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volume five issue four


Entrepreneurial Women To Watch AWA R D W I N N E R S



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© 2016 Goldman Sachs. All rights reserved.


For years, I’ve heard the expression “you get what you pay for” in the context of paying more for a good quality product or service and paying less for a sub-par experience. Recently, I’ve been speaking with many small business owners who were paying a premium for marketing services. While on the surface it sounds like a wise investment to spend money to grow your business, I dove a little deeper in each scenario. I asked the simple question “what are you getting for the money you spend each month.” The answer in most cases was very simple “I’m not really sure.” As a consumer, I regularly assess all of my contracts with vendors. From phone service, Internet, insurance and software subscriptions to advertising, I feel it’s extremely important to determine what services I’m receiving for the money I spend.

Here are the 4 main areas I analyze to help answer the question “what exactly am I paying for anyway?” Price

Cheap isn’t always good and expensive doesn’t guarantee a great experience. Know how much you’re paying and what exactly you’re supposed to get for that price. Get 2-3 price quotes for important products or services to make sure your vendors are being fair and honest with pricing.


We’re not able to determine if we’re paying too much, too little or just enough if we don’t understand the value of what we’re paying for. We recently upgraded our social media software, which cost twice as much as our old software. Because of the value our clients’ place on their social media, it’s important for us


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

to utilize the best tools possible. We place tremendous value on these tools and we’re willing to pay more when necessary. This however is different from our feeling on ordering paper for our copier, where we are much more price conscious. Commodities typically create a much more price conscious consumer.


Do you place high value on the level of service your vendors provide? If service is important, you’re probably willing to pay more. While I’m not necessarily willing to pay a premium to my filtered water delivery company, I’m definitely comfortable with paying a premium to my web hosting company. If our site goes down, I can’t afford to wait for support!


What is the impact of the product or service you’re getting? It’s important to determine what you’re looking to gain from your purchase. If you’re signing up for digital marketing services, you’d expect increased web traffic, more online inquires and increased business. With that as the expectation, it would be easy to determine if the money you’re spending is a wise investment. It’s important to have realistic expectations and often times your vendor will help you set those expectations. Remember, it can be good to get what you pay for, but it’s more important to know exactly what you’re getting!

Gil Lantini Founder Ralph Coppolino Co-Founder Mike Casale Senior Designer Amanda Repose Managing Editor Marketing Lauren Bansbach Julia Cianciolo Alison Dupuis Samantha Gosper Nick Lovett Kelly Sobolewski Hannah Spain Marketing Assistant Kassandra Petrocelli Interns Georgio Elian Keegan Hernandez Yessenia Jaime Leeana Nito Laura Sprague Contributing Writers Michael Brito C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea Sally P. McDonald, Esq. Governor Gina M. Raimondo Kristen M. Whittle, Esq

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Get Noticed! Optimize Your Website Through SEO Center for Women and Enterprise 9:30 am 132 George M Cohan Blvd., Providence

Introduction to QuickBooks Course The Education Exchange 6:00 pm 33 North Road, Wakefield

Eggs and Issues Breakfast with RI Speaker of the House Kirkbrae Country Club 12:00 pm 197 Old River Road, Lincoln

The 2016 SEEED Summit Omni Hotel All Day 1 West Exchange Street, Providence 6

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2016 Marketing Smarter for Manufacturers Series Polaris MEP 8:00 am 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence

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Leading Edge Networking Greenwich Farms 7:00 am 75 Minnesota Avenue, Warwick

East Bay Business Expo Clarion Seekonk/Providence Hotel 11:00 am 940 Fall River Ave, Seekonk

Business After Hours & Ribbon Cutting hosted by Coldwell Banker Coastal Homes Coldwell Banker Coastal Homes 5:00 pm 50 South County Commons Way, South Kingstown

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2016 Congressional Breakfast The Crowne Plaza Hotel 8:30 am 801 Greenwich Ave, Warwick

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volume five issue four

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 9 Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea 11 A Message from Governor Gina M. Raimondo


13 2016 SBA Award Winners 14 A Message from Mark S. Hayward 15 Small Business Person of the Year 16 Young Entrepreneur of the Year 17 Joseph G.E. Knight Award 18 Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year 19 Women-Owned Small Business of the Year 20 Home Based Business Champion


21 Financial Services Champion 22 Microenterprise of the Year 24 RI District Director Award 25 Congratulations from Seth A. Goodall 26 SBA Participating Lenders 29 3rd Annual Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards


34 Award Recipients: Community Champion 35 Award Recipients: Minority-Owned 36 Award Recipients: Small Business 37 Award Recipients: Solopreneur 38 Award Recipients: Startup

ON THE COVER volume five issue four

39 Honorable Mentions 40 New Bill to Improve Gender Diversity 44 Giving a Voice to Women 45 The Women Business Enterprise

Featured Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards


42 Personnel Practices


Entrepreneurial Women To Watch AWA R D W I N N E R S




2016 SBA Small Business Week Award Winners

45 www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


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Growth and Success in the Ocean State

by Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea

Spring is often associated with a period of growth. Seeds are planted early in the season in anticipation of a bountiful harvest. For entrepreneurs, the beginning stages of creating a business are crucial and can determine their growth and success. The Rhode Island Department of State is working to help Rhode Island businesses start and thrive by providing information that is relevant to their needs. More than 70,000 limited liability companies and for-profit and non-profit corporations are currently registered with the Department of State. From January 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016, 2,204 new business entities registered with the Department of State. This is an increase of 27.7 percent over the fourth quarter of 2015, when 1,725 registered; and a 6.1 percent increase from Q1 2015 when 2,077 new businesses registered. As we continue along this path of growth and opportunity, it is important for all Rhode Islanders, including our business community, to feel confident about investing in our state. I often see and hear firsthand the concerns of business leaders as they consider growth opportunities in our state. One issue that is often raised is the operations of government and the ability to work with public officials in an open manner.

Confidence in our government comes from the knowledge that our state is run efficiently and ethically

Confidence in our government comes from the knowledge that our state is run efficiently and ethically, and that the rules of engagement are clear. That is why I have introduced legislation that will clarify, streamline and strengthen our state’s lobbying statutes. Currently, there are separate statutes that address lobbying in the executive branch and the legislative branch. From competing definitions of what constitutes the act of lobbying to convoluted reporting requirements, the existing statutes are cumbersome and confusing. When I first took office, I heard repeatedly from constituents, lawmakers and lobbyists that our existing lobbying statutes are difficult to interpret and to comply with. My Lobby Reform legislation provides much clearer definitions and bright line distinctions, so those involved can more easily determine who does and does not have to register. It also provides for a clear process to investigate possible violations of the lobbying law, including referral to Superior Court in certain instances. In sum, the bill that I’m proposing does not attempt to overregulate lobbyist engagement with executive and legislative branch officials. The new statute offers a pragmatic approach that builds off of the spirit and intent of the original statutes, but with needed new checks and balances. By improving these laws, we are not only taking an important step forward in terms of transparency and governance, we are sending a clear message to Rhode Island’s citizens and business community that government can operate in a clear and accountable way. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or an established small business, the Department of State’s Business Services Division is here to help. You can reach us by calling (401) 222-3040, emailing us at corporations@sos.ri.gov or visiting our office at 148 West River Street. Please feel free to contact me directly with any thoughts or suggestions at secretarygorbea@sos.ri.gov or visit our newly redesigned website sos.ri.gov. We look forward to working with you to grow your business in Rhode Island. www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


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Gina M. Raimondo | GOVERNOR

A Message From

Gina M. Raimondo

Investing in Small Business by Governor Gina M. Raimondo

Local businesses are the backbone of Rhode Island’s economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rhode Island is home to over 22,000 small businesses, which represent over 80 percent of Rhode Island’s employers. I often say that everyone has a part to play in Rhode Island’s comeback- and for no one is that more true than for small business owners and employees. Our state can’t succeed unless we’re supporting our local businesses and enabling them to thrive. That’s why I was so excited last month to announce our new partnership with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation are committing $10 million in capital and philanthropic support to help create jobs and generate economic growth in local small businesses. This marks the first statewide launch for the program.

I often say that everyone has a part to play in Rhode Island’s comeback- and for no one is that more true than for small business owners and employees.

Businesses participating in this initiative will have access to a free practical business education through which they will develop a business growth plan to help them increase revenues and hire new employees. Business advising and networking will be offered to participating small business owners through partnerships with community-based and national business organizations, as well as the people of Goldman Sachs. And, Goldman Sachs is committing lending capital to support the small businesses community in Rhode Island. Program partners will work with local organizations to encourage small businesses to apply for the education and/or capital programs and to provide business advising and design expertise to participants. Eligible small businesses should have annual revenues above $100,000, been in operation for at least two years, employ at least two full-time workers and have a desire to grow and create jobs. This is a proven model for unlocking the growth and job-creation potential of small businesses. To date, 10,000 Small Businesses has reached over 6,000 small businesses across the U.S. and U.K. In the first 6 months after graduating, 67 percent of participants report increased revenues and 46 percent report creating net new jobs. Applications for the education component of the program are now being accepted and can be downloaded at https:// www.10ksbapply.com/. Classes are free to business owners accepted through a competitive application process. For information about the loan application process, please contact BDC Capital directly. Application for loans is independent and separate from application and acceptance into the education program. I hope you’ll take advantage of this valuable opportunity.

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The U.S. Government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services. Is your business getting its share? The government purchases everything from paper clips to aircraft carriers. Military and civilian purchases total around $500 billion a year. Federal agencies have contracting goals to award at least 23 percent of government contracting dollars to small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration has programs and services aimed at leveling the playing field so that small businesses obtain a fair share of government contracts.

Find out how your small business can compete for federal contracts. Call the SBA Rhode Island District Office at (401) 528-4561 All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.


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2016 SBA Award Winners | SMALL BUSINESS


RI Small Business Person of the Year Tom Kellogg President of ParsonsKellogg

RI and NE Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year Great Shipping and Postal Owners Henry Osorio and Maria Teresa Ochoa

RI Financial Services Champion of the Year Holly Ferrara Vice President of Commercial Lending, Greenwood Credit Union

RI SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Eliana Parada Owner of Las Delicias Bakery

RI Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Patricia Steere Founder and Owner, Steere Engineering

RI and NE Microenterprise of the Year Linda and Bill Bohmbach Founder and Owner, Home Healthsmith

Joseph G.E. Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence David LĂŠvesque Owner, Brewed Awakenings Coffee House

RI Home Based Business Champion Jane McHenry Owner of A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry

RI District Director Award Melissa Travis

Business Sales Lead at HealthSource RI for Employers

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



Message from Mark S. Hayward District Director U.S. Small Business Administration SCORE certainly recognizes the importance of our annual salute to the state’s small business community.

The Rhode Island Salute to Small Business celebration, held this year from May 2nd through May 8th, provides the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of our small business entrepreneurs and appropriately recognize those small businesses and champions who have distinguished themselves as what I believe are the “best of the best.” I especially want to thank the Joseph G.E. Knight SCORE Chapter for making this important celebration possible by co-sponsoring the Rhode Island Salute to Small Business. The SCORE team of small business mentors counsel hundreds of small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs each year. Their vast experience and professionalism have resulted in the creation of countless small businesses. SCORE certainly recognizes the importance of our annual salute to the state’s small business community. These small business owners and champions will be honored at the Rhode Island Salute to Small Business Awards luncheon on Thursday, May 5th, at the Alpine Country Club in Cranston. This gathering of small business owners, entrepreneurs and their advocates represents the shared success and accomplishments achieved by these outstanding winners. This year we will have ten honorees whose accomplishments and dedication to small business are exceptional.

I extend my congratulations to Thomas Parsons Kellogg III, President of Parsons Kellogg LLC, the 2016 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year. Rhode Island is also pleased to honor our regional award winner, Linda and Bill Bohmbach, Owners of Home Healthsmith, LLC in Portsmouth as both Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise of the Year. Our other winners include: Patricia Steere, President and CEO of Steere Engineering, Inc. in Warwick as the Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year; Henry Osorio and Maria Ochoa, the Owners of Great Shipping and Postal of Central Falls as the Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year; Eliana Parada, Owner of Las Delicias Bakery in Providence as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Jane McHenry, Owner of A Day at the Beach in Tiverton as Home-Based Small Business of the Year; our Financial Services Champion for 2016, Holly Ferrara, Vice President of Commercial Lending at Greenwood Credit Union in Warwick; David Levesque, Owner of Brewed Awakenings as the winner of the Joseph G.E. Knight Award and Melissa Travis, Business Sales Lead at HealthSource RI for Employers as the winner the Rhode Island District Director Award. The stories about these outstanding honorees are truly inspiring. Please take the time to read them in this special Small Business Week issue. I also want to acknowledge those businesses and organizations that have supported this year’s event. Without their help and dedication, this annual tribute to the small business community would not be possible.


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2016 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year

Tom Kellogg

Tom Kellogg graduated from Vanderbilt in 1983 and began his career as a Manufacturer’s Representative for various sporting goods brands, including Asics and Oakley. In 1989, Tom joined Nike as a Sales Representative and worked his way up to Eastern Regional Sales Manager for Nike Golf.

After many years of success with Nike, Tom saw the potential to create his own business meeting corporate sponsors’ demand to purchase premium golf equipment bearing their own logos. Tom’s company literally began in his basement, where he started adding sponsors’ logos to golf balls, and with that, ParsonsKellogg (PK) was born. His business began growing quickly, with more merchandising options and a rapidly expanding client base. Like many other small businesses, the 2008 recession battered PK, and for the first time in Tom’s business life, he faced the overwhelming task of keeping a business with over 40 employees afloat during a time of economic uncertainty. When asked how PK survived this time, Tom explained, “You have to make tough decisions, and some of those tough decisions don’t wait.” For Tom these words could not have been truer. During better days, the company could absorb high volume customers that were not highly profitable, but that model no longer worked. He also had to take a hard look at his expenses, make cuts and work with his team to find new ways to compete. Unfortunately, Tom also had to lay off some employees and friends. Throughout this painful episode, he took steps to ensure PK’s survival. He began securing payments in advance and did whatever was needed to keep the doors open. This strategy, while a difficult one, continued to keep PK afloat through uncertain times and eventually guided PK out of danger, securing the company’s future and emerging stronger. Tom looks back on those uncertain times with a learned eye, admitting that when times are steady, a business owner can postpone making a hard decision, but today he understands the value of making the tough call when needed. Now that the team at PK has

weathered the storm, Tom says his people are stronger in their roles and more accountable than ever to PK and to each other. He also was heartened to discover that people who left PK found jobs they were well suited to for the long term.

PK has since established itself as a Top 100 distributor in the 50 billion dollar promotional products industry. The company offers apparel, corporate gifts, tradeshow giveaways, awards and accessories, all in premium brands. PK stocks over a million dollars’ worth of inventory at any time to ensure immediate demand, and Tom hopes to one day expand regionally, while remaining committed to doing business in the Ocean State: “I love Rhode Island, I wanted to make a business here, and I wanted to stay here.” He elaborated, “Rhode Island is not a bad place to do business or recruit people. We, for example, have an internship program with Providence College, Bryant University, and the University of Rhode Island, and I am truly impressed by the young talent that comes out of this program.” Tom Kellogg has continually done it his way, with respect, class, humility, and a belief in the people around him, a way his staff has embraced and affectionately branded the “PK Way.” When asked to elaborate, Tom explained, “We were at our holiday party, and it had been an incredible year, and while I was thanking everyone, I just said that I was proud we had done it the PK Way. The PK Way isn’t anything set in stone, but all of us here know it when we see it.” And what they see is the drive to better their products, explore new and interesting directions and deliver excellence and accountability to the customer and one another. For his demonstrated success, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Tom Kellogg, President of ParsonsKellogg, as the 2016 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year.

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



2016 Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Eliana Parada Owner, Las Delicias Bakery Eliana Parada began her career not as owner and proprietor of the Las Delicias Bakery but as an employee. Her mother opened the family business in 2006, filling a void of traditional Latin American baked goods within her community. They specialize in Bolivian, Guatemalan, and Mexican breads which Eliana learned the recipes for under the guidance and tutelage of her mother. Eliana immersed herself into Las Delicias Bakery, quickly picking up how to operate the business day to day operations. In 2010, Eliana took over the business from her mother and began enacting her vision to the grow Las Delicias Bakery. She began by garnering more equipment to allow for expanded production, while updating the bakeries technology to expedite process. Soon the bakery located at 964 Atwells Avenue in Providence was able to produce more goods for a larger clientele. To cater to her new customers Eliana has continued to create new and exciting goods that keep her community happy, “the community likes trying new and different things.” The twenty-eight year old Eliana continues to learn every day and has used resources like the SBA, SCORE, and Center for Women & Enterprise to garner the knowledge to help her business succeed. Eliana is a graduate of the CWE’s business planning course noting that the knowledge, strategic planning, and continuous support from the CWE staff always motivates her to keep moving the business forward, “I don’t know where I would be without their help.” Eliana continues to apply what she has learned at the CWE in her daily handling of the business, “I work on my business plan and I stick to it, I always stick to it.”


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Eliana is currently renovating a new location in order to expand her operations further, “We currently operate with three employees and we do see that number growing in the near future.” Eliana is proud of the growth that her business has shown but admits that she wouldn’t be here without a strong support system, “My mom has always been my number one supporter, I couldn’t have done it without her.” It is this type of family involvement that has made Las Delicias Bakery a staple in Eliana’s community and it is the same sentiment that keeps her customers coming back. The atmosphere and ability to deliver fresh, quality products daily has produced a winning combination for this second generation Bolivian businesswoman. Eliana offered some advice to any other young entrepreneurs who may be interested in starting their own business, “Do you homework, research, and start off with a business plan. Try to connect and network with people in your business realm.” Valuable advice that Eliana herself practices in her business life. The U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Eliana Parada, owner of Las Delicias Bakery in Providence with the 2016 Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

We currently operate with three employees and we do see that number growing in the near future


2016 Joseph G.E. Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

David Lévesque

Owner, Brewed Awakenings Coffee House

David Lévesque, owner and President, had a vision for a coffeehouse that would serve the best cup of coffee in town and be a gathering place for the locals. The plan was simple: provide great food and beverages to be served by friendly, outgoing employees in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Brewed Awakenings Coffee House opened its doors June of 1996 in the center of Johnston, RI with just two employees, Kay & Joe Levesque (Dave’s mom and dad). The concept took off, and before long Dave added a second location in South County Commons Plaza in Wakefield in November, 2003. Over several years, Brewed Awakenings expanded its menu to include specialty frozen drinks, lunch and breakfast sandwiches and pastries. The next location was completed in April, 2010 at the Centre of Cherry Hill (this was the first store with drive thru service). Located just one mile from the original coffeehouse, it became another gathering place in the town of Johnston. In April 2012 another location was opened near Sockanossett Crossroads in Cranston on Pontiac Avenue, which boasts the “tallest” coffee cup in the state of Rhode Island. The fifth and largest coffeehouse in the country at 8,000 square feet opened in 2014 in the heart of Warwick on Bald Hill Road. The new location added some additional items to an expanded lunch and dinner menu, as well as offering a full liquor license. When asked about his success, Dave says “we are proud of the progress we have made over the years, Brewed Awakenings is a successful business because of our loyal customers and our hardworking employees.” Dave has continued to grow Brewed Awakenings, while still sticking to his original plan to be the best coffeehouse in the state. Brewed Awakenings has over 100 employees today.

We are proud of the progress we have made over the years, Brewed Awakenings is a successful business because of our loyal customers and our hardworking employees. www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



2016 Rhode Island Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

Great Shipping and Postal Owners Henry Osorio and Maria Teresa Ochoa

17 years ago Henry Osorio, Maria Teresa Ochoa and their two sons Mauricio and Julian emigrated from Columbia to America. Upon arrival Henry began working for Citizen’s Bank and continued to do so until he and his wife noticed a need within their community. The need was affordable international shipping and Henry and Maria Teresa were happy to answer that need. Henry and Maria began researching the process and became aware of business classes offered by the Center for Women in Enterprise (CWE). With the help of the CWE, the guidance of Councilwoman Sandra Cano, and uncountable hours of hard work, Henry and Maria were able to open Great Shipping and Postal LLC in 2012. The doors opening was just the beginning for this couple as owning their business brought more challenges including licenses, permits, regulation, taxations, and many months of process. One by one they achieved these steps, learning the codes and process of this new system, fulfilling the requirements put before them. Great Shipping and Postal isn’t strictly a business for Henry and Maria Teresa it is a place for the community. Finally there was a way to ship goods back to loved ones that was made easy for the consumer. The challenges of meeting all of the federal demands on shipping were streamlined by Henry and Maria Teresa, making the process simple for their customers. Finally the distance between America and Latin America wasn’t thousands of miles but simply up the block. Tucked in right on the corner of 817 Dexter Street is a place that is dedicated to getting what you want, where you want it to be, and making it as easy on you as possible. Their community is thankful but Henry is as well, “I’m grateful to God who gives me strength every day.” Maria Teresa is also grateful and weighed in on how she believes they had come to be successful, “Great service is not a cliché, it’s a need, we provide great service and we take pride in spoiling our clients.” That sentiment couldn’t be any truer as everyone


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

who enters the business is welcome to a free cup of coffee, sharing a Columbian brew that fills up everyone’s cup with a sweet taste of Henry and Maria’s home. Little things like the coffee help display the passion that both Henry and Maria Teresa bring to their business. This passion feeds the business but it is their pride that ensures that Great Shipping and Postal is a success. They are adamant that if they tell you your package will be somewhere by a certain day than by their word it most assuredly will. This dedication has almost single handedly grown the business, which started strictly in shipping to include money transfer, mailbox service, truck rental, storage and more. When asked about the growth of the business Maria Teresa elaborated, “Yes we started in shipping but we’ve become a multi-source destination to meet what the community needs.” Has it been easy? No, but Henry and Maria Teresa work as hard today as they did the day the doors opened so that their customers don’t have to. For their demonstrated success and potential for continued growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration pleased to honor Henry Osorio and Maria Teresa Ochoa, owners of Great Shipping and Postal as the 2016 Rhode Island Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year.


2016 Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

This Civil Engineering Firm is building a strong case for Small Business in Rhode Island Patricia Steere, Founder and Owner, Steere Engineering Patricia Steere earned her Bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering in 1979 and her Masters from in 1981, both from the University of Delaware. Upon graduation she went on to design nuclear power plant containment structures. By the early 1990’s her interests had changed and were guiding her toward bridge engineering. She studied, she learned, and by 2002 she was the Bridge Department Manager for the Providence office of Maguire Group. While with Maguire Group she was the lead bridge engineer for the $600 million I-195 relocation project and the lead engineer for the Iway Bridge. These years of experience were vital in her growth as both and engineer and leader and when the project finally came to an end she had all the tools she needed to start her own business. Patricia opened the doors to Steere Engineering in 2010 with one employee, herself. Steere Engineering began as a civil engineering firm performing bridge and building design. By 2012 the business began to grow quickly adding four structural and one civil engineer as well as a 3D CAD technician. This influx of employees had boasted the team to 10 members by years end. With the influx of talent Patricia began training five of her employees to perform National Bridge Inventory System

(NBIS) Bridge inspections. This allowed her to begin offering bridge inspection services opening a new line of business. In 2013, she added five additional employees to account for emerging opportunities as well as demand. 2014 proved to be a steady year for Steere Engineering and much of the year was spent concentrating on putting the infrastructure in place to further the business’ growth. By 2015 Steere Engineering was capable of performing NBIS bridge inspection, bridge ratings, highway and traffic design, 3D CAD, construction services, as well as highway, civil, traffic, and environmental permitting capabilities to become a full service civil engineering firm. When asked on when she decided to add these capabilities to her firm she explained, “You have to be flexible, if your original business plan isn’t working quite the way you thought it would you have to look for other opportunities.” Steere equates her firm to a “small firm with the experience of a large firm,” and her track record speaks for itself. Seven of her engineers worked together on the Iway project, the largest in RIDOT’s history. Steere Engineering is also the only Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) headquartered in Rhode Island offering full service transportation in the state.

Entering the Steere Engineering office you are whisked into a large main area with desks throughout, no walls, no cubicles, and no limitations. This open bay concept allows her employees to constantly communicate and bounce ideas off each other. A collaborative working environment promotes innovation and growth and that is just the way that Patricia likes it. She is confident that this environment will continue to propel Steere Engineering forward and one day allow them to grow to a regional civil engineering firm doing Department of Transportation assignments from here to New York. Although extremely dedicated to her business Ms. Steere also finds time to volunteer for the Rhode Island Urban Search and rescue, serving as one of seven Structural Specialists on the team. She has deployed with the team on multiple occasions including the 2010 floods and Hurricane Sandy. Patricia also serves as Chair of the Civil Engineering Advisory Committee for the University of Rhode Island, and is the member of the Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force. For all of the talents the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Patricia Steere, owner of Steere Engineering 2016 Rhode Island Womanowned Small Business of the Year Award.

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



2016 Rhode Island Home Based Business Champion

A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry Jane McHenry is making waves with her successful at home business Jane McHenry, owner and chief designer of A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry, began her career in advertising and publishing. Jane worked her way through the ranks eventually taking a position as a Newspaper Executive. Despite a flourishing 25 year career Jane felt the pull of something long subdued; a childhood fascination with the ocean. As a youth Jane would walk the beaches excitedly collecting the sea glass treasures that had washed up onto the sand. Those memories and that excitement never left Jane and she began to brainstorm on a way to recapture her passion. McHenry’s initial idea was dreamt up as a clearinghouse to celebrate other local artists and their work but the deeper Jane delved into the process the more her own curiosity and creativity grew. She began taking classes, learning styles and techniques of creating and quickly her passion for sea glass had met her artistic vision. Soon her home became a studio rolling out unique, hand-crafted jewelry. Suddenly, A Day at the Beach was to become a platform to display her own unbelievably original works of art. Jane began researching where she could garner some support and found her way to the Center for Women & Enterprise; there she took classes in Visioning and Business Planning. Jane would go on to graduate from the program and in 2009 opened her home-based business called A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry. Jane began taking her hand-made jewelry to parties and festivals finding an enthusiastic yet limited market. Thinking back to her time with the CWE she revamped her business plan to be less reliant on shows and festivals and more focused on a fully functional online boutique. In 2015, her new website went online and the strategy has been an incredible success. McHenry has since added 6 wholesale jewelry locations in Rhode Island and Florida and has continued to grow her online presence. Sales have increased 300% over prior years and the online market allows Jane to reach a national audience.


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Throughout this entire process Jane has continued to create, building an ever growing, ever changing inventory of one-of-akind wearable art. Her difficulty lies in the diminishing quantity that is sea glass, unlike other artist Jane cannot simply go to the store to get more materials. This keeps Jane and her husband on the constant hunt for the glass and this has taken them to shorelines all over the world including the Bahamas, Bermuda, California, Hawaii, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the United Kingdom and many more. When asked how she can keep up with the day to day demands of the business while keeping her artistic spirit she replied, “I wake up in the morning and live and breathe it.” Her passion feeds her desire, and her desire is to see her business become the highest grossing and profitable sea glass jewelry website in the United States. A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry products can be found online as well as many local charity events. Jane is a champion for many local charities and small business’ and truly believes that, “A purchase from a small business means you’re buying US made and supporting your local economy.” For her demonstrated success and growth potential, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Jane McHenry, Owner of A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry, as the 2016 Rhode Island Home-Based Small Business of the Year.

2016 Rhode Island Financial Services Champion


A Champion For All Small Business In Rhode Island

Holly Ferrara, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Greenwood Credit Union “When I meet with a borrower it’s not just an interview for them, it’s an interview for me as well and I’m proud to say that, while I am the lender, I strive to make the person across from me to feel as comfortable as possible, so as to not make them feel intimidated or uneasy about the process.” The old adage of “respect goes a long way” is not lost on Holly Ferrara, Vice President of Commercial Lending for Greenwood Credit Union. “I give everyone the respect I would want myself.” This statement, while once commonplace has been lost in much of today’s hustle and bustle, relegated to a time gone by. But for Holly this is standard practice, she has the consummate “glass-halffull” attitude, naturally taking negatives and by intelligence and creative thinking makes them positives. Greenwood Credit Union exists as a single entity, without the safety net of multiple locations. Where some may see limitations, Holly sees opportunity, “Geographically our presence is limited but I don’t find that to be a challenge, we have a great reputation in commercial lending.” It is this same attitude that has convinced Holly to buck the mold and break out of common credit union conventions, “Commercial lending at credit unions had traditionally been geared towards small rental properties but in my four years here at Greenwood Credit Union we have expanded those horizons to include SBA loans among other commercial loan type; this expands the portfolio but more importantly meets the needs of our borrowers.” In 2015 Holly brokered an SBA 504 loan of $335,000 for a real estate project

totaling $805,000 to finance the 2,485 square foot expansion of a daycare center. The project added three new classrooms and enabled the business to accommodate up to 79 children, while also adding seven new staff positions. This is a glowing example of the effect Holly has made at GCU. Holly began her commercial lending career in 2004 while still enrolled at Rhode Island College. She got her start as a credit analyst for a local bank and continued to professionally develop as a commercial lender, garnering increased responsibility at each and every step. By 2010 Holly had achieved her MBA form Bryant University and was attending various banking and commercial lending schools as well as fulfilling her passion for teaching an adjunct professor at various local schools and universities. For the last four years Holly has been in her current position as Vice President of Commercial Lending for Greenwood Credit Union. In that time she has consistently grown the commercial portfolio while making great strides in SBA lending, becoming a SBA preferred lender in 2015. As a testament to her hard work GCU finished 8th in Rhode Island for SBA lending for fiscal year 2015.

Geographically our presence is limited but I don’t find that to be a challenge, we have a great reputation in commercial lending violence education, awareness, advocacy, and emergency shelter services. It is these characteristics and her willingness to go above and beyond that makes it an honor to award her with the 2016 Small Business Administration Financial Services Champion of Rhode Island Award.

Besides her dedication to GCU, Holly also finds time to volunteer at the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center and has done so since 2008. Holly sits on the board of directors for of the organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence including domestic

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



2016 Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise of the Year

Ensuring That Physical Limitations will no longer dictate an independent home life Linda and Bill Bohmbach, Founder and Owner, Home Healthsmith Linda and Bill Bohmbach’s story did not start with their business, Home Healthsmith. Linda began her career in consumer products industry with major drug and food retailers, Bill was the owner of his own professional elevator company. While these positions were lucrative and both Bill and Linda were successful they wanted to do more. They believed in helping people and their passionate advocating and volunteering at the MS society allowed them to see how they could. The Bohmbachs had an idea that they could provide products and services to help clients achieve mobility and safety in their homes. With this thought in mind Bill sold his company to focus full time on bringing this idea to life. Before long the demands of what would become Home Healthsmith ensured that Linda would leave her position to dedicate herself full time as well and by 2012 they had begun their journey to improve the quality of life for their customers. Linda and Bill began offering solutions to help accommodate a person’s individual in-home needs such as elevators, stair lifts, ceiling lefts, vertical platform lifts, wheelchair ramps, home modifications, installation of grab bars, portable showers, and to her accessibility equipment. They also provide many of these options in rentals which helps to enhance their customers freedom, improve their sense of


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control and protect their personal dignity. Home Healthsmith grew quickly and no longer would their in-home operations suffice. Linda began searching for an adequate space and found their first office which allocated them 500 square feet. In less than one year they would once again be searching for a bigger space and by July of 2014 had moved into a 4905 square foot location at 207 High Point #2 in Portsmouth. Even with the space provided Home Healthsmith continued to grow at an astounding rate and once again the need for more space had Linda acquiring an additional 1250 square feet at their current location with a 4000 square foot acquisition coming in Q1 of 2016. Recently, they have opened The Center for Adaptive Living at High Point in Portsmouth. This is an open environment that allows seniors, disabled individuals, rehab patients and many more including those that want to age-in-place in their homes. They also have architects, builders, PT’s, OT’s, and nurses who bring their expert knowledge to help those who may be interested in learning more about the process. This site also provides incredible training to professionals and is the only applicable site on the east coast and elevates Home Healthsmith above the competition, Linda also added this site isn’t all that separates them from their competitors, “we have a very strong project management where we work

with architects and builders on, we also develop relationships with our clients as well as the builders and architects. What we find is that there are competitors out their but they’re not doing what we do, they’re not answering phone calls, they’re not getting back to the client who may have a service issue in a timely manner. People need stair lifts and elevators and in a majority of these cases they need them in order stay safe in their homes or in order for them to even live in their homes.” For all their success and growth this still is very much a family business with the heart and soul of it being Linda and Bill. Linda felt strongly that even though she was the recipient of this award that she had not done it alone, “This is a team effort and Bill and I couldn’t have done it without each other.” Linda elaborated more on why the company has been so successful, “We have really developed a strong team here and one of the biggest things is that we are striving to have a selfmanaging company. We’ve empowered our employees to make the right decisions and it is really working with them and allowed them to grow as well.” For their demonstrated success and potential for future growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Linda and Bill Bohmbach, Owners of Home Healthsmith, as the 2016 Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise of the Year.

“The personal contact and willingness to go the extra mile for us is what makes our relationship with Coastway Community Bank so valuable. They have worked with us to structure financing that maintains healthy cash flow to ensure continued intelligent growth and success.” Lynsey Colgan, A Child’s University

Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender

Based on the Rhode Island SBA Bank Rank for fiscal year 2015. www.risbj.com | volume five issue four 23


2016 Rhode Island District Director Award

Melissa Travis’ Never Tiring Support

For Small Businesses Shines

If you have ever met Melissa Travis, it is abundantly clear that her love of what she does and her dedication to helping the small business community in the state, are second to none. Her upbeat and cheerful attitude is infectious to all that cross her path. As the Business Sales Lead at HealthSource RI for Employers, Travis has played a vital role in making the state exchange one of the premiere exchanges in the nation. From choosing providers and plans, to claiming tax credits, Melissa Travis should always be a small business owner’s first call when it comes to anything involving the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Over the past 3 years, she has helped seemingly countless small businesses navigate the tricky waters of the ACA. She walks them through their options as it pertains to setting up plans that works best for employers and in turn, their employees. Her ability to connect with so many small

Her ability to connect with so many small employers, and truly understand their business’ needs is unique. 24

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

employers, and truly understand their business’ needs is unique. Every business owner she meets, she is able to make them understand that she is there to help them. Travis has routinely partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island District Office to provide small businesses with seminars and panel discussions about the ACA. Every time an opportunity has arisen to partner with the SBA or other entities around the state, she has been the first to respond and say “whatever needs to be done, I’m in.” More times than can be counted, she has been called upon to put an event together at the last minute, and each and every time she has pulled together a fantastic event at a great location and packs the room. Her tireless work ethic and dependability are what helps make HealthSource RI for Employers so effective in working with the small businesses in the state. The efficiency of the exchange can be attributed, in large part, to Travis. Her “never say die” attitude and persistence is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the veins of all the small businesses owners she works with. It would be a unconquerable challenge to find someone who works as hard as Melissa Travis does, and Rhode Island is a much better place for small businesses because of the work she does. For her demonstrated commitment to assisting the small business community of Rhode Island, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to present Melissa Travis with the 2016 Rhode Island SBA District Director Award.


Rhode Island

Congratulations Fr om S e t h A . G o o da l l

I would like to give my enthusiastic congratula tions to all the 2016 Rhode Island. Small

Business Award Winn

ers for Every year since 1963 , the President of the United States has iss Small Business Week ued a proclamation de to recognize the critic claring National al contributions of Am two out of every three erica’s entrepreneurs net new jobs each yea who create nearly r. Our country was fou nded by risk-taking pio neers in search of new what sets America ap horizons. More than art in the world is the two centuries later, willingness of our en allow Americans to be trepreneurs to take ris their own boss and im ks. Small businesses prove their lot in life through hard work. The SBA is dedicated to helping these risk takers achieve goals an As SBA’s New Engla d improve the Ameri nd Regional Adminis can economy. trator, I am pleased to Rhode Island. W hethe be part of the small bu r you are seeking finan siness story in cing or government co technical assistance, loo ntracting opportunit king to expand your ies, education and business by exporting sense of federal or sta to foreign markets, or te regulations, the SB trying to make A and the team at the to help you. Rhode Island District Office are available Congratulations again to all the award winn ers! Sincerely,

Seth A. Goodall

Seth A. Goodall New England Regio nal Administrator U.S. Small Business Ad ministration

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



Rhode Island

SBA Rhode Island Participating Lenders Accion Micro

Business Development Company EXP/EE

Dexter Credit Union

10 Fawcett Street, Suite 204 Cambridge, MA 02138 Jennifer Spaziano (617) 684-0235 Jspaziano@accioneast.org

40 Westminster Street, Suite 702 Providence, RI 02903 Peter Dorsey, President (401) 351-3036 PDorsey@BDCRI.com

934 Dexter Street Central Falls, RI 02863 David Angell, Chief Lending Officer (401) 724-6200 David.Angell@DexterCU.org

Bank of America PLP/EXP

Centreville Bank EXP/EE

Freedom National Bank PLP/EXP/EE

111 Westminster Street Providence, RI 02903 Kevin P. Tracy, Senior Vice President (401) 278-5520 Kevin.P.Tracy@baml.com

1218 Main Street W. Warwick, RI 02893 Karen Flynn, SVP Lending (401) 821-9100 Ext. 5244 KFlynn@CentrevilleBank.com

584 Putnam Pike Greenville, RI 02828 David Caruso, Vice President (401) 244-6655 DCaruso@FreedomNationalBank.com

BankNewport EXP/EE

Citizens Bank PLP/EXP/EE

Greenwood Credit Union PLP/EXP

500 West Main Road Middletown, RI 02842 Douglas Hanson, Vice President (401) 845-8731 Douglas.Hanson@BankNewport.com

One Citizens Plaza Providence, RI 02903 Gary Heidel, Director, SBA Program (401) 468-6127 Gary.Heidel@RBSCitizens.com

Bank Rhode Island PLP/EXP/EWCP/EE

Coastway Community Bank PLP/EXP/EWCP/EE

2669 Post Road Warwick, RI 02886 Holly Ferrara, Vice President Commercial Lending (401) 562-2784 HFerrara@GreenwoodCU.org

One Turks Head Place Providence, RI 02903 Manny Barrows, Senior Vice President (401) 574-1604 MBarrows@BankRI.com Scott Lajoie, Vice President (401) 574-1657 SLajoie@BankRI.com

Bay Colony Development Corp. 504 1601 Trapelo Road Waltham, MA 02451 Mary Mansfield (781) 478-3655 MKMansfield@BayColony.org

Bristol County Savings Bank PLP/EXP 215 Armistice Boulevard Pawtucket, RI 02860 Joan Medeiros (508) 678-1862 Joan.Medeiros@BCSBmail.com Stephen M. Hardy (401) 722-8845 SMHardy@BCSBmail.com


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Home Loan Investment Bank PLP/EXP/EE

One Coastway Boulevard Warwick, RI 02886 Joe Hindle (401) 330-1600 JHindle@Coastway.com

1 Home Loan Plaza, Suite 3 Warwick, RI 02886 Daniel Murphy, Vice President (800) 223-1700 x435 DMurphy@HomeLoanBank.com

Community Investment Corp. 504/Micro

Independence Bank PLP/EXP/EWCP/EE

2315 Whitney Avenue, Suite 2B Hamden, CT 06518 Gary Toole, RI Manager (203) 776-6172 x124 GToole@CICLending.com Buck Harris, Vice President Community Lending (203) 776-6172 x128 BHarris@CICLending.com

1370 South County Trail East Greenwich, RI 02818 Robert A. Catanzaro, President (401) 886-4600 RAC@Independence-Bank.com

Coventry Credit Union EXP 2006 Nooseneck Hill Road Coventry, RI 02816 Claudia Flanagan, Director of Consumer Lending (401) 397-1900 x2314 CFlanagan@CoventryCU.org

Navigant Credit Union EXP/EWCP/EE 1005 Douglas Pike Smithfield, RI 02917 Jeffrey P. Cascione, Vice President (401) 233-4716 JCascione@NavigantCU.org

New England Certified Development Corp. 504 500 Edgewater Drive, Suite 555 Wakefield, MA 01880

SBA Rhode Island Participating Lenders | SMALL BUSINESS

Nancy Gibeau, Loan and Investment Officer (RI, MA) (508) 254-7891 or (401) 450-0047 NGibeau@BDCNewEngland.com

Ocean State Business Development Authority 504 155 South Main Street, Suite 403 Providence, RI 02903 Henry Violet, President (401) 454-4630 BudV@OSBDA.com Russ Gaston, Chief Operating Officer (401) 454-4560 RGaston@OSBDA.com

Pawtucket Credit Union EXP 1200 Central Avenue Pawtucket, RI 02861 Joseph Silva, Vice President Commercial Lending (401) 729-4092 Joseph.Silva@PCU.org

People’s Credit Union EXP 858 West Main Road Middletown, RI 02842 Peter Murray, Business Relationship Manager (401) 846-8930 Ext. 1273 PMurray@PeoplesCU.com

Radius Bank PLP/EXP/EWCP 1 Harbor Street, Suite 201 Boston, MA 02210 Anina Butler, Vice President (617) 728-7320 AButler@RadiusBank.com

Rockland Trust PLP/EXP 288 Union Street Rockland, MA 02370 Michael Savage, Senior Vice President (781) 982-6546 Michael.Savage@RocklandTrust.com George Couto, Vice President Government Lending (781) 982-6768 George.Couto@RocklandTrust.com

Santander Bank PLP/EXP/EWCP/EE One Financial Plaza Providence, RI 02903 Stephen J. White, SBA Product Manager (617) 953-9135 SWhite@Santander.us

Savings Institute Bank & Trust 100 Bellevue Avenue P.O. 210 Newport, RI 02840 Timothy Burns (401) 608-1679 Timothy_Burns@BankSI.com Christina Feden (401) 608-1691 Christina_Feden@BankSI.com David Williamson (401) 608-1628 David_Williamson@BankSI.com

South Eastern Economic Development Corp. 504, Micro 80 Dean Street, Taunton, MA 02780 (508) 822-1020 Maria Gooch-Smith, Executive Director MGoochSmith@SeedCorp.com Lisa Holmes, Commercial Loan Officer LHolmes@SeedCorp.com Tamarah Bacon, MicroLoan Manager TBacon@SeedCorp.com

TD Bank PLP/EXP/EWCP 180 Westminster Street Providence, RI 02903 David M. Ferreira Vice President Small Business Relationship Manager (401) 489-5620 David.Ferreira@TD.com-

UPS Capital Business Credit PLP/EXP/EWCP 35 Glenlake Parkway, NE Atlanta, GA 30328 Jack Mello, Senior Policy Credit Officer (877) 263-8772 JMello@UPS.com

The Washington Trust Company PLP/EXP/EWCP/EE 23 Broad Street Westerly, RI 02891 Robert J. O’Neill, Vice President Retail Lending (401) 348-1442 RJONeill@WashTrust.com Christopher Grasso, Business Banking Officer (401) 348-1250 CMGrasso@WashTrust.com

Wave Federal Credit Union 480 Greenwich Avenue Warwick, RI 02886

David Duprere, Executive Vice President (401) 781-1020 David@WaveFCU.org

Webster Bank PLP/EXP/EE 100 Westminster Bldg., 50 Kennedy Plaza, Ste 1110 Providence, RI 02903 Anthony Capuano, Senior Vice President (401) 228-2042 ACapuano@WebsterBank.com Bob Polito, SVP Government Guaranteed Lending (860) 612-5433 RPolito@WebsterBank.com

Westerly Community Credit Union EXP/EE 122 Granite Street Westerly, RI 02891 Michael Lynch, Vice President, Lending (401) 596-7000 Ext. 2116 MLynch@WesterlyCCU.com Holly DePerry, Small Business Lending and Business Development (401) 637-4436 HDePerry@WesterlyCCU.com

For More Info Visit

www.sba.gov/ri U. S. Small Business Administration Tel: 401-528-4561 Rhode Island District Office Fax: 401-528-4539 380 Westminster Street, Room 511 E-mail: providence.ri@sba.gov Providence, RI 02903-3246

PLP: Preferred Lender Program -1-day turn around from SBA EXP: SBAExpress Lender-expedited loans up to $350,000 Micro: $50,000 limit up to five years to repay with technical assistance 504:Fixed rate loans for Real Estate/ M&E purchase or improvement EE: Export Express Streamlined financing up to $500,000 EWCP: Export Working Capital Program Lender-expedited loans up to $5,000,000 www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


WE’RE LIKE A GPS FOR GETTING YOUR BUSINESS TO THE RIGHT PLACE. Just Right Commercial Loans from BayCoast Bank. Joe Sheehan 401-274-2106

Whatever your reasons for needing a commercial loan, our Providence team of lenders can help you. With financial advice, and smart business insights, we’re always accessible and ready to listen. Our loan decisions are made locally, so you don’t have to wait long to find out if you’ve been approved. Call Joe Sheehan or Mike Paiva today or call 401-273-0475. The Providence Commercial Loan Office is located at 10 Dorrance Street, Suite 101B. BayCoastBank.com

Mike Paiva 401-273-2539


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Member FDIC Member DIF


The 3rd Annual

Entrepreneurial Women To Watch Awards

Every day RISBJ takes on the significant undertaking of giving voice to the Rhode Island small business community. We are a hub of information, delivering realities of the current business environment. Our writers render best practices, and we look to the business community to share and evolve together. The highlight of the year, however, is sharing compelling stories of the women who truly make Rhode Island thrive.

for each of the following categories: Community Champion, Minority-Owned, Small Business, Solopreneur, and Startup, for a total of 15 noteworthy recipients. Receiving over 400 nominations this year, we attentively narrowed our search to present to you 15 remarkable women, each with their own distinct stories. Each of these women show us entrepreneurship takes courage, resilience, and determination, every day. Giving voice to their journey is a tremendous honor.

We celebrate the third annual Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards that began in 2014 as a way to honor the most confident, tenacious, professional, and sophisticated women industry leaders in our state and the incredible work they’ve been doing. RISBJ presents three award recipients

Tuni Renaud Schartner Andrea Chait TRS Strategies Community Champion

Krystal Toro

SOFIT Cycle and Fitness Studio Minority-Owned

Momentum Inc. Community Champion

Susan Pascale-Frechette Atabey Sánchez-Haiman Pods Swimming Community Champion

Kerrie Lanoie Gina DiSpirito

Sonoma Bistro and WineBar Small Business

Marni MacLean Karro Megan McGuinness Jack’s Snacks, A Dog Bakery Solopreneur

We wish to congratulate the following winners of the third annual Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards:

McGuinness Media and Marketing Solopreneur

Giraffes and Robots Minority-Owned

Cindy Burke, Esq. Burke Law Group LLC Minority-Owned

Loren Barham Kristin M. MacRae

GLAD WORKS Small Business

Loren Hope Designs, LLC Small Business

Amy Levesque Fields Rita Danielle Steele, Esq Hub Digital Startup

Steele Realty Consultants International Startup

Organizing In RI, LLC Solopreneur

Dana Spring

Open Oyster Startup

This issue of RISBJ is dedicated to honoring the Women to Watch, not only because we get to tell the inspirational stories of 15 remarkable women, but also because we will be highlighting more local business leaders who are making a major impact in our state. Over the next few pages, you’ll get to know about each winner’s career path as we chronicle the important moments that made each woman who she is today. We’ve also caught up with last year’s winners to see what they’ve been up to since they won and how their businesses have grown over the past year. www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


Catching Up with the Winners of the Second Annual Last year, RISBJ launched the Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards, an honor that aims to recognize the exceptional women industry leaders of Rhode Island. Last year’s awards had fifteen winners: Elizabeth Cunha, Center for Dynamic Learning; Kathleen Moren, Healthy Babies, Happy Moms Inc.; Jen Hetzel Silbert, Learning 401; Kappy Bois, Royal Health and Wellness; Yemi Sekoni, Donahue Models and Talent; Maria Denizard, La Femme Salon; Anne Aldridge, Ocean State House Keeping; Ava Anderson, Ava Anderson Non Toxic; Michelle Collie, Performance Physical Therapy; Kristin Niessink, Kristin Niessink MS, RD, LN; Lesli-Ann Powell, Little Birdie Papercraft and Design Studio; Dr. Kate Siner, Dr. Kate Inc.; Stephanie Additon, JAVA Skin Care; Jan Faust Dane, Stock Culinary Goods; and Maria Tocco, The Providence Flea. Since winning last year, these women have not stopped pursuing their dreams. We circled back to a few of the winners finding that they continue to inspire entrepreneurs throughout Rhode Island.

Anne Aldridge, Ocean State House Cleaning

Through difficult times, Anne Aldridge created her home and office cleaning business in 1998. At the time, Anne was a single mother of four young children. She said, “House cleaning was my only marketable skill at the time and so I ran with it!” More than decade later, her business, Ocean State House Cleaning (OSHC) has become the largest independently-owned residential cleaning service in Rhode Island. OSHC’s mission is to provide high-quality cleaning services at affordable rates while providing a good working environment and good wages to staff. Since winning the Women to Watch award, her business has seen a 20 percent increase in revenue allowing OSHC the ability to hire three additional full-time quality control managers to supervise and a full-time outside sales person. In 2010, Anne launched a non-profit called Cleaning for Heroes, which provides no-cost cleaning services to military veterans through a network of volunteer work. OSHC recently launched a subsidiary service in Massachusetts called Bay State Maids. The company plans to expand into the Connecticut market as well.

Dr. Kate Siner, Dr. Kate Inc.

Dr. Kate Siner began Dr. Kate Enterprises in 2008. As her business expanded, her knowledge evolved and her focus honed in on enhancing people’s personal and professional lives. Dr. Kate offers exceptional development mentoring, training, coaching certification, and value-driven business development for individuals and organizations. Her mission is to help people create successful, meaningful, and fulfilling lives. Today, Dr. Kate is an industry leader in Rhode Island. She devotes her time to coaching her clients, speaking at events, writing for a variety of publications, and volunteering for organizations including HATCH Entrepreneurial Center. Her humanitarian work has brought her from Guatemala to


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


Zimbabwe, where she leads projects aimed at decreasing gender-based violence. Since winning the Women to Watch award, Dr. Kate created a collaboration with employee engagement specialist, Jorge Rico, to bring her work to corporations that want to create innovative and highly successful companies at which highpreforming employees are excited to work. Dr. Kate also formed Lock and Clue – an innovative ‘escape room’ at which she leads team-building and leadership workshops.

Elizabeth Cunha, Center for Dynamic Learning

More than ten years ago, Elizabeth had $100, a small home office in her bedroom, and a vision. A vision to improve the lives of school-aged children across the state of Rhode Island. While attending Rhode Island College as an undergrad she began working with underprivileged youth from Providence and Cranston. The more time she spent in the schools the more she began to understand the potential after-school activities had on grade school students. From that understanding, Elizabeth created the Center for Dynamic Learning (CDL). Their mission is to inspire youth to cultivate career readiness and workforce skills through science, art, and theatre programs while making sure students are adequately prepared for the future. CDL now has a full-sized home with state-of-the-art classrooms, a staff of 16 teachers/administrators; grown from 8 last year and thousands of alumni, that of which Elizabeth remains extremely humble about. In the past year, CDL has not only expanded but they now offer 32 STEAMM programs. Annually, the program offers services to over 2,500 youth across the state, providing before and after school programs as well as in-school residencies. Stay tuned for their STEAMMRole fundraiser on April 23rd which will bring students and industry professionals together to compete in engineering or theatre challenges for an evening of hands-on fun set to benefit the STEAMM programs CDL brings into the Rhode Island Community.

epreneurial Women to Watch Awards Jen Hetzel Silbert, Learning401

Jen Hetzel Silbert founded Learning401 to shift how Rhode Islanders think, talk about, and design education in their area code. Learning401 gives students, educators, and members of the community a digital storytelling platform for rich, safe, and nonpartisan discussion about what powerful learning is and requires. Its mission is to give voice to the public that is the public school system in ways that strengthen both education and the employability ecosystem. Jen said, “We’re embarking in a paradigm shift in Rhode Island education that starts, very simply, with how we talk about education as a community.” Over the past year, Jen’s network of education and community partners has grown exponentially. This past January, she joined the non-profit, Opportunity@Work, co-facilitating the rollout of TechHire RI (http://techhire.org/rhode_island/) which empowers Rhode Islanders to learn, work, and earn to their full potential by building an inclusive tech talent pipeline to fill jobs in demand. Strengthening, accelerating, and scaling the connections from education to employment takes a village and Learning401 is a proud TechHire partner.

Kapedjanie “Kappy” Bois, Royal Health and Wellness Chiropractic Clinic

Since opening Royal Health and Wellness Chiropractic Clinic, Dr. Kappy Bois’ office has helped patients using holistic methods to provide fast, consistent results. Inspired by her personal experience with chiropractic care, Kappy decided to help others see its value. Kappy earned her doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine and a master’s degree in Human Clinical Nutrition from University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Impressively, Kappy opened her practice in 2010 using her own capital and money earned from an online business. Kappy mentioned, “I work at my clinic, practicing what I love, giving my patients one-on-one attention and optimal chiropractic care. I am proud to say I am helping people live a healthier life.” In 2014, she was named one of ‘Rhode Island’s Top Chiropractors.’ After receiving the Women to Watch award, Kappy’s business boomed. Royal Health and Wellness Chiropractic Clinic moved to a

larger location to keep up with an influx of new patients. Kappy was nominated as the ‘Enterprising Women’ in 2015 by Rhode Island Monthly Magazine. Additionally, Kappy currently works alongside other leaders in the Haitian community to open a Haitian-American center in Rhode Island.

Kathleen Moren, Healthy Babies, Happy Moms Inc.

In 2000, Kathleen Moren decided to start her own business to support breastfeeding mothers after noticing there were no services of this kind in Rhode Island. Her previous experience led to the incorporation of Healthy Babies, Happy Moms, Inc. (HBHM) a licensed and nationally accredited home health nursing agency and durable medical equipment provider. Since their inception, the HBHM staff of 11 employees has helped over 5,000 families. Their passion is the health of babies and the mental health of their mothers. They strive to provide women with the information, support and products they need to be confident in their ability to breastfeed and care for their children. HBHM receives referrals daily from Rhode Island’s five birthing hospitals, pediatricians, midwives, obstetricians and insurance companies. Over the past year, the company’s revenue has grown by 35 percent and they have secured four new insurance contracts, with several contracts pending. HBHM is transitioning to an electronic medical record this spring and will undergo rebranding effort this fall which will include a new website.

Lesli-Ann Powell, Little Birdie Papercraft and Design Studio

Lesli-Ann Powell began Little Birdie Papercraft and Design Studio in 2009 as a creative outlet and a way to promote her custom line of greeting cards. “I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I have always loved the art of papercraft.” Lesli found that people were drawn to creating customized stationary and from there she opened a brick and mortar which eventually turned into an exclusive custom design studio. Little Birdie Papercraft specializes in unique, hand-crafted, boutique style invitations, social stationery and corporate announcements. With a simple philosophy: Inspire, Design, Create. After winning the Women to Watch award, Little Birdie Papercraft was published in RI Monthly’s Engaged Magazine, Southern New England Weddings, and won WeddingWire’s ‘Couples’ Choice’ each year since 2011, and again in 2016. Lesli also launched their new website in February of 2015 and blog in 2016. When asked about new products for 2016 Lesli said, “I do have a line of “ready to order” wedding invitations, my Studio Collection, that are available on our website. I also have the ability to print in white. This is something that is very popular right now, but not many places have the equipment to offer it.”

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


Catching Up with the Winners of the Second Annual Maria Tocco, The Providence Flea

The Providence Flea is not your average flea; it’s more than just a market with vintage vendors, local artists, artisans and makers, community non-profits, live local music, food purveyors, food trucks and carts. Inspired by the urban markets of Brooklyn, New York, Providence Flea Founder Maria Tocco wanted to create a similar gathering spot in Rhode Island’s capital city. After securing a spot for the Flea on the Providence River Greenway, she ran her first market in June 2013. At its inception, there were only 30 vendors and 3 food trucks. As word began to spread and the community embraced the event as a favorite go-to spot on summer Sundays, the market grew quickly, hosting over 220 vendors by the end of the 2014 season. Maria said, “The Flea is a place where community and commerce intersect with a culture of recycling, upcycling, reusing, and repurposing. ” Since winning the Entrepreneurial Women to Watch award, Maria has grown the Flea year over year, more than doubling its size. Maria hosted pop-up events at Johnson and Wales family weekend and Indowncity’s (Providence) “Shop Downcity Day.” She hopes to expand the season and hire staff to help manage the market this year. The Flea has become somewhat of an incubator for an ever-changing lineup of small vendors with big dreams, and it’s never exactly the same from one Sunday to the next!

Michelle Collie, Performance Physical Therapy

Michelle Collie, CEO of Performance Physical Therapy (PPT), at a young age was inspired to have her own physical therapy clinic after experiencing physical therapy first-hand. Purchasing PPT in 2003, her goal is and has always been to provide the best possible care for the community and an exceptional working environment for her clinicians to excel in their careers. Their mission is to provide excellent physical therapy care with a focus on results. Since the 2015 awards PPT continues to grow, recently opening a 9,000 square-foot clinic in Pawtucket with the state’s only Hydroworx pool. In April, new clinics are opening in Warren and Newport bringing Performance to a total of 10 locations. Additionally, PPT is increasing their presence in high schools providing athletic training services to prevent and manage students’ injuries. They currently service over ten schools in Rhode Island. Their dedication to Rhode Island has given them a number of awards, including the nationally recognized Jane L. Snyder ‘Private Practice of the Year’ Award from the American Physical Therapy Association and being named one Rhode Island’s ‘Best Places to Work’ in 2014 and 2015 by Providence Business News.


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Stephanie Additon, JAVA Skin Care, LLC


After recognizing an abundance of high-end skin care products that used synthetic caffeine infusions, Stephanie Additon, founded JAVA Coffee Infused Skin Care, a luxury line of all natural, plant-based products made from organic green coffee. Additon said, “The amazing thing about all natural caffeine, is that if you get it in the form of green coffee, it comes with other incredible benefits. After finding out about the huge amount of antioxidants and damage repairing benefits of green coffee, I just had to make these products so I could use them myself!” Additon made it her mission to source all natural ingredients that are made from the highest grade and quality available. The line is distinguished as the only skin care line of its kind on the market. Their mission is to elevate green coffee as a luxury beauty ingredient, and to spread the message of the benefit of non-toxic skin care. In the past year, JAVA Skin Care was featured in both Cosmopolitan and Health magazines while also receiving press from publications across the state. Their products are used in treatments at multiple Forbes Five Star Spas. Their recent accolades include the grand opening of their first retail location in Historic Wickford Village and release of new product lines that will hit the shelves every month for the next year, including the latest, Luxury Collection.


epreneurial Women to Watch Awards nationally and internationally by seeking potential partnerships with larger agencies and talent scouts.

Yemi Sekoni, Donahue Models and Talent, LLC

Donahue Models and Talent, LLC is the oldest and longestrunning modeling agency in Rhode Island. The company selects, trains, and develops models so that when they get hired by a client, they are ready, knowledgeable and are able to fulfill the needs clients hire them for. Donahue Models and Talent agency’s mission is “to provide a first class modeling and talent agency for local and regional businesses, to be a respected educational force for the local industry, and to make a positive impact on philanthropic causes by using our creative talent.” Yemi Sekoni was a model for the agency and purchased the company in August 2010, she shared, was inspired to


do so because acting/performing has always been the most consistent part of my life. When I was presented with an opportunity to turn my passion into a career, I knew I had to go for it. I strongly believe that this is what I was born to do.” Yemi was able to take the company into the 21st century by moving all their files to computer databases and developing a strong web presence. Since winning the Women to Watch award, Yemi said, “It helped validate the impact I had made in the Rhode Island market. Also, it gave increased name recognition and visibility among the business community at large.” The agency is currently ranked as the top agency in Rhode Island, and the fifth best agency in New England. Yemi hopes to expand her company

Kristin Niessink, Kristin Niessink MS, RD, LDN

Kristin Niessink’s motto is simple, Eat Healthy Live Happy, which embodies her goal to educate and empower people to establish healthy lifestyles for long term wellness. Kristin began her career in 2004 with one-on-one counseling in a gym setting, but with obesity at epidemic proportions, she recognized the need for disease prevention and nutrition education in our society. Her commitment to making a difference in the local community is evident in her partnerships with organizations from community centers to grocery stores that promote positive change for Rhode Islanders. Through her nutritional newsletters and cookbook, individual counseling, and community programs, which include seminars and cooking classes, Kristin continues to spread her message of health. Her LivFit Newport program, which combines nutrition and cooking education and fitness at the MLK Community Center is one recent success. As a registered and licensed dietitian, Kristin offers unbiased nutrition education to provide people with the ingredients for wellness.

For more information regarding these Women to Watch award winners, as well as a full list of winners from 2014 and 2015, please visit our website at


www.risbj.com | volume five issue four



Tuni Renaud Schartner

Andrea Chait Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, NCSP

TRS Strategies

Momentum Inc.

Susan PascaleFrechette Pods Swimming

Deeply committed to the community, Tuni Renaud Schartner, of TRS Strategies has continuously proven herself as a spirited member of the Rhode Island business community. With years of experience managing, owning and operating multiple businesses and receiving professional training in marketing/PR/business development strategy, in addition to spending much of her professional life working closely with chambers of commerce, town officials, and business leaders, she was passionate about increasing economic development where she resides. As opportunities aligned organically, Tuni, along with her partners Larry Zevon of Zevon Media and Mike Baker owner of the historic Lafayette Mill Complex, built a collaborative, community-based coworking facility in North Kingstown coined, The Hive RI.

Andrea Chait has her Ph.D. in School Psychology, with a specialization in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Master’s degrees in Special Education and School Psychology. She is a Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Applied Behavioral Analyst, Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D), and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Additionally, she is an Adjunct Professor at Salve Regina University, serves as chair on the newly established Licensure Board for Applied Behavior Analysts and most notably, the Executive Director of Momentum Inc., an organization she established in 2014 in response to the growing need of services for children in Rhode Island.

Susan Pascale-Frechette’s greatgrandparents on both her parents’ sides were Italian immigrants who planted their roots in the Federal Hill section of Providence. Entrepreneurship is in her blood; Her great grandparents owned and operated Leo’s cigar store, owned and managed apartments and helped their son run his dental practice. Susan was destined for entrepreneurship. While receiving her BS in Dental Hygiene from the University of Rhode Island, Susan became an entry level swim coach for the Ocean State Squids at Brown University. There she found her true passion, providing families with life skills both in and out of the water. After the closing of the swim program, Ocean State Squids, Susan started her own program to fill the void.

The Hive hosts prominent members of the business community who share their knowledge with those eager to learn at their Lunch and Learn sessions. Members also share service offerings including social media, website development, marketing, etc. and The Hive hosts a multitude of networking events and workshops. The Hive truly fosters a supportive infrastructure for businesses, in all stages of development, to grow, as well as an environment where exchanging thoughts and ideas on how to enrich the community is the new business-as-usual.

Momentum provides psychological, educational, and behavioral services to individuals, families, schools, and the community. Momentum is certified by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services as a Home Based Therapeutic Services provider-agency with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis and a certified Personal Assistance Services and Supports provider. Additionally, they provide consultation, services, and training to many public school districts throughout the state.

Tuni not only enhances the personal and professional lives around her by crafting an innovative professional co-working space designed to help individuals realize their dreams, but Tuni’s blueprint is to have a larger impact on the community around her. Working with local historian and author, Tim Cranston, she continues to help preserve the mill’s historical integrity hosting historic walking tours, educational events, and evening lectures for members of the community and business professionals working in the building.

Pods Swimming was founded in 2007, with forty students. Today the program currently enrolls over 1,000 students and employs over twenty in eight locations. Founding the program was not without its sacrifices, but with perseverance, Susan overcame scheduling struggles and continued to expand into new locations. As Susan resiliently developed the learning curricula and foster relationships with parents and students, parents began to see the impact of enlisting their children and the business began to growth by sheer word of mouth.

In its operation, Momentum fills the gap for children and their parents who are waiting to access treatment they need. Without Momentum’s services, children could potentially wait up to a year for access to treatment. “Research has shown that with intensive applied behavior analysis treatment, individuals can make significant gains in their cognitive, adaptive, and social behavior,” said Andrea. “The earlier the intervention, the better.”

Susan is driven to ensure the curriculum taught at Pods Swimming is progressive and innovative. After researching national programs, Susan discovered the United States Swim School Association. Susan traveled to Arizona to be trained in their curriculum. Susan and some of her staff travel to the USSSA conference to refresh their knowledge and learn the revised curriculum. Pods Swimming is proudly the first USSSA program established in Rhode Island.

Tuni is an active member of local chambers of commerce, consistently bringing in innovative member businesses and entrepreneurs who will continue to promote a more vibrant community. Tuni also promotes local artists by using art to enhance The Hive’s surroundings. Tuni said, “Art has proven to promote a creative and productive atmosphere for those of us who work here, and it is invaluable to The Hive at this point.” Congressman James R. Langevin noted, “Tuni has provided her expertise, offered growth solutions, and developed strategic plans of action for numerous Rhode Island companies. Tuni’s vast understanding of the business environment, her commitment to the community, and her support for those with a vision, is truly the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.”


With strong, empowering leadership driven by Andrea and her team, Momentum Inc. began with a small staff of four employees, and in just two years, Momentum Inc. now staffs over seventy employees. “I believe our collective passion drives this business. Our staff are committed to the mission. The leadership encourages this by empowering and positively reinforcing staff,” said Andrea. There is consolation in the highly qualified, motivational work employed by Dr. Andrea Chait and her staff when reflecting on the direct impact they have on children and their families in the state. Rhode Island is truly honored to be the epicenter of such an incredible company.

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The immense impact that Susan’s work has had on the community and families that she teaches is evident. Susan is deeply committed to her students, teaching water safety, and pushing children beyond their limiting beliefs. This year, Susan and her team are taking Pods to even greater lengths, opening a six lane 25-yard pool, and teaching pool. The facility will not only be conducive to swim lessons but will create opportunities for rehabilitation, fitness, recreational and masters swimming, aligning with Susan’s dream of serving her community and investing in its healthy future.

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Atabey SánchezHaiman

Cindy Burke, Esq.

Giraffes and Robots

Burke Law Group LLC

Entrepreneur, painter, and illustrator, Atabey Sánchez-Haiman is the owner and artist of Giraffes and Robots, art that makes you smile. Originally from Puerto Rico, Atabey graduated with a biology degree from Brown University. While working as a scientist and teacher, she began painting and illustrating on the side until ultimately quitting her day job to dedicate herself to art full time. She started Giraffes and Robots two and a half years ago. “I started my business as a way to share my passion for bright, happy, cheerful images that make people smile,” said Atabey. Atabey started out selling her art on consignment and wholesale through other businesses including Stock, Craftland and Providence Picture Frame. She also sells at the Providence Artisan Market and the Providence Flea. “After two years of selling solely through other stores and art markets and having customers often ask where my store was located, I took the plunge and opened my studio/retail space at Hope Artiste Village. It has been so much fun to create a space where my customers can enjoy and purchase my work,” said Atabey. The growth of her company is a testament to her ability to build and distinguish her brand while nourishing collaborations with local icons. Atabey’s unique and often locally inspired, playful work has been featured in numerous publications. Her illustrations of local landmarks, like the Superman building, are some of her most popular. She attributes much of her success to Rhode Island, “My business is the kind of business that it is because I am in Rhode Island, a state which highly values art and individuality. I love how Rhode Island businesses help and support each other, which is why I often feature local businesses in my illustrations and also donate my art to raise funds for local schools and non-profits. There is so much that is unique in this State and it is so much fun to express that uniqueness through my artwork.”

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Burke Law Group, LLC. was created by Robert J. Burke II and Cindy Burke to provide legal assistance to the Hispanic community. “The focus of the company is Immigration Law, but we have found so many other aspects of law we can assist with, that we never turn anyone away from at least an initial consultation on any legal issues,” said Cindy. “Our belief is that the client works just as hard as we do for their money, and we charge fees that are sometimes 70-percent lower than most Immigration attorneys in our area.” Cindy warmly welcomes people who are sometimes turned away from legal assistance, and this has garnered much respect in the community for her firm. Her goal is to make a difference in the community and she in fact does this on a daily basis, “We have become an integral part of the community, and very quickly everyone has learned who we are. The best part of offering my services to Central Falls is the fact that my parents have owned a night club there for over 28 years, and when they see me they ask if I am their daughter,” said Cindy. “I’m always proud to say I am, and the community knows we are trustworthy.” Their firm is set apart by honesty, placing their clients’ needs in the forefront of their business policies. Cindy has received both a Mayor’s Citation from the City of Central Falls and certificates of congressional recognition for the outstanding impact she has made in the lives of people in Rhode Island. Cindy most notably is a representative of those who are unable to advocate for themselves. “The work I put into building this empire is just starting, but it won’t end there. I intend on being the voice of Immigration, and the person that everyone in the Hispanic community knows,” said Cindy. Her plans are to continue to do the work that most will shy away from to make a difference in the lives of others.

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Krystal Toro SOFIT Cycle and Fitness Studio Krystal Toro is a fitness instructor and now business owner, who is highly passionate about being healthy, and driving others to greater health. “When a client walks into my class, I want them to feel transported, challenged, and inspired,” said Krystal. While working for a ‘large box gym,’ Krystal noticed a disconnection between focusing on the needs of clients versus how many clients attend her classes, and was adamant about making a change. In 2014, Krystal took the leap and opened the doors of her own studio, SOFIT Cycle and Fitness Studio, an indoor cycling studio that knows how to shift the boundaries through cycling, TRX, and signature MIX classes. Besides exceptional customer service, Krystal’s ability to marry her passion for fitness, employ instructors who share the same desire, and her unique ability to meet the needs of her customers, makes her gym different from other fitness options in her industry. Her primary objective was to “create a brand that’s authentic, memorable, and exceeds the customer experience both in and outside the studio. We’re creating a voice to an audience of consumers seeking personalized, empowering, and fun workouts.” Krystal is implementing marketing strategies by way of social media marketing, and trying more unconventional methods of engagement. “Our marketing strategy needs to mirror our business strategy: find a way to make each and every interaction feel personalized and premium,” said Krystal, and that she is doing, receiving over 650 5-star reviews to date. Not only is Krystal focused on her studio, she has a huge space in her heart that wants to give back. SOFIT Cycle provides free classes to support and raise awareness for local charities through collections for the local animal shelter, fundraising for Free to Breathe, and raising funds for an East Providence family who lost their son.

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Kerrie Lanoie

Gina DiSpirito

Loren Barham

Sonoma Bistro and WineBar


Loren Hope Designs, LLC

No stranger to the service industry, Kerrie Lanoie has established a successful career working in restaurants and event planning, consistently exceeding the expectations of those around her. Kerrie came into the industry as a single mother of two without so much as a high school diploma, beginning her career out of a necessity to survive and gradually finding great satisfaction in helping others through her work. It was because of her situation and a transformative mentor, that she has been compelled to pay it forward, a pursuit that is evident in her efforts to grow and transform her restaurant. Kerrie saw the potential that Sonoma Bistro and WineBar had when she became the owner in 2012, conceptualizing a business plan to propel the restaurant to success. Inspired by her 28 years of service experience, Kerrie was able to develop a strong customer service training program for her family-like staff and attract new customers through deeper community involvement. In just a few years, this restaurant has become a premier destination for quality meal, great drinks, and live weekend entertainment. The Sonoma Bistro and WineBar is now a hot-spot for restaurant-goers, mid-sized personal and professional events, and after-work fun seekers. The dedication that Kerrie pours into her work doesn’t end with this restaurant. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors at the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, helping other businesses overcome their obstacles so that they can grow and continue to serve the people of Rhode Island. The energy and enthusiasm that Kerrie brings to the community and her restaurant is contagious, and her mission to lead by example continues to inspire every day.


Entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in the veins of Gina DiSpirito, who grew up watching her dedicated parents work tirelessly to create and run their own successful business. Gina came to appreciate the passion needed to drive a business forward, and when it came time for her to contribute to her family and help fund her education, she began planning and establishing a graphic design business. Through those efforts, GLAD WORKS was born in 1995 during her junior year at Providence College. As GLAD WORKS evolved, Gina was able to combine her commitment to helping other businesses grow with her love for design and technology. Having expanded into a full-service creative agency by 2001, they could now taking on tasks like design, web development, photography, marketing, advertising, copywriting, and branding for businesses in a variety of markets. Despite warnings from other professionals in the industry about taking on too much, Gina’s strategy has found great success in offering more well-rounded solutions to GLAD WORKS customers. This stability and growth has proven the strength of her intuition and serves as a testament to the quality and cohesion of their services. Through her achievements Gina has garnered public recognition receiving multiple awards, including the Encore Award for ‘Outstanding Small Business Support in the Arts,’ Providence Business News’ ‘Business Women Achievement Award,’ the American Heart Association ‘Heart of Our Mission Award,’ and named twice as one of Providence Business News’ ‘Top Forty Under 40.’ In addition to running GLAD WORKS, Gina is actively engaged in positions on the Pawtucket Advisory Commission on Arts and Culture and the Providence College President’s Council. She continues to work with many non-profits in the local community and proudly mentors young adults from local colleges. It is through this work that she strives to “build strong leaders who will grow to make a positive impact on our state in the future.”

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It is not often enough that passion and commitment combine to guide someone in the way that it did in the case of Loren Barham. Ten years ago, Loren made a decision to leave behind her studies in fine arts to marry her partner Aaron and join him in England where he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force. By taking a chance, she discovered an affinity for tapping into her creative spirit and began designing handcrafted jewelry at her kitchen table to earn an income. Now, after years of dreaming, planning, and learning, Loren is a leader in the local jewelry industry with her business Loren Hope Designs, LLC. In a studio in an old manufacturing mill in Providence, Loren and her team of seven take great pride in their work creating stunning jewelry—often with vintage components—in a way that is considerate of customers, the environment, and the local market. She said, “We are truly passionate about jewelry, Rhode Island’s prominent history in the industry, and about preserving the art of skilled craft.” Through her achievements leading Loren Hope Designs, Loren is optimistic that her work will inspire those around her to explore their creative potential and channel it towards their own work. Loren accredits a great deal of her team’s inspiration to the vendors they do business with. They are multi-generational and offer perspective and insight about their processes, sharing their rich, interesting stories along the way. The fascinating people around her reinforce the love that Loren has for giving back to the community and supporting local artisans. She actively seeks to preserve their skills by working closely alongside them to collaborate on ideas, techniques and processes to create innovative, heirloom quality costume jewelry.

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Kristin M. MacRae

Marni MacLean Karro

Organizing In RI, LLC

Jack’s Snacks, A Dog Bakery

The self-driven, motivated Kristin M. MacRae launched Organizing In RI, LLC in 2012 to help people who struggle to stay organized and have time management issues both in their homes and/or businesses. Since the inception of Organizing In RI, LLC, the business has grown consistently over the past four years. Kristin said, “Being a solopreneur, aside from working side-by-side with my clients, I am also the marketing team, web design and tech team, the bookkeeper, and writer. I do it all, efficiently and effectively.”

Marni MacLean Karro is the owner and operator of Jack’s Snacks, a dog bakery, a full-service bakery for your beloved dog. Before Marni began her business, she attended college at Syracuse University with dreams of opening a restaurant of her own. After college she moved to California soaking up any knowledge she possibly could from any restaurant that would hire her. She then landed a dream job working as the Executive Assistant to Arsenio Hall, learning much about herself, how to be a self-starter, and building confidence in her abilities. She later returned to Rhode Island with her husband to be closer to home and family.

Kristin works one-on-one with clients tackling all of their organizing needs by offering an array of services including in-home organization, business organization, time management strategy, and individualized consolidation plans. Her strong dedication to both her brand and clients, ranging from 8 year olds to corporate executives, is what has helped her become one of the best organizing experts in Rhode Island.

With a passion for dogs and baking, her husband suggested she start a dog bakery which eventually was named after their black lab/pitbull mix, Jack. At the time, Marni saw the pet industry was growing substantially and intuitively she saw there was a demand for higher quality pet food. Her fortitude built what is now one of the only places to buy handmade, wholesome treats and birthday cakes for dogs in Rhode Island.

Additionally, Kristin is a weekly columnist for GoLocalProv.com, a contributing writer to local magazines, and makes frequent presentations throughout the state including her most recent speaking engagement at the 2016 Bryant Women’s Summit in March. She sells a 1-hour ‘Organizing Basics’ CD sold in Whole Foods Market in Cranston. Not only is Kristin highly committed to her business, she is deeply passionate about networking and helping others, volunteering her time to charity events and has been an ambassador with the East Greenwich Chamber since 2012. Her greatest strength is that her business is never stagnant and always evolving, helping others save time and money while becoming well-organized and productive.

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All of her high-quality products are handmade using human-grade ingredients sourced locally, free from sugar, salt, artificial colors, or preservatives, all of which distinguishes her product from the rest. In addition to her bakery, you can find Jack’s Snacks at local dog boutiques and four Whole Foods Market locations. Marni works out of her bakery and at local Farmers’ Markets throughout Rhode Island. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Hope Street Farmers’ Market in Providence. She is also a part of Toll Gate High School’s Vocational Transition Program, where students with special needs gain work experience doing various tasks at Jack’s Snacks. Marni said humbly, “I probably gain more from this program. The students’ enthusiasm and the pride in their work is inspiring and invigorating.” Although many pups are wowed by her product, her success is clearly a testament to her gratitude, ability to cultivate relationships, creativity, and devotion to giving back to others. This is what keeps loyal customers coming back and what attracts new ones.

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McGuinness McGuinness Media and Marketing Megan McGuinness, Owner of McGuinness Media and Marketing received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Connecticut in Communications. She jumped into her marketing career working at an advertising agency in Boston. In 2009, Megan left for a position as Advertising Manager at Twin River Casino and from there, she became the go-to media and marketing guru for multiple casinos. Currently her company services advertising efforts for Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, MS, and Newport Grand Casino in Newport, RI. Megan is highly passionate about what she does, “The gaming industry is a very exciting, forever changing, fast-paced environment. I not only get to advertise the gaming and casino segment, but also concerts, restaurants, tradeshows and more. Every week is different from the last, there is never a dull moment,” said Megan. McGuinness Media is entirely run by her. She is responsible for overseeing the advertising and media for three casinos, fifteen restaurants, nine entertainment venues, and a hotel. Her tenacity, ability to bring fresh new ideas to the table, and here entrepreneurial spirit is what drives her to reach new levels. One of the most noteworthy projects she worked on involved marketing a major repositioning of Twin River’s slots-only facility to full-scale casino with Live Table Games. After much hard work, launching teaser campaigns, advertising, PR, and coordinating a grand gala event for 2,000 local influencers, media, and celebrities, Megan reached 79-percent awareness of table games within Southern New England in just six months! Megan will continue to stay committed to Rhode Island, as she recently purchased a home in Warwick. She also has plans to expand her company in the future, hiring graphic designers and a media buyer, renting or purchasing commercial space, and taking her company to the next level by expanding their offerings. Megan said, “We will be the best agency for anyone that needs marketing support within the gaming, dining, and entertainment industries, as this is what we live and breathe every day.”

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Amy Levesque Fields

Rita Danielle Steele,Esq. Steele Realty Consultants International

Hub Digital From a young age, Amy Levesque Fields was taught by her father that “there is no greater pride than owning something that you can call your own.” Shaping her career path around the firm belief that a person can’t be honorable in life unless they are honorable in business, Amy always knew that she would come to own her own business someday. “To me, there is no one braver than an entrepreneur, and I want to help them thrive by successfully promoting their products and services online,” said Amy. It is in this spirit and frame of mind that Amy channeled her strengths in digital marketing and pursued her dream of becoming a small business owner. With a forward-thinking mind and a strong belief in the necessity of effective digital practices in business, Amy founded Hub Digital—a full-service marketing business—to assist small businesses in Rhode Island grow and gain a better understanding of the online and digital world. For Amy, her mission has always been greater than just driving success and establishing a profitable business, it includes empowering other small business owners and showing them that they can hold their own in the marketplace. In the past year, Hub Digital has tripled their sales. To further growth, Amy has developed a series of online classes geared towards teaching clients about a wide variety of topics so that they can maintain their digital practices more efficiently. These classes are offered at more affordable price points, and come broken in smaller modules to accommodate the busy schedules of business owners. Taken independently, these classes are meant to empower the small business owner and help them gain a better understanding of all aspects of digital marketing. Hub Digital’s online marketing services—including website design, blogging, copywriting, grassroots marketing strategies, email marketing, graphic design, and display ad purchase/ design—continue to help transform Rhode Island into a place where small businesses can thrive.


Eight years ago Rita Danielle Steele left her legal career to pursue another true passion of hers, real estate. She opened her first business in real estate, a small boutique real estate brokerage firm, alongside a business partner. The little experience they had in the way day-to-day business operations were typically performed gave them freedom to build a business model unique from their competitors. Rita’s brokerage was at the forefront of adapting to the needs of consumers. Her business experienced rapid growth but after overcoming much trial and tribulation, she felt she was complacent in the business. Rita was compelled to shift gears, creating Steele Realty Consultants International (SRCI) last Fall. Her new company specializes in consultant-based services, a new and emerging business model in Rhode Island. “To me, a status quo, unfocused life is a neglectful life. It matters to me deeply that I make a difference, even if in the smallest way, every day. And I am building my company upon that foundation,” Rita said. Their mission is to provide expert advice and to serve their clients best interests. “It is never simply to sell.” Rita explained, “In order to share our services to a broader pool of consumers, and to reach consumers who don’t like the current industry system, our consultation services and compensation alternatives provide a tailored fit to every clients’ particular situation.” Her vow to make a difference is not only the building blocks of her new business; Rita shows a strong commitment to Rhode Island, recently elected to the Providence Preservation’s Society’s Board of Trustees. As a unique consultantbased service, her business has many opportunities for growth.

3 RISBJ r d| rhode islandA smallnbusiness n journal u a l

Dana Spring Open Oyster Dana Spring, Owner of Open Oyster, a shellfish catering experience that provides a unique and stylish, shuck-to-order raw bar, at events in the state of Rhode Island. Her previous experience working for Ritz-Carlton Boston, earning the famed ‘Malcom Baldridge Award’ for exemplary service, and successfully opening Marshall Slocum Inn in Newport with her husband, led her to a successful opening of Open Oyster. Open Oyster’s services are designed to anticipate and meet the needs of customers by providing the freshest, local shellfish while educating event guests on the importance oysters have on the health and sustainability of local waters. From source, to dock, to table, Dana’s concept not only provides educational offerings about the shellfish being offered, her and her team take great pride in accompaniments and presentation. Because of her enthusiasm, the company has already received press from the Mercury, So Rhode Island, The Bay, and Puddingstone Post. On her commitment to Rhode Island, Dana said, “Oyster farming has undergone unprecedented growth in the past five years in Rhode Island and I am proud to be a supporter of the many other small businesses involved in oyster production and distribution.” Genuinely eager to make a difference in Rhode Island’s conservation efforts, Dana plans to participate in Nature Conservancy by collecting all of the used oyster shells from events which will then be recycled back into tidal waters to build new oyster reefs. Dana’s philanthropic nature also deems her committed to charity in Rhode Island. Dana partook in, Fund Her Down Under, an organization dedicated to Ovarian Cancer Research and Baby Steps Newport, a fundraiser to garner support for needy families with young children, donating a portion of sales to both organizations.

E n t r e p r e n e u r i a l


Women To Watch Awards

Honorable Mentions Solopreneur

Leshinsky Finance congratulates Susan Pascale-Frechette from Pods Swimming & the rest of the 2016 Entrepreneurial Women To Watch winners Susan Pascale-Frechette won the "Community Champion" category.

info@LeshinskyFinance.com 617.751.2990

susan@podsswimming.com 401.337.5678

Carol Ann Mossa Christine Francis Daniela Snopkowski Erica Trombetti Jeanne Evans Maria Ruggieri Mary T. O’Sullivan Pat Cruz Robin Garceau Suzanne Ellis Wernevi

Startup Andrea C. Imafidon Cheryl DiGennaro Christina DiBiasio Courtney Zelen Dana Kretzmann Diana Capellan Doreen C. Putnam Katelyn Medeiros Lisa Milich Taritha David-Hill Tessa Hollyn Taub

Lorri Haber-DiBoni Michelle Cortes-Harkins Michelle Ziemb Sarah Abeles Susanna Post

Community Champion Ann Kaiser Carla Izzard Dena Davis Gail Ahlers Henrietta White-Holder Karen Dalton Liz Duggan Margaret Brooks Sara Nerone Wendy Looker Martinha Jhavid Elizabeth C. Cunha

Minority-Owned Business Karen C. Amado Stacey C. Liakos Yemi Sekoni

Small Business Ali Lomazzo Bianca Alicea Candida Castillo Christine M. Paige Danielle Rogers Donna McDonald Erika Weller Hannah Garrison Huetran Duong Jennifer Massotti Jill Marinelli JoEllen Hockenbrough Kelly Taylor Kristin Greene Laurie Z. Stroll Lisa Bergeron LisaMarie Dwye

W o m e n

t o

W a t c h

The 3rd Annual


A w a r dwww.risbj.comW | volume i nfive issue n four e r39 s

LEGAL | A New Bill Seeks To Improve Gender Diversity On Corporate Boards






Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards by Sally P. McDonald, Esq.

In March of this year, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced the Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act. The bill is intended to increase the number of women on corporate boards, and would require public corporations to report the gender composition of their boards and board nominees to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). It would also create an SEC advisory group to study and recommend ways to increase gender diversity on corporate boards. In January, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a study showing that women held just 16% of seats in corporate boardrooms. This number was up from 8% in 1997. Based on these numbers, even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, it would take until 2065 for women’s representation on boards to be on par with that of men’s. Proponents of the Bill argue that what gets measured, gets results. The theory is that, by turning the resources of Congress to the issue of board diversity, it is likely that public companies will devote more effort to diversifying their boards. Research shows that public companies with boards that are reflective of the diversity of the population of the United States have better decision-making

processes and overall stronger organizational health. In other words, diverse boards are good for business and this translates into being good for the economy. Those opposed to the Bill suggest that it is an unnecessary intrusion into the boardroom. Importantly, however, the Bill stops short of creating any mandatory quotas. Many European countries, on the other hand, have attempted to achieve boardroom diversity through quotas. Germany recently became the latest country so far to pass a law that requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30% of supervisory seats to women. In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a greater role for women in boardrooms. Norway was the first country in Europe to legislate boardroom quotas, joined by Spain, France and Iceland, which all set their minimums at 40%. Italy has a quota of 1/3 and Belgium of 30%. Britain has not legislated quotas, but a voluntary effort, known as the 30% Club, has helped to substantially increase women’s representation. The group has used persuasion to help double the percentage of women on the boards of major British companies since 2010 – up to 23%. The notion of government quotas for company boards has met substantial resistance in the United States. Representative Maloney’s Bill is one example of an advocate attempting to achieve boardroom diversity in another way. The Bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. If you have questions or would like to speak to Attorney Sally P. McDonald, please call 401-824-5100 or email her at smcdonald@pldw.com.

Sally P. McDonald, Esq.

Attorney, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC


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LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Laws Affecting Women In The Workplace

Personnel Practices LAWS AFFECTING WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE by C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. and Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

Despite many advances over the past decades, women may still face significant hurdles in the workplace. Issues of equal pay, workplace accommodations, and work-life balance are commonplace in mainstream media. In order to ensure a level playing field for all of their workers, employers, as well as their employees, should be aware of the following laws that impact women in the workplace.

Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFMLA) and Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Under Rhode Island and Federal law, eligible employees may take leave from work for the birth or adoption of a child or if a family member or

the employee personally is stricken with a serious illness or health condition. In these situations, the RIPFMLA provides eligible employees with 13 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave over two calendar years, while its federal counterpart grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Both statutes apply to employers with 50 or more employees. Under the FMLA, an employee must also have worked 1,250 hours or more during twelve consecutive months while the RIPFMLA pertains to those employees working on average 30 or more weekly hours throughout the same 12-month period.

Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI): Through Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training, TDI and/or TCI is available to certain qualifying workers. TDI is available to employees who are unable to perform customary or regular work duties for no less than 7 days due to illness or injury, including pregnancy. TCI, comparatively, is available for full-time employees who cannot work because they are caring for a seriously ill family member or bonding with a new child. Though both programs are funded entirely by payroll deductions, TCI, unlike TDI, provides four weeks of job protection, such that the employee may return to his or her previous work position or its equivalent after taking leave.

Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act and Rhode Island Civil Rights Act: In addition to federal non-discrimination laws, Rhode Island state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, and gender identity, among others. As a member of these protected classes, a worker can establish an employment discrimination claim by showing that he or she was qualified for employment yet treated differently from similarly situated employees outside of the


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Personnel Practices: Laws Affecting Women In The Workplace | LEGAL

In 2015, Rhode Island’s General Assembly passed legislation intended to combat pregnancy discrimination, promote public health, and ensure full and equal participation for women in the labor force. protected class. A pregnant employee, for example, may advance an employment discrimination claim by providing evidence that she was laid off based on her pregnancy, whereas similarly situated non-pregnant employees were not.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Accommodation Laws: In 2015, Rhode Island’s General Assembly passed legislation intended to “combat pregnancy discrimination, promote public health, and ensure full and equal participation for women in the labor force.” The law not only prohibits “discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions” but further requires that employers “reasonably accommodate”’ conditions of employees concerning “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” including, most notably, breastfeeding. This law added heightened protections for pregnant and breastfeeding workers, in addition to previously-existing breastfeeding accommodation laws.

Sexual Harassment Certain employers are also required to develop workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and to include specific, statutorily prescribed language concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and a statement that it is unlawful to retaliate against workers for participating in a sexual harassment investigation. Although this statute applies to employers with 50+ employees, best practice dictates that all employers implement such a policy. Several of the above laws also require that employers notify workers of their rights. Posters are available through the Department of Labor and Training:

www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/business/post.htm. C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


SMALL BUSINESS | Giving A Voice To Women With An Idea And Ambition

Giving A Voice To Women W I T H



Since it opened its Rhode Island office in 2000, the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) has worked to level the playing field by creating custom educational programs, counseling and paths to funding for Rhode Island women who have an idea and the ambition to become entrepreneurs. “In general, women-owned businesses face even more barriers to success than those owned by men, including income disparity and limited access to capital. Entrepreneurs of color and those with limited resources face significant challenges,” said Carmen Diaz-Jusino, CWE’s Director of New Enterprise. With the help of $400,000 in recent grants from the Rhode Island Foundation, CWE is now doing even more. Of the clients served recently, 73 percent were women, 68 percent were low to moderate income, 48 percent were unemployed and 33 percent were minorities. “We see our role as one of helping to build a strong and supportive environment for successful small business development – a network of services, supports, and resources such as technical assistance, coaching, and capital,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s senior vice president for strategy and community investments. The Foundation’s funding includes $25,000 from one of its donors. Bhikhaji Maneckji pitched in through the Foundation’s co-funding initiative, which matches donor interests with community needs. The grants helped CWE build two important programs for Rhode Island entrepreneurs. The Community Classrooms entrepreneurship education program allows CWE to foster small business growth by offering free training and business resources in areas historically isolated


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal



by poverty, lack of transportation, slow economic growth, or other barriers. On a recent Monday evening, some 20 eager entrepreneurs showed up at the Pawtucket Public Library for the Center’s third 10-week Business Planning program – the first two were in Central Falls and Woonsocket. In December, these same entrepreneurs were “graduating,” making well-thought-out presentations for their new ventures. “They finish with a written business plan, a living document that will guide them,” says Diaz-Jusino. “It’s a lot more powerful when it is in writing. They understand where they would like their business to go in x amount of time.” While the classes are free, Diaz-Jusino points out that it’s a huge commitment of time and energy for the participants. CWE’s Microloan Fund provides affordable business loans of up to $5,000 to low- and moderate-income women entrepreneurs for uses such as working capital, inventory, supplies, or equipment. To date, CWE has awarded eight microloans, ranging from $3,300 to $5,000 – including a commercial cleaning service, a pastry food truck, an IT consultant and a personal chef – with four more applications waiting in the wings. Applicants are required to participate in financial coaching and training and must have completed a business plan. “CWE has a mentality of continuous improvement – they track results and are constantly tweaking their programs in their commitment to quality. We remain committed as well – to their vision of making it possible for more women to bring their entrepreneurial ideas and ambitions to fruition,” said the Foundation’s David.

The Woman Business Enterprise: Enterprising Women In Business | MBE/DBE

The Woman Business Enterprise by Michael Brito

In my forty-three years of working in and around the earth/ road construction field, being impressed has not been a regular occurrence! However, when I began working in the area of supportive services with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) community, I’ve been in awe on several occasions. This month we look at woman-owned businesses and what this special group is about--in issues past we’ve reviewed, exposed, and dissected a wide range of topics regarding MBE/DBE community however--full disclosure here--with little focus on our women. Why? I am guilty of “lumping” this group right in with all small business in an attempt to generalize and stick to our mission of support on the broad view. Not this month! WBE’s are a very different type of business and should be recognized as such for the distinctive set of challenges these owners and operators face each and every day! We can’t ignore the fact that woman have been faced with the “glass ceiling,” sexism, and equality issues simply because of their gender and that’s just in their employment role. When a woman answers the entrepreneurial call, she now magnifies these issues in the eyes of her peers and is now positioned to engage her competition, mostly men, by a whole

different set of rules. She must always be the best she can be, always ready to prove that she “belongs,” and is always the expert in her field. Now, all things being equal, it needs to be said that gender issue is not unique to small business. I’ve been in the company of moderate to large size companies where women head-up projects, represent the owner or, in rare cases, own the company themselves and I have to say… it isn’t much different! Obviously we as a small state have a long way to go (as does the rest of the country) but we have made progress. In my role in supportive services, I’ve seen woman start-ups do very well in these men dominated markets, although not easy when dealing with some of the stereotypes and bias attitudes, it can be done! As I’ve focused on in prior articles, any change in social thinking rarely is effective within the target generation, it has to be initiated in the prior one. Young women should be shown that there are better and more effective ways to establish themselves in the business market. Young men need to be educated regarding the contribution of all individuals, male or female, as well as how to interact with them. I’m not attempting to create anything new here, we have amazing organizations dealing with these issues, with great success right here in the Ocean State! As always I offer Rhode Island resources for you; Mission (360) 275-5840, the Center for Women & Enterprise (401) 277-0800, RI Small Business Development Center (401) 598-2702. These are just a few organizations that are willing to get WBE off on the right track through group, one-on-one, and various mentoring models available. As usual, if I can help, my phone is always on --see you on the job site! Michael Brito

Team Member, Managing the Road Ahead managetheroadahead.com

www.risbj.com | volume five issue four


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Rhode Island Small Business Journal Volume 5 Issue 4  

Rhode Island Small Business Journal Volume 5 Issue 4