by: Hannah Shraim ’20, Dingman Center Marketing Intern
It’s Women’s History Month! While every month should commemorate the contributions that women have made and continue to make in society, any opportunity to highlight the stories of fearless women is one that we should take. As part of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First initiative to get more female and non-binary founders involved in entrepreneurship at University of Maryland, we select a cohort of students every spring for our Ladies First Founders course. Taught by Sara Herald, MBA ’11, the Center’s Director of Venture Development, Ladies First Champion and Maryland Smith’s co-chair of the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, students enrolled in Ladies First Founders learn soft skills to achieve success in entrepreneurship and beyond. During Women’s History Month, we are excited to introduce the diverse and talented group of young women that make up the third cohort of Ladies First Founders.
Sarah Agaratt ’21, sustainable fashion (name TBD)
Major: Computer Science
Sarah is a Computer Science major with a passion for sustainable fashion. She is seeking to launch a clothing company that exclusively uses recycled threads. However, Sarah values the aesthetic of a clean-cut look, and will not compromise style to offer recycled pieces to consumers. Through her brand, she hopes to emulate the concept of living both an environmentally conscious and a fashionable lifestyle.
Ijeoma Asonye ’23, Founder of Sporty Quick
Major: Mechanical Engineering
As a track runner in high school, Ijeoma grew frustrated with the amount of time it took to switch between track and running shoes. Equipped with a major in Mechanical Engineering, she realized that with a transformable sole, both shoes could fit into one. The first of its kind, Sporty Quick allows athletes to avoid what they hate most: slowing down!
Lucy Bedewi ’20, Founder of Wanderlust Wardrobe Consulting
At Wanderlust Wardrobe Consulting, you can get personal fashion advice at an affordable price. Lucy realized that personal stylists were only available to the ultra-rich and wanted to provide a service for everyday consumers. At Wanderlust, Lucy can raid your closet and pair different pieces together or be your personal shopper to create the perfect fit. Lucy’s subscription service gives you an affordable personal stylist with ease.
Tamara Bethea ’23, dessert company (name TBD)
Tamara joined Ladies First with aspirations of creating a baked goods company. With a severe peanut allergy, Tamara found that the market lacked many dessert options that excited her. A Marketing major, Tamara hopes that her dessert creations will appeal to numerous customer segments from vegans to peanut to allergy-prone eaters. She has found a community in Ladies First who have inspired her to continue her entrepreneurial pursuits.
Goodness Ihekweme ’21, Founder of G Styles
Major: Finance and Marketing
G Styles is a clothing brand offering unique pieces that merge street wear with African prints. Goodness used her eye for fashion and seamstress abilities to create hand-made pieces that have been displayed in numerous fashion shows across the DMV. She hopes to expand her brand to include business wear and excite her clientele to dress boldly.
Sarah Lader ’21, Founder of The Sustainable Socialite
Major: Family Science
Sarah believes in the importance of shopping sustainably, which inspired her to launch The Sustainable Socialite. An avid thrifter, Sarah finds elegant, one-of-a-kind pieces and sells them on a platform for trendy dressers. Her idea to democratize second-hand clothing rings well with customers as The Sustainable Socialite often sells out its inventory at local pop-up events.
Crystal Pinckney ’22, Founder of Crys&Co Beauty
Major: International Business
As a student living on campus, Crystal realized that many women lacked access to the beauty supplies that they needed. She soon created Crys&Co Beauty, which offers beauty supplies to people on campus who otherwise could not easily reach a beauty store. From lashes to lip gloss, Crystal hopes to build a brand that uplifts women and instills confidence among beauty users everywhere.
Monica Pizzo ’20, Co-Founder of LUMXN
Major: Chinese Language
LUMXN is a magazine intending to reimagine what a powerful womxn looks like by highlighting the stories, careers, and artwork of women in different societal roles. Monica co-founded the magazine with her two close friends and the team provides a monthly issue to its subscribers. With LUMXN, Monica hopes to inspire and showcase beautiful art within the human experience.
Hannah Shraim ’20, Founder of Libre Looks
Major: Business Management
As a hijab-wearing business student, Hannah struggled to find professional clothing that adhered to her modest style of dress. She interviewed women in similar positions who echoed the same frustrations with market options. Soon after, Hannah launched Libre Looks, which offers modest professional fashion wear to modest dressing women. The brand provides staple pieces like blazers that are longer in length and looser in fit. Hannah aims to empower the Libre Looks tribe beyond clothing by offering a platform where women across industries can inspire one another to achieve within their careers.
Caroline Ta ’21, Founder of SweetsbyCaroline
Major: Marketing and Supply Chain
For as long as she could remember, Caroline grew up baking sweet macarons with her family members. This special tradition eventually transformed into a passion for making the perfect macron and inspired Caroline to launch SweesbyCaroline. A Marketing and Supply Chain major, her catering business offers personalized cakes and custom macarons for any special occasion. You can watch SweetsbyCaroline compete at the Pitch Dingman Competition on March 10 from 6-7:45 pm in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union.