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Grantees 2004-2008

The EILEEN FISHER Women-Owned Business Grant Program is celebrating its tenth year. It was launched in 2004 with a single grant to commemorate the company's twentieth anniversary. Since then, approximately five grants have been awarded annually.

Past Grantees
Launched in 2005, Children's Clinic of Richardson (CCR) is one of the few clinics owned by a pediatric nurse practitioner. Martha Strong is dedicated to providing low-income children in North Texas with all the benefits of a visit to a pediatrician's office, with the added caveat that "we take our time." Her clinic helps families avoid emergency room visits by offering quality, affordable health care.

Goats love poison ivy, noxious weeds and thick brush. Alix Bowman of Durham, North Carolina, created Goat Patrol as an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of chemical herbicides and gasoline powered machinery in the removal of noxious weeds and other unwanted vegetation. Although Alix has recently handed over the reins of her goat powered business, she continues to work as an eco-entrepreneur. See what Alix is up to now at Organic Transit.

Designer Jenny Hwa created Loyale in order "to make the simple act of getting dressed world changing." Her clothing company produces fashion-forward sustainable clothing that is made in the USA. Launched in 2005, Loyale has had the ups and downs that one can expect from a fashion company. It has one constant: "the intention to inspire activism."

Sorry to say that our friends Sara and Maggie Mohs of SimplyNeutral "rode off into the eco-sunset" in December of 2011. We love their energy and remarkable sister-in-law partnership and wish them well, knowing that, even if just for a little while, they helped us to live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle with their natural, nontoxic cleaning products.

Twisted Limb Paperworks was launched in 1998 by Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese in the wooded countryside near Bloomington, Indiana. Sheryl turns handmade, 100 percent recycled paper into mini works of art: invitations, thank-you notes, programs, guest books, business promotional items, school and nonprofit fund-raising and more. Twisted Limb is a pioneer in the green weddings and event movement.

We've known Jessamyn Rodriguez since she was running Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) from her home kitchen. She started HBK to help immigrant and minority women turn baking skills into jobs within the food industries. The company's breads, many of which are inspired by the cultural traditions of its bakers, are widely sold in New York, including a new retail location inside Spanish Harlem's historic La Marqueta. Over the years, Jessamyn has shifted to a nonprofit model. Hot Bread Kitchen actively seeks volunteers and donations to support job training and "HBK Incubates," an innovative program that provides commercial kitchen space and development support for start-up food- related businesses. Meet Jessamyn in our This Working Life video.

It was a good idea: Designer Joanna Notkin created LoooLo Textiles in order to provide organic, biodegradable and chic textiles for the home. Unfortunately her company, based in Montreal, closed when three of her textile suppliers shut their doors during the economic downturn. We've heard that she's now running the catering company, Zoe Ford.

Looking for a beautiful spot on the prairie? Check into The Milkweed Mercantile and stay for the night or stop by for a cup of Peace Coffee at the aptly named Organic Cafe. Owners Alline and Kurt Anderson are co-op members of the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri, and their mission is sustainability. Not only is The Milkweed Mercantile built with straw bales, everything that can be composted is composted. This beautiful, eco-inspired destination is worth a visit.

Holly O'Connor believes in the power of One Good Woman. She's that woman. She began her career in gourmet coffee and tea by delivering out of the back of her jeep. Today, her Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, shop sells eighty different teas, freshly roasted fair trade coffee and gourmet gifts at a very hospitable atmosphere. Holly supports local artisans and lots of other good women.

Lots of people carry reusable coffee mugs. Why not spoons and forks? The paradox struck Stephanie Bernstein when she was eating ice cream with a plastic spoon. She decided to equip busy eco enthusiasts with To-Go Ware. Her company, based in Berkeley, California, sells beautifully designed reusable utensils and food containers that are made with environmentally responsible materials and fair trade practices. To-Go Ware is dedicated to a triple bottom line: people, planet and profits.

From 2005 to 2008, designer Anna Cohen led a successful apparel company that brought sustainability to the forefront of the fashion industry. She has closed that chapter of her life and turned her talented eye to projects such as creating sustainable supply chains for wool fiber, yarn and apparel production within the United States. She is based in the Portland, Oregon area.

Biomimicry seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature's designs and processes (for instance, solar cells that mimic leaves). Janine Benyus, biologist and author of six books, received our grant for a consultancy that is now called Biomimicry 3.8. The name refers to 3.8 billion years of design that stems from nature. Her company has become the global leader in biomimicry innovation consulting. In 2012, Janine won the Design Mind Award from Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. To learn more, try one of her online courses or read her landmark book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (1997).

A stay-at-home mom turned lawyer turned chocolatier, Maria Valente had a vision: create community while preserving the tradition of custom-made chocolate. Chocolations opened near the train station in Mamaroneck, New York, and became a local hub. Maria is dedicated to modeling environmental sustainability and sharing resources with other entrepreneurial women. In September 2010, she moved to a larger space with an open kitchen that lets customers watch the chocolate-making process. She also invited two women-owned businesses, Lola's Tea House and Cake in a Cup NY, to share the space.

"Our inspiration came from seeing great companies giving away bad stuff," says Denise Taschereau. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, her company, Fairware, links brands with sustainably sourced promotional items— organic cotton logo hats, journals with recycled paper, eco totes. In addition to finding products that communicate a brand's values, Fairware specializes in insightful and creative solutions to animate promotional campaigns.

We met Chef HuNia Bradley when she ran HuNia's Divine Soul Kitchen, dedicated to organic, local food that fans called "fabulous and fierce." HuNia is now a caterer and program manager at the Ecology Center's food justice program, Farm Fresh Choice. The program creates partnerships with local farmers that reflect the Bay Area's communities of color, ensuring that fresh, culturally appropriate food is available for purchase at after-school programs.

In 2001, Awilda Velez started AV Financial Consulting Services to help minority and low-income communities in the Bronx. Today, her woman-owned firm helps work-release and the transitional prison population, the financially illiterate and the disabled as well as minority-owned businesses. It also provides entrepreneurial training, small business development and more.

In 2004, Delissa Reynolds thought her Brooklyn neighborhood needed a social hub. She created Bar Sepia to inspire her customers and employees "to join hands in creating a community of support for their Prospect Heights neighborhood." Today it is a cozy, welcoming fixture on Underhill Avenue.

In 2002, Ann DeLaVergne got tired of recycling envelopes and was inspired to create ecoEnvelopes, reusuable mailers designed to be sent and re-sent. Today the envelopes are sustainably manufactured on certified papers from managed forests with up to 100 percent post-consumer waste. The company counts Sprint among its clients, along with brides interested in two-way green wedding invitations.

After listening to a friend who didn't have time to make healthy baby food (and couldn't find good options in the supermarket aisle), Shazi Visram came up with the idea for Happy Family: minimally processed, ready-made organic baby food. Today, Happy Family creates organic products for babies, toddlers, kids and adults using nutritionally rich ingredients, including amaranth, probiotics, coconut milk.

Social worker Wendy Wenzel of Raleigh, North Carolina, created Wellness Supports to maximize the strengths and enhance the lives of individuals and families dealing with mental health issues. Services address school-related problems, anxiety disorders, ADHD, stress and other issues at the office or in clients' homes.

In 2004, our very first business grant of $20,000 was awarded to Armistead Caregiver Services, a Vermont business dedicated to helping seniors and people with disabilities live at home and take part in their communities. The grant committee was very impressed with the passion and confidence of the company's young founder, Rachel Lee Cummings. In 1999, when she was a twenty-two-year-old senior at the University of Vermont, Rachel started the company with two part-time employees. By the time she graduated in June, she had a staff of eight. We have learned that Rachel sold the business in 2011 to take time to raise her young children. She continues to retain a minority stake in Armistead Caregiver Services (the company now operates in three states) and sits on the its board. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this innovative entrepreneur.