The PACE Awards night on June 25th was truly inspirational. All these women, more than 50 of them, who are small business entrepreneurs, working hard to make their dreams come true. There were over 25 exhibition booths set up at the Music Center, with the women exhibiting their services, products, and ideas — floral designers, organic juice producers, solar energy contractors, jewelry and clothes designers, hair care suppliers, photographers, scrapbooking services, personal trainers, and the list goes on.
The highlight of the evening came when the five of us were called to the stage to get recognized for our hard-working efforts. What was really neat was that the prior-year recipients of the Awards came on stage to introduce this year’s top three prize winners. The MC introduced these prior-year awardees and updated the audience with their accomplishments since receiving the awards. The top winner from last year was Hakika Keith, the owner of Gorilla Life, Inc., the company that produces the namesake chlorophyll health drink, sold, among other places, at Whole Foods. Gorilla Life came to fruition thanks to PACE’s support and guidance. Wow!
This year’s first prize went to Deborah Stern, who runs her own organic, hand-made tamales business, La Guera Tamalera. She learned to make the tamales from scratch from a family in Mexico. With the money she received from PACE Women & Co. Microenterprise Boost Equity Awards, she hired additional help and can now pay for a commercial kitchen, which’ll allow her to distribute her tamales wholesale. Since receiving the award, she has secured five new wholesale accounts. Go Guera!
Second prize went to two recipients. One recipient, Karen Marcus, is an artist and prints and sells original artwork and greeting cards made from her original artwork. The award money gave Karen the opportunity to have an office space where she can focus on creating her artwork as well as to store her cards. Gotta love her business name: You’re Not the Boss of Me! The second recipient, Shannon Bizzy, is the owner of Bizzy Bee’s Landscape Maintenance. The award money allowed her to purchase more equipment for her full service landscaping company as well as to hire additional crew members.
Myself and the fifth awardee received the “Entrepreneur Spirit Awards.” You know what I do. 🙂 With my award money, I have been able to create more marketing materials to help me with visibility, like rack cards, update my website, and am currently in the process of creating new, custom business cards.
The fifth awardee, Rossana Ruey, runs her own electronic waste recycling company, e-Recycling Stewards, Inc. With her award money, she plans to take her company to the next level by creating a website and corporate identity.
Listening to all of these women’s struggles, challenges and accomplishments made my heart burst with pride and also humbled me at what we women can achieve when we set our minds to do something. We just need a little help from time to time to stay on track. We small business entrepreneurs are so vital to the American economy. As Ms. Kim Tachiki-Chin (Senior Advisor, Office of Congrresswomen Roybal-Allard, U.S. House of Representatives, 34th District) aptly remarked during the ceremony: “I’m sorry to corporate executives in the room, but it is the small businesses that are backbone of the American economy.” Amen.
|On the left is my super-awesome business advisor, Jackie Jones, from PACE. The woman on the right, Vivienne Lee, is from Citibank, the main sponsor of the Women & Co. Boost Equity Awards.|