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Laguardia Students Get $$$ to Grow Business

Grant Challenge Winners In L.I.C.

LaGuardia Community College student Nadira El Khang is one step closer to realizing her dream of opening a store featuring her unique and fashionable handmade leather bags after she recently competed to win the top prize in the spring semester Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge.

Shown from left to right at the Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge are Karel Powery, last year’s top prize winner; Natalia Arguello, NYDesigns director; Nadira El Khang, this year’s top prize winner; and Colleen Taylor, Queens Market President, Capital One Bank.

El Khang will receive business counsel from Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge.

The student of the Long Island City campus was among seven who participated in the 10-week entrepreneurial training program that includes business workshops and a mentoring from Capital One Small Business Bankers in partnership with La- Guardia Community College’s Small Business Development Center and NYDesigns, an incubator for design businesses ranging from fashion to architecture.

During her pitch to a panel of judges, El Khang-an international accounting major who grew up fixing vintage leather bags in her father’s store in Marrakesh, Morocco-explained her goal: to open a store where her customers will be able to customize their bags with different kinds of leather and hardware. She also demonstrated market demand and initial success through a virtual storefront she manages through the online merchant Etsy.

El Khang plans to put her $1,000 Capital One grant toward the purchase of leather and hardware as well as a camera that will enable her to take photos of her products.

“Before, I had many ideas about my business, but I was fighting bat- tles trying to make them happen,” she said. “The Capital One Entrepreneurship Program put me on the right track. It made everything very simple and clear, and I was able to take the steps needed to start my business.”

The other six students received seed funding based on the strength of the business plans, including:

– Ciara Scott Samuel, a theater and communications major, received second place and $750. Her company Hypo Jewelry, features jewelry for people who have sensitive skin or medical skin conditions and still want to be fashionable, trendy accessories at an affordable price.

– Cynthia Joseph-Longshamps, who is pursing an associate’s degree in business administration, shared the second prize with Samuel and also received $750. She plans to grow her budding graphic design business, C&G Creaksyon, which serves businesses and individuals in the Haitian community across the five boroughs.

– Jack McDaniel, a LaGuardia graduate, was awarded $500 in seed funding to launch Jack McDaniel Photography, a portrait and landscape photography service.

– Camila Shakhida Shamirzaeva, an ESL student, received a $500 grant to expand her own fashion label, MONICL. The label offers chic, high quality professional attire and accessories for young men and women.

– Dan Campbell, a liberal arts: mathematics and science major, was awarded $500 in seed funding as well. Campbell leveraged her background in information technology to establish TDC Tech for Local Businesses, which provides outsourced IT services to local small businesses and non-profit organizations.

– Olivie Ponce, an ESL student, also received $500 to foster his business concept. As an abstract artist, he is preparing to launch Pintura, a line of unisex bags that are designed to bridge the gap between fine art and fashion.

The Capital One Bank Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge has taken place annually since 2008 and became a bi-annual event in 2012. Previous winners and participants of the challenge have gone on to fully launch their business concepts. The 2011 challenge winner, Karel Powery, launched her web-based footwear retail business, ShoeLife.com this year.

The 10-week business workshops and mentoring sessions are jointly facilitated by SBDC advisors, Capital One Small Business Bankers and Resident Designers at NYDesigns. The sessions introduce students to business plan writing, as well as fundamentals business financial and accounting skills. Additionally, the students had access to a shared studio office and the NYDesigns community and events.

The partnership between Capital One, LaGuardia’s NYDesigns and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was established in 2008. During the training, the students attend business workshops and mentoring sessions facilitated by SBDC advisors, Capital One Small Business Bankers and Resident Designers at NYDesigns. The sessions introduced students to business plan writing, as well as business financials and accounting. The students also had access to a shared studio office and the NYDesigns community and events.

“The exposure to professionals in the industry encourages our students to dream bigger,” said NYDesigns Director Natalia Arguello. “Each student received financial assistance according to where they are in the business planning process.”

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