Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

January WomensNet Amber Business Grant Awarded to

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

We’re excited to announce the December/January Amber Grant winner… Valorie Nash owner of Kavalena Clothing in Rosellle, Illinois… Congratulations to Valorie. We fell in love with her story – and we’re sure you’ll be inspired by what she shared with us below.

As a quick heads up, we’re now taking applications for the February Amber grant. Please be sure to tell us your story if you want to be considered for our women’s business grant.

And now here is our latest grant winner, Valorie Nash.

WNN: Valorie – congratulations on being our latest Amber Grant winner. We were wowed by your application.

VN: Thank you! This grant means a lot to me, not just because it would immensely help my business, but the reason for the grant is the same reason I started my company. When I was 19 my dear friend Kate Vaudrey (also 19) died suddenly of a brain aneurism. She was the most vivacious, loving, caring, and wonderful person I ever knew. She lived life by the motto of “Don’t waste a minute of your life,” and since the day she left us I have strived to live my life the same way! Kate truly lived, and left a lasting impact on everyone that ever knew her. Her life’s legacy has far outlived her, and still lives on. I started Kavalena because I want to do something with my life that will outlive me, and I believe helping people by providing for their basic human needs will do just that! I don’t know how many days I will have on this earth, but I do know that I will dedicate every second I am here to helping and loving the people around me and the people around the world!

WNN: We saw on your website that 50% of your profits will go to helping the needy and underprivileged. Please tell our WNN readers
what inspired you to start Kavalena?


VN: Kavalena has been in business for a little over 3 months now. When I graduated college I was excited to get into the corporate world and make my mark. However, the economy had a little different plan. After searching and searching for a job and having no luck I decided I would hire myself and
start a business I could be proud of. I had visited an orphanage in China over a Christmas break, and was gripped by the wonderful work they were doing. It was an orphanage for children with severe physical and mental disabilities. The children were so sweet and the founders of the orphanage were doing
the very best they could on the limited budget they had. After meeting those children and the founders of the orphanage I knew I wanted to help them financially, but had no idea how. Now, over a year later, I knew exactly what I wanted my company’s purpose to be “to help provide for the basic needs of
as many people around the world as possible,” starting with the children at the orphanage! Now everything I do with this company is based on that goal. I love waking up every morning and getting to do work that is directly going to help feed, educate, and strengthen the children at the orphanage, and
eventually children around the world. I am excited to use this grant money to grow the company so we can continue to expand our reach to help provide for the needs of people around the world!

WNN: Tell us about your business. We love the scarves you create…

I’ve combined my love of fashion with my knack for sewing to create hand-made infinity scarves for both men and women. You can order them directly from the website. We’re working hard to build Kavalena into a brand the whole world can get behind so we can make a real dent in world-wide problems like starvation, deaths from preventable diseases, and children having no access to clean water or education. It is an uphill battle, but every time I look at the pictures of the children I met in China a year ago and remember all the children I saw with bloated bellies because of hunger I know every challenge, struggle, and all the hard work is worth it!

WNN: Have you always had a passion for owning a business? We ask this because we
are true believers that companies that are built on passion, survive over those that
people just do for “a job.”

VN: I have always wanted to own my own business. Growing up I watched my dad start and grow his heating and electrical repair company. He loved what he did, loved the variety of every day, and especially loved being his own boss. Now owning my own company I feel the same way. I love learning new things every day, working hard to accomplish my goals, and then being able to see all my hard work pay off. Kavalena is literally a dream come true for me. I love the work, but even more than that I love being able to help others through my company. Every time I get to write a check to help meet a food,
water, health care, education, or freedom need my heart jumps with joy knowing that someone’s life is better because of my company and everyone that purchases from us. 3. What have been great business decisions that you have made and what were the results?
WNN: What has been your best business decision?

VN: Seeking out advice and knowledge has been one of the best things I have done since being in business. The more I learn the better equipped I am to make smarter business decisions that help the company grow. I’ve discovered how willing people are to share their knowledge and experiences,
and have learned immensely from each of the informational meetings I have had with experts in the industry. After each meeting I usually leave with a long list of ideas, people to talk to, ways to market more efficiently, and so much information I almost don’t know where to begin. The knowledge I’ve gained from talking to people who have already been through my situation is one of the most valuable things to my company, and has helped grow our marketing, improve the quality of the goods we sell, connected us to important business leaders, and even helped with legal advice.

WNN: With the above being asked, we have to ask….what have been your worst business

VN: All of my worst business decisions have come out of hasty actions. I’ve learned that if it is a good idea today it will still be a good idea tomorrow or even months down the line. Every time I have rushed into something, and not thought it through, looked at the market, or done research on the topic, it has
backfired on me. When I first started my company I was so excited about it I wanted to expand right away, so I launched a line of crocheted headbands. I came up with my own pattern and style without looking at the trends for headbands right now. I bought all the materials, made up the headbands, and
put them on the market. Only one sold. Needless to say, that was a huge flop, and taught me a rather pricy lesson to do the research and not jump right into anything without thinking it through beforehand.

WNN: What will you use the $500.00 Amber Grant for?

VN: $100 of the grant will be used as prize money in a logo design contest for college students majoring in graphic design, art, or marketing. $200 will go to purchase a surger machine. This machine will give our products a finished, professional look, and will give a higher quality feeling to every item we
sell. The final $200 will go to purchase the materials needed to create a mini-line of clothing goods that will go on sale this summer. This line is what will generate profit to sustain the business, as well as provide for food, water, health care, educational, and freedom needs of people around the world.

Grant winner for November 2011 is…

Monday, December 26th, 2011

We’re thrilled to announce the November WomensNet Amber Grant Winner…. Is Sara Clark-Williams from Escondido, California.  Sara is the owner of Launch Your Life where she is a life coach.  We love Sara’s story as a women entrepreneur who used her passion to coach other women entrepreneurs.  We were also impressed by Sara’s website and her use of social media marketing to promote her business.   We’re sure you’ll be inspired and informed by the short interview we did with Sara below.

BTW, we’re currently taking applications for the December/January Amber Grant. We’d love to hear your story, and you just might be our next winner.  But there are only a few weeks to get your application to us.  So if you’re interested, please don’t wait.  We will announce our winner the first week in February.  First of all, congratulations on winning, Sara… so what will you use the $500 Amber Grant for?

SCW:Thank you so much again for selecting me for this grant.  I am so grateful…. I’ll use the Amber Grant to expand my reach, and to grow my business through: development of an MP3 audio companion to the “Launch Your Life Workbook,” as well as the creation of an ebook. Specifically, the funds will go to professional editing and design of both of these products.

SaraLC   How long have you been in business, what exactly does your business do, and what lead to you starting Launch Your Life?

SCW:  I coach women entrepreneurs who want greater enjoyment in their life and their business. Often these women don’t make use of some very practical strategies and habits, and find that their lack of a plan, focus or confidence is getting in the way of what they want. We work together to get clear on what they want, create an action plan and go for it! My clients are amazing women, and while I teach them they also teach me… I started my business on February 7, 2008. I got a great job out of graduate school in 2004 and worked at that corporate job building my career and earning a great living.  But after a couple of years I knew that was not the direction in which I wanted to go, and one I would not be happy with for much longer. Over the course of several months, I sought to discover my core strengths, interests, skills and passions.  The end result was to start Launch Your Life, helping other women pursue their dreams. I resigned from that corporate job in August of 2008 and am so glad I took that leap have you always had a passion for consulting?

SCW:Yes, absolutely. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with individuals and teams to grow personally, academically and/or professionally. The specific content of the consulting and coaching has varied – but the common element I’m most passionate about has remained. I’m most passionate about providing guidance, support and encouragement to others that will last beyond the time I work with them. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to see my clients’ eyes light up when they have an “aha!” moment, and then to see them take action from that new insight.  I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the direct results of my efforts and the look in my clients’ eyes when they say “thank you.” have been the best business decisions you’ve made, and what were the results?

SCW:One great business decision has been to manage my time effectively from the start. This is something that I find is most difficult for many of my clients, no matter how long they have been in business.  Because I’ve focused so much on being efficient with my time, and using a variety of strategies to do that, it has helped me to confidently provide support and tools for my clients in that area… Another great business decision I made just this year was to listen to what my clients and prospective clients are telling me about what they need. Often they tell me what they want directly, but I have learned to hear what they need even when they don’t know exactly what they need. The result of listening to this “demand” was to create a new type of coaching service that is accessible to more women entrepreneurs than simply providing full service coaching services. I recognized what “demand” was and it has been empowering to create something that people want.  What have been your worst decisions?

SCW: My worst business decision was failing to continue networking and marketing during a time when I had a strong client base last year. As a result, my income dropped substantially for a period of time, and I found myself working hard to catch up.  One of the things that attracted us to your Amber Grant application was that when we checked out your website, we noticed your extensive use of Social Media.  How and why did you start using social media?

SCW:  I started using Social Media in my business in 2009 after I had been using it personally. I began noticing the value it could bring in staying in touch with and building a relationship with my clients and prospects. I started by using social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook, and I am now expanding to YouTube.

Amber Business Grant Awarded to Chicago’s Heavenly Skinny Kitchen

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

We’re thrilled to announce the October Amber Grant Winner…. Is Fernanda Chacon from Chicago, IL.  Fernanda is the owner of Heavenly Skinny Kitchen. We love Fernanda’s story as a young women entrepreneur who used her passion for healthy cooking to fill a niche in the Chicago downtown marketplace.  We’re sure you’ll be inspired by the short interview we did with Fernanda below.

BTW, we’re currently taking applications for the November Amber Grant.  We’d love to hear your story, and you just might be our next winner.  But there are only a few weeks to get your application to us.  So if you’re interested, please don’t wait.  We will announce our winner the first week in December.  What made you want to be self-employed?       

FC:First, thank you Women’s Net so much. What a blessing!.. I think the main reason why I’d wanted to be self-employed is because I like my ideas to be heard.  I always like to go the extra mile and think about all the options, either good or bad, as well as the growth potential.  Most corporations just want you to follow the manual and don’t leave room for opinions or imagination.  Tell us about a little bit about your business, Heavenly Skinny Kitchens.

FC:  I started the business earlier this year and went full steam this summer. The idea started out of my own need for healthy and tasty food.  Working long hours in downtown Chicago with limited options for healthy foods made realize the need for a healthier option.  I can’t remember how many times I found myself eating the same salad for a whole week straight.  Heavenly Skinny Kitchen is dedicated to creating the best lunch experience for busy downtown workers who want to have a balanced diet – but struggle with the same old unhealthy choices. Right now, Heavenly Skinny Kitchen works as a catering service for individuals, but my goal is to open a location to the public. will you use the $500 Amber Grant for?

FC:I will use the money towards marketing to get the word out on healthy eating and getting more customers for the business.  I might also use it toward a delivery truck. Have you always had a passion for cooking?  We ask because we’re true believers that women-owned businesses that are built on passion survive over those businesses that women just do for “a job.”  And because we drooled over the menu on your website! J

FC:  LOL, yes, I do have a great passion, not just cooking but eating well and fitness. While in college, before starting my business, I always found a reason to have people over so I could cook and try new recipes. I think food is such an important element of life and it has a huge influence on your overall health. With those ideals, I decided to create a kitchen where people can eat delicious meals on the go – while staying fit.  What have been the smartest decisions you’ve made with Healthy Skinny Kitchens? 

FC: Well, I always dreamt of opening up a restaurant but the initial investment can be a huge barrier. My best decision has been to adapt the idea to a set menu with catering options and membership packages. That’s how I’ve been able to progressively grow and increase my capital.  By sticking to this motto, not only did it take away pressures of investing a huge amount of money in a start-up restaurant, but it has given me the experience for when that time comes.

October Amber Grant Award

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

We love hearing about your business ideas.  The October Amber grant winner will be announced on November 3rd, 2011.

We are now accepting applications for the November Grant.

Amber Grant Awarded to

Monday, September 19th, 2011

A quick reminder for you. The deadline for the coming Amber grant application is this September 30th.  If you still haven’t told us your story, please take a few minutes right now to fill out your Amber Grant application.  You could be the next grant winner, but you have to tell us about yourself and your business before September 30!.

The Women’s Net Amber Grant Winner Is…

Congratulations to Kristina Faulkner, owner of Get Inspired Fitness in Maineville, OH.  Kristina is the winner of the latest $1,500 Amber Grant.  (The next Amber Grant winner will be selected on October 1, less than two weeks away!)
She caught our attention with her answers on the Amber Grant application. Below is what she told us about her business dreams in the application – and the final 4 questions are from a follow-up interview after we told her she had won:    

1. Why do you want to be self-employed?
“I love being self-employed because I am a creative person and always have different ideas on how to expand my business. It’s great not to worry about corporate policies or having my ideas stifled for different reasons. It allows me to listen to my gut, that good ole women’s intuition.”

2. Tell us about your business.
“Get Inspired Fitness began as a boot camp company, only offering 3 classes per week. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I unfortunately was ill and couldn’t exercise. One day I looked at my window at the park behind my house and realized there was a need for a boot camp company. I now have been open for a year and a half and have 13 classes on the schedule. Also, I took my vision a step further, we are not just a boot camp company, rather personal training in a small group setting. I wanted to offer clients the ability to get that one-on-one attention and results without paying outrageous training rates plus getting the support from their peers.”

3. If awarded the WNN Amber Grant – what are your plans for the funds?
“At this point, I feel I cannot grow any further without some help. I have been lucky so far not to drown myself with loans and purchased equipment and marketing materials when I could afford them. However, with the growing competition around my area, I need to step up my game. I’ll use the grant money to update my website, make it more relevant and I would like to increase my marketing by possibly using billboards and print ads. If there are monies left over, I would love to spruce up my little studio with new floors and mirrors, make it feel more like a gym.”

4. Anything else you would like to add?  
“I would appreciate the grant so very much. I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom for over 9 years. As gratifying as it has been, I always felt like I needed something more. This little business is something just for me. An idea that I have been able to develop and see grow. I am amazed and so humbled every time someone gives me a check. And I even more humbled, when they give me a hug and tell me how I have changed their life. I would just like the opportunity to continue my journey and to be able to grow so I can help others change their lives as well. Thanks so much for your consideration!”

5. Have you always had a passion for fitness?  We ask this because we are true believers that companies that are built on passion, survive over those that people just do for “a job”.
“Absolutely and I have to attribute that to my wonderful mom.  As a young girl, about 12 or 13 years old, my mom and I used to work out after dinner, more of a bonding time for us and I remember then how much I enjoyed the classes, the leotards and all.  As I grew up and moved around New York and then Ohio, it was always a priority for my family to find the local gym.  My love for fitness has carried into my career when I became a personal trainer and then received my Bachelors in Health Education.  There is nothing more rewarding then truly helping people have a functional and healthy lifestyle.”

6. What have been great business decisions that you’ve made and what were the results?
“The best business decision I have made is keeping my overhead low.  When I first started, I only bought equipment and such with the money I had so everything I have at this point I own.  I don’t have major debt hanging over my head which allows me to focus on my clients and not impending bills.”

7. With the above being asked, we have to ask….what have been your worst business decisions?
“My worst business decisions have been not planning ahead.  Fitness is a finicky business and very seasonal and I have learned that you need to be prepared for not only the busy times but also during the slow periods.”

8.  How long have you been in business, what lead to you starting look2befit?
“It will be 2 years this January when I opened Get Inspired Fitness.  I opened the studio with the intention of helping people find a love for exercise that will not only help them with their short term goals but carry with them for a lifetime.  After all, it’s a lifestyle change not a quick fix.  My clients inspire me every day and with the support I have from my family, Get Inspired Fitness will continue to thrive and inspire others!”


An Interview with Grant Winner, Robin Watkins of Whatever Media

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I had the great pleasure of asking a few questions with our latest Amber Grantwinner, Robin Watkins. What a terrific story – one of the most personally inspiring stories we’ve ever heard at I hope you’re as touched as I was!

– Christina Lambert
WNN Robin, please tell us the story of how your business came into being.  How old is the business?

Whatever Media started about two years ago when I moved back to Hampton – the city where I went to college (Hampton University) – from Los Angeles.  I really wanted to start my own multimedia business, but the market was just too saturated in Los Angeles for creative services.  Moreover, I had more resources and support here from my friends, professors, and alumni from both Hampton University and my grad school Regent University.  I had actually planned to get a “real job” and do my business on the side, but unfortunately, all of the opportunities I had lined up here fell through when I decided to move back.

So I had to find something, I needed money, and I decided to redirect my focus. I put all the time I was using to find hard-to-get jobs (during the height of a recession) into finding my first few clients.  I started by putting an ad in the Creative Services section on Craigslist, and I did a few websites for small business owners. Not too long afterward, I got the opportunity to do a proposal for a website for the airport in my region – the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport. After that, my business spread like wildfire just from word of mouth, and my business name became well known in the area.

I love what I do.  I have always wanted to be my own boss and work in a creative field, and I love helping people.  It’s hard work, but it’s a kind of freedom and satisfaction that I wouldn’t trade for anything. How did “Whatever Media” get its name?

I was talking to one of my best friends and I couldn’t figure out a name.  While brainstorming, he asked me what types of services I planned to provide and I said, “Whatever… I can edit, take photos, design websites, do some audio production – anything that has to do with multimedia.” So the “Whatever” stuck! What makes your business or business model unique?

My business specifically caters to small businesses and nonprofits.  As a small business, I know what first-hand what we need – and more importantly, what we don’t need, and how to save money.  I try to pass on any quality information to my customers about useful free, open-source, or affordable services and software for their business…and only the ones I have personally tested myself.  I know how hard it was for me to filter through all of the junk and ridiculous advertisements and offers you receive when you first start a business.

I have seen good people with good businesses fail, simply because they either did not take advantage of technology that was available to them. Or even worse, because they were unaware of what was available to them.  Just sharing knowledge of how to use new technologies effectively can help a business tremendously. I truly believe that by passing that information on, without trying to directly profit from it, I will receive the positive karma back – and it lets my clients know that they can trust me. Who or what is your biggest inspiration as a woman business owner?

My mother is a great inspiration for me to work hard.  She raised me and my siblings as a single parent, and always had an awesome “just do it” attitude that I have learned a lot from.  She has also always been the type of woman who would give you the coat off of her back even if she had to be without one.  I’d like to say that I have at least half as much generosity and diligence as her, and I try to put that into my business. What do you plan on doing with the Amber Grant money?

I plan to start an educational division of my business that teaches web design to kids, both after school and online for homeschooled students – or anyone that can’t make it to my office.  I would also like to start a camp, specifically for at-risk preteen girls, to get them interested in computer technology by providing instruction in web design, programming, multimedia production, and video game design using open-source software and Linux computers.  The money will be used to help secure some of the equipment to put together the lab, and to cover printing costs for the advertising materials.

Just for fun, here is Robin’s associate:


Desireé Monique, or “Desi”, is a precious, petite, lab mix that has been employed as Lead Creative Consultant at Whatever Media since she was rescued from the Peninsula SPCA in November 2009.  Desi has been recognized not only for her attentiveness to detail, but also for her assistance in generating innovative concepts.  While Desi’s history is currently unknown, it is inevitable that she is a strong survivor of abandonment, exploitation, and famine.  Today, she is the go-to girl for confirmation of Whatever Media’s prospective ideas.  Desi spends her leisure time relaxing on sunny spots on the floor, going on walks at the beach, or getting scratched behind the ears by anyone willing to do so.