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Shop local and support these Miami small business winners

10 winners of the Miami Small Business Bootcamp will be showcased at the Holiday Village at the Underline. , Let’s meet them.

Running a small business is not something you can learn a set of skills for and you’re done. It’s an always-be-learning process and that’s why resources like the Florida SBDC at FIU, Startup FIU, Miami Bayside Foundation, Prospera and other organizations are valuable; they provide ongoing training and consulting services that are tailored to your challenges . And sometimes, it is well worth your time to take advantage of an intense program, which can provide you with a refresh for your skills.

Just ask business owner Shelley Patterson about that. She has been working with a consultant at Florida SBDC at FIU, but her consultant recommended a recent bootcamp. Although Shelley has been helping to run a small business for more than a decade, this year she took full ownership of the company. Her small business, now called Bikes for Every Body LLC, sells The Buddy Bike, a tandem bicycle built to accommodate a rider with special needs, and plans to expand with more  accessible bikes and also rentals. “It’s all me now.”

It’s been a challenging year for her business. “Covid was a surprise – I thought I’m done,” she said. “Then the bicycle industry grew because everyone wanted something to do with their families,” Shelley said. But  now she’s dealing with severe supply chain issues. “I’m working on building the first ever Made in the USA Buddy Bike.”

Last month, Bank of America partnered with StartUP FIU, Florida International University’s innovation hub, and The Underline, Miami’s art-filled urban linear park, to select 10 winners of an inaugural Miami Small Business Bootcamp put on by StartUP FIU, with the support of Bank of America. Shelley was one of the 10 winners.

The winners each will get to showcase their products and services at the Small Business Holiday Village at The Underline’s Brickell Backyard, an urban park and public art destination. The Holiday Village will run  for two consecutive weekends, December 10-12 and December 17-19. Each winner also received a $2,000 stipend to supplement their small business’ operations.

Before being selected, the winners participated in a small business boot camp at StartUP FIU, alongside 30 other local entrepreneurs. This two-week bootcamp served up education and resources in a variety of areas entrepreneurs need, from team building and leadership development to raising capital and navigating the supply chain system.

At the end of each week, bootcamp participants were given the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges, including representatives from Florida International University, Bank of America, The Underline, Black Angels Miami, and Whole Foods.

The 10 winners were selected based on a variety of criteria, including their unique value proposition, economic feasibility, marketing and growth strategy, entrepreneurial spirit, and overall presentation.

“We know empowering small businesses with the right tools will make a direct impact on our local community and economy,” said Gene Schaefer, president, Bank of America Miami. “The focus of this collaborative effort is to drive positive impact where it is needed most, inspire Miami’s entrepreneurial spirit and accelerate sustainable growth.”

At the event, Shelley is decorating and going out the Holiday Village exhibit. She will have bikes there for people to rent for short rides and she will have some other items for sale. “I hope people will come out see the bikes. They are not just for special needs families but all families. It’s something novel,” Shelley said.

“Working on the pitch and learning how to sell yourself was really invaluable information during the Bootcamp, “ she said. During the next year she is hoping to acquire funding to expand her bike business – as well as offer rentals for the first time. Shelley said heartfelt notes and calls from customers keep her going, like the one from a family who carried the torch in the Special Olympics riding their Buddy Bike.

Rose Jean is another winner who went through the Miami Small Business Bootcamp. “We do print and promotional items for companies, schools and other clients. We do same day service.”

Rose, who has been running her business, T-Shirt Mayhem Corp,  for six years,  says besides winning the pitch contest, she has gained clients: Fellow Bootcampers who needed promotional printing for the Small Business Holiday Village at the Underline!

The bootcamp was intense but it was great information, Rose said. She liked that there were different experts for every session. It didn’t just cater to someone starting a business, or someone who has been doing it for decades – it was for every stage, she said. Rose learned that no matter where you are with your business, you are lacking something. Everyone has a weakness — you just have to sharpen it up! She realized that she needs to rebrand her business in order to put her best foot forward. “It also made me step out of my comfort zone bigtime – I would never in my entire life think of doing something like [The Holiday Village],” she said. “And it gave me confidence.”

At the Small Business Holiday Village, Rose will be selling mugs that can be custom printed on site – so bring your favorite photo! She will also have holiday designs on-hand that people can put on their customized mug.

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? Fancy some special treats around the holidays? We have your back! Here’s a way to shop local and support winning small businesses – while enjoying your weekend at the Underline. Check out the full list of Bank of America’s inaugural Miami Small Business Bootcamp winners who will be exhibiting at the Holiday Village:

  • Courtney Kohout of Courtney’s Cookies: Organic, vegan, low-glycemic cookies
  • Ivo D’Aguiar of Nidus Foods: Personalized meal delivery service
  • Jenifer Shwartz of Maven Baker: Traditional French pastries and guilt-free, freeze-dried cheesecake
  • Jeremie Etienne of InSeason LLC: Wellness service provider
  • Maurice Williams of Status Plus Productions LLC: Streetwear clothing and accessories
  • Natacha Metayer of JNCY Jewelers: Customized rings and jewelry for the minority bridal community
  • Paula Chavez of Paula’s Bake Shop: Traditional Argentinian alfajores
  • Randa Quraan of Socially Loud: Integrated marketing/brand consulting service
  • Rose Jean of T-Shirt Mayhem Corp: Customized apparel printing
  • Shelley Patterson of Bikes for Every Body LLC: Manufacturer and distributor of The Buddy Bike®, an alternative tandem bicycle for riders with special needs
At the kick-off event for the Small Business Holiday Village at the Underline, Bank of America officials cut the ribbon. Photo provided by StartUP FIU.

“We are grateful for the support and partnership of Bank of America and The Underline in our mission to help South Florida’s small businesses thrive at every stage of the entrepreneurial process, from concept and creation to launch, promotion and beyond,” said Emily Gresham, assistant vice president of Research & Economic Development at FIU and co-founder of StartUP FIU. “Congratulations to the winners of the Miami Small Business Bootcamp. We look forward to seeing their future growth and success.”

Photos of the Small Business Holiday Village at the Underline were provided by the Underline.

The Underline Holiday Village will be open to the public on December 10-12 and December 17-19 from 4 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The village will be set in the Brickell Backyard’s Promenade Station Grove, in front of the Brickell Metrorail Station North Entrance, SW 1st Ave, and SW 9th Street. Visitors are encouraged to take the Metrorail to Brickell Metrorail Station, exit north and walk toward the holiday lights and vendor carts. Those who wish to drive can use public parking lots at Brickell City Centre and Publix Mary Brickell Village.

This initiative was created as part of Bank of America’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.


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