Archive | April, 2013

Coach’s Corner with Howard Feinstein

25 Apr

Coach’s Corner

By Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member

A weekly blog for E.W.I. students and graduates, passing along news, events, articles of interest, and tips on growing your business.  We are all on this journey together, and no one – certainly not yours truly – has all the answers.  Accordingly, I hope you will periodically contribute your ideas and news to this forum, c/o

Mon.  April 22:  Once you have put in place the basic marketing materials we’ve discussed previously (business cards; website; monthly (approximately) newsletter, etc.), it’s time to branch out beyond your family and friends.  You need not feel overwhelmed at this point – this is just the beginning stage.  Start out with groups with which you’re already affiliated — at a minimum, these are people who know you, so they are unlikely to delete your e-mail.  Let them know about your new venture; direct them to your website; and ask them to refer their own friends and colleagues to you.  This will get the ball rolling, quickly and inexpensively.  You will eventually need to network more creatively and probably develop additional marketing tools, but at this point, you want to build up your confidence and solicit some constructive feedback from allies.


Nadia showing her paintings

Remember:  as we’ve stressed, entrepreneurial networking is all about making prospective customers feel comfortable about dealing with you as an individual.  Once you have established this bond, you have opened the door to eventual success, because these repeat, long-term customers will provide you with the vast majority of your business over time.  You have plenty of time to tweak your product and/or service once you get feedback – at this point, you want to begin cementing the business relationships which are the key to your entrepreneurial future.  Best to begin with people who you are already comfortable with.


Aida Mady of Cooking & Beyond

So, what types of customer bases are we talking about here?  The potential target population is broad, and will depend upon each of your individual lifestyles.  Your church, synagogues, or mosque; your place of employment [note – do your marketing outside the workplace if at all possible]; clubs, sororities, alumni associations; neighborhood associations you already belong to; book clubs, sports leagues, and other group activities in which you are involved — use your imagination.  Again, at this point, you are not seeking immediate sales, but rather, as we’ve emphasized, getting your name out there.  Ask people to help you pass the word; ask for specific feedback or suggestions; and be sure to thank people for their time.


Winter Walker showcasing her NuDelish Date Butter, with Dinelles Sakyi, Fall 2012 Graduates

Here’s an example of a pre-existing network available to all of us:  EWI itself!  We are all entrepreneurs here — not just your fellow students, but the staff, board, and alumnae.  People in this network already have a basic idea of what you are up to, because they have been there themselves; this is a perfect audience for referrals, constructive critique, and confidence-building.  Remember:  entrepreneurial marketing involves walking a fine line – don’t be repetitious or obnoxious, but don’t be shy, either.  Your product reflects your passion, so let people know that they can expect something special.  You will already have the benefit of the doubt, because members of the growing EWI family know there you are coming from, and that you are going into this effort with access to top-notch preparation.   Do you think that when my civil rights memoir is published later this year, I will be letting you know that it is available for purchase?  Of course I will!  We all owe it to ourselves and EWI to do the same — this is a win-win situation.

Until next week, best wishes to all, and keep in touch – none of this did this alone, and you don’t have to either.  Helping each other is not a job or a favor – it is our mission.

Jami McDowell’s Inspiring Song, “Walk in Her Shoes”

17 Apr

To say that Jami McDowell, our spring Community Partnerships intern has a talent for music is an understatement. Her voice is angelic, full of love from the heavens. For Spring2Action, we wanted Jami to sing a song, any song she wanted. What she came back with was more than extraordinary. She wrote a song (in an hour before she shared it with us). It moved us to tears and motivated us to action.

Sister across the sea
I want to show you what I see
Sister, come near
We have the same heart beat

Let’s walk a mile in the same shoes
Let’s walk a mile in the same shoes
Have you walked a mile in her shoes

The song Walk in Her Shoes was inspired by being passionate about empowering women and it was her way to give back. The song reflects her feeling that women are connected. We support each other. We are different but so similar in that way.

Let your voice be heard. Let’s all walk in the shoes of all empowered women.

The women EWI supports are brave, courageous and talented. Yet they live at or below the poverty line, dealing with extraordinary life challenges.

Your gift will change lives, and together, we’re giving new hope and creating opportunity for all.

Please give in this last hour:

An Inspiring Story with our Superstar, Sharmila

17 Apr

“No matter where you come from, you’re going to have these patches in your life that are going to be a struggle. But how do you overcome it? You do whatever it takes. Have that faith in yourself. That is the main lesson that EWI – and this country – has taught me.”

Sharmila Karamchandani

Sharmila 2

Born into a family of artists, Indian-born Sharmila started out drawing and painting and later studied graphics. She spends a great deal of her time teaching graphic design and various forms of art and volunteering. She completed ETS in 2006 and has since helped Empowered Women International by providing client services, assisting with her graphic design knowledge and abilities, and by instructing EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success class. In 2008, she was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award by the Virginia Career College Association.

“I’ve always dabbled in many different things and this is, I can say confidently, one orginization that has utilized all my talents and put it to good use.”


Watch this personal and powerful account by Sharmila on how EWI has helped her become EMPOWERED!

(Read more about Sharmila by visiting EWI’s website and reading her “Success Story”)

Nurturing Creativity with EWI Entrepreneurs, Tiffany and Breann

17 Apr

“Thinking in Cups”

PPC ph-mg-hm-11-Vesicas-Splendor-A.jpg
Tiffany Carter and Breann Whitcomb graduated from EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program in Fall 2011. They co-own “Thinking in Cups”, which sells one of a kind handmade hairpieces, jewelry and bath products.When Tiffany and Breann first got involved with EWI, they did not originally plan on utilizing its services. Instead, they approached the organization with an initial business hoping to donate money directly to the organization. However, this soon changed following a meeting with EWI’s Founder and President Marga Fripp. It quickly became clear that they still had a lot of work to do in order to make their business successful. As such, Marga suggested that they enroll in the ETS program in order to improve their business skills and reach their true potential as entrepreneurs.Things changed for the two once again during the initial ETS intake. Tiffany and Breann happened to show a few photos of some of their hobby projects to EWI staff members and were immediately encouraged to seriously consider these projects as a possible business venture. After that meeting, they decided to take the advice of the EWI staff members and change their business idea into one that allowed them to pursue their creative passions.

In less than three months, Tiffany and Breann were able to develop a strong product line, a solid business plan, an online shop and marketing materials to promote their business. They credit ETS as the birthplace of their new business. The course gave them the courage to work full-time in the creative industry pursing projects they were truly passionate about. Furthermore, the course also provided the tools necessary, through a holistic approach and a supportive environment, to begin building and later growing the business(es) of their dreams.

According to Tiffany, “At EWI, I was not only asked to learn to perform the technical tasks such as business planning, budgeting, marketing, etc., but I was asked to face my personal fears in order to grow and excel as a woman and a business owner. My most prized possession that I walk away with is a newly found confidence that I can carry with me in all areas of my life.”

Along with confidence and skill building, the training helped Tiffany and Breann conquer the always nerve-wracking elevator pitch. The pressure of trying to figure out a way to describe what they do in a concise way really helped them develop a clear idea of what they wanted out of their business. Through the help of their classmates, this lesson also helped them develop some very unique catch phrases that they were able to use to market their business. For Tiffany and Breann, it was a real pleasure to be surrounded by students, mentors, and speakers with such creativity, insight, love, and support. This was something they felt was very unique to the ETS program.

Aside from learning about business skills and development, Tiffany and Breann also learned a lot about the importance of self-care, personal wellbeing, and nurturing their creativity throughout the process of becoming an entrepreneur. As a business owner, it can be easy to get caught up in to-do lists, meetings, or orders and forget to take out enough “me time”. They are now much more mindful of treating themselves well in order to avoid burn out. ETS taught them that it is ok to have fun and enjoy what you do; work can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be hard.

Tiffany and Breann recognize the distinctive set up of the training as being extremely conducive to networking, reaching out to others, and building not only relationships, but also communities around their work. This has been really integral to the way they conduct business. Tiffany and Breann no longer just look for people to sell goods to; they are interested in building relationships with their clients, being active in their communities, and giving back- which doesn’t always equate to monetary donations. Through this they have found that gratitude and a willingness to share it tends to often be payment enough.

Based on the insight and experience they have gained through participating in the ETS program, Tiffany and Breann have the following advice to other entrepreneurs interested in taking their businesses to the next level:

“Often, we avoid risks for the wrong reasons. There’s a time and a place to be risk averse, but know that for every leap you fail to take, there’s an opportunity missed. Failure is just a lesson learned – which is needed to gain perspective on how to do better the next time around. We’ve been faced with our fair share of “leaps of faith” and wouldn’t have it any other way. Take risks. Take the leap. Love what you do, and don’t be afraid to tell everyone about it!”

Since completing ETS, Tiffany and Breann have been working hard and keeping busy with their new business venture. They are reaching out to boutiques and continue to be proud participants in the EWI Micro-Enterprise Program. They also are planning on selling their products at home parties and customized events.

Their products can also be found at EWI’s online store:

“Vesica’s Splendor”- Tiffany Carter

Tiffany Carter 1

Tiffany Carter-Owner, “Vesica’s Splendor”; Co-owner, “Thinking in Cups”

 “Life is filled with many “Aha!” moments. Vesica’s Splendor was birthed from a series of those moments. From the realization that being creative was more than just a “hobby” for me, to the courage it took to leave my office job and pursue what I love full-time, the VS journey has been littered with  serendipity – teaching me to always keep an open mind, as I never know in what form inspiration will come. In chasing my joy, I have had the fortune to be surrounded by an amazingly supportive group of friends, family, and mentors. Vesica’s Splendor would not exist without them, and my goal is simple: To share with others the things I love in hopes that they, too, will be inspired to chase their joy. Oh, and the name? Vesica is borrowed from the Vesica Piscis, said to be a building block for some of the most complex constructs in the universe. It reminds me that from the humblest of beginnings, big things can happen – and that all those big things started off quite small. And Splendor (meaning: brilliant or gorgeous appearance, great brightness, adorn lavishly, etc.), well, I think you get the idea.” -Tiffany Carter 
Watch EWI’s interview with Tiffany to learn how becoming an Entrepreneur Training for Success Graduate has impacted her and her goals for the future as an Empowered Woman!
To learn more about Tiffany and her fantastic products, visit her website!

“Mimulus Design”-Breann Whitcomb

vesica's splendor- On The Rails collection

Breann Whitcomb- Owner, “Mimulus Design”; Co-owner, “Thinking in Cups”

“Hello! My name is Breann Whitcomb and I create, design and build items to transport your mind into a world of imagination. Colors and unusual themes are my specialty as well as the stories to go with them. Gaining inspiration from everything from leaves on the ground to electricity; I encourage the owners of my products to play in the lands I create for them and become the stories I tell.As a little girl I loved to take my mother’s old clothes and make them into something new. An old nightgown would become so much more with just a few safety pins and belts. My childhood love of interesting apparel and accessories has only grown through the years, leading me to expand my interests into unique body products, knickknacks and interior design. With my pieces, I hope to encourage people to come out of their shells and play “make-pretend” every day. I believe life is a lot more fun when you walk out of the house with a little more pizazz, a burst of color and a smile; ultimately, making people more confident.”- Breann Whitcomb

Watch EWI’s interview with Brea to learn how becoming an Entrepreneur Training for Success Graduate has impacted her and her goals for the future as an Empowered Woman!

To learn more about Breann and her products, visit her website!

Our Second Raffle Winners Are Getting Away!

17 Apr

Congratulations to Nora Mady, Abby Sadek, and Hoda Atia Moustafa for being our Getaway winners! Lucky them, they are headed for a 3 Day and 2 Night Getaway Vacation for Two at any number of destinations of their choice!

Thank you Nora, Abby, and Hoda for giving to EWI during our Spring2Action campaign, from all of us, the Empowered EWI S2A Team!

The EWI Team

Our team from top: Sara, Gabriella, Morella, Alexandra, Mariana.
And below: Mary, Alexia, Marga, Sharmila

Our next big raffle hour is from 7-8pm. During that time, give a minimum of $10 and you are automatically entered into our raffle for a … drum roll please…Cruise for Two on the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera valued at $1,500/package. We will announce THREE PRIZES! Travelers are responsible for minimum port fees, government taxes and processing. 

More prizes to prize, more raffles to raffle, we’re on a roll, we’re rocking on, and with your help we can make it to the top!


Paws for Peace Entrepreneur, Caryn Reitkopp

17 Apr

Empowered Women International sat down with Caryn Reitkopp, a recent graduate of EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program and owner of “Paws for Peace.”

Check out her interview below where she celebrates sowing the well deserved fruits of her labor and how EWI had a hand in EMPOWERING ONE MORE WOMAN!

Caryn and her Class

Tell us about your business.

While in the EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success(ETS) program last year, I developed the Paws for Peace curriculum for preschoolers to teach social skills, empathy, and promote humane education and kindness towards living things.  We use animal themes and puppets, to make connections with the children.  We also work with parents teachers as part of an all-inclusive program.  I am in the process of waiting for approval from the Maryland State Department of Education to have my teacher training workshops qualify for continuing education credits for teachers. I think what I’m teaching is a timely due to all the violence in the news and bullying behavior starting younger.


Congratulations are in order.  We understand you just got your first real client.

Yes – I am very excited!  This summer I will deliver 11 weekly classes to this preschool’s  29 children ages 2-5. They have chosen my Amazing Friendships Unit which we will end with a meaningful bake sale to raise funds for an animal charity of their choice.  The children will have baked home-made dog biscuits and other items to sell.  I’ve given my customer a discounted rate because this is a pilot and I need to get my name out there.  I’ll be able to take photos and testimonials that will benefit my marketing efforts.  I hope to sign schools up for fall too.

How did you find your client?

I found her during cold-call marketing when I was in ETS.  She had shown interest in the idea and was open to piloting my program.  After the ETS class ended, I called her again several times with no return calls and then finally e-mailed.  I just didn’t give up.  It took some work to reach her.  She had given me some ideas on an early call and I was able to incorporate her ideas which pleased her.  I had to make a LOT of cold calls and she’s the only one that was enthusiastic and seemed really interested.  I can see that patience is needed!

What advice would you give to other EWI entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to stay on your path.  Accept feedback and change what needs to be changed. You find your niche by trying different things.  Believe in yourself.  Do odd jobs if you need to so you can earn money while giving yourself time for your business to catch on.  The worst thing that can happen is that you will fail, but you will have given it your best shot.  And new doors always open when you have the courage to take chances.

How did the ETS course help prepare you?

 The ETS course helped me put my idea down on paper and make it happen.  I had been dreaming of doing a business where I combined my love for animals with my background in early childhood education for over 10 years.  Each session was a step towards completing my business plan which had felt like too big of an undertaking before I took the course. I also enjoyed the networking with other entrepreneurs and supporters of EWI.  In addition, I found the social media information to be really helpful since I am even new to Facebook.

 How can other EWI supporters help you? 

I appreciate connections or introductions with any daycares, preschools, children’s programs, museums or other venues.  Just help me spread the word!!!  My website is and my phone number is 301-502-4167.  I can be reached by email at

Caryn's family at the beach

Caryn’s family at the beach

Our First Raffle Winners!

17 Apr

Congratulations to Isabelle Schoenfeld for winning the Cruise for Two on the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera and Maria Standal for winning the Getaway Vacation for Two of her choice!


Isabelle is a long-time supporter of EWI from Bethesda Womenade Circle (second from right).


And Maria Standal is the amazing mom of our Development Associate, Alexandra Standal!

We wish them both an fabulous time and look forward to hearing about their getaways!

The next raffle includes three weekend vacations at 3pm! Stayed tuned for more. Will you be our second raffle winners of the hour?

EWI Graduate Entrepreneur Turning Scraps to Treasures

17 Apr


“I live through art. My worthiness, I’m building back up but at this age, I’ll be 65 in a couple of weeks, I have renewed strength, renewed hope.”

Artistic expression has always been key to Sandra’s identity.  Coming from a long line of strong women, dating back to 1861 in Washington D.C.; Sandra attributes nature as her introduction to art.  “Watching and appreciating the different ways that nature reveals itself.”

As she progressed through life, Sandra found beauty in all things.  Reminiscing upon her time as a lab technician at the National Zoo, she recalls the beautifully dynamic colors and shapes of living tissues, as she viewed them through electron microscopes.  She now maintains the perspective that “everything within the universe is art.”   This perspective is clear in her unique style of upcycle artistry, where she “view[s] the world and life in its many forms… and the universe [as] a vehicle for inspiration.”

Within the past 10 years, Sandra has refined her artistic ambition.  She now focuses mainly with textiles, metals, found objects, clay, brass, copper, paper, and thread; creating designs in a recycled, “up-cycle” design.  Appropriately, her business name is From Scraps to Treasures.

Sandra Art

“Always strive for the best, stay focused, keep a plan, network, produce quality, and never give up.”

Click the YouTube video below to hear Sandra’s insight on the importance of feeding your passion as an artist!

“My products are created from discarded items.  From Scraps to Treasures has a three part mission; one is to inform, inspire, and to implement the process of reuse, repurposing, and up cycling as a way of living; the second part of the company’s mission is to reintroduce the importance of making quality handmade items , thus creating a sense for pride for items made in America by individuals and families; and the third portion of the company’s mission involves  introducing hand sewing and the process of making handmade items, through creative individual instructional kits.”

Much like many other ETS students, Sandra joined EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success class “to gain an understanding of how to start and organize a business”.  She has truly excelled in the class, and would receive the “Ms Congeniality” award, if we offered one.

“I am still amazed at the quality and the expertise the program provides.  Everyone involved with EWI has a unique exceptional gift and a passion to share.”

Spring2Action! Invest in the Next Decade of Women Entrepreneurs!

17 Apr

Spring2Action 2013 has arrived!!!!


  Spring2ACTion is a one-day online philanthropic event and contest TODAY, Wed. April 17, hosted by ACT for Alexandria and ACTion Alexandria. EWI is competing with about 100 other great nonprofits in Alexandria, VA for cash prizes in Spring2ACTion.

   EWI’s goal is to raise over $55,000 during Sprin2ACTion to support 30 entrepreneurship scholarships for immigrant, refugee and low-income women.

   Everyone who donates minimum $10/person TODAY will be entered into a raffle to win 3 Day and 2 Night Getaway Vacations, and Cruises for Two on the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera valued at $1,500/package. Travelers are responsible for minimum port fees, government taxes and processing.

There are Three Ways to Support

the Women of EWI Today

   I. Make a Generous Tax-Deductible Donation and Support EWI TODAY!


   II. Share the Good Word about EWI with Friends and Family

   Give a shout out to EWI on your Facebook page, Twitter or LinkedIn account, and ask your friends and family to make a contribution TODAY.

   III. Shop EWI’s Trunk Show, Jewelry and Fashion Accessories by Local Women Artists 

   The event will take place on TODAY, 10 am – 8 pm at EWI office at 320 S. Henry St in Old Town Alexandria. Learn more

Thank you so much for all your dedication and support.

Together we’re changing lives!

EWI Cruises & Vacation Gateway Prizes Spring2ACTion – Terms & Conditions

16 Apr

Cruise Prize


1. This Cruise Vacation Getaway offer is valid for a 3, 4, 5 or 7-night cruise for two adults (double occupancy required). Accommodations are an entry-level, inside cabin. Upgrades to higher category inside, ocean view or balcony cabins may be available for an additional charge.

2. To be eligible for this offer, passengers must be 21 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license and a major credit card. Offer is valid for U.S. and Canadian residents only. United States travelers need proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. U.S. resident aliens need an Alien Resident Card. Non U.S. aliens need a valid passport and valid U.S. Multiple Re-Entry Visa. U.S. resident aliens and non U.S. aliens must contact the appropriate consulate to inquire about necessary travel documents.

3. The Cruise Vacation Getaway expires 12 months from your registration date and travel must be completed by that date.

4. All reservation requirements in this cruise certificate must be met. A minimum of 120 days advance notice is required to begin the process.

5. Cruises departing from Galveston, Tampa, New Orleans, Jacksonville and New York have limited availability and surcharges may apply. These fees must be paid immediately once your request has been made and cruise has been reserved. Fuel surcharge additional, if applicable.

6. This program is for promotional use only and cannot be redeemed for cash. Terms and Conditions are subject to change.

7. Airline tickets, airport transfers, gratuities, parking and miscellaneous expenses are not included. Sailings are available on selected dates with an additional charge per person for high and peak season, if and when available. Not applicable for holiday sailings. Offer is capacity controlled and is subject to availability.

8. Only one travel cruise certificate per household may be used in a 12 month period. This offer is not valid for groups and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional travel package.

9. This offer is void where prohibited by law. No other representations, oral or otherwise, are valid in conjunction with this offer. The certificate number and expiration date on the form must be completely filled out by the participating sponsor to validate your Cruise Vacation Getaway.

10. Business Incentive Group is not to be held responsible for any act of God and/or any other circumstances beyond its control which cause the cruise to become unavailable. Business Incentive Group reserves the right to substitute the components of the vacation and vary the itinerary should circumstances so require.

11. Cancellation and change fees may apply once your reservation has been booked and confirmed. Cruise recipients and those passengers booked in the same cabin are required to abide by specific cruise line cancellation and refund policies, name change fees, etc., as outlined in the cruise line brochure.

12. Costs associated with this Cruise Vacation Getaway are as follows: (1.) The registration fee stated above. (2.) A one time $79.95 per person administration charge payable within 60 days of the registration date to Business Incentive Group. (3.) NCF’s* and government taxes plus applicable cruise/agency fees that range between $39 – $129 per person (double occupancy) from Miami, Port Canaveral, Los Angeles or San Diego due when submitting final documentation to the cruise agency. (4.) A cruise deposit of $75 is required by the cruise booking agency and is applied toward the cost of your Cruise Vacation Getaway. Deposit is non-refundable.


1. This offer provides accommodations for two (2) adults; at least one must be 25 years of age. If married, you must travel together. Driver’s license required for verification of age and major credit card required as a matter of hotel policy – no debit cards. In addition this offer is also valid for up to two children under age 16 accompanying the adults.

2. This offer is valid for one year from registration date.

3. All reservations are based on availability and Terms and Conditions are subject to change. Availability is limited during peak season, holidays and weekends. Surcharges may apply during these times and in some locations.

4. This certificate is for hotel accommodations only and does not include transportation, room taxes and surcharges, meals, etc. Sorry, no pets.

5. This offer is not valid for groups or for attending a convention. Only one vacation certificate per household can be used per year.

6. While on vacation, you may be offered exciting vacation opportunities in the resort area by the Host Resort in hope that you will vacation with the Host Resort in the future. There’s no obligation.

7. Business Incentive Group, its agents or assignees act only as agents for the hotel and assume no responsibility for any loss, delay, accident, act of terrorism, injury or damage to persons or property, or any liability whatsoever arising from or in conjunction with services provided.

8. This offer is void where prohibited by law.

9. The costs associated with this 3 Day 2 Night Getaway Vacation are: (1.) The certificate registration fee shown above. (2) A one time $39.95 administration fee payable within 60 days from registration date to Business Incentive Group. (3.) A $50 refundable deposit due when submitting booking form to the booking company. (4.) Hotel taxes due at the time of check-in.