Village Launch Pitch Competition highlights emerging entrepreneurs


The winners of the very first Village Launch Pitch Competition brings together their experience in the Greenville entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The participants in the pitch competition all completed one of the two Nasha Lendinga nonprofit organization that provides microloans to underfunded entrepreneurs, or by Village Launch’s Business Entrepreneur Academya 10-week cohort-based program that equips entrepreneurs from every back street.

The winners of the Pitch Contest, a collaboration between village start and St Matthew UMCtook home cash prizes, in addition to endorsements from her peers in the local business community.

Lashonn Edmunds

CAIRS shoes

$10,000 St. Matthew UMC of Greenville Grant Winner

CAIRS Shoes is the brainchild of Lashonn Edmunds, who wanted to create fashionable shoes that didn’t sacrifice comfort for style – especially for those who have various ailments with their feet. From pregnant women to diabetics, the shoes feature True Stretch technology that stretches in four directions, allowing for enhanced flexibility in a stylish design.

The products are particularly suitable for people with lymphedema, a condition that causes fluid to build up in the soft tissues of the body when the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked, including the feet, making stylish shoes all but impossible.

Edmunds is hoping to change that and is currently working with her Michelin to acquire materials for their designs.

“Our slogan is, ‘It shouldn’t hurt to look this good,'” Edmunds said.

Jennifer Spears

The African Violet

$5,000 SC Community Loan Fund Grant Winner

Jennifer Spears was a massage therapist for years when COVID-19 forced her to hit the brakes. After returning to school to study herbalism, she opens her new mobile tea bar, The African Violetlater this year.

“When people try my tea, they realize how delicious it is,” Spears says. “I intentionally mix my teas this way to surprise people and change their assumptions.”

The mobile tea bar African Violet aims to fill a gap in the beverage market, especially for events centered around coffee, sugary soft drinks and alcohol.

“I have the ability to really customize tea for people and blend it just for them,” Spears said.

Shayla Sadler

Empowered to Purpose

$2,500 SC Community Loan Fund Grant Winner

While there are many personal training programs for physical health today, Shayla Sadler realized there was one piece missing in the market: personal training for the mind.

Her mindset coaching program, Empowered for Purpose, aims to change that by creating a private online community that combines practical lessons, community support, and mindset training for women.

“You hear people say all the time, ‘If you change the way you think, you change your life.’ But you don’t always know what that means and what to do,” Sadler said.

ReShay Drummond

Target One firearms training

$1,500 SC Community Loan Fund Grant Winner

ReShay Drummond and her business partner Kevin Simpson both have years of experience in the armed forces – Simpson as a combat veteran from the Iraq War, Drummund as a Marine Corps veteran.

Now they’re using that experience to offer gun instruction, with a focus on creating an environment for Black women who may be new to gun ownership.

“So many of these gun owners don’t know enough about safety,” Drummond said. “We need to change that by delivering safety training in a way that creates a sense of community so people are engaged and comfortable learning.”

Target One Firearm Training also educates gun owners on the rules and regulations of gun ownership.

Sabrina Reeder

Great Greenville discovery

$1,000 SC Community Loan Fund Grant Winner

Sabrina Reeder spent years away from her hometown of Greenville, and when she came back she realized there was so much more to discover.

That’s why she’s created a new way to reproduce the sense of discovery for longtime residents and visitors alike.

Great Greenville Discovery is an event-based program that acts as Greenville’s “Amazing Race,” combining tourist adventure with support for local businesses.

“It helps companies increase their visibility while also creating a sense of the game that people could lose by living in a city for so long without realizing how special it is,” Reeder said.


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