Women Who Own It

Nan Bush of Nanland

Women Who Own It

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Nan Bush

 


President & Founder of Nanland

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What inspired you to start your business?

After years of searching, I finally found the perfect roaster for my coffee. I wanted only single origin, organically grown and certified beans to bring you great socially responsible coffee. 

Nanland specializes in certified organic single origin coffee packaged in single serve cups. Our coffees are carefully sourced, evaluated and approved by expert Q Arabica Graders licensed by the Coffee Quality Institute assuring you that nanland is indeed premium 100% Arabica coffee.

What is behind the name?

When our daughter, Allison was young, I noticed her writing in a notebook. When asked she said, “Mom, you live in your own little world.  You live in nanland.  I’m writing down all the crazy things you say and some say I’ll publish my Notes from Nanland.”  Allison died suddenly at age 24, her notebook disappeared, and we thought it was gone. While preparing for a move, we found her notebook bringing us both laughter and tears. Our company name keeps her memory and sense of humor alive.

What three traits define you?

Persistence, organization, Christ centered

What women inspire you?

Nikki Haley, Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business? 

Provided a differentiating entry point to businesses.

What do you love about being a business owner?

Working for myself. 

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

There are threats that can significantly impact my business that I have no control over – political upheaval, weather damage to coffee crops.

How do you define success?

Being able to spend my time the way I want to.

What are you reading or listening to now?

I am a member of a book club and we read one new book a month.  The one I enjoyed the most in the last 12 months is “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I Love.”  My husband and I have lost two children and this book rings true as we grieve their deaths.

What’s the best way to start your day?

I get up and make myself a cup of nanland coffee and sit and read the Bible and then pray with my husband.  It focuses my mind on what is important, gives me the opportunity to be thankful for my many blessings and to pray for those people in my life that are important to me especially those that need God’s blessing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an elementary school teacher.   I loved my elementary school teachers and they were my earliest role models.  I wanted to be like them and help young people appreciate the joy of learning.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... say a prayer. 
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... have more fun along the way. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... love, and a glass of wine at the end of the day. 
By this time next year, I will be... unpacked. My husband and I just moved into our new home. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... I got a diagnosis and treatment plan for chronic pain. 
To get my creative juices flowing, I... exercise. 

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About nanland

Nanland Organic Coffee, a single origin, organically grown and certified beans to bring you great socially and nutritionally responsible coffee. 

Learn more. 

Jordan Windschauer Amatea of Base Culture

Women Who Own It

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Jordan Windschauer Amatea

 


CEO & Founder of Base Culture

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What inspired you to start your business?

I developed the original Base Culture recipes to satisfy my own cravings after I completed a 30-day paleo challenge with my Crossfit gym. I found that I loved this lifestyle, however, my sweet tooth was the one thing that kept me from staying 100% true to the paleo lifestyle. After coming up empty handed searching for Paleo friendly baked goods, I researched the fine details of paleo approved baking and began to create recipes I enjoyed. Sharing my creations with others opened my eyes to what these products provided to so many people. Not only did these products provided delicious dessert alternatives that could be consumed by those with celiac disease or gluten intolerances, they were simply good products for everyone to enjoy. Once I saw how the products I created for myself were changing peoples’ lives, it was my goal to provide these products to everyone all over the nation to ultimately make Base Culture a household name.

What three traits define you?

I would say three traits that define me are determination, passion and loyalty.

What women inspire you?

The woman that inspires me the most is my mom. She started a business in her early twenties that became a big success. Once she got pregnant with my older brother, she sold her company and became focused on being a mom. She gave birth to 8 children throughout the next twenty years of her life, and just recently graduated with a doctorate in Eastern Medicine.  She is the definition of inspiration.  

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Don't every let anything stop you from achieving your goals. You should just put one foot in front of the other every day, and never stop.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business? 

Being involved in the WBENC organization as a certified WBE has allowed me to form relationships and network with many organizations such as Walmart, Target, Kroger, PepsiCo and Kellogg's. Without this organization, I would have never been able to form the relationships that I have with these large corporations. 

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

As the concept of paleo continues to gain acceptance through all retail channels on a national level, I believe there will be many new emerging brands and products that grasp onto this concept. In looking at 2018/2019, I believe the biggest trend that is on the horizon is smaller, grab & go style paleo products that taste as if they were homemade using only the highest quality ingredients, without preservatives or chemicals in a single serve, convenient style packaging for the busy millennial who is always running from one thing to the next.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love the opportunity to create something new to the industry that can bring joy to peoples’ lives. Being a business owner is wonderful, however it always comes back to the passion I have for my products, and how they are influencing people every day.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

The hardest part of being a business owner is the fact that business never stops. There are moving parts in a business 24/7, every day of the year. It is hard to put down the work and walk away to maintain a personal life. However, I truly believe that a successful business owner is well balanced with family and friends that understand their daily demands.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Absolutely everything.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

The biggest obstacle I see for young female entrepreneurs is the fear of failing, or the idea of not being enough for the job. The fact is, a person only fails if they give up. Additionally, a person is not enough if that individual truly believes that. Young entrepreneurs need to believe in themselves and pursue their passions no matter what challenges get in their way.

How do you define success?

I used to say that when we make X amount of money we would be successful. However, the day we hit that X dollar amount, the goal then changed to something twice as much. It was after this happened about 5 times that I realized that success is not measured by the amount of money you are making. Rather, it is measured by the difference you are making in other peoples’ lives along the way. 

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I have ever received is to view each challenge I face as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Altering my perspective to fit this mindset was life changing.

What’s your favorite career moment?

My favorite career moment was our very first day in our newly built 44,000 square foot manufacturing plant. It took us two years to build this facility. The first day we officially moved in was something magical filled with so much potential.

What are you reading or listening to now?

I just finished the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. This is a book about the importance of mindfulness and how transformative it can be in both business and your daily lives.

What’s the best way to start your day?

I start my day with a 15-minute meditation as soon as I get to the office. I believe this really sets a positive tone for me, and how I want my day to go.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... make a plan, and move forward. 
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to let go of the fear. It will always be scary, but that is a good thing because it means that you still have something to lose. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my husband who supports me and my dreams every day. 
By this time next year, I will be... continue working towards expanding distribution into all of stores in the USA. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... spending quality time with my family for my sisters 22nd birthday. 
To get my creative juices flowing, I... get a good night sleep, and turn on some music at the office to get in the zone.  

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About BASE CULTURE

Base Culture is revolutionizing the way consumers look at paleo products by creating the very best tasting almond butters, breads, brownies and granola using a blend of clean, real ingredients. Consumers are embracing paleo products for a variety of reasons, including physical well-being, food sensitivities and sustainability, and Base Culture is at the forefront of creating products that are satisfying this demand without sacrificing on taste. Base Culture's are 100 percent Paleo-certified, certified gluten-free, kosher certified, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and non-GMO verified that are conveniently located in the frozen food aisle.

Learn more. 

Gina Allen of Birlon Sacs

Women Who Own It

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Gina Allen

 


President and CEO of Birlon Sacs

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What inspired you to start your business?

My son and a group of his high school and college friends decided to start a travel group. After every return, he spoke about how travelers bags all looked the same and how everyone was trying to charge-up their phones. After his third excursion, I said: “We are starting a luggage company.” He said with much excitement, “Ok, Mom, I'm in!”

What women inspire you?

My mother spent my entire life making a change in my community, always focused on the education and support of youth and seniors. In 1985 she started her non-profit. She had after-school programs, tutoring, clothing closet, food pantry, and summer programs. She wanted to provide the service where the service was needed. She networked with senior volunteers, the public school districts in the area, the city, public housing and family neighborhood services.  I watched, supported my mother, and learned that I will use my voice for those who are not being heard.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business? 

I have had the opportunity to network with some of the country's empowered female entrepreneurs. I am devoting a lot of effort to building strong relationships within the WBENC community. I value these relationships that have led to strong friendships.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

Technology. The travel industry is realizing that today's travelers have a need to be connected. Everyone has an electronic device -- cell phone, laptop, or tablet. Birlon Sacs is part of that cutting edge – 55 percent of our products have technology.

What do you love about being a business owner?

Believe it or not, feedback. I enjoy talking to business women learning about their journey and asking customers to be brutally honest about my product. This feedback is necessary for me to give the customer what they want.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

What's next. I must stay ahead to get ahead.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Sleep. Being a small business owner, there's never enough time to sleep. Five more minutes please!

What are you reading or listening to now?

Everyone's in Sales by Todd Cohen

What’s the best way to start your day?

I start and end everyday with yoga. Yoga is a total mind, body and spiritual connection. It's a dog-eat-down-dog world out there and you've got to have your body in shape and ready for whatever comes your way.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... focus on the problem, switch the approach to find the solution.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... start on your business in your 30s.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my son. His honesty and support is what makes it all worthwhile.
By this time next year, I will be... hiring more staff, giving back to my community and moving into great prosperity.
The best thing that happened to me last week was...  Going to the Walmart Open Call. I've formed some great relationships with some positive business owners that I can say have inspired me to reach pass the stars.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... go to the mall, train station or downtown and people watch.

         

   

   

About Birlon Sacs

Birlon Sacs are inspired by globetrotters who explore the World. Travel bags for the 21st Century traveler who appreciates our company's uniqueness, organization, durable and finely crafted travel essentials and accessories. Birlon Sacs are designed for travel, business, school, and everywhere in between.

Learn more. 

Alina Kravchenko of SwipenSnap by Better Way Goods

Women Who Own It

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Alina Kravchenko


Founder and CEO of SwipenSnap, by Better Way Goods

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What inspired you to start your business?

I had always wanted to invent products and run my own company, I just didn’t know what to start with. It was when I had my son that I was faced with the challenge of taking care of him while balancing my career that it all came together and my idea of SwipenSnap came to life.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Walk into your fears, if you are scared of making a mistake - make it. If you are scared of being alone - be alone. If you are scared of asking for help - ask. And stop making excuses for why you can’t do something, there will always be roadblocks and sometimes very high walls - be a bulldozer

What three traits define you? 

  • Determined - I go for whatever I set my mind to and don’t let anything or anyone stop me.
  • Optimistic - I can always find the positive out of every situation.
  • Creative - I have a passion for bringing ideas to life.

What are the biggest obstacles you see facing young female entrepreneurs?

Themselves, their mindsets and what they think they can’t do or accomplish. So many women have the skills and abilities to go beyond what they can even imagine, but they often limit themselves by not being confident and not believing that they can do anything they put their minds to.

What do you love about being a business owner?

The ability to constantly learn and grow, not just in the business but as an
individual. I really love the challenge of trying to find solutions and
strategies to all of the different situations that arise

How do you define success?

A healthy balance between, a career that you are passionate about, spending quality time with people (that you love who bring you up and empower you) all while nurturing your body mind and spirit.

What’s the best way to start your day?

With gratitude for the simple things in life - warm bed, clean water and hugs!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An inventor that runs my own company and a painter.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

Yoga, run and mediate.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... run through it like a bulldozer!  
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... everything
is going to be awesome..  
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... right now it is my
mom, she is truly and angel.
By this time next year, I will be... launching another
invention.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... receiving a really sweet email from a happy customer and a hug from
my son.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... go on a nature walk
or run.

         

   

   

About Swipensnap

SwipenSnap™ is a Rash Cream Applicator. Invented by a mother that dreamed of helping parents with the problems associated with applying diaper rash ointment onto their babies bottom, by allowing the them to keep their hands clean and baby safe.

Learn more. 

Tiffany Cartwright of Amarra Products

Women Who Own It

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Tiffany Cartwright


Owner and Founder
Amarra Products

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What inspired you to start your business?

My daughter was born with eczema and I refused to treat her skin with steroids and decided to mix natural remedies instead. And they worked!  I would give scrubs away as birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day gifts until someone encouraged me to share this product with the world as the world needs it!

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Never take NO for an answer!

What three traits define you?

Resilient, determined, hard-working.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

The excitement of watching my dreams unfold right before my very eyes!

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love the freedom and flexibility afforded and the opportunity to work harder for yourself than any employer, as well as being in a position to bring real change.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up on your business, your dreams, your purpose or your vision.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Work my business.

What are you reading or listening to now? 

Think and Grow Rich and Earl Nightingale

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... remain focused and positive while determining the best strategy for overcoming it.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... there is no obstacle you will face that you cannot overcome.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... GOD!
By this time next year, I will be... a multi-millionaire soon to be billionaire business owner!
The best thing that happened to me last week was... being afforded the opportunity to talk to buyers from Whole Foods and Target and being selected for Walmart Open Call 2018!
To get my creative juices flowing, I... RUN!

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About Amarra Products

Amarra Naturals' mission is to provide high quality chemical free, all natural body scrubs and bath salts products promoting timeless, ageless beauty using all natural and organic ingredients. No chemicals. No additives. No preservatives. No animal testing. No artificial colors.

Learn more. 

Carol Gilbert of Fairy LiceMothers

Women Who Own It

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Carol Gilbert


Co-Owner of Fairy LiceMothers

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What inspired you to start your business?

I started Fairy LiceMothers 10 years ago with 2 business partners. Based on our experience as mothers, we saw a definite need in the community for a business like this. Lice letters were sent home daily in our children’s backpacks. Once I started doing my own research on lice I noticed so much misinformation out there that led families to unnecessarily panic.  This inspired my partners and I to do something about it. I found a lice research center and committed to getting educated on the real facts. I was eager to start this business and educate the community on the real facts about lice, to offer a service that will guarantee results, and to provide the community with non-toxic products that work.

Clients have the choice of having us do their treatment or they can purchase the same non-toxic products we use and we show them how to do the treatment themselves.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, I would urge that they are passionate and believe in themselves. Additionally, I would advise other women entrepreneurs to concentrate on their own goals, more than what the competition is doing. Emphasize what sets you apart from the competition and always be honest and patient with clients. 

What three traits define you? 

  • I believe I am resilient. When things are going perfectly that’s great but, how problems are dealt with are more important. 
  • Time management is also very important to me. I have a knack for gauging how much time things will take and making sure never to be late for an appointment.
  • I’ve been told that I have a lot of patience. Patience is key when dealing with frantic moms. You hear the same story over and over and you have to repeat the same information to each and every client. Sometimes I feel like a broken record but it’s the only way to get the real facts communicated to the public.

What women inspire you? 

I would have to say Oprah is my biggest inspiration. She started with nothing and not only rose to the top, she did it with class, never compromising on her integrity. I have never heard a negative story about her. 

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

We are newly certified WBE and we are still getting our arms around how to fully leverage the certification. I fully believe it will pay dividends for Fairy LiceMothers as we look to expand our footprint. We are going to the WBENC National Convention in June and hope to catch the eye of CVS and other big box pharmacies. Our product is non-toxic and should be on the shelves of every pharmacy for people to have a non-toxic option for lice removal.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

We are noticing the negative stigma of lice is slowly going away.  At least in our community where we provide the service. I feel that this local trend is a direct result from all of the education we have provided in our community.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

The biggest problem with this industry is that you never know when the phone will ring. We have 4 locations that are open 7 days a week. The biggest challenge is the staff appropriately. We want to give employee hours but we can’t have them sitting around when it’s not busy. I have lost many nights sleep over this dilemma.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

When you are a business owner, the day is never over. You have to make a conscience effort to end the day. Having a full personal life is also important.

How do you define success?

People usually define success by how much money they have accumulated. I define success by how many people leave my business with a smile on their face and peace of mind that the issue was taken care of properly. I believe if you are passionate about what you do the financial success will follow. Don’t look for a job that makes a lot of money. Do what you love and it will all fall into place.

What’s the best way to start your day?

I love starting my day by going to the gym. After exercising I have a ton of energy and my mind is clear.   Physical fitness goes hand in hand with mental acuity.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child I loved styling my dolls hair. I remember telling my dad I wanted to be a hair stylist and the response was, “No, you are going to college.” I’m not a hair stylist per say… but doing lice treatments is another way of working with hair.  I did take my father’s advice; I went to college and graduated with a degree in MIS. I then spent 20 years in corporate America managing a technical support group. It’s ironic how after all this time I ended up working with hair.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... pour myself into learning everything there is to know about this challenge and then step up and tackle it.  
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to take more pictures, eat healthy, and savor the special moments.  
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... mental clarity.
By this time next year, I will be... getting ready for my daughter to go to college.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... relaxing on Miami Beach.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... search the internet for ideas.  

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About Fairy LiceMothers

Fairy LiceMothers are dedicated to eliminating the persistent lice problem and educating the community on the use of safe and effective lice treatment methods. We utilize the proven Shepherd Method™ for effective lice and nit removal without the use of chemicals or harmful pesticides. We offer a personalized, guaranteed safe and effective lice removal treatment that will ease the minds of families dealing with this devastating problem. We help keep children in school and help parents get back to a normal life. We use the finest non-toxic treatment products to remove, repel and prevent lice that are affordable and easy to use. Learn more. 

Laxmi Hiremath of Laxmi's Delights

Women Who Own It

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Laxmi Hiremath

Founder & CEO of Laxmi's Delights

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What inspired you to start your business?

I was looking for ways to create healthy school lunches for my children. I combined flaxseed with other ingredients and smeared them on sandwiches. They turned out to be a favorite with my children as well as their PBJ-loving friends. So much so that they began trading their turkey sandwiches to our sandwiches. A unique line of exquisitely delicious Flaxseed Spreads was born. My business is an accidental business!

What three traits define you? 

I am focused, very energetic, and of course very mindful of just about everything. It has made me a better person.

What do you love about being a business owner?

My space and my own time. I do find time to volunteer when I can and give back to the community, as that’s very important to me.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

I am driven and very creative! I am always thinking and innovating several things at the same time in my mind. 

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

It has most definitely helped me getting into large accounts such as Costco Wholesale, Kroger, and Safeway.

What's your favorite career moment?

When my business was selected by the San Francisco Super Bowl 50 Host Committee as a preferred business; designated as Small Business Advocate and Leadership Council at the National Small Business Association (NSBA); and awarded a scholarship by Google to attend the Tuck Executive Education. Laxmi’s Delights is also a two-time recipient of Outstanding Product Innovation, Specialty Food Association, and recipient of Best New Functional Food Gulf Food International Awards, Dubai. These are my favorite moments!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I am a workaholic. I have been one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s most popular food writers for two decades. My highly acclaimed cookbook is called "The Dance of Spices," and published by Wiley. I would use the extra time to write more books. My first hobby, however, is oil painting and I have created over 200 paintings as a youngster. I would love to immerse myself with paints, palette, and canvas!

What’s the best way to start your day?

First, I remind myself of the awareness, then gratitude and mindfulness of my surroundings. My morning drink consists of hot water with fresh lime juice, ginger juice and tad honey. I continue my day with yoga and meditation. In meditation or in silence I find most inventiveness and originality.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I...pause first and think it through.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... be that carefree teenager. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... bread, all kinds, French sweet loaf, croissants, herb laced focaccia and biscuits!
By this time next year, I will be... expanding with more product lines!
The best thing that happened to me last week was... it was my special day, birthday, and my family surprised me with celebrations!
To get my creative juices flowing, I... take the time out to be with nature, jog during the day and get refreshed!

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About Laxmi's Delights

Laxmi’s Delights manufactures award winning, unique food product lines that are nutritious and delicious! At Laxmi’s Delights, our mission is simple — We Value Wellness! We manufacture diverse all natural, gluten free, organic, non-GMO, gourmet lines of one-of-a-kind Flaxseed Spreads, Sweet Spiced Roasted Nuts and Specialty Curries. Products are proudly made in California. Learn more. 

Edele Singer of Duobed

Women Who Own It

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Edele Singer

CEO of Duobed, LLC 

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What inspired you to start your business?

I came up with Duobed design while remodeling the den in of my condo. I have two grandsons, and I wanted that room to be a place for them to sleep when they visited. But when I used it for a den or work, I wanted it to be comfortable, and a sofa bed is the most uncomfortable thing there is. I was not going to sit in on furniture that was going to break my back, so I created a multifunctional concept – basic ottomans that can be put together many creative ways – chairs, sofas, beds, or chaise lounges. I chose high-density foam for the cushions to provide great back support, and fabrics that would look stylish, but that the kids couldn’t ruin.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

As a senior entrepreneur you need an open mind hire employees from different generations with expertise in all aspects of your business.  Money is also critical, and no matter how much you plan it will never be enough, so you have to be resourceful.

What three traits define you? 

Visionary. Perseverance. Optimism. I always see the glass half full.

What women inspire you? 

Women who have worked at a profession successfully, regardless of the hurdles it took to get there.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

I had absolutely no idea what I would need to do to market Duobed. I signed up for the first Platinum Supplier Class [through WBEC-West] and started to learn what selling Duobed would really require.  

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

Selling furniture online is becoming an accepted way of buying.  I would not be able to sell an American made furniture unit and still be successful if I had to sell to retail stores.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

Experience, funding and mentoring.

When you have a product, you have to be passionate about it and be ready to give 100% in order to make it really fly, because you’re going to hit every roadblock and bump in the road before you get it launched and going. One of my WBENC mentors early on said, “At every lunch sit at a table where you don’t know anybody,” That’s great advice because it’s really important to be out there and talk to other people. You never know who knows somebody else who might be able to help you.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I really appreciate all the people who see Duobed before they buy and tell me what a great idea it is and how much they love the product. The consumer reviews online are so enthusiastic. It validates why I keep trying to market Duobed.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

I haven’t been able to take a real vacation since I started Duobed.

How do you define success?

You get positive feedback about your product, and the bottom line financial statement is positive.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

From my son: “Mother you need to hire someone half your age who knows how to do spreadsheets and work with Amazon, and to stop trying to do it all yourself.”

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I love to work and do some of my most efficient work early in the morning.

What are you reading or listening to now? (Book, blog, magazine, podcast, etc.)

Books on tape as I drive. I live in Southern California and spend a lot of time on the 405 Freeway.

What’s the best way to start your day?

With a big sales order.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was raised to be a wife and mother, went to college and majored in education. When I started to practice teaching, I hated it, so I got married. When I got the family candy store, I found my business/entrepreneurial calling. I loved selling candy to consumers and corporations for gifts at the holidays. I also got into real estate which I really liked doing. I purchased a lot and built a house on it at age 28. I went on to do a condo conversion, build 14 apartments, and remodel several more houses.

What do you like about your workspace?

I bought the building before it was built and it has all the things that make me feel successful.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... look for a mentor.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... be careful not to extend myself financially. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my companion, my dogs, kids, and good friends.
By this time next year, I will be... ·       successful because I was able to get a hospital to see the value of Duobed to make a patient’s family comfortable, especially when staying overnight with a sick relative.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... finding out how WBENC is supporting Women Owned retail product businesses. We have different selling needs than service businesses.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... have good conversations with others, especially my WBEC sisters encountering the same problems I have had and how we can learn from and partner with each other.

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About Duobed

Duobed is an American furniture manufacturing company with a new concept, designed for today's lifestyle with comfort and style, maximizing your space and minimizing your cost.  Our modular multifunctional furniture system easily converts chairs, sofas and sectionals; to beds (Twin or King), chaises, the possibilities are endless. We can customize the fabric, cushion firmness, and even the dimensions to meet your needs. Duobed is ideal for family and visitor seating or sleeping in hospitals, hotels, offices, government housing, student housing, and any home -- anywhere people need to sit and sleep. Learn more. 

Caron Ng of NU-SET Lock

Women Who Own It

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Caron Ng

Vice President of Business Development at NU-SET Lock

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What inspired you to start your business?

I formed a new subsidiary company to change the narrative around locks for the sharing economy and to lead my family's third generation business into the digital era.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them? 

I grew up in the family business, but that didn’t make anything easier for me. In fact, the obstacles I experienced were equally or more challenging to that of a startup business. NU-SET was established in 1993 and I didn’t earn my leadership role until 2011. It was a tough time to be a leader, our main business revolved around Real Estate Operations and our company was hit hard by the recession and housing crisis; and by 2013 we were on the verge of closing down.

I realized then, that there was an expiration date to blaming my parents and grandparents for drafting me into the family business. I asked for a chance to lead and to try new business strategies. It was a bold move since I have no business training. The process was challenging, and I made many mistakes, but when I look back and connect the dots: it was quite a rewarding and exciting journey.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Don’t stand in your own way: Just do it.

What three traits define you? 

Conscientiousness, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did not feel a sense of duty and that constant inward desire to do my best.

Dominance, it wasn’t until I had to face so many obstacles that I realized how much I enjoyed overcoming them. So yes, my assertive, decisive, and competitive attitude defines me.

Intuitiveness, reasoning and logic can only get you so far. Trusting my “gut” feeling has never steered me wrong.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

My first breakthrough was finding WBENC! It was where I began my entrepreneurial adventure. I earned an opportunity to study at UCLA Anderson School of Business for my Master’s in Entrepreneurship, fully sponsored by Chevron; studied at USC Marshall School of Business for my Finance Certificate, fully sponsored by Southern California Gas Company; I finished my program with Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business and completed the ICCC Program nominated by WBEC-West. Through every step I learned new skills, and the result is the success of launching new products on Amazon, Grainger, Home Depot and Lowe’s, as well as finding new funding for my company’s growth.

How do you define success?

Winston Churchill said it best, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Or as my 7-year-old son’s favorite quote says “Never, never, never give up.”

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would finally read all the books I have been meaning to get to, and (albeit unenthusiastically) I would exercise a bit more because I should.

What are you reading our listening to now?

I am reading “The Rise and Fall of Nations” by Ruchir Sharma, and I am listening to the latest album from Ed Sheeran.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... pray.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... don't worry so much. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my children..
By this time next year, I will be... hard at work as usual. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... spending spring break with my kids.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... drive. 

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About NU-SET LOCK

NU-SET Lock is a trusted global leader in lock design with four decades of lock manufacturing experience. NU-SET is also embracing smart technology to help transform how we secure and share our spaces. We are particularly excited about the new Eyecon Smart LockBox, which builds upon NU-SET’s legacy lock box designs and adds innovative technology to meet the needs of today’s connected world. Learn more.

Porcha Johnson of Black Girl Health

Women Who Own It

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Porcha Johnson

Founder of Black Girl Health

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What inspired you to start your business?

I started my business due to my own struggle with fibroids and seeing how that plagued many African Americans. As result I found women were getting compromising surgeries and hysterectomies at young ages. I noticed it’s the lack of knowledge that was making women make ill-informed decisions about their health. This need I thought could be fulfilled with a platform that directly talks the target group to raise awareness about conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect them. As our organization evolved, we started using our brand and audience to help other companies spread awareness about their brand, mission, products, and services to select target groups.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Many entrepreneurs may be concerned about leaving their corporate job or concerned about their business being viable. My message is, “Leap out on Faith”

What three traits define you? 

Determined, Meticulous, and Fair

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love that I can create jobs and window of opportunity for other women through my company.

What's the hardest part about being a business owner?

The hardest part is keeping your business lucrative and viable so that you can continue to grow. 

How do you define success?

Success to me is defined by having the courage to go after your goals.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Find new ways to grow my business

What’s the best way to start your day?

Prayer, meditation, music, tea, and workout. In that order.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... work hard to overcome it.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... take chances. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... passion.
By this time next year, I will be... making bigger moves with growing my business. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... got overdue work done.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... listen to therapeutic music. 

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About Black Girl Health

Black Girl Health is a digital marketing service that targets minority women to live healthier lifestyles. In addition to our own publication, newsletter, food and nutrition portals, outreach events, and social media campaigns, we provide other companies a platform to increase awareness and engagement of their brand, products, and mission to their select target audience. The platforms provided include online, print social media marketing services, videos, campaigns, and community outreach. Learn more. 

Jenna Pugh of Nod Products

Women Who Own It

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Jenna Pugh

Co-Founder of NOD Products, a division of Creative Resources

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What inspired you to start your business?

There was a gap in the retail industry of fun, innovative products that were well designed, affordable and great quality, so we have designed and produced products to fill that gap. We are a small, dedicated, fun-loving brand that designs products for people like us. Since 2014, we have been working tirelessly to make the lives of our consumers anything but ordinary.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them? 

Trying to balance it all!  I started the company 6 months after my daughter was born and now have another one on the way. Trying to balance family needs and running a rapidly growing business is tough, however, it also allows me the flexibility to be with my daughter for important moments.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Stick with it and reach out to others to create a network of “people like you.” It can be overwhelming at times but being able to talk to others inevitably going through something similar can be best pick me up you can get!

What women inspire you? 

Our parent company Creative Resources was founded by Caren Schweitzer and she has always inspired me to work hard and always strive to be the best I can be. She started the company in her basement as a single mom trying to balance it all and has turned it into a wildly successful company!

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Keeping things fresh and making sure I have a happy team. At the end of the day it’s all about the people. My small but mighty team works tirelessly to ensure NOD is the best it can be regardless of what is going on in their own lives. As a small business, things are not always the most glamorous and do not always come easy, however we always seem to keep moving forward and I believe are all better for it.

How do you define success?

Being your best self. I have learned there are always going to be improvements needed in every aspect of our business but taking the time to celebrate the wins and how far we have come is equally as important. This year we were three months ahead of where we were last year on product development, and before we jump to discussing how we need to be three more months ahead next year, it is important to take a moment and recognize the wins. 

What’s your favorite career moment?

Seeing our products on retail shelves nationwide!  We spend hours upon hours designing, discussing, and creating our product line, and to see them on retail shelves (and selling) is one of the most rewarding feelings.

What’s the best way to start your day?

Coffee! I generally spend an hour or two at home with my daughter before the day gets going. If I can get to the office and take 20-30 minutes to get organized that is always a great way to start the day.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

Nothing is better than coming home after a long, stressful day to my daughter running up to me with a huge smile on her face, hugging me like she hasn’t seen me in days. Somehow she manages to make any worries disappear! 

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... try to step back and look at the big picture and what needs to get accomplished.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... everything happens for a reason and given time it will all work out.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my family (and work family)
By this time next year, I will be... in our new office, yay!
The best thing that happened to me last week was... New, big retail partners orders shipped.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... get out of the office and into a different environment.  Anywhere from a coffee shop, gift store, museum, park is a great place to get inspiration!

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About Nod Products

We are a small, dedicated, fun-loving brand that designs products for people like us. We drive and thrive in the express lane between innovation and retail shelves. Since 2014, we have been working tirelessly to make the lives of our consumers anything but ordinary. Our products are inventive, affordable and purposeful. This year we are excited to introduce a slew of new items that include cocktail—bar utensils like our patented Bloody Mary Tree and Mojito Miggler as well as gift items such as our Craft Carriers. Learn more. 

Alison Gutterman of Jelmar

Women Who Own It

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Allison Gutterman

President & CEO of Jelmar, LLC

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What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

Working in a male-dominated industry and as the only third-generation female owner of a large cleaning products company, earning respect and gaining confidence has been a struggle. Early in my career at Jelmar, I was managing men in their 40s when I was only 25. They were more experienced than I and often dismissed my new ideas about marketing and sales, and some assumed I didn’t have the drive to put in the long hours and hard work they did. I have had to learn to build my confidence, better defend my thoughts and ideas – despite the naysayers – and overcome my negative self-talk.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Lead with courage and confidence. People will come with their presumptions and judgments about your capabilities, work ethic and success. Leave those comments behind. If you don’t believe in yourself and your decisions, then why should they?

What three traits define you? 

Innovative, strong-willed and funny. As a business leader, you have to continually keep your brain thinking of ways to improve your business. You often have to work hard to get ideas pushed through to actualization—this particularly rings true in my early years at Jelmar. And in the end of the day, you have to know how to take it easy sometimes, have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself.

What women inspire you?

In 2018, there are too many to name. I think that all of the women who were brave enough to come forward and talk about issues of harassment are inspirational. While I may not have experienced harassment at the same level, I think it is so important to speak about, and teach our girls about. Being the single mom of two girls, one in her tweens, the message is important now more than ever.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

As the third generation, but first female president of a company, I had tremendous support from my family, but I remember seeing few female role models in business up until then. Young women who may or may not have the support system I did need to see more women carving out a place for themselves in the business world. Simply showing young women the many options they have and empowering them to explore them whether it be through organizations, schools, or mentoring opportunities is a critical first step.

What do you love about being a business owner?

What I love about being a business owner is kind of particular to Jelmar and its strong family values. Everyday I work to honor the company’s past while continuing to build its future. I love and enjoy helping to foster our warm, familial company culture. This culture is evident in our staff of 15 employees, many with longstanding loyalty and over 10 years at the company.

How do you define success? 

This year I defined success for our company not only in financial terms, but in how our employees worked, solved problems, and created opportunities as a team. Success isn’t always the numbers on the balance sheet, sometimes you have to look at other KPI’s as a yard stick. For 2018, I am hopeful that our success will not only be financial, but will also include some of the innovations we are developing. To me success can be fluid, and change from year to year.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

Don’t be afraid to fail. It may not seem like it at first, but it can help lead to so many great things like opportunities for self evaluation, realization for growth and learning or even simply learning what will or will not work when it comes to what you were trying to make successful.

What’s your favorite career moment? 

Being named Entrepreneur of the Year by EY for family owned businesses in 2017. It was an honor to represent our company and our accomplishments during our 50 year history.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would hope my kids, Michaela an Eli, didn’t have to sleep either. Then I would use that extra time for even more quality time with them. I work my schedule so I am able to be home with them for dinner, to attend their special events and set aside individual quality time with each of them to doing activities they enjoy. I truly cherish this time, so the more of it, the better.

What are you reading or listening to now? 

I have just started to listen to podcasts (I know a little late to the game), I really like the podcasts from NPR, and the NY Times. They both have really great human interest stories that I would be unlikely to hear or read about on a daily basis. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Truly, what I aspired to be when I was young is certainly along the lines of exactly what I am doing today. I felt inspired watching the innovation of my grandfather and father running Jelmar when I was young. It was also pretty evident this was my path back then by my pure excitement of a seventh grade project around developing a product and creating a marketing campaign around it.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... dig in.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... have more fun, don’t be such a goody two shoes.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... well two, obviously my kids…And chocolate.
By this time next year, I will be... 50.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... my 8 year old daughter snuck into my bed and slept with me. Usually my older one sneaks in, it was a treat for me to have my younger one want to snuggle.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... listen to music.

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About Jelmar

Jelmar LLC. is a third-generation consumer and industrial cleaning products company. The company makes both the CLR® and Tarn-X® brands of products which are American-made, environmentally friendly, and specially formulated to solve tough and delicate household cleaning problems. These products are sold in hardware, do-it-yourself, grocery and drug chains, throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Learn more. 

Irene Rojas Stanbury of LemonKind

Women Who Own It

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Irene Rojas Stanbury

CEO of LemonKind

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What inspired you to start your business?

I always say that putting healthy, good-for-you products in your body is the best gift a person can give themselves. Unfortunately, the food market in the United States does not operate under that mentality. There are a lot of beverages that aren’t very good for you available on store shelves. Beverages teeming with preservatives, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and ingredients you can’t pronounce. My goal was to create all natural, delicious juices that didn’t harm our health or slow it down and that would fit into everyone’s busy lives. LemonKind stands behind juice that's not only 100% good-for-you and convenient, but has REAL nutritional value. That’s why our juices are made with 100% natural and non-GMO fruits and veggies, are packaged in shelf-stable resealable pouches, are infused with vegan protein, chia seeds and nutrient-rich superfoods, never chemically treated, and always remain completely vegan, gluten, pesticide, and preservative free. People deserve to have that option, and I wanted to give it to them.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Do not let anyone ever tell you that you can’t have it all. You will have to work harder than your male counterparts but...

  • if you are an expert in your field people will listen and respect you
  • if you allow yourself to share your experiences and provide guidance to those who seek it, it will come back to you five-fold (even when the best part of giving is not expecting anything in return)
  • if you allow yourself to disconnect at least one day of the week, those around you will appreciate it and support you and be there when you feel like the whole world in resting on your shoulders.

What three traits define you? 

Kind, Resourceful and Honest.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love the freedom of been able to choose my own path and to never have to compromise when it comes to my values or morals.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

Other than the obvious 24/7  aspect, for me it has been having to grow a thicker skin. It is impossible to not take things personally when it is your business, but if you can’t learn to “pick yourself up and move on” you will spend most of the time dwelling instead of growing and evolving.

How do you define success? 

If I can look at myself in the mirror every morning and still like who I have become as a person, as a friend, as a daughter, as a boss, and as a partner then I would say that to me, that is the definition of success.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

  • From a random person I shared an Uber once from the airport: “Turnover is for vanity, profit is for sanity”
  • From my father: “Never choose business partners based solely on price.”

What’s your favorite career moment? 

I was 100 feet from crashing – I had no money in the bank, I maxed out my credit cards, and Amazon denied my seller application 5 times, so I signed up for a webinar. Upon completion I harassed the instructor to which he responded, “happy selling” and proceeded to activate my account. Following that I spent 100 hours setting up the items and making sure the listing was perfect. Then I watched the products go live and danced in my living room when I made my first sale, then my second, then my third… then… oh my gosh! I went out of stock in 5 days! So I rushed to make more and send more and I went out of stock in 10 days, and so on, and on. Today we are Amazon’s choice in our category and the ride has not always been easy but it sure has been worth it!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Don’t tempt me, I would probably spend it working more!

What are you reading or listening to now? 

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

How do you unwind after a long workday?

A nice long run down the Hudson River! The best is during the summer/fall because sometimes we get these colorful sunsets that just take my breath away.

What do you like about your workspace?

We work out of a WeWork and I love the atmosphere, the people and the energy.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... take a step back, assess, dissect, and address each issue at a time.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to call my family more often.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my taste buds, I love to eat, plus I make food!
By this time next year, I will be... equally as busy or more but with more people to share the load
The best thing that happened to me last week was... getting into Target and The Fresh Market
To get my creative juices flowing, I... go for a run, I usually get my best ideas that way.

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About LemonKind

LemonKind is an environmentally and socially driven company that makes innovatively delicious juices and teas that are all-natural, preservative-free, superfood-infused and 100% good-for-you.
Learn more. 

Merrilee Kick of BuzzBallz

Women Who Own It

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Merrilee Kick

 


CEO and Founder of BuzzBallz

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What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

Some of my challenges were based on being a woman in a male-dominated field, but other challenges were just a lack of experience in the alcoholic beverage field. I think, in a male dominated field, when you are accepted as one of the guys, that is fun. I don’t get all ruffled about comments, because I know I can put them in their place. I’m pretty confident about limits.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Be the best at your craft, work day and night, flash your charm, and work-it.

What three traits define you? 

Perseverance, Determination, Public Speaking

What women inspire you?

I like Madeline Albright. She is older, experienced, smart as hell, and she has her wits. My mom inspires me, she was always able to make something out of nothing.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry? 

Trying to stay ahead of the trends, We are trendsetters!  We are on the cutting edge for technology, new R&D, new flavors, new packaging, and names that make you laugh. We have serious brands, and non-alcoholic brands too. We also will start R&D into infused products in the next year.

How do you define success? 

Being happy. Being satisfied with me, seeing my family succeed and learn. Seeing my employees thrive. Getting hugs from my team.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

Get a buyer before you try to get a loan.

What’s your favorite career moment? 

Seeing my new brand at Cesar’s Palace in a trophy case, winning a major Double Gold award in the Wine & Spirits Wholesaler’s of America…I squealed. During that tradeshow we landed 15 new states for distribution. It was the first time I felt like we had made it.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Build another business! I love building businesses, and I always have ideas. If I was older/retired, I’d hang with the grandkids. I’m hoping I’ll have some one day!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to set the world on fire. I was sure I would be someone important, I just didn’t know who or what. I expected it of myself. I pushed myself to always try to be the best, and to work really hard. I didn’t like failure, and I hated laziness. I feared being broke. I feared not being capable of taking care of myself. I wanted to never have that happen to me. I wanted to take care of me, my kids, my family, and my inner circle.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

Wine!

What do you like about your workspace? 

We have a bar! Lots of colors on the walls.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... jump in head first. I can’t wait!
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to have confidence and go go go!
The one thing I couldn’t live without is.... my kids. 
By this time next year, I will be... adding more building space, expanding our distillery.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... I got to speak at an event at the Omni Hotel called SharpHeels – a women’s conference. I loved that.
To get my creative juices flowing, I...  design art for new products, write down ideas on how the structure would work, and start creating a new business!

About BuzzBallz

BuzzBallz/Southern Champion is a Distillery/Winery manufacturing company in Dallas, that specializes in making ready-to-drink cocktails (BuzzBallz), as well as premium spirits like vodka, rum, gin and bourbon. Learn more.