Featured Models

Owner and CEO Melissa Cruz has put together Models to introduce her new Dress  Collection.

She handpicked each powerful woman to showcase what they represent and how they influence their community around them. We would like to share the

  Powerful Women of the Bay 

Susanne VanSelow

We would like to introduce Susanne Van Selow as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Cognac Dream!

President and owner of Van Selow Design Build, Susanne Van Selow draws on her 20+ years of design experience to inspire her team and ensure her customers are left with a remodel project they truly love in both residential and commercial settings. Susanne has built her business and reputation on “Quality Construction with a Women’s Touch”. Susanne consistently immerses herself into trade organizations such as a member of the National Association of Remodeling Industry and Women in Construction. Through her ongoing education and involvement in these trade organizations, she ensures that Van Selow Design Build is on top of all the industry trends. Susanne’s success in the industry has led to numerous accolades including the NARI Remodeler of the Year and Hall of Fame award. Susanne volunteers her time to help Hammer and Heals (Habitat), ‘a nonprofit group who builds homes for single moms. Their mission: empower women to help families build strength, stability, and independence

Lauren Leal

Next, we would like to introduce Lauren Leal as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Angelic Cardinal!

Lauren Leal is a successful 62-year young business woman. She, along with her husband, Roy, married 38 years, have been managing their construction company, Leal Construction, Inc., for as many years.
Along with the construction company and managing their rental properties in St. Petersburg, Lauren is also busy working full time as a cabinet designer for a national company. Lauren received her Interior Design Degree in 1996 while pregnant with her first child, Angelena. She has no plans to slow down any time soon. Lauren enjoys living a healthy active lifestyle which includes eating vegan, weight training, hiking, kayaking, cycling and world travel

Sylvia Allard

We would like to introduce Sylvia Allard as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Elegance! 

Sylvia Allard is living an amazing life! She started off as Sylvia Bernadette Visocchi in 1935, born in Concord, Massachusetts. Growing up with her grandparents, mom, dad, and 6 siblings sharing many adventures exploring their 250-acre farm in Sudbury. As a young adult she lived in the historic city of
Lowell where she taught herself how to tickle the ivories on a secondhand piano her mom bought from the junk man. She is a gifted woman able to play a tune without being able to read a note. Her talents don’t stop there, she can hold a tune to rival any contestant of AGT! While working full-time in an office and modeling part-time she made time to go on a blind date where she met her husband, Richard Allard. They have been enjoying their honeymoon for the past 65 years sharing their love and happiness with 4 wonderful children. Sylvia has kept active all her life working as a secretary, raising children, enjoying camping, traveling, Saturday night poker (…. she never loses), hosting large family gatherings, and visits from her grandchildren. There’s no sign of this woman slowing down! Stop by and she’ll sing CRAZY just like Patsy Cline or share some great memories with you around the campfire.

Nahal Azizkhani

Next up, we would like to introduce Nahal Azizkhani as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Goldess!

Forming lifelong relationships with her patients based on trust, kindness and compassion is important to Dr. Nahal Azizkhani. That’s why she dedicates herself to understanding her patients’ needs and strives to make sure that everyone attains their healthiest, most confident smile.

Dr. Azizkhani graduated Cum Lauda from The University of Georgia in Athens, Ga with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and attended LECOM School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton,Florida, earning her DMD.

She strongly believes in the value of continuing education and actively seeks professional development opportunities to remain on the forefront of the latest dental practices and technology. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, West Coast District Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry.

Following her belief in giving back to the community, Dr. Azizkhani provides dental needs for patients in need through Remote Area Medical and dental mission trips. Participates in Give Kids a Smile, a volunteer organization providing community service to promote pediatric oral health care. When she is away from the office, Dr. Azizkhani enjoys the outdoors, traveling and cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Melissa Yardy

We would like to introduce Melissa Yardy as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Magnificent!

Melissa is greatly respected and passionate leader with over 4 decades of experience and received her Florida Real Estate License in 1976. Melissa Yardy is the Chief Executive Officer of RE/MAX Preferred since 1986 and purchased the first RE/MAX in Pinellas County. Melissa’s extraordinary vision has positioned RE/MAX Preferred as the top producing office per agent in Tampa Bay. Melissa, a self proclaimed “real estate junkie,” thrives on meeting the needs of her clients and helping her hand picked agents in growing a successful career in real estate. Melissa has mentored more than 300 independent agents and owns one of the most successful offices along the prestigious Tampa Bay beaches. Melissa and her team of agents strive to be at the forefront of the industry by anticipating new trends and creating strategic plans. Our professional and experienced group will keep a transaction together regardless of the troubles that may arise and our clients will be in good hands. Over the course of her career, Melissa has been consistently recognized for her dedication, guidance, passion, commitment and enthusiasm. Her office donates a portion of every commission to Children’s Miracle Network which benefits our local John Hopkins Pediatric Hospital in St Petersburg, FL.

Deanna Silva

We would like to introduce Deanna Silva as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Angelic Cardinal

Deanna Silva is the reigning United States of America’s Mrs. Tampa Bay, and is currently preparing to compete this November for the USOA Mrs. Florida title, with the hopes of capturing the crown and competing at the national pageant in Vegas next February. For more than 20 years, pageantry has been a part of her life, and she has been blessed to hold numerous local, state, national and international titles including Miss City Beautiful USA, Mrs. Gasparilla, Mrs. Galaxy International, and Mrs. Florida America, which allowed her the privilege of competing at the 2013 Mrs. America pageant. Deanna is a graduate of the University of Tampa, and has had the privilege of calling St. Petersburg her home for the past 20 years. By day, you can find her caring for and serving our nations veterans as a member of our VA healthcare team. By night, she wears MANY hats including, wife and mother of 3, mental health advocate, PPD survivor, and entrepreneur. Deanna will spend her reign as USOA Mrs Tampa Bay advocating for mental health awareness and support for our active military and US veterans. In her words,
“ it is our turn to serve the heroes who have sacrificed everything for our everyday freedoms.

Laurie Stagniew

Debra Galura

We would like to introduce Debra Galura as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Blue Velvet

Retired US Army, Sergeant First Class Debra Galura initially enlisted in the Army at nineteen. She spent six years among various postings in the US and Germany. She served as the Company NBC Specialist (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) and Training Non-Commissioned Officer. After completing her tour, she left the service to continue her education and to start a family. She and her husband have a daughter and son-in-law, two sons and two grandchildren. After completing her degree in Business, she held positions in Human Resources, Accounting and Sales. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, after a 20-year hiatus, she reenlisted in the Army National Guard as a Human Resources Sergeant and volunteered for deployment. In 2017 after 23 years of active service Debra retired from the military. During her service she was awarded many accolades and citations including multiple Army Achievement Medals, Army Commendation Medals and a Meritorious Service Medal.
Upon retiring Debra and her husband embarked on a new adventure. They sold their home and started traveling and living in an RV. Two years of travel brought them to the St. Peterburg area where they enrolled in commercial photography course. Not only did they find a passion for photography, but they also found that hometown feeling in the St. Petersburg community. Galura Photography supports and showcases small business owners of the area through business.

Cherie Leal

We would like to introduce Cherie Okie Leal as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Eve!

Cherie grew up in a small country Town in New England with her two Sisters, Brother & amazing Parents. She met her childhood Sweetheart Al in 1976 & they married in 1982. They have 3 Sons & 4 grandchildren. Cherie also would help other children that needed care through out the years, as she would not hesitate to bring them under her wing. She always found creative ways to bring in extra income with her artwork, murals, acting, singing and worked as a KJ/DJ host for over 20 years from Massachusetts then moving to Florida in 2004.
She is now the Co-Owner of 2 successful businesses with her sons in Treasure Island, FL. CJ’s On The Island for over 8 years and Vine & Grind Gourmet Shop for over 5 years, which keeps her very busy around the clock.
When not running all there is behind the scenes of the businesses or keeping her large Family in check, she may be singing with her band called Comfort Zone Band, which joined together 10+ years ago. When Cherie has a moment to herself, she may be creating candles, working on mosaic projects or dressing up in costumes to have fun with the Grand kids! There is not much that keeps this strong, positive minded Woman down!

Donna Allard

Next, we would like to introduce Donna Allard as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Ruby & Gold!

Donna is a successful businesswoman who currently resides in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband, Sam. In 2016 they opened Coastal Fine Furniture Specializing in American made custom indoor and outdoor furniture. Serving the local community and surrounding states, customers are treated to unique home décor and furniture custom made to order built by the Amish community. Donna will help you design one piece of furniture or furnish your entire home to suite your unique taste and needs. Through dedication to her customers, she has been recognized by Best of the Bay, Best of the Best, and Peoples Choice Awards for best furniture and best home décor. Donna is a well-known figure in the surrounding community as can be seen on Bay News 9 where her commercial runs daily. Donna graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts with a degree in Architectural Engineering Design. When she’s not busy managing her business Donna enjoys spending time with her family and friends and her pups, golfing, hosting Karaoke at CJ’s on the Island, exploring the Sunshine State, cruising the Bay and traveling throughout America. If your lucky you can catch her on stage as a guest singer with Comfort Zone.

Sharon Freeman

We would like to introduce Sharon Freeman as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Gothic Queen

Sharon Freeman is a true Floridian and a native of the St. Petersburg Area, she migrated all over Florida but came back to her home town nearly 7 years ago to work for AR Homes (formerly Arthur Rutenberg Homes) designing Model Homes throughout the United States, a dream at that time that came true for her. She has been in the Interior Design Industry for over 15 years. She graduated cum laude with a BA in Interior Design from the International Academy of Art & Design in Tampa, FL. Sharon started her career at the industry leader Marc Michaels Interior Design in Winter Park, FL where she gained so much of her experience in model home and residential design both domestically and internationally. She has achieved several prestigious design accolades and awards including AR Homes Model of the year in 2017 & 2018, The Best In American Living Award by NAHB in 2017, Aurora Silver Award Winner for Model Merchandising & Design 2017 & 2018, Aurora Grand Award Winner Best Interior Design 2018, Aurora Grand Award Winner Best Interior Design Home 1,000,000 – 2,000,000 in 2020 and most recently in July of 2021 the Aurora Silver Award Winner for Interior Design for a Model Home under 1,000,000.

In February of 2020, Sharon and her husband Ben, who also works in Custom Home building, decided to fulfill their own dreams by starting a Boutique Interior Design Firm, Fusion DesignInteriors.With their combined experience, vision and work ethic, they are on track to be a true powerhouse in the design and home building industry.

A wife, mother of an amazing 8 year old daughter, business owner, full time employee and breast cancer survivor, she stays grateful.

Sujitra Afienko

We would like to introduce Sujitra Afienko as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Eve!

Say hello to Sujitra but her friends call her Sarah. Sarah was born in Thailand and worked alongside her family in the restaurant industry. While doing so, Sarah went to school and received her Bachelor's degree in Marketing and then worked for an Educational Institute before leaving to America in 2001. Sarah worked in a Thai restaurant while going to St Pete Junior College. Then in 2006, Sarah decided to join Lorraine's Beauty Academy. She received her Cosmetology license and went to work for a high end salon as a nail tech for 7 years before opening her own salon in 2014. Sarah is now the proud owner of a booked and successful small Women Owned business Natural Nails by Sarah here in St Pete. She has done all this while also supporting her Husband as a St Pete Attorney who is now running for the seat on the Criminal Court Bench of 2022!

Melissa Cruz

Lastly, we would like to introduce our CEO Melissa Cruz as a Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Empress.

Melissa Cruz was raised in rural Kaneville, Illinois youngest of four daughters and altogether ten siblings. An average student, until the age of sixteen when she discovered cosmetology which offered an opportunity to make people feel beautiful. Something she felt she had never experienced.

  On fire with this ambitious idea, she proposed the venture to her parents. Who in return offered her an ultimatum; Finish and graduate or reimburse her parents the cost of tuition.

  With their blessing and ultimatum in hand she enrolled, graduating from cosmetology school two years later. Melissa quickly moved into leadership one year later. Where she remained for five years leading her Hair Cuttery team to become one of the top regional salons in the Chicago area.

  Pursuing independence at age twenty-three she established Curls & Swirls Salon in 2006. Offering more than salon services, began distributing tinsel and feather extensions and the education of how to use and utilize her products. Keeping her busy for more than ten years and eventually two locations.

  In 2016 Melissa sold and personally paired her clients, formulas and photos with her hand-picked, trusted, professional peers and colleagues. Ensuring her clients were well cared for after her departure and helping fund her journey to Florida. Where her and husband Roberto sought to start both careers all over.

  Soon after leading a team of twelve stylists and bringing this new team to become one of St. Pete’s top regional salons for multiple years. Her contagious passion fueled her team of professionals to each have their most successful weeks of their careers under her tutelage.

  In 2020 Curls & Swirls was reestablished in St. Petersburg and since become fully booked. Maintaining a loyal customer base and full book with her educational and informative brand of cosmetology. Reaching and exceeding the most successful months and year of her entire career.

  Overtaken by yet another inspiration, Melissa set her mind on creating high quality hair extensions. Taking up sewing to personally produce the product her clients needed without the sticker shock. She was a natural, it was natural, almost meditative. This is when she began to dabble in couture dresses.

  Eight months later it was all tangible. Curls & Swirls is a full-time, fully-booked salon. Offering HALO and handmade Couture Hair Extensions, for sale as well as rentals. Now expanding as Boss Bay Beauty, master stylist Melissa Cruz and her hand-picked team of Boss Bay professionals offer her handmade Couture Dress Rentals and Photography Packages that can include all of the above! As well as a Webpage that consolidates it all. We proudly present Melissa Cruz and welcome you to enjoy Boss Bay Beauty!

We would like to introduce Laurie Stagniew as our Model and Influencer wearing our new dress rental- Sakura.

Laurie is the CEO and Founder of Bayshore Marketing Group , a woman owned digital marketing firm based in St. Petersburg FL. Laurie has more than 35 years of accomplished sales, marketing, public relations, branding, digital advertising, and corporate consulting experience. Laurie is constantly seeking new ways to gain a competitive advantage for her clients and in this digital age, it’s necessary. Laurie is honored to have been nominated Tampa Bays’ Best Woman Owned Business two years in a row.

*Creative Loafing People’s Choice Poll

* Laurie’s outlook on life transcends into her work:

• Don’t take yourself too seriously

• Seek opportunities, don’t wait for them to find you

• Say what you do and do what you say

• Multi-tasking is a way of life

• Be Kind

• Life isn’t always fair, accept it and believe in your heart you are capable of achieving the unimaginable