Isabella Therien felt like she was having an identity crisis at the conclusion of her senior season of basketball at Loyola University Maryland, wondering where to focus her energies after years of dedication to team sports.
So, in a career move that seemed to make sense, the finance major accepted a job at a large East Coast wealth management firm. She soon realized it wasn’t a good fit.
“I realized it was just not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Therien said. “I just knew in my heart that I needed to find something with a little bit more flexibility, something that makes me happy at the end of the day. That’s what led me to I.T. Home Improvement.”
Therien officially launched the Zionsville-based business after moving to central Indiana with her boyfriend, Will Fries, an offensive lineman who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2021. She was inspired to become an entrepreneur by a female family friend in her home state of New Jersey who managed to run a contracting company while raising four children.
“I thought it was amazing,” Therien said. “In high school, I was the only girl in woodworking class. I knew that I loved to do things that are hands-on, seeing things (through) from start to finish. So, I took a risk. It is a male-dominated industry, so that was a little intimidating, but I knew in my heart that it was going to be worth taking the jump.”
Three years later, Therien, 24, is finding her niche with I.T. Home Improvement. She and business partner Emerzon Perez, a general contractor, have worked on commercial and residential projects, but Therien said she aims to narrow her focus to home remodeling going forward.
I.T. Home Improvement aims to be a “one-stop shop” for its clients in north Indianapolis and surrounding areas, Therien said.
“I try to make it as easy as I can, because I know that’s what I would want,” she said. “I think our clients really appreciate that. They can just relax and know they’re in good hands.”
In addition to finding the work fulfilling, Therien enjoys being able to set her own schedule.
“I love going to (Fries’) games. That’s something I look forward to every Sunday,” she said. “I don’t have any family (in Indiana), so I get to go home sometimes if I’m a little bit homesick and Will is on the road. I think it’s exactly what I needed.”
Fries, who also grew up in New Jersey and met Therien through a friend, said he is not directly involved with I.T. Home Improvement but that he aims to support his girlfriend and her work however he can.
“She’s super passionate and relentless in her work. She doesn’t quit on anything,” Fries said. “She takes a lot of pride in her work, making sure every detail is right.”
Therien, whose father played 12 seasons in the NHL, said she expects to move back to New Jersey after Fries finishes playing professional football, and she’s prepared to relocate the business if he joins an NFL team in another city. But for now, she’s enjoying building a life and a career in the Hoosier state.
“Being a woman in an industry like this comes with its difficulties, but I feel like I’ve embraced it,” Therien said. “We’ve built such great clientele, and I just want to keep building. We are really excited for what’s to come.”
Learn more at therienizzy.wixsite.com/website.
A ‘very intentional’ photographer
The Indianapolis Colts are recognizing National Women’s Small Business Month throughout October by highlighting local female entrepreneurs with close ties to the team.
For Courtney Shea Smith, launching her own photography business made sense for several reasons.
In addition to her passion for capturing beautiful and precious moments with the click of a shutter, she knew it would be an enterprise she could continue on the move. As the wife of Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Braden Smith, whom she met as a student at Auburn University, she knew her husband’s NFL career could lead to frequent relocations.
“I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to be in Alabama (after college), and I wanted to have a business that I could take with me if we were to move through multiple cities, and I’ve always wanted to travel,” Shea Smith said.
Shea Smith, 27, formed Ninety Three Creative, named after the number she wore on her jersey as a catcher for the Auburn softball team, while still living in Alabama. She specializes in weddings shot on film and said she is “very intentional” in how many events she shoots so she can attend Colts games and spend time with her husband during the offseason.
More recently, Shea Smith launched Courtney S. Studios, the branding she uses for her studio-based portrait work. At her Carmel studio, she specializes in maternity shoots.
Shea Smith – who is expecting the couple’s first child in January 2024 – knows her photography business will be limited, for a time, both by parenthood and her husband’s career. But she’s eager to see what her photography business will eventually become.
“I’ve had to put a little bit on the backburner for life, and that’s something that I would choose to do every single day,” Shea Smith said. “I wouldn’t do this any other way, but I’m excited to see what it looks like post-football.”