The Next Generation of Local Entrepreneurs

Determined to forge a successful career on their own terms, the millennial generation is redefining how business gets done. Meet three locals doing it their way.

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Adysun Hawkins, NXT GEN, photo by Steven Martine
Photography by Steven Martine

Adysun Hawkins, 23

The biz: LucidSunDay 

Jupiter native Adysun Hawkins’ mobile vintage fashion business, LucidSunDay, could be characterized in the same words that define her: sunny, happy, and free-wheeling. The self-described “flower child” loves all things groovy and stocks her 1973 Shasta trailer with clothing and items designed to introduce customers (or transport them, depending on their age) to the era of Woodstock, bell-bottoms, and tie-dye. 

The yellow and white exterior, ’70s music, and funky-yet-homey interior invite customers to come inside the mobile shop, linger, and chat. “I want the energy to be upbeat and for customers to come inside and feel like they’re lying in the sunshine and free,” Hawkins says. Racks of her latest vintage finds line the interior, interspersed with accessories like natural-dyed, handmade cloth bags, bright headscarves, hats, and boots. A spacious dressing room encourages patrons to try on clothing and post photos of themselves online. 

Behind her laid-back persona, Hawkins is a passionate advocate for sustainability—and a smart businesswoman able to adapt to changing conditions. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2019 with a degree in graphic design. But an internship with a large corporation, where she crafted flyers for a company picnic, convinced her she had to be her own boss. “That was a turning point for me,” she says. “I told myself I’m
going to do anything it takes not to do that.”

While in college, she began selling small items she made herself at local art fairs, all the while dreaming of launching a mobile fashion business. Just before COVID hit, Hawkins found the perfect vintage trailer she had been looking for—the Shasta. “The day it was posted on Craigslist, I sent in a deposit,” she recalls. She and her father spent several months painting and designing it, which she says was a nice “bonding project.”

Sales were going well—until the pandemic. At that point, Hawkins turned her attention to beefing up her online presence and loaning out her trailer for photo shoots. “I definitely had some rough spots,” she says. 

Hawkins travels across the country seeking 1960s- and 1970s- style clothing and accessories. “Recently, I made a deal to buy 800 pounds of unwanted clothing,” she says. “It was delivered to my house in a semi.” It took a summer to sell it all, to other resellers and to customers through her own business, but she managed to accomplish the task. “I saved 800 pounds of clothing from going to the dump,” she says. Hawkins abhors “fast fashion”—cheaply made garments catering to rapidly changing trends that eventually end up in a landfill. “There is enough clothing in this world for every single person to have a different outfit every day of their lives,” she says. Aside from sustainability, she cites the sartorial benefits of vintage: “You can curate your own style so uniquely, and you won’t walk into a party looking like everyone else.” 

Not surprisingly, Hawkins is upbeat about the future. “I think I have a lot of exploring to do,” she says. “I really love creating. I’m not exactly sure where this will take me, but I’m looking forward to it.” 

 

Lauren Bender, NXT GEN, photo by Steven Martine

Lauren Bender, 27

The biz: Social Hour 

Before founding Social Hour, a boutique marketing, consulting, and full-service social media agency, Palm Beach Gardens native Lauren Bender was commuting daily to Boca Raton to work as a financial analyst at Berkadia. “I was chained to my desk from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” she says. Although she enjoyed the job, she found herself giving up opportunities as a part-time model and stylist and wanted to create her own flexible work schedule.

In 2018, she took the leap, creating an agency that develops online marketing strategies, creative content, and campaigns focused on the wellness, beauty, and fashion industries. Three years later, she has six clients on monthly retainers and works on a project basis for several others. “Taking the first step was my biggest fear,” she says. “Obviously, you learn as you go. But now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have both freedom and flexibility.”

Bender graduated in 2016 from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama with a double major in entrepreneurship and marketing. Her original plan had been to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a nurse, but she quickly realized that wasn’t for her and ended up following the entrepreneurial path of her father, who is the director and founder of Place of Hope in Palm Beach Gardens.

In the beginning, she lived at home while launching the fledgling start-up. “When I started out, I had to work hard on the back end, taking on clients for free or on a low budget just to get my name out there,” she says. A breakthrough came when she landed some projects for Randy Fenoli, bridal designer and host of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. After that, “it was literally a domino effect,” she says. “I haven’t had to market myself at all; clients have come from word of mouth.”

In 2019, Bender married Brian Grove, a project manager in land development at Kolter Homes. They made their home in Bender’s hometown and, with new office space on Northlake, she is now looking toward future growth, with plans to enlarge by assembling a team that would eliminate the need to hire freelancers. Coming out of the pandemic, Bender says businesses have a greater awareness of the importance of strong digital marketing. “When COVID hit, an online platform was the only way to get messages out to people, and if businesses aren’t constantly updating, people will begin searching elsewhere,” she says. “A digital brand has become a crucial tool.”

Zach Bucolo, NXT GEN, photo by Steven Martine

Zach Bucolo, 27

The biz: Ital Bowls 

You might say that Zach Bucolo’s journey from surfer to successful owner of a food truck came with plenty of bumps in the road. 

A graduate of Jensen Beach High School, the Martin County native postponed his scholarship to the University of North Florida in favor of a gap year in Hawaii, which turned into four years. Working at Starbucks and hitting the big waves on the North Shore of Oahu, Bucolo had designs on becoming a pro surfer but quickly learned there were plenty of others vying for spots in his league. For a while, he created jewelry from Hawaii’s vibrant sunrise shells and sold it on the beach. “I learned a lot about how to start a business,” he says. After two years, he found himself at a crossroads: “Life was all about surfing, but I realized I could have that life in Florida, and I missed my family.” 

He moved back home in 2017 and began thinking about starting a food truck that offered the healthy “fast food” he had discovered in Oahu: acai bowls. The acai berry, from South American palm trees, is packed with antioxidants and flavor. Blended with other natural ingredients, it’s a treat that delivers a huge dose of long-lasting energy and health benefits. “I had visions of having a food truck back in Stuart, right where it is now,” he says. That location is the Hutchinson Island Pantry plaza, across from a surf shop and Stuart Beach.

But the ability to transform a big idea into an actual business takes more than a dream. Bucolo located an old army step van in Port St. Lucie that was immaculate but needed to be fully equipped with everything from countertops to electricity to refrigeration. It was a lot of hard work—“it tested me in all aspects of my life, and at times I wanted to give up,” he recalls. But four months later, he launched Ital Bowls with no fanfare. The name is derived from the word “vital,” and in the Caribbean describes raw, vegetarian, or vegan meals. 

Bucolo now has seven employees, a permanent spot in the plaza with tiki huts sheltering outside seating for 20, and has even been able to give back to the community during the pandemic. “COVID helped me grow the business tremendously,” he says. “My team and I decided to stay open because we felt it was our duty to provide healthy eating options.” They closed only for the month of May in 2020 (they remained open for takeout), and Bucolo started a GoFundMe page to raise money to feed medical frontline workers. He raised more than $2,500 and made bowls for 250 nurses and doctors. “I found out they were getting take-out pizza and chicken wings,” he says. “And more than anyone, these were the people who needed good nutrition.”

Bucolo says his next dream is a brick-and-mortar location. He has his eye on Jupiter as a potential spot. “The food truck is a huge part of my life, but I feel I’ll eventually outgrow it,” he says. “I want to grow from it.”  

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