands at my College hockey games to telling me every day how much he believes in my ability as a female entrepreneur. Many times, we are faced with people in our lives who tell us it’s not possible. Never once has he showed doubt in my abilities, he’s always raised me up. It’s something I never take for granted and appreciate that we’re able to work as a team to make this work.
At my college graduation ceremony, the Keynote speaker was a Senator from the State of Washington. I don’t even remember her name, but I do remember the very clear point of her story. She was a self-described Soccer Mom, whose children’s team was experiencing difficulty with fields and zoning in their town. In order to affect the needed change, she took action for herself, her kids and their teammates. So, she started at the local level and became involved in town politics. She was able to help bring about the changes the soccer program needed, but she realized she was enjoying what she was doing, so she just kept going. She stood before us as United States Senator with the very simple message of, you don’t have to have it all figured out. Just follow your heart, one step at a time. That message has never ever left me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Peace & Plenti:
“If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” — This rings true to us both professionally and personally. When it comes to anything in life, you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to the circumstances. If you don’t adapt to change, you’ll always be stuck doing the same thing, and expecting new results.
This pandemic has opened our eyes, big time. In a time of uncertainty, the three of us were faced with the opportunity to keep doing what we were comfortable with or to adapt to change in order for small businesses to survive. When we first conceptualized Peace & Plenti, we never realized the gravity of the movement we were creating, but now, here we are changing the face of small business events for the greater good.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
The Entire Cast of Shark Tank, but specifically Mark Cuban, Lori Grenier and Barbara Corcoran. The impact that Mark has had in the tech field is not only remarkably impressive but the ultimate goal for our business. I would love to have lunch and discuss how to continue a forward trajectory in the tech field. Barbara and Lori have been pioneers for women entrepreneurs, shattering the proverbial glass ceiling and overcoming so many odds. I would love to have a roundtable discussion on how we can continue that mission and eliminate the title of “female entrepreneur” and recognize all entrepreneurs as equal. I admire Barbara’s advocacy for individuals with learning disabilities because I have one myself. These two women are making an impact and paving the way for future entrepreneurs across the globe.
Michelle Obama — I would love to, after this pandemic of course, have a relaxing lunch with her. I feel that we would have a fun and well-rounded conversation. I have enjoyed her book Becoming and always found her to be such a fun and strong woman, when I’ve seen her in the Media. I feel we would have a genuinely good time.
Donnie Wahlberg. I know, he’s in a Boy Band. Yes, I’ve loved him since I was 9. I get it. But in all truth and honesty, I have so much respect and admiration for him because he is a living breathing example of what he wants the world to look like. He talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s been spreading a message of love and positivity in this world for over 30 years. He emanates gratitude, and he is able to pour that authentic self into everything he does in his career — From the music, to the restaurants, to the tv shows. The world needs more of that every day.
How can our readers follow you online?
Peace & Plenti:
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!