Small Business Spotlight: The Importance Of A Good Coach

July 17, 2019 - 5:00 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Every successful person has a good coach.

Every week, Joe Connolly speaks with innovative business owners who adapt to market trends and create opportunity for others.

In this week's Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank — "Community Banking from Montauk to Manhattan," Connolly sits down with Glamis Haro, senior business advisor at the Columbia University Harlem Small Business Development Center, and two entrepreneurs she mentors.

Keisha Smith-Jeremie of Sanaia Applesauce took her passion for appleasauce to Whole Foods, QVC and "Shark Tank.

"We were the first company to recognize that millions of adults still love apple sauce so it's a plant-based snack and all of the flavors are inspired by my growing up in the Bahamas so all island inspired flavors," she said. "I hhave been making my own special kind of apple sauce for about 20 years just as a hobby but I started to see that the plant-based market was really picking up speed and people were looking for alternatives to dairy snacks so I felt like it was time to revisit apple sauce as a more modern snack."

She launched the business while working full time as the global head of HR at News Corp. and continues to run it while also working as the global head of HR for Tory Burch.

Smith-Jeremie said the biggest turning point was when they joined the Columbia University Harlem Small Business Development Center.

"We had access to buyers that never would have given us the time of day at this early stage," she said. "Buyers know that great products come out of this program."

Angel Cornelius launched her company, Maison 276, by creating beauty products right in her own home and selling them online. The name of the company is inspired by her New Orleans roots.

As Cornelius explains, Maison is French for "home" and 276 is the house she grew up in. Their big break came when they were discovered by Essence magazine.

"In 2016,  they had a beauty box subscription program and they offered us the opportunity to put our pomegranate kiss body butter and distribute it to over 14,000 of their subscribers," Cornelius said. "One of their staff members had purchased my product — the product that I was still making in my kitchen. So when they gave us the opportunity to distribute the product to their subscribers I was still making product in my kitchen. In nine months I had to become incorporated. I had to find a manufacturer. I had to become a real company so that I could do business with Time Inc., who at the time still owned Essence."

After that she created a hair care system, which is how Maison 276 got into Sally Beauty.

Cornelius said the timing was perfect because she had just started with the Columbia University Harlem Small Business Development Center.

"I had immediate access to people who knew how to help me maneuver retail," Cornelius said.

When she initially joined the program, the first piece of advice she got was to change the name of her company, which was originally named La Belle Femme.

"I just Googled the name of the business and I saw that she may have conflict to grow and when you start a business we want them to start without any conflict," Haro said.

Watch the video above to learn more about how having the right resources can launch you on a path to success...