Riham LaRussa is an entrepreneur, a mom of two wonderful daughters, and the owner of Small Packages, a curated e-commerce gifting company.
Riham, a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in Operations Management, is also the child of first-generation immigrants. As a child, she was able to spend time in Silwad, Palestine with her family and had an acute awareness of life outside of the American experience. She grew up in Westerville, Ohio, but always felt as though she stood out. She had a different-sounding name, was the only Muslim in her classes, and never knew who she was: the Palestinian girl or the American girl. Speaking about the experience, “It was difficult navigating childhood and saying I was proud of where I came from. People either had complete empathy, confusion or didn’t think the country even existed.”
Riham was able to transform these emotions into action when she acquired her first company, Small Packages. After seventeen years in the stone and tile industry, she is now able to take her experience as the “odd woman out” and reshape it as a business strategy. Small Packages sources from mostly women and BIPOC-owned creators and businesses for their boxes.
“I strive to be a role model for my own daughters,” says Riham. “I want them to see that we can use our voices to both give back and help others find their voices. There is great value in highlighting those who are the unrecognized backbone of our society.”
Catherine Hover is an entrepreneur, speaker, and working mother who started her business journey when she moved to Saratoga Springs, NY from New Orleans in 2011.
Hover immediately saw an opportunity to bring the learn-to-paint-while-drinking-wine experience to the Capital Region with the opening of Saratoga Paint & Sip Studio, and soon expanded with two more locations. After selling her Burlington, VT studio in January 2019, she began working on what became Palette Community.
Her initial vision for Palette was to fill the need for support and resources in small urban markets specifically for women. The first hub, which opened in Saratoga Springs in 2019, was crowdfunded by 50 founding members, who signed on prior to the opening. One of these first Founding Members was Riham LaRussa, who was at the time, working a fully remote job for a company based in Manhattan.
Palette quickly became a sought-after haven for remote workers, solo entrepreneurs, and working mothers who need a safe space, but more importantly, a community to level up in their careers and in their life. Since then, she opened two more locations in the region and is set to open two more by 2025. In the last four years, Catherine has provided shared space and resources to a growing network of 400 individuals and 10 corporate partners who all believe nothing bad happens when women have more opportunity, community, and investment.