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December 2020 Amber Grant Awarded to Silk Stem Collective

Monday, January 18th, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce the $10,000 December Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Amanda and Megan Rapacz, Co-Founders of Silk Stem Collective. They’re the first qualifiers for the 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).

For information on their business, their advice for other female entrepreneurs and more, continue on to our interview below.

Note: Applications are currently being reviewed for the $10,000 January Amber Grant. You can apply today to be considered.

WN: Describe Silk Stem Collective and the purpose it serves.

Amanda: At Silk Stem Collective we believe single use items, especially in the event industry, are poisoning our planet. We strive to offer beautiful alternatives for our eco-conscious consumers.

Silk Stem Collective is a faux flower rent-and-return boutique. Brides and grooms rent our beautiful flowers for their event. We believe in reducing waste by providing affordable, high-quality faux flowers to everyone.

Many fresh wedding flowers are grown with toxic chemicals and shipped from around the world using lots of energy and water in the process. And many fresh flower alternatives are only used once and end up in a landfill once the event is over. With Silk Stem Collective, couples borrow flowers and return them after the event, significantly reducing waste and carbon footprint.

Our business began during the COVID pandemic as we saw a new market emerging: more and more couples were eloping or having micro weddings due to the social distancing restrictions. We noticed many of these couples were choosing non-traditional florals and were looking for affordable options. We saw this opportunity and Silk Stem Collective was born!

Since then, we’ve had customers from around the country rent our reusable collections for their events. We simply ship the flowers to customers and after the event they ship them back with a pre-paid shipping label provided by us.

The business is young but it’s already catching on. Website traffic increases every month and we have couples from around the country booking collections for 2021 weddings. We currently offer over 15 unique collections for rent!

WN: What differentiates you from competitors?

Amanda: While the wedding floral market is competitive, we don’t see many options for fresh flower alternatives that realistically mimic fresh flowers. Our market is asking for affordable, beautiful alternatives so we sourced the highest quality faux flowers for our collections.

Our mission is to provide beautiful florals at a reasonable price range. Although the cost to purchase each collection is high, our rent and return model allows us to spread that cost over many different customers. As a result, our customers save up to 70% on florals when renting with us compared to purchasing fresh flowers.

WN: What are some upcoming milestones for Silk Stem Collective?

Amanda: This is a really exciting time for Silk Stem Collective. We hope to see an increase in weddings as the world begins to recover from the pandemic. To prepare, we are currently perfecting the rent-and-return experience, administering user experience testing for our website, and researching floral trends for 2021 to ensure our collections appeal to even the most fashion-forward couples. Meanwhile, we are establishing our brand image on social media and doing what we can to get our name out there.

WN: How are you planning to market the Silk Stem Collective brand?

Amanda: We know fake flowers have a stigma. When people think of fake flowers, they think of the flower aisle at the craft store filled with plastic-looking, cheap flowers with an odd smell. But most people have never seen the beauty of high-quality fake flowers in person.

The main goal of our marketing strategy is to show everyone that high-quality fake flowers are realistic and beautiful fresh flower alternatives. We will be using some mainstream marketing streams like social media, sponsored content, and Instagram ads but the majority of our marketing is more personal.

Customers need to see for themselves how amazing faux florals can be. So far, partnering with wedding planners and investing into our Sample Program have been the most fruitful marketing avenues. Once people see our flowers in person, they understand the value and beauty of our collections.

WN: Share some advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur.

Amanda: It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.

My sister and I still work full time jobs. We are a team of two. All of the work done for Silk Stem Collective is done in the early mornings, late nights, over lunch breaks, and on days off. We work very hard, but we also take things at a manageable pace. We aim to accomplish just a few meaningful tasks every day. Over time, the meaningful things have built up into something amazing.

On tough days when we just don’t feel like working, we lean on gratitude. We always make time to look forward to the next milestone. To overcome tough days, we make it a point to reflect on the milestones we’ve already hit to help motivate us to continue to work towards our dreams.

WN: If you have anything else to share, please do!

Amanda: As a business founded on a passion for eco-consciousness, we try to live that mission in everything we do for Silk Stem Collective, both with our product and with our day-to-day operations.

We reuse packaging as many times as we can. We don’t do any paper mailings, and we try to minimize the paper goods in our shipments. We also avoid air freight as much as possible.

Silk Stem Collective is always on the lookout for new ways to reduce our footprint and have a bigger impact on the high-waste event industry. We’d love to collaborate with other eco-event businesses and founders to promote eco-friendly options for weddings and make low-waste options more mainstream, especially as we grow as a company and have a larger audience.

Join the journey with us on Instagram @SilkStemCollective.

December 2020 Amber Grant Finalists

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

We’re pleased to share with you 10 finalists for the $10,000 December Amber Grant.

The December recipient will become the first qualifier for our 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000). Currently, we expect to announce the December recipient within the next week.

Note: The $10,000 Amber Grant will continue to run monthly in 2021. If you’d like to apply in support of your women-owned business, you can fill out an application on this page.

For now, congratulations to the following 10 women-owned businesses, each one a finalist for December, 2020:

Silk Stem Collective

Website

 

Arrow

Website

 

Halo Missions

Website

 

Hoot and Howl

 

Iron River Coffee Company

 

A Place for Grace Community

Website

 

Downtown Streets Team

Website

 

King in Development (KID)

 

Tiny Leopards

Website

 

Satin Care

Website

2020 Year-End Amber Grant Awarded to Savhera

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

WomensNet, which is committed to supporting and funding women-owned businesses, is pleased to announce the recipient of its annual $25,000 Amber Grant for Women.

This year’s winner is Vanessa Bouche from Hurst, Texas.  She’s the co-founder of Savhera, and our March 2020 Amber Grant recipient.

In the words of Vanessa:  “Our aim is to provide customers with premium essential oil products that contribute to wellness, justice, and sustainability at home and around the world.”

Despite an extremely challenging year, Vanessa had a busy and productive 2020. Here are the highlights, in her words:

Personnel

  • We received the Amber Grant in March when COVID was just beginning to create global mayhem. Our 9 employees in India were on lockdown for a full three months, but none of them missed a paycheck and we were able to use that time to increase their literacy and math skills through virtual lessons.
  • In June, we hired another trafficking survivor to be our lead sales associate at the Dallas Farmer’s Market.
  • In April, we hired a Business Development Lead to continue to increase our wholesale partnerships and drive our corporate sales strategy.
  • In June, we hired two college interns this summer who contributed to the team for three months, one in marketing and the other in finance.
  • In August, we hired two young professional Marketing/PR Fellows.
  • In December, we onboarded a trafficking survivor to the Board of Directors.
  • And because Savhera’s mission is all about empowering our employees–survivors of sex trafficking–we are proud of the progress they have made this year, including: paying off debt, getting criminal records expunged, moving out the brothels, opening bank accounts, moving into their own apartments, and starting college.

Sales

  • We got our products on Amazon and have begun to experiment with the sales and advertising strategy on that platform.
  • We started selling every weekend at the Dallas Farmer’s Market.
  • We increased our wholesale partnerships to 24 different partners.
  • We partnered with three different ethical e-commerce websites to retail our products.

Marketing & PR

  • We soft-launched an affiliate program in December. In January, we will be launching an affiliate program specific to trafficking survivors in partnership with Elevate Academy.
  • We partnered with three subscription boxes, allowing us to get our products in the hands of a combined 100,000 people.
  • We appeared in 12 different media outlets, including blogs, podcasts, and print and online newspapers.

Product Launches

  • We launched a line of roll-ons for four of our blends.
  • We launched a line of natural hand-crafted products (bug spray, hand sanitizer, and bear oil).
  • We launched an aromatherapy jewelry line. We are so proud of the team in India who overcame the challenges of COVID to make this happen!
  • We launched two new diffusers (an oil burner and a stone diffuser).
  • We launched a line of gift sets.

Corporate Philanthropy

  • We donated $1580 worth of products to various non-profit organizations serving vulnerable populations during COVID.
  • We donated 30% of our sales during one week to an anti-trafficking non-profit.

Vanessa’s plans for the grant funds include: social media and digital advertising, product development, and the hiring of another sex trafficking survivor in the US. “We’re so thankful for your partnership this year and look forward to a continued partnership for years to come as we improve the livelihood of more women globally through dignified and empowering work,” Vanessa said.

For more on Savhera, visit the website or Facebook page.

What You Should Know about Crowdfunding on Kickstarter

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

With so many questions being asked in the WomensNet Facebook group recently about Kickstarter, we turned to Katheryn Thayer, director of brand content at Kickstarter, for the inside scoop on what types of projects and businesses are most successful at crowdfunding. Here’s what she shared with us:

WomensNet: Could you give us a little history of crowdsourcing and Kickstarter?

Kickstarter: Kickstarter did not invent crowdfunding, but it gained its eponym by popularizing it. The company launched in 2009, at the tail end of the Great Recession, and that scrappy spirit has definitely been evident through 2020’s hardships. The Inside Voices call for projects helped creators generate new streams of income from quarantine, and Lights On encouraged creative businesses to use Kickstarter campaigns to stay open.

WomensNet: What types of companies usually use Kickstarter as a funding source?

Kickstarter: Kickstarter is exclusively for creative work (which includes creative businesses). The site rules require creators to offer something new—whether that’s a book, performance, class, food, installation, or something else—as a reward. Kickstarter campaigns allow creators to collect money for an idea they do not yet have the funds to produce at scale, so it can be a great tool for early and seed-stage businesses. It’s important to note that Kickstarter does not allow campaigns to offer equity.

WomensNet: Are there particular industries or types of products and services that tend to do well on the platform?

Kickstarter: Almost any creative project or business can find its fit on Kickstarter (provided it follows the rules). The official Kickstarter categories are Arts, Comics & Illustration, Design & Tech, Film, Food & Craft, Games, Music, and Publishing. But there are also several less apparent subcommunities around offerings like fashion, tarot, bike gear, and more.

WomensNet: Are there price points that tend to have more success?

Kickstarter: Most projects aim to offer at least one reward that costs between $20 and $50, and these more accessible prices tend to be popular with backers.

WomensNet: Is there an average amount raised that we could share?

Kickstarter: Every project is different. Small campaigns like those launched as part of Make 100 might aim to raise $1,000 or less. Creative businesses with a large following, like Brandon Sanderson’s self-publishing business, can raise millions.

WomensNet: Could you share a case study of a microbusiness that was successful in securing the funding they needed?

Kickstarter: I’m not sure how you define microbusiness, but this case study about a small design studio might be a good example.

WomensNet: What are some do’s and don’ts you might share to help our women business owners improve their odds of success on Kickstarter?

Kickstarter: There’s tons of great advice in our Creator Handbook—we recommend everyone who launches a project reads it. A few takeaways we repeat frequently:

  • Create a list of potential backers and start collecting emails before you launch. (Our prelaunch pages can help with that.)
  • Use clear, compelling lifestyle photography to help backers imagine themselves using your reward.
  • Give yourself a cushion. Creators sometimes forget to factor shipping costs, production complications, and our 5% fee into their budgets.
  • Creators can set a financial goal of any amount, and give themselves between 0 and 60 days to meet that goal. Though every project is different, we generally see that 30 day campaigns are the best way to motivate your community’s support without burning out.
  • Send updates! Once you successfully meet your goal, regular communication with your backers is key.

WomensNet: Anything else they should know?

Kickstarter: Many creators launch a failed campaign before they find success! Failing is sometimes part of the process. And Kickstarter is a great way to learn what your audience is or is not responding to before you invest money in creating something.

November 2020 Amber Grant Awarded to Nenikanopi

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce the $10,000 November Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to LindyJo Larnard, Founder of Nenikanopi.  LindyJo is the final qualifier for the 2020 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).

For information on her business, her advice for other female entrepreneurs and more, continue on to our interview below. You can also follow Nenikanopi on IG.

Note: Applications are currently being reviewed for the $10,000 December Amber Grant. You can apply today to be considered.

WN: Describe Nenikanopi and the purpose it serves

LL: Nenikanopi began with an idea to solve a problem with an amazing product and an awesome purpose: to give all breastfeeding moms and babies the peace of mind and comfort they deserve. I invented a nursing cover that came from necessity when nothing worked well for me and my babies. Other moms shared this same need with nothing out there to fill it.

What started with a need for moms who want privacy when breastfeeding but are left with an either-or scenario ended with a patented product that offers moms a way to free up their hands while baby stays comfortable and mom stays fully covered. A true nursing friendly cover that gives the best both nursing cover worlds have to offer.

I kicked myself into overdrive and started Nenikanopi, patented my product, trademarked Nenikanopi myself, and manufactured my invention so other moms could have this option that wasn’t available anywhere, online or in-stores, until now with Nenikanopi.

WN: What differentiates you from competitors’?

LL: No other cover can do for moms what this cover can. We offer the world’s first and only multi-use cover that provides moms full 360 coverage with handsfree line of sight so moms can focus on what matters most without the struggle with fabric or worry of being exposed. Not only is being handsfree a plus for busy mamas but this allows moms and babies view of each other, as eye contact is so important for a child’s brain, social, and emotional development. Studies show this bonding between mom and baby looking at each other not only helps motivate babies to vocalize but also strengthens the parent/child relationship even down the road.

The problem with all other nursing covers is you only have two options to choose from that leave you in an either-or situation. Moms are at loss. Your first option is a multi-use product like a scarf, blanket, car seat cover, or poncho which leaves baby overheated, sweaty, and without much visibility for mom to see in, see baby, and see what she’s doing. Your second option is an apron with a rigid neckline that offers a view of baby but leaves your sides and back exposed.

Available covers on the market are either too hot underneath from multi-use products’ fabric draped over baby’s face or leave mom exposed whenever baby performs gymnastics while nursing. Moms need to latch and switch sides and a nursing cover shouldn’t make things harder for either of them. But that’s all they had to choose from… that is, until Nenikanopi.

We offer the only multi-use cover, with its patented design, that allows it to open into a canopy (with removable flexible inserts) when used for privacy to nurse or pump. Afterwards, it can be worn as an infinity scarf, poncho, or used as a car seat cover. It’s lightweight, breathable, soft, fashionable, and multifunctional. No other cover can compare to the optimal air circulation it’s patented kanopi provides. For moms and babies, it’s a win-win.

Not only can it do for moms and babies what no other cover can, it’s completely grown and made in the USA. We chose to give back to our US economy and work with people close to home to make our covers, instead of cheaper costs and larger profits offshore.

WN: What is an upcoming milestone for Nenikanopi?

LL: We’re looking to introduce new product to add to our inventory for 2021.

WN: How are you planning to market the Nenikanopi brand?

LL: We’ll be reaching out to mamas on social media, parents, collaborating with others and other brands to get Nenikanopi off its feet. We’ll get Nenikanopi in front of people who have yet to know our brand and product exists.

WN: Share some advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur

LL: You’ll find yourself feeling out of your comfort zone. You might be afraid… afraid to fail. Whatever you’re afraid of, keep your head up. Take it one day at a time, one task at a time; little by little check those to-dos off your list and you’ll get there.

Whatever or whoever it is that gives you strength or helps motivate you, that’ll help you get through the tough… and laugh, because everyone starts somewhere. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them, dust yourself off, and move on. Don’t let fear keep you from making that leap. Believe in yourself and keep at it; the rest will follow. You’ve got this. Don’t you want to see what can happen if you refuse to give up?

November 2020 Amber Grant Finalists

Monday, December 7th, 2020

We’re pleased to share with you 10 finalists for the $10,000 November Amber Grant.

The November recipient will become the final qualifier for the 2020 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000). Currently, we expect to announce the November recipient by the middle of next week.

Note: The $10,000 Amber Grant will continue to run monthly in 2021. If you’d like to apply in support of your women-owned business, you can fill out an application on this page.

For now, congratulations to the following 10 women-owned businesses:

Nenikanopi

Website

 

GOLD Comedy

Website

 

The Dragonfly Cafe

Website

 

Weigl Iron Works

Website

 

The Music Box

Website

 

Neurovine

Website

 

Weosh

Website

 

Avery’s Pet Styling Salon and Boutique

Website

 

BreakAway

Website

 

Eyedea Medical

WNN Blog Get application & business ideas on the WomensNet blog »

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“The Foundation awards $10,000 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $25,000.”

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“Launched 20 years ago this grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal.”

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“The Amber Grant Foundation was launched in 1998 to honor the memory of a young woman. The grant was formed to help women entrepreneurs reach their goals when Amber could not.”