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  • Writer's pictureAlissa Fisher

Thank You for 10 Years

The Regional Incubator for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (RISE) celebrated Small Business Month and its tenth year last month. We have shared 10 Reasons to Start a Business, 10 Useful Tips for Business Owners, 10 Great Resources to Help Your Business, and, last - but certainly not least - we shared some great local businesses who utilized the RISE program.

RISE has served over 350 entrepreneurs since 2011. Thank you to our partners for making the last 10 years possible and shining a light for the future of RISE. Thank you to the Randolph J. & Estelle M. Dorn Foundation, The Erie County Community Foundation, and Huron County private foundations for the support. With their help, we are able to create a strong entrepreneurial ecosyst

Let's talk about some great local business owners!

Baker On The Square

Baker on the Square is a beautiful classic bakery in Milan, OH!

Rich Shafer and his wife, Amy opened the shop's doors this March! They have a great selection of breads, bagels, cupcakes, donuts, coffee cakes & more!

Rich, a Milan native, has baked since childhood. He remembers baking a Sock It To Me cake with his grandmother at a young age. After spending a few years as an HR manager, he decided it was time to take steps toward his dream of owning his own bakery.

When asked what advice he would give to future entrepreneurs, Rich said, "Talk to people including other business owners, do your homework, keep things in perspective, and don't get discouraged!"

Learn more about Baker On The Square at their website!

Confetti Worthy Media

Confetti Worthy Media is a strategy, branding and personal development company for small business owners!

Confetti Worthy Media began in December of 2021 and has quickly picked up speed with an online course on how to use Instagram effectively to grow your business, Insta Boss.

Courtney Wendzicki, owner, met with RISE after learning about a Startup grant for small businesses offered by Minority Business Empowerment Team! Courtney said working with RISE is what propelled her forward and made starting her business feel real!

For new and aspiring entrepreneurs, Courtney urges they take their time. She grew her business from a side hustle to full-time job in the course of 6 months. Take your time transitioning to fully understand your finances & how to manage your time!

To learn more about Courtney & Confetti Worthy Media, visit her Instagram page or listen to her podcast, The Entrepreneuher Podcast!

Erei & Anchor

Erie and Anchor is a Vermilion shop for lake lovers! Micah Roberts began the store because she had an appreciation for retail and a love for lake life at an early age! She worked at the boardwalk in Putnam Bay at 16 years old. The storefront sits on a sweet corner in downtown, and she had a perfect reason for that spot!

"The moment I knew was when I stood at the counter and could see Lake Erie."

Erie & Anchor didn't get the grand opening Micah had hoped for due to COVID-19, but the community responded with support for small business and a desire to shop local.

Micah would tell future business owners to be okay with failure because its how a person grows and to go for it because the time will never seem perfect!

To learn more about Erie & Anchor, visit the website!

Sweet Potato Catering

Sweet Potato Catering started when owner, Katie Korobkin, saw the stars align! Katie worked for a local catering business where her mentor and boss encouraged her to pursue culinary school.

She started working in the food industry at different resorts. These resorts would often have long breaks and Katie would travel home to Sandusky during those times. Her mother's friends would ask her to cater small events, so she decided to start her own business.

"It was right in front of me, and I couldn't say no."

She bought 634 Columbus Ave thinking she could turn the location into a commercial kitchen, but that wasn't the case. The location had too much history and needed too much work for that kind of renovation.

She established Sweet Potato Catering at a different location and decided 634 Columbus Ave would become Venue 634, and elegant event space for any special occasion.

Katie's advice for new entrepreneurs would be to listen to what people want and it's important to stay relevant! She loves RISE because she loves the feeling of community!

Open Way Yoga

Open Way Yoga is a gathering place in Huron, OH for people interested in yoga, mindful movement, holistic health and the arts!

Brian Henderson and Shannon Thomas turned the business into what it is today following different experiences in their past!

Brian began a local co-op, House of Yen, the precursor to Open Way Yoga. When he moved away, he passed the business onto others. After moving back, he realized the business needed to be something else...

For Shannon, her experience on the reality show, Naked and Afraid, was part of the business coming to pass. The structures in her life became stabilized and a foundation was created.

Shannon & Brian say Open Way Yoga is about a range of abilities, inspiring people to come into their own bodies, and live happily from within themselves.

They urge future business owners to connect with peers who are in the same business. For example, they participate in an online forum of yoga studios.

Visit to learn more about what they offer!

Violet Pineapple Balloons

Violet pineapple balloons is a local balloon design company! Owner, Nichole Wade, started the business in Fall 2019.

Violet because Nichole's mother's favorite color was purple. Pineapple because it's the international symbol for hospitality! Nichole has been in hospitality since she was 14!!

Nichole spent time teaching herself the craft, hiring a coach, and attending balloon conventions. She new it was important to find people who do the same work and who could help her achieve her goals.

"It's important to connect with people. You can't run a business alone."

Some advice Nichole would give to new or aspiring entrepreneurs is be adaptable and connect with people!

Learn more about Violet Pineapple Balloons at their website!

Exclusively BA

Exclusively BA is a full-service brand management agency that believes in community development, positioning, and strategic planning.

Owner, Meg Corso began the business in 2017, but it officially became Exclusively BA in 2020.

In 2018, Meg was awarded the RISEing Entrepreneur Award by NEDC. Since then, she has been doing great work in the community including a special focus on supporting Veterans.

Her team works with the Huron County Area Veterans Council on different projects and makes an effort to support Veteran-led businesses.

"My best advice for a new entrepreneur is to have a solid marketing plan that includes your personal objectives, short and long-term goals, a detailed understanding of your ideal audience, where, how, and how they purchase, and what differentiates you from your competition. Plus of course, listen to everything Dennis says. HAHA. Having a support system such as RISE is one of the biggest blessings.... utilize this resource."

Learn more about Exclusively BA at

Integrated Therapeutic Healing

Integrated Therapeutic Healing is a holistic physical therapy practice in Huron, OH.

Patty Abrigo started her practice as a side hustle in 2018 and decided to let go of her other jobs 3 years later to focus solely on her business. She said letting go was scary, but freeing. She new it was time when she realized her business was growing and she was becoming busier than ever.

Patty does significant work in the community. She recently provided a class at The Link - Huron. She's involved with Working Women Connection - Sandusky Chapter. She has done free posture screenings at different health & wellness fairs, and she coordinated a wellness fair at Xtreme Fitness and Sports Complex.

Patty has big plans to do more this summer including a Yoga & Wine Night, a series of classes for school counselors, and Yoga For A Cause at the Huron River Fest.

Patty's advice for aspiring and new business owners is to think outside the box and look for ways to do things differently than others in your field.

Another important note from Patty - “Collaboration over Competition - find other like minded professionals to work WITH to help your customers/clients achieve their goals.”

"Thank you to the RISE program for providing me with invaluable resources and connections to help my business get started and grow."

Learn more about Integrated Therapeutic Healing online at

Haven Hypnosis and Wellness LLC

Entrepreneur, Nora Knople, started Haven Hypnosis and Wellness, LLC in 2018 after leaving the corporate world to follow her passion. Why hypnosis? Nora pursued the practice after connecting with a hypnotist who helped her heal and put her on the right path.

Her mission was to educate people in the community about hypnosis - to show it isn't something to be scared of - and she wanted to reach out to other wellness practitioners to create a safe haven. She values the collaboration she has with others is the complimentary care and wellness fields.

When Nora first started, she attended a mindful leadership workshop and recognized one of her obstacles, herself, who was tied to fear.

"I kept running a contingency plan in my head for what I would do if I failed. It was holding me back. When I reframed that ideology into a contingency plan for what I would do when I succeeded, that became that mindset of me being successful whether I have $200 or $1,000,000 in the bank. I determine my definition of success."

Haven Hypnosis and Wellness LLC offers hypnosis, reiki, meditation, and mindfulness. Nora also hosts a class called, "Paint Your Way Out," a hypno-meditative painting experience for people to get their emotions out of their head and onto paper.

Nora's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who may be afraid to take the first few steps to owning their business, is to "just do it." She said being scared left her stuck. "I didn't know how to be an entrepreneur."

"RISE helped me see the promise I had in myself and showed me I knew more about business than I gave myself credit for. If it weren't for RISE, I wouldn't know where I'd be."

To learn more about what Nora does & Haven Hypnosis and Wellness LLC, check out the website Also check out one of Nora's podcasts, Unscripted Energy or Divine Dragonfly!

Lena Brows & Beauty Bar

Lena Brows & Beauty Bar is a Downtown Sandusky salon owned by Bridget Burel.

Bridget named her business, Lena, after her grandmother, who was the inspiration for her to start her own business.

The beauty bar provides many services including brow tinting, waxing, threading, and tweezing; lash lifts, tints, and extensions; various facials; body waxing; massage services; and makeup services!

Bridget is very involved in the Sandusky Community! She has visited Sandusky High School classes to talk about entrepreneurship. She created an outreach program called, “Let’s Talk” to bring entrepreneurs into one room to discuss challenges they face and help them connect with services to help them succeed. She also developed “Color Me Pretty,” a program to teach kids about filling themselves with positivity and spreading love.

"Time is going to pass anyway, and so will your chance to take those steps, time waits on no one, just do it like Nike says," Bridget shared with aspiring entrepreneurs.

Bridget was recognized this February at Minority Business Empowerment Team Black Business Pioneer awards for being an impactful business leader in the community.

Learn more about Lena Brows & Beauty Bar at

Bake Erie

Bake Erie is a sweet bakery in downtown Sandusky! Owner, Liz Turner, always loved baking. Liz was a general manager at a restaurant in New Orleans for 10 years! She learned a lot about how to run a food establishment during that time. Plus, she loved to surprise the staff with her own baked goods!

She started doing some baking work on the side and decided she wanted to run her own bakery. So, she moved home to Sandusky with her family, and started her own business!

She began as a cottage baker and often sold at farmer's markets and at a local coffee shop. Today, Bake Erie items are sold at 6 different locations - one location being Liz's own bakery in the Marketplace Downtown.

The Bake Erie shop is unique because it doesn't have the same selection of items every day. Liz says she likes a changing menu because she can try new things and keep up with trends!

Liz loves the opportunity to teach others her craft and serve as a mentor. She currently has two employees at Bake Erie. She also partnered with Perkins High School to hire an intern. That intern went onto culinary school!

Some advice Liz would share with new entrepreneurs is to talk to people and network! She believes attending community events and keeping a circle of friends who are also entrepreneurs is important!

A huge thanks to each of these business owners for their contributions and commitment to our community!

Alissa Fisher

RISE Coordinator


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