Retail and Wholesale Trade

Petite Fleury Bakery Succeeds with SCORE Mentor

Laurie Williams-Fleury, a former executive in the fashion industry always had dreams of starting a new career as a bakery owner. Starting off as a "serious home baker" and then joining the Bread Bakers Guild of America, Laurie was ready to embark on her new career journey. Before she could begin, she knew she needed some resources to help her turn her dreams into a reality, so she turned to SCORE.

Laurie Williams-Fleury
My Location
Brooklyn NY
United States
What's Great About My Mentor?

"SCORE has been and continues to be an invaluable resource for me. Rita, my SCORE counselor is a wonderful advisor, mentor, motivator and has been as invested in me, my company and my future as any family member could be."

How SCORE Helped

"As I transitioned from a fashion industry executive to a small business owner, I knew it was important to use every available resource to guide me in making the best decisions for my new company." Rita Jackson, Laurie's mentor was able to help the new business owner construct a three year financial for Petite Fleury Bakery. Laurie also attended SCORE workshops that covered technology and the internet for small businesses. "Navigating a startup can be challenging, but with the assistance of SCORE it made the process less intimidating. Pairing the professional baking skills I obtained with the business skills from SCORE has been the greatest benefit for my startup bakery."


            I own a small advertising agency, as well as being a wife and mother. I constantly read about women who “have it all” and would love to be one of them. How do they do it?

About the Author


          This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit for information on mentoring, upcoming 

Edward Gromada

Edward Gromada

Current City: Jamestown, RI
Chapter: Rhode Island

2011 to Present Retired

Consultant: Strategic Business Development

Vice President, Global Business Development (2004 to 2009)
Director, Global Marketing Operations (2002 to 2004)
Director of Global Business Integration (2000 to 2002)

Vice President/General Manager, Europe

Director, Operations

1992 to 1995 THE GCS GROUP, INC.  BELMONT, MA

General Manager

Senior Analyst

1971 to 1974 PWC LLP  BOSTON, MA
Senior Auditor



Northeastern University  Boston, MA
Certificate in Advanced Studies in International Business, Post MBA Study

Northeastern University  Boston, MA
Masters of Business Administration

University of Massachusetts  North Dartmouth, MA
Bachelor of Science, Business Management

New England Mercantile Group, LLC

Starting a new business is risky enough, even when one is familiar with the industry or the line of business one is launching.  It becomes much trickier when one launches a new business in a field where one possesses no expertise or experience.  How about launching a business in two different areas simultaneously where one has no expertise or experience?  Certifiably insane!

That’s where our company was in 2006.  We had targeted two different lines of businesses where our start-up company would expand, one of them related to the field of building and architecture.  We needed help from someone with an insider understanding of things.  [An MBA goes only so far!]


I don’t recall how I discovered SCORE, but I do remember that I was not aware of this organization at that time.  I finally contacted SCORE and was put in touch with David LaBau.  Mr. LaBau was the founding partner of one of the largest regional architectural firms, and had retired from that firm about ten years previous to our meeting.  [Mr. David LaBau passed away from this physical world in April 2010.]

With David’s help, we started looking at the business from various angles.  After many meetings with industry insiders (arranged by David), we reached the conclusion that the business model for the construction sector was premature and not immediately feasible.  We then focused all our energy on the textile sector.  Mr. LaBau stayed actively involved in that process too.

Fast forward to June 2010.  Our textile business  had picked up, we had received Amazon’s Top Seller Award in 2009, and some of our products would now be ahead of some very well-known designer brand names (at least on the Amazon platform).

It was time now to launch another division within our company: this time it would be an automobile leasing company.  Our marketing turned out to be more effective than the rest of our operation.  We had barely applied for a leasing license (with the DMV), and were putting final touches to the business plan – when a prestigious university placed a purchase order with us to lease several vehicles.

We now needed large bank funding to float the automobile leasing business.  We went back to SCORE.  Dennis Weir was our mentor and consultant.  He quickly brought in Mark Cutler and James Cirilli.  [Jim Cirilli, at that time, was fighting cancer.  His enthusiasm and vigor, though, never betrayed his struggle with the deadly disease.  He left us physically in February 2012.]

Various other SCORE consultants also advised us.  Keith McGlade, Joseph Waxman, and Joel Wolff are some names that come to mind.  One cannot say enough about the spirit and sense of purpose with which our mentors approached the process.  By the end of 2010, our leased vehicles were operating in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.  Our company is now working on a business plan to enter another sector: retail automobile sales as a dealer.

For a startup operation, a single strategic misstep can be fatal (or debilitating, at the least).  There is a reasonable statistical likelihood that our company would not have survived if it were not for the sophisticated advice, candid guidance, and unwavering support of so many SCORE counselors over the years.  The amazing thing is all the priceless help comes without any fee – absolutely FREE.

Even with an MBA and reasonable business experience, I still found the advice of so many accomplished professionals to be absolutely indispensable.  If launching a new business, I would always go back to SCORE … it would be unwise to do it any other way.

Adam Saeed
My Location
New Britain CT 06050
United States
Year Company Formed


I have a deep passion for helping women advance and have put this passion into my business which I have named Shoptimize . Shoptimize is a shopping website where customers can advance women as they shop. Women aged 35-64 come for the cause and come back for our cool products ranging from eco-friendly items to luxury handbags. Women have 80% of the purchasing power in this country. On Shoptimize they can use it to shop women to the top.

In addition to advancing the women-led companies whose products we exclusively feature, we give back 1% of our after-tax profits to nonprofits that advance women. When women profit, we all profit, including Shoptimize.

See video
Donna Haghighat
My Location
West Hartford CT
United States
How SCORE Helped

As a brand new small business, I was thrilled to learn about SCORE.  SCORE is amazing in many ways, but the most important two are that it is a free and confidential service that connects the entrepreneur with mentors with the expertise we need when we need it.

The Greater Hartford SCORE has connected me to several great mentors with special expertise that helps me in my particular line of business.  Mark Cutler, my lead mentor and the Chairman of Greater Hartford SCORE has amazing connections and the ability to quickly determine who to bring in as a mentor for a particular entrepreneur.

In my case, I have worked with a couple of amazing resources at SCORE in addition to Mark  including Barry Pilver re social media,  Kathy Rocha on strategic planning and business framework and Jeff Brine on Legal. In addition, Mark was actually able to bring on a fellow SCORE mentee as my mentor due to some similarities in our business model. I am grateful for having Azam Saeed from New England Mercantile Group on my team.

As a solopreneur just starting out, I am literally doing it all, from the most mundane of clerical  and bookkeeping tasks to strategic business decisions. SCORE mentors help me tremendously to stay focused on the higher level decisions.

I have been fortunate to have been exposed to SCORE’s role in Northeast Utilities Supplier Development program and can only applaud them for their contribution to minority business growth in the region.

I can’t recommend SCORE highly enough both for entrepreneurs as well as mentors.  I have already told several entrepreneurs that they must check into their local SCORE which can be a critical resource for them. It certainly has been and continues to be, for me.

James Greear

Consultant, speaker, author, minister, from startup to turnaround

James Greear

Current City: Ormond Beach, FL

Jim has extensive international experience in serial entrepreneurship and leadership with more than 30 years in senior management developing strategies, planning and tactical execution. Jim also provides start-up to turn-around and management consulting that provides strategic and creative direction on projects and executive oversight to clients ranging from consumer products and government agencies, to real estate/construction to retail, manufacturing and distribution as well as nonprofit organizations and has benefited hundreds of private and public sector clients.



I studied a little...</p>

Philip Lahm

Philip Lahm

Current City: Bradenton, FL
Chapter: Manasota SCORE

Food Service distribution

Growing Sales



BS Economics Albany State University

Gary Cruz

Gary Cruz

Current City: Tucson, AZ

Gary Cruz brings experience as the leader of a small local business.  He is retired aerospace manager with 30 years of increasing managerial responsibilities including having managed teams up to 120 employees.  Management skills include marketing and proposals, cost projections, cost and schedule control, capital acquisitions, employee career management and training plans.

Gary entered into the business sector with the mindset that will combine good business sense AND making positive impacts on the environment. Having decided that Generation Y and X are the future leaders that will have the most impact on the environment, Gary selected a used clothing retail franchise for his initial business venture. The company vehicle is a 1997 Ford truck that runs on Compressed Natural Gas(CNG).

Gary has also entered into a partnership with a small Tucson based engineering product design group. The Company focus is to develop recreational products which are safe and fun while blending technology with creative thinking.



Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo CA&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; BSEL 1983&lt;/p&gt;

Barstow Junior College, Barstow, CA&amp;nbsp; AS 1980&lt;/p&gt;


Zack Cockfield

Zack Cockfield

Current City: Suwanee, GA
Chapter: SCORE Atlanta

I have 15 years experience in the Financial Services Industry working with families and businesses in an advisory capacity. I have experience with investment management and advisory, financial planning, risk management, lending, management consulting, and enjoy working with individuals and management teams to help them reach their growth and profitability goals. Currently I own my own business and work with individuals and small businesses in a consulting capacity but when volunteering as a mentor with SCORE we do not charge for business advisory services.



BS from Virginia Tech 96&amp;amp;amp;#39;&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;

Attained Certified Financial Planner Designation from CFP Board of Standards 03&amp;amp;amp;#39;&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;

Fashion Protection - Trademark Basics and Fashion Compliance


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