October 26, 2020

Pair of women-owned Fairfield County firms cited by CT Small Business Development Center

A pair of women-owned Fairfield County businesses are among those being cited as “Success Stories” by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) during the Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week, which runs through Sept. 26.

Ava-Marie Sealey, owner of Bethel’s Ava Party Designs.

According to the CTSBDC, nearly 50% of Connecticut’s private sector workers are either owners or employees of a small business; 99% of the state’s businesses are considered a small business, with 500 employees or less.

Ava-Marie Sealey, owner of Bethel’s Ava Party Designs, was cited for turning to CTSBDC for market research and other support to grow her 5-year-old business.

“While I am bubbly, and confident in myself, being confident in my business, positioning my business and selling were quite intimidating,” she said. “Now I feel I am a true boss, now I can take control of the entire client experience.”

“As a small-business owner you need to tap into multiple areas of business expertise – product development, business development, as well as operational and financial management,” said Nelson Merchan, the CTSBDC adviser who worked with Sealey. “Our goal often is to get the business started and keep it on track, connecting the owner to resources needed as the business develops.”

Marchan recently worked with Sealey to obtain a $40,000 line of credit to help her expand her business.

In addition, HAYVN, a flexible office workspace based in Darien, was recognized for growing its capital base and adding four employees.

“As an owner of a business with 16 subcontractors based remotely, HAYVN was everything I wanted as a working woman,” said owner Felicia Rubinstein, who had previously launched a marketing firm. “A resource and collaboration space like this just did not exist.”

CTSBDC Business Adviser Christine Sullivan “knew where to look for what I needed, allowing me to focus on running and expanding my business,” including raising capital, Rubinstein said.

HAYVN raised funds through an SBA loan as well as through IFundWomen.com, a crowdfunding source of capital for women entrepreneurs. The capital allowed Rubinstein to hire four staff members and build out the coworking space to meet the creative and collaboration needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Based in East Hartford, the CTSBDC is available, free of charge, to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs looking for initial start-up assistance and business plan development, to the experienced business owner looking to pivot their business, expand their customer base or access the capital they need to grow their business.

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