A new class completes small business training program in Orleans County

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Members of the spring Microenterprise graduation class posed at The Lockstone after sharing their business stories. Seated, from left, are Sarah Ebbs, Pretty Sweet Bakery; Amanda (with Adam Petrie in back), electrostatic sanitizing; Paul Hendel, chairman of the board of Orleans Economic Development Agency; Dorothy Daniels, instructor; Jon Costello, mentor; and Ken DeRoller, Orleans County legislator. In back, from left, are Nickie Poler Girardo, mixologist with Last Call Cocktail Company; Margie Steffen, Studio 11 Hair Salon; Jill Newman, Newhouse Breads Bakery; Andrea Walton, miniature golf, ice cream stand, children’s entertainment venue; Adam Poler; Ayesha Kreutz, Online horse tack sales; Tiffany Smith, 365 Fitness; Laura Kemler, Laura Loxley Vintage Inspired store; John Woodams and his wife Kim, hops farm; and Diane Blanchard, coordinator of the Microenterprise Assistance Program. Absent is graduate Kara Pitcher, who hopes to open a bakery.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 June 2021 at 12:32 pm

ALBION – This spring’s Microenterprise Assistance class graduated some of the most unique budding entrepreneurs since the program began.

The class of 13 brings the number of total graduates to 537, said MAP coordinator Diane Blanchard.

“It never ceases to amaze me the ideas they come up for new businesses,” Blanchard said.

Laura Kemler, who completed the Microenterprise Assistance Program for the second time, displays some of hand-crafted items she sells in her Albion store.

One success story is that of Michelle and Rick Gallo who took the class several years ago, and in their second year in business of used auto parts and towing, they surpassed the million dollar mark. Michelle has returned twice to talk to a graduating class about how the MAP helped them succeed.

Another speaker was Laura Kemler, who started Laura Loxley Vintage Inspired store on Main Street in Albion.

“We set our sights big,” Kemler said to the June graduating class. “We started in the bedroom of our house and have seen substantial growth year after year.”

Laura took the class this spring for the second time, hoping to absorb the information she didn’t get the first time, she said. Laura trained at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and has 33 years of sewing experience. Among her crafts is twisting rope and then shaping it into purses, baskets, place mats and other gift items. Her husband Kevin is involved in the business, doing the financial reports and updating her packaging.

Other graduates and their businesses are Sarah Ebbs, Pretty Sweet Bakery; Ayesha Kreutz, online horse tack sales; Jill Newman, Newhouse Breads Bakery; Adam and Amanda Petrie, electrostatic sanitizing and powerwashing; Nickie Poler Girardo, traveling mixologist, doing business as Last Call Cocktail Company; Tiffany Smith, 365 Fitness; Andrea Walton, who hopes to repurpose her parents’ farm in Medina as an entertainment center; Marjorie Steffen, Studio 11 Hair Salon; John Woodams, hops farm; and Kara Pitcher, bakery.

Sarah Ebbs took the spring class, although she has run Pretty Sweet Bakery at 117 North Liberty Street with her mother since 2019.

“We are known for mom’s sweet rolls and my sugar cookies,” Ebbs said.

She hopes taking the class will help her in her quest to borrow $15,000 for new equipment.

“Business kicked off big last year, even with Covid,” Ebbs said. “We offer everything from personalized cakes for birthdays, showers and weddings and we do cookie trays for all occasions, including cutouts, cinnamon rolls and scones, and so much more.”

Ayesha Kreutz decided on a business selling horse tack because she loves horses.

“I grew up around horses and was on a horse before I could walk,” she said. “I put myself through college training horses and teaching people how to ride.”

She sells tack, saddles and bits new, used and on consignment.

Jill Newman’s Newhouse Breads Bakery caters to the vegan market, offering options for healthier foods. She sells her goods at the Medina Farmer’s Market and Lynoaken Farms.

Tiffany Smith shared her plans for a fitness business, called 365 Fitness.

Marjorie Steffen has operated Studio 11 Hair Salon at 11 East Bank St. for 22 years. She has been a hairdresser for 30 years and hopes the Microenterprise program can help her update her equipment. She runs an all-around salon for all ages, offering tanning, waxing and nails.

One other participant in the Microenterprise program was Kerri Glover, who took the course online. She and her husband Cole run Maison Albion, (formerly the Pillars), a wedding and events venue on County House Road, Albion.

Food for the Microenterprise class was provided by yet another graduate of the program, Rebecca Alexander, who runs Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza and food truck. She graduated from the June 2019 class.

Seated at the head table during the Microenterprise graduation are, from left, retired mentor Sam Campanella; MAP coordinator Diane Blanchard; and instructor Dorothy Daniels.