Category: Success Stories

SCORE 2016 Championship winner, LuckyLeo Dancewear 18 Apr

Luckyleo Dancewear Wins American Small Business Championship

Greater Phoenix SCORE client Luckyleo Dancewear, a small business start-up company that specializes in making custom handmade dancewear, was named a winner of The American Small Business Championship based on the company’s dedication and willingness to make its business successful in the marketplace.

SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to mentoring small business owners, and Sam’s Club partnered to create the award. A total of 104 winners, out of approximately 400 entries, was chosen from across the United States based on written, video and photo entries. Winners were determined by online voting and a panel of judges comprised of small business experts. Luckyleo Dancewear’s video entry received more than 7,000 votes.

LuckyLeo Dancewear wins SCORE 2016 Championship“We are so thrilled to have been chosen and are truly grateful for the honor of being selected as a national champion,” said Chelsea Early, owner and designer for Luckyleo Dancewear. “This is just the beginning for Luckyleo Dancewear. We don’t plan to stop here. We’re in the running for the grand prize of $25,000 at the SCORE Awards Gala in the fall, and are shooting for the big win.”

In the fall of 2015, Early and her sister Heather Walker turned to SCORE who partners with small business owners and entrepreneurs to provide free mentoring. They were teamed-up with Doug Whitney, SCORE mentor and former owner of several afterschool tutoring centers in Arizona and New Mexico.

“I have been meeting monthly with Chelsea and Heather to serve as a resource and provide guidance with human resources, accounting and marketing components of their business,” said Whitney. “I am very impressed with their company and the sound business decisions they continue to make. I am so happy they have been selected to be honored as small business owners with the American Small Business Championship award.”

In a little over a year Luckyleo Dancewear has had a 900 percent increase in gross revenues. The family-owned workshop in Central Phoenix is committed to keeping the design and manufacturing of their garments in the U.S. They create each custom leotard by hand and buy supplies locally whenever possible, supporting small Phoenix fabric shops.

“Doug has been so helpful to our growth as a business, guiding us through the transition from being just a small start-up to realizing our dream of becoming employers and running a successful business in Arizona,” said Early. “We continue to look forward to each meeting with excitement, knowing that he will be there to help us understand the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur. SCORE has been the missing key that we were looking for, the one-stop resource we needed to help us understand how to run our small business in Arizona.”

Luckyleo Dancewear received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to one of three SCORE training events, SCORE mentorship for one year, and promotion throughout the year to showcase the company’s story from a grant from Sam’s Club. One of the winners will be awarded a grand prize of $25,000 and receive national recognition at the SCORE Awards Gala in Washington D.C. on September 16, 2016.

To view the full list of the winning businesses, visit www.championship.score.org.

About Greater Phoenix SCORE

Greater Phoenix SCORE provides free mentoring to small business owners and entrepreneurs, along with classes, seminars, and special events to benefit small businesses across the Valley. In 2015, SCORE helped 647 new businesses start and created a total of 1,017 new jobs. Overall, the Greater Phoenix SCORE chapter delivered mentoring and classes to 7,288 people. SCORE has over 70 mentors, each with extensive business experience, ready to help individuals start up a business, grow a business, or work through difficult business management issues. Experts in all functional areas and many different businesses are available as a resource for business owners. For more information, visit www.greaterphoenix.score.org.

About Luckyleo Dancewear

Luckyleo Dancewear makes custom handmade dancewear created by former professional ballet dancers and sisters, Chelsea Early and Heather Walker. The family-owned company offers small quantities of hand-selected prints to keep their products creative and new and to encourage individuality within the art of ballet itself all the way down to every classroom where dance is taught. With sizes for all age ranges and a large offering of styles and fabrics, Luckyleo Dancewear has flourished since opening just over a year ago by hand-crafting one-of-a-kind dancewear for ballet dancers in 29 countries across the world.For more information visit www.luckyleodancewear.com.

Thank you to PR Specialist, Julie Frisoni of Frisoni PR, for this press release.

 

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SCORE Success Story: Dr. Danielle Lewis

Dr. Danielle Lewis with Revolution Health, a SCORE success storyDr. Danielle Lewis was introduced to SCORE in the best manner possible: Word of mouth. She attributes her success as an entrepreneur, in large part, to her relationship and collaboration with SCORE.

When Dr. Lewis’ journey to become a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine started over 15 years in the field of Physical Therapy, she knew she wanted to manage her own practice. She was also conscious, from the very beginning, of the fact that dreaming it and realizing it were two very different realities.

Dr. Danielle Lewis attained her bachelor of science in Health Science & Management at Old Dominion University. While on track to seek her Doctorate of Physical Therapy she found her true calling, deliberately changed direction and then went on to earn her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine in 2013 from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. What a huge accomplishment. With the wind beneath her wings, she used that energy to co-found LovepoweR. The organization’s mission is to empower women, of all ages, to become educated about their bodies, use traditional and non-traditional medicine to achieve their best health and to make a difference in the world, one person at a time.

Now with credentials in hand and the fire to succeed as an entrepreneur in her soul, Dr. Lewis opened her medical practice in general naturopathic primary care with a specialized focus in women’s health. Naturopathic medicine focuses on prevention and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process.  Her success roadmap included SCORE, namely Bill Bearding (a terrific business coach and great friend), who mentored Dr. Lewis and her co-founder through all the proper foundational steps required prior to opening their doors.

LovempowerThe SCORE team offers free mentorship to business owners and entrepreneurs. They just ask for your full commitment. Dr. Lewis and her co-founder Doctor scheduled time with Bill and from that first meeting they quickly learned they had a lot to learn. As a Naturopathic Physician Dr. Lewis can appreciate starting with the basics. SCORE helped them take all the good ideas, capture them appropriately in the correct legal documents, build the right relationships in a strategic manner and most of all, keep it real. A great idea without proper planning will go in the wrong direction really fast.

Even with the stresses and strains of the last 2 years of medical school ahead of them, with Bill’s direction and partnership they laboriously organized and built a reputable business.

Now with LovempoweR as a foundation, Dr. Lewis uses this well planned business model as a platform to do what she is well versed in which is to treat common conditions that effect women of all ages. Dr. Lewis also conducts medical research on the clinical applications and effectiveness of botanical therapies. She is skilled in acupuncture and other pain management therapies.

She is a great visionary with fantastic ideas. SCORE helped her create the plan and turn a dream into a reality.

Are you a SCORE success story? Please contact the SCORE office to have your story featured here.

Want to be a SCORE success? Click here to meet with a mentor free!

 

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SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media Wiz

I have a unique relationship with Greater Phoenix SCORE. I am a volunteer as I manage their social media and teach a workshop at least once a month. I’m also a vendor – they pay me monthly to manage this very blog site and to send out the weekly email newsletter and email promotions for their seminars. But I wouldn’t be where I am today, with out the free mentoring. And since I spend so much time there, I get to pick their brains every whenever I have a question.

I’ve been doing Internet marketing in one form or another since 1995. I moved to Phoenix 10 years ago and was working in various sales and marketing jobs till September 2008 when I got laid off. I was unemployed for 2 years. When I lost my job, I started a blog, “Internet Marketing Tips” and became active on LinkedIn. Those two efforts got me a job doing online marketing and events for a financial planner. I got laid off after a year and I saw it as a blessing in disguise. Having learned all about blogging and social media marketing on-the-job, I gave a presentation on blogging and Twitter for a group of writers and I saw that there was a huge opportunity training small business owners, over 40, on how to use social media marketing to promote themselves.

SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media WizHence, I took the leap of faith and started AZ Social Media Wiz, providing 1:1 training, set-ups, strategic plans and implementation. I went first to the AZ Small Business Development Council (AZSBDC) (a sister organization to SCORE) to get help with my business plan.

I first encountered SCORE at a NetworkingPhoenix.com event and asked them, “who do I need to talk to about holding classes for SCORE.” That started it. My first class was a joint seminar with SCORE and the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce.

I was about 3 months into my start-up when I attended the free SCORE’s ABCs of Starting a New Business at the Phoenix Public Library that they present every first Saturday. (You can see their schedule here.)

A few months later, I was contacted by Scott Schreiber, now retired, about writing a couple of blog posts a month. In the summer of 2013, Scott asked me to help promote their upcoming Symposium on social media. I informed him that you can’t just start doing social media and stop after an event. People will think you fell of the face of the earth. It’s an on-going effort. That’s how I became a volunteer managing their social media. (My post, “11 LinkedIn Reputation Killers“, is the most popular post in their blog!)

Besides doing the 1:1 training and providing the social media services, I thought of recording training videos and offering them online. The challenge is that social media changes constantly and as soon as something is published — book or video — it’s obsolete. The other challenge was taking the time to record the videos. I remodeled my business plan in attempts to get some funding so I can take 3 months off to record the videos. I met with several SCORE mentors, Rod Houston, Andy Beran regarding my “pitch” for an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign and I also picked the brain of Tom FitzSimons when I thought of bringing on a business partner.

My problem – no collateral and lousy credit history. Crowdfunding didn’t work for me.

I ditched the video idea and decided to hold more local classes for the Phoenix-area entrepreneurs. I searched for the right space, rented a room at a computer school for a while, but I felt the best way to go was to find my own retail space. Problem came back to: no funding.

At the annual SCORE volunteer appreciation dinner, I sat next to Mike Levy. Not wanting to miss the opportunity of picking his brain, I started, “I’ve been growing my business with just the income – no funding or investors.”

SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media Wiz“You’ve been bootstrapping,” he said.

“Yes, I want to open a training center in a retail location, but I have to buy tables, chairs and equipment. Any ideas?”

He said, “Try ACCION. They’re here in the Southwest and they help minority business owners with loans – and you cover 2 minority – Hispanic woman.”

I ran with it. The next day, I applied and I got an $8,000 loan. The SCORE dinner was a Wednesday night, the money was in my bank account Friday. Wow!

July 28, 2015, I signed a lease for a 1250 sq. ft. space in North Phoenix and opened the AZ Social Media Wiz Training Center. It’s a dream come true!

If you’re a business, no matter what stage you’re in: just thinking about it, starting-up, growing or established, you can benefit from either the free mentoring sessions and/or the local workshops and even online webinars! They also have free templates and tools to help you put together your business and marketing plans, budget, financial statements, etc.

Thank you, SCORE for all your continued help! Oh, and you’ll all get an invite to the grand opening!

Giselle Aguiar
Owner, AZ Social Media Wiz

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SCORE Success Story: Heartsweet Cakes

Heartsweet Cakes, a SCORE Success Story“When starting your business, you are going to need a plan A, B, C, and D,” said my SCORE mentor Roger Robinson, at one of our first meetings together. I left this meeting frustrated and discouraged because I only had a plan A.

Upon graduating college with a degree in business, I moved to Chicago and began working downtown at a marketing research firm, working only the left side of my brain in a cubicle for three years. From day one, I yearned for something more. I knew I wanted a career that I was passionate about and fulfilling. I went back to my love of art and design and began searching for cake decorating programs at culinary schools. I enrolled at the prestigious French Pastry School and I never looked back.

A couple of internships later, I worked my way up and managed the top cake shop in the city. I honed my skills and learned as much as I could about the industry and cake design. It was at this shop where my vision and dream for Heartsweet Cakes began to take shape. I drafted a 40-page business plan, complete with a 600+ item inventory list with prices and suppliers, and I estimated all of my start-up costs.

I moved to Arizona with a plan, a single plan, a plan A. I knew what I wanted my business to become and I was confident that I had the skills and talent to achieve it, but I reached a point in the process where I needed some help. Specifically, I was looking for advice in finding a commercial property and financing support/advice. I reached out to the local SCORE office in Phoenix and both Roger Robinson and Bill Robinson were assigned as my mentors.

Haley Cairns of HeartSweet Cakes - a SCORE Success StoryOnce Roger and Bill had a chance to review my business plan, we dove into some in-depth discussions and analysis of my financials. This was when my plan A started to seem like something that may be too risky financially. They asked me, “Is there a less risky way to start your business but still produce the same product to the same client market?” The answer was “yes”, and I truly feel like they both guided me into a less risky start of my company.  I decided to begin my business out of my home and I installed all of my commercial equipment into a spare room with a separate entrance. I am able to produce the same quality product that my clientele expects from me with less overhead and minimal construction costs. I was able to invest my startup capital into my branding, website, high-quality equipment and materials. I now have room to steadily grow my business with less pressure and financial risk and I will have a lot more control over my work-life balance.

I owe a big thank you to SCORE and the mentors that devoted their time, knowledge, advice, and support to me with my journey of making Heartsweet Cakes a reality. I believed that I could start my business with my plan A but, along the way, I was guided into a plan B, which was the smarter way to achieve my dream and I can attribute this to my experience with SCORE. Thank you to my mentors, Roger and Bill, and all of the other SCORE mentors who support entrepreneurs like me, who are willing to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality.

Haley Cairns
Owner of Heartsweet Cakes – Phoenix, AZ

You can be a SCORE success story! Get free business mentoring no matter where you are in your business: thinking of starting, start-up, growing or established. Click here to schedule a mentoring session with a mentor in one of our many Phoenix Valley locations.

Are you a SCORE Success? We’d love to feature you here in our blog and in our newsletter! Contact your SCORE mentor or the SCORE office with your story.

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SCORE Success Story: Goodfield Institute

Barry Goodfield, SCORE Success StoryGoodfield InstituteI would like to take this opportunity to commend the SCORE program for providing such a community service for those of us attempting to turn the dream of our own business into a tangible reality. Michael Riley and his colleague Marshall Stein have been invaluable in their extensive knowledge and personal warmth. Their dedication to our efforts to build the Goodfield Institute into a growing business here in the Phoenix, Arizona area has been very helpful. I am a doctor of psychology and have practiced on four continents, having worked at NATO headquarters and the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. These assignments have exposed me too many individuals in senior leadership positions. I can say without any hesitation that the insights, and skills, of these two fine mentors have been extraordinarily helpful.

As an author of three books on human behavior and as a former Professor at the Diplomatic Academy of London I think it is safe to say I know the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. These two outstanding individuals are intrinsically motivated to share their wisdom, enthusiasm and expertise.

It is and has been an extraordinarily valuable opportunity to share our time with these individuals and to receive the benefits of their knowledge and practical helpful insights and advice. Please continue this important service for our community. I hope that all of those who use SCORE services are as fortunate as we have been to have Mike and Marshall in a mentoring position.

This can be your story! Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with a mentor at Greater Phoenix SCORE.

Do you have a SCORE Success Story? Contact us and your business can be feature on our blog!

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Video: Margie Traylor of Sitewire Shares her Success Story

Margie Traylor of Sitewire, Speaking at SCORE Phoenix Symposium 3/31/15Greater Phoenix SCORE was honored to have Margie Traylor, Founder and CEO of Phoenix-based Sitewire speak at our 2015 Small Business Symposium. She sits on SCORE’s national board and here she tells us the story of Sitewire – from concept to success and what it took to get there.

There are so many wonderful resources out there. ~Margie Traylor, Sitewire

The 4 things she and her business partner agreed to focus on finding:

  • Mentorship – they turned to SCORE’s “seasoned business professionals”
  • Fellowship – they participated in business group activities and learned from their interactions
  • Scholarship – taking time to get training to develop as a persona and business owner
  • Leadership – developing the skills by hanging out with great business leaders and studying what they did

Take advantage of those “wonderful resources” by attending SCORE local workshops or scheduling a free mentoring a session with one of those “seasoned business professionals”.

Margie Traylor, Sitewire

Margie’s Bio:

Margie sits on the Independent Agency Advisory Board for Google, the national board of SCORE, a non profit, dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of Scottsdale Lincoln Health Network.

Graduating from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, Margie received her accounting degree. Years later, she was honored by ASU with the Entrepreneur Alumni Award from the Spirit of Enterprise Center. In 2010, she was honored to represent Arizona as recipient of the Small Business Person of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

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