Three Stories of Successful Women in Business

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Mom and Entrepreneur: Minuteman Press Franchisee Renee Mansour Increases Gross Sales by 341 Percent, Celebrates Two Years in Business in Bend, OR

In February 2015, Renee Mansour bought an existing Minuteman Press franchise for sale in Bend, OR. Since then, she has worked hard on behalf of her growing customer base, followed the Minuteman Press program for success, and has increased gross sales by 341 percent.

Renee Mansour owns the Minuteman Press franchise in Bend, Oregon located at 235 SE Wilson Ave, Suite 100. She decided to purchase the established business in February 2015 after spending a few years as a mom and entrepreneur who taught cycling classes and helped run national events in Bend. Today, she celebrates two years in business with Minuteman Press. Renee has successfully managed to more than double the business, increasing gross sales by 341 percent.

Meet Renee Mansour, Mom and Entrepreneur

Minuteman Press in Bend, OR is a design, print, and marketing center that meets the needs of today’s business professionals. Renee says, “Minuteman Press provides all of the marketing and branding materials needed to promote and increase one’s business. Our products range from print to promotional items, as well as branded apparel. We at Minuteman Press listen to your needs and help direct you to the avenue that will best give you the desired outcome.  Our goal is making the process easy with no printing minimums, while providing quality products in a timely manner.”

Prior to owning her Minuteman Press franchise, Renee Mansour was working as a mom and entrepreneur. She did have some printing industry experience as a major account sales representative for IKON office solutions. After taking the time to raise her family, Renee decided it was time to get back to business. She says, “As our children became teenagers, my desire to do something for me became stronger.  I took a position working for a local company full-time, and I struggled with the lack of satisfaction I felt.  I am a committed person that gives 100-plus percent, and when that wasn’t received by my employer I started to feel that I would be better off putting my energy towards my own business.”

Why Buy a Minuteman Press Franchise?

Renee decided to buy a Minuteman Press franchise because of the ongoing local support that the company provides as well as the Monday-Friday working hours that a b2b franchise like Minuteman Press International can offer owners. “We still have teenagers at home and I want to be present in their lives,” says Renee. She adds, “Those reasons coupled with the fact that Minuteman Press is the only franchise I researched that offered a cap on royalties made it an easy decision for us.  The more I sell beyond the cap, the more I am rewarded.”

Another huge benefit of owning a Minuteman Press franchise is the industry knowledge and expertise that executives and regional support teams provide to owners. Renee explains, “When needing to update equipment, the corporate office is there to help me find the best pricing as well as read through any contracts prior to signing anything.  Minuteman Press International has worked hard to provide us with the best pricing and sources for any and all items we need to be successful.”

Renee also appreciates that Minuteman Press has a local support team that is there for her: “With any business, you have employee turnover. Minuteman Press is here with each new hire training them on how to utilize the tools we have to make their job successful.  This takes the burden off of me and other staff. During this time, I am able to continue marketing while providing service to our customers.  Our Regional Vice President Chris Jutt and our field representative are just a phone call away and here to help with any and all matters.”

Growing the Business and Keys to Success

In just two years, Renee Mansour has more than doubled the business and has increased gross sales by an impressive 341 percent. She says, “The success I have had comes from being a sincere, kind, energetic person as I market to businesses in Central Oregon.  Making marketing calls is the number one key to my success.  I have a set follow-up plan I use after providing quotes to potential clients.”

Renee also cites several other keys to her success, such as utilizing Minuteman Press International’s postcard marketing and Internet marketing programs, being a member of local networking groups such as BNI and Opportunity Knocks, using social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, and driving a vehicle that is branded with Minuteman Press graphics and branding. Most importantly, Renee says, “Last but not least, the key to my success is the support of family and friends, as well as the entire community.”

Making a Difference in Bend

Getting involved and giving back to the community is something Renee Mansour takes great pride in doing. She says, “As a local business owner, it is important to help improve the lives of those in our communities.  We have provided all of the printing, at no charge, for the fundraiser for Charlotte (a sparrow child here in Bend).  We have discounted printing rates for non-profit organizations.  It is important for non-profits to be able to get the word out on ways that they can help those in our community, and what better way than to put it in print. We are a supporter of Bend Film which brings thousands of visitors to our community, which in turn helps our local businesses. Pints for Polio is another organization we support, amongst many others.”

Renee also appreciates the connections she makes while networking. She says, “In terms of other organizations I belong to, BNI is one of them. BNI is a big part of our success.  Over 6% of our sales have come from BNI.  We are members of the Chamber and support COBA and COAR.  By attending these meetings/functions, I am able to meet people in our community and increase the awareness of what Minuteman Press has to offer. I am in an Opportunity Knocks group. Opportunity Knocks supports me and helps me grow as a business owner.  Being a locally owned business, we as a family support local and do business not only with our customers but with local companies.”

Business Goals and Advice for Others

After successfully growing her business over the past two years, Renee Mansour is far from finished when it comes to setting goals: “My goal for 2017 is to help educate our current customers on all that we have to offer so that we can be the source for all of their printing and marketing materials.  I also want to spend more time marketing the materials that we print for our customers, therefore creating awareness of what we offer while increasing their business at the same time. I will be doing this through Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.”

She also has these words of advice and encouragement to other aspiring business owners: “My advice to any entrepreneur or small business owner is to get out of the office and market your business.  Be that kind, energetic face that people want to do business with.  Then follow it up with great service and quality products. Join BNI as well as Opportunity Knocks.  You need to not only work in your business but on your business.”

For more information, call Renee and her team at (541) 749-2900  www.bend.minutemanpress.com

 


Minuteman Press Franchise Celebrates Grand Re-Opening in Johnston, RI

The Minuteman Press franchise in Johnston, RI recently held its grand re-opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially welcomed new owner Kimberly Sherman-Leon to the Johnston business community. Kimberly took over the design, print, and marketing center located at 1999 Plainfield Pike in November 2016 from retiring owners Linda and Dave Buttery, who owned and operated the business for 17 years.

Minuteman Press is the modern printing industry, offering essential products and services that meet the needs of today’s business professionals. “We offer everything to help build and promote your business from brand identity development, print on paper, and promotional products to mail stream and digital platforms,” notes Kimberly. She continues, “We take every idea and bring it to life in whatever format our clients need!”

Meet Kimberly Sherman-Leon and Family

Kimberly Sherman-Leon is a dedicated entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three children ages 17, 13 and 4. She previously worked at the Minuteman Press franchise in Johnston, RI as a graphic designer before venturing out to start a design business of her own. When Linda and Dave Buttery were ready to retire after 17 years in business, Kimberly jumped at the opportunity to take over a business that she put her heart into and truly loved.

“I worked at Minuteman Press in Johnston as a Senior Designer and Store Production Manager for 5 years and it was one of the best work experiences I ever had,” says Kimberly. She adds, “It was very hard work and I always needed to stay on my toes and be sharp no matter how many jobs I was doing at once, but working at Minuteman Press helped me grow as a person, learn the business, expand my skillsets, and become a very well-rounded professional. I am very grateful to have had that experience and two great employers to work for.”

Kimberly is also thankful for her husband Jorge’s support and is excited to begin this new chapter for her family. She says, “My family is very excited and my oldest children remember me working there and can’t believe we own it now. They look forward to being part of it. My youngest just loves the print shop! She is learning how to makes copies, print from the computer, use some of the smaller bindery machines and very interested in the offset press! She even goes in the lobby and talks to the customers! Let’s just say she is a mini me!”

She adds, “My husband is very supportive of everything I do. We have been together for 20 years and he has been nothing but supportive. I am just very excited that we can do this together. He will join in the business later as he still works at AutoZone (18 years and counting). But he comes every day after work to help, learn, make deliveries, and start taking on the management role. It is all exciting!”

From Entrepreneur to Franchise Owner

Kimberly Sherman-Leon left her position at Minuteman Press in Johnston in 2008 to venture out on her own as an entrepreneur. She explains, “I had my own design business on the side (as most designers do) called KS Designs, LLC and it was growing rapidly. So I took the leap to work for myself full time. During this time, I grew tremendously as a person and as a professional. I still worked with [Minuteman Press] owners Dave and Linda and brought a lot of my print work there through the years up to the very day he asked if I would be interested in taking over the business since they wanted to retire.”

In November 2016, the time had come for Dave and Linda Buttery to retire, and so they asked Kimberly if she was still interested in taking over the business. Kimberly didn’t hesitate, saying, “I was always business-oriented and at this time, I was looking for a storefront to grow my design/print/digital/publishing agency. It was all timing and a blessing! It worked out. When I left in 2008, I told Dave that if he ever decides to sell, to contact me because who knows where I will be at that time. Timing is everything!”

Training and Support from Minuteman Press

After buying the business, Kimberly attended Minuteman Press International’s two-week training program at their world headquarters in Farmingdale, NY. She also receives ongoing local support from the company right here in Johnston. Says Kimberly, “During training, I really enjoyed being in a room with like-minded business people and being surrounded by print! It felt like where I belonged and enjoyed learning all of the business materials needed. It was very motivating. I get a lot of support from Dave and Linda, the previous owners, on a weekly basis. I also get tremendous support from Ed Connelly, the Minuteman Press field representative for the area and Ron Rubin, Minuteman Press International’s New England Regional Vice President.

Grand Re-Opening

The grand re-opening event for Minuteman Press in Johnston was attended by community members, friends, and family. Mayor Joseph Polisena was on hand to welcome Kimberly to the Johnston business community and Minuteman Press RVP Ron Rubin attended to show his continued support for Kimberly as well. She says, “The grand re-opening was wonderful! We had the best day of the week. Cold and rainy on Monday and Tuesday, 65 degrees on Wednesday for our Grand Re-Opening day, and then we had a snowstorm the very next day with freezing temperatures in the teens. We were definitely lucky!”

Kimberly continues, “On our beautiful day, we had local businesses who we do printing with contribute food, desserts and coffee. This helps bring the community together and celebrate small businesses! Our local sign company installed our new storefront sign and window graphics. We had a small crowd witness the ceremony and it was a very proud moment for my husband and me.”

“I have worked for corporate companies and it doesn’t even compare.”

When asked about the most rewarding thing about owning her business, Kimberly Sherman-Leon lights up before she answers:  “I always liked working for myself. I am a creative person and an entrepreneur. We can’t be locked in a ‘box.’ We need to breathe and move around outside our limits and reach for the sky. Working for someone else is okay but it wasn’t something I would settle for. It was a steady paycheck and it allowed me to build my empire on the side without worrying about money. Yes, I have been sleep deprived many times running on coffee and few hours of sleep and let’s not forget I have 3 children and a husband! But I wouldn’t change it for anything!”

How does Kimberly successfully manage her business and family lives? She explains, “People would ask me, ‘How do you do it?’ I just say put a Nike symbol on me, I just do it! I have passion and drive and I am determined to achieve my goals and ambitions I have for myself. I can now say I feel accomplished and that I am happy where I am because this is where I belong. If there is one thing I learned on my journey in life, everything comes full circle, it all happens when it does for a reason. This opportunity came at this time in my life because it was the right time! Working for myself is wonderful, fulfilling and rewarding. I have worked for corporate companies and it doesn’t even compare.”

Making a Positive Impact in the Community

For Kimberly Sherman-Leon, owning her very own Minuteman Press franchise means she can continue to make a difference in Johnston and advocate for both a community and an industry she loves equally. She says, “Giving back to the community is very important! I am very involved in giving back, lecturing at networking events and classrooms in high schools and colleges. I work with interns and students from all areas. I am on the Board with a few schools and printing industry organizations in RI. I am an advocate for this industry. For a better idea, you can visit my website for Rhode Island Creative Magazine which is a magazine I publish for the creative arts community in RI!”

Business Goals and Advice for Others

In Kimberly’s own words, a typical day for her is “very busy” and “non-stop,” which is not surprising considering all she has already accomplished as an entrepreneur, wife, and mom. She is far from done, however, and has plenty of new goals to strive for as she continues to work on her business. She says, “My goals are to finish the transition, get organized, build a marketing strategy and hopefully grow the businesses a little more from last year. Most importantly, I will be creating a day to day work flow that is feasible for me and my staff since I am a one-person owner at this time.”

As for others who are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or owning a Minuteman Press franchise, Kimberly offers these words of advice: “Stick with it, don’t give up, it all takes time! Breathe, take one thing at a time and it will all come together. Keep going, keep building, always look forward and up!”

These are wise words from a remarkable modern businesswoman.

Kimberly Sherman-Leon’s Minuteman Press franchise is located at 1999 Plainfield Pike, Johnston, RI 02919. http://www.minmanri.com


Minuteman Press Franchise Celebrates Grand Opening in Upper Marlboro, MD

Juanita Glenn is the proud owner of her brand new Minuteman Press design, print, and marketing franchise located at 892 Largo Center Drive in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “We offer a myriad of services to people who are interested in business cards, banners, signs, postcards, notary, web development, mobile apps, and more,” says Juanita. She adds, “With two graphic and web designers at our location, we can put together any type of design that a person can dream or imagine.”

Prior to joining the Minuteman Press franchise family, Juanita Glenn worked as an administrative assistant at a local university in the Washington, DC area. Her passion for web development and graphic design then led her to pursue a degree in computer studies. “Afterwards, I landed a job as a Technical Specialist and Web Developer which took my career to another level.  With that, I focused a lot more on graphic and web design.   I became more passionate about this profession and I continued to enhance my skills.”

While working full-time, Juanita decided to start her own web development, graphic design, and computer training company. Her experiences as an entrepreneur led her to Minuteman Press, as Juanita explains, “As I was outsourcing work to be printed for my clients, I was oftentimes dissatisfied with the online printing service I was receiving.  I started wondering what it would be like to have my own printing shop.  I prayed that God would allow this to happen for me one day.”

Juanita continues, “As faith would have it, in 2015, I happened to be working on a logo design for a client in Brooklyn, New York and she mentioned Minuteman Press as the company she uses for printing.  To my surprise, I had never heard about Minuteman Press.  After I got off the phone with my client, I went in research mode.  I found out so many wonderful things about Minuteman Press that I had to contact the office for more information.  Although I was not ready to start becoming a franchise owner just yet, I wanted to do my homework so that when I was ready I had all of the information needed to make my decision.”

Franchise Research Pays Off

When Juanita’s job was downsized in 2015, she knew she had an important decision to make: “I felt that after 27 years of service at my previous job, it was time for me to change careers.  After praying and seeking advice, I took a leap of faith and left my job.  Once I completed graduate school in 2016 with a degree in management, I felt ready to hone in on what I had learned from school and the skills I had obtained over the years.  I wanted to be my own boss and I knew Minuteman Press was the right franchise for what I wanted to do.  I was comforted in knowing that Minuteman Press had been around for over 40 years and the company was well-established with a great business model and structure.”

Along with the business model, Juanita also appreciated the training and ongoing support Minuteman Press offered her on both the corporate and local levels. She says, “There are several things that impress me about Minuteman Press, but the one thing that I am most intrigued about is the support from their corporate headquarters in New York.  During my training in New York, Mike Jutt, Minuteman Press International Executive VP and Director of Training, was very helpful in making sure that I received the equipment needed for my new shop. I hit an expected bump in the road and Mike Jutt stepped in to help the process move forward.”

As for the local support she has received back home in Upper Marlboro, Juanita Glenn could not be happier. She explains, “Bob Heimbuch, Regional VP for Minuteman Press International and Eric Shank, Field Representative, have been so helpful in making sure my Minuteman Press store was up and running as well as keeping me on track with the setup and marketing.  Bob made sure he found the location I was looking for to start my Minuteman Press franchise.  He was instrumental in keeping me abreast of the things necessary to help with the operation of the store.  Afterwards, Eric Shank was able set up the store, organize it, establish accounts with the vendors and assist me constantly with marketing the business.  I am totally grateful for their help because I would not have known what to do if I was out there alone.”

Satisfaction from Running the Business

When asked about the most rewarding thing about being her own boss and running the business, two words stick out to Juanita Glenn: Satisfaction and teamwork. She comments, “What I get the most satisfaction from is being able to interact with all types of people.  I am very people-oriented and it gives me great pleasure to meet people from all types of background.”

Juanita elaborates, “Furthermore, I’ve always wanted to have a family-friendly environment where employees would love to come to work.  My employees are very loyal to the business and I consider them as my team.  I don’t throw my weight around because I’m the boss and I let them know that we are a team, but every team has a leader.  We make sure that we all help each other out as much as possible in order to keep work flowing in an expeditious manner.  One of the things that I am proudest of from my team is that we exude professionalism and it is evident when people tell us that from the way we answer the phone to how we treat them when they come into the store.  I have always felt that a business should be run by treating people with respect and professionalism and that is what makes me most proud of the team that I have working with me.”

The support she received from her parents and church family also makes this experience especially rewarding for Juanita: “I am grateful for my parents and church family who have given me lots of love and support as I was getting the business started.  My father who has his own company, Jones Construction Company, was the person that helped me during the renovation of the store.  I am grateful that he was a part of the process and I get many compliments on how beautiful the store looks.  I feel so proud and thankful that my father was a part of this great process.”

Getting Involved in the Community and Giving Back

Being a business owner gives Juanita Glenn a chance to really make a difference in the community, and she has already received positive feedback from clients that have welcomed her with open arms. She says, “It is so important to give back and I believe that we are on earth to help one another.  It feels good to help someone who needs my type of service.  I oftentimes hear from clients that I was needed in the community.  Hearing that gives me a great feeling!”

She expands, “I am very passionate about church and youth activities.  This helps to keep me grounded and humble.  Also, I recently became a part of a networking group called the Business Leadership Council of Prince George’s County Maryland.  This opportunity came from a client who felt that I would be a good fit for the organization.  I am very excited to become a part of this because it will give me more exposure and bring about additional opportunities for the business.”

Typical Day

For Juanita Glenn, a typical day as a Minuteman Press franchise owner consists of managing and marketing the business: “The typical day for me at Minuteman Press in Upper Marlboro is making sure that all of my clients get their work completed in a timely manner.   I make sure my team is not stressed out and that things are flowing orderly in the store.  It can be hectic at times when we get bombarded with lots of projects, but we all work very well under pressure.  When I am not out marketing, I am in the office helping the team as well as following up with those I have previously marketed to.”

When she is not working on the business, Juanita enjoys her time at church and with her family. She says, “I love to attend bible study and church service because it gives me so much peace and fulfilment. I also like reading things that are very meaningful, spending time with my husband and our dog Eli. While I have been extremely busy since starting Minuteman Press, I enjoy every bit of quality time I can spend with my husband.  He has been my greatest supporter during this entire process and I am thankful for his love, support and encouragement.”

Business Goals and Advice for Others

Like any business owner who is just starting out, Juanita Glenn is working hard to grow her business. As for her immediate goals for the business, she states, “My goal for 2017 is to elevate the business to another level by networking with other groups and organizations.  I plan to get government and local contracts by registering with those agencies that need this type of service.”

When asked about what advice she would have for other aspiring business owners, Juanita answers, “My advice to anyone who is looking to own a franchise is that Minuteman Press is an A-1 company.  It’s no wonder they are rated the #1 Marketing and Printing Franchise within the industry by Entrepreneur several times over.”

Juanita thoughtfully concludes, “Being your own boss is so rewarding in so many ways because you have the freedom to do what you love and be creative. The cost to start up the company is nothing compared to the support that you get from headquarters and locally.  I am so thankful and blessed to be a franchise owner with Minuteman Press.”

Juanita Glenn’s Minuteman Press franchise is located at 892 Largo Center Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774. http://uppermarlboro-md.minutemanpress.com

About Minuteman Press International

Minuteman Press International is a number one rated business marketing and printing franchise that offers world class training and unparalleled ongoing local support. Started in 1973 by Roy Titus and his son Bob, Minuteman Press began franchising in 1975 and has grown to over 950 business service franchise locations worldwide including the U.S., Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Minuteman Press is ranked #1 in category by Entrepreneur for 14 years in a row and 25 times overall, including 2017. We are the modern version of the printing industry, providing high quality products and services for businesses that go way beyond just ink on paper. Today our stores produce promotional products, custom apparel, direct mail advertising, large format printing (banners and posters), signs, and much more. Prior experience is not necessary to own and operate a successful Minuteman Press franchise.

Learn more about Minuteman Press design, printing, and marketing franchise opportunities by calling 1-800-645-3006 and access Minuteman Press franchise reviews at www.minutemanpressfranchise.com

For women in the workplace, the thickest glass ceiling is not where you think it is

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Although we have a long way to go to achieve gender equity in the workforce, a study done jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company shows that we have made progress over the last five years.

Women, especially women of color, are still underrepresented at every level in corporate America, but the representation of women in the C-suite increased. Forty-four percent of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% five years ago.

The glass ceiling is still the biggest barrier to advancement, but in a surprisingly low-level area: the first rung of management. The report revealed that only 72 women were promoted or hired to manager for every 100 men. This means that only 38% of women have made it to management versus 62% of men. The stats for Latinx and black women are significantly lower.

Overall, black women and women with disabilities reported that they don’t have equal opportunities to grow and advance their careers. Only 1 in 25 black women are C-suite executives. And for every 100 men promoted to manager from entry-level, only 68 Latinx and 58 black women are promoted.

The Women in the Workplace report reveals findings from surveying 329 participating organizations that employ 13 million people and more than 68,500 employees.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Former Corporate Fundraiser Brings The Top Mobile Flooring Franchise To Virginia

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Having worked alongside entrepreneurs and small-business owners for the last decade, Resa Kierstein, a former corporate fundraiser and mover and shaker in her world, finally decided it was time to join the ranks of those she’s been raising funds for– and she did it in style. The 45-year-old Kierstein recently launched her Floor Coverings International franchise, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International of Great Falls marks the franchisor’s first location in Virginia, not unnoticed is the fact that a talented female breaks the state open for future franchisees who are looking for one of the top franchise opportunities in North America.

Kierstein was formerly vice president of fundraising and development for a national non-profit whose focus was assisting small-business owners in starting, running and growing their businesses.

“I’m thrilled to be utilizing my past business skills and offering this great mobile service to homeowners here,” Kierstein said. “I’ve completely divested myself from my comfort zone of a corporate career and am beyond excited to bring Floor Coverings International’s passion for a ‘customer first’ experience to our area.” Floor Coverings International, Great Falls serves customers in Sterling, Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, McLean, Ashburn, Fairfax and Prince William in the state of Virginia.

Kierstein’s mother also owns and operates a small business. “My mom instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me at a young age,” Kierstein said. “I watched her and thousands of business owners in my previous job become highly successful contributors to their communities, while employing others and supporting their families. Their enthusiasm and passion finally rubbed off and I made the decision to join them and live the American dream.”

In Floor Coverings International, Kierstein found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Kierstein added that Floor Coverings International, Great Falls holds a Class A Virginia contractor’s license. “It is the highest standard in the state and will set Floor Coverings International apart, potentially, from others in the home services industry,” she said. Lastly, Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood. That struck a chord with Kierstein. “A key component of our business is our support for charitable organizations in our community and fulfilling a personal passion for giving back,” Kierstein said.

For information on a franchise visit flooring-franchise.com

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Melinda Gates commits $1B to ‘expanding women’s power and influence in the United States’

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Melinda Gates, whose book this year documented the systemic and societal challenges that continue to face women around the world, recently pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to initiatives designed to accelerate gender equity in the United States.

By Todd Bishop

In a commentary announcing the plan on Time.com, Gates said the money will support “new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence.”

It’s the biggest initiative yet from Gates through her standalone Pivotal Ventures firm, separate from her role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates established Pivotal Ventures four years ago to focus on issues including gender equality and empowering women. Her book, “The Moment of Lift,” documented the need to remove barriers for women, with the goal of helping not just women but society as a whole.

In the announcement this morning, Gates cited three priorities for the funds: 1) “dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement;” 2) “fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society—like technology, media, and public office; and 3) “mobilizing shareholders, consumers, and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.”

She wrote, “I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives. I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.”

Gates gave more insights into her approach in a Harvard Business Review piece last month, “Gender Equality Is Within Our Reach.

“I believe our goal should be to expand women’s power and influence in society. I think of power and influence as the ability to make decisions, control resources, and shape perspectives. It is something women exercise in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their communities. I recognize that “power and influence” are not words we have historically associated with women — nor are they words that all women associate with themselves. I also acknowledge that because of my family’s wealth, I have access to certain kinds of power and influence that very few people do. Still, I use these words, imperfect and imprecise though they are, because they are the best way I know to describe what men in this country — in particular, white men — have long had that women have not.”

Continue on to Geekwire to read the complete article.

Over 6,000 Minority Business Enterprises and Corporate Partners Attend National Conference on Supplier Diversity in Atlanta

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supplier diversity executive accepting business card from an attendee at the matchmaker session

On Sunday, October 13, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) kicked off its annual conference and business opportunity exchange in Atlanta.

With over 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses representing millions of consumers, NMSDC is the largest and most successful non-profit advocating for minority entrepreneurs in the country.

The conference draws over 6,000 minority-business owners and corporate partners from around the nation.

“Economic inclusion is one of the most urgent issues we face to ensure opportunity and prosperity for all Americans,” said Adrienne Trimble, President of NMSDC. “Our numbers prove our success in this area.

In 2018, we executed $400 billion in revenue for minority-owned businesses. Some 1.6 million U.S. jobs were created, resulting in $96 billion in wages earned.

Who: National Minority Supplier Development Council

NMSDC President: Adrienne C. Trimble

What: 2019 Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange

Where: Atlanta, GA Georgia World Congress Center

When: October 13 – 16, 2019

Click here for the full conference schedule

Why: Economic inclusion for all Americans is one of the most critical issues of our time.

About NMSDCNMSDC advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. To meet the growing need for supplier diversity, NMSDC matches its more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to our network of more than 1,450 corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services and solutions. NMSDC, a unique and specialized player in the field of minority business enterprise, is proud of its unwavering commitment to advance Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American suppliers in a globalized corporate supply chain.

Two Tech CEOs Team Up to Take the Guesswork Out of CBD

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two women CEOs seated for picture

With dozens of new brands entering the market each month and its own National holiday on August 8, CBD is quickly penetrating the daily lives of consumers. Between the proliferating field of options and the wide array of formula choices and strengths, how do consumers know where to start? How much should they take? In what form, and how often?

Having built dozens of consumer products and brands between them, co-founders Coco Meers (L’Oréal Alumna and Founder of PrettyQuick, acquired by Groupon in 2015) and Marcy Capron-Vermillion (Founder of Polymathic, acquired by DevMynd 2017) created Equilibria to restore balance to modern women by demystifying the CBD journey, from starting dose to personalized routine development and ongoing Dosage Specialist support.

“The CBD market is expanding at a rapid rate, with little regard to quality, service and education,” Meers said. “We saw an opportunity to deliver not only the highest quality CBD on the market, purpose-built to deliver maximum therapeutic benefits, but white glove, clinical luxury service that caters to each woman individually.”

In a sea of CBD brands, Equilibria— launched this year—offers personalized dosage support led by veteran cannabis educators and unparalleled quality from their exclusive bioscience partner—all to advance the mission of balance for women. CBD as a service – personalized dosage support for all members.

A 37-year-old working mother with insomnia and exacerbated stress during her period. A 73-year-old plagued with chronic pain whose arthritis prevents her from playing with her grandkids. These women are part of Equilibria’s community, and Equilibria gets to know them and their health goals from the start of their journey.

CBD is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Female body chemistry, age, metabolism, health goals, and current medications influence the amount of CBD they need and how often they should take it. With daily and consistent use, CBD can change lives. Products and services focus on restoring balance to the lives of women. CBD works with the body to promote balance, and women’s bodies need balance. Equilibria’s female-led team delivers on this vision by focusing their service and R&D efforts on CBD science and female biochemistry. From hormonal regulation and anxiety to auto-immune and inflammation, women’s physiological and mental health systems can easily swing out of balance. CBD helps achieve homeostasis throughout the body’s systems. Equilibria’s Dosage Support team is trained in female biochemistry and applications of CBD for female health. To offer clinical support and maximum therapeutic benefits requires that Equilibria have complete confidence and transparency into the consistency and mquality of their supply chain.

For Marcy and Coco, white-labeling wasn’t good enough. Equilibria is proud to join forces in an exclusive partnership with CFH, LTD—a leading bioscience firm and industrial hemp producer in Longmont, Colorado. Coco and Marcy surveyed the landscape of CBD white-label manufacturers, but it didn’t feel right to purchase product and re-label. These science- oriented and data-driven leaders needed to know that every step of the process was optimized for consumer safety and medical-grade results. They chose to partner with CFH and work together as partner companies with shared ownership—because they recognized the CFH team was as passionate about traceability, consistency,and results as they were.

Source: Equilibria

Tommyxzendaya Fall ’19: New Collection: Be Strong Be Powerful Be Yourself

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Tommy Hilfiger poses with Zendaya

Zendaya has collaborated with the American designer to create a TommyXZendaya capsule collection that will bring her unique and confident sense of style to fans around the world.

The partnership celebrates Tommy Hilfiger’s continued vision to collaborate with icons who share the brand’s spirit and values of breaking conventions and celebrating diversity.

“I love to collaborate with people who are passionate about making their dreams a reality and who inspire the next generation to do the same,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “Zendaya has become a global icon, using fashion to make bold statements while always staying true to herself. Our capsule collection will fuse her eclectic style with the Americana spirit of our brand.”

“Fashion is more than just wearing cool clothes,” said Zendaya. “It’s a way to celebrate self-expression and individuality, which is extremely empowering. This is why I am proud to partner with Tommy Hilfiger.”

Continue on to USA Tommy to read the complete article and view collection.

Jennifer Lopez: From the Block to the Boss

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Jennifer Lopez cover story

By Jovane Marie

In the nearly 30 years since she danced her way onto our screens as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, Jennifer Lopez has evolved into an award-winning, record-breaking, history-making phenomenon.

A force to be reckoned with in every industry she enters—be it dance, music, TV or film—the star has also made strides in the business world, intertwining her marketability with her personal persona and riding her brand all the way to the bank.

The Business of Being J. Lo

The consummate boss lady, Lopez has leveraged a thorough understanding of her personal brand and identity to generate several multi-million-dollar business enterprises. It is a tactic that, according to the successful multi-hyphenate, is key to longevity.

“You have to remember the value of your individuality—that you have something different and special to offer that nobody else can,” she said in an interview with IOL.

Lopez’s marketability lies in her origin story and the hard work ethic that took her from the southside of the Bronx to the highest echelons of stardom. To quote her hit “Jenny from the Block”— “no matter where she goes, she knows where she came from”—that sentiment has endeared her to fans, and consumers, worldwide.

“Staying authentic to that image of an entertainer, mother, and woman of humble beginnings in a struggling Puerto Rican family from the Bronx is important, and it’s key to reaching a bigger audience of potential customers. That’s a big part of who I am, and my brand in a way,” Lopez said in a sales pitch to Silicon Valley.

Lifestyle a la Lopez

Lopez first flexed her business muscle in 2001, when she launched her eponymous clothing and accessories line, J. Lo by Jennifer Lopez. With an unapologetic focus on providing fabulous fashion choices for women of all sizes (including often overlooked curvaceous body types), the label has gone through several iterations over the years, expanding to include girls’ sportswear and housing decor. In 2010, she relaunched the brand in partnership with popular retail chain Kohl’s, capitalizing on their exclusive private brand strategy to ensure nationwide saturation of her vision. The collection, which includes a wide array of fashion running the gamut from statement pieces to chic comfort, is a testament to the entrepreneur’s personal taste (if she wouldn’t wear it, it doesn’t hit the shelf).

“It’s great to collaborate with Kohl’s in the creation of a full lifestyle

 Jennifer Lopez performs during a stop of her It's My Party tour at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS: Jennifer Lopez performs during a stop of her It’s My Party tour at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABA)

brand that represents my full style and essence,” said the entrepreneur, who is known for taking an active role in each stage of the production process. “I’m a mom. I work. I want comfort, but I also want to feel sexy and modern. I think a lot of women want the same thing.”

Production Paragraph

As Lopez’s star continued to rise on the charts and in theaters, she made yet another boss lady move that would further cement her status as a business mogul. Alongside then manager Benny Medina, the star co-founded Nuyorican Productions, a film and television production company, in 2001. The production house has developed a wide range of projects, from documentaries to primetime shows to online series, with Lopez often starring or serving in an executive producer capacity. To date, the entity is responsible for six films, 12 TV series (including award-winning The Fosters, which won two GLAAD Media Awards for its outstanding representation of LGBT issues), four TV specials, one online series, and nine musical releases.

The Smell of Success

Lopez’s long-term influence and impact on the fashion industry extends beyond clothing, accessories, and home goods. In 2002, she launched what would become America’s top-selling fragrance and the best-selling celebrity fragrance line in the world—Glow. The move jump-started the now common-place strategy of celebrities bringing their own namesake scents to the market. In the 17 years since its inception, Lopez has released 24 fragrances, with revenue in the billions.

No Time Off

The mid-2000s saw Lopez incrementally building her empire—starring in several films (including 2006’s Bordertown, which earned her an Artists for Amnesty Award from Amnesty International), producing several others under Nuyorican, releasing her sixth studio album, maintaining her lifestyle brands, and serving as the Chief Creative Officer for NuvoTV (a Latino community focused cable network). It wasn’t until 2008, after giving birth to twins Max and Emme, that she finally took a short hiatus to focus on her new family.

She was back on the grind less than two years later, when she joined the judging panel on the tenth season of American Idol. The comeback served as the spark of a resurgence predicated on her undeniably successful personal brand that—nearly a decade later—has yet to falter.

The Power of Branding

Jennifer Lopez Book Cover: True LoveArmed with an ambitiously sharp business mind, an innate understanding of her brand, and a ferocious work ethic, Lopez has established herself as an obvious go-to for major companies looking to connect to consumers via a relatable feel coupled with a healthy dose of glamour. L’Oréal Paris, Gillette Venus, Fiat Automobiles, denim powerhouse Guess, and luxury footwear Giuseppe Zanotti have all called on the business behemoth, who boasts one of the most powerful brands on the planet.

The numbers don’t lie: more than 150 million people, a whopping 75 percent of them millennials, follow the phenom on social media, privy to Lopez’s every post, project, and partnership. That fact alone points to her uncanny ability to connect with the masses using her high-profile status as a business asset for social commerce.

To Lopez, that universal appeal serves as the potential foundation for creating wide-ranging business opportunities that have yet to be realized.

“I want to build something that has never been done before,” she declared in 2015 at VentureScape, a venture capital conference in Silicon Valley hosted by the National Venture Capital Association. And she most definitely will. Her companies boast a track record of success that surpasses Stanford graduates (the stereotypical recipients of such funds) and is predicated in part on her willingness to take risks.

“I have found that taking risks, being true to myself, and making decisions with good intentions can exceed even my own expectations,” the mogul mused in her 2014 bestseller, True Love.

Beyond the Business

Lopez may have established herself as an entrepreneurial enigma through her mastery of multi-faceted platforms and her sheer intelligence in strategically building and managing her brand, but her talents and impact (obviously) extend well past the boardroom. The fervent go-getter was advised as her career was just starting to blossom to “make a moment of her shot” (a piece of wisdom bestowed by fellow actor Jack Nicholson while on set shooting the neo-noir thriller Blood and Wine in 1997).

She took the advice to heart, harnessing every opportunity to its full potential, smashing racial barriers, and side-stepping naysayers to become one of (if not the) most influential Hispanic performers in the United States. In 2018, TIME Magazine named her among its “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and for good reason.

The quadruple threat (singer, actress, dancer, and producer) has sold more than 80 million records in the last two decades, holding the record for releasing the first remix album—entitled J to tha L-O! The Remixes—to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, as well as the highest first week sales for a Spanish album in the United States—her 2007 Como Ana una Mujer.

As an actress, she has blazed a record-making trail in Hollywood as

Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez and Lili Reinhart are seen on the film set of 'Hustlers' in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY: Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez and Lili Reinhart are seen on the film set of ‘Hustlers’ in New York City. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

well, capturing the nation’s attention in 1997 with her portrayal of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez in the namesake biopic Selena and demanding a salary that at the time made her the highest-paid Hispanic actress in history. Collectively, her films have grossed more than $3 billion, and she holds the distinction of being the first woman to have a number one film (The Wedding Planner) and the number one album (J. Lo) simultaneously in the United States.

Lopez has also left an undeniable mark in the dance industry, cementing her reputation as a powerhouse on the floor with her fierce choreography and the producing (and serving on the judges panel) of the wildly popular World of Dance, which features dancers and groups from all over the world competing for a $1 million prize.

Her influence goes beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the recording studio, however. Lopez’s list of philanthropic efforts rivals her professional achievements. From the founding of the Lopez Family Foundation, a global nonprofit “dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and children and increasing available medical care,” to her service as the first national celebrity spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, her care, concern, and support for her fellow man and women is evident.

With her tenacious can-do attitude, persistent work ethic, and unapologetic boss lady branding, Jennifer Lopez has built a successful, multi-tiered legacy that is sure to stand the test of time. And she is confident there is even more to come.

“You have to believe that you really have that power to make your life whatever you want it to be,” she said.

Spoken like a true boss.

Twitter Is Raving Over Angela Bassett’s Powerful Speech at the Black Girls Rock! Awards

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actress Angela Bassett speaks onstage wearing sequined outfit

Some are born icons, some eventually achieve icon status, and some have icons thrust upon them. Such was the case with Angela Bassett, who became the recipient of the Icon Award, the highest accolade at the 2019 Black Girls Rock! event.

After Academy Award–winning actress Regina King introduced Bassett to the audience, the actress delivered an empowering acceptance speech, in which she discussed the winding road to finding her life’s purpose and what it means to stand in the face of adversity as a black woman.

“My purpose as a black woman, as an actress, has always been to portray excellence on the screen, to be proud, unapologetic, and without regret,” said the Black Panther queen.

“It hasn’t always been easy. And there have been tough times, days when the phone didn’t ring, even after What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as moments of uncertainty and of doubt,” Bassett said.

“But what women like my mother, Betty Jane, and my Aunt Golden taught me is that there will be times when you seemingly face insurmountable obstacles, but that’s when you dig deep into your soul for the courage and the fortitude … .”

She additionally thanked her family for “giving me the opportunity and the space to be a black girl who rocks.”

Later, she urged the audience to persistently remind the world of their worth and irreplaceability. “When you’re told you’re not good enough, you tell them, not only am I good enough, I’m more than enough,” she said. “When they say send her back home, you tell them, I am home. I am the foundation of what you call home. When they tell you that you’re angry or nasty, you tell them that they’re mistaken. This is me. This is me being resolute and standing firmly in my truth. And when they say you’re not beautiful, you tell them that you are the descendant of royalty.”

Continue on to Harper’s Bazaar to read the complete article.

10 résumé tips to impress a recruiter in 7 seconds

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business-woman-doing interview

Having a well-crafted résumé can be the key to getting your foot in the door at the company of your dreams. But figuring out how to make your résumé fully representative of your experience and also stand out is easier said than done.

After all, hiring managers and recruiters generally only spend about seven seconds reading your résumé before deciding whether to move forward or not.

Most people know the basics of how to put together a decent work history, but here are some tips you probably haven’t heard before that can help your résumé stand up to the seven-second test.

1. Only include your address if it works in your favor

If you’re applying for positions in the city or town you already live in, then go ahead and include your address. In this case, it lets the hiring manager know you’re already in the area and could theoretically start working right away. But if you’re targeting jobs in another area and you’d need to move in order to start working, it’s probably a good idea to leave your current address off of your résumé. Why? Recruiters are sometimes less excited to interview candidates from another city or state, since they often require relocation fees.

2. Be a name-dropper

It may be poor form to drop names in everyday life, but you absolutely should do it on your résumé. If you’ve worked with well-known clients or companies, go ahead and include them by name. Something like: “Closed deals with Google, Toyota, and Bank of America” will get recruiters’ attention in no time flat.

3. Utilize your performance reviews

You might not think to look to your annual review for résumé material, but checking out the positive feedback you’ve received in years past can help you identify your most noteworthy accomplishments and best work attributes—two things that should definitely be highlighted on your résumé. Including specific feedback you’ve received and goals you’ve met can help you avoid needing to use “fluff” to fill out your work experience.

4. Don’t go overboard with keywords

Many companies and recruiters use keyword-scanning software as a tool to narrow the job applicant pool. For this reason, it’s important to include keywords from the job description in your résumé—but don’t go overboard. Recruiters can spot “keyword stuffing” a mile away.

5. Use common sense email etiquette

There are two types of email addresses you shouldn’t use on your résumé or when applying to a job via email: your current work email address, or an overly personal or inappropriate email address, like loverguy22@gmail.com. Stick with something professional based on your name in order to make the best possible impression.

6. When it comes to skills, quality over quantity

There’s no need to list skills that most people in the job market have (Think: Microsoft Office, email, Mac, and PC proficient), which can make it look like you’re just trying to fill up space on the page. Keep your skills section short, and only include impactful skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying to.

7. Choose to share social accounts strategically

Including links to social media accounts on a résumé is becoming more and more common. But it’s important to distinguish between professional accounts—like a LinkedIn profile or Instagram account you manage for work—and nonprofessional ones, like your personal Twitter or Facebook account. While it might be tempting to include a personal account in order to show recruiters who you are, you’re better off only listing accounts that are professionally focused. Save your winning personality for an in-person interview.

8. Use hobbies to your advantage

Not all hobbies deserve a place on your résumé, but some do. Hobbies that highlight positive personality qualities or skills that could benefit you on the job are worth including. For example, running marathons (shows discipline and determination) and blogging about something related to your field (shows creativity and genuine interest in your work) are hobbies that will cast you in the best possible light and might pique a recruiter’s interest.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus

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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.