Featured Success Stories

Industry Category

Katie and Heather O’Neill's fair trade products go beyond accessorizing a wardrobe or home: They empower the artisans who created them and help customers understand the importance of knowing the craft and tradition that go into whatever they buy. In 2009, the sisters realized their mutual love for the arts and belief in cultural integrity. Katie, who studied jewelry and textile design at University of the Arts, and Heather, who was a small business adviser with the Peace Corps in Morocco, decided to start a small clothing, accessories, and home goods business, Mushmina, that would give low-resourced Moroccan artisans the opportunity to profit off their creative work. Katie and Heather self-funded their business until it needed financial assistance, which is when Entrepreneur Works proved to be a “refreshing and helpful” resource, in their words. In November 2014 Heather and Katie came to Entrepreneur Works for a short-term loan as well as one-on-one business consulting, which they felt was “personal and thorough”, in order to keep growing their small business. “Mushmina” - Heather's nickname for Katie when they were growing up - took on the meaning of “little sister,” which honors Mushmina’s diverse range of women artisans. Mushmina employs these women in an effort to appreciate their fine craftsmanship while also giving them ownership over their craft. On a local and community level, Mushmina in turn sells these Moroccan artisans’ products, among other globally and U.S.-made fair trade items, so that they can educate the public on their responsibility to understand the culture, traditions, and fairness that go into the goods they buy. “We’ve gotten such good feedback from customers who feel good about their purchasing power,” Katie says. Since May 2015, Heather and Katie have been selling Mushmina products in their Wayne storefront, which also hosts monthly events, workshops, and trunk shows (featuring local artists’ work) as well as yoga and meditation sessions.

Industry Category

Al Layton has always had what he calls “an entrepreneurial mind-set.” Layton, who holds a degree in computer engineering and spent several years at Lockheed Martin, knew his goal was ultimately to be in business for himself. After graduating from college in 2001, he gave himself ten years to start his own business, not knowing what it would be. He has since achieved that goal with the creation last year of Presher Ink--a business that incorporates his love for art and drawing. As a “one-stop shop for graphic design,” Presher Ink’s services range from custom apparel, uniforms, and athletic wear to banners, signs, logos, flyers, and business cards. Conceptualizing the idea for his business was the easy part; putting his ideas on paper proved to be more challenging. In mid-2010, Layton joined an Entrepreneur Works business skills course. At the outset, he didn’t have a business plan. “I did everything that I thought I should be doing,” says Layton, “but the class gave me structure.” Along with structure, knowing how to talk to different customers is also part of the business. Layton counts several schools in the city of Chester as his main clients, with orders for football, baseball, band, and class t-shirts. Taking business development courses at Entrepreneur Works helped him in learning how to solicit business: he learned how and what to ask, as well as what not to ask. As an entrepreneur, Layton also learned the importance of individual references and word-of-mouth marketing in growing a client base. In the upcoming year, Layton plans to hire two employees and acquire additional equipment to grow his graphic design business. Being a business owner is at times harder than working for someone else, says Layton, but “at the end of the day, it’s not that hard because it’s all for you.” Presher Ink--the culmination of Layton’s ten-year goal--has given him the opportunity to combine his entrepreneurial spirit with his passion for art. He counts himself lucky to be doing something he enjoys: “We tell people’s stories through graphic design,” he says.   [gallery link="none" size="full" ids="387,386"]

Industry Category

Edward Morgan grew up in a family of artists. His father was a jazz musician. His grandfather had a knack for working with wood pieces. So it was only natural for Morgan to transform his early love for art and design into a business. Morgan started more than twenty years ago designing t-shirts and hats for friends and acquaintances. His clients have since expanded to include prominent rap and recording artists. One of Morgan’s fondest memories is doing a portrait of Jay-Z and meeting the recording artist in person. Through his business, Morgan has been able to use his passion and talent for design and development to help clients bring their concepts to life. The best part of his job, he says, is the reaction on a client’s face upon first seeing the designs he has created for them. Last summer, Morgan took an Entrepreneur Works business skills course in order to strengthen his ideas about what direction to take his business: “Entrepreneur Works is invaluable to any entrepreneur that is up-and-coming,” he says. In the near future, he hopes to take his work to a bigger audience. Despite the fact that the challenges for entrepreneurs are never-ending, ultimately, says Morgan, “it’s the challenges that teach you what you want to be.” Morgan advises new entrepreneurs to be aware of the areas where they are strong, where they are weak, and to have a “crew” to help in the weak areas. But the best way to succeed, says Morgan, is not to have a plan B--you have to make it your life’s work. For Morgan, “art is my passion, my mission, and my life.”   [email protected]

Industry Category

Valencia Tabron is in the business of flowers. A self-taught floral designer, Tabron creates one-of-a-kind floral arrangements for her clients, tailored to special occasions, events, and holidays. Tabron, who works full-time as a receptionist for a charter school, spends her evenings at her home studio conceptualizing and putting together floral pieces. Her inspiration comes from meeting with and talking to her clients and getting a sense of their personalities and preferences to incorporate in her arrangements. "I speak with a client to get a feel for what they like," says Tabron, "each piece speaks to each client." Through word-of-mouth, Tabron has amassed a loyal clientele, from brides to expecting mothers to clients who have lost loved ones. Many of her customers are repeat customers. Tabron tries to stay competitive by keeping costs low--being "shop-savvy"--to maintain good prices for her clients. Her arrangements, comprised entirely of silk flowers, are economical, look like real flowers, and last forever. Tabron derives joy from creating beautiful pieces for clients who may have limited income: "With the economy the way it is, people may not be able to afford the pieces at floral shops." (A silk flower arrangement by Valencia Tabron.) Taking a business skills class at Entrepreneur Works gave Tabron a solid foundation on which to build her business. "Working with Entrepreneur Works has given me the confidence to be more open and communicate my business aspirations to others ... Entrepreneur Works gives you a lot of heart to do what you may not necessarily do on your own and to put those aspirations into forward movement." In the next year or two, Tabron hopes to explore in-home tutorials and private, personal floral lessons to pass on the craft. She also hopes to establish a following in the Tri-State area. "This is my gift," says Tabron. "This is what I'm here to do." Check out Valencia Tabron's Facebook page, email, or call Valencia Tabron at (302) 345-9903 to find out more about Just By DeZine's products and services!   [gallery link="none" size="full" ids="378,379"]