High Caliber Companies

Our Small Business Awards winners are growing their businesses by serving their niche

300 hair, face, body, and bath products as well as fragrances, candles, and incense. With such scents as Lisa’s Ocean Rain, Island Passion, and Almond Cookie, Carol’s Daughter brought in revenues of more than $3 million last year, earning it the Emerging Company of the Year, an award which recognizes businesses that have poised themselves for future growth by carving out a special business niche or by adopting creative marketing techniques.

The Brooklyn company’s name pays homage to Price’s mother and inspiration, Carol Hutson, who passed away in February 2003. “It was a great way to celebrate my mother while she was still here. And when she passed away, it made me feel good that the company had that name while she was here so she got to see it and experience it.”

Others have taken notice of Carol’s Daughter’s potential. Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jay-Z are among the big names, led by ex-record executive Steve Stoute, who have invested a collective $10 million in the business. Price intends to use the funds to open a flagship store in Harlem this fall and seven more stores over the next two years. The boutique has a national ad campaign that features Pinkett Smith.

RISING STAR AWARD DANA POWELL, SHANNON BONNER, BRIDES NOIR Dana Powell’s interest in publishing began in the early 1990s when her father, Gary, sent her shopping for bridal magazines to find dress designs for her senior prom. Since no magazines featured African American models, Powell returned to her father empty-handed. The 16-year-old then promised her father she’d create one should there be no black bridal magazine by the time she completed college.

Serious about her publishing ambitions, Powell majored in mass communication at Illinois State University, where she met Shannon Bonner in 1996. At the time, Bonner held a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and was working toward a master’s in marketing communication. Powell was impressed with Bonner’s business expertise and the two became partners.

Some six years later, Powell, 29, and Bonner, 32, launched Brides Noir from their Chicago home office. Powell and Bonner started the magazine with $80,000 in personal assets and loans from family and friends and $20,000 in award money from the Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Series.

Brides Noir currently has a circulation of 50,000, is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and grossed $350,000 in revenues last year. The partners received the Rising Star Award, which recognizes individuals, aged 21-35, whose outstanding skills, professionalism, and perseverance have established them as future business leaders.

TEENPRENEUR AWARD NAJEE MCGREEN, TECHMASTER COMPUTER WORKS When Najee McGreen heads to college this fall, he’s going to pack his business plan along with his books.

The 17-year-old graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academy in Brooklyn, New York, is also president and CEO of Techmaster Computer Works, a computer design and repair services business. As such, he oversees his company’s repair jobs, the education provided through his company’s youth development program, and the free technical support offered through its community outreach program. He’s also looking to

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