Category Archives: Ladies First

Azelle is a Terp Startup that’s Saving the Bay with Charm Bracelets

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the fifteen student startups who are participating in our Terp Startup summer accelerator at the College Park WeWork. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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Azelle-Logo.pngAzelle

Founder & CEO: Barathi Aravindan ’22, Finance major

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Aravindan: Azelle manufactures high-quality charm bracelets to raise awareness of the precarious condition of the Chesapeake Bay, the world’s largest natural estuary. Our mission is to support the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay in a fashionable manner and empower women in the field of business by hiring young women in the community.

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That’s a Wrap! Spring 2019 at the Dingman Center

Spring 2019 wrap collage

Graduation is this week, and we’ve had some time to reflect on the numerous events and programs we’ve held throughout the semester. The community has impressed us once again with their enthusiasm, passion and dedication to entrepreneurship throughout spring. Here are some featured highlights from our events, and be on the lookout for upcoming interviews with the student entrepreneurs in our Summer 2019 Terp Startup Cohort.

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Takeaways from Cohort 2 of Ladies First Founders

 

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Today marks the last class of the semester for Ladies First Founders, a one-credit course led by Sara Herald, the Dingman Center’s associate director for social entrepreneurship. Last year, Sara launched Ladies First Founders as part of the Center’s Ladies First initiative to get more women engaged in entrepreneurship programming at University of Maryland. Ladies First Founders provides a platform for aspiring female and non-binary founders across campus to come together, find community and learn strategies for overcoming the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Last week, each female founder in the course provided perspective on their journey this semester to a room of their peers, Dingman Center staff and mentors. While many made significant progress on developing their ideas, all of these young women reflected on the value of the course for their own personal growth. Below are some notes on each of the founders, their ideas and their journeys.

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Introducing the Spring 2019 Cohort of Ladies First Founders

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On Tuesday afternoons, the Smith School’s executive board room is taken over by the second cohort of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Founders program, a group of nine young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the room’s imposing conference table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, MBA ’11, the Dingman Center’s Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship and founder of the Ladies First initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

This year, the Ladies First Founders were paired with expert female mentors to help guide their entrepreneurial journeys. The theme of this year’s Ladies First initiative is centered around role models, and these successful women provide an inspiring template for the cohort to follow. Over the course of the semester, we’ll be catching up with these student founders to see how their venture ideas have progressed under the guidance of professor Sara Herald and their mentors.

Read on to learn more about the diverse group of female founders and businesses that make up the Spring 2019 Ladies First Founders cohort:

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Aurora Tights

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Imani Rickerby & Jasmine Snead at the Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals

Aurora Tights

Jasmine Snead ’19, Co-Founder & CFO – Finalist
Imani Rickerby ’17, Co-Founder & COO
Sydney Parker ’18, CMO

DC: Tell us about your startup.

Aurora Tights Title Logo-01Jasmine Snead: Aurora Tights designs performance apparel for dancers and ice skaters of all skin tones, shapes, and sizes. The Aurora team is comprised of a solo figure skater, a synchronized ice skater, and a dancer. As competitive athletes, we were forced to wear tights, mesh, and other paraphernalia in the wrong skin tone because our shades were not readily available. The lack of color variety posed a drawback for performance athletes because it is not aesthetically appealing to the eye and it’s frustrating to practice your passion while feeling like you’re in someone else’s skin. Additionally, overall appearance is judged in performance sports, unlike in traditional sports. In the words of Olympian Johnny Weir, “Aesthetics are still a part of the subjective scoring in figure skating.” His words are true in figure skating and in other performance sports as well.

As a solution, I learned to dye my tights to match my complexion. Years and a stained bathroom later, my mom and I perfected the process of dyeing tights and would do so before each competition. Self-dyeing is an option for athletes, but it is messy, time-consuming, expensive, and experimental to find the right shade. That is why there is a strong need for Aurora Tights to simplify the tight buying process for women of all skin tones and sizes. We believe buying tights in your shade should be as easy clicking “add to cart” online or shopping at your local sporting goods store.

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That’s a Wrap! Fall 2018 Highlights at the Dingman Center

With the holiday season fast approaching, students are hunkering down in the library to finish final projects and prep for exams. In the meantime, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the events and programs that went on at the Dingman Center this past semester. We’re always thankful for the immense support, enthusiasm and engagement we receive from those within our community. Check out some of our favorite highlights over the past few months, and have a wonderful winter break!

Sept. 29 – spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start

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Students playing spark: The Card Game

Now in its third year, spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start is an event hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and Startup Shell. spark gives University of Maryland students who are interested in entrepreneurship but don’t have a venture a platform to brainstorm business ideas with their peers. This year the event got a major venue upgrade, with Professor Oliver Schlake leading the program at the innovative Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center. Students refined their initial ideas through an interactive card game and then split up into teams to prepare an energetic, infomercial-style pitch. This year’s group of ideas were some of our most viable and creative yet! Read the full recap of spark here.

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Spotlight on Role Models at the Third Annual Ladies First Fall Dinner

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by: Megan McPherson, Events & Marketing Manager

The Ladies First Fall Dinner is the flagship event of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First initiative to expose more female students at University of Maryland to entrepreneurship. Each year, it attracts young women from all across campus for an evening where they can explore the unique challenges and strengths shared by women as they look to launch companies or lead them post-graduation. The third annual Ladies First Fall Dinner on November 1 in Van Munching Hall focused on “role models”, introducing a room comprised solely of female undergraduate students to two inspirational female founders in the cosmetics industry: alumna and serial entrepreneur Mary Schulman ’97, co-founder of PYT Beauty; and current student Brianna Queen ’19, founder of BEEQBOX and second place winner of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition. In a fireside chat moderated by associate director and Ladies First leader Sara Herald, MBA ’11, Brianna and Mary shared their inspiring founder stories and imparted valuable wisdom to 65 student attendees. Below are some of the recurring themes that both entrepreneurs touched upon during the discussion.

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Terp Startup SLAY Naturals is a Natural Skincare Line for Fashionistas

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the ten student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer accelerator phase of our Fearless Founders program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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Slay NaturalsSLAY Naturals

Founder and CEO: Breonna Massey ’18, Government & Politics major

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Massey: SLAY Naturals is a skincare line designed for the naturalista that doubles as a fashionista. We provide an alternative for those who are in the process of living a holistic lifestyle but are not quite ready to commit to the earthy smells and packaging. Going natural should be fun and not intimidating. With our bright colors and bold smells, SLAY Naturals ensures that you will enjoy your entire natural experience.

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Terp Startup Noble Uprising Helps Homeless Women Find Employment

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the ten student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer accelerator phase of our Fearless Founders program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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NobleUprisin_HoriBNoble Uprising

Founder and CEO/President: Lumnwi Audrey Awasom ’18, Marketing major, Technology Entrepreneurship minor

 

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Awasom: Noble Uprising is a unique philanthropic initiative to supporting job creation for women in homeless shelters through workforce development programs and business partnerships. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that trains homeless women in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area through our 6 month intense career readiness program to gain secure employment.

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Terp Startup Aurora Tights Celebrates Diversity with Athletic Apparel

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the ten student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer accelerator phase of our Fearless Founders program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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Sydney Parker and Jasmine Snead

auroratights

Aurora Tights

CMO: Sydney Parker ’18, Communication major
Co-Founder and CFO: Jasmine Snead ’18, Government and Politics major
Co-Founder and COO: Imani Rickerby ’17, Public Health major

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

AT: Aurora Tights is an athletic brand that designs performance sports gear in an array of tones for all complexions and sizes. Currently, all performance athletes, especially those of darker skin tones, do not have appropriate gear to fit their tones and sizes.

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