LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - "I was at home. I lost my job. I had nothing," Evelyn Griffin said as she explained her life just a year ago. "I was laid off 81/2 months pregnant," she said in a strong tone. "I learned how to sew to make her the clothes I couldn't afford," she stated as she glanced down to her baby girl Liza.
She may not have had a job or income but Evelyn had more than she realized. Evelyn could sew. She did it so well, the clothes she made out of necessity for her kids became a must have for other mothers who saw her designs. Evelyn Griffin gave birth to lil-liza-lou-dot-com. An in store and on line...clothing line of customized, personalized fashionable kids clothing. The clothing line can also be found at It's Serendipity on Watterson Trail in Jeffersontown.
She laughs as she explains, "I never ever would have guessed it. When I lost my job, I never would have guessed it. I love it. It's a huge blessing."
Rebecca Brenzel, Micro enterprise Coordinator at Community Action Partnership explained often that is how it works, "Sometimes you can turn a hobby into a business. If your good at sewing or being a tailor, of course catering, people who bake or cook." Brenzel and her team members of community action partnership are banking on that. Their program is called SPARK. They are working with people in the community who want to work for themselves.
"We're working with low income people that have a great idea and thru this program we're able to bring that dream to reality," stated Brenzel.
With SPARKS help and finances, the dream of small business ownership is coming true for many folks in the Bluegrass.
Brenzel tells us, "Sometimes it's a passion. Sometimes maybe it's something that you may have done in corporate America and then you realize..I can do this myself."
Ron Smith was the Research Manager for the Department of Neurology at the University ofLlouisville. His department was disbanded.
As he shook his head he told us, "He knew I was going to go. I knew they were letting me go. It was just matter of when."
Smith's unemployment was running out. Employment opportunities were slim too due to the number of people facing the same circumstances. Smith knew what he wanted to do. He just didn't know how to do it.
He explains his fear, "You have limited resources. I'm not independently wealthy. I don't have a stash of millions somewhere. I don't have a wealthy family. We're just working class folks. "
Syvoskia Bray Pope, also part of the SPARK team explains a little cash will go a long way for a small business owner. Spark will give you a forgivable loan to start your business.
Bray-Pope stresses, "A forgivable loan and how that works is I stay in business for a year and then my loan is forgiven. It's wiped off. I don't owe anybody."
Smith expresses his feelings before taking that chance, "Your facing risking financial security of your family on an idea and it's really scary."
His idea has proved to be a pretty good one.
He excitedly explains, "They love coming in here and finding out about something new and something different and discovering a new flavor."
The Root Cellar is certainly a different type of shop at 3rd and Hill in old Louisville. A SPARK start-up, Smith's store is filled with locally grown farm fresh food and he loves to brag about it.
Proudly he exclaims, "100% local." Everything in his store is from Indiana and Kentucky. He doesn't go more than 150 miles away. Smith is also proud of the fact it is all source verified. With pride he tells us, "Now that's unique in the fact I know. I have been to every farm that I get product from. I know the farmers. I buy directly from them."
Whether it's farm fresh food or customized clothing, everything you need from marketing to research to financial's is at your finger tips when you with the SPARK program.
Brenzel smiles with more good news, "The great thing is all those resources are free to the public"
When Bray-Pope is asked who would make a good business owner...she says she has a good answer.
"It has no demographic tag on it. It's just that person realizing that they have the entrepreneurial spirit and they have the opportunity of owning their own business one day, " Bray-Pope declares.
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