“I would not be at the level I am at right now without IEI or the Lori Bush Seed Fund,” says Stephanie Taylor, CEO and founder of TailorFit Laundry LLC. “And I’m really grateful for that.”
Recently, three beneficiaries of the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, Stephanie Taylor, Emily Kight and Heather Jones sat down together in the new Accelerator at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) to discuss their careers, the role that funding played in furthering their business ventures and offered advice to women entrepreneurs.
The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund provides funding to women entrepreneurs ranging from $500-$10,000 based on defined needs. Funds are provided with the purpose of supporting companies in proving their concept, and where the money will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to progress.
The fund, much like its namesake, supports ideas and models that advance women in entrepreneurship. Lori Hermelin Bush, MBA ‘85, is the former CEO of Rodan + Fields. During her time there, she guided the skincare company to an annualized run rate of over $1B in revenue.
Taylor, a full-time student at the Fox School, taps IEI’s extensive resources to elevate her business, especially while the company is in the startup phase. Since she was awarded funding, TailorFit Laundry, a mobile laundry service based in Philadelphia, has a host of recurring customers and is being discovered on Google by visitors to the area, including a Los Angeles Lakers sports commentator. She has also seized the opportunity to promote her business during events such as Temple Fest.
She advises women entrepreneurs to believe in their ideas and to dive in headfirst. “You have to know your worth in order for others to know your worth,” she says. “And if you overthink it, you’re never going to jump. That’s what you have to do, you have to just jump.”
In 2017, Emily Kight, BSBIOE ‘18, won second place in Be Your Own Boss Bowl®) (BYOBB®), a business plan competition hosted by IEI. She pitched Prohibere, a leave-in conditioner that she created to lessen the effects of trichotillomania (TTM), a hair pulling disorder that Kight has personal experience coping with. With the funding from BYOBB and the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, she was able to manufacture, create packaging and launch digital marketing for Prohibere, which is now available on Amazon.
“Being selected to compete in BYOBB® and other competitions is nerve-wracking because I had never really talked to anyone about this hair pulling disorder that I have had for 20 years,” says Kight. “I’m not big on public speaking, and this was the last thing I wanted to talk about in front of an audience, but it really helped to get started.”
When getting started with a business, Kight suggests, try to remember that failing isn’t a bad thing. “Failure is how you grow and develop as a businessperson.”
She recently decided to move on to her next challenge and is using her bioengineering education to develop a urine test used to screen for ovarian cancer. Funding from the Innovative Idea Competition, BYOBB® and GoFundMe has helped her partner with an R&D laboratory with the goal of creating an affordable, FDA-approved test prototype.
When Heather Jones came up with the idea for her company Luci, she knew that she
wanted to come back to her alma mater, Temple University, for help from the Fox School. She went to IEI for help building out her concept: a community-driven, multi-benefit skin care line made with vegan, cruelty-free ingredients set at a price that millennial and Get Z consumers could afford.
The line launched in September of 2018 and currently has multiple retail channels. The Luci team is now focused on growing their Glow Getter program across college campuses, where brand ambassadors can earn commission while sharing and promoting Luci products. Luci products are made in Milan, Italy, so the money Jones was awarded from the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund helped her develop packaging, with shipping logistics and supporting marketing efforts.
“The best feedback is when you get it from the customer. As entrepreneurs, we have to pivot very quickly based on what people say. For me, that has been a very important thing to take on,” she says.
Interested in finding out how IEI can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals? Visit iei.temple.edu.