The Women’s Enterprise Development Center recently awarded five grants of $5,000 each and five grants of $4,000 each to promising female entrepreneurs in Westchester, Fairfield, and Rockland Counties. The annual award is open to students and alumni of the WEDC 15-week entrepreneurial program, who are currently running a business and submit a business plan for review.
The awards were officially announced at the WEDC’s Annual Spring Luncheon held on Thursday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown, N.Y. In attendance at the event were several elected officials, including NY Congresswoman Nita Lowey. The keynote speaker was MSNBC co-host of Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, who discussed how she went about getting a raise when her male co-anchor Joe Scarborough was earning 14 times her salary. Scarborough was also in attendance.
The 2012 LEAP Award Winners are:
• Candida Canfield, Dinner In Hand, LLC
• Melinda Huff, Mirame
• Susanne Leary Shoemaker, Undercare, Inc.
• Christine Sinclair, A Bark Above
• Marialisa Zywotchenko, Cyrus Contracting Co.
• Lea Cullen Boyer, Green Guru Network
• Kecia Palmer-Cousins, G&K Sweet Foods, LLC
• Diana Scott-Sho, The Luscious Little Dessert Company
• Donna Simons, Donna Simons Studio
• Tamara Wrenn, Just Us Women Productions, LLC
All the ladies have stories of their journey to begin the climb up the business ladder. One of the grant winners with an interesting tale to tell is Melinda Huff.
The swimwear brand Mirame was founded in 2010 by Huff, who says she makes sexy and sophisticated swimwear for the “jet-setting woman.” Seeing a hole in the market, where women ages 25+ cannot find a swimsuit that is chic and classy without being ‘frumpy,’ Huff decided to make her own, she explained.
Her journey toward becoming an entrepreneur began about a decade ago, at age 19, when she dropped out of studies at a Buddhist College and moved to Hawaii. Once in paradise, she took up sewing on the beach. It’s been a long road, but the rest is history.
Although she is a Westchester resident, Huff said an experience in Rockland County helped her to conceive her latest line of swimwear.
“I was leaving Rockland and crossing the Tappan Zee a few weeks ago during the ‘Supermoon,'” said Huff. “The Hudson was cast in the most stunning, effervescent light, and it was very inspiring. It gave me the idea to do a ‘Superheroes’ collection. I used the slick silvers and the bright moon as sources of color and concept.”
Huff’s Superheroes line made its debut on June 15 at the Empire Hotel Rooftop in NYC.