Archive | May, 2013

Coach’s Corner – Book Launches and Writer’s Groups

28 May


By Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member

A weekly blog for EWI 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

Tuesday, May 28th

Thanks to all who made it out to the DC Martin Luther King Library on Tuesday May 21st for the wonderful presentation by our very own Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi, to launch her new book What Color Is Your Money. Tope graciously acknowledged the support she has received from EWI for her writing; of course, she has returned that support many times over by continuing to teach and advise our students on personal and business financial planning.  What Color Is Your Money is available at in both paperback and e-book formats.


I was highly  impressed with the way that Tope not only led a very informative and interactive discussion of her book, but used the opportunity to network effectively, as we have been emphasizing in this blog:

—She brought cards and attractive flyers describing her product;
—On each seat in the audience section, she placed a summary of the book’s main themes, as well as an exercise for those attending to participate in;
—She graciously signed every book purchased, and stayed to talk with customers;
—And, Tope followed up the very next day with personalized thank-you’s!

All-in-all, an excellent example of paying considerable attention to customer relations, and not just to the product itself .


This week, EWI took an exciting step in a new direction by being organizational work on our new EWI Writers Group.  To date, thirteen current and former students have  signed up to take part in a monthly meeting of EWI-affiliated writers – fiction and nonfiction authors; poets; songwriters; lyricists; spoken-word artists; and other writing genres.  This marks the beginning of a new phase of business development for us:  working closely together with others in the same field to share information on leads; networking opportunities; technological developments; marketing strategies; and anything else that might be helpful.  Anyone else who might be interested in joining us should contact me at, ASAP.   We will let everyone know as soon as we have established a day, time, and venue for these monthly get-togethers.  In addition to supporting our writers in a rapidly-changing, extremely challenging field, we hope to come up with a model of cooperative development for other business areas as well.


EWI Board Member, Deborah Blank highly recommends the CNBC Cable TV program “Crowd Rules.”  Current and past students of our ETS program will relate to this show, as it features would-be entrepreneurs competing before a panel of investors for backing for their businesses.  Come to think of it, this might not be a bad warm-up for those of you participating in EWI’s own business pitch day on Sat. June 15.

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.

Clementine’s Floral Arragement Draws Praises

23 May

One of our ETS alumni and now mentor to our current students, Clementine Simmons was recently commissioned by our Advisory Board Members, Deborah Blank to custom design floral arrangements for her entryway.


Clementine delivering her custom flower arrangement

The result? A pleasant surprise and lots of praises for a job well done!

Here’s what Deborah had to say about Clementine’s wonderful floral arrangement:

009“I first saw Clem’s floral arrangements on her table at the ETS graduation and was thrilled to see such style and color sense – not to mention experience her personal charisma.  Wow! I immediately wanted to help her grow her business!  What better way than to spruce up my totally B-O-R-I-N-G hallway at home with a new and dramatic floral arrangement.  Clem carefully questioned me about my tastes and expectations and began choosing some possible vases which she photographed and sent to me.  I wanted a “light, summery look” and the porcelain basket with a slight Asian flair was perfect.  We talked about airiness, which was important, and the fact that I love cherry blossoms.  Here’s what she came up with!  When I saw her walking gingerly up the path to my home with this GORGEOUS arrangement, I couldn’t help but clap and cheer!  I love looking at it both from the stairs as I descend, and when I enter the hallway from the front.  WHAT A DIFFERENCE such color and lightness makes! Of course  I’m going to want a different one for each season….”

Beautiful addition to the entryway! Deborah Blank and Clementine Simmons

Clementine will soon be joining our Grow My Business program and it will be a wonderful thing to see her grow further and blooms in her business endeavors.

Louisiana Night at A Show Of Hands

22 May

Please join us on Friday evening June 7 from 6-9pm at A Show Of Hands,  in Alexandria where EWI board member Hurricane Howie Feinstein will  be performing Louisiana roots music on piano and accordion for a special exhibit of arts and crafts from Louisiana.


The exhibition will feature the paintings of the late Emily Johnson Bain, a teacher and art educator who spent much of her career in Louisiana and Texas. Mrs Bain’s daughter, Carolyn Bain, is working with A Show of Hands organizing a showing of her mother’s work.

A  Show Of Hands is a delightful gallery in Alexandra’s Del Ray arts district located on 2301 Mt. Vernon Ave. Co-owners Pat Miller and Maria Wasowski have created a shop that represents the diversity of local artists by providing them with a venue to showcase and sell their unique, handcrafted artwork. They continue to be wonderful supporters of EWI.

There will be beverages and light food, CDs, Mardi Gras beads, and who knows what else? Free-of-charge for all. Pass the word on and see you there!

A Nod to All the Awesome People We’re Meeting!

21 May

The Incredible Women at the IRC, with EWI’s Jami McDowell
(Community Partnerships Intern, fourth from right, top row) and
Mary Louise Marino (Outreach & Operations Manager, third from left, top row).

The EWI calendar has been full of opportunity with community partners for info sessions, marketplaces, speaking engagements, outreach exhibits, and home parties. We are thrilled to be there for every single one of them. We get to meet the most wonderful people – many doing truly meaningful work, others willing to share their talents and expertise in volunteering with us, and still others striving for better livelihoods for themselves and families.

A huge thank you and warm shout out to Melissa, Erica and Jaclyn at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for inviting us to their Job Fair, Info Session, and upcoming World Refugee Day; Elizabeth Bruce and Giselle Cohen at Centro Nia Family Center; Hoda Fahmy at the Muslim Community Center’s Modest Beauty Day event; Ashley Lawson with DC+acumen, Nina Golding at Interfaith Works, Nancy Stark for the WVEC Conference at Capital One, and Synthia Woodcock-Dang and Rosalie Smith for hosting the most lovely home parties.

We love getting out and about and meeting new people. Do you know people or organizations that you think we should be in contact with? Are there any immigrant or low-income in your group that have passion, determination and a business idea? Drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you.


EWI gets visibility through RaiseForWomen Campaign Milestone and The Huffington Post

20 May

MAY 20

Many thanks to all who contributed to Empowered Women International through the online giving event: RaiseForWomen hosted by The Huffington PostThe Skoll Foundation, and Half the Sky Movement.

With your support, so far, we raised $2,293, and a gift of exposure from HuffPostImpact through their Facebook and Twitter accounts (see the prizes below).

The campaign will continue until June 6, and the next bonus challenge started at today for $4,000. Here’s the deal…

The charity that raises the most by May 27 @ 12pm ET will get an additional $4,000.  

Please share our link with your friends and help us meet our goal of$15,000 by June 6. 

Many thanks for all your support and dedication to the cause of Empowered Women International.

Learn more about the prizes here.

In Letter to the Editor, Good Things Happened on Spring2Action

17 May


The April 17 Spring2Action online philanthropic and giving event was a day filled with excitement, energy and dedication. The whole Alexandria community came together to raise money and left a lasting and meaningful impact on all of the non-profits involved during the event.

Perhaps the most important footprint this special day left was none other than here at the headquarters of Empowered Women International. With the help and support of everyone involved we were able to raise $30,497 and won an additional $2,850 in prizes from ACT for Alexandria.

thumbThis huge milestone for EWI and the women in our Entrepreneur Training for Success was recently documented in a letter Marga Fripp wrote to the editor in Alexandria Times, which was laster picked up by the Nonprofit Roundtable e-Newsletter. The letter, “When city residents get together good things happen,” highlights the mission of EWI and what it stands for, and expounds how people with similar visions coming together can accomplish huge results in a single day. With ACT for Alexandria’s meticulous work, our contributor’s relentless support, and our wonderful board members, volunteers, and staff we have made great strides to make the world a better place leaving a lasting legacy and a community of change-makers.

twitter 165px POWER OF SHE

We thank Alexandria Time’s for publishing the letter and deeply gratified for the generous and continuous support of all who made Spring2Action a day to remember!

To read the letter, please visit:

Marga Fripp in Montgomery College Publication

17 May

As a stand-out graduate of Montgomery College, EWI Founder & Visionary Marga Fripp has been featured in the college’s publication about her story and Empowered Women International. With an oversize picture of an always-smiling Marga, the article talks about her life story, how she traveled from Romania to a foreign country that would become later on her permanent home and the abode to her biggest dream.

Marga Fripp on the Montgomery College publication

Marga Fripp on the Montgomery College publication

From simply wishing to find ways to integrate, to helping and teaching other women to pursue their creative talents, then to founding Empowered Women International, Marga has mobilized and transformed hundred of women into savvy business women and community leaders. Her determination, passion, energy, and creativity has helped her and EWI succeed throughout these past ten years and beyond. Her story never ceases to amaze and ignite interest; she is the ultimate embodiment of success, accomplishment and hope. Her story is a quintessentially American story.

We thank the Montgomery College for including our Marga into their publication and a huge shout out goes to all the people who work tirelessly towards EWI’s success!

Photo courtesy of Ernesto Rivera, to learn more about him go to his personal blog:

Upcoming Event! “What Color Is Your Money?”

15 May

Renowned CPA, International Chartered Accountant and our ETS Financial Coach Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi is officially launching her book entitled “What Color is Your Money?.” The event will be held on Tuesday, May 21st at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW, DC 20001.

The program will begin at 6pm and end at 8pm. Get ready to find out your money color is and how to rock it, hear the story of the “2 Benjamins” and get some free gifts! There will also be opportunities to buy signed copies of the book at the event.

Admission is free and you can bring your friends along, but please take a second to RSVP at

The inspiring and motivating effect of ETS: Networking and Power Coaching Class

14 May

On Monday, May 6th the ETS class was about Networking and Power Coaching. A very special thanks goes out to our guest speaker, Hope Katz Gibbs of Inkandescent PR and a big shout out to our board members Kate Campbell Stevenson, Shirah Cohen, and Joanne Clark for making it an insightful evening.

All participants introducing themselves in the beginning.

All participants introducing themselves in the beginning.

The ETS Networking and Power Coaching Class is designed to show students the personal and professional journeys of successful women entrepreneurs. The session was formatted to address topics ranging from successful careers and businesses, to networking strategies, sales strategies, effective leadership, and overcoming fear and developing confidence.

ETS participants listening attentively to our four panelists

ETS participants listening attentively to our four panelists

The first part of the session included a panel discussion with each panelist talking about their own strategies, drawbacks, and the secret ingredients they used to become successful. The women also addressed candidly the financial strategies they used to get where they are today. From knowing how to fund their businesses, to getting loans, to using savings, all were important and required savvy and quick thinking to launching their business.

All our Panelists. Shirah inspiring our students with sharing her personal story. She said she became an entrepreneur the day she declared to herself and the world that she was an Independent Consultant.

All our panelists (starting second from left) Hope, Kate, Shirah, and Joanne. Shirah inspired students by sharing her personal story. She said she became an entrepreneur the day she declared to herself and the world that she was an Independent Consultant.

The second part of the session consisted of a small group activity in which students had to interact and ask questions to guest speakers and their peers. They spoke of networking, marketing, being effective personally and professionally, overcoming barriers, and most importantly, being an active member of the community at large.

Joanne Power Coaching a group from left to right Julie, Joanne, Gabriela, Angela and Sarah's back.

Joanne, power coaching a small group (from left to right), Julie, Joanne, Gabriela, Angela and Sarah.

The last part was exchanging ideas, learning from each other, and reporting back to the rest of the class about what they learned, sharing handouts, teaching tools and resources. The greatest inspiration was the welcoming embrace of the guest speakers and their stories.’ A growing sense of motivation was apparent, to walk the line and reach that end zone, regardless of any drawbacks and barriers.

Kate intently listening and Power Coaching Tyesha, Charmelle, Annette, Tenisha and Kira.

Kate (second from left) intently listening and power coaching (from left) Tyesha, Annette, Tenisha, and Kira.

Again, thank you Hope Katz Gibbs of Inkandescent PR and board members Kate Campbell Stevenson, Shirah Cohen, and Joanne Clark, who tirelessly galvanize the entrepreneur spirit of our ETS students. Also a huge shout out to our Entrepreneur Coach and Program Manager Alexia Muchisu ,who spices up our ETS classrooms, and our instructor Sharmila Karamachandani, who is constantly sowing the seed of knowledge to our ETS students and beyond. Much love to all of you from the EWI Team!

By Hanna Yamir, Program Associate Intern

Coach’s Corner – It’s All About the Customer

13 May

howieBy Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member

A weekly blog for EWI 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

Monday, May 13 — Today I would like to focus once more on the overriding importance of customer service.  I was again reminded of how crucial this concept is to a growing, successful small business by a piece in last week’s Washington Post by Thomas Heath, entitled “Wash, rinse, ka-ching! Repeat.”  The article is on the Post’s weekly Washington Business page in the first section; this page appears every Monday.  Make this page a Monday morning habit, and you will regularly discover ideas and inspiration which you can use in your own business.

The piece tells the story of two sisters, both working mothers, who started a local hair salon – a highly competitive business to be sure, but one in which nurturing customer loyalty is the path to success.  Rather than paraphrase the story, here are some quotes from the owners, Stacy Dabney Ramirez and Lindsey Dabney Cabrera:

— “Presentation is your first impression.  I care about how the sugar is put in the jar.  I care about what the bathrooms look like.  I care about how things are placed on the shelves.  I try to remember people’s names when they come in.”

— “When asked why clients choose a certain salon, the top reasons have nothing to do with their haircut.  It is 90 percent customer service and 10 percent technical.  So we are invested in the customer service, although I don’t overlook the technical.”

— “We send clients handwritten thank-you notes, tossing in a $5 Starbucks gift card.”

photo 2

Now, let’s think about that:  the key to the success of this start-up business, by the owners’ own admission, is not that they are necessarily Nobel- Prize-winning beauticians, but rather that they bend over backwards to make every customer feel special and appreciated.  As I have been emphasizing in this blog from its beginning, you may develop the perfect product or service, but unless you treat your prospective and continuing customers like royalty, you are not going to succeed in the demanding Washington market.  Make people feel wanted, and they will eventually form that 20% of your clientele that brings in 80% of your business.

photo 1

Don’t take my word for it – ask some of our successful EWI graduates.  And the next time you are at the EWI office, ask Marga and Mary how they acknowledge our contributors, partners, teachers, trainers, hosts, etc.  Best of all, it takes very little in terms of time and cost.

Best wishes and keep in touch,