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

Long Island City, NY—February 7, 2014— LaGuardia Community College student Holly Ivey, an independent hair stylist, is one step closer to realizing her dream of expanding her operation after she competed to win the top prize, $1,000, in the winter semester of the Capital One Bank Student Design Entrepreneur Challenge.

Holly was among seven students who participated in the bi-annual 10-week entrepreneurial training program. Now in its sixth year, the program includes business workshops and mentoring from Capital One Small Business Bankers in partnership with LaGuardia Community College’s NYDesigns, an incubator for design businesses ranging from fashion to architecture. To date, 66 student entrepreneurs have participated in the program.

“As a local bank, we are committed to investing in Queens and helping our community to grow and thrive,” said Daniel Delehanty, senior director of community development banking at Capital One Bank.” By fostering entrepreneurship and enabling students to gain real world business experience, we are working to develop the future business leaders of our community.”

Holly, a business administration major who rents her own station at a collective salon in SoHo, explained to the panel of judges how she plans on expanding her client base of style-conscious women who appreciate and identify with “downtown” aesthetics ranging from boho-chic to casual-sophisticate.

“The program really helped me look at my business in an in-depth, detailed manner, so I could really focus in on what parts I wanted to develop,” said a thrilled Holly. “And with the prize money I plan on optimizing my website to attract better quality traffic.”

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

• Denise Lachaper, a communications/mass media major, received second place and $750.  Her business, Dee’s Bake Shop, offers her fellow Long Island City residents an array of Dominican cakes.  Denise plans to operate the business out of her home and eventually open her own store in Long Island City.

• Laschira Holder, a business major, also received $750 to start up her business, Throne, a makeup business that will provide makeover services to women of all ethnicities, ages 21 to 45. Laschira plans to get her business up and running while she finishes college and pursues a bachelor’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Oneika Johnson, a liberal arts major, was awarded $500 to develop Ms. Maya Moo Hair, an all-natural hair care line comprising products specially formulated for cancer patients and people who suffer from thin hair or alopecia.  After earning her degree at LaGuardia, Oneika plans on pursuing a career as a family court attorney and eventually, opening her own natural beauty supply store.

• Diana Seclen, a math and science student, received a $500 grant to launch Polymorphic Designs, a multifunctional jewelry line for the professional woman who has sophisticated, modern tastes.  Diana plans to start selling her geometric jewelry through Shapeways—an online 3D printing marketplace—and eventually offer her creations at design and museum stores.  In the long term, she sees herself applying the concept of transformable complex geometrics to different scales such as furniture and installations.

• Helen Surianti, a nursing major, also received $500 to further develop BZComicHouse, a store in Flushing that serves fans of manga—Japanese comics.  She started the burgeoning store two years ago, and now hopes to further boost her sales by developing a website that will allow customers to view her inventory and purchase mangas.  Helen plans on pursuing her nursing degree, and perhaps, opening additional store locations.

The partnership between Capital One Bank and LaGuardia’s NYDesigns was established in 2008. The business workshops and mentoring sessions are conducted by business advisor Freda Thomas and small business bankers at Capital One. The sessions introduce students to business plan writing, financials, sales, marketing, customer service and business management. Additionally, the students have access to a shared studio office and the NYDesigns community and events.

“The Capital One Bank Entrepreneurship Program provides our students with opportunities that they would not normally have,” said Jane MacKillop, associate dean for adult and continuing education at LaGuardia.  “It gives them the confidence to move forward, the opportunity to experiment in a safe environment to find out more about what it is to be an entrepreneur, and it helps them to decide if this is the path they wish to take.” 

Genevieve Morente, a 2012 alumna, is one of the young entrepreneurs whose business is growing as a result of the program.  Through the program, she developed Take a Bow, a men’s accessories business that offers a diverse line of unique, handcrafted bow ties as well as luxury cufflinks.  Since taking first place in the competition, Genevieve has been designing and creating bow ties and cufflinks for custom orders as well as special events, including a YMCA auction to benefit its Strong Kids Campaign.  She is currently producing sample pieces that will launch on Father’s Day 2014.

“The program was amazing,” said Genevieve.  “Our instructor provided us with real-world situations and with wise advise on ways to start a business that are especially effective for young entrepreneurs.”

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

A program of LaGuardia Community College, NYDesigns supports and promotes design entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and stages of growth. NYDesigns is committed to helping designers secure smart, long-term growth by intersecting creativity with sound perspectives in business and management. Initiatives include: a business incubation program for design companies at critical stages of growth; a membership-based fabrication workshop for design businesses and professionals; classes, workshops, and events responsive to developments in the creative industry; and a community forum investigating issues signi­ficant to the design professions, anchored both physically at its headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, and virtually at

About Freda Thomas

Freda L. Thomas, MBA has twenty years of experience as a business advisor. She has extensive expertise developing, directing, and implementing plans to improve and expand an organization’s market position and financial profitability. Thomas works with Fortune 500 firms as well as start-up entrepreneurs, showing them how to increase their bottom line and improve overall performance. Thomas is an appointed member of the Small Business Council of New York, a self-published author and winner of the “Small Business Book Award,” and a regular seminar presenter for the Associated Builders and Contactors, a national trade organization advancing the needs of companies within the construction industry.

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, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, 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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