Women Entrepreneurs

Nurtured By Design

At first glance, Zachary Jackson looks like any other healthy eight-year-old. But along with being a typical kid, Zachary is also a CIO—Chief Inspiration Officer—for his mother’s company, Zakeez, Inc. now Nurtured By Design.

Yamile Jackson
My Location
Sugar Land TX
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Born three months early and weighing less than two pounds, Zachary needed all the help the Texas Medical Center in Houston could provide during those critical early months. But the key to his survival was the comfort of simply being held gently by his mother Yamile.

Because she couldn’t stay with her son 24/7, Yamile began looking for a way to maintain a sense of contact with Zachary. Applying her instincts as both a mother and an engineer, Yamile adapted a pair of garden gloves to serve as her “surrogate” hands, duplicating her touch, warmth and scent. Realizing that thousands of other mothers faced the same challenges with their “preemies” and other special needs children, Yamile began looking for ways to transform her makeshift gloves into a marketable product.

Three years of ergonomics human factors research later, Yamile had crafted the appropriately named “Zaky®,” which would benefit both preemies and healthy babies alike. What she needed next was some help in spreading the word about her innovation.

“I had already operated a business as a consulting engineer,” Yamile says, “but going from a service to a product, especially one related to medicine, was a huge transformation.”

The Zaky and its amazing story have earned worldwide coverage in newspapers and magazines, televised news reports and programs such as The Rachel Ray Show, and even a made-for-TV movie. Yamile has been repeatedly honored for the Zaky, including receiving SCORE’s Outstanding Woman-Owned Business Award for 2009.

Zachary Jackson continues to do his job as CIO, as his mother is introducing new products such as specialty clothing for preemies that accommodate IV tubes and cables for medical devices, and bereavement clothes for babies unable to overcome their survival challenge.

Zakeez continues to thrive today, thanks to broadband. Because more than 80 percent of sales are completed online, broadband is critical to the company’s success. Not only does it help Yamile accomplish everyday tasks and streamline research, she is also using it to take online courses and leverage new and improved ways to communicate with customers.

“Broadband is not a luxury, it is essential for my business,” says Yamile Jackson, founder, Zakeez, Inc. “Because our resources are limited,  it is important to be efficient in how we distribute advertisements, news, and sales efforts to a wide audience. Broadband also allows me to reach customers around the world, conduct web conferencing and keep an eye on my competition. It allows me to save time, compare prices and create efficiencies when I purchase from vendors online.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Houston SCORE mentor Sam Dubinsky advised Yamile on preparing for her first trade show, while other mentors helped her craft an effective marketing strategy that included brochures, publicity, and an online presence at www.zakeez.com.

More recently, retired engineer Bob Ashfield provided Yamile with a valuable technical perspective on her new products, including Zak’s Sack, which capitalizes on the concept of “kangarooing” to help both mothers and fathers nurture their infants by keeping them in close physical contact.

“Sam and Bob are very generous with their time and the information they have,” she says. “I truly feel that they genuinely get pleasure from my success. How appropriate it is that for a product designed to help nurture new and small babies, I have received so much help from a group of professionals dedicated to nurturing new and small businesses.”

How SCORE Helped

After seeing a flyer about a Houston SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups, Yamile attended thinking it’d be a “one-shot” experience. “But as I listened to the mentors,” she says, “I realized there was a wealth of information and resources that SCORE could provide.”

“What I really like about SCORE is that they don’t make decisions for me,” Yamile says.  “They’ll tell you what they know, point out other sources of information, and make suggestions. But they leave it up to me to decide.”


SCORE Mentor Advices Chimers Charts™

Chimers Charts™  Make Playing Music Easy

With Chimers Charts ™ people make music without the need to read music. It removes one of the biggest frustrations in learning and teaching music.  Groups make music together instantaneously, using Chimers Charts ™.

Chimers Charts ™ offers easy-to-read music instructional boards. They use colors and letters, to designate what and when notes should be played for a song. Chimers Charts ™ is the first commercial instructional aide for music to do that. Although initially designed for Music Therapy sessions, many other groups such as music classrooms, retiree/senior groups, youth groups, Bible study classes can take advantage of this great music product.

This product encourages people to have fun playing music together, in a success oriented activity. It removes the frustration of reading music in order to play music.

Mary Scovel
My Location
112 Doncaster Lane
Bluffton SC 29909
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes


Mary Scovel, Inventor and Successful Business Owner

Early in her career as a Professor of Music, Mary Scovel encountered a new challenge, a young boy with Downs Syndrome that changed her life. After meeting that young boy, Mary realized she wanted to teach music to people with special needs.

After receiving her Master’s Degree in Music with an equivalency in Music Therapy, Mary reached that goal. Mary designed Chimers Charts so that anyone can make music easily and have a successful experience. As a result, anyone who wants to play hand chimes and other instruments, but doesn’t read music, can have a successful music experience.

Chimers Charts ™ were designed to meet the learning needs of anyone who can distinguish letters and colors. "Because of SCORE, I am now the proud business owner of Chimers Charts", says Mary.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"I would not have attained this business success, if it were not for the able assistance of Bob Holbrook, my SCORE counselor", says Mary.

"At our first meeting, I described my invention and Bob laid out a detailed plan on how to move forward. Because I was a neophyte, I listened carefully to this man who had years of business experience. He offered sound advice and encouraged me to pursue this project", says Mary.

How SCORE Helped

Mary needed a patent for her invention and Bob worked with her through all of the steps in securing that patent.

"He assured me that when I had a question I could call him anytime, which I did often", says Mary. When Mary found a company, Jeffers Handbell Supply Inc., to manufacture her product and obtained the contract, Bob reviewed it with her. Bob advised Mary about her business options. He also explained the meaning of the business language in the contract.

With his guidance and Mary’s efforts, Chimers Charts made their first sale at the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) conference in November, 2010. "Bob supported me every step through this process and I am deeply grateful to him and to SCORE for the generous service they provide", says Mary.

Bob Holbrook is a volunteer SCORE counselor with Carolina Lowcountry SCORE. Visit www.scorehiltonhead.com to learn about free SCORE business advice for starting or growing a small business.

Clover Gift Shop


“I love it,” was the simple response from Clover Gift Shop owner Patricia Eames to the  question, Why did you want to become a retail shop owner?

With a background in banking and women’s and children’s product merchandising, Patricia was ready to go out on her own when she learned that the Clover Gift Shop - somewhat of an institution, since it had originally opened its door as Wilson’s Gift Shop in 1923 - was for sale. The shop had been purchased in 1982 by Donna Lewis and renamed Clover Gift Shop.

In need of funds for this venture, Patricia approached Chittenden Bank, her former employer, and it was suggested that she contact SCORE for some assistance in evaluating the business and preparing a comprehensive business plan - usually a necessary step in securing a loan.

Patricia was assigned to veteran SCORE counselor Barry Rotman. In addition to helping Patricia prepare the business plan, Barry worked with her in valuing the inventory and in understanding all the nuances of the purchase and sale agreement. “After the purchase was finalized in January 2008, we discussed ways to improve the appearance of the shop including things like a new awning and signage, and better window displays,“ said Barry. “It helps that Patricia works in the shop and is charming and knowledgeable.”

“Working with Barry was a real treat,” said Patricia. “With his extensive retail experience and his experience with SCORE, he was able to lead me down all the right paths to making this venture a success.”

Patricia has added several lines of new merchandise including a beautiful line of quilts and April Cornell linens; the shop has a new logo which pictures a red clover - the Vermont State Flower - and, eventually, customers will be able to make purchases on line. The Christmas Shop at the rear of the store is open year round and, of course, now is the perfect time to visit it.

The new shop hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 5:30; Saturday from 9:00 to 6:00; and Sunday from 11:00 to 5:00.

You can reach Patricia at the shop at 10 Elm Street in Woodstock or you can call her at 802-457-2527 or you can e-mail her at pj@clovergiftshop.com or you can check out her web site at www.clovergiftshop.com.



The Complete Hoot


Filling a Void in the Upper Valley Arts Community

Literally coming from nowhere, The Complete Hoot arrived on the scene last July and already has a circulation of several thousand copies each time it’s published which, for now, is bi-weekly.

The brainchild of Jo and Jerry Evarts, The Complete Hoot - subtitled Arts, Life & Entertainment in the Upper Valley - seeks to present in one very readable format virtually everything you need and want to know about the Upper Valley arts and entertainment scene. And, get this - it’s free.

Someone once said that the best way to be successful in business is to find a need and fill it. Well, the Evarts found the need and knew they had a very good idea on how to fill it, but they also knew that they needed help. They had so many questions and, at that moment, so few answers. How large an area to cover? How often to publish - weekly or bi-weekly? How big should the publication be - both in size and number of pages per issue? Would it be acceptable to the potential readers if the publication was printed in black and white or should it be in color which is much more costly? How much to charge per issue or should it be free and totally supported by advertising? What hardware and software would be needed to interface with an area printer? How do you sell advertising space in a new publication? Is there a need for an actual business location so advertisers and potential employees among others could visit?  In addition to budget, and staffing, and banking considerations among so many others.

Fortunately, Jo and Jerry saw an ad for a SCORE workshop on marketing. Not only did they attend the workshop, but they learned that SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business - provides free one-on-one counseling for start-up business along with counseling for existing businesses that might be experiencing some difficulties. So, they signed up with SCORE and requested assistance from a SCORE counselor. Enter Counselor Susan Davidson.

Working together for weeks on end, Jo, Jerry, and Susan came up with enough answers to enable The Complete Hoot to finally go to press in July 2007.

So here it is, all in one place. Arts calendars and performance schedules, restaurant reviews, book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of all manner of theatrical productions, and editorials on arts-related issues. Virtual one-stop shopping for the Upper Valley arts community from Hanover to Cornish and Woodstock to Meriden. Copies are available in area grocery stores, arts centers, arts venues, visitor centers, bookstores, libraries, restaurants, inns, B &Bs, real estate offices, and upscale retailers.

And, do yourself a favor. Check out The Complete Hoot web site at www.thecompletehoot.com. It’s really a companion piece to the publication, not just a “who are we and how can you reach us” web site. It’s crisp, clean, and very user friendly.



SCORE Mentors Helping Individuals Succeed Agency

As a child, Derschaun Sharpley learned that a little self-confidence can go a long way, especially for inner-city children who often come from broken homes.  Enrolled in Charm School by her mother, Derschaun learned manners, grooming and other fundamental lessons that enhanced her self-esteem and interpersonal skills.  “That experience gave me the confidence to pursue my interests in dance, acting and cosmetology, and earn a bachelor’s degree in health administration,” Derschaun says.

Derschaun Sharpley
My Location
Detroit MI
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

A position with Detroit’s City Schools gave Derschaun the opportunity to develop programs and initiatives that instilled those same important skills in socially challenged youth.  Along with improving attendance and test scores, Derschaun’s programs also sought to provide young people with simple and effective tools that would serve them throughout their lives.

When budget cuts put an end to Derschaun’s school-based programs in 2003, she decided to continue serving Detroit’s young people as a business called Helping Individuals Succeed (H.I.S.) Agency.  Derschaun also knew where to find help getting her new venture off the ground—SCORE.  A search of online mentors on www.score.org led her to begin an email mentoring relationship with Iowa-based SCORE Mentor Ann Tompkins.

Today, H.I.S. Agency offers a variety of popular programs that teach both boys and girls with dining etiquette, personal hygiene and social skills.  Derschaun also works closely with the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Detroit, hosting events such as “Mom and Me Tea Parties.”  She’s also hosted several workshops on “Personal Success” and “Dining Etiquette for Success” for families and local youth agencies. 

Derschaun is proud of H.I.S. Agency’s accomplishments, but she knows there are many more young people who need help coping with the challenges of daily living.  She’s hopeful that sponsors will allow her to further expand collaborations with Detroit’s schools and service agencies, and eventually take H.I.S. Agency’s programs nationwide.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I needed help with everything,” Derschaun says.  “Ann put her heart and soul into helping me, going above and beyond what I expected.”

Ann was particularly helpful in showing Derschaun how to identify and market to her target audiences.  “I initially thought my market were the young people themselves, but Ann convinced me that I should be communicating to their parents, schools and youth service agencies,” she says.  “As I put my message and materials together, she helped with copywriting, proofing, and editing.  I can’t tell you how many emails we exchanged!” 

Derschaun also tapped the expertise of other SCORE mentors for help with financing, budgeting, and developing a consistent and profitable price structure.

“Every SCORE mentor I’ve worked with has been very receptive and willing to help,” she says.  “If they don’t know the answer, they’d recommend someone else who does.”

How SCORE Helped

Whenever Derschaun needs help with a business-related issue, she will reach out to her growing network of SCORE email mentors. “No one should be afraid to do something because they don’t know the answer,” she says.  “All you have to do is contact SCORE.”

Moms Making Money Succeeds With Help From SCORE Mentor

When Vivian Frankel was organizing a conference to help other stay-at-home mothers establish and grow their own home-based businesses in 2004, she made sure that mentor Jerry Earle of Los Angeles SCORE was on the agenda.

Vivian Frankel
My Location
Los Angeles CA
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Vivian’s conference proved highly successful, leading to numerous requests for her to stage similar events in other parts of the country.  Reluctant to be separated from her young son—the very reason she’d organized the conference in the first place—Vivian took her own advice and called on Earle for help in morphing her conference concept into a Web site called Moms Making Money, which would provide specialized counseling on business planning and financial organization, on-line classes, informative podcasts and other resources.  She also envisioned the Web site as the hub of a network of Moms Making Money chapters, where members could talk one-on-one, invite business experts for talks and presentations, and network with other entrepreneurial moms in the local community.

Vivian reports that the Moms Making Money Web site has become a national phenomenon, providing a mix of workshops, consulting resources and confidence that women need to maintain their self-esteem and identity while also tackling the challenging new role of mom.  Regional MMM chapters also have been established from Southern California to Connecticut.

Although Vivian has taken on a partner to help her manage Moms Making Money, she still works with Jerry Earle and SCORE.  Of his many roles in helping her build the business, Vivian considers “cheerleader” as the most important.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Jerry Earle served as a sounding board for Vivian’s ideas for Moms Making Money, helping iron out her business plan and offering advice on various issues.  He also arranged contacts with specialists who could serve as resources for Moms Making Money.  One was a fellow SCORE client, Dr. Dorene Lehavi. She is a business coach and author who has become one of Moms Making Money’s expanding staff of professionals.

“Whenever I had an idea or had a problem, I talked it over with Jerry,” Vivian says.  “He kept me focused, but also made sure I thought everything through.”

 “Without his encouragement, especially through my second pregnancy, I don’t know if I could have continued and grown the business to the level it is today,” she says, adding that SCORE is a valuable resource for anyone starting a business.

How SCORE Helped

“SCORE is such a great resource, and I wanted to ensure that mom’s who were thinking of starting their own business knew about and utilized their services,” Vivian recalls, offering herself as the perfect example.  “This was my first attempt at hosting a conference.  I wanted to discuss it with an experienced professional to make sure I’d thought of everything.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in your idea and think nothing can go wrong,” she says.  “You need to go to someone like a SCORE mentor who’s objective and has seen it all before.  He or she will spot errors or opportunities you might miss, and help you with them.”

Organizations in the Atlanta metropolitan area that can help with mentoring and advice.

Small Business Administration The Atlanta office of the SBA. click here
Small Business Development Center The Georgia network.

Transforming Education in AMerica (T.E.A.M.)

In her 30-year career as a teacher and trainer, Gail Greenbaum discovered that the best way to help kids learn and achieve goals is to present information through clear concepts that they can relate to their daily lives. She also knew that in order to be more engaged in learning, young people needed encouragement to develop better eating, sleeping and exercise habits. The best way to do that, she felt, was for teachers to set the example.  In addition, by drawing analogies of these habits from the stories, teachers could teach more compelling lessons.

Gail Greenbaum
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Gail, who spent most of her profession teaching English at a very high performing school, put her ideas to the test when she spent her final year as a teacher in a low-performing New York City school. Pass rates improved dramatically. “I realized that I had the centerpiece of a training program that could benefit all types of schools, and help re-ignite teachers’ passion by showing them the power of improving their own healthy habits,” Gail says. “Since all of my experience was as a teacher, however, and I knew nothing about marketing or how to create a viable business, I knew I needed help.”

Schools that are using Gail’s training are getting some equally incredible results.  One saw its students’ math scores increase by 31 percent. The school is now applying T.E.AM. to its English classes.

What's Great About My Mentor?

At a friend’s recommendation, Gail contacted New York City SCORE and outlined her training program idea to a volunteer mentor. The mentor immediately realized that Gail’s then-business partner was actually a liability. He recommended an attorney for her to consult. “He left a lasting legacy,” Gail says. ”The lawyer he recommended has become an invaluable advisor.”

Gail has similar praise for her current SCORE mentor, Elliott Merberg.  “He’s simply terrific,” Gail says, noting that one of the first things Merberg recommended was renaming her program “T.E.AM.” for Transforming Education in AMerica. “This defined exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “That clarity made me even more motivated to make this idea work.”

Elliott also worked with Gail as she developed a sales presentation for schools. He accompanied her to the first appointment, and offered some follow-up ideas for improvement. “Within a couple of days, I had sold the program to three schools, which was exactly what I felt I could handle starting out,” Gail says. “The effectiveness of Elliott’s advice and support was incredible.”

Elliott is now helping Gail think about how to expand T.E.AM. from a one-woman effort into a successful business. Among the issues they’re discussing are investing in a dedicated marketer and creating a structure to hire and compensate a team of trainers who can bring the program’s benefits to many schools.

“Elliott is always expanding my awareness, and making me think about the next step,” Gail says.  “I’m very appreciative to him and SCORE for helping me learn how to make this a viable and sustainable business.”

How SCORE Helped

Gail says that the experience of working with SCORE itself is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs of any age. “The outer world is changing so rapidly that young people don’t always realize the value of experience since many basic elements of human nature never change,” she says. “It’s wonderful to have a program like SCORE that honors experienced people.”

Baby Light and Clip Kept on the Right Path With SCORE Mentoring

It just didn’t make sense, thought Laurie Gadbois.  Most experts claimed that the best time for trimming babies’ finger- and toenails is when they are sleeping.  But seeing the nails of her two-year-old son, Tor, she thought the delicate job of clipping was difficult enough in the daylight, let alone a dimly lit room.  She worried about accidentally cutting Tor in the dark, or waking him and facing the difficult ordeal of completing the clipping, then settling him back down.

Laurie soon found many other mothers had the same concerns.  Fitting baby nail clippers with a built-in light seemed like a great idea, yet no such product seemed to exist.

“The answer was simple,” Laurie says.  “Why not do it myself?”

Laurie Gadbois
My Location
Las Vegas NV
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Enlisting the creativity of her father, Laurie went through the process of developing the idea into manufacturable product that Laurie named Baby Light and Clip. Along the way, she learned some difficult lessons about the scruples of potential business partners and the intricacies of readying a product for the market.

Although Laurie’s determination and her family’s limited financial resources kept the concept Baby Light and Clip moving forward, she still lacked a business plan that would guide her product when it became reality.  A chance conversation at a fast food shop led Laurie to Orange County SCORE and volunteer mentor Jim Anderson.

Four years after being inspired to create Baby Light and Clip, Laurie finally completed the arduous product development process.  With the assistance of a Florida-based outsourcing company and a foreign manufacturer, she received a container load of products and began demonstrating the product at various trade shows. 

At Anderson’s suggestion, Laurie also marketed the product directly to retailers to maximize profit.  A public relations agency also has generated valuable publicity for Baby Light and Clip in parenting magazines and on the Internet.

Within 11 weeks after Laurie launched her marketing campaign, Baby Light and Clip could be found in 114 stores nationwide with the promise of more to come, thanks to the sales expertise of Laurie’s husband.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I thought about everything we were trying to do, and generated a business plan for Jim to review,” Laurie says.  “He helped me feel confident that I was on the right path, but said we had to pay closer attention to the financial aspects.”

Anderson created a spreadsheet that Laurie could use to monitor and analyze her company’s financial position.  “I can send him the numbers anytime and make sure I’m still on the right track,” she says.  “And he’s always ready to provide guidance and encouragement.”

“Jim makes sure I’ve considered everything, which is so important because there are many unknowns to starting a small business,” Laurie says.  “He is a true source of strength.”

How SCORE Helped

While the experience of becoming an entrepreneur has been both exhilarating and sometimes frustrating, Laurie confesses to having only one regret.  “I wish I’d known about Jim Anderson and SCORE earlier,” she says.  “It would have made things go so much faster.  Jim could have helped me focus on the right path rather than sometimes being all over the place.”

As Baby Light and Clip grows in step with son Tor, now six years old, Laurie is counting on SCORE to help keep her company on the right path.

Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking. The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding.

Business Plan

Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking.  The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding.  Help in developing a business plan is available from local SCORE mentors, Online mentorsface-to-face workshops and

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