MARY JANE PARIS AT 203-929-6702


BRIDGEPORT – No matter what business you are in, you are your brand.

That was the word from Shelton business owner and entrepreneur Mary Jane Paris to Housatonic Community College business students Thursday, Feb. 25 at a panel discussion held as part of National Entrepreneurship Week. Paris, head of the Shelton–based Positive Impact Consulting Services, LLC, told students that their business begins with them.

“People like to do business with people they know, like and trust,” she said. “It’s up to you to become that person.”

This is especially true with single-owner businesses like hers, she said. But it also applies to larger businesses as well.

“Whether you’re in business for yourself, or whether you manage other people who interact with customers, your attitude sets the tone.”

Paris who appeared on a paned that included Bob Abbate of Trumbull, president of Bob Abbate Marketing, and Phyllis Haynes of West Haven, president of Southern Relishes, LLC notes that research shows that, when it comes to business success, it all starts with a positive attitude.

“When you show a positive attitude in developing people, when they become productive, they are going to deliver finer service,” she said. “This will improve bottom-line results will result. It’s always people first.”

Along with a positive self-image, education and hard work should be a priority. Paris knows this from her own life.

After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, she wanted to return to the workforce and knew that her business skills needed sharpening. Her solution? Attend Housatonic.

“If it wasn’t for Housatonic, I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” she said. “It was affordable, and I was able to put my youngest son into the Early Childhood Laboratory School.”

Education, she emphasizes, is a necessity. It is the key to success, she says, and it is something that no one can take from you.

Her high regard for both education and Housatonic led her to return to HCC in 2004 as a business instructor… and to join the board of directors of the Housatonic Community College Foundation in 2008. “Joining the Foundation was a natural for me because of the financial help they offer students,” she said. Paris’ desire to return to work became a necessity when she divorced. Then she began on her career, moving into recruiting. Then into banking. It was during this time that risk-taking can spell opportunity.

 You must have a ‘yes’ policy, she said. When presented with the opportunity to something new and different, she said, your response should be ‘yes!’ Especially in an economic environment where everyone has been affected.

It was her positive attitude that led her to turn calamity into opportunity. She was downsized from her last banking job in 2006. Having already scheduled a vacation, she decided to take it. She thought… and  thought … and thought.

The she came up with an idea: start a consulting business … and show people the value of a positive attitude and how to build and maintain one. She hasn’t regretted it.

“My philosophy,” she said, “is that, when life gives you lemons, do not make lemonade. Make lemon meringue pie!”