Author Archives: Gus Wagner

“I’m excited about the technology and products that are available to help people remain independent.”

Jacqueline M. O’Quinn (“Jacquie”) has a real passion for helping seniors and others in need of  care assistance enjoy rich and fulfilling lives. She was a Caregiver for her own parents for ten years.

She witnessed first-hand the challenges associated with finding Caregivers who would treat clients the way they wanted their own families to be treated. She is proud to open the first FirstLight HomeCare franchise in Missouri.

FirstLight HomeCare creates a new standard in non-medical, in-home care customized for seniors, new mothers, adults with disabilities and those recovering from illness, injury or surgery. The demand for high-quality in-home care is at an all-time high, with more than 12 percent of

Americans over 65 years old and wanting to remain independent for as long as possible.

Gus: Can you talk about how looking after your parents prepared you to open the first FirstLight HomeCare franchise in Missouri?

“Visibility came from having very supportive friends and family who have helped me spread the word of my business.”

Betsy Johnson is the Founder and President of SwimZip. Growing up Betsy always loved fashion and could spend hours shopping and getting dressed. She was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 26 and has combined her passion for designing clothes and her personal battle with skin cancer to create SwimZip

SwimZip is stylish UV 50+ swimwear for babies, toddlers, and children. Our full-length zipper swimwear is uniquely designed allowing for easy-on, easy-off UV protection for children. The no-pinch zipper flap, tagless neck, zipper garage around the neck, and flat-lock stitching make wearing the swimwear comfy! SwimZip’s material is chlorine resistant too! Our swimwear protects young children from harmful UV rays and makes stylish UPF protection you can wear anywhere!

Gus: What were you doing before launching SwimZip? How did your background and experience help contribute to the vision and growth of the company?

“My clients come to me looking for an expert and someone to create events that are sometimes once in a lifetime, so it must be perfect.”

Anne Churchill is known locally in Columbia, Missouri as the go-to event and wedding planner and expert. She has a passion for planning flawless events and creating one of a kind event designs. Anne started her business in 2010 and now holds eight years of event planning experience and a Bachelors Degree from Columbia College. As the Owner & Event Planner of AnnaBelle Events & Rentals, she leads a team of professional and experienced Event Assistants.

AnnaBelle Events & Rentals is located in the North Village Art District of downtown Columbia, in Studio 107. The company focuses on planning corporate events, social occasions and weddings throughout Missouri. The company’s work continues to be recognized, most recently AnnaBelle Events & Rentals received the 2013 Bride’s Choice Award placing the company among the top 5% of wedding professionals nationally. In 2012 AnnaBelle Events & Rentals was named the Best Event Designer in Missouri by the Wedding Industry Experts annual awards. In addition to coordination and design services the company offers their clients an inventory of rentals, providing endless options and the ability to achieve the latest trends and styles.

Gus: What local resources were of most useful when launching your company?

“If you don’t have a plan to pay less taxes, you won’t.”

John Beidle offers a tax planning service focused on helping small business owners and real estate investors pay the least amount of tax as legally possible.

Gus: What are your top three tips for small businesses that are just starting to work on their income taxes?

“Saving Memories Forever brings families together by recording and sharing the little stories that make up a rich and fulfilling life.”

Have you ever wished that you had recorded the memories of your life or your parent’s life? Have you ever wished that you could hear your relatives tell you, in their own words and their own voices, what their lives were like? The ability to make this wish a reality is the essence of the newly formed company, Saving Memories Forever. Using the social networking power of the Internet, the recording capability of the Smartphone and a unique set of questions, Saving Memories Forever makes it easy for anyone to record family memories and share them with others. Saving Memories Forever brings families together by recording and sharing the little stories that make up a rich and fulfilling life.

MO: What inspired to you to launch, Saving Memories Forever? How has your background and experience helped contribute to the development and vision of the company?

“Basically, we said to ourselves, we know this business, we’ve done it. Why don’t we stop making money for other people, and start making money for ourselves?”

TaNeá Graves has a background in events planning and marketing, as well as a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management. TaNeá is the Events Coordinator for G2 Gallery, and handles the company’s Marketing and PR. TaNeá’s commitment to G2’s customers and the Jefferson City community has helped G2 Gallery grow into the successful and prestigious event center that it is today.

With nearly 20 years of food service experience, Kasey Green is the Executive Chef and Chief Operations Officer for G2 Gallery. Kasey is responsible for creating the menus and preparing the delectable meals for thousands of G2 Gallery customers each year. Kasey’s extensive knowledge of the industry, preparation techniques, and versatility have allowed G2 Gallery to consistently deliver quality food and services.

G2 Gallery, Catering & Events is a private event center, specializing in unique, upscale events at affordable prices. Located in the heart of downtown Jefferson City, Missouri, G2 Gallery is housed in the renovated Lohman Opera House, with 22 foot high ceilings and ornate architecture.

MO: How did the two of you meet and what inspired you to launch a business together?

“The messageQube delivers happiness year-round for users by opening up a new channel to reach people using a traditional means of communication…the printed word.”

MessageQube is a cellular wireless device that prints text messages, pictures and longer notes sent by people using cell phones, mobile apps and web apps. It can also be integrated with a business’ enterprise system, like those used in senior living facilities to print information like medication reminders, daily schedules and menus, etc. Content is printed in large, easy to read Arial 15 font on 3 1/8″ wide thermal paper. Each messageQube has a unique 10-digit cellular number making it easy for people to send text messages. You can learn more about this new product at

Coming soon, messageQube users will be able to subscribe to content that will be printed on their devices. This includes daily weather forecasts & severe weather alerts, Sudoku puzzles, word jumbles, comics & humor and other personal entertainment along with special calendaring reminders of personal events…from family birthdays & anniversaries, to social events, to medical appointments and medication reminders.

MO: What inspired you to create messageQube?

“We are in the business of crafting expressions for our clients and helping them transform moments into memorable occasions.”

Brian Blasingame’s years of experience in the hospitality industry gave him an inherent understanding of how to successfully execute parties and events and have also enabled him to anticipate my clients’ needs. For several years he owned and operated Bounty, a full service florist by Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. It was there that his love for floral and event design set their deep seeded roots. Today, Brian owns and operates The Rebel Florist and serve as the Director of Visual Design for Butler’s Pantry, St. Louis’ premier catering company.

The Rebel Florist is a floral and event-design company servicing the entire St. Louis metropolitan area, dedicated to setting the highest standards for floral and event design.

MO: What inspired the name The Rebel Florist?

“One of the things you have to do as a startup is differentiate. If you are no different than the other 100 quilt shops in the area, why would anyone come to you?”

Missouri Star Quilting Company has the largest selection of precut quilting fabrics in the world. Their team has focused on educating people on quick and easy ways to quilt and have grown the largest quilting YouTube channel in order to deliver that vision.

MO: What inspired you to launch a quilting company?

“I do think some of the success of StorkGifts is BECAUSE I did not start it as a businesswoman, but as a mom. My view point was always from the consumer side, because I never had the business side before. Every decision I have made has been based on being a fair decision for the customer.”

From her home in St. Louis, Missouri , Melissa Chelist owns and runs StorkGifts, an upscale, online boutique specializing in quality custom made personalized gifts for babies and children. Melissa and her husband started the company in January of 2003 when Internet shopping was just becoming widespread. The daily operations of the company were outsourced until 2005 when the Chelist’s youngest child went to pre-school. At that time, Melissa took over managing the company and has done so ever since.

StorkGifts carries over 75 different types of personalized items, all of which are custom made with the customer’s choice of color, design, and personalization. Known for its high quality products, StorkGifts offers many made-in-the USA products and prides itself with their professional, top-notch customer service.

Gus: What inspired you to launch StorkGifts?

“I have always thought that more adoptions is generally a good thing.”

Dewey L. Crepeau graduated from the University of Missouri School Of Law in 1980. He has served as an assistant prosecuting attorney, an assistant public defender, has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri and Columbia College, and has been in private practice in Columbia, Missouri, since 1982.

While Dewey thoroughly enjoyed representing clients in adoptions as an attorney, and still does, he wanted to do more to encourage adoption and help build families. Children need fathers and mothers, and mothers and fathers need children.

In 2005, Dewey met with Elizabeth Ehlen and Tina Tyra to talk about starting a licensed, child-placing agency in Missouri. A Gift of Hope Adoptions is the result of his desire to serve families and see them grow.

Gus: What inspired your decision to move from representing clients in adoption cases to launching an adoption agency?

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