Above: Launch Sto-Rox participants at the Showcase + Celebration held in May 2019.
Lawshawn Reed started her company Strong Ambitious Women in 2015 to offer strength based services surrounding self-esteem and confidence in young girls.
Reed works in Pittsburgh Public Schools and the inspiration for her to start her business came from seeing young children dealing with difficult issues or traumatic experiences that in turn impacted their self-esteem.
“I wanted to show them how to reclaim and reprogram their minds, and how to navigate through life and understand themselves,” Reed said.
She said even though the company was founded four years ago, she was struggling to adequately maintain the financial side of her business and understand they kind of service she was providing.
“I was mentoring [kids], but I didn’t understand the kind of mentorship I was providing and Launch Sto-Rox helped me identify that,” Reed said.
Launch Sto-Rox is a 12-month Vibrant Communities program from New Sun Rising for small businesses and entrepreneurs whose core concepts aligned with the Sto-Rox community’s priorities for development. The program concluded this spring and held a showcase and celebration in early May. Over the past year, program participants worked with coaches and focused on strengthening four key areas: business plans, connectivity, resources, and identity.
“Overall [the experience] was exceptional,” Reed said. “It challenged me to do more research and be more intentional on what I do and understanding the worth of myself and the company.”
Tino Brockington felt similarly. His business PittMovers is a moving service company based in McKees Rocks and caters to residents within the city limits. Brockington said he learned how to structure his business in a way that is “more predictable” so they can forecast and plan accordingly, but he also appreciated being able to connect with other small business owners.
“It gave us the ability to network with other individuals experiencing the same thing we were going through,” Brockington said. “[It gave us] a better focus on what we are working towards, because at the end of the day we have the same goal and that’s to be successful.”
The program allowed Brockington to think critically of PittMovers and how he can better service the community, and he said Launch Sto-Rox opened him up to creating a moving assistance program for local residents who do not have the means or the ability to move on their own.
“[Launch Sto-Rox] is a great starting point for any small business,” Brockington said.
Reed agreed, saying that it’s a valuable program for a small business owner in any stage of development.
“Anyone looking to identify their company and understand the necessary steps to take to grow their business, or they just want to know how to start the business and become vital in whatever they’re doing, this program will be a benefit for them.”