Jun 7, 2021

Danielle Washington

Justice Lomax

Eboni Jones

Tomorrow’s business owners are starting their entrepreneurial paths at the Temple Salvation Army corps in South St. Louis, as part of a class to educate young mothers on assembling a business plan, networking, and solving problems crucial to a business’ survival.

The program, Entremoms, which partners with the Salvation Army, takes place over 15 weeks, with three hours for each class. The aims are to foster business ambitions, big thinking, and logistical fluency, among others.

On a Sunday night in June, Entremoms toasted three new graduates with gifts and recognition for completing the program, at the Temple Salvation Army corps. All three recipients presented to an assembled group of about 50 people their business ideas and plans, which had real-life tools such as marketing plans and profit and gain calculations.

Justice Lomax used real-life experiences as the idea for her business, No Sleep Eatery. Lomax’s single mother had struggled with addiction while Justice was young, sometimes leaving Justice to find her own meals. No Sleep Eatery takes the form of a place to connect and cook, a hybrid of meeting Justice’s needs by bringing together the community.

“For me, this is initiating what I always wanted to do in life,” Lomax said, of the recognition. “I’ve always been very nervous about my idea not being good enough. This is the first time I’ve ever actually truly shared it with a group of people, gotten input, and was able to build upon that. This opportunity was the most precious opportunity I could have ever received. Entremoms has changed my view on my business and my life, honestly. I’m ready to move forward with what I want to do.”

For Eboni Jones, whose clothing business, Jada’s Closet, is named after her daughter, Jada, inspiration came in the form of first-hand experiences trying to find the right-fitting clothes with her daughter. Whether the dryer shrunk them or how they were made, clothes with a good fit were elusive for Jones and Jada.

“This program is valuable because it helps other young moms like me,” Jones said. “I’m only 19 years old, and I thought that I wasn’t going to graduate, and all this other stuff. They pushed me to graduate and be here today.”

Danielle Washington was full speed ahead on what she does well: doing people’s hair. Washington’s business, Gripped by Dee, focused on the never-ending need of customers and their hair. With referrals and excellent customer service, Washington already has a clientele base.

“I chose this one because it’s always going to be needed,” Washington said. “I feel like it will be successful because of my customer service and the type of person, the type of energy that I bring around. People always want to come to me, and I get referred to a lot, with that type of communication.”

Adina O’Neal, the director of the City Mission Collective, and a co-leader at Entremoms, presented the awards to the young women. O’Neal’s eyes lit up when talking about inspiring future leaders.

“This is the first time that they had delivered their pitches to anyone in public. They have done a great job putting it together,” O’Neal said. “They learn everything. Basically, each day that they come, they are putting a piece of their business plans together. They learn about marketing, they design their logos, they started websites, got a professional email. Today, they went in and had hair and makeup done and got head shots, so they could present themselves as a more professional young adult, who’s serious about their business. They also learn about marketing, profit and loss, cost analysis and getting their business legal.”

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