Mompreneur Monday: Heart Connection Center

Mompreneur: n. defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.

Happy Monday Modern Boca Moms!  Welcome to our next installment of Mompreneur Monday on MBMom, highlighting Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow Mommas.
We’re working to bring busi-moms across the state of Florida together to start a Mompreneur Movement!  Why don’t you join us?
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Today’s South Florida Mompreneurs are Jessica Marchena, LMHC & Sabrina Bennardo, LCSW, co-founders of the NEW Heart Connection Center in Boca Raton, a comprehensive counseling center with a  team of dedicated licensed therapists who specialize in providing help to children, teens, adults and couples.
Healing Emotions And Relationships Together (HEART).

Heart Connection Center WM


Sometimes, our emotions and relationships need a little tune up. And now, there’s a perfect place for that!
Meet Latina therapist, wife, mother and Mompreneur, Jessica.

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I am a licensed psychotherapist with almost 20 years of experience and specialize in women and relationship counseling. I am also bilingual and provide therapy in Spanish.

I grew up in Boca Raton but moved to Boston for college and graduate school where I met my love and life partner, my husband in a bar.

Yes, I’m here to tell you that you can meet your future husband or wife in a bar!

Today, we have been happily married for 15 years and have two children, Benjamin and Samantha. 

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I have worked as a therapist in many different settings, but spent most of my career working in the field of addiction with adolescents and adults. I worked long hours, evenings and weekends and knew this schedule wouldn’t work when I had children and my dream was always to open a private practice.

My husband and I moved back to Boca Raton to live near family and I started my own private practice because I wanted to find a balance between my family and my work. I wanted to do the work that I love AND be there for my kids. Being a working mom and wife isn’t always easy and life can throw you many curve-balls. We have had our share of ups and downs and sought help when we needed it. It has made us stronger as a couple and as a family.  

Life is hard and beautiful. It’s possible to embrace both and be happy.

I thrive on working with other stressed out moms (or women) and couples who are out of sync with each other due to the demands of everyday life and stress. I  relate to them because of my own experience as a mom and a wife and as an experienced couples and women’s therapist, I can help them find more peace, more love and more joy.

And isn’t business even more enjoyable when you have another strong woman and Mompreneur by your side? Meet co-founder Sabrina.

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I began my psychotherapy training over 20 years ago at Smart Parenting in New York, working with couples going through high conflict divorce. This experience led me to teach couples how to peacefully co-parent, rather than continue to be at odds and put their children in the middle.

After gaining much experience with couples and tired of living a New York City fast-paced, single life, I moved to Boca Raton to slow down and find connection. I was introduced (via blind date) to the love of my life, who is now my husband.

As happy as we are now, initially we did not “ride off into the sunset.”

It was complicated. He had a 14-year-old son who refused to be in relationship with me for two years. I was committed to building a relationship with him and move forward with my partner. With much of my own personal development work and time, we were able to form the special bond that we now have.

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Colby was the best man at our recent wedding and now appreciates having a “bonus” parent. I’m grateful to have the experience and gift of a child by merger, which better enables me to guide others through the complexities of  blended families.

Also, to help individuals have or find the relationship of their dreams, which is the core mission of the Heart Connection Center!

How did the idea for your business come together…together?

We actually met 4 years ago at another counseling practice and immediately hit it off as friends and colleagues. We shared an office and decorated it together, buying furniture and shared the office 50/50 time. We had the nicest office in the suite!

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We grew our practices to full-time, but after four years we decided that the time had come for us to have our own center with OUR name on it.  

Heart Connection Center was born from the combined forces of two female therapists who shared a similar vision. A dream to offer the community a premier counseling center where a team of the best specialists in the field work together to provide expert comprehensive services.

We offer a team approach where a mom can see her own therapist and the dad can see his own, for example, and the children can see one of our child specialists all under the same roof. This allows us to all come together and serve the family in the best possible way.

We are committed to working together with individuals and their families to help them develop a better understanding of themselves and strengthen relationships. 

There is a huge need for a counseling center like ours because we see so many clients who are in relationship pain and don’t know where to go for help. We have created a safe place where they can express their feelings and feel understood, heal and reconnect with their loved ones.

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What types of challenges have you faced since launch?

Dedication to providing exemplary service DOES come with some challenges. Although we have been fortunate in attracting the excellent therapists we now have sharing our space with us, it has been challenging to find like-minded therapists with the same level of commitment as we have and it has taken time.

We are selective about those who join our team. We want to work with those who we would refer someone in our own family to.

What sets apart Heart Communication Center from a traditional therapeutic practice?

What makes us unique is our approach to providing a safe, “spa-like” setting to our clients. When clients enter our sanctuary, they are transported to a homey space where they can feel comfortable and immediately at ease.

From the soft music playing in the waiting room, to the beautiful decor, to the coffee and beverage bar, most say they could just sit in our waiting area all day and feel better. We show them the possibility of how self care can improve their life.

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It was important for us to put our heart and soul into the decor and design of the center. That’s how we show up in our sessions with clients. We are fully present for them in their journey of self discovery, which leads them to connected relationships and more peace.

I would like to move into that waiting room. Beautiful!
Now that you’re both settled in Boca full time, what do you love most about South Florida?

We love going to the beach while the rest of the country is shoveling snow!

The ability to wear flip flops all the time and walk our dogs while wearing them in mid-January. An abundance of wonderful parks that are super clean for kids and dogs too! Incredible sunsets and frequent rainbows.

We also love Boca Raton because we get to live and work in this beautiful community that is safe, surrounded by great schools for our kids and very family friendly.

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Connect (no pun intended) with Heart Connection Center on Facebook!
And be sure to check out their new website. I personally found it fascinating and think the center is a GREAT addition to our community. Strong relationships are certainly key to this MBMom and it never hurts to get a professional tune-up every once in awhile.
Healing Emotions And Relationships Together (HEART).

A Night at the Nickelodeon Suites Hotel Orlando

Special guest post from Modern Boca Mom, Paige Axel: What to Do at Nickelodeon Hotel Orlando

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When my son said he didn’t want a party for his 6th birthday, I was ecstatic. The elation lasted for about 30 seconds before he informed me that he wanted to go to “The Nick Hotel” instead. (Congratulations, advertising executives… Putting that commercial on heavy rotation worked.) But, what to do at Nickelodeon Hotel?

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We hear Spongebob’s irritating laugh around here on a daily basis. My first thought was, “How am I going to survive an entire weekend?” Being the freelance Modern Boca Mom I am, I changed my attitude once I realized that the effort on my part would be limited to a simple reservation online.

Compared to weeks of party planning, I figured this would be a piece of cake.

So the morning before his birthday, we loaded up the car and were off. Two pit stops and about 100 “How much longer?” inquiries later, we arrived at our destination. We couldn’t have missed the oh-so-familiar orange Nickelodeon Suites Hotel. It’s 24 acres and 777 suites are kitted out like Bikini Bottom. Dora, Diego, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other Nickelodeon regulars made their presence known as well.

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What to Do at Nickelodeon Hotel?

Beyond the Nicked-out lobby, the hotel centers around the Lagoon Pool. Complete with two water parks that feature 13 slides and plumes and a water playground, this is also the home of twice-daily mass slimings. After reassuring my son that we would be hitting the Lagoon Pool the next day, we arrived at our two-bedroom suite. It naturally had Spongebob, Patrick and the gang wherever you looked.

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The Rooms

The kids’ bedroom had bunk beds that my son could not wait to sleep in.  Maybe that’s the secret to getting him to go to bed without a fight? The grown-up bedroom and bathroom were a decent size. The kitchenette was great for stowing the snacks and drinks we brought from home. Since I happened to mention it was our son’s birthday, we were also welcomed with a big-old bag of Spongebob paraphernalia. It definitely kicked off our stay on the right foot!

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After going off-campus for dinner, we headed back to the hotel for Double Dare.

Yes, Double Dare.

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We felt like ballers in our front row VIP seats and had a bird’s eye view of the action. The best part: They rolled out 4 obstacles from the original show (remember that giant nose you have to “pick” to find a flag?).  After that we were bushed, so we headed back to our room for a night filled with dreams of Bikini Bottom.

Character Breakfast

We were up bright and early for the Character Breakfast, as Sawyer couldn’t wait to meet Spongebob, Patrick, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and Squidward. In addition to making the rounds to each table for requisite picture taking, the characters also put on a performance. In between acts, we hit the buffet.

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What to do at Nickelodeon Hotel? Food Options

If you’re a Modern Boca Crunchy Mom, I recommend bringing food from home and taking advantage of that kitchenette in your room. If you’re not, then you might be OK. Let it be known that the hotel also has a food court that offers Subway, Antonio’s Pizza and dessert/ice cream shop called Cravings that (thankfully) stocks Starbucks. Our breakfast was topped off with a birthday cupcake. Cupcakes at 10:00 a.m. are totally OK when it’s a birthday celebration weekend.

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The Pool

Then it was pool time… We decided to get a poolside cabana for the day so we didn’t have to stress about our stuff. This added a little dose of luxury as well. With a table and chairs, 2 chaises, a fridge, a television with DirecTV (watching Spongebob while at the Nick Hotel was so meta) and privacy, it made for a great day.

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When the clouds rolled in, we headed over to the Mall section of the hotel. After dropping a pretty penny in the 3,000-square-foot arcade, stocking up in the gift shop, checking out the Kid’s Spa and its menu of manicures, pedicures, hair wraps and temporary tattoos—and a trip to the bar (obviously my husband and I were the only ones imbibing)—it was time for us to bid adieu to the Nickelodeon Suites Hotel.

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Full disclosure: We had a room at another hotel for the remainder of the weekend. I think this is a great way to give the kiddos the experience they want while giving Mom and Dad a bit of a vacation as well.

All and all, it was a birthday treat our son still hasn’t stopped talking about. And, it was without any of the stress associated with party planning. Everyone wins!

P.S. If you like my family vacation musings and you’re into skincare, makeup and all things beauty, be sure to check out my blog, InsiderBeautyBuzz.com!

Faking “Fall” in South Florida…How to Do It!

It’s fall y’all! Even though it doesn’t feel like it when I get into my car mid-afternoon and it reads 100 degrees. I don’t know about you, but I am sooooo over this lingering summer heat! So this New Yorker is going to fake it till we make it! We’re officially in “fall in South Florida mode” here in our home, and you could be too!

Continue reading Faking “Fall” in South Florida…How to Do It!

Mompreneur Monday: Pizazz Gift Boutique

Mompreneur: n. defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.

Happy Monday Modern Boca Moms!  Welcome to our next installment of Mompreneur Monday on MBMom, highlighting Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow Mommas.
We’re working to bring busi-moms across the state of Florida together to start a Mompreneur Movement!  Why don’t you join us?
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Today’s Mompreneurs are Brent Brewster & Brooke Bell, our first ever mother/daughter entrepreneurial team and founders of Pizazz Gift Boutique in Coconut Creek AND Delray Marketplace.

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Congratulations on opening your SECOND Pizazz gift boutique! Tell us a little bit about your respective backgrounds and why being a MOM in business is important to you…

Brent – Being a mom has helped me with business as it has showed me the importance of family relationships. I have two daughters, so I know the value of female relationships whether it be mom and daughter, sisters, friends!

Our goal is for Pizazz to be a place for these women and these relationships to grow. Our atmosphere is laid-back and fun for women to come and enjoy themselves. 

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Brooke – I am a new mom and my daughter is two months old. Being able to have been in business with my mom and now having my own daughter is something so special for me! My mom has shown me what is means to be an honest business owner and employer.

She cares about each employee like family and values her relationship with each customer over anything else in her business. We do all aspects of the business together, and I only hope to pass that along to my daughter in the future. 

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How did Pizazz get started?

Brent – We had been to a similar store in the town that my mom (Brooke’s grandmother) lived in and always talked about wanting to do something similar in the town WE lived in. 

How is your store unique vs. other “gifty” shops?

Brooke – We are a women’s store that is based on exceptional, over-the-top customer service. We are a place where women love to be and spend time. You can always run in to grab that perfect gift or just come by and spend an hour wandering around to get refreshed. Our merchandise is chosen with such care.

My mom and I choose each item that comes into the store personally. Our complimentary and fun gift wrap has become well known in Broward county. We love to hear women tell us about the different events they have attended and been so excited to see that gift from Pizazz waiting to be unwrapped!

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Why should MBMom readers be your customers?

Pizazz is the store “For The Everyday Diva.” We strive to make every customer feel special and appreciated. We have merchandise for every taste! We are a small business, a family business and we would love to meet you! 

What exciting things are coming up for your store besides your recent opening at Delray Marketplace?

We have so many lines that we are so excited about! We currently carry Vera Bradley, Alex and Ani, Tyler Candles, and Bourbon and Bowties to name a few. We are so excited to add Brighton to our family this month!

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What do you LOVE about living and working in South Florida?

Everything – we are both South Florida natives!

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You can connect with Pizazz on Facebook & Instagram!
Now go get lost in their newest store in Delray Marketplace…it’s sure to be a diva experience. 🙂

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