Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

Yellow Scope is Our June Qualification Grant Recipient

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

After revealing our June Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Marcie Colledge, co-founder of Yellow Scope.

Read on to learn all about Marcie and her business.

Yellowscope logo
Marcie Colledge
Yellow Scope

WN: For those who don’t know what Yellow Scope is, could you tell us a little bit about your business and how you and your co-founder met?

SM: Yellow Scope is a Portland-based company, founded by scientists and moms, Kelly McCollum and Marcie Colledge. We started Yellow Scope because we think girls deserve better in the toy aisle – where rigorous chemistry and physics kits are marketed to boys, and pseudoscience spa and beauty kits are marketed to girls. Girls internalize messages that science is for boys and over time they lose confidence in their scientific abilities. In 4th grade most girls say they like science, but by 8th grade, the numbers drop dramatically. This trend continues beyond school – while women make up half of the total work force, they make up only a quarter of the jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

This is a shame because we need more trained workers in these fields. STEM jobs are important:

  • STEM jobs are solving the world’s most pressing problems.
  • In the US, STEM jobs are growing at a three times the rate of non-STEM jobs.
  • On average, careers in STEM fields pay 33% more than other fields.
  • The wage gap between men and women is less in STEM jobs.

We started Yellow Scope with the goal of closing the gender gap in science. Our mission is to keep girls excited about science, build their confidence, and help them to see themselves as scientists. At Yellow Scope, we make a different kind of science kit – one that takes girls seriously.

We are the perfect team to start this company! We’re both trained scientists. Marcie has a PhD in neuroscience and over 20 years of experience designing and running experiments at the lab bench. She ran her own research lab as tenure track professor. Kelly has a Master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics and ran large biomedical research studies for over a decade. She also taught middle school science.

We first met in 2009 at our daughters’ elementary school, where we volunteered together for six years running the Family Science program. In these sessions, we designed exciting and engaging hands-on science experiments for kids and their families around different science topics – microscopy, genetics, computer programming, electricity and magnetism, forensic science and more. While volunteering together, we realized our shared passion for science and education. And, as moms of girls, we also were determined to do something to encourage more girls to be excited about science. Thus, Yellow Scope was born!

WN:Do you test each experiment with your daughters first?
SM: Yes, we test everything with our daughters early on. Kelly also has a son who loves testing experiments. Luckily our children enjoy science! We also run focus group sessions with our kids’ friends, at local toy stores, and with local Girl Scout troops.

WN:Have you thought about selling your products to other teachers to use in class?
SM:We have thought about selling our products to teachers and would be delighted to have them in classrooms. Our “magic sauce” is our ability to take complex science concepts and distill out the most important components. We then design numerous experiments around these essential concepts. This approach builds mastery by helping kids develop a deeper understanding of fundamental science principles. We also teach kids how to apply the scientific method and how to design their own experiments. The content in our kits aligns with Next Generation Science Standards and would be a great resource to teachers wanting to add more experimental science into their classrooms – particularly before middle school when the rigor of science tends to pick up and many kids start to fall behind and/or lose interest in the “hard” sciences.

One idea we’ve discussed is developing a special package just for groups. Each package would include ten lab notebooks and five sets of lab equipment. If kids work in pairs, each box would work for ten students.

WN:What are your long-term goals in terms of expanding your business?
SM:Our plan is to develop a whole line of science kits across different subjects – chemistry, physics, biology, environmental science, food science, neuroscience, and more. We plan to expand geographically throughout the United States and Canada. We’re currently in about 70 stores in the U.S. and will soon be in a chain of bookstores in Canada called Indigo.

WN:What’s your advice for other women entrepreneurs out there?
SM:Find a good co-founder! Starting a business is exciting, but it’s also a lot of work. There are lots of up days and also some down days – sort of like riding a roller coaster. We have different areas of expertise, we support each other, and we laugh (a lot!). The whole start-up process would be more stressful and a lot less enjoyable if we were doing it on our own.

Learn More about Marcie and Kelly in here video here:


And if you’d like to vote for Marcie and Kelly to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for them here.

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

SUPLOGIX is our May Qualification Grant Recipient

Friday, June 10th, 2016

After revealing our May Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Shannon MacDowell, co-founder of SUPLOGIX

Read on to learn all about Shannon and her business.

SUPLOGIX Team Sewing
Shannon MacDowell

WN: For those that don’t know SUPLOGIX, tell us a little about your business.

SM: Carey Bond and I created SUPLOGIX in 2012 fueled by our passion for stand up paddle boarding and our desire to make the sport as accessible as possible for participants of all abilities. As instructors and guides on the dynamic waters of the Hudson River and New York Harbor we saw the powerful impact of getting people out on the water. We started the company to respond to the need for scientific information on the biomechanics of SUP as the sport was becoming more popular. Working with BTS Bioengineering we pioneered the use of wireless electromyography to study what muscles are engaged when paddling.

Then we participated in the SEAPaddle NYC 2013, a grueling 25 mile race around Manhattan Island. This was a pivotal moment. The event demands significant hydration and wearing a USCG approved life jacket. No product existed that combined these two functions. So we decided to create one. More than 2 years later we are preparing to get our design Coast Guard, approved and offer our solution to the problem of hydration and flotation for paddlers worldwide.

WN: What made you decide to move to Manhattan from Alaska?

SM: Originally I came to New York City to pursue a dance career. After graduating from Rutgers with a BFA it was a natural transition for me to move to NYC. I danced professionally for modern companies and choreographers. Although I came for dance, once I discovered how amazing the waters are around New York City, I felt reconnected to my Alaskan paddling roots so I stayed!

WN: How did you and your partner decide to join forces and create SUPLOGIX?

SM: Carey and I both come from diverse backgrounds that encompass fitness, outdoors pursuits, design and sewing. We met through paddling and realized we had a lot in common and shared similar professional goals. Our combined experience has enabled us to work creatively and efficiently. With our design, cut­-and­-sew studio, we do all prototype development and then take them straight out onto the river for testing.

WN: Do you know when your Hydration Flotation life jacket will available for sale?

SM: Pending US Coast Guard Approval we’re aiming to be on the market by 1st quarter of 2017.

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

SM: My advice would be if you feel strongly that you have something to contribute through a product or service, then take the plunge, be a humble student of the process and embrace the journey. So much of business is also about building meaningful relationships and honoring these.

I really try to make the best use of the resources that are available including incredible opportunities from companies such as WomensNet, I have learned so much from the knowledge and experience of others during this process.

Learn More about Shannon in here video here:


And if you’d like to vote for Shannon to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

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

Elu, LLC is our April Qualification Grant Winner

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

After revealing April’s Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Christina Marshall-Valdez, founder of Elu, LLC!

Read on to learn all about Christina and her business.

Christina Marshall-Valdez
Elu, LLC

WN: Tell us a little about your business and how you got started.

CMV: The idea for Elu came from my own personal struggle to find clothing in my size and that appealed to my tastes as an upwardly mobile, young professional woman in New York City. After an embarrassing fashion moment where I encountered five (5!) other plus size women wearing the same low quality white dress at a high profile event, I promised myself that I would someday create a new solution for us curvy dolls that would make us feel special and audaciously beautiful. My journey to fulfill this promise has been intentional and metered as I wanted to be confident in my ability to build a successful business. So, I obtained my MBA, became a buyer at Target Corporation and then a brand manager of an iconic brand. Six years I’ve learned enough to get the job done.

Elu (pronounced eh-loo) is a brand created with beautiful, authentic plus-size women in mind. At Elu, we are inspired by her curves and seek to create an offering that addresses her biggest pain point in apparel – finding quality, fashionable clothing that fits. But we didn’t stop there… We heard her say in focus groups that she felt left out and like a recipient of left-over, hand-me-down options. The fashion industry found a way to truly disenfranchise and disempower this wow-inspiring woman, but we’ve come to return what is rightfully hers – her control. Our Elu made to measure apparel gives her the power to customize her look in a way that highlights what she loves most about her body. Elu also liberates women from prescriptive fashions that were casually graded up to her sizes as an afterthought. To all the plus-size beauties out there, you were not an afterthought for us. You were first and foremost in our thoughts, thus we crafted this brand and each pattern and garment we produce with your curves in mind.

WN: What will the process be like to obtain a custom dress? Will women have to visit a tailor to get the proper measurements taken?

CMV: The process to obtain a custom dress begins with a visit to our platform at Our customers will start their journey by taking the Elu Style Quiz, which will give us insights about their body type, style inclinations and fit preferences. At the end of the quiz, we create her style profile and recommend base garment that she can customize to further flatter her curves. From there, our customer can begin customizing her selected look. Beginning with measurements, we give her bite size video to guide her through the process of gathering her unique dimensions. We advise our customers to have another persons measure them or if at all possible, we ask them to visit to their favorite tailor to ensure best results. After dimensions are captured, our customer selects her preferred neckline, sleeve style and length and hem length. Three weeks later, our customers receive their custom apparel arrives and we hope she proceeds to strike a million and one poses in her full length mirror.

WN: Have you determined a price point for your clothes yet?

CMV: Our initial offering is focused on dresses, but we will soon introduce additional apparel options. Our dresses are made of quality, finer fabrics that have the versatility to go from desk time to date time. Our looks are stylish but have a classic, enduring aesthetic that make them easy to style, increases their lifetime in your wardrobe and decrease their cost per wear.

In addition to providing quality clothing, we seek to become our customer’s fashion accomplice. For example, we know that some of our customers are on a journey to lose weight, thus they fear that their custom apparel may become unusable. For that reason, we offer our customers a FREE alteration if they lose a certain amount of inches. We are doing all we can to celebrate the women we serve and be by their side for the long haul.

Our dresses start at ~$249, but we believe that our customers will receive unparalleled value in the apparel they purchase from us.

WN: Where and who will be making the clothing?

CMV: We are currently based in Chicago, IL and our apparel is made here in Chicago by a team of women makers. We are also exploring a responsibly sourced off-shore solution as well.

WN: Any advice for other women entrepreneurs?

CMV:Take the leap, but on your own terms.

Not everyone needs to go to business school or seek industry experience like I did in order to start a business and build an empire (I’m foreshadowing ;). There are countless examples of successful entrepreneurs who just jumped without a parachute and they landed in the winner’s circle. Be authentic and true to yourself. Make this experience what you need it to be in order to live the life you envisioned for yourself and your family. Best of luck ladies!

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

And if you’d like to vote for Christina to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

Equilibrium Learning, LLC is our March Qualification Grant Winner

Monday, April 11th, 2016

After revealing March Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Gina Clarke, founder of Equilibrium Learning, LLC!

Read on to learn all about Allison and her business.

meinlondon (2)
Gina Clarke
Equilibrium Learning, LLC

WN: Tell us about your business and how you got started.

DB: I had the idea since high school but I never acted on it. I never took it seriously and didn’t really believe in myself enough to try it, I always talked myself out of doing anything with it. It was when I went to see the doctor and she told me that I might have lupus that really pushed me to go for it. I’m young and I know that there are people who live well into old age with it, but I had an aunt who died pretty quickly after she was diagnosed, so it really hit home. Even though I’m glad to say all came back ok, it changed my perspective on life and really helped me to emotionalize and give meaning to “living life to the fullest” and “life’s too short”. So now I’m on a mission to do everything I ever wanted to do, including Equilibrium.

WN: Was it your educational background that inspired you to start Equilibrium?

DB: Yes definitely! I remember when I was in school my favorite subject was Math. I was good at everything concerning Math and caught on to new concepts quickly. At the same time, I HATED English. I felt like it was a waste of time, I had no interest in the class and felt it was pointless. I knew how to read, write and speak coherently and that was all I cared about. Because of this, I struggled in English. I did well in it, but I still struggled because I just didn’t care enough for the class to really WANT to put in any effort. But when I was in high school, I met an English teacher who helped me to see English in a new light: She taught us new words by turning them into Math problems. Every week we would be introduced to a new prefix, root or suffix and for everyday of that week we would be presented with a new word that contained that prefix, root or suffix. It was such a small gesture, but it appealed to my natural thought processes (logic, calculation, etc) and my natural need to “figure things out”. For that moment I was so engaged in the class, and it helped me to take in interest in the subject as a whole because when I would read or be presented with new words, my first instinct would be to break them down into math problems and figure out their meanings. But this got me thinking: if this one small change in perspective made such a huge impact on my interest in a subject (that at one time I literally hated), what if we could somehow do the same for ALL subjects?

WN: What if you don’t know what intelligence type a student is? Will Equilibrium help identify what their type is?

DB: Yes. Equilibrium will initially test the student to determine:

a: their learning style (based on a few psychological/personality questions)
b: their favorite subject/subject they do best in
c: their level of competency in each subject

Based on the above 3 criteria, Equilibrium will not only be able to determine the level of competency (grade level) a student is currently, but also what the student’s learning profile is and how best to present information to them.

WN: Do you have any partners in this venture?

DB: Because Equilibrium is so new, I currently do not have any business partners, but I am looking! I do have mentors who have run businesses before and have experience in the education industry who provide me with immense support.

WN: Do you know when this software will become available?

DB: We’re still in R&D phase, but we’re shooting for Fall of 2017 at the ABSOLUTE latest.

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

DB: I would tell them the obvious: network, promote your business as much as you can, create a business plan, learn how to live on a budget (you will NEED this skill), get a mentor ( is pretty good if you don’t know anyone), etc. But I’d also tell them to do what scares you. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable. For the longest I was so afraid of other people laughing at me, as much as I hated to admit it. Get used to rejection; put yourself in situations where you know you’ll be rejected (or that there’s a high chance) so that you lose fear of it. Everyday I make it a habit of asking for something for free when I order something. The worst that would happen is that they’d say no and I’d just take what I paid for, but every now and again I’d get a yes, surprisingly. You never know what can happen when you really try and put yourself out there, so just do it!

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

And if you’d like to vote for Gina to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

Brobe International is our February Qualification Grant Winner!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

After revealing February’s Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Allison Schickel, founder of The Brobe!

Read on to learn all about Allison and her business.

Brobe International
Allison Schickel

WN: Tell us about your business and how you got started.

DB: I launched The Brobe in 2012 but had the idea several years earlier. The original idea was to create a lounge wear garment like a robe with a built in support system. Being from Texas it gets very hot. I would struggle each morning trying to find a sports bra to wear under my robe while getting ready or just drinking my coffee. I wanted an all in one garment that would help refrain from “boob sweat” that so many of us ladies are familiar with. I spent 5 years searching for a garment like this and every time I would go shopping I would ask the sales people if they had ANYTHING like what I was describing. The response was always the same, “no, but your like the 1000 person who has asked for something like this.” It was not until years later when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer when I realized the lack of functional yet feminine products on the market for BC recovery. I wanted to create something that gave women the dignity they deserve in an otherwise very hard time in their life. What was originally birthed out of frustration of a lack of “support” in a lounge wear garment, quickly became a product with a mission and a purpose. I took my original idea and expanded it to fit the needs of women recovering from a mastectomy or reconstructive surgery as well as many other surgeries that require a post operative fluid drain while in recovery(transplant, open heart surgery, plastic surgery)

WN: Is there a way for people to donate a Brobe to an individual in need?

DB: Yes, they can order a Brobe or a gift card from the website for the person in need. We also donate a portion of our stock every year to non-profit organizations. Anyone who wouldlike more infomration can call us directly.

WN: Do you have any competition in this area of business?

DB: Not a lot. There are different products on the market that are geared towards breast cancer recovery such as tank tops, gowns, shirts, and belts. However, none of them have all the functions that the Brobe offers with a detachable recovery bra that has pockets inside the bra for ice packs or a prosthetic as well as a luxurious robe that has pockets inside the robe to hold drains as well. The Brobe also is designed to be worn before during and after recovery.

WN: Are your products sold in any retailers? If not, is that the plan in the future?

DB: Yes, we are sold in various hospital gift shops and mastectomy boutiques throughout the world

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

DB: Do your homework before starting a business. Being an entrepreneur and effectively running a business is hard work, especially as a woman. I would recommend other woman with aspirations in my industry get a mentor and really listen to what he or she has to say. Be a “sponge” and really learn from their mistakes, so you don’t have to make as many of your own! Also understand how they achieved their successes. Mentors can be one of your most valuable resources for knowledge.And never be afraid to ask for a mentor! Most (and usually the best) will be honored to accept.I have a fantastic Advisory Board that I am constantly reaching out to for advice. I think it is imperative as a small business owner to surround myself with people who are more experienced, more connected and smarter than me. As my mom also always told me, “You are who you hang out with,” so I am sure to surround myself with people I can lean on and from whom I can constantly learn.

Learn More about Allison in her video here:


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

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

Imaginary Universe is our January Qualification Grant Winner!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

After revealing January’s Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Diane Beam, writer and film director of Imaginary Universe!

Read on to learn all about Diane and her business.

diane beam
[Above Photographs taken courtesy of Debby Besford.]
Imaginary Universe
Diane Beam

WN: Tell us about your business and how you got started.

DB:I started my business on a very small level and each year continue look for new ways to improve and expand, through networking with industry professionals. Getting my bachelor degree in physics and MFA in film and media art have been key to my business knowledge, experience and connections.

At a very early age, like many people, I was fascinated with many things in nature like rainbows, clouds, and sunsets. My sisters and I, when we were young children in California, would sometimes sleep out on summer nights in our backyard, telling stories as the stars pass across the sky. Watching the stars made me wonder: What are they? What’s beyond the stars? Those questions resonated with me on a deep level.

We had non-fiction children’s books in our house on topics of stars and the universe. We also had some fiction children’s books based topics in astronomy, physics and math, such as “A Wrinkle in Time” By Madeleine L’Engle. Reading these books and other like them, had an early influence on my interests and future work. As children, we also enjoyed sometimes staging and acting out small plays for our family.

In high school and Junior college, I took all the science and math courses I could fit in, as well as participating in community theater, even playing the role of Alice in Wonderland. Over time, I was given the chance to write and direct a few small community theater shows and discovered how much I loved directing theater performance.

WN: What made you decide that you wanted to write and direct?

DB: I was excited when I was accepted to BYU as a physics major…physics being a key foundation to a study in Astronomy. I was soon offered a position in the University Planetarium, writing and giving planetarium astronomy and cosmology (the study of the Universe shows). This enhanced my experience as a writer, director, and producer of programs. I came to realize that I might be able to combine my love of astronomy with my love of writing and directing as a career.

WN: Why did you choose to direct/write about Stephen Hawking?

DB: I soon found focused my interest in physics to understanding the ultimate origin and fate of the Universe, alternate time and alternate universes, but at that time, these topics were considered by some to be somewhat outside mainstream study. In one of my physics classes, I learned more about the work of Stephen Hawking, and his work to understand the ultimate fate of the universe. In that moment I felt a strong impulse, to someday write, direct and produce a show on the fate of the universe with Professor Stephen Hawking although I had never met him.

After getting my BA in physics degree, I continued working for other companies writing, directing and producing science shows. Over the years, I was able to travel to other cities and collaborate producing similar type science programs, for planetariums and science centers, in the US, and other countries.

WN: How did you meet Stephen Hawking, and what have your interactions been like with him?

DB: A few years after my graduation, I began writing, directing and producing science theater programs for a planetarium. I was given the opportunity to create any show of my choice. I immediately called Stephen Hawking’s office that same day and spoke with his secretary. I was invited to send a proposal. After many months, of followup, Stephen Hawking agreed to meet with me in person. During that meeting, he agreed to co-author, “Stephen Hawking’s Fate of the Universe.”

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

DB: Pursue your passion. Believe in yourself and your dream. Find people who share similar dreams. Take the action needed to move your project forward.

Ingrid Vanderveldt, the founder of “Empowering a Billion Women by 2020”, said that the number one challenge to women starting a business, is “lack of confidence”1 and “the antidote to a lack of confidence is simply action.” She also speaks of the importance of mentors. This article reminds me that whenever I have struggled to move forward, the best thing to do is to take action.

Womensnet provides great resources that help women move their business and projects forward and also help women entrepreneurs, network with potential mentors and partners.

It’s an honor, and I am grateful for this opportunity to be selected for the Womensnet, Qualification Grant.

Learn more about Diane in her video here:


And if you’d like to vote for Diane to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

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