CWE client and former member Sarah Palya came in second place in the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s first startup pitch competition and was awarded a $300,000 investment to Butler County-based Gus Gear Inc, a two-person startup founded by CEO Sara Palya. Gus Gear specializes in the manufacturing of medical devices and supplies aimed at helping patients, primarily children, live safer and more active lives while they are undergoing treatment for various medical conditions. The startup will use the funding to subsidize a significant discount on its products to those who are facing financial hardships. It also allows the company to establish a distribution center and hire employees from financially distressed communities to help run it.
– Sarah Palya
I took the Business Start-Up Course through in Fall of 2015 through the Chatham CWE, knowing that I wanted to launch my business. The class allowed me to stay on track, stay motivated to get to launch, and meet other inspiring women. I launched in August of 2016 with 4 other employees, today I have a team of over 20 employees and we have substantially grown our client base across the United States, Canada, and even Australia. I have been able to meet some really great successful women along the way through CWE and Chatham’s SBA Women’s Business Center. I was able to utilize the Counselor’s at the Women’s Business Center at no charge to me, which was a life saver when I was just getting started. I know that I can rely on Anne, her team, and the Counselors to help me connect to the tools and resources I need through all stages of my business growth. It is great to know that I am able to get the support I need locally in Pittsburgh through affordable and free programs through the SBA. I am proud to say that I get the opportunity to help others by being the Human Resources Technical Counselor for the Center.
– Jessica Eberley
Chelsea Burket, a first generation college graduate and entrepreneur, had dreamed of owning her own business for years. She took her first course in the Spring of 2017 and continued to participate in CWE programming over the years, building her knowledge, connections, and business plan. In February 2021, Chelsea purchased the closed Swissvale Dari Delite, undertook a renovation project, acquired bank financing, developed suppliers, and hired employees.
"Today I am running a profitable business with 6 part-time employees. The support of Chatham’s CWE was invaluable in making that happen. I took a business plan course and worked with the Center’s counselors to refine and hone my business plan. Having a strong business plan was critical in helping me to get funding. Through that class, I got connected with a lawyer and an accountant, both of whom provided generous pro bono advice and support during my start-up phase. I continue to use them both as paid service providers. I also got support from the Center’s financing and HR counselors. My financing counselor spent hours talking through my options for funding and providing valuable insight and guidance. My HR counselor prepared me to bring on my first employees - giving me the confidence I needed to become an employer!
As the sole owner of the Swissvale Dari Delite and I wear a lot of hats, but I never feel like I’m alone. I always know that the CWE is a phone call or an email away if I need assistance!".
– Chelsea Burket
Owner, Swissvale Dari Delete
Jacquelyn (Jackie) Wright, a Hill District Native, owner and operator of Kelly's Kingdom Child Care for the past 18 years is stepping into a new but very familiar territory. Jackie is taking her love for cooking to the streets. Grandma Joans Pgh Food Truck is in Memory of her late mother, Joan Meyers, who inspired her to cook. Her mom called it comfort food. Day in and Day out she would create the most amazing pleasures through food. She hopes to launch in the Spring. Please come out and support her soul food cuisine.
– Jacquelyn (Jackie) Wright
Grandma Joans Pgh Food Truck
Tia Baker, Crown Cut Concierge, specializes in personal and professional lifestyle management services, including destination services for individuals and corporations who are time deficient. They handle the necessary day to day tasks delivering life's most valuable resource: time.
Tia says: "CWBC has been an invaluable asset in building a solid foundation for my business. I've attended many classes and workshops which have helped me avoid common pitfalls which could have been detrimental to me as a new business owner. I will continue to utilize their services and gladly recommend the Center to women-owned businesses."
– Tia Baker
As a member of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University I’ve had access to very helpful programming at the CWBC. So far, I’ve attended the SBA’s 8(A), Hubzone and Women-Owned Certification Programs workshop which gave me not only great insight into which certification’s I should go after, but also the motivation and additional resources I needed to complete the applications. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a CWBC’s partner who counseled me on getting WBENC certified. This insight and time spent with professional and successful women who have been through so many certifications was invaluable and so encouraging. These certifications can be challenging and the overall support the CWBC has given me so far has been essential. And, I look forward to attending more events in the future that provide insight on how to effectively use the certifications to my advantage.
– Carolyn Klasnick Brooks
Partner & Executive Producer of Post Script Productions LLC
The counseling I have received has been invaluable and has enabled me to create a new business card, a brochure, and a plan to revise my website and consider my participation in social media for my business. The counseling has been a great support to me and I have been able to focus on my goals in a clarifying and declarative way as a result. I look forward to continuing my business journey with the support of the Chatham Women’s Business Center. Thank you very much for this opportunity.
– Sydelle Pearl
Founder of Storypearls LLC
After completing the start up class in April 2016, I began seeing former patients in their own homes. As of 2017 I am fulltime in my own business, began turning a profit as of mid February and am considering developing a unique internship program for both businesses. Through the Women’s Business Center’s training and counseling, I learned about and held 3 focus groups - super helpful; learned about and developed my own free Weebly website and posted it; learned about and set up Quickbooks Online (brilliant); used free legal counseling offered through the WBC program and continued with these attorneys’ paid legal assistance.
– Nancy Foley
I founded my small business, Write Results, LLC in June 2016. Chatham’s Women’s Business Center’s counseling has been instrumental in my early growth and success. I am also enrolled in the Concept to Launch course, which has been incredibly helpful thus far. Because of Chatham, I now have a much stronger focus, a business canvassing plan and an elevator pitch. I am eager to write my business plan and have every intention of staying very engaged with Chatham Women’s Business Center and their many beneficial resources. I am passionate about helping my clients share their stories, which often connect others and lead to stronger and more loyal client relationships. Stronger relationships often mean increased sales and profitable growth for my clients.
– Jennifer Greevy
Since I moved to Pittsburgh last summer, the Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship and Women's Business Center have been key to my developing business and to helping me find a community here in Pittsburgh.
With help from Wendy Mascio and the WBC, I have firmed up my business concept and am now launching as an independent sales rep / consultant, connecting local companies to XR solutions. Since my last consultation with Wendy, I have established agreements with two XR companies that I will be representing.
Through a joint event CWE held with the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce, I met Lori Moran, who has made connections for me and expressed interest in having me conduct a seminar at some point.
Connections made and confidence boosted through CWE people and programs have also helped with a project dear to my heart, which involves getting 360-degree cameras into the hands of youth in neighborhoods around the city to provide their perspectives. This proposal has been enthusiastically received and I have potential partners in the Thrival Innovation Festival and the Obama Academy.
It's always exciting to attend CWE/WBC events and run into the dynamic women who are also members. Not only do they inspire me with their own business endeavors, but they give me a sense of being part of a supportive community. Many thanks to Wendy, Anne, Rebecca, and everyone at the CWE!
– Karen Alexander, PhD
I can not thank enough to everyone at Chatham for all the help connecting me to the right people and services I needed to get me in the right path to open my Café.
I'm so exciting to have you come in on July 5th.
Thank you again,
– Elsa Santos
This conference and everything I've been learning these last months has really prepared me for finalizing the last details of my "business plan". This conference certainly sealed the deal and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend. Thank you to Anne at the Chatham Women's Business Center for sharing the conference information with me. It was such a pleasant surprise seeing Wendy at this event too. This was a win-win for me, in so many ways.
– Jill Smallwood
J Koko Hauling LLC
The Chatham's Women's Business Center (CWBC) has changed my life. I have experienced a very real metamorphosis from a 'hoper' or 'dreamer' to a true, honest-to-goodnesss 'doer' and a small business owner. I am on the verge of the Grand Opening of my dream business, Eva Bryn Shoetique, and it is greatly due to the support and knowledge gained from the CWBC.
From the very start, the CWBC has exposed me to women business owners that are confident, articulate and generous with their time and knowledge. From the business counseling to the Concept to Launch class, I was able to receive amazing insight on a fairly regular basis that helped me truly 'launch' my business concept. Wendy Mascio, my business counselor, has truly been a cheerleader for me while also being a the voice of reason and a valuable resource. The business advice I have received has truly given me the confidence to take the leap. Having this regular support has truly enabled and empowered me to follow through on becoming a 'doer'.
– Kelly Carney
I consider myself a serial student at Chatham's Women's Business Center (CWBC). I have attended one day seminars, 6-week courses, participated in networking and marketing programs, and utilized their mentorship program. As a business owner, it is empowering to not have an excuse for failure as CWBC provides encouragement, sharing knowledge and resources to make success happen! I encourage every entrepreneur I meet to take advantage of this wonderful program. I will always be an advocate of CWBC.
– Kelly Campbell
I started my interior design business 4 years ago. Recently, my business began to grow rapidly. I was in search of help with hiring employees and making sure I had things documented properly. I found the CWBC and met with Wendy to discuss my business. She gave me lots of insight and was extremely helpful. I also attended two programs, "create a business plan" and "concept to launch". Both were very interesting and beneficial for me in my business. I have continued to use the monthly meetings when I run into a question about my business or for help with planning growth. The CWBC has been a key partner in my business success and I would definitely recommend them to other women.
– April Spagnolo
I have had a dream to open my own grooming salon and had no idea where to start. I checked the SBA website and found a referral to CWBC. I started with a one-on-one counseling phone call with Wendy Mascio. She really helped me to get pointed in the right direction. While continuing one-on-one business counseling, I was also able to take the Concept to Launch Class. This class covered many of the basic topics that I had no idea I even needed to consider - LLC vs Sole Proprietor, accounting, insurance, business plans and so much more. Between the class and the individual guidance, I have honed my plan. Instead of a salon, I am now in the process of opening a mobile grooming service. I have started my own LLC, created a business plan, applied for a startup loan, located a van, and am developing marketing materials. Soon, I will be taking the Website Development class offered CWBC. So, excited to see my dreams becoming reality!
– Maura Newell
Wedding Flea Market® is a wedding decor resale event where the newlywed sells her leftover wedding items to those getting married. The bride saves money before her wedding and the newlywed is able to recoup some money back after hers. Wedding decor is expensive and is only used once, but through our resale events, not only are these items able to have multiple uses, but it saves couples (and their parents) anywhere from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.
Chatham's Women's Business Center is authentic and sincere. They have helped me with a business plan, connected me to wonderful businesses, worked with me one-on-one, and has continued to mentor and encourage me. They encourage success, business relationships and make you feel welcome and empowered. I continuously tell other women-owned businesses how Chatham's Women's Business Center can help them. I love working with them and look forward to continuing the relationship. Thank you to Anne and Wendy for fueling my momentum, seeing my worth - and helping me see it.
– Jodi Colella
Founder, Wedding Flea Market