Impassioned & Inspiring


March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the many noteworthy contributions made by women throughout history. To honor the significant strides women have made over the years, My City is again shining the spotlight on successful female business owners in Genesee County. These leading ladies shared what they have achieved, what it’s like to have their own businesses, and who has inspired them.

inspiringlocalwomen-4Iva Harrison
Affairs to Remember

It began 20 years ago with just chair covers … and has evolved into the full-service event rental and planning company that it is today. Affairs to Remember now offers a variety of linens and chair covers; Chiavari, folding, and X-backed chairs; farm and acrylic tables; charger plates, backdrops and draping.

“I have always loved the idea of having a wedding-based job,” admits the business owner, though she worked in the corporate world for many years. Born and raised in Flint, Iva graduated from
Swartz Creek High School and has lived in Grand Blanc for the last 37 years.

What led her to start her business was a snag that occurred during the planning of her daughter’s wedding; two weeks before the big day, the reception venue changed hands, leaving Iva with the task of finding stemware, china, linens … everything!

“No one in our area carried anything we needed, so I had to look in the Detroit area,” she says. Iva organized the entire event on her own, and on the day of the wedding, members of the country club were asking for her business card. “They said they had never seen the club look so beautiful,” she adds.

Iva decided to leave the corporate world to join her partner, Marlene Dingman, full time, allowing Marlene to retire. “Everything changed,” she says. “I buy the fabric for linens and napkins, and they are sewn in-house. I have progressively grown the business to where we are today.”

With stores in Flint and Commerce, Affairs to Remember serves customers throughout the state of Michigan. “Whether it’s for a wedding, corporate event, home party, bar mitzvah, or a birthday, we take care of them all!” the owner exclaims.

Iva believes the most rewarding part of her job is customer satisfaction. “Seeing how happy we have made someone never gets old,” she admits. “The notes, phone calls and gifts of appreciation – it’s very humbling to have someone thank you in that very personal way.” It’s also important to her to be involved in the communities where she does business. “Affairs to Remember is involved in several charities and groups,” she says. “It is our way of giving back to the people we serve.”

As for advice to women who would like to start their own business, Iva sum it up in one word: dedication. “Any woman who wants to start a business has to have a huge drive to succeed,” she says. “The hours are very long and you must be prepared to sacrifice for others. If you love what you do, you will grow beyond monetary means.”

Who has been the inspiration behind your success?

Annette Neumann is the most inspiring woman I know. First of all, she is a Godly woman who makes all of her decisions based upon God. Secondly, she is a devoted wife, mother, daughter and sister. She started her business on these values and has never strayed from them. She is down-to-earth and never let her success change her. She continues to support others through mentoring, and I am very lucky to have her in my corner. She keeps me grounded and reminds me how right and wrong decisions affect others.



inspiringlocalwomen-3Bonnie Mathis
Interiors by Bonnie

In business since 1976, this full-service interior design studio in Fenton serves Genesee and the surrounding counties. “We specialize in all aspects of interior design, from new-builds to remodels,” Bonnie says.

Even as a young girl, Bonnie aspired to be a business owner. “I looked up to my father, as he owned his own business,” she shares. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and would take a lot of work, but I also knew that I could do it.”

She always had a passion for art and design and a desire to reach out to assist others. “I’ve been fortunate to have wonderful employees to make the past 41 years possible,” says Bonnie. “My daughters, Dawn and Debbie, have each worked with me for over 20 years. They were able to take over the business when I became Fenton Township Supervisor.”

According to Bonnie, the most satisfying aspect of business ownership has been meeting so many incredible people. “We work closely with clients to ensure they receive a quality end result they can enjoy for many years,” she admits. “It has also been extremely satisfying to watch my daughters carry on the business.”

What advice does Bonnie have for women entrepreneurs? “I would tell anyone who wants to start a business to love what they do,” she advises. “If you have a passion for something and you understand the time that will be needed to build your business, then you have what it takes. Do your research, put in the time, and be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.”

Community involvement is very important to Bonnie. “I believe everyone can do their part, no matter how big or small, to make a difference in this world,” she says. She has been involved in local government for many years, having served as a Fenton Township Trustee and currently as township supervisor. “I’ve ushered at St. John Catholic church in Fenton for 26 years, and have been on the board of Citizens Bank in Fenton. My love of animals inspired me to serve on the board of Genesee County Animal Control, the Genesee County Humane Society, and Adopt-A-Pet in Fenton. I also sit on the board of Genesee County 911. I enjoy serving people and doing what I can to make a difference.”

When she started Interiors by Bonnie, there weren’t many women business owners. “I knew that I had to prove myself in order to be respected,” she says. “I’ve met many wonderful people over the years who have helped me achieve my goals. I look back at where I started as a young girl and I’m proud to say that I’ve done what I set out to do – but there will always be goals for me in my future.”


Who has been the inspiration behind your success?

Since I followed in my father’s footsteps by going into business for myself and serving in government, I would say he was my inspiration. I learned from him what it takes to be successful. I looked up to him, and as his daughter, I wanted to make him proud.



inspiringlocalwomen-2Linda M. Park, DDS
Park Dental Center

A business owner for 26 years, Dr. Park has been and a practicing dentist for 28 years. She has owned two dental practices – one in Brown City, MI for 13 years, and her current practice in Burton for 13 years. Dr. Park graduated from the University of Michigan Dental School in 1989. She wanted her own practice for the independence it brings; she wanted to be able to have a family while doing what she loves – helping others.

“When I graduated from dental school, I had many options,” she says. “Having worked for a few different offices, it became apparent that to accomplish my goals – both professional and personal – I needed to pursue starting my own dental practice.”

Dr. Park says that dentistry allows her to help others understand the relationship between what’s going on in their mouth and the health of their whole body. “Owning my own practice allows me to orchestrate how best to share that relationship with my patients,” she admits. “I’m able to choose the best in technology, dental procedures, and staff to contribute to my overall philosophy of providing excellent dental service to our current and future patients.”

Mastering the business side of her practice was the most challenging part. In dental school, they didn’t teach very much about the business aspects of dentistry. “I understand that now, the curriculum has changed to include more business training,” she says.

What advice does she have for women who want to start a business? “You should know the business you are going into, or surround yourself with people who do,” she advises. “Have a plan to include your goals for growth, and then set out to achieve them. Always having a goal to strive for is what keeps a business moving forward. I think people lose focus because they never had a solid goal in place. And, you can’t do it alone. Establishing that team to encourage you, and give advice and wisdom for the journey is vital to business success.”

Dr. Park is an active member of her church and volunteers at Carriage Town Ministries. “I feel it is important to give to others from the gifts that God has enriched me with,” she shares. “Park Dental has done free dental days for children and adults in my office for those who do not have access to dental care.” Park Dental also raises funds and donations for the Flint Diaper Bank. Additionally, Dr. Park and her family went to Honduras to provide dental care for the people there; she currently has two exchange students from Honduras living with her family. “We also give to many organizations as God directs us,” she adds. “I wouldn’t be the person I am without God’s work in my life.”

Who has been the inspiration behind your success?

A woman dentist at my childhood dental office inspired me to become a dentist. She actually performed a root canal for me when I was a pre-med student in college, and it spurred me on to consider the great career that dentistry is for women. I also believe that God has placed things in my path to direct me to where I am today, and all the glory belongs to Him.




inspiringlocalwomen-1Jamie Scott
Two Men and A Truck®

Jamie Scott is co-owner of Two Men and A Truck, a local company that moves homes and businesses. “We will move you locally, across town, or across the country,” she reports. Jamie and her husband, Russell Scott, own two franchises – one in Flint, where she primarily works, and a second with offices in Waterford and Rochester Hills, where Russell works.

Jamie aspired to become a business owner after learning of Two Men and A Truck. Russell has been with the business for over 30 years, since the beginning, starting as one of the first movers and the first manager. “When he first bought a franchise, it looked fun and exciting and I wanted to be part of that!” she shares. “I saw that owning a business gave us the flexibility we wanted for our family.” Being able to work the business around their family’s needs has been a blessing. “I love being able to leave work early enough most days to pick my kids up from school, be active in their classrooms and after-school events, and spend extra time with them, even if that means working from home a little,” she says.

Jamie’s role in the business has evolved over the years, and what she finds most rewarding is watching her team grow. “In the beginning, my greatest satisfaction came from helping the business grow with each truck we added to our fleet,” she admits. “It was a time of hard and sometimes sleepless nights, but was still very rewarding. Now, I have more of a leadership role, less operational. My greatest joy comes from watching my team flourish! I love to see them expand their horizons and realize they are capable of anything they set their minds to. It’s always my hope that their time with our company finds them happy and satisfied, with a new desire for greater personal growth.”

Community service has always been the cornerstone of Two Men and A Truck. “Our Movers for Moms program is near and dear to my heart,” Jamie says. For years, her company has partnered with the YWCA Women’s Shelter in Flint. Jamie says that when women go to a shelter, they typically arrive with few belongings for themselves and their children. “By collecting donations from our customers, staff and local businesses, we help make Mother’s Day special for moms living in local and other shelters,” she explains. “Around Mother’s Day, the children at the shelter are able to choose gifts for their mothers, and mothers are able to choose things that they need to make their transition easier.”

Next year, the Flint Two Men in A Truck operation will celebrate 20 years in business. “A big shout out to the Genesee County community!” Jamie exclaims. “Thank you for your continued support!”

Who has been the inspiration behind your success?

Mary Ellen Sheets, founder of Two Men and A Truck, has been so inspiring to me. After her children left for college, she started this business with the purchase of one moving truck, giving up her career and retirement with the State of Michigan. I love that she took a huge chance on herself and her dreams. It’s very empowering to think that one woman’s vision, leadership and determination grew that small business with one small truck into a fleet of over 2,700 trucks and 380 locations worldwide. Wow! I also admire and try to emulate her dedication to community involvement.



Photography by Eric Dutro


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