Archive for women entrepreneurs

PGH Startup Weekend: Amelia App for Women

Do you ever wonder what could be acheived in 54 hours? In 2016, Pittsburgh Startup Weekend Women’s Edition was hosted for the first time ever… and as a result, the winning team Go Jane Go’s Amelia App is now in the beta testing phase. Kate’s idea to create an app to connect women with other professionals in cities away from home was given a chance to develop when she and her sister Ellen attended Startup Weekend and met UX Designer Sanjana. Together they were able to create a solid foundation for their venture while not only winning the competion, but receiving resources to help them in their quest to develop it. These three individuals skills paired with the proper resources and enviroment accelorated the creation of a community womens app.

This year at Pittsburgh Startup Weekend, three of the top winning teams were comprised of some your own fellow GROVERS, with business ideas for Active Home, Chute and The Good Find… so be on the lookout for these potential businesses in the future!

Learn more about…


Chasing Paper

Elizabeth Rees grew up in an entreprenural family, her father managed a printing plant called Kubin-Nicholson. Although she didnt always plan to become involved with the family printing business, she ran a line of modular wallpaper using the plant’s digital paper that became an instant hit among her friend that sparked serious word of mouth. Elizabeth has traveled through many towns and cities growing up and her entrepreneurial spirit has been cultivated along the way. Having to decorate her many homes around the globe, the idea for a modern wallpaper for the urban home was formed. Chasing Paper is an e-commerce brand that specializes in stylish, removable wallpaper that was led by Rees with backing by her families company. It is on track to hit $1 million in sales with its wall paper retailing at $40 a piece. This entreprenur found a way to use what she had availible to cater to her own style and passions.

The Honest Company

When you see the name Jessica Alba you probably think of her as an actress, but she also is an incredible entrepreneur! Founder of The Honest Company, which is all about providing clean, safe, non-toxic products for families to use with their kids. As a mom herself, she saw the need for products that performed well and were “honestly free” of anything that could harm.

The company has adopted a “Honestly Free Guarantee” that promises that all of their products are made without “health-compromising components”. This sets it apart because their main goal is to keep kids safe and healthy, and not worry as much about the money or style.

Offering everything from laundry detergent, to diapers, to cleaning products, we are able to see how this business has grown and expanded from just products for kids, to products that the whole family can use. She also started her own beauty company that was also built on the foundation of clean and safe products. Her beauty company, Honest Beauty, opened its first physical location in 2015 and is now a popular brand among beauty gurus.

Alba shows that you aren’t stuck in one realm or career, you can be successful in many different areas as long as you are passionate.

SparkVision – MaryBeth Hyland

SparkVision – Igniting Advocates

SparkVision is a business that helps other businesses, such as associations, corporates, non-profit businesses, and more. Seeking to build a healthy, thriving, environment for team members and employees, SparkVision helps businesses connect their members through interpersonal connection.

The end result?

Teams that are better able and more willing to

collaborate, empathize,

and achieve together.”

Life Lens

MaryBeth Hyland, founder of SparkVision, didn’t always have a vision.

Growing up, she suffered abuse from her father, who told her that she was never going to amount to anything. The abuse that she endured from her parent has stayed with her throughout the rest of her life– it still affects her to this day– and she has a hard time coping with “success.”

However, using the pain and emotional abuse she experienced has led her to gain insight into minds of others. She is able to empathize and connect with others. Her past experiences has allowed her to culminate a business that is centered around connecting with others.

While I had not heard of SparkVision until recently, I find it inspiring that Hyland used her past experiences to cultivate a business that would give others the emotional connection and benefits that she never had. She ensures that business organizations would have teams full of connection– because where there is connection, there is purpose, and the organization thrives from happy, connected members.

Ten year old Girl Makes Heartfelt Impact

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer is a ten-year-old from Duncannon, Pennsylvania. She was born missing half of her heart, and her twin brother, Rory, passed away before the two could ever meet. She underwent major open heart surgery shortly after birth and has since then undergone 21 medical procedures including three open heart surgeries.

After her third open heart surgery, Lorelei’s lungs collapsed and she underwent a long grueling recovery where she was given a compression heart pillow to relieve the pain… but the pillow was much to big for a girl like herself. This made her think… why aren’t their smaller compression heart pillows made for children? So then at the age of 5 her mother taught her to sew and she began making compression heart pillows for pediatric open heart patients, aiding them in their own recovery’s. She named her organization Heart Hugs, and it spread like wildfire!

Heart Hugs works with children’s hospitals, orphanages and families to provide these pillows at no cost for patients and families through the kindness of volunteers around the world that help Lorelei ensure that no child is turned away. Her non-profit organization has only been the start of her work as she helps her brother Cavan, the 2015 Army Military Child of the Year, manage Socks for Vets, which provides goods for veterans and helped to train and care fore goats used in providing service support to wounded warriors.

Lorelei has been nationally recognized, receiving recognition from the Points of Light Foundation, the Maryland Volunteerism Award, and being featured on Dr. Oz show in 2015. She is affiliated with many organizations, including 4-H where she was recognized in 2016 and 2017, where I was lucky enough to meet her in person at multiple state conferences. Lorelei is not even thinking about slowing down. As she explained, “I am missing half of my heart, and people sometimes think I can’t do anything, but I can.” And she does.

Willow Tufano: Entrepreneurial Foresight

Willow Tufano is a fourteen year old girl living in Florida with her mother who works in real estate. When the recession hit a few years ago, Florida was hit very hard and houses that were initial being sold at $100,000 were now being sold for only $12,000. Because of the low price of homes, Willow got the idea to purchase a house of her own! She had saved up some money by clearing houses and selling the included possessions online. When her mother found out that she wanted to buy a house at 14, unlike most parents, she was in full support (also in support of the rest of the needed funds). Knowing that the housing market would pick up in the future, Willow and her mother rented out the purchased house and charged $700 a month. They have already earned back their initial investment on the house and have even made a profit. In the future, Willow plans to buy her mother out and own the house alone. When the housing market picks up in the future, Willow is likely to see an amazing increase in her already impressive amount of profits.

Alley Cat Designs

Jewelry for the Purrr-fect Touch

When Alyssa was a little girl, she always looked forward to the special times when her grandmother would visit, bringing with her a bag stuffed full of art and craft supplies. Alyssa was creative by nature, so it never mattered much to her what was in the bag – it was all about the joy and excitement of creating something new, something beautiful, something that hadn’t been there before.

It was during one of these afternoons with her Grandmother that Alyssa first discovered her love for jewelry making.  On that particular afternoon, the craft bag was full of beads, string and jewelry wire, and as the two sat making Christmas presents for her mother, a new passion was born.

From that day forward, Alyssa wanted to do more than just make beautiful new things. She wanted to make things that made other people feel beautiful. Alyssa had always found joy helping other people feel as beautiful as they always were in her eyes, and with her grandmother’s beads in her hands, she realized that she now had the tools to do just that: make things that could help women see just how beautiful they really were. And she was right – ever since clasping that first bracelet of plastic beads around her mother’s wrist, Alyssa has been designing the type of jewelry that makes the wearer feel beautiful and which reminds everyone that it is the bird that makes the feathers.

Today, Alyssa is fresh out of Cornell University with degrees in Business and Sociology and is working to launch her jewelry company, Ally Cat Designs . What began as the passion project of a little girl in love with all things beautiful has grown into a business which has inspired and empowered women all across the globe. Alyssa spends as much time traveling as she possibly can, drawing inspiration from women around the world. Along the way, she supports local artisans by collecting materials to incorporate into her jewelry, all of which is utterly unique and designed around the women who inspire her.

Alyssa prides herself on not being limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, she has something for everyone: from classic to edgy, minimalistic to romantic, each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, made to reflect the individual beauty of every customer. Her designs also reflect her commitment to sustainability and accessibility. Fast fashion this is not! Each of her piece features timeless style and is made to last.  But rather than using rare metals which are expensive and easily broken, Alyssa carefully selects materials which are more widely available and which stand the test of time. Great thought is put into each and every element of the design process so that each piece tells a story.

Alyssa likes to keep things personal; for her, it’s all about relationships. She is dedicated to her clients and designs with them in mind. Her favorite method of sales is house shows: by bringing clients together in an intimate environment, she gets to meet and be inspired by the women she serves. She mingles among her clients, getting to know them and helping them find that perfect piece. And if you come back to a second show, she is likely to pull you aside to show you something special she designed with you especially in mind!

As her business has grown, she has also adapted her model to meet the needs of a wider audience and has launched a website to make her work more widely available. But even with her expanding platform, Alyssa has sacrificed neither style nor substance. She still makes each piece by hand and each is one of a kind!

Down the road, Alyssa hopes to use her business as a platform from which to support other artists and to promote ethically sourced fashion. She is also passionate about social and economic development in impoverished nations. Having traveled extensively in both South Asia and Africa, Alyssa is committed to building supportive relationships with artists across the globe and using her work to empower and give back to women both at home and abroad.

It has been my great privilege to watch my dear friend Alyssa build and expand her business over the years, and I am so excited to share her story with you. Her’s is truly a project driven by a selfless passion to serve the women of the world, and the more her business grows, the more lives she touches. She doesn’t create jewelry for women to hide their insecurities behind; instead, she creates pieces that tell a story and celebrate the unique beauty of every woman.

Penny for Your Thoughts? Fighting Trafficking One Cent at a Time.

One penny may not buy a whole lot, but for Kendall Altmyer it is the key to a successful business.

After working with human trafficking survivors for three months in Greece, Kendall Altmyer knew she wanted to join the global fight against human trafficking. “I didn’t think I could make a dent in a worldwide injustice,” she confessed, “but doing nothing was not an option.” Using the resources and knowledge she had available to her, Altmyer created The Penny Story.

The Penny Story is an e-commerce store that sells small goods made from pennies. Some of her products include bracelets, key rings, and a “welcome box” with a variety of Penny goods. Each penny has the word “worthy” stamped into it, making a bold statement: it is not our material wealth that defines us, but our mere being, because we are children of God. This truth applies to those who are trapped in human trafficking, even though the world may tell them otherwise.

I admire Altmyer’s honesty. The quote above was found directly on her website, letting all viewers know that she doesn’t have everything figured out. This reality applies to all of us; as much as we’d like to learn everything there is about starting a business or making a difference, we simply can’t. But that didn’t stop Altmyer. She is now selling thousands of penny bracelets, and funding one of our country’s leading anti-human trafficking organizations, A21.

How did she manage this? By doing something. Altmyer explains that change begins by realizing you don’t have to be significant to make a significant change. This makes me wonder: if everyone had this mindset, how much more would we create? How much more would we be willing to put ourselves out there and strive to make a difference, even though we don’t have all the answers? I think the effect could be tremendous.

The product itself is beautifully simple, and The Penny Story’s website reflects that.  Altmyer offers only a few products, each one simple. The result of this is that customers don’t get caught up in the variety of stuff sold. Rather, they can see a clear mission through a few appropriate items.

I always appreciate seeing an individual who takes what he or she is passionate about and mixes it with innovation to create something new and effective. Altmyer has done this with The Penny Story, and she has created an outstanding example for young entrepreneurs who know they want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t be afraid to make a move – it’s common cents!

Nannies by Noa

Noa Mintz like so many others grew up with a nanny. Her parents would hire nannies to watch her and her siblings but they all simply seemed uninterested in the children that they were being paid good money to care for. Realizing this and eager to have a better nanny, she took matters into her own hands. Her parents let her select the next babysitter and soon she began helping friends and family select their caregivers.  She saw a demand for a New York nanny agency that would provide caregivers that were carefully selected and represented the personality vibe that families deserve. At age 15, three years after the founding of her business “Nannies by Noa,” she had over 75 employees on her staff.

Noa found a niche in the market that was very personal to her. She learned how to design a website, purchase insurance, preform background checks and meet demands of hundreds of parents. After rapidly rising demand she found herself extremely busy and with high school approaching, she hired a manager to oversee day to day operations. In three years time she was able to create a well known caregiving company in New York that now generates her a salary of over $300,000 a year with the 15% initial matched caregiver salaries.

It is incredible that a 12 year old girl could create such a successful multimillion dollar business by acting on her idea. So often are children told that they cant do something real and then this discourages them from taking initiative to innovate our society.



Jessica Lee, Young Entrepreneur of Cerise Tea

Not only is Cerise Tea an amazing non-profit, fashion organization launched by a young entrepreneur, the name is fantastic as well. You may be wondering what even is “cerise.” Cerise is French for “cherry.” Now go back and take a look at the first picture on top of this post. And keep reading it (aloud) until you get it.

Jessica Lee, the founder of Cerise Tea, has many notable achievements as a current college student. Launching the company in 2014 as a high schooler, she has seen immense growth and excitement surrounding her start-up, non-profit organization. Cerise Tea sells clothes online geared towards teenage girls, which then donates its profits to the American Cancer Society. Realizing her love of fashion and her desire to give to those in need, Lee combined her two loves to be the driving passions behind a flourishing business. Cerise Tea’s mission to help others; the simple but trendy clothes; and the cheap prices amassed together were ultimately the factors in the success of the business.

While not much is known about Jessica Lee, her online resume lists that she attended high school from the years 2013-2017, and she first enrolled in college in 2017. Her resume doesn’t say it explicitly, but readers can inference that Lee is merely a college freshman.


college freshman who owns a company…which has raised over $450K in sales.

Lee is truly an inspiring figure who not only developed a business derived from her passions, but also continuously works hard to learn more and more. She is presently studying business economics, and though her company keeps her busy, she has also been an intern, an ambassador/leader for various organizations, and created and pitched to Venture Capitalists at UPenn.