All posts tagged: entrepreneurs

Launch Gloucester Entrepreneur Development Program highlighted at Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity

Jenny Crittenden, Executive Director to the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, gave a presentation to approximately 150 attendees at Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Summit on Rural Prosperity at the Tides Inn Resort on September 26 and 27.

The conference, presented by the Center for Rural Virginia, was widely attended by Virginia General Assembly senators and delegates; local politicians and elected officials and business owners and community leaders.

Crittenden was asked to be a part of a panel discussion on entrepreneurism and gave an opening presentation that highlighted her and her husband’s business, Heart 17 Produce, Inc., an 150 acre produce company that ships to major food chains and to also share about the growth and services provided by the Main Street Preservation Trust to local entrepreneurs.

A memorable moment during Crittenden’s presentation was when the entire audience applauded as she relayed that Gloucester’s Main Street program, due completely to the vision and generosity of Edwin & Adrianne Joseph, is the only financially self sustaining model in the nation.

“I am just the one who is lucky enough to get up every day and enact their vision and work with our entrepreneurs.”

Crittenden’s presentation ended with highlighting the very successful Launch Gloucester Program that was initiated in 2015 that yielded six new or expanded businesses in the downtown providing seven full time jobs and 21 part time jobs, as well as more than $454,000 in public/private investment.

The program was made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Department of Housing & Community Development that was awarded to the Trust after a state wide competitive process.

Stephanie HLaunch Gloucester Entrepreneur Development Program highlighted at Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity

George Cramer wants to bring his metal and blacksmithing creations to Main Street

George Cramer has been working with metal since he was 14, when he began welding, cutting and metal fabrication at his father’s New Jersey refuse company.

As he worked and learned welding, fabrication, heavy diesel mechanics and machinery repair he got to thinking.

“I was welding one day and wondered where it all began,” Cramer said. “How did we get to this point in industry and who thinks of fusing metals together with an electric arc?”

His journey since then included studying under internationally recognized blacksmiths and blade smiths, blacksmithing for 12 years and creating a wide range of hand-crafted items. He also completed a stint in the Navy, where he honed his skills of welding, fabrication and metallurgy.

With his experience and passion for making hand-forged knives and crafting ornamental iron work and blacksmithing, Cramer has plans to open a shop in the Gloucester Village called “The Village Blacksmith.” His goal is to provide custom metal work, blacksmithing, bladesmithing, reproduction, restoration, repair, welding, fabrication training and consulting on low- to high-end custom metal work.

Cramer is vying to be one of three prospective business owners selected from a pool of local entrepreneurs to share a combined value of $95,000 in goods, services and start-up capital to launch a business on Main Street. The Launch Gloucester program is part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch initiative and is locally overseen by Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Gloucester Main Street Association.

“I enjoy taking something seemingly unmovable and strong and bending and forming it to my will as if it were soft clay,” Cramer says. “The process of blacksmithing has not changed much for thousands of years and is a dying art. It is a durable art form and craft that lasts through the ages; not only ornamental it serves a mechanical function that is only limited by one’s necessity creativity and skill.”

Cramer’s creations take on many forms. These include hand-forged bottle openers and knives, to decorative metal cutouts — crabs, cartoon characters and even a society coat rack — to rose-shaped metal candle holders, to signs and repurposed nautical tables made out of portholes or a cabin door.

For Cramer, bringing The Village Blacksmith to Main Street would allow him to show a wider audience of residents and visitors his hand-crafted wares. It also would help him show how metal has a wide variety of uses and applications, from the practical to the decorative.

Stephanie HGeorge Cramer wants to bring his metal and blacksmithing creations to Main Street

Raphaella Teschner Finds Her Calling In Women’s Plus-Size Clothing Store

New store on Main Street would be a first in Gloucester

Raphaella Teschner has found her calling – helping women who wear plus-size clothing feel good about themselves and think – KNOW – the are beautiful.

Teschner’s business concept, the Beautiful Plus Boutique, will sell exclusively plus-size women’s clothing and fashion accessories on Main Street in the Gloucester Village. She also plans on offering a specialized, personal shopping experience to include in-store alterations.

“I want to help women find their own beauty and extend that to the outside,” Teschner said. “Even jeans and a t-shirt can look good. Having women feel good about themselves is my goal. When you feel beautiful you really do look beautiful because that aura extends around you.”

Teschner is specifically vying to be one of three prospective business owners selected from a pool of local entrepreneurs to receive a combined value of $95,000 in goods, services and start-up capital to launch a business on Main Street (the three winners will share the total value of the prize package). The Launch Gloucester program is part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch initiative and is locally overseen by Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Gloucester Main Street Association.

As a plus-size woman herself, Teschner said she, too, has had trouble finding clothes that are fashionable, high quality and fit well.

“Just finding clothing that I could go work in and not look like my grandmother and that fit me well was very difficult,” Teschner said. “It really became a passion of mine (to create a store where) people could come and find something that they were confident in and makes them feel beautiful.”

Teschner envisions her store helping empower plus-size women on a deeper level. When she wears clothes she feels good about, it carries over to her identity, she said.

“I really want to help the women that walk into my store appreciate their own beauty and be more self-confident themselves. I’ve struggled with self-confidence. But now I feel I have more self-confidence than I have in a long time.”

Teschner’s mother, Yolanda Teschner, has a women’s clothing store on Main Street – Yolanda’s. Although it’s not always been full-time, Raphaella Teschner has worked for her mother doing the books and other “behind the scenes” duties that she said will help her open her own store and make it successful.


Stephanie HRaphaella Teschner Finds Her Calling In Women’s Plus-Size Clothing Store

It’s PITCH Week

It’s finally here – Pitch Night week! The hard work our Launch Gloucester participants have been doing these last couple of months will all culminate this week as they pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. While the Pitch Night event is NOT open to the public, the community is encouraged to wish all of our Launch Gloucester participants good luck. A party that the community will be encouraged to attend will take place later this month where we will announce the winners. Stay tuned for details!

Pitch Night Participants

Crystal Burton – Sweet Tooth Parlor (expansion)

George Cramer – The Village Blacksmith (startup)

Rachel Cuba – Gloucester Juice Bar (startup)

Karin Fary – The Nines Pet Boutique (startup)

Wanda Fary – Pawsitive K9 Play Care & Training Center (startup)

Chris and Heather Morgan – Oak & Barrel Restaurant (startup)

Ginger Platsis & Jill Reece – Essential Wellness and Bodywork (expansion)

Raphaella Teschner – Beautiful Plus Boutique (startup)

Lorraine Walsh – Gloucester’s Good Life Kitchen (startup)

Nina Watkins – Twice as Nice Boutique (2nd location)

Stephanie HIt’s PITCH Week

Gloucester Businesses & Organizations Support Community Business Launch

Ready, set, launch – thanks to our partners!

The Launch Gloucester program would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners.

  • Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust oversaw the Launch Gloucester program, one that fits well with its overall mission. The MSPT draws on its funds to attract new and additional business to Main Street in Gloucester by enhancing the economic and business environment, preserving historical landmarks in the Gloucester Court House Village area, and promoting civic and cultural activities.
  • Gloucester Main Street Association is a group of Main Street business owners, residents, commercial and residential property owners and other individuals who have joined together promote Historic Gloucester Main Street, also known as the Gloucester Village. The GMSA plans and implements events and attracts additional businesses and residents. The Gloucester Main Street Association led the Launch Gloucester program alongside the MSPT and was responsible for applying for the grant and overseeing the operations.
  • Gloucester Economic Development Authority offers assistance to existing and new companies looking for a new sites or locations in Gloucester County. For Launch Gloucester the EDA contributed $15,000 to help fuel the program.
  • Shop Talk, LLC provides partners with fast, high quality, economical services anytime and anywhere by delivering customer focused, integrated communication solutions. Margie Johnson is a retail and marketing consultant that works with Main Street businesses and for Launch Gloucester coordinated and taught many of the classes the entrepreneurs took to refine their business ideas.
  • East River Marketing looks at businesses from the top-down to the bottom-up and is committed to delivering a significant return on a client’s marketing expenditures. The firm is a marketing and creative company that provided free video services to promote Launch Gloucester.
  • Consociate Media uses marketing, media and management techniques to blend the rich traditions of storytelling and modern communications to help market businesses. Consociate offered free and discounted services to Launch Gloucester as part of prize package, including social media marketing, a website build, graphic design and public relations.
Stephanie HGloucester Businesses & Organizations Support Community Business Launch

Fifteen Proposed Businesses Advance in Gloucester’s Community Business Launch Program, Launch Gloucester

Fifteen budding entrepreneurs stood in front of nearly 100 Gloucester business leaders, community members and family and friends Thursday, March 12 in the Gloucester Main Street Center and introduced themselves and their vision for the business they hope to open along Gloucester Main Street this fall.

The entrepreneurs represented the 15 accepted business ideas into the Launch Gloucester program, the Virginia Community Business Launch program funded by the state and spearheaded by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Gloucester Main Street Association.

At this event – the Launch Gloucester Party – the entrepreneurs were joined by Virginia Del. Keith Hodges, Jenny Crittenden of the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, Ashley Gilmartin of the Gloucester Main Street Association, Margie Johnson of Shop Talk and Ernie Maddie of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The DHCD is managing the Community Business Launch (CBL) program, developed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Three communities across the state were awarded $100,000 in December 2014 as part of the pilot program for the CBL. The CBL is designed to assist communities in taking a systems approach to defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy.

The program called for grant recipients to use the community’s unique vision for its future and then design a local business competition to find and foster the entrepreneurs that connect with that vision.

In Gloucester, a team of local businesses, county government officials and boards and mentors added value to the program by donating time and discounted services to further help the businesses interested in applying to the contest prepare and refine their business plans.

The 15 businesses who spoke March 12 were selected out of more than 40 total applicants and will now go on to participate in eight weeks worth of business training classes that will help them refine and develop their business plans before pitching the ideas to a panel of judges later this spring.

Scoring on the business plan and the pitch will be used to select the winners who will receive start up capital, marketing services, and other launching assistance to open their business on Main Street before the year ends. The total combined value of the prize packages is $95,000.

The 15 businesses selected to compete for the start-up capital and launching support services include:

  • All Things Sports, proposed by Kelly and Kelvin Cooper, aims to be a sporting goods store featuring sports gear, equipment, shoes, clothing and archery accessories to compliment the numerous athletes in Gloucester.
  • Beautiful Plus Boutique, proposed by Raphaella Teschner, will exclusively sell plus-size women’s clothing, as well as fashion accessories. The boutique will provide a specialized, personal shopping experience.
  • Blue Star Bikes, proposed by Shawn Powell, will open as a bicycle store that sells new bikes, a full selection of parts and service repairs. The business will specialize in bicycles, running and fitness.
  • Creekside Café, proposed by Dorsie Reese, is an expansion of her current food truck and catering services. The café will offer coffee, pantry items and fresh prepared food, such as breads and pastries. Their menu would be based off of seasonal food and local ingredients.
  • GEO Outdoor Outfitter Station, proposed by Elizabeth Richardson, would provide services for outfitters and engage the Gloucester Village in connecting with the environment. GEO will provide safe and supportive services that include an outfitters apparel shop, healthy food store and a charging station for cyclists.
  • GoodLife Kitchen, proposed by Lorraine M. Walsh, will create an inviting retail store and a destination for worldwide cuisine. The space will lead the way to a larger classroom style exhibition kitchen of stadium style seating for guests to watch the preparation of a themed four-course meal paired with wines. Walsh is a Registered Nurse and aims to teach heart healthy cooking that still tastes good.
  • Lighthouse Gifts, proposed by Rebecca and Jeffrey Carwell, is a gift store that will sell cards, gift items, balloons, gift baskets and woodcraft items. The business intends to sell local wares and merchandise from within the community.
  • The NINES your Canine and Feline Boutique, proposed by Karin Fary will offer stylish clothing, accessories, collars and leashes for pets. The business will offer pet photography and several products, such as grooming supplies, organic treats and cat and dog products.
  • Oak n’ Barrel, proposed Heather and Christopher Morgan, sets out to be a casual space that will incorporate local gift retail items, artists and bakers to create a “coffee shop” atmosphere that serves lunches and dinners with events on site.
  • Pawsitive K9 Experience, proposed by Wanda Fary, will offer dog daycare, as well as dog training by an Animal Behavior College certified trainer. In addition, the business will sell dog trainer aids, pet accessories and homemade, grain-free treats.
  • Sweet Tooth Parlor & Café, proposed by Crystal Burton, will be expanding into a full bakery and cafe consisting of fresh baked breads, cinnamon rolls, pastries, soups, salads and much more.
  • TwiceAsNice Consignment Boutique, proposed by Nina. J Watkins, is a consignment store for women’s and children’s clothing and accessories that will compliment the existing shops along Main Street.
  • The Village Blacksmith, proposed by George Cramer, will provide custom metal work, blacksmithing, bladesmithing, reproduction, restoration, repair, welding, fabrication training and consulting on low to high end custom metal work.
  • Essential Wellness, proposed by Jill Reece, Ginger Platsis and Holly Basta, will support the balance of body, mind and spirit through exceptional service, healing foods, a juice bar and a variety of products and workshops that advocate wellness.
  • Gloucester Juice Bar, proposed by Rachel Cuba will offer freshly squeezed juices and blended smoothies made from organic, local, and seasonal fruits and veggies.

Learn more about the contestants, how to launch a business, doing business on Main Street in Gloucester and more on Want to get involved? Contact the Launch Gloucester team at



Stephanie HFifteen Proposed Businesses Advance in Gloucester’s Community Business Launch Program, Launch Gloucester

Launch Gloucester Entrepreneurs Go Back To Class

Business expert Margie Johnson leads group in entrepreneurial education.

Class is in session for the prospective entrepreneurs in the Launch Gloucester initiative who are hoping to fulfill their dream of starting a business on Main Street.

The classes are held weekly and were developed by Margie Johnson, whose 30-year career as an entrepreneur and business expert helps equip prospective business owners with the knowledge and skills to run successful businesses.

The first class included an introduction to entrepreneurship, including how to gather marketing data and industry research and developing a marketing strategy.

Other classes have focused on types of business entities and considerations for each as the business plan is developed, as well as selecting the right location for your business, retail space in Gloucester Court House, the look and design of the business, inventory management and product sourcing.

Still to come is a class session on operations planning and requirements, employee and staffing considerations and reviewing the business plan and the final stages of writing it. Independent study sessions are also included, covering a range of topics to include researching Virginia business resources and local requirements such as permits, zoning and licensing.

Other independent study topics include creating a draft of a business plan, starting work on “pitch points” for the entrepreneurs’ final presentations before Launch Gloucester judges and networking with business owners in respective fields or industries.

Goals for the class

Johnson said one of the goals of the classes she has developed is giving the group areas to focus on to be the most successful. Whether it’s marketing or business plans or bringing in speakers specializing in banking, accounting, or insurance, Johnson is preparing the entrepreneurs for launching a business even if they don’t succeed.

“Some may not win but they’ve all gone through a pretty big effort to start a business and going forward several may be looking to start a business but it just didn’t click in time,” Johnson said.

With the skills they are learning in the classes, the entrepreneurs can continue their dream and perhaps launch a business in the future, she said. Some essentials the group is being given include information about the state of respective markets and industries, different business plans and where to get information and the importance of verifying and validating information to ensure they know how to interpret it.

Included are requirements to do a personal financial statement and getting a credit report. It’s all part of Johnson’s “success planning” training. She can’t write their business plans, Johnson said, but also wants them to pose the question to themselves of whether they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Pursuing a dream

“It’s very comprehensive,” she said. “Part of it is for many of them it’s getting them to make sure they are pursuing their dream and also pursue the practical steps for expanding or starting their business. Also, look at the risk and rewards of new businesses.”

Johnson said she is very teacher-oriented so she puts together a toolkit approach to give the class the education and materials — or tools — to make decisions. Asking the tough questions goes along with it.

“What are you doing to really screen you motivation?” Johnson said. “Do you have the personality for this? At no point have I downplayed that this is a serious endeavor and it requires a serious commitment. I want to make sure they are legally, financially and emotionally committed.”

Although the three winners of the Launch Gloucester program will receive a combined $95,000 in working capital to start their businesses on Main Street, it still involves plenty of hard work, Johnson said. “I need to make sure people understand that,” she said.

Johnson is complimentary of the group.

“You have to start with a vision and I think the vision is in place and there’s lots of energy,” she said. “You have to start with a vision and I think the vision is in place and there’s a lot of energy. They’re all winners. This is their dream and whether it’s now or in two years or four years they are each building a binder with resource information on lots of categories. They are going to have a great toolkit for now and in the future.”

Top 5 mindsets of entrepreneurs

Johnson said today’s successful entrepreneurs have a spirit and energy that are a winning combination, with the entrepreneurial spirit embodying successful characteristics of people who are positive thinkers, confident, students of change, risk takers and always willing to work hard. An eager entrepreneur’s passion for their endeavor is infectious.

Here’s Johnson’s five key mindsets of successful entrepreneurs:

—They are by their nature curious and always eager to learn. They look for opportunities so they might be able to apply their competencies. They keep an open mind to new ideas.

—While they are always seeking to learn, they also tend to view a failure or setback as a lesson to be celebrated not mistakes to be mourned.

—They are dreamers. They are great at visualizing “what their goals are” and what those goals should look like. They are excited to share their dreams and make no apologies for “thinking big” to the skeptics.

—They have a huge threshold for tolerating risk. While they are most often cautious in their approach and methodology, they so often will take big leaps of faith. They will put themselves and their reputation on the line.

—They understand the difference between success and failure is often how they react to “no” or “negative” reactions to their entrepreneurial plan. Successful entrepreneurs hear “no” but they do not always just accept it. They restate the question and recommit to doing what is necessary to get their desired outcome. They view rejection as a part of the learning curve despite how steep the learning curve may be.

Stephanie HLaunch Gloucester Entrepreneurs Go Back To Class