March is Women’s History Month and we want to celebrate local small woman owned businesses that have a BIG impact in Central Florida!
We asked our audience to nominate their favorite lady bosses / woman owned businesses, and boy did they deliver! We will be featuring these amazing women in March so you can get to know them and their businesses!
You can also check out these amazing female founded businesses that we love!
Meet Small Business Owner + Tech Start-up Founder:: Jessica Houston
Jessica Houston is the founder and owner of EpiNourished (formerly Vitamin & Me)
Vitamin & Me was started in 2020
What was the inspiration for starting Vitamin & Me?
The idea for Vitamin & Me came about during my pregnancy in 2014, while I was in grad school. Alongside my former professors from Johns Hopkins, we took the time to thoughtfully design our program, nutritional assessment and software. And in 2020, we officially opened our doors.When my husband and I were planning to have a child, I started researching prenatals. Just like so many other women, I wanted to do the best I could for my child. I went to multiple pharmacies looking for the right one. The vitamin industry is confusing and overwhelming, even for a trained nutritional scientist. Though I had trained in nutrition from my undergraduate studies on, I really didn’t know which prenatal brand was right for me. I stood, for what seemed like hours, in the aisle looking at the back of the bottles.Although I knew the combination of ingredients I wanted, I didn’t know which brand offered that combination. My academic area of focus is global nutrition, so I’ve seen first hand how access to proper nutrition can change fetal maternal outcomes and how we can leverage technology to magnify those outcomes. We live in a time where we have both the knowledge and technology to help women quickly and efficiently understand their nutrient needs. Yet, there wasn’t yet a system that provided access to quality nutrition for women in the fertility phase. We can match for clothing and marriages and just about everything else. So I asked myself, why can’t we help women understand their nutrient needs at one of the most critical times in a woman’s life? There had to be a better way.I believe that a woman’s lifetime nutrition is the single most important driver of generational health outcomes. After spending a decade or more creating risk scores and systems for those with active disease and for preventative health, it was in those few moments standing in the vitamin aisle where my training and passion met my purpose. I realized I could use what I had been training for my entire career to bring access to an underserved population – women in the fertility window.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced during COVID at Vitamin & Me?
COVID will forever mark the beginning of our company. Just a few weeks after our launch, the world came to a stop. Fortunately, we had a strong base of customers in place from day one.Right before the country closed its borders, I had a phone call with a mentor and former Executive Director of the WHO that changed my perspective around how COVID was impacting communities around the world. After a conversation with my father about supply chain, I realized that my company would likely be impacted as well. What I didn’t know is that due to supply chain issues and a large demand for immune vitamins, our supply would be wiped within a week. Fortunately, I communicated my concerns with my customer base and many of them placed orders that would keep them in vitamins for a few months and our doors open through summer.Customers with eye related conditions were buying prenatals, because it was the only available source for their nutrients. And once the supply was gone, manufacturers did not have replacements. In just 7 short days, I could not get vitamins. After being on the market for only months, for one moment, I thought that we would have to close our doors. But I was driven by our purpose to build a program that supported women around the world. I was driven by the people who believed in me, who gave their time generously to help me build something meaningful. I was not going to give up easily. Even if I couldn’t deliver vitamins, I could still serve in other ways. We quickly pivoted and deepened our focus on building value for our customer base. We created resources that nourish women from nutrition and beyond. I believe the series of phone conversations in the early days of COVID, the email to our customer base and our mindset shift are the reasons we were not forced to close our doors.At Vitamin & Me, we are fundamentally driven by mission. So, during COVID, I was thankful for the strong partnership we had in place. Though no one was fully prepared for the global effects of the pandemic, the partners we brought on board were firmly established in the local communities we serve. Because of the systems we put into place, our support did not come to a stop like the rest of the world. We kept on giving. Since day 1, we’ve donated in 74 countries, including every state in the United States.Dr. Al Sommer, a mentor and Dean Emeritus from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has told me on several occasions that 80% of success is showing up. The other 20% is preparedness and the ability to recognize an unmet need when it emerges. COVID did forever mark our company. But it also helped us grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
What do you wish people knew about Vitamin & Me?
We’re on a mission to improve the lives of women and children around the world. We’re not a vitamin manufacturer. We did not create a line of products then attach a quiz to drive women to our prenatal. Our system was built for her. We sit adjacent to the vitamin industry and help her find the product on the market personalized to her needs. And it’s free.
You help mothers in need, can you share a little about that?
I believe all women have a right to proper nutrition. So when I created this company to serve women, I wanted to serve every woman. When a woman purchases a vitamin for her own pregnancy, we ship to another woman in need. Together, we’ve donated 240,000 vitamins to women and children in need, across the world and in our communities here at home. Because of this work, women have healthier pregnancies, children live longer and our global communities lead more productive lives. And we’re just getting started!
Meet Small Business Owner:: Rosa
Rosa Diaz is the founder and owner of Kids R Kids in Avalon Park
Kids R Kids in Avalon Park was opened in 2012
What was the inspiration for starting Kids R Kids in Avalon Park?
The inspiration came from the parents of Avalon Park. We originally had our center located across from the lake in a small store front down the street from the YMCA. This center was only licensed for 54 children and we did not accept infants or one year old’s due to the lack of space. Most of our customers at the time keep telling us that we should expand as our school was always full and there was a need for our services. When Avalon Park Group and Kids R Kids approached us with the opportunity to build this center, it was a dream come true for us.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced during COVID at Kids R Kids in Avalon Park?
The hardest thing was the not knowing if what you were doing was the right thing. As the information was so fluid at the time, as still is, we wanted to be sure that what we were doing and implementing in the school met all of the mandated requirements but most importantly, provided a safe learning environment for our students.
What do you wish people knew about Kids R Kids in Avalon Park?
- While many people may look at our center as just a large corporate center, similar to the other corporate schools in Avalon Park, we would like to people to know that we are extremely family orientated and here for the families of Avalon Park. Everyone that registers become our family, and as owners, we are very active in the day-to-day operations.
You help mothers in need, can you share a little about that?
- There have been several occasions when we have provided a free 1-day pass for childcare services to allow a mom to attend a job interview. This is provided as long as there is space available in the child’s age group and without any stipulation that they must register with us if they are hired for that position. We do this because we know that in today’s world, it is extremely hard for single parents to make ends meet and we wouldn’t want anyone to miss an opportunity for advancement because they did not have someone to watch their child.
Meet Small Business Owner:: Morgan
Morgan Rahimi is the founder and owner of CLIMB Wellness
CLIMB Wellness was started in 2016
What was the inspiration for starting CLIMB Wellness?
- I have always found people fascinating to work with. Out of college, I worked in sales for a couple of years and decided I wanted to help the families I was working with in a different way. So I went back to school for my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. After working in non-profit work during my program, I fell in love with the freedom of helping people in my own private practice. During that time, I was also starting my family and realized how difficult becoming a mother was. I looked for help, but there were very few therapists that specialized in perinatal/maternal issues. Thus, I decided to educate myself in the reproductive time frame and become an expert in perinatal and trauma. I soon realized in order to assist the overwhelming need in society, I needed to grow a team of therapists skilled to facilitate healing for all that birthing people face.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced during COVID at CLIMB Wellness?
Covid escalated the need for mental health care exponentially. At CLIMB we converted virtually as everyone else did and we all increased our case load to assist people with handling Covid and all that it entailed.
What do you wish people knew about CLIMB Wellness?
Reaching out for therapy is one of the strongest things you can do to help your own mental health. It is not a sign of weakness, but rather great strength. We are here to help, not waste time or resources. We want clients to not only reach their goals, but in as timely a way as possible.
Meet Small Business Owner:: Emily
Emily Duke is the founder and owner of Sweet Fleet
Sweet Fleet was established October, 2020; open for business May 20, 2021
What was the inspiration for starting Sweet Fleet?
A dairy free/vegan novelty ice cream truck didn’t exist; the ability to enjoy this nostalgic experience for those who are lactose-intolerant, plant-based or focused on organic, clean ingredients just wasn’t an option. As a 14-year vegan, I’ve discovered some of the best of the best products out there and I set a goal to make them widely accessible, at a fair price point.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced since opening Sweet Fleet?
Like any new business we’ve had to navigate through challenges and surprises; literally variants… this past year. Covid-19 restrictions and effects on supply chain, gnarly weather, and the most inopportune flat tire stands out – but I’m still standing!
How Covid has affected your business?
Negatively, via operational and supply challenges, price increases, and [necessary] crowd restrictions. But, positively in the sense that I believe it’s changed the way we act as consumers and rooted the convenience of delivery and mobile services.
What do you wish people knew about Sweet Fleet?
We LOVE private parties and events & have flexible packages available for crowds big and small!
Meet Small Business Owner:: Scherina
Scherina Alli is the founders and owners of Integrate Wellness Center
Integrate Wellness Center was started on April 21, 2017
What was the inspiration for starting Integrate Wellness Center?
- I knew the type of office and the environment that I wanted to work in was truly one of a kind. From the techniques I wanted to incorporate to the audience I wanted to reach – everything I imagined my ‘dream practice’ being was something I wasn’t going to be able to find if I were to start as an associate doctor. So I knew I needed to create it, which I started to envision during my last year of Chiropractic school. The inspiration continues every single day when we see lives change, when we hear how safe people feel in our space and when we get to watch families grow together and take charge of their health.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced since opening Integrate Wellness Center?
- From day one of owning a business, it’s a learning experience. You almost have to go into it waiting for the mistakes so you can learn how to make it better or figure out what works for you. There were so many mistakes, too many to list but a couple of the biggest challenges I faced right away was 1. Not prioritizing finding the right coach/mentor for me. I went into this without any mentor – but I had a million questions. So I quickly learned I needed to find my support. That was also hard. I had to go through 4-5 different ‘coaches’ before I found a group of like-minded doctors, a mentor that I can grow alongside with. The other biggest challenge I faced, believe it or not, was practicing the way everyone else expected me to practice and not being 100% authentic to who I wanted to be as a doctor. I had local doctors scaring me away from being a pediatric and prenatal doctor because they didn’t want to competition. I had family members telling me I had to do business a certain way. You have insurance companies telling you that there way was the only way to thrive. When you get started with no mentors or colleagues to help with the small details, you can easily get lost.
How Covid has affected your business?
Every business owner was nervous as everything started to unfold. I was terrified, but thankfully was in a great place with how I wanted to practice and practicing the way I truly feel has the greatest impact. Of course the part about covid that was worrisome was the marketing – there is no such thing as events, festivals, networking groups, talks – all of that got shut down. So I had to think really quickly – and that meant I had to start taking all of the marketing to social media. And it worked. I am able to continue to grow the reach and audience with education about Chiropractic, the nervous system, how this helps during pregnancy, how this helps kids, babies – all of it. All the educating I do – I turned all of it into words. And it’s been such a game-changer in my community. I’m truly grateful.
What do you wish people knew about Integrate Wellness Center?
Of course, as a nervous system focused Chiro, my wish is that everyone knew that Chiropractic helps in so many more ways than just neck and back pain. In fact, because of all the educating we do – those are complaints we don’t commonly hear people come into IWC with! Treating neck and back pain is exactly the same as treating a symptom. When we look to the nervous system and body as a whole, we’re looking deeper than symptoms.
Meet Small Business Owner:: Meladee
Meladee Beck is the founder and owner of Card My Yard East Orlando
Card My Yard East Orlando started in September 2019
What was the inspiration for starting Card My Yard East Orlando?
I love having a way to bring happiness and give back to my community!
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced since opening Card My Yard East Orlando?
There are always challenges when opening up a new small business. Yard signs was a new concept in our community back in 2019. As a first time business owner it was challenging getting my name out there.
What do you wish people knew about Card My Yard East Orlando?
- I love what Card My Yard stands for and represents! It spreads joy throughout our community. It brings families and loved ones together in celebration. It really is so much more than just a sign!
Meet Small Business Owner:: Amanda
Amanda Stone is the founder and owner of Grounding Roots
Grounding Roots was established in 2013, and we opened our doors Feb 1, 2014
What was the inspiration for starting Grounding Roots?
- After many years of struggling from an unknown illness and many false diagnosis’, I was an executive traveling all the time and went to Los Angeles. It was early 2013 and I loved the health movement happening out there. Everyone was eating and drinking Kale. On the flight home I came up with an idea of a juice bar. I came home and told my husband my idea and the next day he ran out and bought a juicer. Soon friends were dropping off empty OJ bottles to be filled with juice. The juice didn’t cure my autoimmune disease (now known today as Lyme), but it gave me the foundation to heal and heal I did. My doctor jokes and says I am the healthiest sick person she knows!
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced since opening Grounding Roots?
- Owning a juice bar isn’t easy! Owning a business while battling and overcoming an autoimmune is even harder. But providing amazing nutrients to our community is why we do it! With the expensive produce and a product that has a short shelf life, you have to be on top of your game. We pride ourselves in our small batch cold-pressed juices and their amazing flavor profiles. But this current market and food shortages are not easy to navigate. But we are finding creative ways to navigate these strange times.
How Covid has affected your business?
- Covid challenged us to do better. We had actually sold the business to homeschool and travel in our renovated travel trailer. We took back the business in the height of Covid in November 2020. We changed our sampling experience to make our customers feel more comfortable. We feel blessed to have been and continue to be so many peoples’ go to when they got sick!
What do you wish people knew about Grounding Roots?
- I wish people knew 3 things…
Meet Small Business Owner:: Sarah
Sarah Edkin is the founder and owner of The Vegan Soap Bar
The Vegan Soap Bar was started March 1, 2021
What was the inspiration for starting The Vegan Soap Bar?
My son is my main motivator in everything I do. Born right before the Pandemic began I was able to spend the first 9 months home with him while working my full-time job (Social Work). As the State began to open at the end of 2020 I was made to return to work and have since missed the joys of being home with him to watch him grow.
What are some trials and tribulations you have faced since opening The Vegan Soap Bar?
How to make soap!!!! Learning measurements to create that perfect lather! Crafting a product that can be enjoyed by others has been a fun yet challenging experience for me. I’ve also had to learn how to create a business from scratch.
How Covid has affected your business?
Covid hasn’t negatively impacted my business it’s allowed for the possibility to make it happen!
What do you wish people knew about The Vegan Soap Bar?
I had craft each bar of soap by hand and pick my own ingredients. The Vegan Soap Bar offers more than just bars of soap, we have bath bombs, shower steamers, body body, scrubs, body wash, loofah bars, and lip balm! All natural and All plant based!