CTSBDC and Celebrities Help Propel this Connecticut Cosmetics Business

Success Story: Connecticut

Mizzi CosmeticsWith cosmetic products endorsed by Kylie Jenner and Kate Hudson, Mizzi Cosmetics produces highly sought after, all natural lip balms and scrubs called LipLuxe. LipLuxe products are made in Portland, Connecticut and are already go-to products in celebrity makeup bags. As a result of this worldwide publicity, Brenda Mierzejewski’s business, Mizzi Cosmetics, saw exponential growth. She knew she needed business assistance and came to the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) via the recommendation of another Connecticut resource, The Innovation Center.

When Brenda first met with CTSBDC Business Advisor Denise Whitford, she introduced her to the business that she created in 2014. Mizzi Cosmetics is a solution to her family’s dry and chapped winter lips. Brenda tried several different lip balms to help heal and soothe, but couldn’t find one that worked. She decided to try a DIY project and make her own lip balm, using natural and organic ingredients such as pure honey, sweet almond oil, lemon and lavender, all in an effort to moisturize, heal and prevent dry, chapped lips.

She gave her friends and family samples, and shortly thereafter they came back asking for more. She knew she really had something that provides numerous benefits for all ages, so that’s when she created Mizzi Cosmetics.  (more…)

2BuyAg – an App Linking Food Buyers and Local Farmers

Success Story: Missouri

Olivia Vann (daughter, left) and Kim Harrison (mother, right), founders of 2BuyAg

With timely advice and guidance from the Missouri SBTDC and other University of Missouri Extension Business Development Program (BDP) services and personnel, mother and daughter Kim Harrison and Olivia Vann invented an online service linking food buyers and sellers, called 2BuyAg. 2BuyAg is free for producers, with buyers paying a nominal percentage-based convenience fee.

2BuyAg firmly believes they are in the right spot at the right time to offer an online marketplace for food buyers to connect with local farmers. 2BuyAg, like many revolutionary ideas, was born of necessity. Harrison and her husband operate Harrison Valley Farms near Fulton, which has been producing and marketing pasture-raised and grass-fed beef and lamb since 2007. They sold to farmers’ markets, restaurants, food hubs, even individual buyers, endlessly driving across the state to make deliveries.

“The wear and tear on our family was just too much,” says the energetic Harrison. “We met ourselves coming and going. And it’s hard to do all the marketing and maintain the sheep and cattle, too.”

She began to think about how the farm could streamline marketing. She also realized her problems were by no means unique; all producers face the same issues.  (more…)

Montpelier Start-Up Focuses on Backyard Sugar Making

Vermont Evaporator Company

Success Story: Vermont

When March rolls around in Vermont’s Green Mountains, many large-scale sugar makers are already hard at work tapping trees and boiling sap into the sweet syrup the state’s famous sugar maples provide. But there’s also a cadre of small-scale home producers who focus on providing a gallon or two for their families and friends.

Those small-scale backyard operations did not go unnoticed by husband and wife team Justin McCabe and Kate Whelley McCabe, who themselves had struggled with finding an efficient way for backyard sugar makers to produce affordable syrup for their families.

“Our young family could not find an affordable, fun way to sugar on a small scale, given the products on the market – and lack thereof,” Whelley McCabe said. This led them to open the Vermont Evaporator Company, a Montpelier based business that makes small-scale maple sugar evaporators for backyard sugar makers. Priced at $825, the evaporators are far more affordable than many of the professional models seen throughout Vermont and beyond.  (more…)

A Long-Time Passion Becomes a Full-Time Job

Success Story: Idaho

Angie Stevens, Boise Music LessonsAngie Stevens worked full-time and taught music part-time for years. In 2015, she was ready to focus on music full-time and designed an innovative, membership-based studio, Boise Music Lessons (BML).

Angie contacted the Idaho SBDC where she and her partner, Marcus, worked to differentiate her position in the market; developing a unique value proposition and identifying ideal clients. With this assistance and her experience in music education, Angie was able to set her business apart in an industry with high competition.

The first milestone came when both Angie and Marcus were working full-time at Boise Music Lessons, more than a year ahead of schedule. BML’s second major milestone came when Angie hired an independent contractor to keep up with increasing student demand. This contractor teaches instruments Boise Music Lessons didn’t previously serve, at a studio in a new part of town, strategically extending their reach in this industry.

Angie credits the Idaho SBDC’s assistance with reaching these milestones and continues to receive consultation to determine how best to scale her business with the increasing demand. “I appreciate [my SBDC consultant’s] willingness to dream big with me while also giving me the healthy dose of reality I need to succeed,” said Angie.

To learn more about Boise Music Lessons, click here. To learn more about the Idaho SBDC, click here.

Organic Recycling and Valuable Services for the City of New Haven, Connecticut

Success Story: Connecticut
New England Site And Infrastructure Management

NE Site & Infrastructure ManagementTodd D. Howell has always had construction and entrepreneurship in is DNA. He began in construction at the age of 13, and at 17 he owned his first business.

He was a seasoned small business owner when he started New England Site and Infrastructure Management in January, 2008, and since then the City of New Haven has come to rely on Todd and his organization in a number of capacities.

Year-round, he is an organic recycling and re-purposing company, making leaves, wood and brush into a marketable mulch and soil product. And in the winter months, he does municipal snow plowing, ice control and snow melting, and holds a four-year A and B contract for the streets and roads for the city of New Haven, Connecticut. To top it off, in the spring and fall months, he performs excavation, site work and paving.

In 2015, Todd was ready to access capital to expand. He needed the help of a knowledgeable person to navigate these difficult waters. New Haven City Mayor Toni Harp referred Todd to the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), where he met CTSBDC Business Advisor Joe Williams.

Joe and Todd got to work reviewing Todd’s business plan and budget, and prepared the paperwork to access capital. From this work, Todd earned a Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Express Loan and Grant, which has helped him to acquire new equipment, create five jobs and save another five. Mr. Howell is actively involved in hiring New Haven residents for positions in his business.  (more…)