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Woman Business Owner Beats the Odds

About nine years ago, Cathy Stafford had a vision for a new company, Ad-Venture Promotions. At that time, she was a single mother with a young son.  She had recently gone through a divorce and was still battling stage 4 colon cancer.  Despite these and other challenges, she started a new business in the laundry room of her home, with her son close by her side.  She worked harder than she had ever done before, growing the home based business steadily and profitably, despite dealing with many challenging obstacles along the way. 

The obstacles she incurred did not get in the way of her vision.  She eventually moved the business outside the home and later purchased an office building where the business now resides.  An SBA Express loan helped provide her with additional capital necessary for any rapidly-growing business and enabled her to add employees. 

Today, Cathy Stafford operates her promotional products business with that same passion and vision.  The company now has 15 employees, and her son has grown up in a thriving entrepreneurial environment as the business has grown.  Cathy stated, “My greatest strength is the integrity of my team.  That is why we are so successful.”   

Ms. Stafford describes the business as, “anything with your name on it.”  The products that her company provides for marketing purposes range from traditional to non-traditional items, including water bottles, brownies, and cellular ring-tone cards.  In fact, the website has 10 major categories of products, including food gifts, bags, headwear, writing instruments, drinkware, desk and office accessories, awards and trophies, calendars, sporting goods and magnets. 

During all of this time, Cathy Stafford continued to honor her commitments to church, community and her son.  Ms. Stafford recently served as President of the Central Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).  Also, the business is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).  Along with other achievements, Ms. Stafford was recognized as the 2012 SBA Kentucky Women in Business Champion of the Year for her service and inspiration to other women business owners.  Additionally, she serves on the certification review board for WBENC, is a board member of Grace to Ukraine, a ministry to serve orphans, trustee for Crossings Camp and just completed a three-year term as a Trustee on the Endowment Board for Rotary.

In April 2012, the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky held the first women business owners roundtable in Lexington, KY.  Ms. Stafford was the featured speaker.  In the speech to the attendees of the WBC event, Cathy discussed her challenges in starting and growing her business.  She described her life over the past decade and how she rose above so many obstacles to become successful. 

Despite the hectic schedule and constant businesses interactions, she felt a sense of isolation, but she stated that “lots of networking helped.” She also said, “I’ve seen things change in the last nine years, and that’s exciting.  My personal experience has been good, but the road has been bumpy.  I’ve never taken my eyes off the goals, and it’s now paying off.”  Her stories about those challenges as a female business owner left many in the audience in tears, and they truly admire her focus, determination and dedication.