Harriman and Central Valley entrepreneurs receive LEAP awards

| 16 Jul 2012 | 02:06

WHITE PLAINS — What do the owners of a dog day care and wellness center, a sweet potato pie company and an online dinner delivery service have in common?

The answer is they are among the 10 recipients of Lanza Enterprise Award Program (LEAP) grants to help women entrepreneurs in the lower Hudson Valley boost their small businesses to the next level.

Five $5,000 and five $4,000 equity awards were presented at the Women’s Enterprise Development Center’s recent annual luncheon at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown.

“The monetary awards and technical assistance ... provide the winners with resources to help them grow their small businesses,” Anne Janiak, executive director of the Women’s Enterprise Development Center, said in the press release announcing the awards. “The recipients have all demonstrated enormous passion, dedication, talent and the nonstop drive that are needed to run successful businesses.”

Local entrepreneurs Two women from Orange County were among the 10 award-winners:

Christine Sinclair, A Bark Above Inc. (Central Valley) - Dog daycare and wellness service.

Sinclair worked for more than 20 years in nursing home administration and health-care consulting. She got her business idea while helping her daughter care for a rescue puppy. In the course of looking into daytime boarding options, she was astonished at the poor conditions and cramped space of most dog day care centers. A Bark Above is a wellness and day care center for dogs designed to promote a dog’s health and longevity in a stress-free and holistic environment. Sinclair is on a mission to make A Bark Above the gold standard for dog care.

She will use her $5,000 LEAP award to design a Web site, develop marketing materials and purchase a therapeutic dog-grooming tub.

Tamara Wrenn, Just Us Women Productions (Harriman) – Women’s wellness consulting firm.

Wrenn has a diverse and varied professional background including non-profit consulting, training au pairs new to the U.S., and teaching Zumba lessons. Her real passion, however, is around all things related to childbirth. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula, as well as a childbirth educator. Just Us Women Productions provides comprehensive educational services to women before, during, and beyond pregnancy, including birth education and doula support. In addition, Wrenn provides technical assistance and training to larger organizations seeking to improve perinatal health care and services, reduce infant mortality, and prevent poor birth outcomes.

She will use her $4,000 LEAP award to provide start-up funding for a Web-based childbirth education series (e-class) to be called “Understanding Your Birth.”

The other entrepreneurs The other award winners included:

Candida Canfield. Dinner in Hand (New Rochelle) – Online dinner delivery service.

Melinda Huff, Mirame (Yorktown Heights) – Swimwear design and manufacturing.

Susanne Leary Shoemaker, Undercare Inc. (Bronxville) - Innovative undergarments.

Marialisa Zywotchenko, Cyrus Contracting Corporation (Yonkers) - Construction and general contracting.

Lea Cullen Boyer, Green Guru Network (Palenville) – Social media Web site/communications.

Kecia Palmer-Cousins, G&K Sweet Foods (Peekskill) - Sweet potato pie food company/manufacturer.

Diana Scott-Sho, The Luscious Little Dessert Company (Yonkers) – Specialty baking company.

Donna Simons, Donna Simons Studio (Pound Ridge) – Commercial art and graphic design.

About the award Since 1997, the nonprofit Women’s Enterprise Development Center Inc. has provided entrepreneurs with the skills, tools and resources they need to start and expand their own businesses, and to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The center offers an array of entrepreneurial training programs and services, including one-on-one counseling, assistance with access to capital, networking events and small business seminars.

The Women’s Enterprise Development Center is the designated women’s business center of the U.S. Small Business Administration for Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley. It is also the New York Empire State Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program Center for Westchester County.

The LEAP program is a collaboration among the Lanza Family Foundation, the Women’s Research and Education Fund and the Women’s Enterprise Development Center.