The Atlantic Ave BID, BK YWCA & BOC Network Celebrate their “Brooklyn Women’s Business Mentoring Initiative”

The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District is pleased to be collaborating with the YWCA of Brooklyn and the Women’s Business Center of the Business Outreach Center Network to celebrate the “Brooklyn Women’s Business Mentoring Initiative” that connected aspiring entrepreneurs with experienced Atlantic Avenue-based business owners. All of the partners were honored to be congratulated by both Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna at the program’s graduation ceremony, which took place at on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in the beautiful board room of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in Brooklyn.

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Mentors and mentees are honored by Congresswoman Velazquez and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, April 16, 2014. From Left to right: mentee True Hunt, mentor Jennifer Baron, mentee Tyshawn Henry, mentor Christine Whelan, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, mentee Luquana McGriff, mentor Luca Arrigoni, mentee Stephanie Amman, and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna.

The two-month mentoring program launched on February 5, 2014 after narrowing down a field of over 25 applicants to the top six mentees based on the quality of their applications and business plans. The mentors were recruited from the top established business owners within the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District that stretches from 4th Avenue to the Brooklyn waterfront.

During the course of the program, mentors provided one-on-one industry-specific, tailored advice on diverse business topics that mentees had identified they needed assistance with, such as marketing, merchandising, location selection, customer relations, and more.

In addition, mentees will be invited to participate in business workshops and have year-round access to a business counselor.

“This group of female entrepreneurs really stands out for their drive and passion for their businesses. The BID is thrilled to be able to provide the expertise of its merchants to help prepare the next generation of female entrepreneurs in Brooklyn,” said Josef Szende, Executive Director of the Atlantic Avenue BID. “The mentees who were selected to participate in this inaugural program are an incredibly motivated, creative and enthusiastic group. They recognize the benefit of gaining valuable knowledge and insights from experienced mentors to support the success of their start-up businesses.”

“It was fulfilling and fun to share my experience and know-how with an up-and-coming entrepreneur,” said Elizabeth Crowell a mentor, founding board chair of the Atlantic Avenue BID, and owner of Sterling Place (a gift and furniture store) on Atlantic Avenue. “Jennifer made tremendous progress in just four short weeks and I can’t wait to see where WorkRoomSocial is in a year.” Elizabeth’s mentee was Jennifer Wiese whose business venture is called WorkRoomSocial.

“I thought this was a terrific program,” said Christine Whelan another mentor who is Vice President of Sahadi’s, a Middle Eastern grocery store, on Atlantic Avenue. “I enjoyed meeting with Tyshawn and I think we learned from each other. I look forward to hearing about her business successes in the future.” Christine’s mentee was Tyshawn Henry, the owner of Red Bridge Studio, a textile design company.

“Having the chance to meet with an intelligent and enthusiastic entrepreneur has given me the opportunity to rethink and evaluate my business!” remarked mentor Jennifer Baron, founder and owner of A Cook’s Companion. “I’m just hoping that I’ve given her information, advice and confidence to make her dreams a reality. The experience turned into a two way street of ideas and knowledge – a really pleasant surprise.” Jennifer’s mentee was True Hunt, who is looking to open Black Chandelier, a luxury and home goods company.

David Alperin, founder and owner of Goose Barnacle, a boutique menswear store on Atlantic Avenue said that he had a great experience with his mentee Stephanie Amman, who is looking to open a clothing boutique of her own. “She came prepared with great questions and I felt like I was able to help a lot on her quest to build her brand and create an interesting shop concept around it. It was a pleasure working with Stephanie, her enthusiasm for design and creating is infectious. She will be very successful,” he said.

The mentors in the program were:

Natasha Paul, Evolution – The Green Room Salon:

Elizabeth Crowell, Sterling Place (gift & furniture shop):

Luca Arrigoni, Sottocasa Pizzeria:

Jennifer Baron, A Cook’s Companion:

Christine Whelan, Sahadi’s (gourmet grocer):

David Alperin, Goose Barnacle:

The mentees in the program were:

Liz Tortolani, The Well (health and wellness):

Luquana McGriff, A Cake Baked in Brooklyn (bakery):

Jennifer Wiese, Work Room Social (sewing & screen printing studio):

True Hunt, Black Chandelier (luxury clothing & home goods): (website in development)

Tyshawn Henry, Red Bridge Studio (textile design):

Stephanie Amman, Siedlel (clothing design):

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