Archive | December, 2011

Its not too late to Donate!

30 Dec

It’s not too late to make a tax-deductible donation to Empowered Women International, and give a gift of empowerment that lasts a lifetime!  Thanks to your generous support we raised $16,434 toward our year-end goal of $35,000.

We urgently must to raise $18,566 before Dec 31, 2011 to ensure the necessary funding to help talented and high-potential immigrant, refugee and low-income American-born women start-up businesses and become productive and contributing members of our community.

There is no better time than in the midst of crisis to invest in growing the entrepreneurial sector. Yet support for entrepreneurs in the current financial climate, especially marginalized communities such as immigrants and low-income women has been very limited.

Watch the video below, and listen to Shahnaz’s story of courage.

She is a refugee who lost everything in her life, and she was forced to leave her country and start again several times. But she is not giving up.  

The business she started through EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success, Babylon Spirit, focuses on paintings and folk art influenced by Middle East. This not only provides Shahnaz with a source of income, but allows her to integrate in and contribute to her newly adopted country. 

 We rely on support and contributions from individuals like you to provide our entrepreneurship education program, mentoring and support services to women like Shahnaz, who are determined to rebuild their lives, integrate and give back.

Please make a tax-deductible gift today and help us continue to create jobs and rebuild lives.

EWI’s successful model of empowerment for women was recognized in several publications, and most recently EWI’s Founder Marga Fripp was featured in the newly published book Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience by Susan C. Pearce, Elizabeth J. Clifford, and Reena Tandon.

Susan C. Pearce, one of the book authors and a longtime supporter of EWI says that,

“EWI is a story of positive energy, inspiration, and hope – not only for immigrants, but for all of us.

I met Marga Fripp as she was conceiving her vision of this venture, when I was involved as a founder of an immigrant rights group and newsletter in Baltimore. Since then, I have watched this dream blossom into the enterprise that it is today. Initiatives such as EWI affect social change both visibly and directly, through training and mentorship to help individuals survive and prosper, and more invisibly and indirectly, by helping to stabilize communities, empower women as a group, contribute to our economy, and reverse the negative images that are often held about immigrants.

When my co-authors and I were choosing individuals’ stories to profile in our book, “Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience”, we selected Marga Fripp and her inspiring work with Empowered Women International to include in our section about activists.

 We need organizations such as Empowered Women International most critically in times like these, when the conventional workplace is low on job creation and immigrants become scapegoats for our country’s financial woes.”

For every donation made to EWI between now and Dec 31, you will be entered into a raffle to WIN the book “Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience,”by Susan C. Pearce, Elizabeth J. Clifford, and Reena Tandonwith a personal dedication from me to you.

 Make a tax-deductible gift today and help us meet our year-end goal of $35,000. Donors like you ensure that EWI grows and changes more lives in the year to come.

Thank you for your generous donation this holiday season!

Did you miss graduation?

21 Dec

No worries if you missed Women with Wings graduation reception on Saturday evening. Here are two short films that tell the story…

Coming to EWI allowed me to be refitted, my sprocket resurfaced, and when I left I was a fully functioning sprocket.”

 Tacha Coleman Parr, Jazz Singer – Entrepreneur Training for Success Graduate Class 2010 Guest Speaker

Empowered Women International: Tacha Coleman Parr

EWI Women with Wings Graduation Gala Dec 17, 2011 Film.mp4

 We’re doing extraordinary work and changing lives with passion, dedication and commitment – all on a shoestring budget. Just imagine what we can do, if you can join us and help us meet our year-end goal of $35,000.

Give to EWI this holiday season and your tax-deductible donation between now and Dec 24, will be matched dollar for dollar up to $4,000.


Women with Wings Graduates Class 2011

 Contribute today and help EWI double its impact and continue its important work.

Together, we are providing sustainable economic opportunities for talented and promising low-income or at-risk immigrant, refugee and other women in need.


Welcome to Sushmita’s Studio!

15 Dec

Some of you may know my story and some of you may not.

Maybe you know how I quit advertising-my life for almost 20 years-to do something different and even more creative, something that connected with my present life as a woman from India living in the US and a mom taking care of her American children.

But was I any good as a writer? And so what if I made storybooks by hand-was I even an artist? It was difficult working alone and I often wondered if I should just give up this thing I loved to do and go find some (gulp!) job.

Everything changed when I met Marga, founder of Empowered Women International,an awesome non-profit based in Alexandria. In our first meeting I learned how she understood women and moms, immigrants and artists, and business! And how nice she was! I knew she was not going to let me crawl back into my dark basement studio and give up.

Today, I invite you to visit me in my new studio! Sunny and full of ideas and projects (lined up for next year or just a whim for now) my studio at Convergence is my space where I create my work, inspired by artists around me. Come visit me on

Dec 17, 3 pm and then walk across the street and meet the new artists EWI has trained this fall at Women with Wings, EWI’s Entrepreneurs Graduation Gala, Business Showcase and Holiday Marketplace of locally-made Art and Gifts.

Talk to the artists and shop their amazing work. Then watch their eyes light up when they realize their work makes a difference and people actually like what they make!!!! It will be so rewarding for the artists and for you, you have to do it to believe it! I know. That’s how it started for me as an EWI graduate four years ago.

-Sushmita Mazumdar

Sushmita Mazumdar is a Greater Washington DC area writer, graphic designer and book artist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts from Bombay University in India and subsequently worked as an art director in the advertising industry in Mumbai. Sush volunteers as a docent with the Smithsonian’s Freer & Sackler Galleries of Art (National Museum of Asian Art) in Washington DC where she was trained in Asian art history. Sushmita is a graduate of EWI’s Training for Success program and lives in Arlington with her son, daughter, and husband.

Item of the Week: Hand Painted Silk Scarves

14 Dec

Rabia titled this scarf “Pomegranate” and writes about this scarf’s design and inspiration as follows: “The rustling sound of crisp leaves under my feet is what I await every year. Being surrounded by thick forests and fall splendor is hard to ignore. I love the oranges and browns and maroons and simply want them to stay forever. The colors of this scarf are inspired by fall and the title by pomegranate flowers.”

The silk fabric used is extremely soft and comfortable, yet luxurious. It is lightweight, breezy, and drapes perfectly. The scarf is 11″ by 60″ and has hand-rolled hems with 100% silk thread and beautiful 100% silk fringes on both ends.

Scarves are baked in the oven for 15-20 minutes so the dyes set; this assures that the colors will neither fade nor bleed. All of Rabia’s scarves are machine washable and safe to dry clean.

Rabia is originally from Pakistan. She is a renowned Silk Artist, aspiring teacher, and budding entrepreneur. Rabia graduated with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, is currently pursuing her M.Ed. in Education with a focus on ESOL, and operates a small IT management company with her husband. She is a mother of two beautiful daughters who share her love for colors. Rabia has been an EWI artist member since 2004 and is a graduate of the Career and Entrepreneur Center’s Training for Success program.

Colors and fabrics have always fascinated Rabia and she is continuously amazed by the elegant yet striking effect dyes have on silk. Her designs celebrate the changing seasons, life events and experiences, and the wide range of human emotions. Rabia takes special requests; she can do commissioned work, as well as personalized scarves for those who want to buy a special and unique gift for someone.

Watch this awesome video that shows you 25 ways to wear your hand painted silk scarves!  Purchase yours today!

Graduate Profile: Maggie

14 Dec

Maggie is a single mother, who moved to the U.S. from the Philippines.  She is passionate about cooking and sewing and has done both catering and tailoring to make extra money to stay afloat.  However, while working in a daycare in Annapolis she had a new business idea.  State law requires the cots children nap on must be covered with an appropriate “cot cover” and she noticed conventional cot covers were baggy, fell off easily, and got dirty quickly.  Using her passion for sewing she designed a quilted and fitted cot cover, therefore it stays cleaner longer, and is easy to take on and off.

Maggie presenting her cot cover at the EWI Biz Plan Pitch.

My design fits the cots precisely and secures the cover with elastic.  The edges do not hang off as they do with conventional covers.

Shortly after showing the parents at her day care what she had created, she started to receive orders. Realizing that there was a huge market for her handcrafted cot covers she contacted EWI.

Maggie working her mentor Deborah

Over the last three months, we have worked with Maggie to identity her target markets, set prices, and brainstorm about how she can expand to take her product to more day cares across the DC metro area.

Without this class, my business plans would not exist. The coaches and mentors have been the best, they have been encouraging, motivating, and especially patient with me and work well considering that English is my second language and I don’t have formal education in business.  I am now a stronger woman physically and mentally. The Women of EWI have given me the strength necessary to move forward and to tackle the world of business.

Meet our graduates this Saturday. RSVP to Women with Wings.

Graduate Profile: Carla Weeks

13 Dec

Carla Weeks originally from the UK, is the founder and creator of Piccadilly Weeks. A line of products made from vintage and repurposed materials. Each piece carries its own story and inspires those that hold them to imagine the origin of its components, and the history of the fabrics. Carla scours thrift stores, estate sales and antique shops to find high quality materials with unique characteristics. She uses anything from tweed jackets and cotton shirts, to pillowcases and tablecloths.

Clutches by Carla Weeks

I relish the idea of saving these forgotten artifacts from their thrift store doom and transforming them into something truly special. I am a strong believer in functional design. I stay true to classic silhouettes to allow each piece to reflect the personality of its texture and print, while retaining structure and purpose.

Carla's vision board

My products are created to inspire people to think about the potential of discarded everyday materials.

Purse made from a Repurposed Knit Blanket

My line of handmade accessories focuses on the reuse of old materials and their transformation into something truly special and unique. Each item carries it’s own story on a handmade tag explaining the origin of it’s materials, allowing the owner to imagine for themselves the stories behind it.

My guiding principles are to stay true to handmade products of the highest quality, stay loyal to thrifted and locally sourced materials, and to a tell story with each item.

Carla came to EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program because she found herself at a point were she needed help moving forward. While she had a great product, packaging, and had already begun to sell on her own and through a boutique, she was unsure of how to grow her business beyond a hobby.

Carla pitching her buisness to panel of judges.

EWI helped me solidify my focus, identify my target audience and my niche. Through the training I have begun to create a website for my company, a brand, and marketing materials. I have also been able to come up with a pricing system that I am comfortable with, and create budget projections and income statements. I even have a solid grasp on the legalities that surround setting up a new business and know which business structure is best suited to my company.

I have solidified the focus of my business idea, identified my target audience, and discovered my niche. I have begun to create a website for my company and created brand appropriate marketing materials such as business cards. I have been able to come up with a pricing system that I am comfortable with, and create budget projections and income statements. I now have a solid grasp on the legalities that surround setting up a new business and know which business structure is best suited to my company.

I’ve learned that every aspect of starting a business must grow simultaneously- every part of the process is connected. You can’t have a successful brand without strong marketing techniques, and you can’t expect your business to grow financially if you don’t work your priorities into an organizational system that works for you. Without the help that EWI provides, it would be virtually impossible to have access to all these aspects of business at the same time.

RSVP for the graduation gala, Women with Wings.

Can we count on you?

13 Dec

We are wrapping up an incredibly exciting year here at Empowered Women International.  We’ve just completed our Fall 2011 Entrepreneur Training for Success program, helping 10 women launch a new business. This year alone, we’ve provided 96 women with business coaching and mentoring services, launched 25 women-run small businesses, and produced 6 multicultural arts programs, showcasing over 30 women artists and involving over 6,000 community members. 

ETS Class of 2011.

In 2012, we have plans to double the number of women we support by expanding our training. We must raise $35,000 by December 31st and we need your help to make this dream a reality!  Some of you have already written asking how you can help so we decided to create the Empowered Women International Fundraising Team for volunteers, graduates, and members. Our goal is work with the Fundraising Team to raise $5,000.

Erin Liggan (center) coaching students on marketing strategies.

In just a few weeks time we’ve raised $7,545. With you as a team member we can get even closer to our goal!

There are FIVE easy ways you can help us reach our goal. You can pick one or all five.

1. Donate to Empowered Women International.  Make a one-time donation or become a sustaining monthly donor.

2.    Start your own Razoo Campaign through our project. It’s super easy and a great way to let your friends and family know why you support EWI.  Create a profile on Razoo profile and set a goal to raise at least $250.  Then, email your friends and family, asking them to make a donation.  We’ll provide you with a how-to video and guidance along the way to ensure you reach your goal!

3.     Email your friends and family. This is perfect for those of you who don’t want to set up a campaign through Razoo. Simply email your friends and family with the link to our campaign, tell them why you believe in us and why they should make a contribution today. We’ll even help you craft the email and give you some tips on how to make “the ask”.

4.     Post on Facebook.  Post a link to our Razoo campaign on your Facebook page.  Be sure to include why you support EWI and what is you are asking your friends to do.

5.     Post on Twitter.  Are you active on Twitter? Do you have a lot of followers? Post a link to our Razoo Campaign on Twitter encouraging your followers to make a contribution.

EWI Graduates Sushmita, Bre, and Tiffany at the Omni Studio Art Market.

With your help we will reach our goal! Just think, if everyone on this list gives just $10 we will raise more than $1,000.  If just 20 people commit to becoming sustaining donor at $15 a month, we will raise $3,600.  And if 16 people commit to raising $250 through their friends and family we will raise $4,000.

We can meet our goal, but like everything else we do, we can’t do this alone! If you are interested in becoming a member of the Empowered Women International Fundraising Team to help us reach our goal, please fill out this very short form. When you join you will receive guidance in preparing your fundraising ask as well as tips and resources to help you reach your goal.

Together, we can build a strong community, reach even more women and help one another succeed!

P.S. – Get inspired by attending our Fall 2011 Entrepreneurship Graduation this Saturday!

Graduate Profile: Shahnaz

13 Dec

Shahnaz El Rawi is an artist originally from Bagdad.  Two years ago, she moved to Maryland with her three daughters in order to build a new life.  A self-taught painter, Shahnaz combines her passion for traditional folklore and art.  Combining these elements, she creates vivid portraits of her beloved country.  With each unique piece, Shahnaz seeks to create a connection between the present and her rich cultural history.

In each of her paintings, traditional motifs such as ‘the evil eye’, Arabic letters, and numbers can be found.  Shahnaz also creates folk art using a variety of mediums such as mirrors, coins, fabric, and flowers woven together to create decorative pieces symbolic of her home country, Iraq.

“Painting is part of me. I painted a lot in elementary school and high school but never took art classes. The purpose of many of my pieces is to bring good luck to the owner. In Iraq if you hang these on your wall, your life grows and gets better.”

Shahnaz with her fellow ETS classmates, Tiffany and Bre. Shahanaz created the headbands they are wearing.

Through our Entrepreneur Training for Success program, Shahnaz has launched her company, Babylon Spirit.  In the past few months she has sold several pieces, diversified and improved her product line, participated in art markets and events, and painted a mural at Lutheran Social Services.

Folk art by Shahnaz.

When asked how EWI’s training has helped her, she told us, “Thank you for everything you helped me with. I will never forget this training. I am so glad I found my way to the U.S. I just want to share my work with the world.”

RSVP for the graduation gala, Women with Wings.

Meet our Graduates!

8 Dec

Each day between now and our Graduation on December 17th we will be introducing you one of our lovely and talented graduates.  Start getting to know each woman by reading about the the 10 businesses they are launching.

Tiffany Carter, US
Business: Owner of Vesica Splender, and Co-Owner of Thinking in Cups; a boutique offering one-of-a-kind beauty products, jewelry and hairpieces that inspire the individual to “never lose the whimsey.”

Maggie displaying how her cot covers work.

Maggie Erteschik, Philippines
Business: Ms. Maggie’s Cot Covers
Unique, custom and handcrafted cot covers for daycares.

Claire Morin, Zambia
Business: Tusha International
Using fabrics from her homeland Africa, Claire preserves cultural heritage by designing fashion forward styles for the trendy and global woman.

Lezlie sharing her vision board in the second class.

Lezlie Petronello, US
Business: Paws in Portraits
Dedicated to creating a lasting memory of beloved pets through beautiful and accurate, life-like portraits.

Grazyna Pinkowska, Poland
Business: Pol-Am Exports
One-of-a-kind Polish glass work

Iadalina Solo’o, Gabon
Business: NaturElle
Trendy Hair Braiding and Natural Haircare.

Artwork by Saadia Yasmin

Saadia Yasmin, Qatar
Business: Dream Chai Truck
A tea truck in the DC Metro area featuring authentic teas, coffee and art.

Carla Weeks, UK
Business: Piccadilly Weeks
Purses and fashion accessories made from vintage and repurposed materials.

Shahnaz El Rawi, Iraq
Business: Babylon Spirit
Folk Art and paintings capturing the spirit of Babylon.

Breann Whitcomb, US
Business: Owner of Mimulus and Co-Owner of Thinking in Cups; boutique offering one-of-a-kind beauty products, jewlery and hairpieces that inspire the individual to “never lose the whimsey.”

EWI Holiday Gift Guide

8 Dec

Find the perfect handmade scarf, necklace, painting, note card or present for someone special in your life this holiday season using our…

EWI Holiday Gift Guide 

EWI’s online store features unique handmade art and goods created by women entrepreneurs that EWI empowers to rebuild their lives and create sustainable livelihoods.

Visit our store today, and invest in EWI’s women entrepreneurs to create social change and

Give and Gift that Gives Back!