Business Education

Women’s Business Center of Fayetteville celebrates completion of third Ignite Business Cohort; PITCH Competition showcase graduate’s talents

By Faith Hatton, posted 5 days ago

The Women’s Business Center of Fayetteville at CEED, located in downtown Fayetteville, celebrated recent graduates of their “Ignite Business Cohort: Business Idea & Plan Development” course on Thursday, June 6. This was the latest of their “Ignite” business startup course series, a nine-week immersive online course to help current and future business owners better develop and refine their own business ideas. 

The WBC celebrated a successful third round of graduates with a graduation ceremony and the chance to win funding towards their business goals with their end of course PITCH competition.

“We talk about aligning vision and mission,” shared Director of the WBC Danice Langdon about the course. “At the end of this course their business plan should be developed, they have all the components. And then of course, we have this pitch opportunity for them. This is the third one we are thankful for Truist because these first three have been funded through Truist.” 

“Unfortunately, everybody can't get money, it does have to have a little competition in it. But congratulations are in order for all of them, for all the hard work that they've done,” continued Langdon. 

Two graduates, current business owner Gwendolyn Jackson and future business owner Jennifer Galloway were able to pitch their business plans to judges to determine who would be taking home a $1,000 reimbursable award provided by Truist Bank.

Judges included Truist Bank Assistant Vice President and Branch Leader II of the Ponderosa and Fayetteville branch Sherry Byron, Business Solutions Advisor for Bank of America Silvia Lee and Editor for the Greater Fayetteville Business Journal, Faith Hatton. 

Both graduates went head to head, providing their fine tuned and perfected business pitches they were able to develop over the course of the program. 

Galloway presented her idea for “Blue Isle Pet Cottages,” a long term and overnight animal boarding service option.

Galloway presented her idea for “Blue Isle Pet Cottages,” a long term and overnight animal boarding service option. Hoping to launch in the Asheville market in January of 2027, Blue Isle Pet Cottages will expand beyond just boarding animals, but will also extend to include company made treats and accessories, cat and dog training and a specialized private park for area animals. 

Galloway cited her own experience as a deployed military Veteran with her own fur babies as the driving force to create a more at-home like environment complete with one on one care for long term pet boarders. 

During her presentation, Galloway mentioned that if granted, the funds would be used for her to receive Professional Pet Boarding Certification on multiple levels and allow her to enroll in the International Boarding & Pet Services Association to continue providing fully certified and professional care. 

“I have been in the military for 20 years, I’m a military dependent, my dad is in the audience, and the struggle that I had with my pets over the last 20 years put the burden on this man right here to such an extent that it really was not good for pets or for him,” shared Galloway. “ For me, my purpose came with the loss that I faced, the guilt that I had leaving my pets for deployment and not knowing if somebody was going to take care of them. At the height of my career in Iraq and Afghanistan, you'd leave your pet with somebody and they sell it or they use it as dog bait. It became such a huge stressor when you're trying to do by God and your country and taking care of your family.” 

Second graduate and current business owner Gwendolyn Jackson, owner of Salon HAIR Forte in Dunn brought forward a plan to expand her salon services that specialize in hair loss in African American clients.

Second graduate and current business owner Gwendolyn Jackson, owner of Salon HAIR Forte in Dunn brought forward a plan to expand her salon services that specialize in hair loss in African American clients. Offering non surgical hair replacement options including hair and scalp treatments, customized cranial hair replacement and wig services, Jackson’s goal was to invest the funds toward marketing and more supplies and equipment to generate a one percent growth in clientele for her salon. Jackson has 30 years in the hair care industry, and as someone who grew up watching her grandmother and friend Maddie doing hair, has managed to take that passion and turn it into a thriving business serving clients. 

“I've been doing this for 30 years, and I've seen a lot and I've been through a lot. I've helped a lot of people, and I have people that I have been seeing since they were small now they're 35 and 40 years old,” shared Jackson. “The problem is African American women suffer from hair loss at a higher rate because of traction alopecia relaxers and diabetes, heart disease and other factors.” 

Galloway is resented with the winning $1,000 for her Blue Isle Pet Cottages business pitch. Galloway is pictured with WBC Director Danice Langdon (center) and judge and Truist Bank Assistant VP Sherry Byron (right). 

Ultimately, the judges awarded the $1,000 reward to Galloway, who also has a chance to participate in the 2025 HERWeek Pitch competition next year. She says that the course has been a fantastic resource for focusing on the things needed to perfect her business plan.  

“I think the good challenge for me was narrowing down a little bit more what I was capable of versus what I would have to rely on others for. When we attended resource day, figuring out the different nuances and dynamics of what subject matter experts I would need inside of the business really opened my eyes on what was I actually going to be capable of, versus what would I need to expand on,” shared Galloway. “I would definitely annotate that even though you think you may know everything that you think you're supposed to know, having a cohort and establishing a network for your business is really essential. It's no different than in the job market. It's a lot about who you know, not what you know, and sometimes having a little bit of humility and coming in with some open minded concepts can allow you to build that community early.”

Langdon also shared that the course may see a change in focus in the future. 

“Stay tuned for next year because next year, I think we're going to launch an “I've been in business” course. Let's let's do the same thing but with business owners that have been in business for a while and take them through the same kind of the process,” said Langdon. 

Other educational opportunities from the WBC @ CEED include a monthly lunch and learn series: Lunch and Learn: Small Business Insurance Protection coming which will be held on June 18 (learn more here), two Homeowner Online Seminars (learn more here) and a Start Up Cost Online Training (learn more here.) You can also keep up to date on all things WBC on their website here, their Facebook page here and their Eventbrite page here

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