JWBC Client finds Entrepreneurial Balance

wrightsocialFelicia Wright, MyGani Design Studio

How do you balance business and motherhood? Ask Felicia. She’s building her business with the help of a peer-to-peer mentoring group she founded for women entrepreneurs like her.



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Breaking News: Rethreaded Trending Again

JWBC client Kristin Keen is once again making news – and you can help. Rethreaded, a local nonprofit that seeks to unravel the effects of the sex trade by providing safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors who are building new lives, is currently #4 in Martha Stewart’s Made in America contest. Vote today to help her make the top 3!

ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT! Vote 6x/day until Oct. 13th (TODAY) here>>

Grace scarves are produced by Rethreaded, a local nonprofit that seeks to unravel the effects of the sex trade by providing safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors who are building new lives. Kristin Keen, Rethreaded’s founder, is a social entrepreneur and winner of the 2013 One Spark competition.

The Grace scarf is a one of a kind scarf, made from up-cycled t-shirts, and is the perfect accessory for any season. Each scarf is unique in size, color, and style, creating a matchless piece of art for you to wear.

Get one of your own at the JWBC 10 Year Celebration Thursday October 16

Grace scarves are available for a $50 donation to Rethreaded, and part of the proceeds will support the JWBC. The Grace scarves selected for the JWBC 10th anniversary celebration are designed to coordinate with our special Lucinda pins.

Lucinda Pins Also Available at the Event

WBDC 4 Pins
Limited edition commemorative pins that were commissioned for the JWBC 10th anniversary will be on sale while supplies last. You can own one or give them as gifts for a donation of $25 or more.
“It was an honor and privilege to participate in the JWBC 10th year anniversary celebration. The pin design was a collaborative effort with the staff and board of Jacksonville Women’s Business Center.

Incorporating the skyline into the pin personalizes it and commemorates the JWBC and the great work that it does. The diversity of the women sitting at the table recognizes the great diversity we see in the women entrepreneurs who are part of the organization.” Lucinda Yates

About Lucinda
Lucinda Yates, the founder and CEO of Designs by Lucinda was born with the heart and passion of a true entrepreneur. In the early 1980’s due to unforeseen circumstances, Lucinda and her young daughter found themselves homeless.
Lucinda used her creativity and drive to launch a successful line of fashion jewelry. One day she designed a simple pin in the shape of a house; that was the moment Lucinda knew she could help others. The first House Pins would become the perfect fundraiser for a local shelter. The idea behind the pin was to raise money for the homeless, and at the same time, create a greater awareness of homelessness in her community.
Given her natural instinct to be a successful entrepreneur, coupled with her desire to help others, it is no surprise that she founded a company built on helping non-profits. Lucinda’s experience of homelessness would come full circle and a company with a conscience was born… Designs by Lucinda.
Find her pins at www.lucinda.com

Posted in Business owner profiles, Entrepreneurship, Involvement, Jacksonville Women's Business Center News, Marketing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

HOPE Gets a Makeover

Jeanine FergusonMeet Jeanine Ferguson of HOPE Greetings

by Candace Moody

Jeanine Ferguson got the idea for HOPE Greetings in the middle of a large crowd at her uncle’s funeral. Her bereaved aunt was seated a few rows ahead of Jeanine, distraught and without a tissue to wipe her tears. Jeanine couldn’t help at the time, but she conceived a clear vision of what she wished she could offer: a fresh handkerchief with a message of hope and comfort.

In 2008, she launched HOPE Greetings, a venture that sells products wholesale to the funeral home industry and online to individuals. The company produces handkerchiefs and individually packaged paper tissues designed with inspirational scriptures and other encouraging quotations. The products can also be customized with the funeral home brand or an image of the deceased. Jeanine balanced her fledgling business with a young family and her fast-paced marketing career in medical device sales until a career change gave her some time in 2014 to invest in branding and creating a marketing strategy.

Hope Greetings Marketing Matters Team

L-R: Jeanine Ferguson of Hope Greetings, Program Presenter Amy Calfee, Pat Blanchard, JWBC Director, mentor Jamie Thomas (photo by Carlee Calfee)

She enrolled in Marketing Matters, a mentoring program offered by the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC), in January of 2014. Marketing Matters is an intensive, six-month program that pairs a woman business owner with two marketing professionals. The business owner attends several strategy workshops with other owners, and creates a comprehensive brand strategy with the help of her mentors. Volunteer presenter Amy Calfee, owner of Temerity Creative, LLC, designed the program to lead business owners through the process of defining their brand and understanding their customers to design a marketing plan that is manageable, sustainable and measurable. “This program is designed to meet the woman business owner where she is. Current revenue, number of employees, customer base – we can help a business of any size.  It’s all about setting a goal and creating a plan to reach it.”

“Jeanine came in with the right attitude,” says Calfee. “Wide open and ready to learn.” Together with Pat Blanchard, JWBC Director and program administrator, Calfee paired Jeanine with two strong mentors: Janell Conner, who owns Public Design Unit, a full service marketing design firm, and Jamie Thomas, an experienced marketing professional and partner at The LBA Group, a Jacksonville CPA firm. Thomas has been recognized as the 2013 Accounting Marketer of the Year by the CPA Practice Management Forum and as one of the Top 100 Most Influential in the Accounting Profession by Accounting Today Magazine. The mentoring team met at least once a month (the commitment is for two hours a month for each mentor) and provided support, advice and encouragement through dozens of emails and phone calls. Amy Calfee spent time on the phone with Jeanine the night before she left to attend a funeral home trade show, giving her “the best advice ever,” according to Jeanine: “Don’t spend one minute behind your exhibit table; stand in front, where you can really connect.”

hopegreetingsThe mentoring team first helped Jeanine reimagine her identity, which featured dark and funereal images. “Not only was it in contrast to her message of hope,” says Thomas, “but it was also in jarring contrast to Jeanine’s personality, which is sunny and warm. We knew we needed to develop a whole new look.” Thomas researched the psychology of colors and the team decided on a vibrant green logo that combines the look of a blossom and sunshine.

HOPE Greetings’ online e-commerce site got a makeover with new colors and photos that balanced the sad images with images of hope and joy. Based on her mentors’ advice, Jeanine is poised to expand her product line to include secular messaging on her products in addition to scriptures and market them for joyful occasions such as births, anniversaries and graduations.

Jeanine gained more than a marketing plan from the program; she and Jamie Thomas have become fast friends and plan to stay in touch. “We’re both busy professionals trying to balance family and career, and that made Jamie the perfect mentor for me,” Jeanine says. HOPE Greetings is still a part-time business, since Jeanine has taken on a marketing and business development role in a medical practice, but Jeanine believes she’ll still be able to achieve her HOPE Greetings revenue goal by the end of the year.

Thanks to Marketing Matters, she has a plan and the support to make it happen.

Posted in Business owner profiles, Entrepreneurship, Jacksonville Women's Business Center News, Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Celebration Kicks Off 10th Anniversary Year

National, state and community leaders gather to launch the JWBC in 2004

National, state and community leaders gather to launch the JWBC in 2004

Starting the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC) 10 years ago was a bright idea. Since 2004, we’ve helped thousands of women at every stage of business: from a great idea to a company, from a company to a successful and growing enterprise, and from a successful enterprise to global domination – if that’s her plan.

li-celebrate-091014-01And you know what? That deserves a celebration, so we’re doing that, too!

If you are a woman business owner (or want to be), know or love a woman business owner in Northeast Florida, share in her success at our 10th Anniversary Celebration, Thursday, October 16, 5:30 – 8 pm at the Episcopal High School of Jacksonville.

Purchase Tickets in Advance

Tickets are on sale NOW – $35 general admission and $25 for women business owners.

JWBC's 5th Anniversary Celebration, 2009

JWBC’s 5th Anniversary Celebration, 2009

A Brilliant Event!

  • Connect with our region’s entrepreneurs, community leaders and business professionals.
  • Sample the Taste of 10 – hors d’oeuvres and desserts provided by our area’s top women-led caterers and restaurants
  • Enjoy adult beverages at the cash bar
  • Hear client stories and how they applied what they learned to grow the business of their dreams
  • Learn why getting involved as a client, volunteer or sponsor makes you brilliant, too!

 Are you “In for 10?”

Event sponsorships are available and include unique ways to promote your business and demonstrate your commitment to community development. Click here for details.

The chance to celebrate 10 years only comes around once, so this is a one-time opportunity to thank our clients, volunteers and supporters who make our story possible.

We hope you’ll join us. Buy your tickets today.

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Women Entrepreneurs Are Happy

Holly Slade, writing for Forbes online writes:

Embed from Getty ImagesWhen women have established businesses, they are actually happier than their entrepreneurial male counterparts, as well as rating their well-being more than twice as high as non-entrepreneurs and non-business owners, according to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) U.S. Report.

There was one caveat – female entrepreneurs who are just starting out are less happy than male entrepreneurs in the start-up phase, says Edward Rogoff, one of the reports authors. One out of 10 women in the U.S. is starting or running a new business, the report also found. This rate is higher than any of the other 24 developed economies measured.

What’s more, the proportion of women that want to grow their businesses by more than five employees in the next five years increased from 31% in 2012 to 36% in 2013, so overall there are an estimated 3.73 million American women with growth-oriented businesses.

Read the whole article here.


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8 Rules for Success with Your Own Business

by: Isabel Graf, Ph.D., Co-founder, Insights2Talent, LLC

Establishing and growing a successful business is difficult, but there are some things you can do to keep your business and your sanity. Here are eight rules to guide you along your WBO with dollarway.

  1. Attitude. Being positive builds business. Positivity attracts others to you; people will want to be around you. Negativity pushes others away. Think of that one friend who always complains – you probably look for ways to spend less time with that person. So make sure you are not the “negative friend.”  If you don’t know how to begin the change, read books and watch videos on positive attitudes, or ask your colleagues what you can do to improve.
  2. Listen.  Listen to your clients and potential clients. Too often, business owners make the mistake of doing all the talking. Yes, you are the expert – but if you do all the talking, how do you know what the client really wants or needs? Ask questions and then listen (really listen) so you can identify what you can do to help. You will win and retain more – and happier – clients.
  3. Ask.  Ask for advice or help. You cannot know everything, and it is dangerous to think you can do it all yourself. Find a small group of people you trust – people you can bounce ideas off of and learn from.  Share your challenges with them and find out how they handled similar problems.
  4. Understand Finance.  You don’t need an accounting degree, but you do need to know how to read an income statement and a balance sheet. It is important that you understand how you earn revenue and whether you are charging enough to cover all your expenses – fixed and variable. Remember that“Cash is king;” you must understand the concept of cash flow. There may be times when you show a profit but not have the cash to pay your bills or meet your payroll.
  5. Walk Away. Actually, run away – far away – from unethical people. If you associate with unethical people, your clients and potential clients will think the same of you. It is your reputation – guard it well.
  6. Be Honest. If you are asked about something that it is not your area of expertise, tell the person honestly that you don’t know, AND recommend someone who might be able to help them. This builds trust with the client and develops a network of people you can rely upon and who will refer business back to you. If you are concerned that a person you might recommend will steal your client, refer back to Rule # 5.
  7. Keep Your Commitments.  Be careful not to over-commit. It is difficult to turn away business when you’re worried about making money and growing your company. So business owners tend to commit to everything and then worry about how we will deliver. Quality and deadlines suffer, if the work gets done at all, or we spend all our waking hours (and some of the hours we should be sleeping) stressed-out while trying to get everything done. This leads us to rule # 8.
  8. Make Time for Yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of working all hours of the day and night and the weekends as well. You feel productive, but you begin to hate your business.  Your dream of entrepreneurship becomes just another “job,” and you start to wonder what you can do next to make a living. Set limits for yourself. Start by not over-committing and being honest about work you cannot do. Find time for your family, friends, hobbies, or simply doing nothing for a while. Women who are driven to own their own businesses often do not have outside interests – we are too busy managing our companies. Stop work at a reasonable hour every day. Take a day off as often as you can.  (Radical thought: take a vacation!) Time away rejuvenates us and we function so much better after the break.

Follow these eight rules for a more successful and healthier professional and personal life.

The Author:

Isabel Graf, Ph.D. is co-founder of Insights2Talent, a human resources firm specializing in leadership development, executive coaching, assessments and other talent management services.  With  more than 20 years of experience in the human resources field, Isabel has worked with several Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium-sized companies, as an internal and external consultant.  Isabel has a Ph.D. in Human Resource Management and an MBA in Accounting.

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Three Keys to a Solid Business Plan

How long has it been since you took a good long look at your business plan?

Embed from Getty Images

For more on how to create a solid business plan, watch Rich and Jeff Sloan (and Rich’s dog, Max) as they do a deep dive on three key components of a solid business plan:

1.A clearly defined business model

2.A financing strategy that’s aligned with your growth needs

3.A milestone timeline to which you can hold yourself accountable


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