Yesterday, we kicked off a blog series highlighting the first set of our 15 SHINE Awards finalists. Today, we’re showcasing the three finalists in the Minority or Woman-Owned Business category and the three finalists in the Young Entrepreneur category.
Both categories represent some incredibly inspiring stories—from the entrepreneur who quit a comfortable day job to fulfill a dream, to the single mom who scrapped together $250 to launch a business to the college volleyball player who launched an eBay business from her dorm to a son who took over—and then transformed—his father’s auto repair shop. The ambition of these entrepreneurs is boundless, and they are just getting started. We hope their stories inspire you as much as they inspired us.
Remember, you can vote for any finalist that inspires you once a day until July 14.
Minority or Woman-Owned Business
Samuel Lu | New Green Nutrition
Shortly after Samuel’s family emigrated from China to the U.S., his father passed, leaving him and his mother to carve out a living. Faced with these circumstances, his mom was forced to defer her dream of opening her own shop. Years later, her dream came true, and Samuel worked alongside his mother in her Queens NY shop, absorbing the value of hard work and developing his entrepreneurial savvy. After a successful corporate career, Samuel took the plunge and opened his own business, New Green Nutrition. Today, his e-commerce business is thriving, based on a commitment to helping customers achieve health goals and delivering top-notch customer service.
Melissa Crook | Sticky Fingers Vinyl
Faced with the need to support three children after a divorce, Melissa took $250 and placed a bet on herself: she launched a vinyl decal business out of her home. The business grew, but the competition was growing too. Then, the unexpected. Melissa’s best friend passed suddenly, leaving a young daughter. Melissa adopted her to raise as her own and the family grew to four kids. Faced with more responsibility, she vowed to build her business to become THE supplier in her category. She scraped up money, rented a small wooden shed in her backyard and began building a new product line. Hard work pays off! Melissa now owns an 11,000+ sq. foot warehouse with six employees, fulfilling over 300 orders per day. The name Sticky Fingers originated because vinyl is sticky, obviously, and Melissa’s last name is Crook. Ha!
Angie Cardona-Nelson | eWaste Direct
Coming to the U.S. via an international Au Pair Program from Colombia, Angie had a passion for learning English and absorbing the entrepreneurial spirit for developing her own American Dream. While being an au pair, she met and married her husband. As newlyweds, they attended an auction with the hopes to furnish their new home. They didn’t know it then, but that auction would change their life. They ended up with almost 80% of an entire company’s assets, which mainly consisted of electronics. On Earth Day in April 2008, with virtually no experience, Angie and her husband started an electronics recycling company out of their garage. Originally they parted out the electronics for commodities, but then turned to a B2B business model to maximize revenue. eWaste Direct now sells IT and electronic equipment that has been retired or discarded from companies, schools and some government agencies. The future is bright for eWaste Direct, with a growing staff of ten and new international markets to enter.
Ciara Brown | The Diamond Hanger
Ciara Brown was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug from a young age, selling dollar-store erasers and slinkies to the neighborhood kids from her garage. In college, Ciara turned to eBay to bring in extra income to supplement her volleyball scholarship. Her first listing sold in one day and immediately she was hooked. She listed 40 items the next day, and a business was born. And it grew and grew. Ciara went from keeping inventory in a tiny college bedroom, to renting her mother's extra bedroom, to her garage parking spot and finally two 300 sq. ft. storage units. She built the business from scratch, first working by herself, then hiring a first employee, and eventually a bookkeeper and CPA. And the business just keeps on growing: Ciara recently signed a lease on her first 1,000 square foot warehouse.
Nicolaus Wolfrum | Jim's Automotive Machine Shop, Inc.
Shortly after starting college, Nicolaus realized he needed to bring in an income to support himself in college. He began to work in his father’s shop, Jim’s Automotive Machine Shop, Inc. in Gill, Colorado, while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. The shop does industrial and agricultural engine remanufacturing and offers complete engine machine shop services. Seeing an opportunity for a new revenue stream, Nicolaus began selling surplus engine parts from his dad’s shop on eBay. In 2015, Nicolaus signed up for an eBay Basic Store Subscription, and began listing new, used, and remanufactured engine parts one by one. Today, Nicolaus manages nearly all of the eBay operations, from creating listings, to shipping items and answering customer questions. His eBay business has allowed him to pursue that Mechanical Engineering degree with some pocket cash and help build the family business alongside his father.
Zachary Gosciminski | Creepy Twist Productions
Nobody loves Halloween as much as Zachary Gosciminski. He likes to say he manufactures “nightmares,” focusing on Halloween props and accessories. A true “solo-preneur”, Zach works by himself and does everything: “There are days I'm painting cut-off hands all day and days I'm thumbing through piled up paperwork and answering the phone.” While the business has a busy season, July to October, supplying “creepy” accessories to Comicons, conventions and stage productions, Zach has built a year-round following and global audience through eBay’s Global Shipping Program. Zach is deeply grateful for the opportunity eBay enables. He says, “I am truly fortunate to be able to enjoy what I do and be able to support myself while doing it.”
Inspired yet? We are! Read each SHINE finalist’s full story by going to ebay.com/shineawards – and don’t forget to vote for the ones that inspired you most in each category once per day through July 14. Be sure to check back tomorrow to learn more about our finalists in the Charitable Business category.
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