Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

June Qualification Grant Awarded to Baby Bay Box

Monday, July 10th, 2017

June was a special month here at WomensNet.

On Sunday, we unveiled 1 of 2 Qualification Grant winners for June.

Today, we’re proud to share the 2nd winner — Anna Dailey, Founder of Baby Bay Box.

Enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, Anna is 1 of the youngest grant recipients in our history. Continue on to get a taste of why we chose to support her business…

WN: What prompted you to start up Baby Bay Box?

AD: I came up with the idea while I was working as a nanny in my hometown, caring primarily for babies and toddlers. From my close contact with these families, I learned about the exorbitant amount of cash parents spend trying to keep their children stylish and comfortable. I observed as some families formed small hand-me-down circles throughout the neighborhood and that got me thinking. What if I could expand those informal networks and allow them to reach anyone around the world? I saw the potential in these systems and decided to elevate them to an E-commerce platform. I want to save parents money and time that they would have spent shopping and help them keep up with the growth of their rapidly-developing children. In addition, I want to minimize environmental waste by reducing the amount of clothing items that sit around the house once a child grows too big. I am extremely passionate about this project, and I have seen firsthand the stress-relieving effect that Baby Bay Box has on a parent.

WN: Where did the name Baby Bay Box come from?

AD: Well, I’m sure the “Baby” and “Box” parts of the name are rather self-explanatory. As far as “Bay,” that part has a couple meanings. Firstly, I am from the Bay Area in California, so that word has a personal significance to me. All of the families that inspired the idea are Bay Area residents as well.

In addition, I handpick styles that could be “baby-neutral” (not necessarily just for boys/girls). Though I do not limit the styles to shades of grey, I refrain from items that depicts traditionally female or male figures. I stick to colors, prints, and the occasional animal. “Bay” is an up and coming gender-neutral baby name, which I think suits the brand nicely.

With these meaningful words paired with a convenient alliteration, I knew I had to go with Baby Bay Box.

WN: When is the website expected to launch?

AD: If all goes well, we will launch before 2017 is out! Wish us luck!

WN: We know you’ve tested the product with a few families in Philadelphia. What have you learned from that experience?

AD: Yes! We ran a pilot in Philadelphia this past spring. I was primarily concerned with logistics of the supply chain (laundry, shipping, etc). So far, I’ve received valuable feedback from the families and very few complaints. I want to upscale the quality of the packaging as well as work out a more seamless shipping method. The experience was very illuminating and I hope to present an even better product when we launch officially!

WN: Who is manufacturing the clothing? Is there a challenge in building up enough initial inventory?

AD: So far, we’ve purchased most of our inventory from 100% organic wholesalers as well as a few Etsy sellers. For the future, we hope to get more high end brands involved.

There is a challenge in building up inventory because we don’t want to have too much on our hands with no one to buy it. It will be on us to ensure that we have enough customers committed to pre-sale so that we don’t end up in a ditch too deep to climb out of.

WN: What are your long-term goals with Baby Bay Box?

AD: Sometimes when I think about the possibilities of Baby Bay Box’s future my head starts to spin. I have such faith in the project and such confidence in the customers’ need for it that I truly believe we will succeed. Of course, it will take a lot of hard work and a substantial amount of “right place right time” kind of luck, but I think we’ll get there. The biggest goal that I have for Baby Bay Box is to reach the highest number of customers possible. I want it to be a household name- like Rent the Runway or Gymboree. I also would like to manufacture my own baby apparel line some time in the future. I could see my style being minimalistic with lots of greys, creams, and blues.

The more people are using the service, the higher quality we’ll be able to make the clothes. I’m especially motivated to grow the company because, with each new customer, we’re eliminating a heap of fabric that would’ve likely been used very little or not at all. I am driven to make these goals a reality when I think of the millions of parents that we could be helping and all of the fabric we could conserve. When the benefits are so tangible, I feel it is my obligation to make it happen.

June Qualification Grant Awarded to Mama Joy Foods

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Recently, we announced our June finalists. Now we’re thrilled to introduce you to 1 of our 2 June Qualification Grant winners, Joy Leeper, Owner of Mama Joy Foods.

Read on to learn about her business, her advice for other female entrepreneurs, and more…

WN: How did Mama Joy Foods come about?

JL: In 2012, our oldest daughter (who was 10 at the time) was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After 2 years of being on immune suppressing medication and months of high dose steroids, we were seeing no improvement to her health. In 2014, her pediatric gastroenterologist started talking about putting her on a new medication and possibly doing surgery. As her parents, we were not comfortable with either of these options. We started researching alternatives to medication and learned of a certain diet for people like our daughter. 

After one year of our daughter being on this diet, we took her in for her annual checkup with her pediatric gastroenterologist. A series of blood tests is always mandatory after her appointments and when we received her test results, we were very happy! They were the best results (meaning all of her tests were within “normal” range) we have had since before her diagnosis. At that moment, we knew that this diet was a forever diet for her.

Mama Joy

Making her foods required a lot of time and energy. It was preventing me from spending quality time with my family while working full time. So, in 2015, I quit my corporate job to stay home with our son. This also allowed me the time necessary to make her all the foods she enjoyed and to try new recipes for her! 
A few months into my new life as a stay-at-home mom, I thought about the struggles I went through while working full time. It was almost impossible to find ready-made, natural food for her to enjoy. My family encouraged me to start my own business so that other families can have yummy foods to help support their diets. All of my foods are Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Grain-Free. Most of my foods are also Paleo and Vegan Friendly.

WN: What type of response have you received from consumers?

JL: Going through the process of starting my business has been very rewarding. I performed market testing at a few farmer’s markets and the response was overwhelmingly positive! I sold out at almost every market! My favorite story is from a family with three young children. I saw them looking over all my food and whispering to each other. They came up to me with HUGE smiles on their faces. They had decided to buy a package of pumpkin bars. The kids informed me they all had a dairy allergy and were so excited to see something they could eat at the farmer’s market. It brought tears to my eyes! Even people who do not have any food sensitivities have loved my foods. They love that I use very few ingredients and those ingredients are natural. My slogan is “Taste how good being healthy can be!”

WN: What type of interest have you received from grocery stores and restaurants?

JL: At one of my first farmer’s markets, I was approached by the owner of a local bakery/coffee shop. She had heard about my company from other people around the market and learned that all of my foods are Gluten-Free. Since local bakeries and grocery stores do not have the capability of making baked goods that are Gluten-Free, my foods appeal to these stores, as they still need these options for their customers. Since then, I have worked to get nutritional content and sales sheets ready so I can pitch my foods around the Eastern Iowa area. I will be hitting the pavement the middle of July. I will pitch Mama Joy Foods to the stores where I think customers will want to purchase my baked goods.

WN: What are your long-term goals with Mama Joy Foods?

JL: My goal is to be in twelve grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants by the end of 2017. I am starting with two of my best-selling cookies: our Sweet as Sugar Cookies and our Chocolate Chip Cookies. If I reach my goal, I will look to open my own commercial kitchen so I can start expanding and selling more of my products.

WN: Where can people purchase your products?

JL: Currently, I sell my foods online at www.mamajoyfoods.com.

Soon, I hope customers will be able to find my foods at New Pioneer Co-op, Natural Grocers, in the Hy-Vee Health food section, and at local coffee shops and restaurants in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas. In a few years, my dream is to be in Whole Foods Markets.

WN: What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

JL: I suppose most people would say, never give up on your dream if you truly believe in your product. What I would say is, starting your own business is really hard work, but totally worth it. I understand why people say their business is “their baby.” Having children is hard work, but the amount of pride you feel when they succeed is amazing! The same is true for your business. Watching people taste your food and smile when they try it for the first time, makes my heart soar! I still get teary eyed when children with food sensitivities are so grateful for my food. I also love learning new things. So, starting my business really satisfied my intellectual curiosity. There was a point though, where I had no idea what I needed to do next. Partnering with the Small Business Development Center was one of the smartest things I have done for my business. I truly cannot say enough about the staff there! They have been so supportive of Mama Joy Foods and have really helped me believe in myself as a business owner.

WN: Do you have anything else you’d like to share about Mama Joy Foods?

JL: Our daughter getting Crohn’s Disease was one of the worst and best experiences for our family. It is something she will always have and is something she has to think about on a daily basis. There are moments when she asks, “Why me mom?” It is in those moments when I am reminded of everything we have learned and how we have changed (for the better) as a family. It was through our struggles that we have learned the power of food, how to have the strength to do what is right for our family, and how to start a business to help others in similar circumstances. If I could take away her Crohn’s Disease, I would, but I am proud that we turned our struggles into delicious cookies!

STEMed Academy is our May Qualification Grant Recipient

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Recently, we announced our May finalists. Now, we’re excited to introduce you to our May Qualification Grant winner, Emily Silveira, Founder of STEMed Academy.

Read our interview with Emily below to learn about her unique story and business.

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WN: Share the story of STEMed Academy.

ES: Though still in its early stages, the story of STEMed Academy truly begins 20 years ago. As children, we are always asked what we want to be when we grow up, and when I was first called upon to share my hopes for the future there was no doubt in my mind: I wanted to be a teacher. While other children played House with their toys and dolls, I played School–complete with worksheets, homework, and pop quizzes. Every September a new teacher asked us that question. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every year my answer was the same. The years flew by as I prepared myself for my future career, my future classroom.

Something scary happens when “What do you want to be when you grow up?” suddenly requires a real answer; like the moment you are filling out a college application and have to pick a major. This was it. This was my moment. Of course, in all my years of planning on becoming a teacher, I had never once considered what exactly it was that I wanted to teach. After two years of bouncing around departments at my local community college, I was finally asked a new question: “What have you enjoyed the most so far?” Easy. The Introduction to Geology class I had taken during my first semester. And that was that. I declared my major, finished my classes, and transferred to a four year college. I ended up enjoying my science classes so much that I didn’t even hesitate when my advisor asked if I wanted to continue on for my Master’s Degree with him.

I did hesitate, however, once that Master’s program started. I missed my education classes. I delved so deep into geology that I almost lost sight of my desire to teach–and I needed to get that back. I put my science classes on the back-burner and focused all of my energy on the prerequisite courses and exams to enter a California Teaching Credential program. Months and months went by, but somehow I was still unhappy. I still wanted to teach, but as I was exposed to new worlds of learning outside of a public school classroom, who I wanted to teach had changed.

Just a handful of months ago, I woke up one morning with a question on my mind: how exactly do parents teach science to their kids? After all, look at all of these years of classes and exams I had to go through to even begin preparing for a teaching career. Who was preparing parents? I am lucky enough to have an amazing homeschooling mother as a close friend, so I began to question her about her access to science curriculum and resources–or I should say lack of resources. The more people I asked, the more clear it was that the homeschool community had a dire need for science-backed science curriculum for all ages.

Within weeks of each other, I bought the domain name for STEMed Academy and dropped out of my Master’s Degree program. I had finally found my classroom: a world full of parents.

WN: How many households do you serve? Do you have a goal in terms of how many you hope to reach over a certain period of time?

ES: We currently have a small following of around 50 households around the world–which I can say because we recently enrolled our first international students. (Yay!) I am not necessarily concerned with the number of students we reach–at least not enough to have set a true goal. Of course, I would love to help every parent out there! But ultimately, I want to make sure that the families that do sign up with us receive the best science curriculum and training possible.

WN: Which branches of science are currently taught?

ES: I specialized in Earth Science, so the first Unit Plan offerings will be based in Earth Science; however, I hope to cover all aspects of “STEM” in the future. I am also working to incorporate reading and writing skills into the curriculum. I offer a few online classes like “Science in Poetry” where students learn different poetic formats by writing poems about science topics.

WN: What type of response have you received from parents?

ES: I think my favorite response so far has been a parent that wrote to me asking where I was 10 years ago. Their last child graduated this year, and they had spent most of the time inventing their own science curriculum because there simply weren’t many options. I have sent out a few free sneak peeks of our upcoming “Exploring What We See” astronomy unit, which is full of hands-on activities and vocabulary development. Parents have found the lessons easy to use, and–perhaps most importantly–the children have truly enjoyed learning about the stars and the seasons.

WN: What’s one piece of advice you would give to other female entrepreneurs?

ES: Embrace the fear. I think it is so easy for people to say “Don’t be afraid.” But anyone who has taken this leap knows that it is downright terrifying when you don’t know if you will be able to build a net to catch you. So instead of letting the fear drive you away, or trying to bury it down and ignore it, embrace it. Make friends with it. Tuck into bed next to you at night. Let it drive you forward into new ideas and ambitions. You are doing something awesome and great for yourself and for the world. Don’t let the fear stop you.

WN: Is there anything else you’d like to share about STEMed Academy?

ES: STEMed Academy prides itself on providing 100% secular science curriculum. We utilize the Three-Dimensional Learning philosophy referenced in the Next Generation Science Standards to ensure that all children are getting the STEM education they will need to perform in a 21st century world.

Also, STEMed Academy is not just for homeschools! Any parent can help their child develop their STEM skills, and we’re here to help them do just that.

Congratulations to Emily and all of our finalists for showcasing such amazing talent and promise.

Yoga2Sleep is our April Qualification Grant Recipient

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week we announced our April finalists. Now, we’re thrilled to finally introduce you to our April Qualification Grant winner, Pamela Stokes Eggleston, Founder of Yoga2Sleep.

Read our interview with Pamela below to learn more about her and her business.

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Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Yoga2Sleep

WN: Talk about the purpose of Yoga2Sleep and your motivation behind the business.

Pamela: To understand why I chose (or why it was chosen for me by the Universe) to create Yoga2Sleep, I need to share my story. I am the daughter of an Air Force veteran and granddaughter of an Army veteran who served in WWII. And for close to 15 years, I’ve been a veteran caregiver to my husband, an Army veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient who was initially pronounced dead only to survive his visible and invisible wounds during two OIF tours. His PTSD and my subsequent PTSD produced sleep deprivation for the both of us….and I LOVE sleep. And I LOVE yoga….so Yoga2Sleep was born!

My caregiving journey has been an arduous challenge; some days I didn’t know how we were going to make it. I still don’t. It’s a day to day journey. I suffered in silence as many caregivers do. I struggled with my “new normal.” All I loved – yoga, gardening, reading, writing – dropped to the side. Alas, it was these hardships and an invitation to the Maryland State Caregiver Support Coordination Council that ignited my passion: I cofounded a military families national nonprofit, I created a caregivers program for the organization, and I began teaching and sharing yoga and mindfulness with veterans, service members and their families, most recently using my Yoga2Sleep platform.

WN: Where is your business located? Describe the place(s) you operate in.

Pamela: Yoga2Sleep is located in the Washington DC metropolitan area, serving Maryland, DC, Virginia and globally. I work within several yoga studios, but also within wellness centers and corporate offices.

WN: What qualifications do you have as a Yoga instructor?

Pamela: I am a 500+ hour yoga instructor and meditation teacher, including certifications in yoga therapy and prenatal yoga, with a focus on everyday mindfulness and yoga for all.

WN: What are your goals for the future? How will you use the April Qualification Grant to reach them?

Pamela: I’d love to do a radical self care retreat for women with trauma and sleep deprivation. Women are more sleep deprived than men (surprise!) and we don’t take care of us enough.

WN: What’s your advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Pamela: Create, create, create! It’s your natural state; don’t worry about what has not been done. Develop it yourself and do it. Don’t allow naysayers’ messages to slip into your psyche; silently dismiss and focus. Don’t tell everybody your plans – many will not be able to handle your truth – everything isn’t for everybody! Do focus on at least ONE thing towards your venture daily.

Thanks for reading. Remember that we award a grant each month – if interested, please apply today.

aLoo is our March Qualification Grant Recipient!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Last week announced our March finalists and now we’re happy to finally introduce you to our March Qualification Grant winner, Aarti Mehta , Founder of aLoo.

Read our interview with Aarti below to learn more about her and how she came up with the idea for aLoo

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Aarti Mehta MD
aLoo
Website

WN: For those who don’t know what aLoo is, would you mind telling us a bit about your business?
AM: aLoo is a patent pending device that prevents backwash from re-entering the infant bottle during feeding. The product is a one-way valve and reservoir that can be placed in the cap of the baby bottle when preparing for feeding. As I started bottle feeding, I realized that my daughter’s saliva would flow back into the bottle and felt guilty saving the remaining liquid to reuse knowing that the milk may contain bacteria from her backwash. This was quite a dilemma for me because it was challenging to produce ample breast milk AND I was scheduled to return to work soon. I was determined to use every drop of this liquid gold and it was this realization made me want to find a solution.

WN: Can the nipple & Cap be used with any bottle?
AM: I quickly learned that there are so many innovative bottles on the market and parents/babies have their favorite brand. Knowing that there are challenges transition from breast to bottle, we did not want to exclude anyone merely because of bottle brand loyalty. Our initial goal is to make the device compatible across multiple bottle brands. Currently, our device is compatible with Philips Avent and we are planning to create more sizes that will work well with other brands (Dr. Brown’s, Medela, Tommee Tippee and Playtex) soon.

WN: I see your aLoo is in the testing phase. Do you an expected time-frame of when you hope to release your product to the public?
AM: Yes, we have a working prototype! We produced a prototype that fits Philips Avent and have had a microbiological lab test the device to see if it works. I am happy to say that they confirmed our device prevents over 99% of the bacteria from flowing back into the bottle! We have been sharing the device with consumers for initial feedback and are launching a Kickstarter campaign soon to raise funds to manufacture aLoo on a larger scale. If our campaign is successful, we should be able to start selling aLoo this summer!

WN: Do you plan to sell your product exclusively online or do you hope to sell to other retail stores?
AM: The ultimate goal will be to offer our product in retail stores (BuyBuy Baby, Babies R Us, Target) and be included in expecting parents’ baby registries. However, initially we will focus on solely offering aLoo online through our website: http://www.myaloo.com/ and possibly through Amazon.

WN: Do you have any advice for other aspiring mompreneurs?
AM: This is the advice my business partner gave me (this is exactly why he is my business partner!) “Make sure that the product or service you are offering is something you believe in.” It takes a lot of determination and hard work to develop an idea into reality. Do not be afraid to share your idea with others and ask for help. I was amazed by how many people were willing to provide their guidance and help me navigate through the challenges of starting a business. For me, it was helpful to network and talk to other entrepreneurs to share struggles and learn from each other. I was overwhelmed at how helpful the community has been and realized there are many resources that make launching a business more efficient than it was many years ago!

If you’d like to vote for Aarti to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

And thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.

Gabby Bows is our February Qualification Grant Recipient!

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Last week announced our February finalists and now we’re happy to finally introduce you to our February Qualification Grant winner, Gabby & Rozalynn Goodwin, Founders of Gabby Bows.

Read our interview with them below to learn more about how Gabby Bows and Gabby’s Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette.


Gabby & Rozalynn Goodwin
Gabby Bows
Website

WN: For those who don’t know what GaBBY Bows is, could you tell us a little bit about it and how it got started?
MS: Gabrielle “GaBBY” and I solved the age-old problem of disappearing girls’ hair barrettes by inventing The Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette by GaBBY. GaBBY Bows won’t slip out of the hair, so they secure girls’ hairstyles… And moms’ peace of mind.

NO MORE LOST BOWS!

GaBBY Bows are engineered to prevent hair slippage and work for all hair types.

It all began with a Twitter rant about how GaBBY could not keep barrettes in her hair and a reply from our pastor suggesting we solve the problem–a suggestion I initially dismissed. GaBBY was just five when she started daily insisting we make a barrette that works. That broken record in pigtails, and her dream to see them in stores pushed me into entrepreneurship when I didn’t think I had the skills or the time. We started the business when she was seven years old.

WN: How much has GaBBY Bows grown since starting the business?
MS: GaBBY began selling her invention at gabbybows.com. We have NEVER lost a GaBBY Bow and have saved families in all 50 states and eight countries time, money and frustration-reducing barrette bills by 75%. GaBBY has doubled her sales each year and sold more than 17,000 packs of GaBBY Bows in just three years of business.Her story has been featured on The Real, The Tom Joyner Morning Show and The Today Show, and in Kiplinger Magazine, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Free Enterprise Magazine, JET, Essence and Madamnoire.

Gabrielle was named a 2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the youngest to ever receive this award. GaBBY Bows was also named the 2016 Outstanding Diverse Business of the Year by the SCORE Foundation, one of 15 national finalists for the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration InnovateHER Competition, and a 2016 SCORE and Sam’s Club American Small Business Champion.

WN: Do you plan to keep selling exclusively online? Or do you have future plans to sell to retailer stores?
MS: GaBBY dreams of having her barrettes in stores around the world and in January she received purchase orders from 50 Once Upon a Child stores across the US. This grant is so timely!

WN: What’s the next step for GaBBY Bows?
MS: GaBBY recently raised $28,000 on Kickstarter to fund her new designs and colors which will come to market in June of this year. We also hope to bring on more Once Upon a Child stores this year. GaBBY’s story will also be shared through a children’s book this summer. She was chosen as one of four kidpreneurs across the country Entrepreneur Kid will feature in the book series.

WN: Does Gabby have any advice for other young entrepreneurs?
MS: “Persevere and NEVER give up! Obstacles will be in your way, but you have to never give up to go through them.” – Gabby

If you’d like to vote for Gabby & Rozalynn to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for them here.

And thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.