Downtown Darien is becoming a who’s who of former finance folks who have

From Wall Street to Main Street

Ashley Krauss

New Title: Owner of A Little Something White
Former Profession: Vice President at Goldman Sachs
Turning Point: “When my son was born, I couldn’t justify leaving my adorable child and home [in Wilton] to pursue a career that I didn’t feel truly passionate about.”
Her New Career: “My favorite part is meeting with brides. The happiness that a bride radiates when she finds her wedding gown surrounded by her friends and family is magical. I truly love working in the town of Darien, too.”
Hard-Won Tips: “Do a lot of research before you jump ship. Make sure your business idea is viable, that there aren’t too many competitors or huge startup costs. Have a plan in place before you leave the benefits of your job, which is not only a stable source of income but likely provides insurance and a 401k.”

Charly Sahlia

Upper Crust Bakery

New Title: Owner of Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe
Former Profession: Securities Lawyer at HSH Investment Management
Turning Point: “I was tired of the commute to New York. Also, my wife is a doctor and can’t drop everything if one of our children gets sick, so I wanted to have more flexibility.”
His New Career: “I’m so much more involved in the community than I was before, and more connected to my neighbors. I also practice law for local investment firms out of an office upstairs, but now I can choose my own clients.”
Hard-Won Tips: “Think about your priorities. For me, it was clear after we had children that family was my number one priority. I also think it takes street smarts to be a small business owner. It’s very different from corporate America.”

Cliff Benham

Chunky Pams

New Title: Owner of Chunky Pam’s
Former Profession: Manager of Risk, Legg Mason
Turning Point: “A friend of mine knows developer David Genovese, and she told him I wanted to open a candy store, so he called me on the sales floor and told me there was a space available in town. I was ready to leave the cutthroat finance environment so I looked at the space the next day.”
His New Career: “The people in town have all been so welcoming. I also love teaching the kids who work here. They are all Darien High School students and they each have a special spark.”
Hard-Won Tips: “Starting a business isn’t for your average Joe; it’s for risk takers. Research, talk to people and ask a lot of questions. I traveled up and down the East Coast visiting candy stores.”

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