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March 16, 2015

The dream team
Miami, FL

Ask Terri Krasnoff what makes her a great stylist, and she’ll answer immediately: Michele. “We really are a great team,” says her partner Michele Baena. “Our husbands say, ‘you two spend the entire day together, how do you get on the phone and still talk to each other?’ We always have something to talk about.” Michele started her Worth New York business with her daughter, Bianca Gabay, four years ago after leaving a 17-year career in the mortgage industry. “It was time for me to stop and do something that I enjoyed,” she says. “I've always had a passion for fashion.” She investigated a few different opportunities, but choosing Worth was easy. “What drew me to becoming a Stylist for Worth New York was not only the clothes, it was the company. After a brief trip to NY with [Bianca], I saw the culture of the company… how long [people] have been with the company and how wonderful everyone is… and we were sold.” Bianca, at the time, was just finishing her graduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and was pregnant with her eldest. “I didn't really know what I wanted to do beyond my degree,” Bianca says. “My relationship with my mother is very close so when she approached me with the idea of working together I decided to go with it!” Fashion has always been a family business for Michele. Growing up in South Africa, her family owned the largest independent women’s department store in the country. She spent her early life there, first playing at helping customers, then working in the business and eventually buying for the store. She even helped design clothes for the store’s private label. Needless to say, the Worth New York business came naturally to Michele and Bianca. Their business grew quickly, and Michele found herself wishing there were two of her. “I didn't really know Michele,” Terri admits, “but I liked her a lot after shopping with her and suggested we all get together for dinner. My husband says, he went to park the car and when he came into the restaurant, I told him that I had a job! That was 2 1/2 years ago.” It turns out, Terri is less Michele’s double and more her other half. Also an entrepreneur, Terri owned a stationery store in Miami Beach for 15 years from which she had recently retired when she met Michele. The timing was perfect. “After I stopped working, I tried volunteer work, golf, bridge, traveling, etc… but I missed the daily interaction with my customers.” “I had no idea that Terri was interested in working with me,” Michele says. “She was retired, and I had never considered asking a client to join the business. But she asked if I planned on growing our agency and I told her yes, of course, I just hadn't found the right person yet. And she said, ‘What about me?’ Terri is a hardworking, smart woman... I never would have guessed that the perfect partner would be a client. But one should never assume!” Terri, too, is a natural when it comes to Worth New York, but for a different reason. “I’m more in it for the people,” she says. “I love making them look beautiful and feeling great about themselves. I also love being a part of their lives. When I had my stationery store, I followed my customers lives with engagement and wedding invitations, then birth announcements, kids birthday parties and so on. I was truly a part of their lives. This is bit of a continuation of my prior life.” It’s uncanny how well Michele, Bianca and Terri complement one another. And they know it. “I’ll ask Terri to call people,” Michele says, “and she really digs deep. She really has an understanding of these women.” “For me it’s a way to connect with people,” Terri agrees. “And Michele is an amazing stylist. And, of course, Bianca. She’s my step-daughter basically.” “Bianca brings a great dimension because she brings all these young mommies,” Michele says. “I follow different trends that might be for a different clientele,” Bianca agrees. “I've gotten into putting together outfits to attract clients and doing a lot of Facebook, Polyvore and Instagram posts gearing up for shows.” Every season, the three Stylists hold trunk shows for three weeks. The clothes spend two weeks at Michele’s guest house, which becomes her Worth New York showroom four times a year, then travel to Terri’s for a week to better serve clients on the other side of town. “We live about a half hour away,” Terri says. “And they are like worlds away. It’s like going from downtown to the Upper East Side.” And, season after season, their clients’ reactions are what keep Michele, Bianca and Terri in love with what they do. “I never realized so many women hated shopping,” says Michele. “Recently, I had this one woman who was very understatedly dressed ­– she had jeans and like a tie-dye shirt. She was very quiet. And after working with her for about 30 minutes she was strutting around the showroom and now she sends me pictures of what she is wearing and comes to every show. I am so happy when my clients email and text me to tell me how good they feel in their clothes. I love to see them feeling confident.” Terri couldn't agree more. “What we do is a feel good job. We help women look and feel great about themselves. I absolutely love being a part of Worth, if you haven't guessed by now. Every morning I wake up and check our standing in the company. The morning we hit a big goal, I was jumping up and down, giddy. I was so over-the-top happy and fulfilled.” “No one ever leaves the showroom not feeling great,” Bianca says. And Bianca is no exception. “I am fulfilled show after show and intermittently because I get to work with my mother and Terri. Two ladies who I admire and who make going to work so much easier. When I’m not showing I’m with my kids pretty much 100% of the time and have time with my husband too. It’s a great balance as a mother of two young kids.” “This business means everything to us,” Michele says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”