Empowering Entrepreneurs, Strengthening our Economy


Maura McCosky & Laurie Kracko, Modern Paint & Hardware

Modern Pain & Hardware
New Rochelle, NY

Since 1926, the business now known as
Modern Paint & Hardware has served the needs of
the New Rochelle, New York, community, helping
homeowners and professionals across the area transform
homes and businesses into unique spaces that perfectly
reflect their owners’ personalities.
Behind the successful operation is a powerful duo of women
with lots of personality of their own. The Modern Paint Group
president Laurie Kracko and chief operating officer
Maura McCosker, both lifetime residents of New Rochelle,
took different paths to their current positions, but both are
committed to growing their business and its reputation store
by store, customer by customer.

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Jeffrey Sinclair, J&J Dustless Blasting

Jeffrey Sinclair
J&J Dustless Blasting
Wappingers Falls, NY

Jeffrey came to the EAP center to get assistance with writing a business plan and launching his dustless media blasting business in the Mid-Hudson area.  He also needed assistance with securing financing to purchase the needed equipment and franchising package.

Jeffrey took advantage of WEDC MHV’s free 1-on-1 counseling where we worked on his business plan reviewing services, target market, competition and research for market size.  On multiple occasions Jeffrey came in to move forward and fine tune the work he completed.  We discussed the financials and what information was needed to move forward with projections.  Jeffrey officially formed his LLC.  With all of this leg work done Jeffrey participated in our Tips on How to Complete A Successful Loan /Application Package Workshop.  This gave him the funding structure and resource to move things forward.  In 2017, Jeffrey reported securing a loan from Community Capital for startup expenses and equipment.  Jeffrey in May had received his equipment and was ready to begin working on clients.

WEDC MHV is so thrilled to have been able to assist Jeffrey with creating a business plan that was comprehensive and is his road map for success.  I know we will hear about his continued growth.  We will continue to support Jeffrey and expect that he will take advantage of our counseling and other workshops. 

“The help I received from the EAP was invaluable. The help I received from Cynthia and Simone was priceless. Cynthia made the process of preparing a proper business plan so much tolerable. That process of the plan was very nerve racking for me until I received her help. With her help I wrote a very well organized plan that helped me receive funding on the first try. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for both of these very professional woman I would still be trying to write this plan and not be in business today. I would and have recommended them to everyone one I know thinking to start a business.”  Jeffrey Sinclair


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Melissa Pikul, Metals & Pieces

Melissa Pikul
Metals & Pieces 
Florida, NY

Melissa came to the WEDC MHV to attend our all day “Selling With Ease: Stepping Into Your Professional Greatness” Workshop.  She has been running her own specialty jewelry business for quite a few years and was looking to find ways to expand.

Once Melissa saw all the resources WEDC MHV had to offer she decided to take advantage our one on one counseling to help with fine tuning her business and develop growth strategies.  She knew that for success and survival she needed to do something different.  We continued to work together and Melissa then enrolled in our  60 Hour Entrepreneurial training class. Some really great adjustments are Melissa’s focus on events that bring her the most return on investment, submission of pieces to potentially be featured on television shows as well as expanding her online presence.  Melissa has submitted jewelry in association with The Artisan Group which includes: Arrow, The Fosters, Stichers, This Is Us, Mom, Jane the Virgin, The Voice, Crashing, and Empire.  She plans on submitting to The Americans in the near future.  We are hopeful a piece will be worn during the season and she can leverage that in her marketing.  A recent development, five of her pieces will be featured at fashion week on September 11th

Melissa said ‘WEDC MHVhelped to open my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t thinking BIG enough. Sometimes our dreams become so specific that we get locked into them and don’t realize the additional avenues our businesses can take to build extreme success. I am beyond thankful to Cynthia, the WEDC team and their curriculum for their tireless dedication to pushing their students to see the true potential of their dreams. “ WEDC is so thrilled to have been able to assist Melissa with creating a business plan that was comprehensive and the roadmap for long term growth and success.  We will continue to support Melissa and expect that she will take advantage of our counseling and other workshops to aid with implementing her growth strategies.

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Lassey Mensah, Consolidated Information Technology LLC

Lassey Mensah
Consolidated Information Technology LLC
Newburgh, NY 

Lassey came to the EAP center to get his IT services business off the ground.  He was unemployed and wanted to take this opportunity to go out on his own.  So, to move towards his goal Lassey took advantage of WEDC’s services.

  • Path to Entrepreneurship Workshop
  • Business Counseling
  • Fall 2016 60 Hour Entrepreneurial Training Program
  • Completed Business Plan
  • Formed an LLC
  • Increase Sales

Lassey made his unemployment an opportunity to have a livelihood he could grow. WEDC is thrilled to be able to support Lassey in his continued journey of business growth.

Lassey detailed “Before I started the program I have a vision of the future but didn’t have a path to get to it. With the help of WEDC program I have built my confidence and have learn how to build a business plan that allows me to have a road map. Please be informed that I could have never done it without the Help of WEDC program. Through the program I have learned that to be an entrepreneur and have a successful business, you need to have a business plan. Thank you, Cynthia and the WEDC team for all the help and support.”

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Isreal Morales, Sky Diamond Jewelers LLC

Isreal Morales
ew Windsor
Sky Diamond Jewelers LLC


Isreal came to WEDC to attend our Spring 2016 60 hour Entrepreneurial Training Program.  His dream was to open a full service jewelry store that offers jewelry repairs, gold and diamond buying, customization engagement rings, etc.  His extensive background and management experience in the industry really gave him the foundation he needed to go out and start a business on his own.  Equally important was the relationships he developed over the years that enabled Isreal to work with vendors from day one.

Isreal has taken advantage of our ongoing one on one technical assistance. To fine tune everything and acquire the start-up funding for buildout, initial costs and inventory. This enabled Isreal to officially launch his LLC with a soft opening in September and an official grand opening on October 15th.  Isreal’s reputation as a professional jeweler leads him to believe customers will follow him to his new store. The turnout at the opening is a testament to his ability to build a solid customer base quickly.  We are thrilled to have been part of the catalyst for this budding new startup.  To provide our client with the guidance and resources he needed to make his dream a reality.  We will continue to provide support to Isreal throughout his business ownership journey.

The WEDC class really propelled me forward at a faster rate than I ever expected to move. I’d always dreamed of owning my own jewelry store to provide a more distinct customer experience and fill the gaps that I noticed in the jewelry industry. My ambition was always strong but I needed help formulating the right business plan. The WEDC program did just that, it far surpassed my expectations from day one. Not only did I gain the knowledge to move forward with my business model but most importantly it gave me the confidence I needed to not stray from my ideas of a perfect jewelry store. After the program Cynthia was there to answer any questions I had and now I can finally say I am the proud owner of Sky Diamond Jewelers LLC.” Isreal Morales

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Soraida Sanchez’s 2017 End of the Year Appeal from WEDC

Soraida’s Story: End of the Year Appeal from WEDC

Soraida Sanchez emigrated from Colombia and arrived in the U.S. with dreams of starting her own business and becoming her own boss when she read about the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in a local newspaper. Interpreting that moment of discovery as a sign, Soraida contacted WEDC, enrolled in its 60 Hour Entrepreneurial Training Program in Spanish, and graduated. Today, Soraida is the proud owner/operator of Zoraida Beauty Spa located in Port Chester, New York, where with the help of the technical assistance she received from a WEDC business counselor, and a $10,000 loan secured through WEDC’s microloan program, Soraida will continue to grow her enterprise and serve her expanding clientele.



Dear Friend of WEDC:

As we close the year, and quickly approach another, WEDC would like you to become a part of the many stories that are still waiting to be told by donating what you can to the programs and services that WEDC provides in both English and Spanish. By doing so, you are not only investing in a community, but you are also investing in a movement – the economic empowerment of women. WEDC has a 20-year history of positively impacting women entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Whether it is the single head of household mom seeking guidance for a business start-up to support her family, the established woman entrepreneur looking for a community that supports her professional development through networking and advanced training opportunities, or people new to our country, like Soraida, pursuing her dream of business ownership, your contribution will ensure that women continue to claim a place in an area once almost exclusively accessible to men.
Please make a year-end gift to support the work that WEDC does on behalf of women entrepreneurs. Your gift will enable them to access training, counseling, mentoring, continuing opportunities and resources for business growth, and capital.

Your gift will be the beginning of someone’s story.

Best regards,

Barbara Van Bergen

Anne M. Janiak
Chief Executive Officer




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Jessica Mejias of Los Andes Bakery


Jessica Mejias of
Los Andes Bakery,
Email: jmarlenemejias@msn.com
Website: www.losandesbakery.com
An interview with Jessica, “I arrived in the United States in 1984 from Chile with many dreams and desires to work. My husband Francisco arrived in 1985, he is from a family of bakers, so as soon as he got into the country we started thinking in opening a Chilean bakery because there was nothing like it in our area. Our biggest challenge at the beginning was to make our products known. After 26 years in the business we feel very happy and proud to have created a brand and give employment to many families.
We are a Chilean bakery that makes empanadas, sandwiches, cookies, pastries and cakes. We have three locations each of which has its own equipment and employees. At first we focused to obtain clients from the Chilean community but after 26 years in the field our clientele has changed a lot and we have clients from different countries, including American clients. Also after so many years of service we have clients from the second generation of families.
In the beginning we didn’t have a lot of support, it was only my husband and me who believed in the project. After a couple of years we received an SBA loan which served to open our second business.
What it surpised us the most it was the many hours of work, patience, tolerance, and endurance that we had to spend to make our business successful.
My plans for the future are to be able to start selling our empanadas wholesale and maybe add other products later on.
I found out about WEDC through another non-profit organization.
In my case, WEDC was an excellent tool for ordering ideas, organizing my business, and understanding better our numbers. When you have a business you focus so much on work and to keep producing that sometimes you do not realize the importance of having everything organized in the business like the administration, management, and the accounting part of a small business.
For people starting out their own business I would strongly advise them to let themselves be guided by WEDC and to definitely take the classes and workshops that WEDC offers. I would like to thank WEDC as it has helped me grow both as a person and as a business owner.”


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Nancy Kessler, Memoirs Plus

Nancy Kessler, 
Memoirs Plus
Email: memoirsplus@gmail.com
Website: http://www.memoirsplus.com

After suddenly finding herself unemployed, Nancy Kessler decided it was time to make her dream of owning a business come true. She had heard about WEDC through a career coach that she had known for a long time. While employed, Nancy did not have the time to seek out services offered by WEDC. However, upon unemployment, she was able to use her time wisely to create a business plan. WEDC has done wonderful things for me through the support from a community of people that have helped me focus on the tools I needed to succeed,” she explains.

Upon completing the 60+ Hour Entrepreneurial Training Program, Nancy was able to meet women business owners to support her business plan and formed the WEDC Senior Providers’ Network. Nancy has participated in a variety of workshops and networking events held by WEDC, along with receiving individualized business counseling. Nancy attended a day-long Pro Bono Partnership event at MasterCard where she received help with creating marketing documents and plans. “Through WEDC, I was able to receive a one-day scholarship at MasterCard to work on my business,” she says.

In June 0f 2014, Nancy launched her own business related to her passion for writing memoirs for senior citizens. Memoirs Plus is created to engage independent seniors with sophisticated intellectual and creative activities which will enable them to tell their life stories through writing a memoir. The company enables seniors to share their stories in book form through assistance with writing and illustrating. Nancy often speaks for civic organizations and teaches Memoir Writing at the Scarsdale Adult School.

Nancy became a member of WEDC’s board of directors. For those thinking about starting their own small businesses, Nancy has the following advice: “Don’t start without taking a class. WEDC can offer all you need to know and introduce you to a community of people that will help you. I relied heavily on WEDC.”


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April Bukofser & Marin Milio, AprilMarin

April Bukofser and Marin Milio April Bukofser & Marin Milio
Email: April@aprilmarin.com
Web site: www.aprilmarin.com

In 2007, April Bukofser and Marin Milio were both full time employees with 2 kids and a busy home life. They decided that they wanted to look for creative outlets to invest their spare time. After several meetings, Bukofser and Milio came up with the idea of creating a custom clothing company. Although this idea was mostly a hobby, both Bukofser and Milio very much enjoyed creating new pieces and seeing their friends and family wear the pieces. They would also host home parties to show their pieces. In 2011, Bukofser and Milio were featured on the TODAY show and their idea that began as a hobby turned into a business overnight! Selling over 16,000 shawls in a day was exciting but completely overwhelmed the partners.  In 2013, Bukofser and Milio decided that it was time for them to take AprilMarin to the next level by turning their hobby into a sustainable business. In May they opened up their first office space. In October the women enrolled in WEDC’s 60 hour comprehensive business training program for entrepreneurs.  By 2014, Bukofser and Milio went from having their products carried by 1 store to 200 stores by focusing on the wholesale side of their business.  With a strong support system including their family, friends and customers, AprilMarin has been able to excel in dramatically increasing sales.

AprilMarin sells women’s clothing and accessories that are mostly knitwear with some cut and sew pieces including dresses, shirts, ponchos, capes, scarves and gloves. Currently there are 200 retail boutiques and over 14,000 retail online customers nationally. With the understanding that great customer service is the key to success, Bukofser and Milio go to great lengths to ensure that their customers are always happy. Additionally, they are constantly reaching out to their customers through phone calls, mailings and via email. In the next year AprilMarin’s goal is to have their products in 600 stores and attend 30 trade shows in the United States.

During their time in WEDC’s training program, Bukofser and Milio learned about the different aspects of running a business including accounting, marketing, and legal matters as well as always being aware of cash flow. If there is one piece of advice that Bukofser and Milio would give to people that are thinking of starting their own business, it would be to: 1. learn as much as you can about the business that you are planning to open up, 2. talk to as many people as you can and 3. take the WEDC course to ensure that managing your own business is something that you really want to do. Most importantly, do your research.

“WEDC has helped us so much. We are now able to accomplish goals because they are clearly stated. WEDC gave us the tools we needed to take AprilMarin to the next level!” – April Bukofser and Marin Milio

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Upcoming Events
Mon 19

Peer Mentoring Program

November 19 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Tue 27

Path to Entrepreneurship Program

November 27 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Dec 03

Harassment Free Workplaces – Poughkeepsie

December 3 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Jan 30

Path to Entrepreneurship Program – Poughkeepsie

January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Jan 31

Path to Entrepreneurship Program – Newburgh

January 31, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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