Gina Armenia, founder of Gia Michaels Confections, Elmont, N.Y., with her two children Michael and Gia.

After owning an automotive aftermarket business for 13 years, Gina Armenia got married and decided to leave the business world behind. She quickly had two children, Michael and Gia, and made it her full-time duty to take care of them.

Gina spent all of her time with her children, but still felt the urge to get back into the working world. She began baking and playing with candy in her spare time and found the creative outlet she was looking for. When Gina and her husband Anthony invited friends over for a dinner party, Gina wanted to make a dessert that everyone would enjoy, so she dipped pretzels in chocolate and rolled them in her family’s favorite candy. The dessert turned out to be a favorite for both the children and adults. 

In order to make her treats for a larger audience, she needed the right supplies. For this, Gina turned to her local Costco Wholesale store. She was able to purchase 150 pounds of chocolate through Costco in order to make her gourmet pretzels for a bridal shower. As a thank-you gift to the manager at Costco, who helped her out, Gina sent samples of her product. Soon after, she received a phone call asking if she would like to sell her products by the pallet at Costco Wholesale. This was Gina’s first giant leap toward making her business successful.

In 2005, Gina founded Gia Michaels Confections, specializing in gourmet chocolate-covered pretzels. She set up a factory and began creating Indulge Gourmet pretzels, Indulge Gourmet Dunks (bite-sized gourmet pretzels), Ribbles (party pretzels) and most recently, Gourmet Garbage (a jar of gourmet toppings for ice cream and desserts). Gia Michaels products are now sold at department stores, gift shops and upscale supermarkets. 

“I love what I do,” Gina says. “I am able to combine pure passion, dedication, unexplainable determination, commitment and the hardest work imaginable and I could not be more pleased with my achievements.”

What did you think you would be when you grew up?          
A singer.

Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“The Godfather” and “Annie.”

Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Vacationing with my family at a fabulous resort. While on the beach relaxing, I notice that Donny Deutsch is vacationing as well with his family. Then we get to shoot the breeze.  That would be the perfect vacation!

What book are you currently reading?
“James and the Giant Peach” with my children.

Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
Martha Stewart.

What’s your pet peeve?

I’d give anything to meet:
Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.

The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
Think big.

What excites you most about your job?
My business plan of promoting gourmet items for the supermarket industry.