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February 15
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: NELSON PIZARRO AND NELSON PIZARRO JR., ECOSTATIC premium

EcostaticNelson Pizarro founded EcoStatic, Inc in 2012 with his children to create an eco-friendly alternative to sticky notes. They invented “slickynotes,” described as double-sided writing surfaces that come in a variety of sizes. EcoStatic developed a unique technology that gives their slickynotes an electrostatic charge that allows them to stick on surfaces instead of glue. Slickynotes are made of 100% recyclable materials and writing on them with dry erase markers makes them reusable. The notes attach to any flat surface and can be moved easily without losing their ability to stick. EcoStatic also produces a product called “slickyboard.” This larger white board made from the same materials as slickynotes adheres to any smooth service. Companies frequently use the product as a project management tool.

“Even if we haven’t made it yet,
we believe strongly in giving back as a company.”
~ Nelson Pizarro

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February 13
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: SHANNELLE ARMSTRONG-FOWLER, HAUTE & CO BRIDAL BOUTIQUE premium

ShannelleArmstrongFowler

As an accomplished public relations executive in the retail industry, Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler spent much of her career keeping her finger on the pulse of fashion trends. While working as a public relations director for Sears Holdings in Chicago, she recognized a void in the market to serve women with fuller figures seeking luxury wedding dresses. The options available were largely limited to big box stores or little known online retailers.

“Every bride deserves to feel special on her wedding day.”
~ Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler

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February 11
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: SOPHIE PHILLIPS, SPROCKET & STONE, LLC premium
Sophie Phillips, Sprocket & Stone, LLC
Pet art created by Sophie Phillips, owner of Sprocket & Stone in Chicago

Sophie Phillips loves the diversity and small town feel of her Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago. After working as a dog walker for several years, she identified the need for a decent neighborhood pet store to offer high quality products and services for pet lovers.

“I’m happy to offer our community
a place where they can find healthier
alternatives for their pets.”
~ Sophie Phillips

 …

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US
February 11
FAST TRACK’S MARIA HARRISON AND THE CHISMS COLLABORATE FOR A TEA AND BEER EDUCATION NIGHT premium

Join Head Brewer Liz Chism of Council Brewing and John Harrison of Tea Gallerie tonight for their second #BeerEducationNight of 2016 where they will discuss blending tea with beer.

Flights of 3 special teas alongside 3 tea infused beers will be available for purchase as John and Liz cover how each integrate with the beer style. Flights start at 5:30pm and the talks will go from 6-7pm.

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December 29
WHAT DOES A STRONG WOMAN LOOK LIKE? premium

What does a strong woman look like? How do you honor your parents’ legacy? What does it mean to succeed? Watch the video to hear Azra’s story and learn about her business, Plaques by Azra.

It has been a momentous two years for Azra. She’s attended a Tory Burch coaching event and talked with Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google, she’s participated in American Express OPEN for Women’s CEO Bootcamp, was selected to be in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, and participated in Accion’s MicroConsulting Program. All of this started with an Accion microloan to purchase equipment for her awards manufacturing business.

Azra’s business began the day she was born. Her father immigrated to Elmhurst, Queens from Tanzania with the dream of building a better life for his family. Shortly after Azra was born, he launched Plaques by Azra. And when Azra …

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December 18
FROM FASHIONISTA TO FASHION DESIGNER & ENTREPRENEUR premium

JPMC Accion East ATM South FL Promotion Dec 2015(1)

Turning a passion for fashion into a business requires a clear concept, unique designs and a strong brand. Growing up, Debra delighted in reading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines. While attending college in New York City, she began developing a vision for the kind of clothing she wanted to produce. Her brand identity was unique as it was closely tied to her Cuban roots.
After returning to her hometown of Miami, Debra made the decision to start her business.  Yet she needed capital to kickstart her business. She had come across convenient and quick borrowing options that are commonly found online:

“Sure, the loans were quick and easy to get, but at a large cost. With Accion, the process was clear, fair and simple. I also felt safe,” explains Debra.

Debra received her first loan through Accion, and participated in Accion’s financial literacy courses which helped her transition from designer

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December 16
Food & Beverage Business Tips! premium


When starting your own business, some of the best lessons can be learned from those who’ve already gone through the process. Here are valuable insights from some Accion clients who built their own successful food and beverage businesses from the ground-up:

  1. Dream Big and Just Do it!
  2. Build your “Dream Team”
  3. Accept that Failure and Growth go Hand-in-Hand
  4. Be Clear About Your Intentions
  5. Make Time for Life Outside of Work
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December 16
INVESTING IN THE LONG TERM PROVES TO BE DIFFICULT premium

MLF-LogoOn a daily basis, consumers make in-the-moment decisions that interfere with long-term best interests. These decisions range from choosing an unhealthy meal, to texting and driving, to financial decisions. Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics who is interested in why consumers choose to act against their own long-term goals, has announced a new research center called the “CommonCents Lab,” funded with a $7.9 million grant from the MetLife Foundation. These studies will be devoted to helping America’s low- and moderate-income families, who are often faced with difficult everyday financial choices.

Ariely stresses the temptation surrounding consumers, such as mall advertisements and apps, which urge consumers to make a commitment of time, money and attention right now. Ariely concludes that the solution is to teach consumers about money and implementing ways for consumers to save in the long term (such as 401Ks).

“For example we did …

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December 7
FAST TRACK FEATURES: STEMS premium

Stems

On any given morning, Suzanna Cameron of Stems finds herself at a local flower market by 6 a.m. selecting the brightest, most unique flowers for the day ahead. Stems, a flower shop located within a bar in Brooklyn, New York has seen sales double in the last year, hired three full time employees and is looking to expand to an additional two locations. Suzanna is an Accion client who was selected to be part of our new leadership and business accelerator program, Fast Track, which is supported by Capital One and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Fast Track is providing 27 outstanding loan clients from around the country with coaching and mentoring over several months to help set their businesses on a path to growth. See a video about the program here.…

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November 25
FAST TRACK PARTICIPANT AWARDED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR BY LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE premium
Hollingworth Candies
Wendy Carver’s daughters accepting the local Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year award on behalf of Hollingworth Candies in Lockport, Illinois in November

Congratulations to Accion client and Fast Track program participant Wendy Carver for her business, Hollingworth Candies, winning the Business of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce in Lockport, Illinois! After seeing her sales increase this year, Wendy opened a second larger manufacturing facility in Lockport to meet the growing demand for her delicious toffee, candy, and chocolates.

“Hollingworth Candies is a destination location for so many people, drawing many visitors to the downtown from neighboring communities,” said Lisa Kairis, Executive Director of the Lockport Chamber of Commerce in a press release. “Owners Margaret Carlson and Wendy Carver have built that business into a mainstay of Lockport.” Congratulations Wendy! We look forward to supporting the continued success of your business growth.

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