When Lorraine D’Alessio was recruited at 15 by Ford Models in Toronto, a career as an immigration attorney was one of the last things on her mind.

But after almost a decade of traveling the world for photo shoots, commercials, and runway gigs, D’Alessio’s interactions with customs and immigration were legion and she saw a potential career opportunity in helping others navigate a life spent working abroad.

“Being a top model, I traveled through international customs and dealt with the guy with the badge and gun a lot,” D’Alessio, 36, said.

So, after receiving her J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law and passing the California State Bar exam in 2011, she founded D’Alessio Law Group and dedicated her practice to helping other creative professionals navigate the U.S. immigration system. Five years later, she just received the Century City Bar Association’s Next Generation Attorney of the Year award, her firm has 12 attorneys on staff, and recently rented office space in Miami to go along with its headquarters on L.A.’s Miracle Mile.

Tight Focus

For Jen Mojo, founder of Brentwood-based co-working and networking company, Paper Dolls, less is more. She keeps just one tchotchke on her desk – a beloved bunny Pez dispenser – that she rotates from her secret collection based on the season. “It makes me feel happy to have just one,” she said. “Even when my interests change, my books and Pez dispensers always go with me.”

A former marketing executive at Microsoft Corp., Mojo, 46, thinks aesthetics and environment have everything to do with success.

“I felt like Goldilocks in search of a desk that would fit me,” she said. “The office space was being designed to reflect an entrepreneurial misconception: the ideal of the hoodie-wearing, pingpong-playing, Red Bull-drinking, drone-flying tech entrepreneur. It does not reflect the image or interests of the majority of entrepreneurs, and especially not the growing base of female founders.”  

The less-is-more ethos extends to the company she keeps. Her dedicated network is committed to making real change for one another. So what do female founders such as Mojo tend to prefer to large one-size-fits-all networking events?

“Smaller, intimate luncheons or breakfasts where we can make connections and seek independence at the same time,” she said. “It’s important to feel like you’re going to work, wherever you are. … And remember: It can look pretty and smell good, too.”

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