Seven LaGuardia Community College Students Launch New Ventures with Seed Funding from Capital One Bank

Long Island City, NY— LaGuardia Community College student Nadira El Khang is one step closer to realizing her dream of opening a store featuring her unique and fashionable handmade leather bags after she recently competed to win the top prize, $1,000, in the Spring semester Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge. Nadira will receive business counsel from Capital One Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge.

Nadira was among seven students who participated in the 10-week entrepreneurial training program that includes business workshops and a mentoring from Capital One Small Business Bankers in partnership with LaGuardia Community College’s Small Business Development Center and NYDesigns, an incubator for design businesses ranging from fashion to architecture.

During her pitch to a panel of judges, Nadira, an International Accounting major who grew up fixing vintage leather bags in her father’s store in Marrakesh, explained her goal: to open a store where her customers will be able to customize their bags with different kinds of leather and hardware.  She has also demonstrated market demand and initial success through a virtual storefront she manages through

Nadira plans to put the Capital One grant toward the purchase of leather and hardware as well as a camera that will enable her to take photos of her products.

“Before, I had many ideas about my business, but I was fighting battles trying to make them happen,” said Nadira.  “The Capital One Entrepreneurship Program put me on the right track. It made everything very simple and clear, and I was able to take the steps needed to start my business.”

The other six students received seed funding based on the strength of the business plans, including:

• Ciara Scott Samuel, a Theater and Communications major, received second place and $750.  Her company Hypo Jewelry, features jewelry line for people who have sensitive skin or medical skin conditions and still want to be fashionable, trendy accessories at an affordable price.

• Cynthia Joseph-Longshamps, who is pursing an associate’s degree in business administration, shared the second prize with Ciara and also received $750.  She plans to grow her budding graphic design business, C&G Creaksyon, which serves businesses and individuals in the Haitian community across the five boroughs.

• Jack McDaniel, a LaGuardia graduate, was awarded $500 in seed funding to launch Jack McDaniel Photography, a portrait and landscape photography service.

• Camila Shakhida Shamirzaeva, an ESL student, received a $500 grant to expand her own fashion label, MONICL.  The label offers chic, high quality professional attire and accessories for young men and women.

• Dan Campbell, a Liberal Arts: Mathematics and Science major, was awarded $500 in seed funding as well.  She leveraged her background in information technology to establish TDC Tech for Local Businesses, which provides outsourced IT services to local small businesses and non-profit organizations.

• Olivie Ponce, an ESL student, also received $500 to foster his business concept.  As an abstract artist, he is preparing to launch Pintura, a line of unisex bags that are designed to bridge the gap between fine art and fashion.

The Capital One Bank Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge has taken place annually since 2008 and became a bi-annual event in 2012. Previous winners and participants of the Challenge have gone on to fully launch their business concepts. The 2011 Challenge winner, Karel Powery, launched her web-based footwear retail business, this year.

The 10-week business workshops and mentoring sessions are jointly facilitated by SBDC advisors, Capital One Small Business Bankers and Resident Designers at NYDesigns. The sessions introduce students to business plan writing, as well as fundamentals business financial and accounting skills. Additionally, the students had access to a shared studio office and the NYDesigns community and events.

The partnership between Capital One, LaGuardia’s NYDesigns and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was established in 2008. During the training, the students attend business workshops and mentoring sessions facilitated by SBDC advisors, Capital One Small Business Bankers and Resident Designers at NYDesigns. The sessions introduced students to business plan writing, as well as business financials and accounting. The students also had access to a shared studio office and the NYDesigns community and events.

“The exposure to professionals in the industry encourages our students to dream bigger,” said NYDesigns Director Natalia Arguello. “Each student received financial assistance according to where they are in the business planning process.”

About LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.

About NYDesigns

Located at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY Designs ( is a business incubator for design businesses that provides valuable and affordable resources for designers, including studio space rental, workshop/ prototyping equipment rental, business counseling and courses in business and sustainability. NY Designs’ focus is New York based designers working in product design, industrial design, fashion design, graphic design, interior design, and architecture, lighting design and jewelry design. NYDesigns is located at 45-50 30th Street, 7th floor, Long Island City, NY. 

About Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The LaGuardia Small Business Development Center provides entrepreneurs with free, one-on-one professional counseling for existing and start-up businesses in English, Spanish, Korean and three dialects of Chinese. Areas of advising include how to start a business; legal requirements; business and financial planning; marketing; business expansion; assistance with franchises; international trade and more.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

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