Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Meet Irina!

7 Dec


Irina enjoys the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of life. She has been a yogi for 15 years and a reiki practitioner for 4 years. Her business is providing Kundalini yoga classes and Reiki energy healing to clients. Kundalini Yoga is similar to other forms of yoga by its series of postures and poses, but it incorporates more dynamic motion, breathing and meditation. Reiki is a healing technique that uses light touch to various parts of the body to ease physical and emotional discomfort. Helping people feel better is very important to Irina, and if she could have it her own way, everybody would be living the best life that they possibly could, devoid of emotional and physical pain. Irina’s roots also account for her holistic and spiritual approach to life—she was brought up in an atheist family in the Soviet Union during the Communist era. Her interest in this field is a part of her own deep need to seek a part of life that she never grew up with and help those around her overcome depression and life difficulties.

Irina originally joined EWI as a mentor for other women, but soon realized that she too had a dream to start her own business and EWI’s course seemed like a comprehensive and helpful program to become involved with. Irina states that her favorite part of the program was that every week, despite the lesson plan or the chaos, there was always at least one moment when a mentor or facilitator reminded the students how much potential they had. “I have taken away that being an entrepreneur is a journey, and not an easy one. It is so much easier when I have a group of supportive fellow entrepreneurs helping me along.”

Her goal is to one day create a community wellness center that incorporates different modalities such as psychotherapy, yoga, massage, and reiki. She wants her business to be a nurturing place for both the staff and the clients. Irina’s loves the number of interesting, conscious people that she comes across in her business, who are constantly integrating more and more into the community here in the Washington, D.C area. The business speaks to Irina’s core and is a field that she wholeheartedly enjoys.

We are touched by Irina’s passion for her work, and highly recommend her to all those in need of spiritual renewal and yoga meditation.

– Mina Alemzadeh
 Alexandria ETS Intern


Meet Irene!

6 Dec


Irene, a native Egyptian, has been inspired by the love of people in her life and genuinely finds joy in cooking Egyptian cuisine. Her passion for cooking began when she was 15 years old, when she started helping her grandmother in the kitchen. Now, the mother of two amazing children, Irene has lived in the U.S. for 8 years and sees herself as a happier and confident woman. Her dream is to one day be able to provide bread for as many unfortunate people as she can through her restaurant/catering business and she will be donating 10% of her sales to organizations who are committed to serve those who are in need.” She wants to use her business to help raise funds for the poor not only in the U.S., but also in her home country, Egypt.  For every bag of bread that Irene sells, she pledges to donate another bag to those who are in need. When she first started the program, she had so many ideas for her business but had no clue on how and where to start. According to Irene, EWI came in the right time; it taught her to stay focused and determined to reach her goal.”

Sandwiches, kabobs, and doughy bread are a few of her favorite dishes to make. Irene is in the process of planning her own restaurant, called Taste of the Nile, which is inspired by the river that flows throughout Egypt; her homeland and the place where all of her recipes come from. The food will be traditional, authentic and very similar to food that is locally produced in the Egyptian market. Irene prides her food on their healthy components. Her passion is to see satisfaction on her customer’s faces, and she strives to make an affordable, healthy, delicious meal that is the perfect portion serving size for a healthy diet. Her food will be available for anybody from the ages of 1-100 years, or as she says, “whoever likes to enjoy and try good food.” Her food will also be catered to all kinds of needs, including vegetarian, vegan and diabetic. Irene plans to open her family-oriented and affordable business hopefully in Northern Arlington or the downtown D.C. area. With her culinary talent and heartwarming demeanor, we cannot wait to see Irene’s business prosper and delight the residents of the D.C. metro area.

A very special and heartfelt thank you goes to Irene for all the wonderful help at the 10 Year Anniversary Benefit with Aida Mady’s Egyptian cuisine! Thank you, Irene!

– Mina Alemzadeh
Alexandria ETS Intern

Meet Chithra!

5 Dec


Chithra Jeyaram is an award winning documentary filmmaker. She feels compelled to communicate the realities of life as it unfolds, focusing on nuances that cannot be dwelled upon or deliberated in mass media. Through her films she hopes to break societal barriers, build bridges, change attitudes and take risks. Life is full of challenges and it is these challenges that validate life. Some people inhabit the stories and Chithra feels honored to share these compelling stories with the rest of the world through her films.

Chithra’s first exposure to filmmaking began in 2004 with a failed attempt to fund a film about an explosive water-sharing dispute between two southern states in India. Deeply affected by that experience, she quit a decade-long career as a Physical Therapist and plunged herself into the world of filmmaking. Shortly thereafter, she received a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production from University of Texas.

Chithra is the founder and creative director of Real Talkies, a boutique production house in the Washington DC metropolitan area. “Real Talkies” creates fresh and meaningful films to inform, inspire and educate people about issues that shape our lives and contemporary culture.She joined EWI to establish the business side of her film production. Real stories…Lasting impressions!” Chithra’s tagline truly encompasses her work as a filmmaker. “People crave authentic stories and we deliver it. We make real and impactful films for a global community of citizens, activists, non-profits, organizations and socially-conscious businesses,” said Chithra.

Her favorite moment in the course was the business plan pitch. “It was amazing seeing the clarity and specificity in all of our business ideas and the confidence in our delivery.”

Chithra loves meeting new people and learning about new cultures, practices and paradigms. We are so glad that she enjoyed her experience with EWI and we and we can’t to see her achieve her dream of making ground-breaking films that will become a part of the social fabric of our society!

– Charlia Acree
  Rockville ETS Intern


With style and Grace!

4 Dec


Grace is the creator of Oracle Ink, a business that focuses on the writing of personalized inspired messages to individuals and for audiences during important life events.

Grace specializes in anything from song lyrics, excerpts to be read at funerals, and poems for all occasions. Grace started her business in order to utilize her talent for language while also fulfilling her desire to encourage and help people through sharing her gift for writing.

Grace learned about the Entrepreneur Training for Success program at Empowered Women International through a close friend who has always believed in Grace’s talent. Her friend found the program online and encouraged Grace to take the step and apply. Grace explains the feeling she still cherishes of “having someone in your corner cheering you on.”

When reflecting back on the program, Grace recalls a particularly inspiring presentation given by Tom Block. When she asked him what his creative process was like, she remembers him saying, “The muse visits those who show up to work.” Grace says that’s what she wrote in her notebook, and it has been an incredible motivation throughout her time in the ETS program.

Grace hopes that her determination and love for her craft will continue to evolve,

“Like me, it can only improve and get better with age! The more I learn, grow, and elevate, the better I am for myself, my self-expression of my business, and the application of the wisdom and experience I gain along the way from my customers!”

When looking towards the future, Grace envisions herself being, “gratefully solvent,” and turning a livable profit from her passion. She hopes for a loyal client base, and one that keeps growing so she may continue to share her talent with others.

– Samantha Hohl
Video and Film Intern

Entrepreneur Graduation and Holiday Artisan Marketplace!

4 Dec

Empowered Women International Presents…

Women Entrepreneur Graduation &

Artisans Holiday Marketplace

Sat. Dec 8, 3-6 pm,

Durant Center

1605 Cameron St., Alexandria


Yes, We Did It! — Entrepreneurs Class 2012, Fall Semester

Showcase of Graduate’s Micro-Businesses

Meet our entrepreneur women, learn about their newly launched businesses and discover how these women and businesses change our communities


Graduation Ceremony

Join us to support our courageous women entrepreneurs and be inspired by their stories


Sit-Down buffet of Homeade Culinary Delights by Chef Entrepreneurs


Graduation Keynote Speaker

Julie Kantor, Barrel of Jobs


Julie Kantor was the Executive Director of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Greater Washington DC Region. In this role, she was a recognized leader in the field of entrepreneurship education and grew the organization to serve more than 24,000 local youth.

She is the author of I Said Yes! Real Life Stories of Students, Teachers and Leaders Saying YES! to Youth Entrepreneurship in America’s Schools.

Artisans Holiday Marketplace


Purchase Your Holiday Gifts for Friends & Family from EWI’s Marketplace!

All art and gifts are made EWI alumni and local artists.

Proceeds benefit EWI and our local artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Holiday selection include handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry, scarves,

designer aprons, skin and beauty products, handmade books and notecards,

holiday ornaments and more…

This Program was Made Possible in part 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,  Capital One Bank
The James Family Foundation, The Sharing Montgomery Fund

Free of Charge. RSVP Now!

Don’t wait! Reserve your ticket for yourself and a friend.

Velma Crawford in “The Ties That Bind”

5 Sep

Velma Crawford, the ETS Graduate and apron extraordinaire, returns triumphantly to our EWI blog with a presentation about her life called “The Ties That Bind” that was held at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum on August 19th.



You may have heard her story before; in fact it’s tucked into every one of Velma’s aprons. With Velma, when you buy an apron you don’t simply receive an apron but the creator’s narrative as well. In “The Ties That Bind” Velma allows us to accompany her on a journey through her learning experiences with her grandmother, the poor daughter of an ex-slave who taught Velma the skills she uses to create her aprons, and her personal illness which was the catalyst to her apron creating.



While sick, Velma created aprons as therapy that gave “a peace in me”. She discovered that creating aprons allowed her permission to heal and opened up her awareness of sharing. She also learned of the impact women have on each other, how we touch each other’s lives, and how profound that can be. As her therapy turned into an obsession she turned her obsession into a business.



With Velma her aprons are truly a creation, not simply a garment to use, but a garment that speaks through colors and prints. When you purchase one of Velma’s creations you are purchasing a story that started with a woman born at the turn of the century and by having one you are becoming a living part of that legacy.


Velma Crawford – Veez Ties That Bind Slideshow

To learn more about Velma see our blog here and our website here.

Also visit her Facebook page here.

To contact Velma please email her at veeztiesthatbind@gmail.com or vee.crawford@gmail.com.

Item of the week!

25 Jun

Red Peruvian Huayruro Seed Bead Bracelet

Get an extra 10% OFF item of the week! 

Huayruro seed beads are produced by the ormosia coccinea plant and as they are naturally occurring, each bead is unique, with no two being alike.

EWI is a non-profit organization that helps immigrant and refugee women in the Greater DC Metro area integrate, participate as new citizens, and become self-sufficient by using the arts as an economic driver and a catalyst for social and cultural integration. All of the work available in the EWI Etsy Shop is handmade by our members or supporting artists. Learn more at http://www.ewint.org.

Peruvian-born Evelyn Brooks is a graduate of EWI’s Training for Success program. She has received much press and recognition for her efforts in fighting poverty by giving proceeds of her jewelry sales to local and international causes. Evelyn has built a profitable arts business that provides work and learning opportunities for over 10 people each year. She also teaches at-risk youth and women ex-offenders jewelry-making and marketing to build confidence, self-esteem and re-enter in the society.

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

USAID’s ‘Women’s Leadership in SMEs’ Seminar

12 Jun

When you hear the word “entrepreneur,” do you picture a man or a woman?

According to the three dynamic speakers featured in “Women’s Leadership in SMEs,” this question is as pertinent today as it was several decades ago, despite the advances made in integrating women into the labor force. Liz, EWI’s new Program Manager intern, attended the seminar on June 8th and learned that women continue to represent a minority of small business owners. Moreover, this weak rate of participation only shrinks as the size of the businesses studied gets bigger. The panel, featuring professionals from the World Bank, USAID and ITC, discussed possible explanations for this phenomenon, including a theory that women are more risk-adverse and therefore less likely to open their own small business. While the seminar had a broad, global focus, it raised several issues that remain closely related to the work done by EWI on a smaller scale in the DC area. If you find the subject of female entrepreneurship as interesting as we do, make sure to sign up for the rest of the seminars in the “Growing Economies Through Women’s Entrepreneurship” series, presented by USAID! Learn more here: http://kdid.org/wlsme


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