Andrea Robertson "In the Middle" Food Truck
I am the owner of a food truck. We serve authentic and healthy Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean food at corporate lunches, private catering and events throughout Hillsborough County. My intention was to invest in a part-time business for extra cash. My business partner at the time entered another profession and I was laid off so it was literally sink or swim.
At the time I started this business, I was going through a divorce and the loss of a parent. When I was laid off, I found myself on food stamps and unemployment benefits. However, today, I own a business, my son is a sophomore at UCF and my daughter a Senior in High School.
It's a lot more work than I though. Every single day even if I'm not on the truck requires time and effort. If'I'm not selling, I'm shopping, prepping, cleaning, bookkeeping, scheduling and brainstorming. I no longer look at how much I earn an hour because that is no longer my mentality.
Seek wise counsel and align yourself with people who believe in you-even if it's just one person. Don't let fear of the unknown paralyze you. Ask for help when you need it. Don't think you have to have all the answers and know-how up front. Do your research and take advantage of the many free resources available in our community. Believe in yourself and do the work.
Shellee West "Airflow Engineered Systems"
I worked with the WBC Director for about a year and a half and she was able to direct me through the government programs for Women-owned Businesses and Small Businesses. She also assisted me with getting my certifications. We focused on setting and accomplishing goals, including obtaining funding for my small-business. I had started my father's business back up, and needed guidance even though I was familiar with the industry, having grown up around it. I was at rock bottom in my life and realized that I had a few choices to get out of my financial ruins.
One of my biggest challenges to overcome was starting at point zero- no car and no money. However, since getting counseling and with plenty of hard work, my business has taken off. I've opened another office in South Florida for the convenience of customers in the area. Having been through hard times myself, I contribute through partnerships in giving back to the community to support the disadvantaged: abused children, the homeless and veterans.
I am very thankful for Stacey from the Women's Business Centre; she has been a great deal of help and I've really appreciated her assistance.
Quinn Reitz "The Nursing Queen"
I started with just an idea. I have no background in clothing design. I'm a former TV journalist. Nursing Queen is a clothing line for breastfeeding moms. After I had my son in November 2014, I started looking for nursing-friendly clothes and couldn't find much selection. I specifically wanted loose-fitting tops that were made from cotton. Surprisingly, most of the ones I found were clingy, tight and made out of rayon. Who wants to wear that after having a baby? Not me!
I knew that I could learn quickly and that once I had a product I liked, I couldn't sell it. I enrolled in several online classes to learn about social media marketing and building a brand. I attended my first textile expo in Miami in March 2015 and learned a lot about fabrics and the first steps in creating a clothing line. After trying out several factories, I decided to go with one in NYC.
Starting from scratch was an obstacle. It just seemed so overwhelming but I just took it one step at a time. I met with Stacey at the Women's Business Centre. She was helpful and provided me with counseling and a plan of action to helped me understand clearly the next steps for my business. My goal is for Nursing Queen Clothing to help moms feel good about themselves and make their lives easier!