top of page


Leaders, advisors, achievers with decades of experience

Imagine a strategic team with deep capabilities who understand the importance of infrastructure and know how to invest in your future.

How far could your company grow and how fast, if you could on board decades of experience practically overnight?

That's how Conscious Capital Growth works. Our portfolio companies get the benefit of our team of experts, when they are needed the most. Strategy, guidance, education, and even hands-on project leadership, this team of advisors is on board and ready to work. The mission: Your success.

Meet the team

christo image

Forte is acquiring and analyzing high-growth and high-potential businesses.

Christo Demetriades - Finance & Acquisitions

Managing Partner 

Christo is a proven entrepreneur, visionary and leader. He has successfully created, owned and sold businesses both in the U.S. and internationally. His understanding of international finance, law and business operations, underscored by his strong accounting background, make Christo the perfect resource when acquiring and analyzing high growth/high potential brands. He has taken public a dozen Food, health and education brands leading to over a billion dollars in market cap, internationally on five continents. Among his many lucrative transactions are Health and Racquet Club which he sold to Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Active, and Lunchbox Wax which is the latest success story in Christo's transaction portfolio selling to WellBiz Brands. 


His three-decade tenure as a CEO, CFO and COO for franchising, restaurant, entertainment and self-care brands, means Christo knows how to build and nurture strong, loyal management teams that drive both culture and goal achievement. And by working with executive teams to solidify the financial and operational structure of companies, he sets them up to reach their full potential providing public and private investors viable opportunities and business owners the chance to achieve their dreams.

heather image

Known for growing companies, enhancing key performance indicators and increasing value for all stakeholders.

Heather Elrod, MBA - Operations, Organizational Development

Managing Partner 

Heather’s career spans nearly three-decade in the franchise, beauty, and wellness industries. She has held executive positions in multi-billion dollar, as well as emerging companies, and partnered with private equity firms in the acquisition, growth, and sale of franchised businesses.  Heather is known for her ability to grow companies by finding the key performance indicators that matter and moving them dramatically forward. The result is significant business growth and value for all stakeholders.


Before Conscious Capital Group, Heather served as CEO of Amazing Lash Studio Franchise. Under her leadership it was named the #5 top growth franchise and the #1 in category by Entrepreneur magazine. She was named #4 on the 2019 Franchise Times Fast and Serious List and awarded the ”dealmaker” award for leading the sale of Amazing Lash Studio Franchise to KSL Capital. Heather also was an executive for Mail Boxes Etc.® (with over 4,500 locations worldwide) and participated in the sale of the company to UPS® thereafter transitioning the company to The UPS Store®.  She co-founded SkinPhD® Cosmeceuticals and worked as a consultant in the beauty category for Procter and Gamble.  She has served on several corporate and charitable boards, and is a former IFA board member.

Jim Graham image

Data analysis pro who can see the patterns in the numbers and drives business success. 

Jim Graham - Business Intelligence

Senior Vice President

Jim Graham has spent his career helping companies make sound business decisions. Through his decades of experience designing systems to track and analyze data. Data that has been the catalyst for  rapid, if not explosive, business growth. Data reveals patterns that Jim can apply to virtually any business issue. As Conscious Capital Growth's VP of Business Intelligence, Jim shares his analytical abilities, strategic business wisdom and his experience growing bottom lines with our portfolio companies.


Before joining Conscious Capital Growth, Jim helped grow brands including Massage Envy, Massage Heights, Eat the Frog Fitness, MicroAge Pinacor, DMB and others. He remains humble about his contributions and praises the fantastic people he has had the privilege of working with throughout his career. It's not the position you hold, Jim believes, but the results you can achieve through great culture and the fun you have along the way. He is fiercely committed to success and loves working with great people.

dedria ryan.jpg

Dee’s people focus enhances operations performance, grows unit sales, and increases profitability for brands and franchisees alike. 

Dedria Ryan - Integration and Growth Acceleration

Senior Vice President

Dedria (Dee) Ryan is senior vice president of integration and growth acceleration. In that role, she oversees strategic plan implementation and growth performance for Conscious Capital Growth’s portfolio brands. Dee is a relationship builder and understands that operations success is more than systems, rules, and metrics. Those are important, but so are the people skills that build great teams at all levels of the franchise. 

Dee's decades-long franchise experience includes training and operations leadership roles with Cold Stone Creamery, Dunkin Brands, Pinkberry, and Amazing Lash Studio. Before Amazing Lash, Dee was the CEO of I Love Juice Bar, now acquired  by portfolio brand, Main Squeeze Juice Co. Dee believes that franchising is about building long-lasting, trusting, fun, profitable relationships within the franchise organization and among the franchise community. Nothing makes her happier than helping franchisees achieve operational excellence and realize business success. 

chris richards image

Information technology expert who can turn IT into a competitive advantage. 

Chris Richards - Technology

Vice President 

Chris Richards is a veteran of franchise technology systems. He has spent the better part of his career with well-known brands, including Massage Envy, Amazing Lash Studio, and many others. He is an expert at ensuring companies work with the highest levels of systems and infrastructures available, focusing on using technology to support the business with efficiency, security, and stability. That includes information and operational support systems. As Vice President of Technology, Chris leads and manages the various technology stacks and cyber security for both Conscious Capital Growth and the portfolio companies. 

alex image

Proven track record of achievement in franchising, in  start-up, emerging, and accelerated growth organizations.

Alex Samios - Development

Managing Director

Alex grew up in the franchise industry and became passionate about the model at an early age.  He was introduced to franchising in 1978, when his father became the first franchisee for Jiffy Lube.  After joining Papa John’s Pizza at store 300 in corporate operations, Alex became a franchisee with the brand in 1996, building and operating 34 restaurants.  He was nominated ‘Franchisee of the Year’ for 3 consecutive years.  Alex was also the first franchisee and board member for a mobile dog grooming concept, launching the brand's initial franchise development initiative in the US.  That brand remains the category leader.


Additionally, for 15 years, Alex was a director and partner in BrandAmerica, a consulting firm which expanded U.S. brands throughout Asia. In 2010, he pioneered a unique alternative wellness studio utilizing infrared saunas and franchised it, spawning an entire industry. That brand is now the category leader.  Currently,  Alex is the Chief Growth Officer (and investor) in Dogtopia®, the leading and fastest growing franchise in the booming $120B+ pet industry. Under Alex, the brand has grown from 19 locations to 400+ by 2024. He is an active investor and strategic advisor to several emerging brands and is currently a Director in Zoom Room and Costa Oil, two high-growth franchises.

Lauren Wanamaker image

Expert at guiding aspiring entrepreneurs to find their ideal brand and culture fit.

Lauren Wanamaker - Development

Chief Growth Officer

Lauren spends her time meeting and talking with people who are interested in owning their futures through business ownership. She works hand-in-hand with the Franchise Development teams in our portfolio companies. The best part of her work is helping people live their dreams and realize the rewards of entrepreneurship.


Lauren has decades of experience as a franchise development leader in the beauty, wellness, and pet care spaces. Her track record of working with organizations to attract and onboard the right franchisees in the US and internationally and helping them achieve their personal business ownership dreams is unmatched. Lauren has held development positions with brands including Drybar, Amazing Lash Studio, Radiant Waxing, and Elements Massage. 

James Hinchey_edited.jpg

James Hinchey 

Director of Franchise Development

James is a recruitment expert, and before joining our team, he led the effort at Dallas-based Inspyr Solutions. He has over a decade's worth of experience in technical recruitment, executive placement, sales, and project management. James is a skilled communicator who thrives in environments with solid organization and a culture of collaboration. That describes Conscious Capital Growth. James is also a United States Army veteran. According to James, the military taught him many skills, but the most powerful, he agrees, is his commitment to service, systems, and processes.  Just the right formula for helping our portfolio companies find the best franchisees and the best fit within our target territories. 

Highly proficient at technical recruiting, communications and collaboration, keys to finding the ideal candidates.  

marco Born image

Investor Relations pro with a track record of exceptional relationship building that drives results.

Marco Born - Investor Relations

Vice President

Marco earned his stripes in the world of investor relations in an unlikely place: in the athletic departments of Middle Tennesee University and then Louisiana Tech. That's where he launched his career in fundraising. Years later, he continued to advance, build relationships with donors, and was named athletic director at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Not only did he lead the university's athletics department, which included overseeing an $18 million annual budget, he did all the fundraising and investor relations as well.  


Originally from Germany, Marco came to the U.S. on a scholarship to play college tennis. Exceptional talent and ability aside, his ethos of hard work and dedication paid off, with two national championship titles to his name. Throughout his college sports career and into his roles within and leading athletic departments, Marco used his natural relationship-building talent to build great teams. He loved seeing how far they could go and how much they could accomplish. Today, as vice president, Marco has the same passion, this time with the company's portfolio brands.

ab ingram image

Finance leader in private equity, capital growth investment oversight and expanding businesses.

Ab Ingram - Growth Capital

Advisory Partner

Ever since his days as an Economics major at Northwestern University, and an MBA student in Entrepreneurship/Finance at Babson, Ab's been passionate about the world of entrepreneurship. That led him to his role as Executive Director of the Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. There the mission is to draw in the college's business and entrepreneurial expertise to create cross-disciplinary programming, combine it with the knowledge of franchising experts so students’ may better understand franchising and the opportunities it can create.

Prior to Babson, Ab was as managing director, head of franchise, food & beverage for Webster Bank’s Sponsor and Specialty Finance where he developed a specialty lending platform focused on Franchise, Food & Beverage and Health/Wellness and led a leveraged finance team providing senior debt capital solutions to private equity sponsors.  Earlier in his career, Ab was VP of GE Capital Franchise Finance.


With over 25 years in a variety of finance, advisory and entrepreneurial roles, Ab also worked with GE Equity in Stamford, CT and was involved in identifying, negotiating, and structuring over $350 million in venture capital investments and served on the Board of Directors of several venture-backed growth companies. He has consulted for a variety of early and late stage companies in multiple industry sectors.

kathy DeGrandi Heasley image

Known for creating a brand-culture connection, The Heart Effect™, that is the rocket fuel for business growth.

Kathy DeGrandi Heasley - Branding & Marketing

Advisory Partner

Kathy DeGrandi Heasley is an accomplished hands-on senior executive, entrepreneur, advisor, and thought leader. Through her company Heasley & Partners she has achieved decades of success in business development, communications, brand building, marketing, public relations, publishing, video, content development and more for companies and people spanning all industries.


Franchising, consumer products and services, financial services, online, hospitality, technology, manufacturing, real estate, healthcare, fitness and wellness, are just a few of the many industries in Kathy's experience arsenal. Brands she worked to develop include Cold Stone Creamery, Massage Envy, Premier Garage, the State of Arizona, NASM, Complete Nutrition, Amazing Lash Studio, Elements Massage and Fortune 100 brands including Coca-Cola, Exxon, and more.


Kathy’s diverse experience is a business asset because she readily identifies patterns and applies best practices from one industry to another. The result is unprecedented innovative thinking and creative execution by finding and applying the emotional connections that move people to action.

Jay Scalise image

Proven pro at store development, design and turnkey solutions for rapid rollouts and rapid growth.

Jay Scalise - Design, Build Out, Logistics

Advisory Partner

Next time you walk into your UPS Store, know that Jay Scalise played a big role in bringing that convenience to your neighborhood. For over 18 years Jay led the oversight and execution of over 4,000 UPS locations world-wide. And if it seemed like your Mailboxes Etc. store rebranded practically overnight to UPS, it’s because Jay and his team pulled off that transition in just 120 days! That kind of magic takes knowledge,  systems, processes, leadership and a get-it-done spirit that has fueled Jay’s successful 30-year career. Jay has been involved in acquisitions, mergers, high-level negotiations, trade and labor, strategic alliances, start-ups, growth initiatives and risk management. He's also an expert in store design and build-out efficiencies that minimize risk and increase profitability.  

Today, Jay is the founder and managing partner of 360 GlobalFran, LLC, which provides franchise companies support, resources and services in store design, construction trades and trade requirements, supplier standards development and sourcing, cost-of-entry evaluations and implementations. He also provides executive oversight for 3C Store Fixtures, a company that specializes in the development of innovative retail interiors. Orange Theory, Amazing Lash, European Wax, The UPS Store, The Joint Chiropractic, Vs Barbershop, Elements, Merle Norman have all benefitted from Jay's expertise.

bottom of page