Female Fearless Founders Featurette

In honor of Smith Women’s Week, we would like to highlight some recent past and present female participants of our Fearless Founders student accelerator program. We are immensely proud to have worked with these young women and to have been given the opportunity to help them grow their startups.


East Habesha – Saron Asfaw

Saron Asfaw ’18 started East Habesha in our Idea Shell stage, where she won a $500 MVP grant from Capital One to build her startup. She is currently working on further improving her business as a member of the Spring 2016 Hatch cohort. East Habesha is a website that sells custom Ethiopian dresses and food spices to customers in the DC metropolitan area. There is a large population of Ethiopians in the DC metropolitan area and there are many vendors that supply these necessities. What differentiates East Habesha from its competitors is that the prices are low but the quality is high. We look forward to seeing East Habesha grow as it continues to gain traction in the community.

Fancy Muffin – Fei ManchoFancy Muffin

Smith alumni Fei Mancho also won a $500 Capital One grant in last year’s Idea Shell for her startup Fancy Muffin, an online store that specializes in eco-friendly, handmade tie-dye garments. Her commitment to customer discovery and her love of the craft of tie-dye have gone far in helping her distinguish her business. As a Smith student she promoted her products at our Terp Marketplace event, and outside of UMD she has participated as a vendor at the Afro Punk Festival in Brooklyn, NY, has partnered with DC vintage store Nomad Yard and sells her wares in bi-monthly pop up shops at
Urban Outfitters. Watch Fei Mancho’s Fearless Founders
Confessions video to learn more about her passionate approach to her startup.


Bethany’s Organics – Bethany Monaghan


Bethany Monaghan ’16 was one of seven students to be accepted into last summer’s Terp Startup, the third and final stage of our Fearless Founders Program. There she continued to build her company Bethany’s Organics, a creator of what she calls “Crustless Creations”—frozen crustless nut/seed butter and jelly sandwiches made with organic, non-GMO and vegan friendly ingredients. Bethany participated in the Cupid’s Cup Showcase and the Do Good Challenge, and was a Pitch Dingman Competition finalist in 2014. In 2015, her achievements earned her a nomination for Student
Entrepreneur of the Year at our inaugural Rudy Awards.


Lady Epicure Gourmet – Tenaj FergusonIMG_1926_ufovae

A native of the Bahamas, Tenaj Ferguson wanted to incorporate the cooking and culture of her island into a business that promoted health and well-being. After attending some Dingman Fridays advising sessions, she decided to participate in Idea Shell, where she started Lady Epicure Gourmet, a gourmet treats line specializing in artisanal frozen popsicles. She is continuing to develop her company’s brand as an MBA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. To read more about her journey, take a look back at a blog post from 2014 featuring Tenaj and her company.


NOVA Prints and Apparel – Oru WonodiOru

Currently a sophomore at the Smith School, Orukanma “Oru” Okogbule-Wonodi taught herself to sew and started the clothing line NOVA Prints and Apparel in her dorm room. She is a member of the 2016 Hatch cohort and is a featured social venture in this year’s Do Good Challenge. The proceeds from her current collection will go toward helping over 200 people in Nigeria receive pneumonia vaccinations. Make sure to check out her collection at UMD Fashion Week starting April 1. Also cheer her on at the upcoming Do Good Challenge on April 19.


Dynasty by Brittany – Brittany McCoydynasty

A sewing wizard from a young age, Smith School senior Brittany McCoy launched her fashion line Dynasty by Brittany in 2013. Her collections are sophisticated, edgy and versatile, containing chic looks that can be worn in multiple ways. In 2015 she enrolled in Idea Shell, where she completed workshops that helped her further enhance her business. Along with Oru’s NOVA Prints and Apparel, you can see the latest Brittany and her latest Dynasty by Brittany collection at this year’s UMD Fashion Week on April 1.


uBoard – Natalie Urban


As a freshman, Natalie Urban (standing on the far right) built her first uBoard dorm headboard as a way to stylize her own room. The headboard was a huge hit with her friends, and after using her uBoard idea to win a business competition at a retreat sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, she decided in her sophomore year to start making and selling the headboards to others. This past February she was a finalist in our Pitch Dingman Competition and took home the Audience Choice prize. Read our profile on uBoard to learn more about Natalie’s startup.



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