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Despite the impact of the sluggish economy on their wallets, New Yorkers are not settling for dull skin, less-than-fresh body odors, and foul smelling apartments. At least that's the conclusion one could draw by watching the brisk business being done at Brooklyn's miomia apothecary.
Located in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, miomia defines itself as New York's first truly unisex apothecary. Offering high-quality, independently produced and cruelty-free products together with personalized customer care, and with a reputation for launching "under the radar" and much sought-after beauty and grooming products from around the world, miomia was recently named by New York Magazine as one of the top five beauty stores in the city.
miomia owner, Katie Chang, began her entrepreneurial quest four years ago when she took note of the increasing number of "exfoliated metrosexuals," and was also tiring of a corporate consulting gig. She already had a life-long passion for hunting down cutting-edge beauty and grooming products for both men and women, which even translated into her Master's thesis at Georgetown University, "The Emergent Male Grooming Trend."
Initially scared about starting her own small business, she also had to deal with traditional Korean parents. "Like so many immigrant parents, my mom and dad sacrificed above and beyond for my brother and me," said Chang. "Their upbringing wasn't all roses, and it was fraught with challenges. I think it was painful for them to imagine me struggling as they did, especially when I had a safe and secure job to begin with."
But her decision made, and with the support of family and friends, Chang first contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration, which in turn referred her to its small business development center at Pace University. Chang used the SBA's online resources and the SBDC business counselors to help her build her business plan.
Finding just the right store location for her concept was a huge consideration. At friends' recommendations she scouted Williamsburg and found the perfect location on Bedford Avenue in the hip 'hood. In addition to the counter products such as Mario Badescu, Escentric Molecules, Knock Out Cosmetics, Cutler Hair Care, Histoires de Parfums, Armour Beauty, and McBride Beauty, the shop also offers celebrity make-up and brow services. And miomia's products aren't limited to New Yorkers and visitors to Williamsburg. They're also available online at: www.shopmiomia.com.
How do her parents feel about Chang's success now? Chang said, "While they were hesitant at first to support my decision to leave corporate America, they are now, without doubt and happily so, my greatest fans and supporters."
What did John F. Kennedy, Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ed Koch, Richard Daley and Jerry Brown have in common other than politics? The answer is, at one time or another, all failed the Bar Exam. But there’s a New York small business owner who wants to help future exam-takers avoid that same fate.
Trained as a lawyer at Harvard University and as a linguist at the University of Illinois, Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher has put her training to work to devise what she touts as unique preparation processes for the bar exam.
Founding BarWrite® and BarWrite Press 20 years ago, Gallagher and her staff offer large-group courses and coaching to prepare students for bar examination essays— the Multistate Performance Test and Multistate Bar Exam parts of the exam. She also makes her system for the essays available in her Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays book and CDs.
Slowing growing her company and its reputation, Gallagher added bar-preparation materials to the classes and began to write bar-preparation books for national distribution. Successful with that strategy, Gallagher is quick to point out that the company's growth didn’t happen overnight. "The advertising that worked best for us was word-of-mouth and aiming for excellence," said Gallagher. "You have to be so good that people can’t ignore you."
Despite that success, Gallagher wanted to grow her publishing business. So two years ago she contacted SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business. A resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE provides free business management counseling. "My SCORE counselor, Howard Geltzer, was my mentor," said Gallagher. "Howard taught me the principles of public relations, such as which day of the week I should put out a press release."
Gallagher is currently working on a new bar-preparation book to help students prepare for the MPT portion of the exam. And she’s turned once again to Geltzer and his advice to help launch it. "Based upon my experience, I would advise all entrepreneurs to find their own guardian angels at SCORE," said Gallagher.
More information about BarWrite can be found at: www.barwrite.com.
Long Islander Wins New York State: Now in Competition for National Small Business Person of the Year
At a Manhattan ceremony in celebration of presidentially declared National Small Business Week 2009the New York District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration today presented Teresa M. Ward, owner of Teresa&rsquo's Family Cleaning, Inc., with the award for New York State’s top small business. Ward also won for Small Business Person of the Year in the SBA’s Region II, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ward founded her residential cleaning company, Teresa’s Family Cleaning, Inc., in 1992, providing the traditional cleaning services one expects for this type of business. Along the way she added non-traditional services such as organizing and management services for senior-living facilities throughout Long Island.
That ability to adapt and grow enabled Family Cleaning to weather the current economic downturn. And rather than submit to the crisis, Ward ensures that her core group of customers is always satisfied with her company’s service. In fact, she still has her pre-crisis 12 to 14 crews out on any given day. "With the traditional spring cleaning time upon us, I feel as though we have gotten through the worst," said Ward.
Ward started her business— not in the infamous entrepreneur’s garage— but she did start as a one-woman business in her basement. The company now owns it own building in Rocky Point, NY, employs upward of 40 cleaners, office staff and sales personnel, has a fleet of 15 vehicles and grosses well over a million in sales. Also environmentally conscious, the company now uses only "green" and eco-friendly products in its cleaning arsenal to help ensure the safety of its customers, employees and the environment.
Family Cleaning was helped through its growth stages with a loan from Community National Bank which was partially guaranteed by the SBA, as well as business management counseling from the SBA’s Stony Brook Small Business Development Center.
When her sister passed away from cancer in 2003, Ward embarked upon another mission and helped launch the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation in New York in 2006. The non-profit, along with 500 cleaning companies across the nation provides free or at-cost cleaning services for women undergoing chemotherapy. Last year she began donating company services to Habitat for Humanity, to prep the homes for their new inhabitants.
Ms. Ward’s awards prove you do not have to be some sort of exotic, high-tech business owner to win this honor," said SBA Spokesman John J. Miller. "You just need to be good at what you do."
The recipient of the country’s most prestigious small business award---National Small Business Person of the Year--- will be selected from among 50 state winners and announced at the National Small Business Week 2009 ceremony in Washington, DC, May18-22, 2009.
Other SBA New York District award winners at the SBA event today included:
Family-Owned Business of the Year
Peter Negri, President & CEO Jamaica Bearings Co. New Hyde Park, NY
Financial Services Champion of the Year
Patrick Mackrell, President & CEO New York Business Development Corp. Albany, NY
Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year
Benjamin B. Hunt, Director Department of Defense Procurement Technical Assistance Center, LaGuardia Comm. College Long Island City, NY
Minority Small Business Champion of the Year
Rev. Carmen Hernandez, Founder & President New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender Chamber of Commerce Bronx, NY
Women in Business Champion of the Year
Deborah Brenner, Founder & CEO Women of the Vine Cellars, LLC Piermont, NY
Small Business Journalist of the Year
Joan Hamburg and Liz Hamburg, Co-hosts WOR News/Talk Radio 710 New York, NY