Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guest post from AMORE Journey - about me!

This comes from blogger Claudia Stagg, who writes about women and their reinvention journeys. Thank you, Claudia, for this profile! Visit her blog at
My story is proof positive that you can make changes in your life that fulfill and nurture you professionally, personally, and creatively! 

AMORE Moments: Serial Careerist

  I have been meeting inspiring AMORE girls everywhere I go. I first met Caryn Starr-Gates last Spring at a Bergen County Professional Women’s Network event. When I saw Caryn again and again at other networking events, I knew I had to learn more about this successful business woman. As I got to know her, it came as no surprise to learn that, in 2010, Caryn received the Woman of the Year Award by the Bergen County Chapter of New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) for  successfully reinventing herself and career during a down economy. This is her story. 
By her own admission, Caryn Starr-Gates is a serial careerist, successfully reinventing herself with each diverse career move. During the last 30+ years, Caryn has been a talented copy writer, a skilled caterer and cook, a successful  manager in the restaurant business, a creative gift basket and organizing entrepreneur, and most recently, the proud  owner of StarrGates Business Communications, a one-stop shop for copywriting needs.

Most may wonder why Caryn would work in so many different professions. “After several years, I would find that I was no longer challenged by what I was doing,” Caryn explains. “I was always looking to learn something new.”

Caryn’s quest for new challenges is something that is inherent in her personality, and anyone meeting her quickly notices her positive attitude.  A classic over-achiever, she was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, and a natural born leader. “My parents expected a lot from me and encouraged excellence,” she remembers. “As the first-born, I always had a lot of confidence and believed that I could do anything I wanted to do. All I had to do was to learn how.” And that was that.
Caryn started to pave her unusual career path when she left Paramus for Emory University in the mid-70s. Starting college in a pre-med program, studying for her Bachelor of Science in psychology, she began journaling in her junior year when she realized she should seek a different career path. “I had insomnia and would spend hours writing in the hallway of my dorm,” she remembers. “Advertising and writing kept popping up in my diary. “One morning I woke up from a dream and told my roommate that I was going to be a copywriter.” And that was that.

After graduation, Caryn landed her first copywriting job in Atlanta that led to a number of assignments there and later, in New York City.  Her experience includes writing retail fashion copy; promoting the launch of CNN; ads, radio, and TV spots for Anheuser-Busch, Ralston-Purina and ABC Television; ad campaigns, jingles, and new product concepts for a diverse array of national packaged goods brands, banks, travel and entertainment accounts, and Turner Broadcasting.

Then one day, another dream prompted Caryn to switch gears. “I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be a cook.” And that was that.

Soon after, Caryn landed a job with a Queens caterer that specialized in location catering for the film and entertainment business. The chef saw potential and taught her the ropes in the kitchen. “I soaked up everything he taught me and was a quick study,” she says.  “I asked a lot of questions, did my research, and learned a lot.”

It wasn’t long after when her natural born talent for managing took over and she started running the kitchen, while learning how to make everything from soups and sauces to entrees for hundreds. ”We mainly served casts and crews on movie sets, TV shows, and commercials shot in the New York metro area. I never thought I’d make soup for 800 people.”

That experience then led to a seven-year career in restaurant management for the UNO restaurant chain. She quickly rose through the ranks to general manager and then area supervisor. Caryn traveled the country and Puerto Rico opening and managing many new restaurants for UNO’s corporate and franchise divisions until another change evolved in 1996.  And that was that.

Now married and a new mom, Caryn closed the door to the hectic hours and travel of restaurant management, but still sought new challenges.  She started “Get It Together,” a two-pronged business that offered both personal gift services and organizing services.

She also started freelancing as a copywriter again, and was back in an element she truly enjoyed.  Little by little, her freelance work grew and in 2009, she launched StarrGates Business Communications, her current business.

When asked if she plans on waking up some morning with another career-changing dream, she smiles.  “I absolutely love what I am doing,” she says. “Every day is different, and I’m still learning new things in social media, technology, and the industries I write about.  I think I’ll be here for a while.”
To learn more about Caryn and Starr-Gates Business Communications, go to

Caryn’s AMORE tips:
  1. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  2. Anything is possible if you learn, learn, and learn.
  3. It’s OK if you don’t know where you are going. Enjoy the ride.
  4. Have confidence and faith that you will achieve, and you will!
  5. Get involved and join a networking group(s) – Caryn has been an active member of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) since 1998. She is also a member Bergen County Professional Women’s Network, the Association of Women in Communications/New Jersey, NJ Creatives, and others.
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