Accion and The Hartford launched a national partnership in 2014 to support small business owners as part of The Hartford’s Communities with HART program. Through this partnership, The Hartford supports Accion’s lending efforts while also collaborating to offer financial education events and other educational resources to help neighborhood businesses thrive.

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July 15
LE’DALE COLES, OWNER OF DESIGNER GLITZ & GLAMOUR HAIR SALON premium

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Thanks to a partnership between Accion and The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Le’Dale Coles, owner of Designer Glitz & Glamour hair salon received a loan to finance a lease on a nearby commercial location, as well as pay for renovation improvements on signage and plumbing for the building. The expanded salon – from 1100 square feet to 3200 square feet – has a full time staff of 15 and is transitioning some part-time workers to full-time staff to help align their capacity with the expected increase demand for her services.

To give back to her community, Le’Dale is focused on offering free salon services to at-risk populations in 2015. To kick off the year of service, Designer Glitz & Glamour will offer services in partnership with Locks of Love in Universal City to children suffering with long-term medical illnesses. Le’Dale is also planning to hold a charity …

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July 15
KATIE MCCARTHY, STOP SHOP AND ROLL IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA premium

Katie McCarthy is a trendsetter. Over a year ago, she launched Stop Shop and Roll, the first mobile business of its kind in San Diego, selling fashionable and affordable women’s clothing in pop-up locations throughout the city. Thanks to Accion’s partnership with The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Katie expanded her business footprint and created jobs in her local community. To help meet increasing demand, Katie qualified for a business loan to open her first storefront location and purchase new merchandise for the mobile and storefront business. The loan also helped her hire two part-time workers to help run the shop, purchase a point-of-sale system to track inventory, and secure a new awning for her truck and store.

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After working at Nordstrom’s for 11 years, Katie wanted to do more with her passions and expertise. While she couldn’t make clothes, she knew she could sell them. …

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July 15
MICHAEL PRESTON, CRUISIN’ WAVES AURORA, ILLINOIS premium

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Michael Preston is an outstanding example of how dreams can start at an early age, and how business owners can service community interests by breaking down the walls of exclusivity. Thanks to a partnership between Accion and The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Michael qualified for a loan that allowed him to manage his finances and start his business, Cruisin’ Waves .…

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July 15
MAKE IT A BLAST! SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA premium

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Laura English is a part-time resource teacher, part-time business owner, and full-time mother. She owns Make it a Blast, a growing event planning business in San Diego. Inspired by her oldest daughter’s first birthday, the business was created to organize festive birthday parties for kids but has recently expanded to organize large scale events as well as supply rental equipment for events across the city. Thanks to a partnership between Accion and The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Laura qualified for a business loan that helped her buy new party rental equipment and a van to easily transport her supplies from event to event. In addition to new tables, chairs, and tents, Laura now has a popcorn machine, an upgraded photo booth, and a cotton candy machine to rent to clients. “Because I had such a small business, it was hard to get a loan from …

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July 15
JESSICA LOBUE, OWNER OF UNRAVELED YARN SHOP WAUCONDA, ILLINOIS premium

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Jessica LoBue and her mother always wanted to start their own business. As avid crocheters, Jessica and her mother, a 911 dispatcher, realized they had two options: buy fibers online or drive an hour away to find some. Through what Jessica describes as a “serendipitous opportunity,” retail space opened up on one of the most popular streets in her local community for specialty businesses. Jessica saw an opportunity to locally source these fibers from nearby farms and sell them right in her neighborhood. Thanks to the partnership between Accion and The Hartford through the Communities with HART program, their dream came true. Their business, Unraveled Yarn Shop, supplies locally sourced yarn from sheep wool and alpaca farms in the adjacent counties of Lake and McHenry. Local farmers appreciate her locally-driven business partnership, which has helped many stabilize profits.…

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June 20
Serving the Community with Tax Preparation Assistance premium

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My client’s success is my success.”

With 15 years of experience as a financial analyst, Santos Ochoa has become a leader in his community on tax preparation. His business, Ochoa & Associates, has become an invaluable resource for Spanish speaking clientele. He noticed that many similar businesses in the area were unable to assist the large Spanish speaking population of Aurora, IL and he knew this was one way he could bring more value to his local community.

Apart from the critical tax and bookkeeping work that Ochoa & Associates offers, the business is a great resource for small business development. Santos has found that many local small businesses have recordkeeping challenges. Santos firmly believes in the strength found in collaboration. He says, “My client’s success is my success.”

Santos first came to Accion Chicago in 2012 in order to get more working capital to keep his business …

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December 6
Robert Knauf, Rowlberto Productions premium

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Video production company telling powerful stories in San Diego 

Tell people you’re shooting videos in California, and chances are, most will think you’re probably trying to make it big in L.A. For Robert Knauf, co-owner of Rowlberto Productions, there are plenty of great stories to tell right by the ocean in San Diego.

“It’s cool being thrown into the inner workings of how different companies do their business,” Robert says, sharing his work with clients including radio stations, real estate firms, and the San Diego Symphony. “Being able to tell their story is a big aspect of what I love.”

Since moving to San Diego, Robert and his business partner Andrew Rowley have worked hard to master a craft they love. A communications graduate of Cal State San Marcos, Robert got his start working at Media Arts Center San Diego. Andrew completed his theater arts degree at San Diego State …

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November 15
SPENCER ROSEN, ENERGY INTEGRITY INC. IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA premium

Spencer Rosen has worked in the sustainability industry over the past 10 years, developing Energy Integrity Inc. from his passion for green sustainability on the planet. As Founder and CEO, Spencer created a company that provides a comprehensive solution to address home energy use.  Through home energy inspections, Energy Integrity is able to best prioritize and address homeowner’s high energy bills, energy efficiency, comfort, safety and renewable energy goals.

“It’s great to know that what drives all the work we do is a commitment to save the planet for future generations while saving money and creating comfortable homes for our customers,” Spencer says.
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November 6
Vaughn Grant III, Endless Customizing Apparel premium

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Offering personalized clothing with character at an affordable price

Vaughn Grant III has been an entrepreneur for as long as he can remember. He has run errands for elderly congregants of his local church, rushing to fulfill the needs of others before his own. When he worked for a uniform-making business, Vaughn saw an opportunity to build a profitable enterprise by accommodating non-wholesale orders. “I wanted to make customizing apparel more affordable, allowing individuals and small businesses to access these products,” Vaughn says.

In 2007, Vaughn opened Endless Customizing Apparel, a retail shop that offers screen printing, tackle twill embroidery, direct-to-garment printing, and rhinestone application. The business locally sources fabrics from hometown vendors including Hudson’s Embroidery and Fellers Vinyl Wrap Supply Company. Partnering with local businesses allows Vaughn to commit to a stable product source as well as keep resources circulating throughout his community.

Thanks to Accion’s partnership with The …

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November 6
Brenda Thompson, E.M. Branch & Associates, Inc. premium

 

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Community advocacy and family therapy through a multicultural lens 

Growing up on the south side of Chicago as the oldest of six children, Brenda Thompson never liked how low-income people were disrespected and disregarded. Inspired by her mother, Brenda founded E.M. Branch & Associates, Inc., a community social service agency belovedly known as “Branch” to fight against adversity in her local community.

Committed to helping people develop the tools they need to live a healthy life, Branch is truly a labor of love for Brenda’s extended family. Brenda works alongside her daughter, Nikia, both of whom are licensed clinical social psychologists working towards their PhDs in International Psychology and Organizational Leadership, respectively. Brenda’s son Steven serves as Billing Manager. And Brenda’s inspiration is still a fixture at the business—at 82 years old, her mother still comes to volunteer in the office three days a week.

The Thompson family is …

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September 14
CHAVAH ADAMS, VIDA CHIC DESIGNS AND COMMUNITIES WITH HART premium

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“I am a huge supporter of local and small business and try to work with people I know and trust every chance I get, I support them and they support me.”

-Chavah Adams, Vida Chic Designs in San Antonio, Texas…

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July 15
RICKY REYES, OWNER OF ROXTAR MUSIC premium

Music is in Ricky Reyes’ blood. Having grown up watching his father, Rick Reyes, make a living as a Grammy-award winning musician, Ricky knew he wanted to be in the business. So he combined a love for music and his business acumen to create Roxtar Music, a website designed to efficiently connect musicians and bands. Thanks to Accion’s partnership with The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, Ricky launched theroxtarmusic.com website to great fanfare.

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