NORWICH — Eudora Poe wants to learn how to expand the marketing potential for her Connecticut-based jewelry, clothing and accessories business.
“I want to hear everyone’s ideas on how they improved their businesses, and improve my own, and maybe I can share some of my ideas I have, and we can learn from each other,” Poe said.
Poe is part of a group of entrepreneurs participating in Global City Norwich’s Working Lab program, intended to teach entrepreneurial skills to local people. The class covers topics from how to access resources to making an interest into a business. Global City Norwich Liaison Suki Lagrito said this is the second time the class is being taught in this form.
“It’s an exploratory class, so they’re here to gain a certain skill set that’s different from college learning, because here, it’s a casual environment, where not only are the business skills being taught, we’re exploring their culture, and how that interest can be leveraged into the business world,” Lagrito said.
By culture, Lagrito doesn’t just mean race or ethnicity, but also the cultures around certain hobbies or interests, like jewelry, cat lovers, or coffee drinking.
Norwich Public School uniforms:School uniforms won’t be required in Norwich Public Schools in the fall. Why the change?
In the class, Lagrito is also joined by Three Rivers Community College Professor Nicole Colter. She said it’s a condensed but “a really hands on, connected version” of some of the business classes at the college.
Speaking broadly, Colter said she believes there’s plenty of business opportunity in Norwich with its diversity of people and interests. However, Colter said there’s still a need to be supported, and connecting entrepreneurs with the right resources is the important part.
“They’re out there, it’s just finding them,” Colter said.
Lagrito said many students from the original class are still working on their businesses and are collaborating with businesses in the area. One of them is Jannette Velez, who owns a jewelry business and a cleaning business. Velez said the class made her get over her fears and feel comfortable reaching out for resources to help her businesses, from grants and loans to connecting to other business owners.
“I was able to build relationships and teams, and start becoming a volunteer in the community, and become more involved with what’s going on in the community,” Velez said.
Chaplin murder suspect:Bond up to $1.5M for man suspected in Chaplin death. Police report details day of murder.
Velez came back to the classes on Monday to be a mentor for the current entrepreneurs. She said she wants to show the current students that it’s not just a dream, saying owning her own businesses has given her the ability to work her own hours, and one day, the ability to provide for employees better than her own prior nine-to -five experience.
“It’s not something you want out of life, it’s something you make out of life,” Velez said.
This also includes helping out her sister, New London resident Maitee Velez. Maitee Velez wants to open a pagan-themed business. Seeing her sister’s success in the class, Maitee Velez said it makes her more confident about how the class will turn out.
“I want to build a community that could help me with anything I could possibly need, whether it’s a random, stupid question, or the next step for my business,” Maitee Velez said.
Rebuilding Norwich:Empty storefronts plague Norwich’s downtown and beyond. What is the city doing about it?
Even if a student’s career path doesn’t end with business ownership, Lagrito said the skills from the class will still serve people well, from time management and creative thinking, to building relationships.
“These are all skill sets that can be translated into real life, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not,” Lagrito said.
How to sign up for the Global City Norwich Working Lab
For anyone interested in joining the class, it’s free to sign up. Contact email@example.com. Classes are on Mondays from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Foundry66 Co-Working Space, with Memorial Day off. The program runs until June 20.