Photo by Isaac Harrell
Itty Bitty Press, $27,000 What started as a weekend hobby turned into a full-time job when Itty Bitty Press (592-1888 or ittybittypress.com ) co-owner Jay Frank was laid off from his content management position at Capital One in June 2009. "I saw it as an opportunity to try something new," the 33-year old says of the screen printing and design studio he now owns with his wife, 30-year-old Bri Bevan. The couple works out of their Henrico basement studio, designing and printing T-shirts for local nonprofits, restaurants, bands and fellow small businesses. The itty-bitty company is starting to get national attention with a recent mention on Self magazine's blog. Find them at local art festivals including Spring Bada-Bing and Arts in the Park. Bokonon Books, $45,000 When Borders went out of business in 2011, William MacDonald, 55, drove along the East Coast from Atlanta to Maine buying out their nonfiction inventory. The former court-appointed attorney started e-commerce bookstore Bokonon Books (839-3969 or bokononcafe.com ) in December 2010, running the business out of his tri-level rancher in Bon Air. "It looks like a bomb went off in Barnes & Noble," MacDonald jokes about his four-bedroom house that is stacked with about 16,000 books ranging in price from $4 for paperbacks to $400 for rare-edition hard covers. He hopes to transition to a brick-and-mortar bookstore café near the University of Richmond in the summer of 2014.
Job & Salary Stories
Minima, $50,000 October is not Kristen Ziegler's month. In October 2008, the licensed professional organizer was laid off from her architecture job. In October 2009, she broke up with her live-in boyfriend of six years. In October 2010, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on the same day that she filed the LLC paperwork for her organizing and redesign business, Minima (482-1554 or minimaonline.com ). "[Those experiences] changed my attitude about taking risks and not being afraid to go after what you want," Ziegler says. Now 30, the self-described minimalist says she feels like she's found her calling. "I'm doing what I'm made to do," she says. Modern June, $116,000 Kelly McCants was just looking for an excuse to get out of the house. The owner of handmade housewares and accessories business Modern June ( modernjune.com ) started selling her vintage-inspired aprons at the 17th Street Farmers' Market in June 2006, but soon found her niche with hand-sewn oilcloth tablecloths, placemats, bags and more. "It was one of those Desperate Housewives moments," the former film and theater costume designer says of the business that increased her sales on Etsy by 92 percent last year. In August 2011, McCants published her first book, Sewing with Oilcloth , and in April 2014 she plans to release Modern June at Home , which will include 30 do-it-yourself craft projects encompassing a range of fabrics. Momentum Resources, $2.2 million in revenue After taking a few months off with her infant twin boys in late 2006, Whitney Forstner attempted to return to her senior project management position at Capital One, but she felt pulled in too many directions as a young mother in the corporate workforce. She wanted an alternative. "We decided to start a company that allowed us to work flexibly and provide opportunities for others to do the same," the 37-year-old Henrico resident says of Momentum Resources (288-5627 or mom-entum.com ) the boutique staffing firm she formed with fellow former Capital One coworker Tanya Cummings, 40, in September 2007. The career-placement company matches job seekers with flexible work opportunities in Richmond and Northern Virginia. Helping Hands If you need some guidance before quitting your day job, entrepreneurial training programs like Richmond Gate ( richmondgate.com) are here to help. In the past two years, the Community College Workforce Alliance's job creation program has helped nearly 250 local entrepreneurs and assisted in the development of more than 70 businesses in the area. Have an idea? Feeling inspired? The Greater Richmond Chamber's i.e. initiative will host its second annual Start-Up Competition on April 16. The event that awards a $10,000 cash prize to local businesses that have been operating for less than a year includes short presentations by 10 to 15 finalists on their business plan. Applications for i.e.'s Start-Up Competition are due by March 19 and finalists will be announced March 29 after three days of online voting. For more information, call 783-9310 or visit ie-rva.org .