[caption id="attachment_231105" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Adrienne and Lance Williams, entrepreneur owners of Rhythm + Heat blended spices company, accepted their award during the Barclays Small Business Week. | DBT PHOTO BY ROGER MORRIS
WILMINGTON – Adrienne and Lance Williams, entrepreneur owners of Rhythm + Heat blended spices company, were named winners of the first Minster Memorial Grand Prize on Tuesday, May 2, during the fifth annual Barclays Small Business Week Vendor Fair at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Wilmington.
The prize was named in honor of Will Minster, Wilmington jeweler, downtown small business advocate and champion of the entrepreneur program, who died suddenly on April 13. Minster was eulogized by both dignitaries and small business owners at the ceremonies for his work on their behalf. The award carries with it a $5,000 grant.
[caption id="attachment_231104" align="alignleft" width="300"] Adrienne Williams, entrepreneur co-owner of Rhythm + Heat blended spices company, talks with attendees of the Barclays Small Business Week. | DBT PHOTO BY ROGER MORRIS
“A good idea is just like a gnat,” Adrienne Williams said in accepting the reward. “It just keeps coming back to bug you ... a good idea is more than just a concept. It’s a plan that needs action.”
Later, back at her booth, Williams said that while this is only the third year in business for her and her husband, they now "want to do what we can and give back to the community.” She also said she wants to be sure people have a little more spice in their cooking.
Second place winners ($4,000) were Sam Gratteri and Cheri Hadley for their Han Dover Your Rover dog care business in Dover, while third place ($3,000) went to Tanisha Bullock, owner of La Bella Bleu boutique in Claymont.
Ashley Rice took fourth place ($2,000) for The Nest: Play Café, opening this summer in Middletown and Dover, and fifth place ($1,000) went to Emmanuel Escobar Mondragon of Aqua Plumbing Pros in Lewes. The awards were the culmination of competition where companies made business pitches to a panel of local judges. During the fair a total of 45 small business manned booths to sell their merchandise or services.
The program is part of an initiative by the local nonprofit West End Neighborhood House in conjunction with Barclays to foster business innovation throughout the state.
“By the end of the month we will have graduated 796 businesses,” West End Executive Director Paul Calistro said. “When we started, we had about 50 a year, and this year we had 150 in Sussex County alone. There are a lot of talented people with good business ideas, but they need a little guidance and sometimes some financial assistant. [In return,] they become economic generators for their communities.”
[caption id="attachment_231103" align="alignright" width="300"] Adrienne and Lance Williams were just one of many grant recipients during the Barclays Small Business Week. | DBT PHOTO BY ROGER MORRIS
The Launcher program is a combination of classwork in how to get a business off the ground and keep it sustainable, as well as one-on-one sessions with mentors.
“We have people who will help introduce those who need financing to people who might be able to assist them,” Calistro said. “And once someone is in the program, we tell them they are a customer for life.”
In his remarks, Lance Williams noted a few weeks after he and Adrienne had completed their initial class work, they were urged to come back for a special 12-week program for people in the food business.
“We were tired, and we have kids,” he said, “but it was worth it.”
In addition to financial support, Denny Nealon, CEO of Barclays US Consumer Bank, said company employees also helped act as competition judges and advisors. Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki and New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer were also at the awards ceremonies to add their support.