Minority Women Veterans Organization (MWVO) is a non-profit organization that assists minority women veterans in successfully transitioning from the U.S. military. In doing so, MWVO also supports minority women veterans in establishing and growing their businesses. In supporting and promoting minority women veteran business owners, MWVO is shining the spotlight on 4 businesses. The four businesses are:
• Ayesha Inc. – online retail boutique
• Whitty Apps – software engineering and technology integration business
• Guamifit – Health and Fitness Business
• Nurse Dolls – STEM Career Education business
In shining the spotlight on the four MWV businesses, MWVO asked each business owner to briefly summarize her business. Each business owner discussed her military background, the current status of her business, how her business is important to the community, the challenges she has faced as an entrepreneur, her business’ long term plans, and how expanding her business nationally will greatly help to her businesses. The discussion is to assist the veterans with connecting with business opportunities and to motivate other minority women veterans to become entrepreneurs.
U.S. Air Force Veteran, Founder/CEO
I joined the United States Air Force May 2, 2001. My official Air Force Specialty was Aircraft Fuel Systems Technician. In this role, I advised on aircraft fuel systems removal, repair, and installation maintenance procedures and policies. I also diagnosed fuel system and component malfunctions, as well as, recommended corrective actions and resolved problems using technical publications and analytic techniques. I earned the rank of SSgt/E-5 in 2004 at around my three-year mark in the military. During my service, I served on numerous Logistics Readiness Inspection teams as well as served additional duties such as Systems Administrator. In 2005, I was chosen to be one of the first from my duty section to train for the then incoming new Aircraft, which at that time was named the F/A 22. My military career was cut short in June 2006. I was medically separated for having health issues that were not conducive to military service. I served 5 years, 1 month and 19 days.
About B. Ayesha Inc.
The name of my business is B. Ayesha Inc. The name is basically my name. B stands for my nickname Bina. Ayesha is my middle name. It also is connected with my tagline which is “Be A ‘SHE’ Who Lives!”. Be is a play on B. A she who lives is the meaning of Ayesha. I always wanted to start a business that related to fashion, however, I didn’t think that it was something that was possible. After suffering from a stroke in 2009, I decided that I needed to start living and not just merely exist. In 2013, I took the leap and finally started my online boutique. The target group for my business is women between the ages of 25-40. I want to make my products priced for the everyday woman to be fashionable without killing their wallets. I sell mostly women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories. My business is important to the community because I use it as a platform to help other small business owners as well as give a portion of the proceeds to veteran service organizations.
Ayesha Inc. – 5 Year Plan
In the next five years, I would like to achieve the following:
• The development of a healthy, profitable business with a revenue of $15k US Dollars by the end of 2016 and increasing each year by 15k dollars to be at a steady cash flow of at least $75k/per year by 2021. (minimum goal)
• First brick and mortar store opened by 2019. Plans to achieve positive customer reviews and a goal of at least 1,000 unique sales during the first year of brick and mortar operation.
• By 2021, look to expand brick and mortar stores to other areas.
I think that one of my biggest challenges at this point is that it’s not feasible for me to hire help. Therefore, everything is done by me. I’m the sole proprietor of my business and therefore it means that I wear many, many hats. Although I am very intelligent, there are some things that are just not within my skillset. The following factors are also factored into my major challenges:
• Limited Financial Base: As a newly launched business, the company doesn’t have as much advertising and marketing funds as larger companies.
• Lack of Reputation: As the new business on the block, customers may not find the company reputable or credible.
Expanding B. Ayesha Inc. Nationally
Well the first benefit to me personally in expanding my business is recognition for all of the hard work that I put in day in and day out for my brand. However, the biggest benefits to being expanding nationally would be that I can include B. Ayesha Inc. more into my philanthropy for women veterans. I am currently the National Director of Philanthropy for Alpha Gamma Xi Military Sorority. In this capacity I serve as the organizations SHERO Program Director. This program focuses on homeless, displaced and/or women veterans in need of assistance. In order to expand this program, I want to have a stable business that can offer these ladies a place of employment. That’s where I want B. Ayesha Inc. to come into place. I know from personal experience how it can be to not have a place of employment and be in danger of not having a home for your family to be safe. I feel that if I can expand my business nationally, that I can aid my fellow women veterans in getting back on their feet with a steady source of income.
The ultimate point of starting a business is to make money. With more visibility comes the chance of being able to make more money. With an eye for fashion and knowledge in entrepreneurship, as the company owner, I am prepared to guide the company to success and profitability. Establishing my company is essential, which is why I plan to excel in apparel retail by providing customers an easy-to-use and attractive website while employing friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Whitty Apps LLC
U.S. Army Veteran, Charlie Whitfield, CEO
A few months after graduating high school, at the age of 17, I joined the US Army. I served honorably from September 1978 to October 1980. My basic training took place in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. My MOS was 91E, (Dental Specialist). My first tour of duty took me to Patch Barracks, US European Command (EUCOM) a military installation in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany. After experiencing MST, I was honorably discharged.
I started this business in July 2011. It was officially structured as Whitty Apps, LLC in September 2011. I left a job where I had worked for more than 18 years, 60 hours a week for a yearly salary of $55,000, plus health benefits. Afterwards, I worked as freelancer in video production and graphic design, but soon realize that I would never accomplish a lifelong dream if I continued to work for others.
Whitty Apps, LLC is a 100% woman owned and operated software engineering and technology integration business, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. We specialize in creating mobile software solutions to solve business pain points. The owner, Charlie Whitfield, holds a MBA and is a self-taught iOS developer with a background in broadcast production and telecommunications. She is certified to do business with the federal government as a HUBZone, WOSB/EDWOSB and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and as of April 9, 2016, Whitty Apps is a SBA certified 8(a) company, now working to complete the final contract readiness step. This business is important to the community because it’s part of an industry where women are underrepresented. As a woman owned business, we have the ability to economically empower women to become engines of growth for their communities and country.
In the beginning, the focus of the business was to provide cost-effective mobile marketing solutions for small businesses. Since then, we have designed and developed approximately twenty-five (25) mobile apps, for various small businesses currently available in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.
In 5 years, this company will be a multi-million dollar technology company, with offices located throughout the US and around the world. We will be known as a company that provide jobs in technology (Mobile, IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security), job-training, employment opportunities and paid health care benefits to employees that live in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone).
The biggest challenge I face with expanding Whitty Apps is and has been maintaining a consistent cash flow, credit worthiness and knowledge on how to utilize any revenue to create or purchase 3rd party systems (marketing, project management, financial) and hiring PT/FT employees. My business credit is great, working on my personal credit. I have been the lead developer with some projects. Any additional expertise has been managed through hiring of contractors. I could use some office help with the day to day. All past performance has come from word of mouth and referral marketing. I have secured contracts with a few small businesses and a large company. I have recently signed teaming agreements with a large business to serve as a prime and/or subcontractor on a few federal RFPs.
GUAMI “Get Up & Move It”
S. Air Force Veteran Nyrea’ Liferidge Founder/Creative Director
I began my career at age seventeen when I joined the US Air Force. I was quickly recognized as a leader and asked to help motivate the women and girls in the air force for physical training and conditioning during basic training. Once I arrived at my first base I was requested by the Commander to come up with an initiative to get everyone in shape. I received an award for drastically increasing attendance in the gym by giving time off to those who met or exceeded fitness requirements. Multiple men and women began to ask for fitness and nutrition tips. Once I separated from the air force and entered corporate America, I noticed a niche for customizing women’s bodies thru my fitness and nutrition programs. Then when I had my first child in 2007, I realized I could inspire both working and stay-at- home moms to be healthy and fit because I loss over 60 pounds within six months. Women saw that if she could do it, they could too!
GUAMIfit was created in 2014 to Inspire, Empower & Influence Private Sector, and Communities & Corporations to be healthy thru Innovative & Fun Fitness Programs. We are currently located in Atlanta, GA and looking to expand throughout the US. As a Disabled Veteran and founder of GUAMIfit, I enjoy helping those with disabilities set and meet individual fitness and healthy eating goals. GUAMIfit was 1 of only 20 sites in the US selected to partner with The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition! GUAMIfit is important to the community because the childhood obesity rates are higher than ever. Target group is ages 4-17 for my Cheer Team which was created specifically for Childhood Obesity prevention & awareness and includes girls of all shapes and sizes (cheerleaders perform at events to raise awareness about obesity). Adult fitness programs are provided for those ages 18-100.
Financially my business will increase in sales by 20% per year over the next 5 years. My business plan is to add 4- chapters in year (1), 4- chapters in year (2) 5-chapters in year (3) 5-chapter in year (4) and up to 7- chapters in year (5), totalling 25 new chapter over the next 60 months. To do this I will develop franchising opportunities in selected targeted cities. My business will have and 90% increase in sales over the next 5 years. The idea is to make GUAMI equivalent to the Girl Scouts (every city, every state, and every school within the US). Products will include dance workout videos with customized music that I write and record for each of my target markets (children, adults and seniors). The challenges I’ve faced with franchising/going international are time and funding required to train and bringing on quality help. I have been spending most time developing and implementing new actives and designing new outfits to help create greater eye appeal for a cheer inspired clothing line. I need to utilize social media more and connect to media outlets. I’m satisfied with the result of the business related to how it started. However, the demand is growing as a result of the benefits to the kids, parents, schools and sporting events. The lack of funding has put a hold on growth.
GUAMI currently provides discounted services for the community. The goal is to have GUAMI in every city, every state, and every school within the US. We constantly get requests for our programs in other states: Healthy Snack Classes & Obstacle Courses for boys & girls, Field Days/Family Fun Days to encourage outside exercise. Cheer, Dance & tumbling programs, and Camps for Childhood Obesity Prevention & Awareness, Fitness Ministry for Churches, Praise Teams (Cheer & Dance), Individual (in-home) Fitness Training, Dance Workouts, and Group Fitness Classes for seniors.
I have recently contracted coaches to assist with the increase in demand for the cheer program and have implemented an intern program for the fitness programs mentioned above. I would also like to take the business international thru Entertain the Troops program since I am a Veteran, a performer, and I create my own workout music and choreograph my routines.
Facebook: Nyrea’ Liferidge GUAMI”Get Up & Move It”,
Youtube: Nyrea’ Liferidge & GUAMIfit,
The Nurse Dolls
U.S. Army Veteran, Nicole Brown
My name is Nicole Brown. I went into the Army reserves following my 18th birthday to help with college. My MOS was a 71M, which is a Chaplain Assistant. I started out as an E-1 and continued for the 6years until I was ranked as an E-4. I served my county in Germany during Operation Desert Storm. I was offered a commission officer position, but left after completing nursing school.
The Nurse Dolls was started in 2015 under Nurse Nicole Enterprises, LLC (which started in 2013). Each time I left for work in my white lab coat and scrubs on, my children would ask me, “Are you a doctor or a dentist?” I could not find any toys to educate my children about nursing and health topics on store shelves or online. So I created The Nurse Dolls to provide STEM Career Education for young Children focused on nursing using books, DVD’s, and dolls, in a fun, cool way.
In the next 5 years, The Nurse Dolls should be known worldwide. The Nurse Dolls products will be in major national/international retailers and on International Shopping Channels. The Nurse dolls will expand to the next level of product to include doll beds, clinic equipment, dolls patients and diagnosis’s books. The Nurse Dolls projects sales of 1,000,000 in the next 2 years and up to 5,000,000 within 5 years.
The Nurse Dolls need help with SEO, marketing and distribution. The Nurse Dolls were released from customs in January 2106. The Nurse Dolls missed the 2015 Christmas holiday last year. There is a need for money for more shipments of dolls and copies of books and DVDs.
According to the American Nurses Association, there is now a half million nurse shortage and it is predicted to rise to one million by 2025. This means that many people will be denied the caring, compassionate, and competent health care they need and deserve. With your help we can provide awesome STEM career educational nursing tools to millions of Children, Parents, and Educators everywhere.
The Nurse Dolls could have a positive impact on the finances and the community. The Nurse Dolls could offer at least 5-10 local residents in the high unemployment area in VA, opportunities for jobs and careers. In addition, there would be money to offer nursing students scholarships in the future. Nurses would be viewed as role models and leaders. In addition, younger people would pursue nursing as a 1st career option.
Nicole Brown, MSN, RN Doctoral Candidate & Army VET