Entrepreneurs with different inspirations get help during TCC start-up week
By Cedrell Mitchell
The inspiration to become an entrepreneur struck 12-year-old Mia DeWolf in a moment of grief.
Three years ago her grandmother succumbed to cancer. In her grief, DeWolf figured that starting an arts and crafts business was the way to go. She named it for her grandmother, calling the business Amelia Mae Creations.
“It was really hard on me because we were really close,” DeWolf said.
DeWolf donates 50 percent of her sales to cancer research and patients who face difficulty paying their hospital bills.
DeWolf, part of a growing number of young entrepreneurs, makes all of the button art and sews her creative pillows. She also sells items such as fun bookmarks and lollipops.
“I love doing button art, (sewing) pillows and everything else since it is going towards a good cause,” she said. “We do a lot of craft shows but we have not sold to any big retailers yet.”
DeWolf was one of many entrepreneurs who took advantage of a week of activities that were staged as Start Up Week at Tallahassee Community College.
“Start up week is all about encouraging the people in the community to come together and start businesses no matter the expertise because this is the new economy,” said Rick Paul, coordinator of TCC’s Spark Program, which is designed to assist new business owners.
While the number of start-ups in Tallahassee is below the national average, figures show that they are increasing daily.
Some owners take the risk with little experience.
Shantrelle Dickens, owner of SD Creative Designs, is one of them. She makes clothing accessories.
A pregnancy was her inspiration.
“When I found out that I was having a girl,” she said, “I wanted her to be different.”
Many of the start-up business owners also were motivated by changes in their careers or field of employment.
Linley Paske and Lauren Pasqualone took the initiative to start a networking company for working mothers.
“We came out of the cooperate culture, working more than full time jobs and we were stretched really thin,” said Linley Paske, co-founder of Working like Mothers. “We knew there was something more out there and if we needed support other mothers did too.
“We are uniquely qualified as moms to be a chaos coordinator in order to hustle everything. It is a challenge but that’s why we felt strongly about the organization, Working like Mothers.”
Throughout the weeklong event, entrepreneurs were able to network and learn more about the community start-up businesses.
“Entrepreneurship is the key to the future,” said Paul. It is small businesses that hire verses large businesses that lay people off.”