Women Entrepreneurs

My Girl Friday Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

It was “one of those days” for Cincinnati pharmaceutical sales representative Julie Hagenmaier in 1999. With her husband away on business and some last-minute headaches at work, everything was running late. By the time she got her two-year-old daughter home from day care, the only supper she could scrounge up was peas and popcorn. 

Julie decided that the time had come to get help with her daily chores. A full-time nanny was out of the question, yet the kind of occasional assistance she could afford was not available on a part-time basis. The more Julie thought about it, the more she realized that other families faced the same dilemma. Perhaps instead of looking for help, she should be the one to provide it. That led to Julie’s idea for My Girl Friday, a personal concierge service.

Owner/Founder
Julie Hagenmaier
My Location
Cincinnati OH
United States
Employees
45
Year Company Formed
2000
My Successes

Indeed, there are few things My Girl Friday cannot do for busy families. By sourcing vendors and employees who have time to spare, Julie’s business offers services such maid service, lawn and pet care, catering, deliveries, setting up or taking down the Christmas tree, children’s birthday planning and taking the car for repairs. By the end of her first year, Julie had expanded My Girl Friday to serve local corporations with office management, computer training and food deliveries. 

With companies helping promote her services, Julie was able to keep her marketing budget low.
She also followed Ruth’s suggestion to pitch her story to the press, which led to articles in the local newspaper and Woman’s World magazine.

With My Girl Friday a local success, Julie began looking for ways to take the business to the national level. She hosted a lunch/brainstorming session for several business executives, which generated a number of great ideas, including using My Girl Friday’s expertise in travel planning and ancillary services to provide personal services via travel agents and the Internet. That led to several new ventures, the newest of which debuts this fall as Julie teams with Interactive Sites of Phoenix to collect local vendors of ancillary travel services that hotels can offer on their own Web sites.

Julie’s life is every bit as hectic as it was on that awful day in 1999. But like thousands of other harried families, businesses and travelers who count on My Girl Friday, she can manage the increasing demands of today’s busy world. And, her daughter’s dinners are a lot healthier too.

What's Great About My Mentor?

To get her business off the ground, Julie contacted the local chapter of SCORE and met with mentor Ruth van Gelder-Bochner, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and an advertising and marketing expert. “If it wasn’t for Ruth, I’m not sure I would have made the jump to go out on my own,” Julie says. “We totally connected.  She gave me ideas on generating publicity—what to do and how to do it. 

Ruth also coined the company’s name, which originated in the 1950s when businessmen had women assistants ran errands for. “We brought the ‘Girl Friday’ up to date,” Julie says. “Now she’s educated and can do anything for you.”

Julie knows that Ruth van Gelder-Bochner is always available to provide advice and support. “Ruth has been both cheerleader and guardian angel, providing confidence and encouragement when I needed it,” Julie says.

How SCORE Helped

Julie says, “Without SCORE, the road would not have been as easily paved. They paired me with the perfect mentor.”

Perfectly Pennsylvania Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

History, scenery, recreation—Pennsylvania has it all.  And thanks to Karen DeKlinski, reminders of the Keystone State are now readily available to share with friends and family.

Owner/Founder
Karen DeKlinski
My Location
Middletown PA
United States
Employees
8
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

In August 2004, Karen opened Perfectly Pennsylvania, a store dedicated to the state’s rich mix of products, in the new terminal of Harrisburg International Airport.  Anchored by Brookmere's Wines of Belleville, Perfectly Pennsylvania carries a variety of unique, high-quality products ranging from Crayola Crayons and Slinky toys to clothing and Amish-country quilts and Hex signs.

The idea for Perfectly Pennsylvania came as Karen was looking for a new career following 20 years of serving in appointed positions for the state’s government. 

“Retail was the furthest thing from my mind during all those years,” Karen says.  “A friend and I staffed a kiosk at a local farmers market twice a week and I got hooked on promoting Pennsylvania products. Visitors are always looking for something special to take home from the area, so it made sense to open a store with everything in one place.”

With Harrisburg’s new airport terminal nearing completion, Karen knew she had an ideal location for her store.  What she needed was a business plan to make it work. 

“I had been working on my plan for three months when a friend at a chamber of commerce meeting told me about SCORE,” Karen says.  “They were in the same building, so I called to ask if someone there might have time to look at my plan.”

Karen received a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) backed loan for leasing space in the terminal and stocking her shelves with a variety of eye-catching items.  The store was an immediate hit among travelers.  The monthly sales increases have consistently exceeded projections, enabling Karen to open a second store in a major Harrisburg hotel and establish a Web site.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Karen soon found that SCORE mentors were not only ready to critique the plan, but also eager to advise her on making a good strategy even better.  “I couldn’t believe their response,” she recalls.  “They said I had done everything right, and provided valuable comments to help address issues the banks would ask.”

Perhaps more important, the mentors gave Karen a welcome dose of self-confidence.  “That was the biggest thing—having these knowledgeable business experts put their faith in me,” she says.  “Their moral support helped convince me that this can work and that I should move forward.”

How SCORE Helped

Karen says, “SCORE is one of the first places to go when you start a business. You’re dealing with something brand new, and their advice and moral support is critical to making it work.”

Despite the strong start, Karen knows that long-term success is by no means assured.  “We made an agreement that I’ll go back to my counselors to evaluate how everything’s going,” she says, “but I expect to be a student of SCORE’s for life.”

SCORE Mentors The Secret Chocolatier to Success

Andy and Robin Ciordia and Bill and Karen Dietz started test marketing the sale of chocolate and orange chocolate truffles at farmer's markets with good success in 2008 and 2009. With the families expertise they quickly expanded into more product lines that were also tested at regional markets. Along with this success game growing pains.  And that's when the family looked to SCORE for assistance. http://www.thesecretchocolatier.com/

Owner/Founder
Andy & Robin Ciordia and Bill & Karen Dietz
My Location
Charlotte NC
United States
My Successes

After nearly three years developing a following for its artisan chocolate confections at local farmers markets and retailers, The Secret Chocolatier, secured financing of an expansion loan and opened its first retail chocolate shop at Providence Plaza in Charlotte, NC.

What's Great About My Mentor?

When Andy came to see Charlotte SCORE mentor Chuck Sawicki in April 2010, he produced a well thought out business plan. Chuck also included Andy in communications with other compatible service sectors of the area.  In addition, Charlotte SCORE Food Service Business Mentor and retired College Professor Allen Friedman reviewed the business plan and provided his expertise. He has also been invited to other functions in Charlotte to help network his growing business.
 

How SCORE Helped

Andy says, "You helped me project a longer 5 year frame than the one year plan I had. You also helped me consider longer term thoughts on taking our business to much larger levels than I had envisioned. I look forward to coming back to you one day and making those thoughts a reality."

SCORE Mentors School House LLC to Success

2011 SCORE Award - Outstanding Woman-Owned Small Business

Rachel Weeks was a graduate on a Fulbright Scholarship living and studying in Sri Lanka. She was studying socially responsible apparel manufacturing. She had an idea to produce fashion forward, college fashions, manufactured through ethical means in Sri Lanka. By ethical, it is meant, to pay a living wage. www.shopschoolhouse.com

Owner/Founder
Rachel Weeks
My Location
Durham NC
United States
Employees
6
Year Company Formed
2008
My Successes

Rachel made her first presentation in late 2008 to Duke University.  Duke provided her with her first order that was the largest apparel order they had ever given one company. She then had to get production started back in Sri Lanka and schedule delivery for the Spring of 2009. While that order was in process, she bagan her tour of the other universities that were likely targets of her line. Since that first product in the Spring of 2009, Rachel has grown the business to over 102 universities, nationwide (and one in Canada), with a volume on target to do close to $2 million in 2011.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Jim Fields and Rachel Weeks first met via the internet in December 2007. They communicated via e-mail for many months while Rachel developed her business plan. They continued communication after she returned in the spring of 2008. As part of the plan they covered everything from marketing and manufacturing to financing. The projections for sales and expenses were the most time consuming part of the plan and she had to go to various sources to get funding.

A SCORE Success Story: Kangaring - LS Designs

Do you remember the days of having your cell phone plugged into the cigarette lighter in your car, but not knowing where to put your phone when you were not using it? Linda Anderson was one of many in the same situation, and would constantly lose track of her phone when in her car. When wanting to use the phone, she'd have to root around on the passenger side or when applying the brakes, the phone would come sliding out from under the seat and get in the way. Not exactly the safest driving strategies for anyone. After trying a variety of products, she knew there had to be a better way. And she not only found it, she invented it! www.kangaring.com

Owner/Founder
Linda Anderson
My Location
Phoenix AZ
United States
Employees
1
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

After facing the frustrating predicament of using her phone in the car, Linda dedicated herself to researching and developing a new cell phone storage solution that would come to revolutionize the industry -- and KangaRingTM was born.

Having received some mediocre feedback like, "it's a great idea, but we don't know if it will sell" from a few large companies, Linda took the challenge to prove it would sell, and decided to manufacture and market the KangaRingTM herself.  The first displays were created and assembled in her living room, featuring a large photo of the product in use and holding 24 units.  The very first customer was a local family-owned car wash, who sold two in the first two hours the display was on the shelf. After selling 17 units in the first month on display, KangaRingTM was off with a bang! In the first year, car dealerships and car washes became the focus markets and over 13,000 units were sold in the Phoenix area. Despite impressive sales numbers and positive customer feedback, Linda lacked the necessary subsidy to take the product to the next level, and KangaRingTM was put on hold for several years.

What's Great About My Mentor?

At a monthly Inventors Association of Arizona (IAA) meeting, Linda had the good fortune to meet a fellow inventor who helped her reconnect with the local SCORE office. The other inventor had successfully negotiated a licensing agreement with the assistance of SCORE mentor Chet Ross. Chet now assists Linda in providing her invaluable advice and guidance as she advances KangaRingTM.

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Small Businesses, SCORE and The SCORE Foundation

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