ICYMI: Small Business Success Series 2021 Highlights and Small Business Award Winners

October 29, 2021 | The California Capital Women’s Business Center’s second annual Small Business Success Series wrapped up today with the Small Business Awards & Recognition Ceremony. The series featured five days of business celebration, advice, and friendly competition. If you weren’t able to attend, check out the highlights below, and get excited for next year.

Monday 10/25: Get to Know Your Women’s Business Center Team

During this hour-long session, the counseling, program, and communications staff of the California Capital Women’s Business Center (WBC) introduced themselves and shared their “Top 5” tips and words of encouragement for entrepreneurs. 

Recurring themes included the importance of resilience, networking, and making use of free resources and services offered by California Capital FDC and other business development groups. To become a WBC client, click here


Tuesday 10/26: Small Business Owner Panel

The Small Business Panel featured entrepreneurs from a variety of industries in conversation with moderator and WBC business consultant Danielle Marshall. Panelists discussed their reasons for getting into business in their particular industries, the challenges they have overcome during the covid-19 pandemic, tips for keeping customers engaged, and their advice for aspiring business owners. Key takeaways included the importance of networking, the constant redefinition of “success”, and how large accomplishments can result from momentary failures. 

Click here to view the full panel


Wednesday 10/27: Pitch Competition Winners Announced 

The 2021 WBC Pitch Competition wrapped up on Wednesday, with five finalists selected for prizes ranging from $100 to $1000. The winners were: 

To learn more about each winner and tips for a successful pitch, watch the recorded session here.


Thursday 10/28: WBC Virtual Marketplace

The WBC Virtual Marketplace allowed small business owners to showcase their products and/or services to buyers and procurement specialists from boutique retailer Marshall Retail Group (MRG) and the Sacramento International Airport (SMF). 

The Virtual Marketplace featured six vendors, who are currently being highlighted on the California Capital website, (click here to view and get a head start on your holiday shopping!) and a live session during which representatives from MRG and SMF shared about upcoming opportunities and the process of doing business with them. 

View the full session here


Friday 10/29: Small Business Awards & Recognition 

The Small Business Awards & Recognition Ceremony capped off the week of celebrating the resilience and success of California’s small businesses. The title of Small Business of the Year was given to businesses across eight categories. Join us in congratulating the winners of the 2021 Small Business Awards! Click here to view the full awards ceremony.


Start-Up/Entrepreneur of the Year: Clutch

Founders: Anne Descalzo and Rachel Zillner
About: Clutch provides event management, project coordination, and staff management services. They connect organizations to the resources they need to achieve their goals including staffing, strategies, business services, and project management.

Website: clutchontracts.com

Community Engagement Business of the Year: Kaplan Solutions, Inc 

Founders: Glenn and Jill Kaplan
About: A small business focused on international trade and chemical distribution and expanded with the help of PTAC as an SB Vendor supplying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), sanitizers, and disinfectants to State Agencies.
Website: kaplansolutionsinc.com

Small Business Community Impact Award: Resilient Families 

Founder: Jillian Van Ness

About: Resilient Families connects new and growing families through classes and discussion groups—outdoors and on Zoom—through touch, sound, and movement.

Website: growresilientfamilies.com

Small Business Expansion of the Year: Wear Your Love 

Founder: Jillian Lotz

About: Wear Your Love sells custom made wedding dresses all over the world via the internet. Each dress is made to order based on each bride’s measurements. Their gross sales grew significantly from $10,000 in 2015 to $550,000 in 2020. 

Website: wearyourlovexo.com

Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year: Words Unite Bookstore 

Founder: Ashley Booker-Knight 

About: Ashley Booker-Knight is a US Army Veteran and bestselling author. Words Unite Bookstore It is a traveling bookstore that operates as a pop-up bookstore that presents signed copies of books written by independent authors. She partners with AAFES Military Exchange to operate pop-ups.
Website: wordsunitebookstore.com 

Sustainable Small Business of the Year: All Events & Management Group

Founder: Lisa Montes

About: Formed to specifically benefit service, non-profit and local organizations that are community oriented. They pivoted during the pandemic to offer covid-safe events and support community organizations. 

Website: alleventsplus.net

Small Business Innovator of the Year: Kalbinur Tursunjan, owner of Deluxe Limousines LLC.

About: Kalbinur Tursunjan began working as a limousine driver, and at just was 22 years old, in March 2016 she took over ownership of Deluxe Limousines LLC from the previous owner. In that time, she has grown the business from one to four vehicles.  

Women’s Business Center Business of the Year: Connect Consulting Services 

Founder: Nora O’Brien

About: CCS consults with businesses to help them launch or enhance an emergency management program. They take a holistic approach to emergency management, business continuity and disaster recovery for organizations, businesses and government agencies.

Website: connectconsulting.biz