Client Stories

Inspiring Small Business Owners in West Michigan

Margaret Stoika and Doug Brown, Grand River Office

August 16, 2019

“Plan and learn as much as possible to prepare you for ownership, then develop a key group of support partners to assist with funding, accounting, legal representation, and more.”  – Margaret Stoika “Approach business ownership with purpose and understand your strengths and weaknesses – you can’t be everything for everyone.” – Doug Brown Grand River Office … Read more

Zena Patillo

August 5, 2019

Fall down seven times, stand up eight Zena Patillo is a survivor. She’s also an educator, a serial entrepreneur, and the next best thing to sliced bread. She is a strong woman; six feet tall and bold, “But you’re not gonna find a better employee. Every place I’ve been, I leave it a better place,” … Read more

Jonny Farman & Jon Frantz, Urban Jonny’s Salon

July 17, 2019

“If your gut is telling you to do something counter to what the current culture of your business is doing, do it. Don’t be afraid of being different, because that’s where you can find success.” Urban Jonny’s Salon recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, and in their first year, salon owners Jonny Farman and Jon Frantz … Read more

Chris Woods & William Washington, No Limit Fitness

July 2, 2019

“We truly want people to be healthy. We are family and we work hard to create community.” Chris Woods was at a crossroads. After spending the last twenty years as a personal trainer helping clients achieve their goals, he had yet to achieve his own and time was quickly running out. When the gym Chris … Read more

Kristin Revere & Alyssa Veneklasse, Gold Coast Doulas

June 3, 2019

“Begin with a solid business plan, but remember things don’t need to be perfect for you to launch your business. Don’t over-analyze or you’ll never fully take the leap.”  Gold Coast Doulas is a birth and postpartum doula agency serving Grand Rapids and the Lakeshore communities, founded by Kristin Revere and Alyssa Veneklasse. They support … Read more

Amy Furman, Momma’s Home, LLC and MH Labs, LLC

May 30, 2019

“The most important thing I have learned as a business owner is to ask for help. You don’t need to have all the answers to every challenge. There are people who have been down this road before and can provide valuable insight to help you on your journey.”  In 2010, Amy Furman began her entrepreneurial … Read more

Destinee and Kemmie Sargent, Kuntry Cookin

May 6, 2019

“If it’s in your heart and soul then just take the leap. It’s not always easy but it is possible” – Destinee Sargent Things were not going exactly according to plan for Destinee Sargent when her husband boldly proclaimed, “Babe, we’re gonna start a barbeque business!” Destinee, a warm, bubbly woman who holds a master’s … Read more

Theresa Mosley – Mosley School of Cosmetology

March 18, 2019

“Do your research. Follow your heart. Believe it’s possible…” Theresa Mosley In the early 2000s, Theresa Mosley went to a local salon. There she was told, “We don’t do hair like yours.” Although she harbors no hard feelings toward the salon’s employees—they simply lacked the knowledge and skill to work with her hair—this experience planted … Read more

Lisa Shaw, The Bigger Picture Photography

November 7, 2018

“You gotta go where your heart is.” – Lisa Shaw Lisa Shaw has been a sole proprietor for over a decade, and a photographer since she can remember. Through her photography business, The Bigger Picture,  Lisa has artfully captured hundreds of weddings, families – and now, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Refocusing her business on photography … Read more

Victoria Upton, Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

October 17, 2018

“Victoria didn’t just change the Grand Rapids area with articles, inspiration, news, and events for women – she changed it throughout the state.” Victoria Upton, founder of Women’s Lifestyle Magazine and fierce supporter of countless Grand Rapids organizations recently passed away from brain cancer. One of our proudest success stories and dear friends, we’re honored … Read more

Anne Cork, Annabelle Noel Designs

September 25, 2018

“Don’t wait… It’s so easy to think someone is going to do it better, that you don’t have what it takes, but don’t worry about being perfect, you just have to try and the perfect will come later.” – Anne Cork  Anne Cork is a serial entrepreneur, wife, and mother of 2. She started her … Read more

Janice Dorsey, Diva of Design

November 22, 2017

Making #HERstory and Becoming #SHEroes, How this Entrepreneur Found Her Calling Through Art. Janice’s story is one of perseverance and persistence; two very important traits for entrepreneurs to have. She attended GROW for the first time in 1994, when Lee Ann Moss, our founder, was still very much involved in the organization. While we’ve evolved … Read more

Jill Wolfe and Carol Distel, GO Scavenger Hunts

October 24, 2017

“We have a lot of ideas and are fully capable… But having a solid foundation for our business, and knowing where we want to take it, was different.” – Jill Wolfe A couple of years ago, Jill Wolfe and Carol Distel both had their own businesses offering niche tours of Grand Rapids. They were struggling … Read more

Elissa and Charles Roberts, Chuck’s Auto Repair

May 2, 2017

“Be direct and professional, and not intimidated by anyone just because of the industry you work in. Perseverance is key.” -Elissa Roberts Elissa and her husband Charles started Chuck’s Auto Repair in July of 2012. A woman with a business degree, Elissa saw Charles’s talents as a mechanic as a way to open and run … Read more

Kerry Rowe, Kerry Rowe Design

April 4, 2017

“Managing several clients at one time became overwhelming and I knew I needed some outside guidance…” – Kerry Rowe Kerry Rowe of Kerry Rowe Design has had an exceptionally interesting experience with her business. She’s spent 9 years as a design consultant, engaging in both project-based work and ongoing consulting with her clients. In the … Read more

Candy Wilkes-Scheper, afterthemove

March 13, 2017

“I felt ignored during our relocations, and wanted to make sure that other families did not have to experience that feeling,” – Candy Wilkes-Scheper  After her experiences, which started 21 years ago, Candy Wilkes-Scheper started afterthemove, a business that helps acclimate people to the Western Michigan area after relocating. When her husband moved to France … Read more

Stephanie Johnson, Urban Exchange

February 6, 2017

“Don’t even skip one step of the business plan writing process.” – Stephanie Johnson In October 2009, Stephanie Johnson took the leap and opened her consignment boutique, Urban Exchange. Urban Exchange, a high-end boutique, sells softly worn clothing and accessories from brands like J. Crew, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, and Free People. Typically, Urban Exchange collects … Read more

Shannon Garrett, SMG Strategies

January 9, 2017

“Do your research, know what you want and go for it. Just do it!” – Shannon Garrett Last year our country saw its first ever female nominated by a majority party as a presidential candidate of the United States. To many it was great progress for women and the roles we play in business throughout … Read more

Frances Gentile, Frances Walks Your Dog

December 8, 2016

Clear Paths to Business Ownership Aren’t Always Marked Every business owner has a unique path to entrepreneurship. For some it’s a passion, for some it’s intentional, and for some it is fate. Frances Gentile started her business eleven years ago when she was fired from her “miserable job”. She told us, “I remember it very … Read more

Mallory Root, Roots Brew Shop

October 27, 2016

“There are always things to learn, and you don’t need to know everything to get started,” – Mallory Root Roots Brew Shop is a relative newcomer to Grand Rapids’ West Side, but this coffee shop is working hard to grow and foster the local community. Serving premium coffee and tea, as well as freshly made … Read more

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