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Ella Williams, CEO of Posh Teatime Co., Jenifer Washington-Woodford, CEO of JM Botanicals and Asia Smith, CEO of H&H Luxury Events Take the Top Prizes

Contact: Victoria Murray Release: April 5, 2023

COLUMBUS—The Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity (WCEO) today announced the winners of ASPIRE Pitch!, the region’s only pitch competition specifically for growing and scaling underserved women of color-owned businesses. In front of a standing room only audience of nearly 100, the competition awarded over $30,000, the largest pitch prize amount to date for WCEO’s ASPIRE Business Accelerator program.

The top prize winners are:

First Place: Ella Williams, Founder & CEO of Posh Teatime Co. ( Posh Teatime Co. is a social enterprise and luxury teatime experience company. The company specializes in bringing vintage china, crystal, cutlery, hand crafted food & high-quality teas to homes and other venues.

Second Place: Jenifer Washington-Woodford, Founder & CEO of JM Botanicals ( ). JM Botanicals is an ecommerce personal care platform curating premium clean face and body care products at an affordable price point. Third Place: Asia Smith, Founder & CEO, H&H Luxury Event Rentals ( ). H&H Luxury Event Rentals is a technology company that specializes in the high-end event photography experience.

Each of the remaining participants were awarded a small grant prize as well.

“Black and Brown women continue to be the fastest growing demos of entrepreneurs in the country and here in Franklin County yet are the lowest revenue earners. They need more equitable support and investment for sustained growth and establishing scalable business models to unlock their economic potential that will benefit our entire region. ASPIRE is specifically focused on building capacity and resourcing scalability for the women-owned companies we work with,” said Keena Smith, Founder of WCEO. “These CEOs and their companies represent the future of small business in our region.”

ASPIRE Pitch judges included the Honorable Nick Bankston, Columbus City Council; Emily Savors, The Columbus Foundation; Dionne Ransom, Victoria’s Secret; Jayme Smoot, Nationwide Insurance; Jeanna Hondel, PE., Ascension Construction Solutions and Sean Grant, The Columbus Partnership.

“ASPIRE is an innovative approach to supporting women CEOs,” said Victoria Murray, WCEO’s Client Relationship Manager. “We’ve created a rigorous operations-focused curriculum and weaved in a wellness consciousness for a unique experience that honors the lived experiences of women of color. Then we engage our entire community in our support structure through our new PITCH IN™ crowdfunding model. Finally, we resource our CEOs for the entire lifecycle of their businesses through our Alumnae Circle scaling programs.”

The contest marked the conclusion of twelve (12) weeks of business instruction and technical assistance for the seven (7) Founders/CEOs selected to participate in the spring cohort of ASPIRE. They represent a diverse range of growth industries including event-tech, food and beverage, management consulting, luxury personal care, ecommerce and educational consulting.

With the addition of Cohort 3, WCEO’s ASPIRE Accelerator portfolio now includes 13 companies owned by African American and Latina women. Now in its second year, ASPIRE Accelerator alumnae have accessed nearly $1,000,000 in capital and created thirteen jobs. ASPIRE Cohort 3 is underwritten by The Columbus Foundation, Bank of America and Huntington Bank. Program operations are supported by Uprys.

About The Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity:

Founded in 2013, The Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity is 501c3 business and wealth accelerator for women of color. WCEO’s mission is to help women access the resources they need to create generational wealth through scalable business ownership, financial empowerment and leadership development while staying well. We envision a future where all women of color reach their full economic potential. ASPIRE is Ohio’s first small business accelerator for women of color. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, the intentional “small-batch” program approach provides early growth stage companies with customized business instruction, individualized technical assistance, mentoring and coaching they need to grow and scale.

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