Meet Dori DeCarlo, Founder and CEO of S1 Safety First in Shelton, CT

safety first woman on a mission dori decarloTell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally. I am the proud mother of 3 children – Daniel 22, Robert 20 and Courtney 18 who are the best and most important accomplishment in my life. As a mom, I can’t imagine the pain of sending my children off to school and not having them return because of gun violence, so I founded S1 Safety First, designing and developing a line of clear bags and backpacks that would assist schools in keeping guns and drugs out of our learning environment.

What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? After Columbine I wanted to work to make our schools safe and as a mom I couldn’t imagine the pain parents who lost their children to violence in schools live with daily and wanted to find a way to make a difference. S1 began with 4 bags, our Standard Backpack, Mini Backpack, Messenger Bag and Wheelchair Bag because I didn’t want to say to a child in a wheelchair that someday we would make a bag for you.

What I enjoy most about my profession is the way it has taken on a life of its own. I was just a mom on a mission to keep our schools safe and 5 years later have just come back from Hong Kong after introducing our newest products, our Made in the USA Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bags to the international marketplace at the Asian Aerospace Conference.

Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why? S1 supports Save the Children – I went to Long Beach MS with them to reopen a 24 hour day care center. S1 donated 144 mini backpacks and art supplies for the year. I was in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony along with the Mayor and other official from Long Beach.

Support Our Soldiers America Inc, a not for profit group that has developed a Bed and Breakfast/Spa in Alvin TX and give returning wounded veterans and a family member a free vacation at the spa. S1 donated bags to assist in their fund raising efforts and I worked as their Marketing Director designing their website and collateral materials and representing them with Donald Rumsfeld in NYC and at The Pentagon.

Chariots of Hope is a not for profit organization that takes old wheelchairs, refurbishes them and then donates them to kids around the world. They imprinted our wheelchair bags and gym bags to resell to raise funds.

Any school or not for profit group can use the entire S1 line of clear bags and backpacks to raise funds and awareness. Our Give Back program gives 100% of our retail profit to participating schools and organization.

What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome? The biggest risk I took professionally was taking the down payment I had saved for my house and beginning S1 as I couldn’t obtain funding the traditional ways. In trying to work with private lenders, they wanted to make an inferior product to save money or they would ask “Why do you need wheelchair bags, how many kids are in wheelchairs?” My response always was “You wouldn’t ask if one of them was yours!”

From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc? My inspiration has always been my children – which is why I started S1 in the first place. My role models have been my mom and grandmother – and I lost both within a year of each other and Helen Keller – because she showed me at a very early age that if God destines you for greatness, nothing can stand in your way.

How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization? We have the same customers we have always had because they need clear bags, backpacks and checkpoint friendly bags.

What one thing would you like to learn this year? How to work best in the international arena as building these relationships are most important.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Happily sharing S1 and our mission with the world and seeing my children take an active role in running S1.

What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment? Everything I do is fun to me – but I would have to say my favorite things are spending time with my children and family and anything sports related!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Believe in what you do. Find something you are passionate about and don’t let anything get in your way. Building this business I have faced so many obstacles that if I didn’t have complete faith and belief in what I do, I would have quit before even getting off the ground!

Which, if any social networking sites do you belong to?

Twitter – @Dori_S1_Bags, also on Linked In, Facebook, Fast Pitch Networking, Xing, Ning

You can find out more about Dori DeCarlo at her website here: