Archive | November, 2013

Life is a Gift. A Story of Courage and Transformation…

21 Nov

Amanda is a survivor of  labor-trafficking, a jewelry-designer, an Empowered Woman International entrepreneur graduate, and this is her story…

Every necklace, pair of earrings and bracelet that Amanda advertises in Etsy is accompanied by a story or poem—captions that describe her childhood in Trinidad, her commitment to help victims of abuse, her dreams of a better world.

The caption under a photo of daisy-shaped earrings reads: “Do not go where the path may lead. Go

"You are beautiful just the way you are" The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Everything around us is made up of energy.To attract positive things in your life, start by giving off positive energy.Your life has purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Life is a gift. Live it and let go of everything negative that holds you back. You are beautiful in every single way. Live beautifully. Dream passionately. Love completely.

“You are beautiful just the way you are”
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Everything around us is made up of energy.To attract positive things in your life, start by giving off positive energy.Your life has purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. Life is a gift. Live it and let go of everything negative that holds you back. You are beautiful in every single way. Live beautifully. Dream passionately. Love completely.

instead where there is no path and leave a trail. A poem accompanying a photo of another piece of jewelry starts with: “Life is a gift. Live it and let go of everything negative that holds you back.”

Amanda started marketing her jewelry in Etsy after successfully completing the fall 2012 semester of Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS), a program offered by Empowered Women International (EWI) to help low-income, refuge and immigrant women launch their own business.

She is one of 152 women who’ve overcome major obstacles and enrolled in this program to change the course of their lives. Many now run successful businesses in catering, painting, fashion and jewelry designs, wellness, cleaning and other service businesses.

Amanda survived the underground world of labor trafficking, freeing her from an abuser who treated her like a slave and routinely threatened, blackmailed and isolated her.

Three years ago, Amanda was brought to the US. The abuse continued as she was forced to work without pay, allowed out only to attend classes to earn a GED. After showing up to many study sessions wearing scarves and layers to cover up bruises, program staff suspected she was being abused. They urged her to leave her abuser and go into a shelter for safety.

At the shelter, Amanda told her story and felt free for the first time. Within a few months, she contacted FAIR Girls, an organization that strives to help keep young adults safe from human trafficking. She enrolled in Jewel Girls, a program that offers classes in financial management and jewelry-making, and was determined to become more independent.

"As a young child, the movie Aladdin was one of my favorite stories. The colorful images, culture, and vibrant friendship between Jasmine and Aladdin inspired me to create this necklace. The horn pendant has great meaning and symbolizes friendship and loving oneself."

“I decided that maybe I can make my very own jewelry and name the jewelry to speak on the behalf of someone who is being human trafficked or is at high risk of being exploited,” she said.

She wanted to start a jewelry business—but didn’t know how. She searched for programs that would teach her business skills and stumbled upon Empowered Women International (EWI). Eager to forge ahead, Amanda enrolled in the Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS). Within three months, she learned to develop a business plan, market her services, get loans and do budgets.

Studying with women eager to leave their destitute past behind, Amanda felt inspired. Her confidence grew as she formed a strong bond with Joanne Clark, the mentor EWI matched her up with at the start of the program. The two met for dinner, naturally connected, went to jewelry-making classes and attended bead shows. “Joanne is very helpful to me both in my business and personally,” Amanda says. “She helps me to uncover and develop the “diamonds” within me. She thinks that my jewelry designs are challenging her to become more creative.”

Amanda graduated from ETS in 2012. A few months later, she served as Keynote Speaker at the ETS

Spring 2013 Graduation. She is now enrolled in EWI’s new program, Grow My Business (GMB), and in

The world is yours. Live the wonderful life that is inside you. Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. Life is not about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.

The world is yours. Live the wonderful life that is inside you. Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. Life is not about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.

art education workshops.

When she looks in the mirror every morning, Amanda says she still sees her scars, remnants from her past, but “as a young black woman who has survived many challenges,” she professes, “I am particularly determined to accomplish my life goals.”

Amanda has transformed herself from feeling helpless to being empowered.

Amanda is an EWI Member Entrepreneur, a Survivor Advocate and Mentor at FAIR Girls; she plans to officially launch her business Amanda’s Jewelry Corner. And you can currently find and purchase her jewelry here

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Gifts & Giving for a Cause at the Holiday Gift Marketplace

20 Nov

Look who will be at EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

The marketplace is a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts and  a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services that support local businesses.

Sunday, November 24th
11am-5pm
The Whittemore House
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
(near Dupont Circle)

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Ansen & Elsa
Elsen Oils

With modern products full of damaging chemicals that affect hair and skin, Elsa and Ansen longed to find safe products for their children. While researching products and ways to protect their children from these products, they discovered the many health benefits of oils in their natural form. Their love for their children inspired themto search for healthier options and their love for people inspired them to turn their new passion into a business.

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As Elsen Oils grows larger, Ansen & Elsa are looking to meet some of their needs. Do you know any retail buyersor chains? Can you or someone you know provide training and advice for contacts retailers? Come to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Market and buy some all-natural oils while also helping to continue the empowerment.

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Clementine Simmons:
Clems Floral Design Gallery, LLC

Clemz Floral1

While Clem was growing up, she remembers her mother holding a very special love for flowers. Her mother always had flowers around and outside their home. The love for flowers held a special bond between her mother and her. Clem never realized how deep her passions for flowers went until she helped a friend create a floral arrangement. After realizing the true strength of her passion, her dream became to launch her own business. As Clem grows her business she is searching for connections and partners to take her company to the next level. Do you have a referral for someone in the hotel industry that can help Clem’s business get hired? Do you know a manufacturer who can help mass produce Clem’s gift cards and wall art to include in her packaging? Can you assist Clem in getting her Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) certificate? Come to the EWI Holiday Gift Market and meet with Clem while picking up a beautiful bouquet.

Cleo2

Cleopatra Magwaro:
A Season’s Assemblage

Cleo_book

While growing up in Zimbabwe, Cleo constantly listened to stories told by her father and grandfather. While listening to these stories, Cleo was captivated and was left with a deep passion for literature. Her desire to recapture glimpses of her childhood and bring to life images and human connections led her to write her own anthology, A Season’s Assemblage.  Her goal is to educate people of the African experience. She is inspired by the people around her and hopes to reach as many people as possible through her stories. Want to help Cleo achieve her goal? Do you know and agent or a publisher who could help Cleo? Know anyone who could provide a grant to a way Cleo could gain funds to scan her books to publish onAmazon? Know potential clients interested in the African market? Do you know any other networks or NGO’s with an African focus? Come to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Marketplace and learn about another culture while making a change.

Rabia

Rabia Pervez:

Silk’ n Paint

Rabia Pervez

Rabia Pervez

Growing up, Rabia recalls her constant fascination with colors and fabrics. While at home, she decided to start experimenting with various dyes and silk.This experimentation led her to creating an elegant yet striking garment that led her to learn and experiment with her art even more. Since this break through, Rabia has created a line of products ranging for cosmetic bags to pillowcases to jewelry leading to the creation of her line Silk’n paint. As Silk’ n Paint grows, Rabia has needsthat need to be met. Do you know somewhere or someone who can help Rabia sell her products in gift shops, gift galleries, corporate gift shows, and boutiques? Come to EWI’s 1st Holiday Gift Place and give the gift of empowerment this holiday season.

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

Your Skills + Their Dreams = EMPOWERMENT!

18 Nov

Look who will be at EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

The marketplace is a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts and  a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services that support local businesses.

Sunday, November 24th
11am-5pm
The Whittemore House
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
(near Dupont Circle)

Angela copyAngela Sargent
AIA Designs

Angela_product

Not one to sit around waiting for opportunities, Angela Sargent creates her own! From writing to knitting, she puts her talents to good use.  The knitting skills learned from her grandmother were put to good use in 2007 after she lost her job. Realizing that her crafts should be shared with others, she started AIA Designs and set up shop on Etsy.  Angela could use some help with business financing and social media branding. Is this the type of expertise you have?  If so, come out to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace to let Angela know how you can help her move AIA Designs to its next phase!

Kamila

Kamila Barbour
Barbour House Publications

Kamila_prod

The frustrations that Kamila Barbour experienced when she picked up Islamic books and saw the poorly done illustrations led her to create Barbour House Publications. She knew that her design talents could provide better illustrations, as well as offer an encouraging outlet for Islamic writers, artists and designers to promote their own work. Barbour House could benefit greatly from a partnership with a business savvy and passionate individual. Financing is very important to the beginning stages of a business. Can you help? If these resources are something that you could help Kamila with, then EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace is a great place to start sharing your resources with Barbour House!

Mariana

Mariana Alvarado
LunaMar Jewelry Collection
Mariana and Sergio Alvarado

Mariana’s father Sergio started crafting jewelry, sculptures, and other objects by hand in Mexico City more than 30 years ago. This jewelry making venture is a family affair, as she and her father work to create one of a kind pieces. Mariana would love to turn her passion for creativity and jewelry into a viable business and you can help her do it!  The 1st Annual EWI Holiday Gift Marketplace is the perfect place for small business experts to share their knowledge while shopping for the holidays. From basic start up advice to the best way to partner with galleries, Mariana could really use your help!

Sharmilla

Sharmila Karamchandani
Artist, Designer & Art Educator

Freelance_Graphic Design_Sharmila

Meet Sharmila, a creative force who hopes to use her artistry to open an art school one day.  Sharmila uses her creativity to practice henna painting at art festivals, designs jewelry and creates graphic art.  As a graduate of EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program, Sharmila possesses a solid foundation to turn her dream of art school into a reality. However she could use the expertise of a business professional to help her solidify it.  Do you have contracting skills? What about an overflow of graphic design projects? Even better, are you good with numbers?  Any of these skills and resources could help Sharmila be well on her way, come shop for a cause at EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace and get to know Sharmila and how you could fuel her dreams!

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Veronica Hughes, a freelance writer with a passion for global women’s issues and social justice. You can learn more about her over at her blog, Lifestyle and Thoughts

Good Things Come to Those Who…Come Early!

15 Nov

IMG_0095evelynCome early to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at The Whittemore House, from 11AM-5PM. First 100 guests will receive one of Evelyn Brook’s special Peruvian seed charms at the door!

What makes these little seeds so special? Why not join us on Sunday with a friend, or two, and find out for yourself! You won’t regret it!

To learn more about Evelyn Brooks please visit,

http://twoworldsonechica.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Evelyn-Brooks-Designs/165285455548

To find out more about the marketplace please visit us at http://conta.cc/18ToUX1

ETS Student Nicole Segovia Bridging the Gap

14 Nov

During the last Entrepreneur Training for Success class, our aspiring entrepreneurs worked with their peers and mentors to develop their business concept. Sharmela Karamchandani, the Virginia Lead Trainer, encouraged the entrepreneurs to become “Level Three” businesswomen who own a business, rather than have a hobby, and use their profits to support their lifestyle.

ETS Mentor Eileen Kessler

ETS Mentor Eileen Kessler

I sat in on a small work group led by Eileen Kessler, a returning mentor who is also president and founder of OmniStudio, Inc, a DC-based creative and web development studio (who also redesigned EWI’s new logo and upcoming website!). Initially without the help of a translator, Eileen and one of the students were having difficulty understanding each other to share business goals and feedback. To my surprise, one of the other students, Nicole Segovia, jumped into the conversation and used her Spanish language skills to bridge the gap to everyone’s relief and delight.

I had a chance to talk with Nicole later. It wasn’t the first time Nicole had provided such a valuable service. Although Nicole once felt hesitant speaking Spanish in public, she gained confidence in her abilities after happening upon a desperate situation in which she could help. In another instance she retold to me, she was the only translator available when a Spanish-speaking mother in her neighborhood needed to call emergency services for the mother’s injured son. After an ambulance arrived on scene, Nicole left feeling as if she could use her skills and abilities to make a difference.

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Nicole Segovia

Nicole is originally from Texas and learned to speak Spanish fluently while traveling through Mexico. She also picked up a passion during her journey – a love of cooking Mexican food. Already a week behind her peers, Nicole needed to formulate a business plan that featured her passion, but also addressed realistic concerns like her lifestyle and the business environment. Eileen recommended that she start by researching the industry to discover areas of opportunity. She could interview local café owners and caterers to learn more about their experiences and poll her community to learn about gaps in service she could fill.

Luckily, Nicole has an inspiring example in DC resident and fellow female entrepreneur Pati Jinich of PBS’s “Pati’s Mexican Table.” Like Pati, Nicole can begin to turn her passion into a successful business by building a strong story. She must consider her own unique background and look at her history with an eye towards her future.

For example, Nicole once worked in a  State Health Department’s food safety division. She witnessed restaurant inspections first-hand and learned how complicated health regulations apply to local businesses. This knowledge and experience may have seemed inconsequential before joining the Entrepreneur Training for Success program, but now Nicole can use it to her advantage as she builds her own business centered on her love of Mexican food. I’m looking forward to seeing how Nicole’s business plan develops throughout the semester!

A special thank you to photographer Hanadi Karara.

Written by Kimberly Barton, a guest blogger who’s a new Alexandria resident. She recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and is interested in local programs that empower, educate, and support women. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Shopping & Empowering at EWI’s Holiday Gift Marketplace

12 Nov

Look who will be at EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

The marketplace is a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts and  a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services that support local businesses.

Sunday, November 24th
11am-5pm
The Whittemore House
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
(near Dupont Circle)

Charmelle Clark
Creatively Charming

charmelleNo stranger to unconventional creativity, Charmelle Clark has been creating since childhood.  Using her imagination to create items ranging from scrapbooks to cross stitching, there is not a creative thought that goes undiscovered!  Charmelle has used her self-taught gift to start Creatively Charming, a customized stationary and scrapbook business.  The artistry placed into each handmade item is a gift within itself, so what is needed now is the gift of business resources to assist Charmelle with moving forward.  9319316889_b11075dda3An art studio that gives Charmelle a space to work freely and even hold workshops would be much appreciated. Assistance with marketing techniques and website development would do wonders. Or being connected with art festival organizers would put Creatively Charming on the right track! EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace is the perfect time to purchase Charmelle’s beautiful stationary and offer your resources!

Kudzai Gombakomba
KG Spotless LLC

KudzaiWith a degree in hospitality management under her belt and vast experience in the hospitality industry, Kudzai Gombakomba started a cleaning company that would challenge the standards of even the most discriminating clientele!  Kudzai has international experience from Zimbabwe to London and is excited about sharing her expertise through KG Spotless LLC.  Equipped with the basic business skills learned through EWI’s entrepreneur courses, she is ready to expand upon those skills in order to continue building a solid business.  If you could assist KG Spotless LLC with marketing endeavors such aKGSpotless logos website maintenance and designing gift vouchers, then please come out to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace to help Kudzai further her path to financial freedom.

Caryn Reitkopp
Paws for Peace

CarynMeet Caryn Reitkopp, a lover of all living things. Not only does she love animals, but she loves children and teaching. Her desire to connect these passions in order to make the world a more humane place fueled the creation of Paws for Peace. Paws for Peace use animal themes and puppets to teach children compassion. Through the use of literature, puppets and classroom songs, Caryn has created a business that will teach kids how to appreciate and respect others in the world.  Caryn offers direct classes, parent workshops and teacher workshops and she would love to take her business to new heights with your help.  Caryn Paws for PeaceEntrepreneurial skills such as business accounting, web and blog design as well as solid marketing tracking methods can elevate Paws for Peace. EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace is a great way to connect with Caryn and find out just how useful your skills can be.

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Veronica Hughes, a freelance writer with a passion for global women’s issues and social justice. You can learn more about her over at her blog, Lifestyle and Thoughts

Hear Marga & Kate at TEDx Bethesda Women!

11 Nov

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 12.22.52 PMkate-stevenson

TEDx is coming to Bethesda! EWI’s founder Marga Fripp and Kate Campbell Stevenson, EWI’s former board chair, are in the line up of powerful speakers for TEDx Bethesda Women.“Sassy: Lively and Spirited” will be explored by riveting women, focusing on women and about women’s issues. Jane Smith, owner of Still Sassy and ETS alumn, is the inspiration and lead organizer for the event.

December 5th, 2013
9:30A.M. – 4P.M.
Imagination Stage
Bethesda, MD

Buy your tickets here!

What is TEDx? TED brings together the world’s leading thinkers and innovators to share their ideas on a wide array of subjects including design, science, entertainment, business, development, and technology. TED speakers spark thoughtful discussions, make connections and get people talking. TED created TEDx, a local and self-organized version of the annual event with the goal of exposing their global audience to smart local thinking. TEDx Bethesda Women is one of many TEDx events happening around the globe on December 5 that will expand on the ideas brought up at TEDWomen.

“Our TEDx Bethesda Women’s line-up is a buffet of talents, struggles, lessons learned and bodacious risks. Each presenter will enlighten us with her unique style, story, and strength,” Jane highlighted.

We are incredibly excited and honored that both Marga and Kate have been invited to speak at TEDX Bethesda Women!

Don’t miss out on this powerful event. Seating is limited! Tickets are $100 for a full-day of presenters, including lunch, networking and more!

See you there!


Look Who’ll Be at the Holiday Gift Marketplace!

6 Nov

The marketplace is a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts and  a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services that support local businesses.

Sunday, November 24th 
11am-5pm
The Whittemore House
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
(near Dupont Circle)

Mariam Mohamed
Bahari Creations

Miriam Mohamed

Miriam Mohamed

Tanzania native Mariam came to the U.S. with an independent and creative spirit.  She married her textile experience with her creative hunger to create handbags made from the East African fabric, kanga.  The handbags are as versatile and beautiful as the cloth they are made from.   In order for Mariam’s handbag business to prosper, she needs the expertise of a business minded individual like yourself, who would know how to help her copyright her designs and ideas.  Surely, someone knows a good supplier from whom she can purchase zippersScreen shot 2013-10-31 at 4.55.19 PM and closures.  Last, but not least Miriam could use a good marketing expert to help her package her handbags and sell them to boutiques and yoga studios.  EWI’s 1st annual holiday market is a great place to meet Miriam, see her lovely handbags and help her take her business to the next level.

Dinelles Sakyi
UnFORgettables

Dinelles

Dinelles Sayki

Dinelles inspiration for UnFORgettables came from sheer boredom during a pregnancy bed rest.  She created a diaper cake for her baby shower which resulted in others requesting her fun and lovely gift packages. Dinelles went on to expand her creativity for gift design to include holiday gift baskets

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 5.12.09 PMand  towel cakes.  UnFORgettables could soar to new heights if she could get assistance with setting up a website, serious investors and a solid business coach to build her entrepreneurial confidence.  Why don’t you stop by the EWI 1st annual holiday gift market to help lift Dinelles to new heights!

 

Michele Black & Kathy Kemerait
Mountain Bird Designs

KathyK

Kathy Kemerait

Michele2

Michele Black

An artistic duo on a mission to create with a purpose!  Meet Kathy and Michele,  two talented women who have put their ideas into action by collaborating with a fair pay textile manufacturer and are committed to partnering with eco-friendly American manufacturers in order to bring textile jobs back to Appalachia.   Using various mediums, to include textiles, beads, paper and clay, their art brings the simplest items to life. From their signature women’s business handbag to the holiday gift market promotional materials, their ability to artistically capture the true essence of womanhood is beyond amazing.  Though, what good is such rich and Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 5.15.25 PMincredible talent if it can’t be shared with the world?  Your connections to investors, high profile contacts and solid textile industry experience are where their art and your business savvy collides.   Let’s make Kathy and Michele’s artistic endeavors a successful business at EWI’s1st annual holiday gift market.

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

Marga’s First Day in Papua New Guinea

5 Nov

 “It’s a privilege to be here in the making of this historic event and work with these women to fully empower them to pursue their highest vision, aspirations and ideals,” says Marga Fripp on her first day in Papua New Guinea after meeting with the most vibrant and determined women of PNG.

Marga will have the opportunity to witness the launching of the Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PNGWCCI) on Wednesday, Nov 6th.  The First Lady of PNG, a businesswoman herself, and the most influential change maker women of the country will attend the event, and Marga will be the keynote speaker. It’s an exciting time to be there for Marga as the event symbolizes the fruition of a women-led social movement after year’s worth of struggle to achieve empowerment, political representation, financial and economic independence and much more. The organization will create an opportunity for women to voice their concerns, to engage policy makers in addressing the most volatile social and economic issues that are preventing women from achieving success and empowerment.

All women in the middle are the founders of Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Left to right Natalia (US Embassy), Theresa, Linda, Avia, Amanda, Janet, Susan (US Embassy).

Marga’s role in PNG, besides coaching and mentoring entrepreneurial skills, is to inspire and encourage women to speak up about their concerns, obstacles, drawbacks and doubts that are hindering them from achieving their goals in life. It’s conventional wisdom that change can only come when we identify our stumbling blocks and when we make the effort to address it to whoever is willing to listen, and with 20 plus years of experience under her belt Marga knows that the most important step in achieving change is to listen first. These are extraordinary women with extraordinary stories to tell and they represent not just women in PNG but women globally.

This is how Marga felt on her first few day in PNG.

“I met some of the strongest and most determined global women. I had dinner last night with the founders of the first women’s chamber of commerce in PNG. Much like at EWI we shared our stories, and how we have been helping immigrant, refugee and low-income women become self-determined and empowered entrepreneurs through our rigorous 3-month ETS programs.

The women I met are determined to change the status quo, they are women of change, they know where they came from, they sacrificed a lot to become who they are and they are now paving the way for other women and generations to come.

It’s a privilege to be here in the making of this historic event and work with these women to fully empower them to pursue their highest vision, aspirations and ideals. I am confident that their vision, courage and determination will transform both the policy agenda for women’s economic empowerment and the role and condition of women in PNG and globally.”

Written by Hanna Yamir, Program Associate

Chizoma Cluff’s Secrets to Success

4 Nov
chizomacluff

Chizoma Cluff, motivational speaker, self-esteem speaker, confidence speaker, style speaker, and women’s issues speaker

What do Tyra Banks, Catherine the Great, Sonia Sotomayor, and Jennifer Lopez have in common? They’re what self-confidence coach Chizoma Cluff calls TRAILBLAZERS – powerful, accomplished women who have made a name for themselves. Sitting among the Entrepreneur Training for Success participants on the first day of class, I said my own name aloud and felt far from the likes of a supermodel or a Supreme Court justice. As class wore on, though, I felt more encouraged thanks to Chizoma’s secrets to success.

The first secret: success starts with you! Self-care is essential to creation, something our 26 female entrepreneurs must listen to in order to build and maintain a fruitful business. We shared our favorites with one another: yoga, journaling, connecting with friends, listening to a favorite song, sipping tea, and walking in nature, all activities that heal the soul and allow us to give back during the day. Some classmates wondered how they could find the time. A past ETS participant, now a mentor, encouraged us to start small, five minutes even, and work up to at least twenty minutes, and before you know it you’re succeeding.

Secrets two and three are more challenging: goal-setting and time management. Chizoma encouraged us to be creative and think differently about what’s possible. She gave the example of trying to break through a piece of paper with the sheer force of one’s forehead. Needless to say, it doesn’t work! With time, tools, and a little ingenuity can we cut the paper, connect the pieces into a loop, and step right through it. Similarly, our entrepreneurs must start where they are now and remember that every step towards their future success counts!

Dressing for success and communicating effectively are the last secrets for our entrepreneurs, who must independently gain contacts and clientele. We can control how we are perceived and command attention with style. Cost can be a deterrent, but, as one participant mentioned, the wealth of thrift and consignment stores in the area that make organizing your image more affordable. A put-together ensemble is complemented by a professional way of communicating. Our participants were reminded to be precise with their language, show personality in their e-mail signature, and respond timely to all requests. Eye contact and a genuine smile never hurt, either!

At the end of the class, one student doubted that she could be as strong and confident as Chizoma. Yet, reflecting on her accomplishments, she realized she had already overcome much in her life by learning to speak English, for example. With the support of her peers and the program’s mentors, I have no doubt that in a few short weeks she will rise proudly and say her name with all its worth.

Written by Kimberly Barton, a guest blogger who’s a new Alexandria resident. She recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and is interested in local programs that empower, educate, and support women. Connect with her on LinkedIn.