Success Stories

Sandra Saft, President of Window Interiors

Orlando, FL – Sandra Saft, President of S. Saft and Company dba Window Interiors was recently selected as the 2015 North Florida District Small Business Person of the Year. Window Interiors not only provides shades and window coverings for projects across the country, but also manufactures solar shades out of its Altamonte Springs, Florida headquarters. Saft founded the company in 1989 with $10,000 in savings, and has steadily grown the company to a multi-million dollar business.


In the mid 1980’s Saft worked for a retail blinds fabricator in a sales capacity. While driving around Orlando, Florida, she noticed many new commercial buildings being built, and thought that this would be a good market to sell blinds to. When she approached her manager with the idea, he was not interested in pursuing it. Saft believed in the opportunity so strongly that she decided to ultimately quit her job, take a course on blueprints and construction to learn about the industry, and... Read More

Picture of John Steadham participating in ribbon-cutting

Pensacola, FL – John Steadham, President of Grand Coastal Builders, Inc. (GCB), operates a highly successful construction business that almost closed its door in 2009. Steadham, a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, obtained 8(a) certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for his business in August of 2009. Steadham applied for the certification as the last effort to save his business from the devastating effects of several storms, a housing industry collapse, and a major oil-spill.

The 8(a) Business Development Program is an important resource for small businesses seeking business development assistance. Named for Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, this program was created to help small and disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. It also helps these companies gain access to federal and private procurement markets. For more information on 8(a) certification, visit SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Website

Steadham grew up... Read More

Kristen Hadeed

Gainesville, FL --- Kristen Hadeed, founder of Student Maid is not an average 20 something with lofty goals and entrepreneurial dreams. She founded her own cleaning company while still in college, and has quickly become part of the thriving economic scene in Gainesville, Florida. 

Hadeed is an Arabic-American woman in her mid-twenties who grew up in Flagler Beach, FL. She graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 2010 with a degree in finance. Hadeed started her cleaning business while she was a junior in college, and instead of accepting a job in her field upon graduation, she decided to continue building her business.

Student Maid was started in 2009 with the help of a craigslist ad, and a pair of $99 jeans. Hadeed stated, “I wanted a pair of expensive jeans in college, and my parents told me to get a job to pay for it. I put an ad on Craigslist to clean houses for $99 to accommodate my schedule and demanding course load.” The plan worked, and by... Read More

Sonia Taboada and Juan Cafarelli

Jacksonville, FL – Sonia Taboada, Owner of Sentinel Insurance Specialists, Inc., is not only a successful small business owner, but also her own client. Taboada sold nearly 300 health insurance policies, including one to herself, under the self-employed provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) within a few months of launching her own business.

Taboada is originally from Puerto Rico, but lived in New Jersey for most of her life where she gained an appreciation and passion for healthcare due mostly to her personal experience with her son. Her son was born deaf, but was misdiagnosed as having cerebral palsy. Eventually, after the diagnosis was corrected, Taboada faced additional challenges related to her son’s education. Taboada hoped her son could continue in a school that offered “total communication services for the deaf” as he did in middle school; however a lack of programmatic support for deaf students in the district meant her son would have to attend a mainstream... Read More