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A real renaissance woman Fewer than 20 years after immigrating from Peru, Rosa Davis has built three very different businesses, from awnings to networking events #8212 and detective work

Rosa Davis is the owner of Jersey Shore Private Detectives and Eco Awnings NJ.-(AARON HOUSTON)

Rosa Davis said she believes in taking risks: “Just see where they take you.”

One of her biggest, Davis said, was moving from Lima, Peru, to the United States in 1998.

Rosa Davis said she believes in taking risks: “Just see where they take you.”

One of her biggest, Davis said, was moving from Lima, Peru, to the United States in 1998.

“When I first came to this country, I did not speak any English,” she said. “I felt as if I was going backwards while trying to start anew.”

As it turned out, Davis learned pretty fast.

Today, she owns two six-figure businesses: Jersey Shore Private Detectives in Red Bank and Eco Awnings NJ in Ocean Township. And she co-founded Jersey Shore Premiere Events, a large regional networking organization for small businesses.

Davis said that, while she is proud of her accomplishments, she did not do it all alone.

After studying at Middlesex County College as an English as a Second Language student, Davis studied telecommunications and network management in the Class of 2004 at DeVry University.

“My employer at the time, AES Red Oak Power Plant in Sayreville, helped pay for my education,” she said.

Upon graduation, Davis pursued an increasing interest in fashion by opening her own store, Bella Mystique Boutique, in Red Bank. She also started attending various networking events.

“That is how I learned about manufacturing, installing and repairing awnings,” Davis said. “And I said to my husband, ‘You know, we can do this, too.’”

Davis and her husband, Liam Davis, who previously worked in construction in New York City, created Eco Awnings NJ in Ocean Township in 2010.

Davis also met Chris Fotache in her networking efforts. She and Fotache co-founded Jersey Shore Premiere Events in 2011.

This led to another endeavor.

Privacy settings

Rosa Davis said social media is a “gift” for her Jersey Shore Private Detectives business in Red Bank.

“We find so much out on Facebook,” she said. “What people don’t realize is that, whatever they share with their friends, there are websites in which I can go on and plug in your name and see what you like, share, comment on, everything — even if you set up your Facebook profile to be private.”

Davis said that, when she cannot find someone by their name, she often can find them by their phone numbers, or by the friends and relatives that they share.

“We always can find what we need on the internet,” Davis said.

Brothers Peter Gentile and Fred Gentile, then the owners of Enhanced Background Checks, happened to sign up as local vendors at one of Davis and Fotache’s first events.

“I would walk around and, one day, I just started talking to them about private investigation,” Davis said. “I always had wanted to become a police officer when I was young and told them that I was interested in what they were doing.”

Having been sexually assaulted by a neighbor as a child, Davis said she thought they might be able to help her put her assailant behind bars.

“But once they took me under their wings and started teaching me, by 2012, I was conducting research and surveillance with them,” she said. “I loved digging for evidence and finding clues.”

Davis became a partner in the business before turning the company into Jersey Shore Private Detectives in Red Bank upon the Gentiles’ retirement in 2012.

She also was able to collect a confession from and press charges against her assailant in 2015 after finding other victims.

“That was very empowering for me,” Davis said.

Jersey Shore Private Detectives, where Davis said she works 90 percent of the time, works with and for other private investigators conducting background checks, surveillance and subpoena services on a variety of cases, including infidelity, custody and insurance fraud.

The best part about her two businesses, Davis said, is that neither requires any overhead.

“We are always on the move with both of our businesses, and, with technology, we don’t exactly need a hub,” she said.

Jersey Shore Premiere Events also continues to grow, with more than 6,000 members belonging to the organization.

On average, Davis said she sees nearly 250 people at each event, with the cost of attendance ranging from $15 to $20 per person.

“I met all of my business partners at networking events, and people are able to make the same sorts of connections here,” she said.

With the organization’s biggest annual events being its Jersey Shore Biz Fest, a business trade show and networking event, and its Jersey Shore Fashion Show, in which local models help feature local designers and boutiques, Davis said the organization is primarily designed to give back to the community.

“The event company is a way for us to contribute to different charities, and also a way to promote our own businesses,” she said.

Despite her busy schedule, Davis said being a business owner also has given her the opportunity to be a mother.

“I am very flexible with my hours so that I always can put my family first,” she said. “But my ultimate goal and passion is to run a large agency, with a few officers in New Jersey, and at least 20 investigators.”

Many of which she would prefer to be new to private investigation.

“Retired cops often have their own ways of thinking,” Davis said. “I would instead like to hire and give younger talent the opportunity that was given to me.”

Undercover mother

Rosa Davis, owner of Jersey Shore Private Detectives in Red Bank and Eco Awnings NJ in Ocean Township, said it often is challenging to be a woman in male-dominated industries.

“When people look to hire a person in construction or a private investigator, they often have in their head that they are looking for a tough man,” she said. “So, as a woman and a minority with an accent, I often have people who will call and ask to speak to the owner.

“They think that I am the secretary.”

Being a woman in such industries, however, has its advantages, Davis said. For example, in private investigation, she said it often is easier for someone who looks and speaks like her to infiltrate tricky situations.

“I blend in because I look like the soccer mom that I am,” Davis said. “I believe that I have an easier time blending in than a guy, because, especially if someone is doing something wrong, they are looking everywhere, and they might say, ‘That guy looks like a cop,’ or, ‘That guy is following me.’

“Me, they don’t notice so much.”

As a working mother, Davis has made it her priority to take self-defense courses and participate in necessary safety training.

“I can’t ever say that I will be 100 percent safe, as I already have been in many (difficult) situations where I have crossed the line,” Davis said. “I just like to go the extra mile for my clients, but also, I know I need to remain safe for my kids.”

Her empathy as a mother often fuels her, Davis said, recalling a custody case in which she did not feel very safe investigating.

“I went way too deep undercover, which I do regret, but all I was thinking was, ‘This mother very much needs to get custody of her baby; I needed to help her,’ ” she said.

Davis said her work life is made easier with the support of her husband, Liam Davis, and her kids.

“My husband now wants to become a private investigator, and my kids love it,” she said. “They love the fact that Mom is a ‘spy.’ ”

Meg Fry

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