Bold Spoon Creamery
Bold Spoon Creamery is a small-batch, premium ice cream producer nestled on our farm in Park Hills, Missouri. We craft unique seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Chai alongside perennial favorites like Goat Cheese & Fig, using many fruits and herbs grown on our land. Our success wouldn't be possible without our commitment to local sourcing. We prioritize sourcing ingredients from regional farmers to bolster local business and contribute to regional economic well-being. As our production expands, so will the demand for local ingredients, directly benefiting regional farmers.

Our story is a testament to perseverance with beginning operations in May of 2020, in St. Louis, Missouri, during the beginning of the pandemic. We initially aimed to sell wholesale primarily to restaurants; however, with the pandemic shutting down the hospitality industry, we pivoted. We launched an online store, delivered samples to neighbors, securing our first online order on May 2nd, 2020. Within a few months, we were selling at farmers' markets, then a few stores. Now, you can find our pints in 90+ stores throughout Missouri and Illinois, and retail locations within two professional sports stadiums in St. Louis, CITYPark and Enterprise Center, and we are contracting with America's Center in St. Louis, home of an XFL team and large conferences.

The current inflationary economic environment is challenging, with increased input and overhead costs. To combat increased costs, we’ve enhanced processes to reduce production time, resulting in reduced cost of goods sold. Our team produces more than before in the same timeframe. The seasonality of ice cream consumption is also challenging. To combat seasonality (slower in winter), I began engagements with food service management companies that oversee university and hospital dining programs; which do not have a seasonal headwind. In January, we began selling ice cream in on-campus markets at a local university and in the cafeteria of a local hospital system.

Our commitment extends to actively contribute to community enhancement in St. Francois County, the home of our production facility, since moving production to our farm in May of 2021. St. Francois County is a distressed community, as measured by the Economic Innovation Group, suffering from a high unemployment and poverty rate. We aspire to uplift our community through job creation. As production expands, we expect to add five part-time production jobs in the next 18-months.

We believe in fostering a love for learning and welcome students from our region to our farm. Our field trips expose elementary and middle schoolers to the science and math behind ice cream making, while high school students gain insights into small business fundamentals. For many urban students, this is their first encounter with agriculture, showcasing the link between farming and production.

Bold Spoon is a testament to community spirit, economic empowerment, and creating a space for learning. An infusion of capital from the Barclays Small Business Big Wins Contest will fuel our mission, allowing us to create jobs, support local agriculture, and uplift the economic landscape in our region.
Clarity Counseling Consultation and Wellness, LLC
I used to be a scared little girl in the 4th grade. So much so that I was about to be held back and my mother had to come to school with me and sit in the classroom so I would not fail. I struggled with severe separation anxiety and depression. I turned my pain into POWER and now I am a mental health counselor. I have become who I needed when I was little. I am no longer scared...I am empowered and work to empower others.
I opened Clarity El Paso in October 2019 right before the March 2020 COVID Shutdowns, so I closed my physical location and pivoted the entirety of my counseling services online and have served hundreds of people since then. After starting my practice, I felt liberated to use unique and novel means to spread mental health awareness. Now, with inflation and this economy, creativity and pivoting is still part of my formula for staying open and serving my community. Therapy groups, social emotional education, and training spread more mental health awareness and give me more creative freedom than trading dollars for one-hour services. Therapy is important, but mental health events give me and my community more bang for the buck. Even more importantly, teaching people how to release trauma from their bodies on social media, to playing therapeutic Candyland on YouTube, sharing Spotify self-care playlists, and interviewing counselors about their own mental health on my podcast all play a role in breaking the stigma in my Borderland community surrounding mental health. I also designed t-shirts spreading the message that "therapy is cool" because I want people everywhere to know that there is nothing wrong with seeking help when you need it!
Because of the low socioeconomic status of El Paso residents, most people in my area lack access to quality mental healthcare, adding to the stigma of mental health. Hosting low-cost groups and granting access to free online resources helps bridge gaps in my area to those who want to get started on their mental health journey. In this economy, free and low-cost services go a long way!
As a mental health counselor, trainer, speaker, and advocate with a personal lived experience with mental illness I work to reduce stigma and spread awareness about culturally sensitive practices with my quirky and candid approach. I want to make high quality mental health counseling and education financially accessible for people in my community. Now that the economy is adding extra emotional stress to my community, mental healthcare access is more important than ever. People can be driven to mental health crises because of economic circumstances, and in my provision of free/low-cost care, these crises can be prevented and managed.
El Paso is Spanish for "the Pass" and I hope I "PASS" your test of resilience, passion, and creativity for this grant. Thank you for your consideration.
Fort Worth Fit Body Boot Camp
Fort Worth Fit Body is a superhero factory disguised as a small group personal training facility. Our 30 minute workouts have enabled over 300 clients to lose over 4000 pounds, an incredibly important achievement in a county where 66% of adults are overweight or obese. But that’s our cover story. In reality, we build everyday superheroes and provide a place for them to care for themselves and others. Our annual Burpee-A-Thon has raised over $15,000 for a local cancer nonprofit. Last Christmas, we helped a client and single mother put gifts under what would’ve otherwise been a bare tree. Last month we raised $3100 and scheduled meal deliveries for a coach who needed emergency surgery. When a young coach’s apartment was destroyed in a fire, we raised over $6000 and coordinated furniture donations. From donating 400 pairs of shoes to inner city youth to gathering over 11,000 canned goods for our food bank, our superheroes continuously flex their goodwill muscles for the community and each other.

Recent years have brought unprecedented pressure. 2023 saw our lowest membership growth in ten years. The cost of living crisis is forcing clients to choose between paying for groceries and their membership. Memberships on hold have increased by 20%. With revenue decreasing, there were weeks I wasn’t sure I’d make payroll, and many times I’ve gone without a paycheck.
Clients are dealing with more stress, anxiety, and financial pressure, demanding a different skill set from our coaches. And though we pay staff over three times the minimum wage, hiring and retaining quality staff has been a challenge.

As a small business owner living with Multiple Sclerosis, I can dig deep in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. To keep this pillar of the community open and active, I invested in significant personal development coaching for each coach and increased pay. Role play activities, empathy exercises, and courageous conversation training has replaced our standard workplace training. Planning and leading a team retreat allowed us to bond, get real on problem areas, and reinvigorate our passion for building superheroes. Prioritizing staff’s physical and mental health with sound baths, alcohol free happy hours, and massages has improved morale. For growth, we’ve changed our numbers-focused approach to a relationship-focused one. We prioritize developing meaningful connections with clients, going beyond “how was work today,” to things like, “how is your husband recovering from his appendectomy?” Every client is known by name. We’ve shifted a large portion of our marketing to the second and third degree connections of our current clients. Friends and family events, for example, build membership and community. And while we still celebrate clients’ weight loss, we’ve increased our focus on life’s other celebrations that come from a continuous fitness routine: marathon finishes, pain-free hiking with the grandkids, and the ability to get off medications.

The pressures from the economy have been immense. But immense pressure, under the right conditions, creates diamonds. With creativity, perseverance, and grit, this superhero factory continues to shine.
Aille Design
What first started as my final University research project has since evolved organically into the internationally recognized and award-winning braille fashion brand, Aille Design (pronounced: eye). I went from sewing one bead at a time in my dorm room to being a clue on Celebrity Jeopardy and having my designs worn on stage by Andrea Bocelli.

My company Aille Design works with the blind and visually impaired community to create fashion-forward clothing and accessories that feature fully legible braille in the form of beadwork. The braille on the items ranges from physical descriptions to empowering statements and is designed so that the braille is the focal point of each piece. The designs are functional for braille readers, but so beautiful that they can be loved and worn by anyone. Ultimately, they allow you to literally wear your values on your sleeve and promote conversation about the importance of accessibility. Each piece is co-designed with the community and a percentage of profits are donated to local visually impaired organizations.
When I first had the idea for braille fashion, many of my fellow fashion peers made comments like “Well if you’re blind, why would you care what you look like?”, but those misconceptions could not be further from the truth. I left a good paying full-time job in order to pursue my dreams and bootstrap Aille Design. I knew what we were building could have a huge impact on disability inclusion and awareness and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. Now, we are creating a completely new segment in the fashion industry, have increased revenue by 300% in the last year, and are on track to be the leading supplier of braille merchandise in North America.

Growing our business in the aftermath of Covid-19 and navigating the current economic situation has been challenging, but we have adjusted and persevered by focusing on our clients’ needs over everything else. With rising inflation and tightening consumer spending, we are prioritizing the creation of closet staples that will stay relevant regardless of current fashion trends. We believe that fast fashion is detrimental to the environment and leads to unnecessary consumer spending. By creating high-quality timeless pieces, we have managed to grow Aille Design despite the economic downturn. These decisions reaffirm our commitment to sustainable fashion practices and provide customers with a trustworthy product that speaks to their values.

It has been incredible to see the impact that Aille Design has had on the disability community and the inclusive fashion industry. Just a few years ago people questioned why inclusive fashion was important. Now, major brands and organizations are reaching out to us as experts on the topic and looking to collaborate with our brand. In recent months we have sold branded braille merchandise to Amazon, Wendy’s, and the NBA-G League to help promote their accessibility initiatives and DEI values. Aille Design was even named by Newsweek as “The Braille Clothing Brand Changing the Fashion Game.”
The Cloud Law Firm PLLC
In 2021, I quit my job and moved to New York City to follow a dream I'd had since I was 17 years old - to start my own law firm. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, including watching my mother run her own beauty salon for over 20 years. I watched my mother go through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship – some of the downs were attributed to a lack of resources and support.

When I decided to go to law school, I knew that I wanted to work with entrepreneurs because I understood how much information and resources are lacking for them. I learned this even more when I worked at the U.S. Small Business Administration and helped with relief for small business owners during the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In 2022, I started The Cloud Law Firm to support and empower small business owners by ensuring they have the legal foundation necessary to run and sustain a successful business. Starting a business in one of the most competitive and expensive cities in the country during a global pandemic was risky, but I was committed to the dream I had when I was just a teenager.

Most people think all lawyers are rich, but since I work with small business owners, if they aren’t making money, one of the last people they are going to want to pay is their lawyer. With the turn of the economy, I began to second-guess whether I had made the right decision in quitting my cushy job and starting my own business to help entrepreneurs.

Instead of quitting and looking for a job, I decided to host a free legal pop-up clinic for entrepreneurs in my local community to assist struggling entrepreneurs who were in need of support with their businesses. I also hosted numerous free and low-cost webinars to empower entrepreneurs with the information they need to build sustainable businesses and brands that will build generational wealth for them and their families.

With every clinic, webinar, panel, and consultation I participated in, I would see light bulbs go on as the entrepreneurs started to connect the dots on how they could ensure the success of their business through the tools and information I shared. Witnessing this let me know that I was on the right path and had to persevere even though I was struggling to pay my own bills.

I also started offering services on payment plans and now offer financing. This allows my clients the flexibility they need to secure their business and their brand on terms that fit their specific situation.

As an entrepreneur, myself, I have a better understanding of the struggles and triumphs that my clients face and I can relate to them on a level that I hadn’t been able to before. Seeing my clients’ success and knowing that I had a small role to play in their success is what keeps me going no matter what obstacle I face.
Mural City Cellars
Mural City Cellars (MCC) is Philadelphia's first female and Latinx owned urban winery, founded by myself, Francesca Galarus, and my partner Nicholas Ducos. We make minimal intervention wines with grapes sourced from within a 300-mile radius of Philadelphia. Our wines focus on lesser-known hybrid varietals that showcase the wonderful grapes the East Coast has to offer.Nicholas and I made our first wines in the Fall of 2019 in my mom’s garage. With our first vintage bottled, we signed a lease on a small production space meant to be ready mid 2020. When the pandemic hit, construction stopped, and we both lost our jobs. With the extra time on our hands and wine already in production, we committed to working full-time on getting MCC off the ground. We opened our doors for retail in January 2021 to an incredible reception and a line around the block.In a city like Philadelphia that is packed with breweries, bars, and other great places to enjoy locally made beverages, MCC has had to go above and beyond to attract guests and create an inviting place to enjoy our wine. A great example of accomplishing this is the seasonal Wine Garden that MCC ran for the last two summers. In 2022, while still a small and growing business, we were given the opportunity to work with a local non-profit and activate an empty lot two blocks away from our production facility. The lot was bare bones with no infrastructure. Through lots of sweat equity–long days in the garden with our small team cleaning the place, landscaping, and working with our partners to restore a 1940’s trolley car into a functioning bar–we were able to transform the garden into a bustling, family-friendly oasis for neighbors to gather and enjoy our wine and other PA-made beverages.Operating for two seasons, we successfully partnered with local musicians, food vendors, arts and craft markets to elevate our guest’s experience at our wine garden as well as give visibility to other small businesses in our neighborhood. We also worked with non-profit partners to bring community events to the space such as family movie nights, kid's crafts, and sing-a-longs. Finally, a portion of wine sales from the garden were donated straight back into neighborhood initiatives. To date we’ve given over $15,000 to the East Kensington Neighbors Association, Fishtown Neighbors Association, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and The Mural Arts Project.MCC’s summer wine gardens have been a huge success and allowed us to reach new customers and increase revenues. We created ten new seasonal jobs in the neighborhood that started at $20 per hour pay, as well as sustained three full-time salaries. Our perseverance to run these pop-ups has paved the way for MCC to expand and open a new permanent location in our neighborhood. We could not be more excited to draw on our experiences and connections with other local small businesses to ensure our new space continues to be welcoming and inviting to our neighbors.
Tempura Takeover
Tempura Takeover is an asian-fusion food truck. We specialize in Korean and Japanese inspired street food. We are known for our top tier service, unique creations and bold flavors.

I started Tempura Takeover in a 10x10 pop up tent in 2018 after resigning from LifeLock as an alerts analyst. No help, no loans, no capital, nothing but my vision and a 9-5 paycheck. Eager to pursue my passion for cooking, I decided to go ALL IN and bet on myself. After doing my homework; I purchased everything needed (piece by piece) and the rest was history. Now I am on a mission to build an empire that demonstrates love, purpose, passion and strong community.

My very FIRST service to the public was at the PHX NIGHT MARKET with over 9K ppl in attendance. That was a make or break moment for me - but at the end of that 2 day event, I knew I was built for this. I also became a food vendor at the FARMERS MARKET for a few seasons. Shortly thereafter, I moved into a kitchen stall inside a Mobil gas station where I operated for 10 months - then COVID happened (lockdown etc…) caught me and the rest of the world off guard but, I am thankful for that time of uncertainty because I found new strength that taught me the art of pivoting. I learned to put my pride aside and pick my chin up. Once the local and government restrictions were lifted, I lost access to the kitchen because the owner sold the gas station. It felt like storm after storm. I had to start over, back serving out the tent, despite the 110 degree temps in AZ , I refuse to quit. My customers need me but I need them more! Their continuous support and amazing energy is what keeps me going.

These past few years, I’ve learned so much about myself and how to overcome the different obstacles that come with being a business owner. I consider myself a perpetual student of life, always seeking to learn and grow. Every experience, success, and failure serves as a valuable lesson that pushes me forward. So far, the journey has been incredible. From the tent, to gas station, to now, a FOOD TRAILER!

Tempura Takeover is helping high school students through sponsorship with school supplies and meals. We also help raise awareness for charities that focus on the ill and less-fortunate. When we donate our time and food, we are contributing to the solution with a goal to see those in need thrive. In 2022 we served over 250 sample dishes for the JoyBus foundation, a non-profit organization that provides chef-inspired meals to home-bound cancer patients. Our community involvement had made a positive impact for change and growth.

My business is a reflection of my heart and soul. I will always give it my all from start to finish. Safe to say, Tempura Takeover is here to stay.
The Rush Espresso
The Rush Espresso opened in 1998. I was a small girl and my grandmother took a big risk by quitting her 8-5 secretarial job and putting a drive through espresso in a rural Montana town. I’m a third generation family business owner and my passion for the business started years ago. I would wake up early so I could go help at the Rush Espresso before school and when I was old enough I worked there after school and on the weekends. I left for college and finished my degree but when my grandma became sick it was time for me to return.
I’ve been managing The Rush for ten years now and while it’s been challenging, it’s also been a blessing. We outgrew our first little 10x10 building and built a larger building with running water. The larger building allows us to serve more customers efficiently and we use the old building for storage. We continue to adapt with the times, we purchased a mobile coffee truck that we use at a variety of local events such as high school track meets to summer car shows. We do coffee deliveries to other small town businesses and work together with other businesses to bring new things to our community. Recently, we worked together with a new floral business to create unique Valentine’s gifts. We want to keep growing. We want to do more. We want people rushing to The Rush. We currently serve around 150 cars a day, and many of those people we have been seeing for years. In a small community, we’re one of a few businesses you can go to get a special treat.
The Rush currently employs around 12 team members, many who are high schoolers and learning from their first job. We are consistently able to give back to our community, mainly focusing on health, education and suicide prevention. Not only are we able to give back financially but also in the form of volunteering with local organizations. In my opinion, we are a staple to our community of Sidney, MT. I have so many progressive ideas for The Rush Espresso and being awarded a prize for makes those ideas reality.
Brewability Lab, LLC DBA Brewability
Brewability is a unique restaurant specifically created to help individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) obtain meaningful employment. Brewability was started by a former special education teacher who saw the immense need for meaningful jobs for the I/DD community. Brewability employees with disabilities assist in every aspect of the business – from dishwashers, chefs and food servers to bartenders.
Brewability’s goal is to show the world that people with I/DD are valuable employees that are capable of more than just bagging groceries or being employed in custodial roles.
Brewability does not only employ adults with disabilities but is a safe haven for the I/DD community. We ensure our space is accessible for anyone using a wheelchair or any other mobility devices. We also offer accessible silverware to help the I/DD and aging communities. We have everything from dining scarves to protect the diner’s clothes while eating to weighted silverware that assist individuals with tremors from neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease.
We ensure our space is sensory friendly by playing our music at a lower volume and providing headphones and fidgets for individuals with autism or other sensory issues that may feel overwhelmed by a typical restaurant environment. Many families who have children with I/DD are only able to dine out at Brewability due to the unique accommodations we have in place for our guests. We are immensely proud to be a safe haven for everyone – whether they walk or roll through our doors.
We envision a world where everyone in our community thrives. We donate a percentage of our sales to over 100 non-profit organizations. They include disability nonprofits such as Chelsea Hutchison Foundation that helps to get life saving seizure detection devices to people with Epilepsy to the Maddie Wright Foundation, educating youth on the dangers of Fentanyl and providing Narcan training to help stop the epidemic of teens and young adults dying from Fentanyl overdose.
We have seen a decrease in sales by 62.5% compared to this time last year due to the changing economy. We have adjusted by making sure there are affordable options on our food and beverage menu, including slices of pizza and half pints of beer. Our daily events are unique compared to other restaurants and bring in a wider and diverse customer base. We host events such as Opera on Tap, a group of classically trained Opera Singers who perform in spaces outside the opera house so everyone can enjoy the music. Other events include stand up comedy, karaoke, wrestling, trivia nights, Bingo and a wide variety of musicians and styles. Brewability is more than just a restaurant, it is a community where everyone belongs. When you come into Brewability you are not only going to enjoy great beer and pizza but are joining a family!
Diversability LLC
I started Diversability in 2009 as Georgetown University's first-ever disability student club. At the age of 9, I became disabled in a car accident that also took the life of my dad. In 2015, I re-launched and incorporated Diversability as a business, hosting disability events in New York City. We grew to hosting events in other cities, including Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Montgomery, AL; and Portland, OR. When the pandemic hit, we could no longer host in-person events so we turned all of our programming to virtual and focused on building a digital-first community. What we realized was that we were now reaching disabled people in hard-to-reach cities who were also looking for community but did not have the in-person infrastructure to connect with others. Our community grew four-fold and our ecosystem is now over 80,000. We also launched a membership community focused on disability leadership and helping disabled people get paid. We are also hosting virtual events almost every week focused on creating a stage for disability thought leadership, authentic connections, and personal and professional development. To date, through our initiatives, we have been able to reinvest over $300,000 back into the disability community. We are on a mission to elevate disability pride, build disability power, and advance disability leadership. Our team has also always been entirely run and led by disabled people (we were a team of 10 at our largest point) because we know that disability employment works. As a disabled woman of color, I have had to learn how to be adaptable and flexible in a world that wasn't built for people like me. Disabled people are some of the most creative and innovative people out there because we've had to be. That means we know how to adjust with changes in the economy and make the most of the situations that we are in. Our business is focused on helping disabled people become proud of their disability identity. We call this the "self-actualization" of the disability experience. We are a cross-disability community, meaning that our focus is on creating visibility, acceptance, and empowerment for apparent and non-apparent disabilities. And when you have more people embracing their disabilities, it means that more of us can get the support that we need. Over the past couple of years, we released a report on how brands can better engage with the disability community and even advised on a Campbell's commercial featuring an autistic character. We believe that more authentic disability representation, and building an accessibility-first world, will make things better for everyone.