Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

August Qualification Grant Awarded To Farm Field Sea

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Recently, we revealed our Qualification Grant Finalists for August: Made With Love Catering, Farm.Field.Sea., ityDity, Sleepy Baby Box and Scismic.

Today, we’re delighted to announce our $1,000 grant recipient — Nevette Previd, Founder of Farm.Field.Sea.

Read on to learn about Nevette and her one-of-a-kind business.

WN: What is Farm.Field.Sea and how did the business come to fruition?

Nevette: Farm.Field.Sea. produces educational and skill-driven tours and events centered on the local agriculture, aquaculture, and food artisans of Martha’s Vineyard.

The idea was inspired by my travels around the world and love of learning about different cultures though their food. Farm.Field.Sea. came to life in 2013 — my motivation was to fill a tourism niche on the island for culinary and agritourism events and to create economic and community-based opportunities for local producers. It was curious to me that Martha’s Vineyard – a 96 square mile island off the coast of Massachusetts – had not tapped into the growing trend of food travel. With over 42 farms that sell fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, honey, and cheese, 20 (and growing) Oyster farms and generations of fishermen that contribute to the island’s vibrant food scene, the opportunities (to me!) were endless. Farm.Field.Sea. was also an opportunity to forge collaborations across sectors—the arts, hospitality, non-profits, producers – blending the divide between seasonal visitors and the year-round community.

WN: How does your schedule change when winter arrives?

Nevette: Martha’s Vineyard has quite a seasonal economy – the population goes from 16,000 year round to 160,000 in July and August! Many shops and restaurants close, and most farmers wrap up operations before the holidays. Our attention turns from producing events to planning events – meeting with new and old collaborators, foraging new partnerships and consulting for clients who are interested in learning and implementing what we do in their own community. Our everyday life goes from beaches, eating out and taking advantage of the many cultural events that happen on the island every summer, to home dinner parties, cooking and planning for vacations (it’s essential to get off island in February and March to escape the grey!).

WN: What type of feedback have you received from customers?

Nevette: Our adventures always surprise people. I can honestly say they get just giddy ‘experiencing’ their food – touching (and eating!) oysters right from the ocean under their feet or say, harvesting produce and cooking it up right on the farm. I personally still geek out being able to have a real conversation with farmers.

WN: What are your plans for the grant money?

Nevette: We run a lean and nimble operation. We are not, however, invincible to the challenges faced by these limited resources. As a small business owner I find myself wearing many hats – from IT and web design to business, PR, marketing and sales. The Amber Qualification Grant will be used to hire a freelance full-stack web developer to start the upgrade of our website and create a more robust eCommerce site.

WN: Share some advice you would give to an aspiring female entrepreneur

Nevette: Stay with it! Collaborate! Ask a lot of questions. It’s super scary to be an entrepreneur. You have to wear a million hats and encounter a lot of issues. But the rewards are incredible, and I promise — they’re worth the time and effort.

Interested in applying for a future grant?
Head here to get started.

July Qualification Grant Awarded to Hey Paddle

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Last week, we shared our Amber Grant Finalists for the month of July.

As always, the WomensNet community made it tough on us.

Today, though, we’re happy to put July grant winner Rebecca Tongsinoon, Co-Founder of Hey Paddle, in the spotlight.

Continue on to read about her journey with a truly unique business…

How did Hey Paddle come to be?

It was April 2016, and I was in the middle of yet another grueling 100+ hour week trying to launch my software startup off the ground. My close friend, Chris, who happened to be a personal trainer, wouldn’t take no for an answer and would get me out on stand up paddle boards with her. We began doing strength and core workouts while on the board. One workout turned into daily workouts and soon enough, we had our healthy routine at our pop up outdoor gym on the lake. Being on Lake Austin in the sunshine, hearing the calming water surround us while we were working out was the incredible experience we knew we had to bring to Austin and beyond. And that’s how Hey Paddle came to be.

Beyond earning a living, what is it that motivates you to be an entrepreneur?

The opportunity to create a product and service, that impacts the world in an innovative and positive way, continues to be our #1 motivator and reward. Knowing that we have helped even 1 more person create a healthy and happy lifestyle and hearing our community’s success stories motivates us during the most challenging times.

Which advertising channel(s) have you found to be most effective for you?

Instagram has given us the most reach within our demographic for brand awareness over Facebook or SEO, but nothing can beat “feet on the street”, and participating in local community events, and hosting pop-up classes on land in stores, coffees shops, and other popular locations around town.

What type of feedback have you received from your customers?

We are fortunate to receive both positive and constructive feedback from our customers through ratings on our partner sites. We strive to improve upon the constructive feedback, such as when we were fortunate enough to receive the following regarding class programming:

“This class moved extremely fast. It would have been nice to slow down to accommodate the board, and use the paddle as a prop when needed (tree).” (3 out of 5 stars)

We made a few adjustments to the class format, and since then, have seen those class ratings shoot up.

Our most positive and rewarding feedback comes from our members referring us, and the celebration of meeting their individual fitness goals. One of our members who had a milestone goal of toning up before being a bridesmaid in a wedding, took before photos and sent them to us with progress photos after 8 weeks, and was so excited she had exceeded her expectations.

What goals do you have for Hey Paddle — short-term and long-term?

Short-term, our goals are to expand the Hey Paddle community in Austin by increasing attendance in classes, offering additional classes in other lakes in town, and training more instructors to provide those classes.

Long-term, we envision bringing fitness on paddle boards to every lake, pond, body of water in American and beyond, and developing an on demand mobile option for our community who may prefer or need to work out at home, or while traveling. Hey Paddle is evolving into a healthy lifestyle community, and we want to extend our reach globally.

July Qualification Grant Awarded to Pepper

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Last week, we revealed our July Amber Grant finalists. Now, we’re delighted to introduce you to the winning ladies behind the brand — Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd, Founders of Pepper. Their company makes better fitting clothes for small-chested women — with an early focus on bras.

Read our interview below to learn about their early experiences in business — and gain some helpful PR tips for promotion…

How did you come up with the name Pepper?

Lia and I spent weeks trying to come up with a name. Over lunch, we started
throwing out random words based on what was in our immediate vicinity.
Potential names in this discussion included Sandwich, Spork, Napkin, Table,
Salt… and then ‘Pepper’.

We both looked at each other and knew it was the one. Pepper sounded
feminine, playful and distinct from every other lingerie company brand. It
had a strong ‘P’ sound which aligned nicely with ‘petite’. We also loved
that peppercorns were round and small, but also packed a lot of punch!

How many pre-orders have you received since you started?

We launched our first design, the All-You Bra, on Kickstarter in April 2017
with the initial goal of meeting minimum production requirements of
$10,000. We raised that in just 10 hours, and in 13 days we were 470%
funded with over 950 backers. We quickly opened up an online pre-order
store after and sold 400 additional bras since then, reaching $65,000 in
pre-order sales in just three months!

To what do you credit the exposure you’ve gotten in some major media
outlets in such a short time?
(Pepper has been featured in Allure, The Huffington Post, and other prominent outlets.)

A willingness to roll up the sleeves and do the dirty work. We didn’t have
the money to hire a PR agency, so we had to figure it out ourselves. It
required A LOT of hours putting together our PR hit list 2 months before
launch, and doing the research on contact information, relevancy and
possible angles. We also spent a lot of time refining our press release and
personalizing the outreach emails for each contact. I would recommend
starting the conversation with your PR contacts a few weeks before your
launch so that they can line up their coverage right with your launch date.
And if people don’t respond to your emails, change up the copy and subject
line and email them again!

If helpful for others, I also wrote down some of the steps and lessons we learned from our first PR efforts on my blog.

Are you going to patent your new cup mold?

It’s something we evaluated, but due to the time and money involved, we
want to focus on fulfilling our current pre-orders first and getting
customer feedback on how these cups are received.

Having an awesome product is important to the Pepper experience, but how we
really want to differentiate and defend our brand is to cultivate authentic
relationships with our customers that can’t be replicated. This is why if
we receive the $1000 Amber Grant, we plan on investing it towards a
customer reviews platform that will allow us to capture reviews, share them
on our website, and create trust and transparency with our customers.

We created Pepper to make meaningful impact in our customers’ lives and
their view on body image. Bras are the first step, but we also plan on
expanding into swim, athletic wear, and other clothing that will help a
small-chested woman feel awesome. Patents could be in our future!

Do you plan to sell your clothing exclusively online?

For the time being, Pepper will be a direct-to-consumer online business.
Our goals for the next few years are to build up the brand, optimize our
supply chain efficiencies, and refine our product designs before we expand
into retail distribution.

To leverage in-person shopping, we plan on creating pop-up experiences by
partnering with other vendors and using them as community events. We see
these events as a fun way to test in-person retail and to connect with our
customers!

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.