Success Stories

Erik and Bonnie Johnsen, new owners of The Costumer.

It’s not every day you get a chance to purchase a century-old company, but that’s exactly what happened to Erik and Bonnie Johnsen.

Last October the couple purchased The Costumer, a Schenectady, NY-headquartered business that got its start in 1917 by Anna White. As the story goes, White’s seamstress neighbor moved from the neighborhood, but her customers kept knocking on White’s door and a business was born. In 1974, drama teachers Kathe and Jack Sheehan purchased the company for $25,000 after visiting to rent a costume for one of their high school productions. The Sheehans built up the business as a labor of love and developed The Costumer into the theatre support company it is today. After Jack passed away in 2006, Kathe continued to lead the business forward, but recognized in 2016 that it was time to bring on the next act.  

Enter the Johnsens. After spending over 20 years with  international banks in the United Kingdom and Singapore managing  operations in Africa... Read More

Saving Face Barber Shop owner Anthony Nappa cuts SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki's hair.

Anthony Nappa discovered his career at age 12, when he started cutting his own hair and turned his family’s home basement into a makeshift barber shop for family and friends. While still in high school at the age of 17, Anthony apprenticed with a local barber shop for two years to become a licensed barber. Shortly after graduation, Anthony started his own business, Saving Face Barber Shop in Camillus, NY.

“The purpose of Saving Face is to provide clients with unrivaled quality in all of the services we provide. The atmosphere is ideal for men of all ages to escape and enjoy the traditional barbershop experience with a modern makeover,” said Nappa. “The styles are relevant, the products are innovative, and the staff is relaxed and friendly.”

Nappa’s cutting-edge barber shop offers haircuts, hot-towel shaves, facials and more with complimentary beverage stations, flat screen televisions and a full-size pool table for customers to enjoy while waiting for their... Read More

Susan Jablon's mosaics on the set of "HELL'S KITCHEN" television show

Artist Susan Jablon fell in love with glass as a young girl, intrigued by her mother’s vivid blue glass bowl and the way the color interacted with sunlight. After raising her own children and returning to the corporate world, Jablon looked for a creative outlet outside of the office. She started out purchasing small amounts of glass tile to run art classes in Binghamton, NY for adults and children, eventually ordering in bulk. With so much tile on hand, she used the internet to help sell the extra supply. On her 50th birthday, Susan Jablon gave herself the best present of all: focusing full-time on her glass tile startup, Susan Jablon Mosaics, LLC.

Creativity and innovation are more than her company product features- they are the hallmark of Jablon’s leadership. To create simple sheets of mosaics that can be easily installed, Jablon worked with an architect to engineer a prototype resin tray for the individual glass tiles to be placed into face down. The tray mold offered a... Read More

Green Ignite, Inc. owner Viktor Klyachko

Viktor Klyachko always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even as a young boy. Arriving in Utica, NY as a 12-year-old from his native country of Ukraine, Viktor quickly adapted to life in America and set his heart on the pursuit of the America dream: small business success.

Klyachko started his first business while he earned his bachelor degree in business at Babson College. Babson, as #1 Entrepreneurship School in the country, gave a taste to all students for starting and running a business during everyone’s freshman year. The “Babson Magazine” was a joint class effort with other students, and didn’t last past the course, but it gave Klyachko his first real taste for entrepreneurship in action. Viktor’s two attempts to start a business during the senior year and right after graduating failed to last more than a year, yet Klyachko was still determined to persist.

He returned to the Utica area and started a company to distribute high efficiency residential, commercial and... Read More