ST. PAUL, MN – WomenVenture is pleased to announce our 2023 award winners: Carley Kammerer of Wildflyer Coffee; Vanessa Drews, Cheesecake Funk; and Jenifer Bellefleur & Kelsey Lee Karol owners of New Gild Jewelers.
This year’s awards celebrate the achievement of these three businesses and four entrepreneurs:
Social Entrepreneur Award: Carley Kammerer, Wildflyer Coffee
Wildflyer Coffee, founded in 2020 by Executive Director Carley Kammerer, is helping to break the cycle of homelessness by providing youth a four-month employment training program to cultivate the personal and professional skills needed to find and maintain stable employment and leave homelessness for good. The impact the program has had in just 3 years is so significant that Wildflyer opened its second location in St. Paul this spring.
Resilience Award: Vanessa Drews, Cheesecake Funk
After a nudge from Prince, Cheesecake Funk founder Vanessa Drews stepped away from her legal career in 2019 to create an out-of-this-world experience for her customers with delicious cheesecake. Vanessa’s wholesale business suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she was not eligible to receive relief funding, but she persevered, and Cheesecake Funk is thriving by adding more customers every day while expanding product footprint across Minnesota.
Expanding Business Award: Jenifer Bellefleur & Kelsey Lee Karol, New Gild Jewelers
In just six years New Gild Jewelers co-owners Jenifer Bellefleur and Kelsey Lee Karol have grown their revenue over 300% and opened a second location crafting jewelry the old-fashioned way, one piece at a time. They encountered substantial obstacles on their journey to business ownership–but with the help of WomenVenture’s lending program, they survived a pandemic, added a diverse staff, and proudly pay a living wage.
All will be celebrated and recognized at our signature annual fundraising gala Women Mean Business that will be held on September 30, 2023, at Union Depot St. Paul. It will feature a Marketplace with 40 entrepreneurs selling gifts, clothing, jewelry, and more. This Marketplace will be open to the public 4:30 – 6:30 pm. The award ceremony, fundraising gala, and dinner will follow at 6:30 pm and run through 8:30 pm. The Marketplace will re-open following the gala and remain open until 10:00 pm.
Our emcee for the evening will be Jasmine Brett Stringer whose skills and energy will help us raise more than $150,000 to support WomenVenture’s training and lending programs. Attendees will be entertained by Ashley DuBose during the program and at the after-party.
“The economic outcomes through adding jobs, reinvesting into community, and rebuilding our main streets are powered by clients like Carley, Vanessa, Jenifer, and Kelsey. Women Mean Business is a unique opportunity to celebrate client success while raising funds to advance more minority-owned businesses,” says LeeAnn Rasachak, WomenVenture CEO. “Thanks to the generous supporters and sponsors of Women Mean Business, WomenVenture provides our clients with training, technical assistance, and affordable capital access to bolster their success as business owners.”
Communications & Marketing Manager, WomenVenture
Jjellings@womenventure.org / 612-224-9553