Tag Archives: Chicago business

Client Success Saturday!

Yovette Drake, owner of Flirtatious Lingerie Boutique, first accessed the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) through a Business Plan Critique Clinic, a small group setting that provides expert advice and precise feedback along with practical strategies to develop your business plan in conjunction with the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which helps entrepreneurs start a new business or expand or improve an existing business.

With 25 years of executive level experience and after conducting months of research and development, Yovette thought she knew what it would take to begin this entrepreneurial journey. However, within 3 months of opening her business, she realized that she couldn’t sustain the business with just selling lingerie.  Shortly after realizing this, and that she couldn’t rely solely on foot traffic and word of mouth, she went back to the drawing board. The idea of expansion and building out space not being utilized was the key to unlocking an entire set of new goals and developing a new plan. Flirtatious Lingerie Boutique now offers Kiss Studios, a space that allows their customers the opportunity to take fitness and dance classes, plus host parties and events.

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While going through the process of finding methods to improve her business, Meg Herman, the Director of Entrepreneurial services at the WBDC helped Yovette see things from a different perspective. The experience with WBDC helped her validate some of the things she knew but it also lead to question ideas she thought she knew in a more practical method.

When it comes to balancing personal life and work, she says “There is no real balance – it’s all a juggling act in which I work 90 percent of the time and sleep only 10 percent of the remaining time.” If you’re not ready to make that type of commitment to the business, you won’t last.”

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Yovette is very excited about the direction her business is going, but as any entrepreneur thinks, she is already strategizing ways to grow her business with the WBDC and other business partners. That is why she developed a series of workshops and events that will serve to bring the next generation of women entrepreneurs together to help empower and improve their businesses. In the next five years, Yovette hopes to see her business profitable with a strong client base.

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Gear Up for Growth – WBDC’s Child Care Business Expo Boosts Business in Chicago

Did you join the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) for our 15th Anniversary Child Care Business Expo on June 1st?  If you missed it, here’s a rundown of the inspirational and educational day:

Over 500 attendees…

Child Care Business Expo

visited 55 Exhibitors ranging from Illinois Action for Children to Dominick’s…

Exhibitors CCBE 2013

 and heard from 5 Deserving Award Winners.

Watch the video playlist below to meet:

– Arabel Alva Rosales, AAR & Associates, LTD., Child Care Champion Award Winner

– Lindsay Cochrane, representing Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Friend of Child Care Award Winner

– Peg Dunne Pavelec, Little Inspirations, Fast Track Award Winner

– Teresa Gomez, Wonderland Day Care Center & Wonderland Home Day Care, Unsung Hero Award Winner

Dr. Latrice Walker, Pre-Fit, Hedy M. Ratner & S. Carol Dougal Legacy Award Winner

Child Care Business Expo Legacy Award

2 Shift Into High Gear Afternoon Workshops taught entrepreneurs effective marketing and business finance.

CCBE Afternoon Workshop

2 Stellar Expo Chairs – Patty Kryscha, Southwest Airlines & Kimberlee Burt, A Child’s Space welcomed guests.

Expo Co Chairs

2 Dynamic Honorary Co-Chairs

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle & Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (not pictured)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opening the Exhibit Hall with WBDC co-president Hedy Ratner (w/ scissors)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opening the Exhibit Hall with WBDC co-president Hedy Ratner (w/ scissors) and Expo Co-Chair Kimberlee Burt (far right).

One powerful Luncheon panel shared their insights into the future of Illinois child care.

Luncheon Panel

(L-R): Kate Cozzani, Monique Draper, Janice Lopez and Arabel Alva Rosales

Did you experience the Expo with us?  Do you have any questions that didn’t get answered at one of the workshops? Ask them below!

To see more pictures from the event, check out the WBDC Facebook page.

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WBDC Retail Business Clients Share Their 2013 Business Strategies

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday may have been a bonanza for many WBDC retail clients, but even before the December holidays were over, most had their eye on the New Year. Read their business-building strategies – and be inspired!

JulieJulie Horowitz Jackson, Owner

Virtu, 2034 N. Damen Av.

www.virtuchicago.com

One-of-a-kind gifts such as handcrafted jewelry and stationery are Julie’s stock and trade. In 2013, she’ll alter her buying plan by reducing inventory and adding new artists. In-store events will be bumped from six to ten. She still plans to write guest articles for gift and chamber of commerce publications, but her real focus will be on expanding her own blog, “Virtues,” with a precise editorial calendar.

 

Deborah Kramer

Deborah Kraemer, Owner

Abbey Brown Soap Artisan, 1162 W. Grand Av.

www.abbeybrown.com

Deborah’s new year begins with a bang on January 4 when she plunges in to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. She’ll handle the intensive curriculum, which requires two full days of weekly classroom sessions and plenty of “homework,” by turning over more duties to her two managers. Deborah will expand the number of on-site soap-making classes and maintain her level of involvement teaching high school students small business skills in the After School Matters program. For Deborah, January also means taking a complete business inventory and manning a booth at the Chicago Gift Show at the Merchandise Mart. Oh, and she’s designing several new products. Did we mention this is all BEFORE she begins the Goldman Sachs program? Stay tuned!

Laurel Stradford

Laurel Stradford, Owner

What the Traveler Saw, 1508 E. 55th St.

www.WhatTheTravelerSaw.com

Coming off of a successful 2012, Laurel says she’s bringing “a new heart and hope” to the new year. Her popular store will be open more days and more hours. She will amp up her marketing and regularly post information on her new blog and Facebook page. Sadly, the “traveler” was only able to schedule one trip in 2012, but that will change in 2013. Jazz festivals in Europe and a return trip to Turkey, as well as many invitations from other travelers, beckon.

Oh, the excitement, hope and promise of creating those New Year’s business-related resolutions! What plans do you have to take your business to the next level? Share your strategies in the comment section below!

Contributed by guest blogger Chris Ruys of Chris Ruys Communications.

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Small Business Saturday in Chicago’s Hyde Park

Below is an article written by the Women’s Business Development Center’s Kristin Travis reflecting on her experience with Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, held on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, was created by American Express in 2010 with the mission of bringing communities together to promote local commerce.  I celebrated last year’s event, on November 26, 2011, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.  Hyde Park is near and dear to my heart; I lived there for a while after moving back to Illinois following a 5-year leave.  Hyde Park, as you may know, has a very vibrant small business community, filled with a cornucopia of gift shops, restaurants, book stores and many other wonderful places to shop.

One night, while taking a final sip of stale coffee – a last ditch effort to keep my senses alert after hours of studying – I heard a phrase in the background that perked my ears, “Small Business Saturday!”   A commercial on CNN explained the event, causing me to perform a silent cheer in my seat.  I was overjoyed to hear that this event was beginning to gain a national presence.

So there I was at 8 a.m., on a cool, damp November 26, with a larger, fresher cup of coffee in hand, patiently waiting for the day’s events to begin.  Chant, a Hyde Park Thai food bistro conveniently positioned on the bustling 53rd Street, was the setting for breakfast with Santa and a lively press conference featuring several home-grown elected officials.  In attendance were Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama; Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle; Senator Kwame Raoul; State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie; 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns; Mike Davis and Wallace Goode of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and a host of volunteers organized by the Chamber and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

Despite the dismal weather, 53rd Street was abuzz with lights and the sound of honking horns in support of this community action.  Laughter glittered across the familiar faces that spoke at the press conference podium as fond memories were shared about life growing up in this close-knit neighborhood.   As the conference came to a close, Jarrett took a moment to reflect on the life of the late Maggie Daley, wife of the former Mayor Richard M. Daley and a great Chicagoan who championed for our youth and community.  It was in that spirit of community that Jarrett encouraged the audience to go out and support the local economy.

Now, just one year later, I am once again a proud resident of Hyde Park.  I relish in the fact that my fellow neighbors and I take so much pride in our local small businesses.  We know that it is shops like What the Traveler Saw, Wesley’s Shoe Corral, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, Café 53, Hyde Park Produce and a host of other small and family-owned businesses that drive our community and communities like ours all across America.

Join me this November 24th, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, on Small Business Saturday and support the local businesses in your neighborhood that work hard to keep America going strong.  Please click here to learn more about Small Business Saturday and to participate in events in your local community.

Kristin Travis Picture (PTAC Associate)

Kristin J. Travis is the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Associate at the WBDC. See pictures from her experience here.

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The Women’s Business Development Center Invites You to the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference in Chicago, IL!

The WBDC staff invites you to attend the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference, Women’s Business & Buyers Mart on September 20, 2012 at Chicago’s McCormick Place-West!  View the video below for your invitation!

Register now to spend a full day connecting with key buyers, supplier diversity staff and/0r purchasing decision makers from both the corporate and government sectors!

Learn more about the events taking place on September 20th by clicking here.

Take a look at the Women’s Forum Breakfast Speaker Announcement here!

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Women’s Business Development Center Announces Panelists for Women’s Forum Breakfast at Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference in Chicago

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is pleased to announce the panelists for the Women’s Forum Breakfast at the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference (EWC) taking place September 20, 2012 at Chicago’s McCormick Place – West.  Register now to take advantage of the early bird rates!

Sue Bhatia, Chief Executive Officer
Rose International, Inc.

Ranked 13th on Fast Company’s list of the Top 25 Women Business Builders in North America, Bhatia founded Rose International in the spring of 1993.  Under her leadership, Rose emerged as a force in the IT and Business Services arena, and is a leader in providing innovative end-to-end technology services to both commercial organizations and government agencies from branch offices, Centralized Recruiting Centers and development centers in 21 U.S. cities and India.  With 6,000+ associates and steady revenue growth, Rose International is recognized as one of the country’s fastest-growing and most successful companies, and the largest woman-owned business in St. Louis, MO.

Christie Hefner, Former CEO, Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Executive Chairman, Canyon Ranch Enterprises

Christie Hefner serves as Executive Chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises, a new company leveraging the brand and knowledge of Canyon Ranch via media and business partnerships.  From 1988-2008 she served as Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. overseeing global expansion of Playboy’s legendary brand to a wide array of new platforms and markets, transforming a domestic publishing-based business into a global multi-media and lifestyle company.  She was the longest serving female CEO ever of a public company, and she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes magazine for three consecutive years.

Laura Ricketts, Director of Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball
Chairman of the Board, Chicago Cubs

Laura Ricketts is a Director and part owner of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball club as well as Chairman of the Board for Chicago Cubs Charities.  Much of her work with the Cubs is focused on community relations, government relations and philanthropy.  Ricketts is involved with several organizations in the Chicago area community and beyond, currently including serving as the Co-Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council, and serving on the National Leadership Council for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national non-profit organization that litigates, educates and engages in public policy work on behalf of LGBT civil rights.

Richelle Shaw, Chief Executive Officer
RTS Publishing, LLC

As the only female African-American public utility owner in the nation, Richelle Shaw’s story of entrepreneurial success is one of true tenacity, hardship and hard work.  A featured expert and leading authority on building successful million dollar businesses, Richelle’s expertise comes from building her first business to $36 million, losing it after the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedies, then, successfully rebuilding the company in five months.  Since 2007, Richelle has been committed to helping entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes she made in her business, and has successfully mentored over 12,000 men and women, in 98 different industries, through her international coaching programs, and currently serves as the featured Money Expert on FOX5 local affiliate, The MORE Show.

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Plugging in with @thetechweek’s @ArabellaTV

It was a lack of innovation that led Arabella Santiago to become an innovator.  Stemming from a stint as a newspaper intern, followed by a successful run as a web editor for a west coast paper, Arabella realized print media was becoming a thing of the past, unwilling to listen to its customers.

That was Arabella in 2004 at 23 years old; now at 31 she has found her passion for reporting and drive for discovering unseen possibilities mix well with highlighting the talents of entrepreneurs.  When I asked Arabella about why she packed her things and made the trek from Silicon Valley to Chicago she said, “Chicago is the burgeoning tech hub.  You can feel the sense of opportunity and ambition.  There’s something here in Chicago, and I’m intrigued by it and I know it’s already happening.”

Arabella talks of entrepreneurs with a sense of awe, almost unaware that she herself is one, having created StartUp Live, a website filled with a collection of videos based on the start-up culture.  When it comes to the culture of start-ups, Arabella has a great grasp on what makes small business owners tick: “The journey of the business owner fascinates me.  As long as they don’t give up, they always succeed.  Even though there are many failures along the way, they go hand in hand with the successes. The perseverance goes a long way.”

Arabella has been part of TechWeek from the beginning.  Originally hired by one of the founders for the inaugural event in San Francisco, she stepped into the role of executive director for the Chicago event late last year.   There’s something for everyone during the conference, with 101 workshops on development or connecting with people offline.  Even if you’re not in the tech industry you can find out how to start small and work your way up.  Small business owners take note – if you’re looking for a web designer, an SEO genius or simply someone to make it all make sense, take a moment to stop in!

I turned the conversation towards the women of TechWeek, of which there are plenty to pick from.  “It’s important for people to realize that technology will help you do business better.  Women are harnessing the power of social media for their small businesses; now we can see the female programmers and developers that aren’t often in the spotlight.”  When asked which one woman inspired her, Arabella answered first with Hillary Clinton, quickly followed by her close friend and mentor, Yumi Kim, a New York fashion designer who took her business from “barely getting by” to “booming” through the power of e-commerce.

“Chicago is going to be the heart of TechWeek as it continues to grow.  It is and will continue to be the marquee event.  Chicago needs a new industry.  Manufacturing is tough and there’s room for technology.”

Reported by the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Bethany Hartley.

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Entrepreneurial Growth Powered by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Insights on the inaugural Chicago program from three cohort members as told to the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Bethany Hartley

 

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million national investment to help small businesses in the United States create jobs and economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business education, access to capital and business support services.” – Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Greater Chicago Fact Sheet.

With sixteen years in business, Total Event Resources has established itself as a WBE certified, award winning meeting and event production agency providing services throughout the nation.  Kathy Miller, president of Total Event Resources, heard about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at the WBDC 25th Anniversary Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference.

 “It was at the September WBDC conference that I was introduced to the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative through Mayor Emanuel’s speech, then watching the video and finally walking the trade show floor where I believe the stars aligned.  A woman that was in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses booth promoting the program stopped me as I was walking through the trade show to ask me if I knew anything about this program, to which my reply was, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, I just heard the Mayor talk about it and saw the video, it sounds intriguing.’”

Kathy explains highlights of the program in detail:

“We meet as our full class, and we have a small group within that class.  It is extremely interactive and engaging – this is not a lecture hall where we sit and take notes.  We are fully engaged in rolling up our sleeves and working together and sometimes independently on our business. No two sessions have been the same, there have been some amazing business professionals that have been brought to us in the form of a panel discussion and the involvement of Goldman Sachs, the City Colleges of Chicago, Babson College, the Mayor’s Office, the 10,000 Small Businesses Partners and the local business community.”

In February 2009, Navjot Bajwa started Ocean Mist Inc., a certified WBE/MBE/DBE trucking company operating throughout the Chicagoland area. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program has been most beneficial in preparations for the future of her company.

“This program is preparing me to take my company to the next level and giving me skills, tools, resources and strategies for that.  It has all the tools you need to grow your business.”

Navjot has taken away financial guidance and much more to use beyond the classroom.

“We are participants in the program with the same dreams and challenges.  Everybody is very helpful and concerned and I found a supportive group of friends through this program.  The best thing I like about the sessions is you never get bored or tired and every session gives you so much confidence!”

Joanna Sobran is president of MXOTech, a six year old WBE certified company that focuses on offering expertise in both application development and network system design and management.  Joanna provided insight into the 10,000 Small Businesses initial session in our January AWB article and has continued to share her experience so far.  Like Kathy and Navjot, Joanna also has taken away important financial guidance:

“Understanding the financials better has been instrumental to ask the right questions of myself and my team.  This has already changed many aspects of our business and given us focus on services that are more profitable.”

Words of advice for those thinking about applying:

“The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program is an amazing opportunity to help a small and even mid-size business owner realize focus and vision for their business.  Whether you have been in business for a long time and need a face lift or are just starting out, this is a terrific program.  You will learn about sales, marketing, finance, being ‘bankable’ and possessing true leadership skills.  Best of all, you will met many amazing entrepreneurs where you can share your stories and exchange ideas to help you grow.”

Kathy echoes Joanna’s advice on applying to the program:

Apply, don’t procrastinate, it is one of the best business decisions I have ever made!  Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has made a huge investment in the future of small businesses and the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative is an incredible program.”

If you’re looking for this type of intensive, interactive and practical business education, we encourage you to apply for the next Chicago cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  Applications are being accepted now.


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WBDC: Marketing to the Federal Government

Knowing your target audience is essential at any level and when your audience has nearly $100 billion to spend it’s critical to know what they’re looking for.  In partnership with American Express OPEN, the Women’s Business Development Center is hosting a free 3 hour workshop on how to market to the federal government on May 3, 2012 at Chicago’s East Bank Club, 500 N. Kingsbury Street.  If you’re a contract ready small business and eager to learn how to pitch your business to the government, then this workshop is perfect for you!

American Express OPEN Victory in Procurement “Marketing to the Federal Government” Workshop

Date: May 3, 2012

Cost: Free

Visit: www.WBDC.org for more information and to register!

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Small Business Getting a Boost in Chicago – Compliments of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

For those of you following this blog, you know that the WBDC is a proud partner of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Chicago.  As the first cohort of program participants heads toward graduation, we’ve heard incredible feedback about their experiences.  The business education is highly interactive and engaging, equipping business owners with the tools to take their business to the next level.  Key areas of education include:

–          Understanding business financials

–          Creating sales and marketing strategies

–          Becoming a “bankable” business

–          Developing true leadership skills

Additionally, through this program you have the opportunity to interact with other business owners looking to learn and enrich their businesses.  So not only will you be gaining valuable lessons on business from top business educators, you will also be networking with key connections in the Chicago area!

Are you:

  1. A business poised for growth?
  2. Committed to growing your business and creating jobs?
  3. Having a business model that could scale to create more jobs?
  4. Seeking practical business and management education, access to capital and business support services?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then you should APPLY for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program today!

For more information on specific eligibility requirements and to hear from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program representatives, attend one of the WBDC’s informational events March 20th at Illinois Institute of Technology or March 21st at the WBDC.

Mayor Emanuel visits with 10000 Small Business scholars

This great opportunity is offered in Chicago by partner organizations including the WBDC, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Urban League and Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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