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Meet Sarah!

3 Jun
Sarah Folts

Sarah Folts

Sarah Folts: entrepreneur, artist, and survivor. Her career started off after an unlikely experience. She grew up an active young adult as a competitive gymnast. During her teenage years she was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis, which became critical. After a multitude of surgeries,  she hit tremendous low points in her life.  But somehow she lifted herself out of it by developing a deep connection with nature, appreciating its simplicity and beauty in a way that she never saw before. She found refuge and happiness in her creativity and art. From this passion and artistic view of nature flourished a specific interest in butterflies and the freedom and beauty they represent.

Ms. Folts currently mounts and frames real butterflies, which she purchases from various butterfly sanctuaries. She also creates unique jewelry out of their wings, which she then sells on her website Flights of Fancy,” and also takes photographs of their natural existence in the wild. Her ultimate goal is to preserve nature’s greatest masterpiece through art while increasing awareness of the harm afflicted by humans on this species. To do so, she aspires to open her own shop and butterfly sanctuary in which she teaches people the importance of ecological stewardship.

EWI has provided her with a unique opportunity for growth. She entered the program struggling with plateaued growth and now understands her goals and how to accomplish them. The support and creative thinking from her mentors and fellow entrepreneurs in the class has given her a renewed sense of hope and vigor.

– By Chelsea Collier EWI Volunteer

Marga Fripp Reflecting on Entrepreneur Graduates Class 2012

12 Jun

… At the heart of every desire is the desire to feel good. And so, the standard of success in life is not the things or the money, but the amount of joy you feel. – Esther and Jerry Hicks

The amount of joy I feel as our 20 micro-entrepreneur women completed their business incubator program and are ready to launch their businesses is immeasurable.

The process was complex and many students had to face their fears right in the eyes. Besides battling medical challenges, financial and emotional crisis, doubt was probably one of the most challenging of the fears.

Would they actually be able to turn something that for the most part of their life was “a hobby with passion” into a business? Would their dreams finally come true despite all realities of not having a steady income, or in some cases a place of their own? Would they have permission to continue to pursue their aspirations after the program?

Four months is not a long time, yet it is enough for women to learn, grow and blossom; forge new friendships, rebuild confidence and develop a renewed sense of possibility.

But then, will they find the right niche, the marketing pitch, and the clients who would love buying their products again and again?

Every step of the way, our trainers, mentors and staff – ensured our women kept on moving on, pursuing their dreams with no compromises. The ultimate goal of this program, beyond the business side – is the journey of self-discovery, learning, and embracing others.

All women graduates are changemakers – women who not only are in business to support themselves and their families, but to give meaning to other people’s lives.

“EWI has led me on a journey of self-discovery, through education, mentoring and empowerment. The program allowed me to gain a clear vision and realization of what I want to change in my own life, as well as what I can do to change the world we live in. One person can make a difference in a community, but a community as a whole can make a significant impact across the world.”  Valerie Fair, Graduate 2012, Owner of Fair Consultants

I take joy in seeing these women reaching new heights, and I can’t wait for all of you to meet them on June 23 at the graduation reception.

You too will be proud, empowered and inspired! Thank you for all your support.

Onward and upward!

Marga Fripp
Founder and President
Empowered Women International

Gail Consulting Group- Featured Graduate: Addie

11 Jun

Addie Gail’s success story begins before the family emergency that took over her life a couple of years ago. Addie had already been gaining experience in her field of business and marketing when a family member became sick and needed Addie’s assistance.

During this chaotic time, Addie lost her job—and subsequently her home. But, she was gaining something else in the process: faith in herself, and a desire to be a business owner.

Addie had a decision to make; she was at a crossroads. “I said, ‘I either have to do this now or I’m not going to do it at all.”

Addie sought help to get her business off the ground. She went to the public library, hoping to access information that would help her to launch her business. She began attending small business networking events and seminars, but she worried that she wasn’t getting the information or making the contacts that she needed to get to the next level.

She felt frustrated. “There’s got to be someone who can help me,” she recalls. She came across a flyer for the EWI program, and immediately filled out the application.

Addie has enjoyed meeting other women who share her dream of owning a business and being self-sufficient. “Women make relationships through talking. Light bulbs start going off and everyone has ideas that could have wings. You never know what can happen,” she says.

Addie says the coaching she has received from EWI’s volunteers has been invaluable to building her skills as well as her self-confidence. “They give you another confidence––an affirmation that you’re on the right track,” Addie says.

She has gained mentors, and further developed the skills she needed to launch her own business, The Gail Consulting Group, a management consulting firm. Addie offers strategic planning, management training, and facilitation services. She hopes to work with government agencies and programs, and faith-based non-profit organizations.

Addie continuously looks for opportunities to make connections, meet potential clients, and discover how she can meet their needs. While she faces challenges in growing her business during a tough economy, Addie’s passion and determination to achieve success also grow every day.

What’s Addie’s advice for other future business owners? “You have to believe in yourself and believe that you can do it,” says Addie. “You never know what can happen. You have to put yourself out there.”

Written by Willona M. Sloan

Stylesmiths- Artist Feature: Kelley

9 Jun

Kelley’s ambition and determination are a result of her mother’s past struggles after emigrating the US from Taiwan. Kelley’s mother worked long and laborious hours at any job she could find. Because she wasn’t fluent in English, often times her employers took advantage of her work and refused to pay her. These injustices pushed Kelley’s mom to pursue higher skilled work and to improve her English, and now they are Kelley’s inspiration to push herself to expand her ideas and build her own style consulting business, Stylesmiths.

“Stylesmiths provides style consulting services to image aware, goal oriented, successful professionals in the DC area.”

Kelley has always had an interest in the fashion industry, but has found it difficult to break into the business without years of experience or formal training. Kelley turned to EWI to strengthen her business skills in order utilize her knowledge of fashion to develop her own style consulting business. Kelley has has had previous experiences working as a stylist for fashion photo shoots and has even taken classes to learn to make clothes.

“EWI is truly a great program.  It has allowed me to gain valuable knowledge on what it takes to plan, operate, and manage a successful business that I would not have had the opportunity to learn without their team of extremely knowledgeable women and their network of business owners, financial advisors, social media experts, and attorneys.  I have gained a network of empowered women.”

Written by Perri

Fruit of the Spirit Floral Designs- Artist Feature: Clementine

8 Jun

Clementine is currently enrolled in EWI’s spring 2012 Entrepreneur Training for Success
Program. She is a floral designer who loves to create beautiful wedding pieces and floral
arrangements for special events.

She stumbled upon her talent for creating elegant floral arrangements by chance. A close friend
of Clementine’s, who had taken Clementine to an arts and crafts workshop during a retreat
together, asked her to help with Christmas wreaths and floral arrangements. This was when
Clementine discovered her passion for creating works of art through the arrangement of flowers.

Clementine is fascinated by the variety of flowers types and the awesome colors. Her favorite
flower is the calla lily, which embodies simple elegance in its form and style. The flower
symbolizes magnificent and beauty, adjectives that she feels defines her floral business.

Clementine launched her first business in 1999. Called “Fruit of the Spirit Florals”, she owned
and operated it part-time while working full-time for the federal government. Unfortunately,
the business failed to take off. Undeterred, Clementine refused to give up and sought out the
assistance of EWI to help make her dreams come true and provide her with the skills and
knowledge to make her passion for creating floral arrangements a successful business venture.
In 2012, Clementine renamed her business “Fruit of the Spirit Floral Designs, LLC”.

Clementine has more than 10 years of experience in creating unique and individualized bouquets
and displays for weddings, anniversary celebrations, and other special events, as well as
for homes and offices. She is also experienced in creating one of a kind arrangements with
silk flowers. Clementine adds a personal touch to all her artistic creations, incorporating the
customers’ desires into every piece she makes.

“EWI has helped me to really focus on my business and for that I am grateful. I am surrounded around a much of like minded women who have a talent that they want to market into a business and we encourage one another to be successful. EWI is just like a body, there are many parts, each part has its own function, but the parts work together to obtain success.”

Written by Alexandra Standal

Ma Lizzies – Featured Artist: Elizabeth

7 Jun

Elizabeth came to the U.S. from Ghana twenty years ago, and has been involved in
baking for much of that time. She is a pastry chef and cake decorator and has trained
in fondant and gum-paste decorating techniques.

For fourteen years, she worked with Giant Supermarkets, completing her training and
expanding her skills. Now, she is ready to open her new business, Ma Lizzie’s Cakes and Catering, specializing in traditional Ghanian sweets as well as delicious gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and egg-free cakes and pastries designed for people who have special food requirements.

Elizabeth came to EWI to learn about starting a business and to secure financial

“I have learned a lot about the things I need to do in order to open and run a successful business,” she writes. “I got a lot of mentoring encouragement, information, and resources… to move my business along. The training I got from EWI has made me more assertive, confident and sure about opening and running my own successful business.”

Written by Nina Sichel

Creative Expressions from East Africa- Featured Arist: Mariam Mohamed

6 Jun

Originally from Tanzania, Mariam immigrated to the US a few years ago.  The dream to own her own business has always been there, and Mariam set out with passion to turn that dream into a reality.  Drawing on her extensive experience in working with textiles and sewing, Mariam decided to create unique handbags from Kanga cloth, a traditional fabric with a rich heritage, that originated along the coast of East Africa.  Highly versatile, the Kanga is made from cotton and has bright, bold designs printed along the borders of the fabric. Not only known for its decorative role, in Eastern Africa the Kanga is used to send a message, similar to a greeting card in the Western culture.

Desiring to share her passion and love of the Kanga, Mariam started off by creating and selling her products at a local flea market.  However, her sales did not increase as quickly as she had hoped for. Mariam recognized that what she needed was help in developing stronger marketing skills. “I was facing challenges in getting supplies and marketing issues. I needed help in marketing techniques and developing products.”  As a result, Mariam applied for the ETS program that was being offered in Rockville, MD.

Throughout the course of the program, Mariam has continued to develop her business plan and through the workshops, defined her business more clearly. “It’s helped me to be more strategic in preparation of public relations and the use of marketing tools.” Over the period of the twelve week course, Mariam has worked on making Bahari Deco Crafts, more visible for the public eye, as well as promoting the sales for her handicrafts through her website

Written by: Sarah Bouwer

Flavors of India- Artist Feature: Doler

2 Jun

When Doler and her husband moved to the United States in 1980, they decided to go into business together, and they opened their first Indian restaurant in Baltimore.  A second restaurant soon followed, and another, and over time they had opened several.

An accomplished chef, Doler continues to work in the restaurant and, because so many people want to learn Indian cooking and have asked her to teach them, she is also branching out in another direction.  Her new venture, to be called Flavors of India, will provide, as she states, “Indian culinary classes which transport one’s taste buds and their senses to different parts of India.”

Doler has a fine arts degree in structural and textile design, but she felt she needed the sort of entrepreneurial training that EWI provides in order to grow her businesses and better market her services.  As she says, “I was blind, and going any which way, a hodge-podge.  I am an artist, and needed business know-how.”  She is especially grateful to EWI for teaching her how to access the information she needs to get the results she wants.

“I am glad I joined EWI,” she writes, “It’s been a great eye-opener for me; it has shown me all the possibilities I can have by pursuing my career.  I have gained a wonderful support system.  The organization helped me regain my self-confidence and helped me recognize my worth.  The mentors who visited EWI sessions were very knowledgeable and genuinely helpful.”

Written by Nina Sichel

Ourania, Inc. – Featured Artist: Sabrina

1 Jun

Sabrina is a self-taught jewelry maker and astrological enthusiast. She uses semi-precious gemstones and configures them into beautiful necklaces that represent a person’s birth-chart based on their time and date of birth. Sabrina began making the necklaces as gifts for family and friends during the holidays.

Sabrina discovered Empowered Women International’s Entrepreneur Training for Success while browsing the internet for job opportunities. As soon as she read about ETS, she knew that it was something she needed to part of in order to advance her business idea and begin selling her unique necklaces.

“I have learned many things from EWI, but first and foremost how to see myself as a business woman and entrepreneur. How to feel confident in saying that to people when introducing myself and sharing with others what I do. EWI has truly molded my business out of my personal hobbies and passions, solidifying them into a coherent mission statement. EWI has shown me how to brand myself and envision my business, Ourania, as an extension of myself. It has helped me hash out my goals and lay down a timeline in which to accomplish them. “

Upon compeleting ETS, Sabrina plans to continue to develop and expand her business. She plans on expanding her product line, investing in higher quality materials, and broadening her market. In addition to making her unique beaded jewelry, Sabrina has explored developing her own yoga sequences associated to each zodiac sign. Sabrina has learned about astrology through her own research and has participated in and taught yoga classes and continues to incorporate this into her larger vision of Ourania, Inc.

“I hope to see the flourishing of my start-up, to continue to manifest my vision which I charted on my vision board, and I hope to see opportunities and seize them.”

You’re Invited: From Buds to Blossoms

22 May

From Buds to Blossoms


*  Entrepreneurs Graduation Gala  *  Business Showcase  *

Marketplace of Handmade Art and Gifts

 With Special Participation of  

Ten Thousand Villages Alexandria, EWI Partner 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Durant Center

1605 Cameron Street  Alexandria, VA 22314

Complimentary Appetizers & Drinks

 Delicious Homemade Egyptian Dishes by Aida, EWI Entrepreneur Graduate 

 Free Parking

Free of Charge. RSVP Required

Join us to learn how each woman has blossomed into a confident business woman and entrepreneur. Hear their inspiring stories about how they’ve followed their dreams,faced their challenges, and overcame their fears.


3 – 3:45 pm – Showcase of Graduates’ Businesses, Art Exhibition and Marketplace Shopping

3:45 – 5 pm – Graduation Ceremony

5 – 6 pm – Reception and Marketplace Shopping

Check back on the blog tomorrow to meet our graduates!

This program was made possible with funding from:

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia  *  The Alexandria Commission for the Arts

The Mason Hirst Foundation  *  The Washington Forrest Foundation
The Giving Circle of Hope Reston   *  AmeriCorps Vista
The Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation
and many individuals who contributed scholarships in support of our low-income students