It's Fall. The leaves are turning. Days are getting shorter. As for us, here at The Acceleration Project, we're falling for small! Welcome to our annual Fall for Small Business® series.
Over the next month we'll bring you stories of our amazing clients. To get started, read about about Legacy Volleyball, Pabade Bakery & Cafe, and Jade Garden Design in New York. We'll bring you stories about our consultants, too. They'll share what they love about working at TAP.
In the comments below, let us know what you love about the fall, and why you Fall for Small Business.®
By Elizabeth Bushaw
Joel Sanchez vividly remembers the day he realized the world was not a level playing field. He was 14, and wanted to join a volleyball team, but his family didn’t have the money to cover the costs. In fact, there was an eviction notice on the door of their apartment in the Bronx, NY. He looked at the notice, and vowed, in that moment, to create an organization tailored to people like him. He wanted any kid to be able to play volleyball, no matter how much money they had. The idea for Legacy Volleyball Club was born.
Located in the Bronx and incorporated in 2011, Legacy Volleyball Club is a non-profit youth empowerment organization. By providing year-round volleyball training and youth programs for ages 5-21, Legacy helps kids achieve their athletic, social, and academic goals.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, we’re focusing on Legacy Volleyball, and its involvement with the Hispanic community. We're also kicking off TAP's Fall for Small Business® series, where we feature stories of TAP's remarkable clients.
“Our business’ commitment to inclusivity and accessibility truly resonates with the Hispanic community, especially considering the challenges often faced in accessing services like ours,” says Joel. “Our journey with TAP has been guided by the intention of breaking down barriers and making our services available to a broader range of people, including those from the Hispanic community.”
Joel’s collaboration with TAP was driven by a desire to learn, evolve, and transform Legacy into a more agile, efficient, and strategically oriented entity. TAP consultants Marijose Betant, Erin Keys, and Karen Saravia were able to provide Legacy with new and efficient ideas to improve work processes. They also facilitated communication with Legacy’s board of directors, creating a stronger, more focused team. Natalia Alarcon, Director of External Relations and Service Delivery, oversaw the project.
Finally, TAP helped Legacy plan for the future. According to Joel, “We work better, our teamwork is stronger, and we’re ready for whatever comes our way.”
Each member of the TAP team contributed to the overall success of the partnership. “I think this was a great project where each consultant brought a deep understanding of their subject,” says TAP consultant Karen Saravia. “As a result, the value for the client was deep and focused, and the peer learning was invaluable.”
“Legacy Volleyball is an organization that cares about the whole student-athlete,” adds Natalia. “They are committed to their social, educational, and athletic development. Joel is committed to his work and to Legacy’s success. He was a model client, always willing to learn and open to suggestions. We provided him with actionable strategies to improve Legacy as an organization while maintaining its core brand values. It was a pleasure working with someone as professional as he is.
“Our story highlights not only our commitment to making services affordable and available, but also our dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment,” Joel says. “Through our actions, we aim to demonstrate that representation matters and that our business is truly a place where the Hispanic community can thrive.”
#hispanicheritagemonth #hispanicbusinessowner #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #fallforsmallbusiness
By Elizabeth Bushaw
Like most restaurants, Pabade Bakery & Cafe faced challenges during the COVID 19 pandemic. The Carvajal siblings — Yolfer, Dahyanna, and Donny —had launched their business as a wholesale bakery in 2016. Then in 2019, the trio opened a café on East 110th St. and Lexington in East Harlem. Then in 2020, the world shut down.
When they eventually reopened, their business felt uncertain. Sales had taken a hit, operational expenses were high, and employee recruitment was challenging. Fortunately, the Carvajal siblings had TAP on their team.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we’re highlighting Pabade’s story. Consultants Nurit Praeger, Sabrina Silva, and Amy Lai provided guidance on increasing sales as well as marketing strategies. Claudia Uribe, Chief Program Officer oversaw the project.
“TAP helped us with suggestions on how to diversify our products and provided marketing tips that eventually brought more exposure to our brand,” says Dahyanna.
Born in Venezuela and raised in Colombia, the siblings were determined to keep their commitment to using the best ingredients. They wanted their products to be fresh and represent the best of fusing French pastry techniques and Venezuelan baked goods. With TAP’s help, Pabade Bakery expanded its product line to offer lunch options and implemented delivery services to further maximize sales.
“We learned that we have to be very open to ideas that can help your business succeed,” says Dahyanna. “We need to have a ‘think-out-of-the-box’ mentality and be as creative and confident as we can when making decisions that will help us achieve our goals.”
Pabade not only survived Covid, but came back stronger than ever. They hired more employees and increased revenue and profitability. And so, the Pabade story is just one of many clients we're featuring during TAP's Fall for Small Business® series.
“The Carvajal siblings’ grit, commitment to excellence and willingness to go the extra mile to make their business succeed is contagious,” says Natalia Alarcon, TAP’s Director of External Relations and Service Delivery. “At TAP we are very proud of Pabade Bakery and Cafe’s success and celebrate their continuous growth.”
#hispanicheritagemonth #smallbusiness #food #fallforsmallbusiness
The consultant and client partnership is a recipe for success
Shelly Flash and Souha Alameddine say working together is inspiring. Shelly is a TAP client, and the owner of 2 Girls & a Cookshop. Souha is a TAP consultant. Together, they've tackled some of Shelly's business challenges, and along the way, they've developed an enduring friendship. So for our second feature for National Black Business Month, we bring you Shelly and Souha, in their own words. Watch the video below.
Elevating Business Opportunities for Haitians Worldwide
Marleen Julien was born in Haiti and grew up speaking Haitian Creole. Fifteen years ago, she turned her native tongue into a business opportunity. Creole Solutions now works with corporate and non-profit clients in the healthcare, legal, education, technology and insurance industries.
August is National Black Business Month, so we are highlighting Creole Solutions and its commitment to raising the standards of Haitian Creole translation services in the U.S. and Canada. The company is also focused on creating business opportunities for Haitians. Haitian Creole is a Creole language with French influence, resulting from a fusion of French, and African and Indigenous languages.
Marleen was introduced to TAP through the Chase for Business® Curated Coaching program, powered by TAP. After participating in her coaching session, she realized she needed more guidance in multiple areas, including marketing, finance, and technology, so she signed up for a TAP Boot Camp.
TAP consultants Carol Campili and Shannon Connell focused on three areas.
First, Carol and Shannon worked with Marleen to understand her financial data and know what metrics to use to manage her projects and customers. Based on the data, they analyzed Creole’s profit margins and pricing by client. They recommended that Marleen increase her prices for projects that were not generating desired profit margins.
According to Marleen, “I used to feel like I should have made (more) money in a month because I was working a lot. Now I know exactly how it happens.”
Second, TAP helped Marleen identify best practices for developing a social media marketing plan. Marleen used this feedback to create a marketing strategy and be more intentional about her social media posts.
Third, Carol and Shannon shared best practices on customer service and how to present Creole Solutions to potential partners and clients. Marleen says she is now successfully targeting and converting prospects into clients.
“She was a very eager learner and put our recommendations into place!” says Carol. And the results are clear. “Creole Solutions quarter sales doubled over last year, and net income more than doubled over last year. Employees (subcontractors) increased by 33%, and new direct clients (a goal we put in the action plan) have significantly increased.”
Marleen credits her work with TAP in aiding her acceptance into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for entrepreneurs, as well as Beyonce's BeyGOOD Small Business Impact program.
And best of all? Marleen says she and her husband were able to take a long-planned vacation to Egypt. Now that translates to serious success!
#smallbusiness #smallbusinesowners #womeninbusiness #entrepreneurs #National Black Business Month #blackbusinessowners
It’s hot in New York. And hot means ice cream season! To celebrate National Ice Cream Day** we’re featuring Penny Lick Ice Cream in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Today, owner Ellen Sledge is getting ready to open a second shop in Mamaroneck, NY, and she says TAP played a role in her success.
“TAP gave me a framework to think about my business,” says Ellen. “[TAP] is one reason I still stand here.” Ellen says she learned to have a “dashboard mentality” that enables her to look at “indicators of success everyday.”
Penny Lick’s custard-based ice cream is peanut, tree-nut and sesame free. Customers can actually watch the ice cream being made. In addition to retail locations, customers can find Penny Lick at farmers markets, or hire a mobile pushcart for a party.
In the fall of 2019, Ellen reached out to TAP looking for guidance on how to increase sales, expand operations and get a better grasp on inventory and costs. TAP consultants Nurit Praeger, Carolina Zambrano and Amber Yusuf spent time at Ellen’s Hastings store and extensively reviewed her business. Nurit, Carolina and Amber worked with Ellen on a series of projects:
**Be sure to read our blog about Ice Cream Social, an additional National Ice Cream Day story.
#icecream #food #client #entrepreneur #womenownedbusiness #nationalicecreamday
Every neighborhood deserves a great ice cream shop.
That’s what high school friends Pam Geiger and Erin O’Keefe thought when they moved back home to White Plains, New York to raise their families. They couldn’t find a fun family gathering place in their area, so they decided to create what they were looking for. Ice Cream Social opened in 2021.
To mark National Ice Cream Day,** we’ve got the full scoop on Ice Cream Social. Both Pam (a special events fundraiser) and Erin (a stylist) knew how to create a welcoming environment, work with commercial partners, and generate the buzz needed to build a small retail business.
They transformed an old gas station into a bright, enticing ice cream parlor. In addition to regular scoops, they have milkshakes, ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, coffee, and of course, Ice Cream Social merchandise.
TAP consultants Julia McClanan and Yvonne Lee stepped in to help when Pam and Erin had the opportunity to buy their building. They wanted to get a better handle on cash flow in order to apply for bank loans and secure financing.
Fortunately, TAP received a grant to support businesses in Westchester County, enabling us to work with Ice Cream Social. "It was amazing to have two people who specialized in different aspects of the business to get feedback on different parts of our business structure, " says Pam Geiger.
The TAP team focused on several areas:
**Also for National Ice Cream Day, check out our blog about Penny Lick.
#icecream #summer #clientstory #womenownedbusiness #smallbusiness #entrepreneur
Quality ingredients are essential when you bake. They’re also critical for building a business.
Colleen Orlando and Rian Finnegan are the perfect mix at Little Loaf Bakeshop, a queer and trans owned vegan bakery, founded in 2021 in Poughkeepsie, New York. Little Loaf reflects Colleen and Rian’s values. It’s accessible, welcoming, sustainable, locally sourced, and committed to fair pricing and employment.
To celebrate Pride Month, we’re diving into Little Loaf’s story. Colleen and Rian have created a safe and welcoming space for the queer community, especially teens, at a shared commercial kitchen at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (PUF), which is operated by Hudson River Housing. And they’ve developed a real following. Customers can buy the goods at the Cafe at PUF and at Hudson Valley farmers markets.
With their vision, Little Loaf is growing and thriving. But they needed some extra help with their financials. TAP consultants Susan Newman and Kathryn Koessel stepped in and gave Colleen and Rian a crash course in Finance/Accounting 101. Colleen and Rian now believe they can “forecast how we grow in a profitable way” with a “financial model that we can use for years to come.” They appreciated how hands-on Susan and Kathryn were, both in their meetings and in their work outside of the meetings.
The TAP team focused on three key areas:
The TAP team also helped Little Loaf understand their product costs and margins in order to become more profitable. As a result, they eliminated low-margin products which weren't big sellers; and they increased the price on other products which were big sellers, but were priced too low.
In addition, Susan and Kathryn also took Colleen and Rian through a TAP-created Food Finance Webinar, providing some sector-specific context for the financial discussions. At the end of their sessions, Colleen and Rian had a comprehensive costing model that allows them to calculate the product cost of each item, as well as a financial projections model that allows them to project profitability and cash flow based on changing assumptions.
The end result of all this hard work? Perfectly delicious treats. As for the rest of us? We can simply enjoy.
#pride #pridemonth #LGBTQ+ #clientstory
Photo credits: Jen Evans (Lead Baker!)
Christina Ng Positions Restaurant to Welcome New Business
Seafood comes fresh out of the fish tank, makes a trip to the kitchen, and then ends on your plate. Whether you’ve come for lunch, dinner, or a special occasion, the food at Grand Palace is always the focus.
Christina Ng, owner of Grand Palace Restaurant in South San Francisco, needed to add additional marketing capabilities to meet the challenges of the post-Covid environment.
Grand Palace restaurant has been in business since 1998. Focusing on a daily dim sum menu and banquet space, Grand Palace is known for its welcoming atmosphere, authentic Cantonese food, and always fresh cuisine. Christina, a passionate and hands-on business owner, is onsite daily. She’s also involved with her community and the local Chamber of Commerce.
Christina reached out to TAP for guidance on marketing that would help replace revenue lost due to the pandemic. She was extremely interested to learn how to market to the corporate segment. South San Francisco has many offices, so she wanted to reach out to corporate customers in order to stabilize her revenue stream in a difficult economic environment. TAP consultants May Lee and Ping Yu focused on three areas:
What did TAP do?
TAP did extensive research for Christina in order to create an effective marketing plan for corporate customers. First, TAP identified which corporate customers to go after. Second, TAP did a careful review of Grand Palace’s website. Third, TAP developed guidance on how to use various marketing channels to grow the business. The resulting plan included a target customer list that was focused on the growing biotech industry in South San Francisco; specific recommendations for changes to the website to better represent the brand and reach current as well as prospective customers; and guidance on how to meet customers through Doordash, UberEats, and Yelp.
As Christina incorporates TAP’s work into her restaurant planning, she looks forward to welcoming new and existing customers to Grand Palace for a delicious meal.
This project was part of a partnership between The Acceleration Project (TAP) and San Mateo Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA). The Women In Food Boot Camp program provides local businesses with high-impact strategic, financial, operational and marketing support to fuel their growth and thereby strengthen the local San Mateo County economy.
#AAPI #womeninbusiness #AsianAmericanPacificIslanders #AAPIHeritageMonth #AAPIMonth #entrepreneurs #smallbusiness #food #restaurants #California #SanMateo #SAMCEDA
Esther Salata and Benny create a safe outdoor environment with Benesafe Solutions
What do you do when you want to send your dog, Benny, out to play but you don’t want to use harsh or toxic chemicals in your yard to keep away mosquitos, ticks, and fleas? If you are Esther Salata AND you have degrees in Conservation Ecology and Environmental Science and Ecology, you create a natural lawn and garden spray. Of course you name it after Benny!
Enter Benesafe Solutions. Benesafe uses a proprietary blend of non-toxic ingredients to keep outdoor areas free from annoying pests. Best of all, it doesn’t harm people, pets or “good” insects like bees and butterflies.
Growing a small business has many challenges. For Esther, her current distribution channels were not driving sales to the level she wanted. She knew there were better ways of thinking about sales, marketing, and branding, so she turned to TAP for guidance.
What did TAP do?
TAP consultants Jessica Ziegler and Jessica Mashkevich worked with Esther to do a deep dive into branding, distribution channels, and marketing collateral.
Taking advantage of growing environmental awareness, each of these small steps added up to an actionable marketing plan for Benesafe, allowing Esther and Benny (the official Benesafe mascot) to get the word out and build sales.
Esther wrote this in a post-project survey: “TAP provided me with two women mentors who were a perfect match for my business. They provided great perspectives that no other mentor has provided. I also feel more empowered to have such successful consultants who believe in me.”
#AAPI #womeninbusiness #AsianAmericanPacificIslanders #AAPIHeritageMonth #AAPIMonth #entrepreneurs #smallbusiness
About this blog
This blog features some of our client engagements.