Tag Archives: inspirational business stories

Million Dollar Cupcakes!

2 Oct

TOP GIRL of the month goes to Andra Hall

For Andra Hall, entrepreneurship was a matter of medical necessity. In 2004, her 1-year-old daughter underwent a string of surgeries to correct a severe case of sleep apnea. “I did major soul-searching to come up with something that would be flexible enough to let me be there when Camille needed me,” she recalls.

Settling on her longtime interest in baking, Hall created a business plan and by 2006, she and her husband, Curtis, refinanced their house to obtain the $40,000 they needed to launch CamiCakes Cupcakes (www.camicakes.com; 404-748-4288). The money allowed them to buy secondhand equipment, create marketing materials, and put down a security deposit on the Orange Park, Florida, space they would rent.

In 2008, another store opened in Jacksonville, Florida, and a third store the following year in Atlanta. CamiCakes, named for the couple’s daughter, generated $1.1 million in revenues in 2009 and anticipates $2 million by year-end. But Hall’s path to business ownership wasn’t all sweet.

With 18 cupcake flavors—the most popular being red velvet, sweet potato, and carrot cake—CamiCakes’ rapid growth was one of Hall’s greatest challenges.

The baking began each day at 6 a.m., and the doors were open to customers from 10:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.  When she opened the Georgia store, Hall drove the 350 miles between there and the Florida stores to oversee the baking and customer service in each store and handle all the paperwork. “I was just doing too much,” the 38-year-old recalls. “And then I got really, really sick and was down for more than two weeks.”

At that point, Hall knew she had to come up with a way to make sure each store could run without her constant attention. First, over the course of two months, she created a manual of operations so each store would have the same written standard operating procedures ranging from the recipes used to the steps to take if a register went down. “I’m more of a do er, so it was a challenge to have to stop and make sure everything was clearly documented for other people to understand,” Hall says.

Next, she chose one store to focus most of her energy on. Because Atlanta was the biggest market and the store there was the most profitable, Hall moved her family there and established it as CamiCakes’ headquarters. The third step, loosening the reins, was the hardest. Hall made the transition somewhat easier by hiring from within rather than seeking outsiders to manage the Florida stores. “I had faith that they could do the job,” she says.

Courtesy of BlackEnterprise.com

BLACK ENTERPRISE is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BLACK ENTERPRISE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers.

Black Enterprise is another one of the City Girl Business Club’s favorite magazines.

At 17 she started an online boutique now worth $50million…get inspired!!

27 Aug

TOP GIRL of the month goes to Susan Gregg-Koger


Hello Ladies,

As you know the City Girl Business Club encourages everyone interested in starting a business to look for inspiration on a regular basis. This is important for many reasons, but mainly because it helps to keep you motivated so that you can accomplish your goals.

One of our favorite websites entrepreneur.com just recently posted an article on young millionaires,  we found the article to be very interesting and inspiring to say the least. One story that stood out to us was that of ModCloth.com‘s founder Susan Gregg-Kroger, so we decided to nominate her as the City Girl Business Club’s Top Girl of the month.

At 17 years old, Susan Gregg decided to open an online boutique that sold one of a kind vintage clothing and shoes. Her company ModCloth was launched from her dorm room with the help of her boyfriend, Eric Koger. The two drove from Pittsburgh to their South Florida hometown several times throughout college to pick up more stock. By the end of their senior year in 2006, ModCloth was getting 60,000 visitors a month, and plenty of them were asking for more.

Susan wanted to grow the business, so she decided she needed to raise enough capital to build her vision. She secured the money she needed by using her credit card,  borrowing from family, taking out student loans, and taking out a second mortgage. Then she hired designers to create an original, vintage-inspired collection.

Susan and her then boyfriend Eric are now married and run ModCloth from their Pittsburgh, PA offices. ModCloth gets around 2 million visitors every month and is on track to surpass $50 million in sales this year. They’ve raised $20 million in new funding to open up offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles this summer, and employee numbers are close to 150, and rising.

To get the full story and to check out one of our favorite websites, visit www.entrepreneur.com.

You can also find out more about Susan at www.ModCloth.com

Feel free to leave  your thoughts and comments, we love hearing what you think.

Tina Wells – from a teen reporter to a multi millionaire!

15 Jul

TOP GIRL of the month goes to Tina Wells

Hello Ladies,

Here’s more inspiration for those of you considering starting your own business. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start living your dream.

Tina Wells, 30, is the CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, a multi-million dollar company that surveys teenagers and advises Fortune 500 companies on how to reach that target audience.

Tina began writing product reviews for The New Girl Times, a national newspaper based in New York City at the age of 16. When companies found out about her, they hired her to review the products and offer feedback through the eyes of a teenager. It wasn’t long before Tina began receiving more products than she could review by herself.

In three short months Tina had acquired 40 clients , but she had to hire ten friends to help her with the work. In 2000, CosmoGIRL! Magazine held a contest that featured Buzz, and Buzz received 15,000 applications.

Since then, it has grown as a teen and young adult oriented company conducting peer-to-peer research, product testing, and promotions, among other things.

In keeping with the mission of BuzzMG, Tina has created a network of 9000 teen consultants (“buzzSpotters”) with who have the same passion for pop culture as herself.

Through innovative marketing strategies, research initiatives and youth marketing, Buzz has acquired clients in the fashion, beauty, entertainment, business and lifestyle sectors such as: St. Martins Press, PBS, Procter + Gamble, AMAZAR Holding, SonyBMG, And1, Sesame Workshop, and Time Inc with many more under her belt.

Tina’s ascent from teen dreamer to CEO has landed her a long list of honors such as: Essence 40 Under 40, Billboard’s 30 Under 30, AOL’s Black Voices Black Women Leaders in Business top ten list, Inc Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and 2009 Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Tina has also been appointed to the National Board of Directors for the Friends of Orphans, and is on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She has been quoted and featured in such high profile publications as O Magazine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Essence, Entrepreneur, CosmoGirl, Brandweek, Savoy, Justine Magazine, Ebony, Brass CU’s cover and Link Magazines.

Find out more about Tina and Buzz Marketing at www.buzzmg.com

She Made Millions from Nail Polish!!!!

23 Jun

You’ve seen nail polish with colors like sky blue and winter green, but do you know who started the trend?

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of “Hard Candy Cosmetics”, but do you know the story behind it?

Hard Candy is the brainchild of  Dineh Mohajer.  Dineh was a 22 year old student when she came up with the idea. She enlisted the help of her sister Pooneh and her boyfriend Benjamin Einstein, and the three came up with $200 to buy some nail polish and supplies from the beauty store. One business plan, and a few sample shades later, they decided to pitch upscale fashion shop Fred Segal. While going through the pitch, a 16-year-old customer saw the shades and wanted all four instantaneously. The owner set the price at $18 a bottle on the spot and sold them to the demanding teenager. With no supplies left, Fred Segal placed an order with Dineh for 200 bottles that same day.

The company’s first product was nail polish that Dineh mixed herself – a shade of baby blue named “Sky” to match her sandals. In that same year, actress Alicia Silverstone appeared on the Late Night with David Letterman and, when asked about her pastel blue fingernails, replied, “It’s ‘Sky’ by Hard Candy,” causing an overnight explosion for the brand. Within approximately 2 years, the business grew to a $10-million-dollar company. Dineh kept the creative juices flowing by staying in touch with her target market of 15 to 25-year-olds. She created new mod shades called Porn, Trailer Trash and Jailbait. It wasn’t long before cosmetic giants had a contender and big companies took notice of this new cultural phenomenon.

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), who owns Donna Karen, Givenchy, Sephora, TAG Heuer, and Veuve Clicquot acquired Hard Candy in 1999 for a reported $30 million. The acquisition afforded Hard Candy greater distribution and a brand to attach itself to. Hard Candy is now Urban Decay Cosmetics LLC dba Hard Candy. Dineh Mohajer, alongside Jeanne Chavez, recently left Hard Candy to form cosmetics brand Goldie. Benjamin Einstein is currently President of Einstein Cosmetics LLC.

Teen entrepreneur worth $15million by age 19-how she did it!

30 May

Hi Ladies,

As you all know, the City Girl Business Club is not only here to teach you how to start a business, but also to inspire you to follow your dreams. From time to time we like to post inspirational stories of people just like you who had the guts to take that leap of faith, and found remarkable success as a result.

Today’s entrepreneur is Juliette Brindak who is truly an ispiration to both kids and adults. At the tender age of 10, Julie launched a website called Miss O & Friends.  Juliette Brindak’s idea targeted tween girls who were tired of playing with dolls, and were not quite mature enough for Britney Spears and other teen idols.“My friends and I looked at Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and other teen idols and realized they were not like real, everyday girls,” explains Juliette Brindak.

Using characters  with names like Harlie and Isabella, Julie’s website offers young girls the chance to play, create, learn, exchange ideas, compare experiences, get published and more Says Juliette, “Our goal is to help girls build a sense of self and self-esteem so girls will be less likely to fall prey to the pressures of fitting in and being popular.”

The idea  got the attention of tween girls around the world. Now the site is visited by millions of girls each month.

Julie did not stop with just the website,  at age 16, she authored a successful book that sold 120,000 copies.

Julie is now 20 yrs old, and a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, she continues to serve as an inspiration to female kids interested in business.

Some interesting facts:

– The Miss O website is on over 7,000 classroom websites across the country.

– Miss O is hyperlinked alongside the White House, National Geographic and NASA

– Their website “Dear Abby” column (“KidsCounsel”) is syndicated worldwide via McClatchy-Tribune

– They claim to have 11 licensees, including Knight Ridder/Tribune (McClatchy), and VNU

Visit www.missoandfriends to learn more about Julie and her inspirational website.

Homeless to Millionaire….fabulous!

13 Mar

Here are CGBC we love inspirational stories and believe it is important to read as many as possible to keep you motivated.

Today we give a big City Girl salute to Lucinda Yates who overcame homelessness to become a millionaire.

After a terrible divorce, Lucinda Yates found herself homeless and living in her van with her daughter. During that time she learned how to make jewelry from homeless people she had befriended. After some time on the streets, Lucinda was lucky enough to find a part time job that enabled her to provide food for herself and her daughter. On her way to work one day she found a trash can filled with scrap matteboard and started cutting them into shapes, those shapes later became pieces of jewelry that she sold to shelters to raise money for the homeless. Within her first year, Lucinda made $89,000, the following year she made $300,000. Lucinda’s company has now sold over 4 million pins and has grossed over $24 million dollars. She currently employs over 50 people and has helped over 6,000 non profit organizations worldwide.

You can read more about Lucinda at http://www.lucinda.com/

My two cents: I have always said that blessings sometimes come disguised as something else. If Lucinda had not been homeless she would never have had the opportunity to achieve what she did. If you have lemons, make them the most fabulous lemons you ever had. The choice truly is yours!



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