Tag Archives: graduate

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

Meet Kamila!

29 Nov

Kamila Barbour, founder of Barbour House Publications believes that her life and work are a culmination of her experiences as a woman, a visionary and a creative mind. She loves using her talents to formulate artistic, practical and effective means of visual communication in print and she appreciates designers who incorporate classic visual communication techniques with the latest trends in design. After more than 12 years of seeing herself as a publisher, she finally created Barbour House Publications to be a portal through which artist, writers, designers and educators promote their written work and establish the latest trends in Islamic Arts.

Kamila was inspired to start Barbour House after years of poorly illustrated and designed books in the Islamic market filled shelves. She always felt that she could improve the presentation of some very good pieces of work that were unfortunately disabled by poor design.

“Because I found myself a single mother years after giving up a career, I needed to move into the next phase of my life with a well thought out plan leaving no time wasted while getting the most return,” said Kamila, “I joined EWI after months of watching and seeing the results of other entrepreneurs that graduated from their program. I decided that EWI could also help me lay out a clear plan of action after years of trying to figure it out on my own.”

So far, she has set her dream into motion with the help of a wonderful sisterhood of like minded visionaries.

The sense of Empowerment that she has gained in the last few months is even visible in her own daughters. They have come up with so many ideas of their own and she fully expects that they can achieve anything they imagine.

Kamila prays that in time Barbour House Publications becomes the beckon for showcasing the trailblazers and educators for Islamic arts in America and across the globe and we are certain that it will be!

  Charlia Acree
Rockville ETS Intern

Graduate Feature: Upcycling with Sandra

20 Nov

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.

“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.”

As graduation is just around the corner, we asked Sandra to reflect on what resonates most from her training….

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

Sandra, we wish you the best.

– Jeremy Brandt-Vorel
Media and Outreach Intern

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

Member Spotlight: Sarah Jawaid

13 Sep

 “My paintings are the blasts of color that resonate from a place that I often do not tap into otherwise. They are a manifestation of my inner spatial landscape and what I like to think of as a direct route to my Creator.”

Sarah Jawaid recently graduated from Empowered Women International’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program’s Spring 2011 class.  Sarah was born in Southern California and transplanted to Washington, D.C. a few years ago. She received a B.S. from the University of Southern California in Public Policy and an MA in Urban Planning from the University of California, Irvine.  As an urban planner Sarah finds herself constantly thinking about how spaces affect people and the environment, and this motivated her to begin exploring through art.

"Untitled" 18 x 30, canvas/ acrylic

Sarah is interested in how spaces effect the psyche, reflecting  on how the external world impacts the internal.  She explores how the world we inhabit is a reflection of the values we hold dear and the thoughts that regularly cross our minds.  She stated that “synergy exists between the external world and the world within me”.  Noting that  often “it can be difficult to listen to the external world when our internal landscape is relentlessly inundated with the dissonance of idle and self-defeating thoughts.”

"Heart Within" 12 x 16, canvas/ acrylic

In her professional and personal pursuits, Sarah has tried to explore this interaction. Her background in urban planning and public policy led her to begin questioning the reasons why our cities were built the way that they are. Asking questions such as; “Where is the connection of the built environmental with the natural environment? Who is in power?  Who is left out of the equation?  Why is the environment not a priority to many of our leaders?  How can we mitigate disproportionate environmental degradation in the most vulnerable populations?  How can we ensure that children are growing up in affordable, healthy and sustainable housing?”

"What You Left Me With" 18 x 14 canvas/ acrylic/ wax

These conversations and questions ultimately led Sarah to begin exploring on canvas through the process of creation.  For Sarah, her painting and the act of creating is a direct path to spirituality. She stated that, “Despite how vulnerable it makes me feel, I do it because in those moments on the canvas I am exploring the space within myself that I would not otherwise tap into. I am in a state of flow where each brush stroke comes from empowered intuition. There is no judgment and the movements that seem like mistakes are easily integrated into the rest of the piece.”  Each one of Sarah’s works is truly an extension of herself and a glimpse into her internal world. It is the external spaces and the spaces within herself that move her to action.

Visit Sarah’s website to learn about upcoming  exhibits featuring her artwork in galleries around the DC area.

Learn more about Sarah and her work at her Website

Contact Sarah by email: art.sarahjawaid@gmail.com

Video Highlights EWI’s Impact

14 Jun

Originally Posted on January 7th, 2011

Watch this video to learn how Empowered Women International transforms lives, fuels job creation, and nurtures entrepreneurship! The video features interviews with Entrepreneur Training for Success graduates, who talk about the impact their involvement with EWI has had on their personal and professional lives, both as entrepreneurial artists and as immigrant women. (Best viewed on a PC computer).



Meet Our Most Recent Graduates

14 Jun

Originally Posted on January 6th, 2011

Our Entrepreneur Training for Success Program saw its most recent graduates complete their training in December 2010. Meet these new EWI members and learn what path they are taking to achieve their entrepreneurial and artistic endeavors by reading their New Member Profiles.