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Cabarrus Center Retail Lab Graduates 14 Local Entrepreneurs, Awards 5 Micro-Grants

Fourteen local entrepreneurs have completed the Fall 2022 Retail Lab Boot Camp—a program established in 2021 to address the complex nature of starting and operating a retail establishment.

Entrepreneurs from Cabarrus, Rowan and Mecklenburg counties participated in the program, completing the application-based, six-week immersive boot camp in early November 2022. Five of the graduates were also awarded $2,500 micro-grants after pitching for the members of the Cabarrus Center’s Entrepreneurship Council.

Juan Irby, owner of Mason’s Mixer and grant winner, found that graduating from the program gave him the boost of confidence he needed to keep his business going. “Participating in the program provided me with valuable tools to grow my business-point of sale, marketing tips and learning the difference between branding and marketing were things that I could translate immediately to my business model,” said Irby. “What I loved most about the program was being surrounded by like-minded individuals with the same goals as me. Winning the grant was great, but having the support of the Cabarrus Center, Flywheel and the community has truly been the highlight of my experience.”

Matthew Daily, founder of Kannapolis Creators Studio and grant winner, said he is “so thankful” for the Retail Lab program. “It genuinely helped grow my business from a simple idea to a full-fledged start-up and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us. We plan to utilize our grant to build upon our current equipment and develop new DIY Kit product offerings that were previously outside of our budget.”

The Flywheel Foundation collaborated with the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to structure the curriculum on their self-directed Learning Management System supplementing the instructor-led sessions. The curriculum covered topics such as business basics, strategy, branding and marketing, e-commerce, point-of-sale and inventory.

Graduates received a three-month Flywheel Membership including space use at the Cabarrus Center, amenities, and member benefits. Additionally, they will receive ongoing support from the Entrepreneurial Organizations at the Cabarrus Center.

Fall 2022 Retail Lab Graduates

  • Be Handmade Soaps | Nicole and Bayo Fodeke (Cabarrus)
  • Crown’d Hair Collection | Cenderiea Bell (Cabarrus)
  • Gift Innovations | Michele Webb (Cabarrus)
  • Jenuine Scents, LLC | Jennifer McDonald (Rowan)
  • Kannapolis Creators Studio | Matthew Daily (Cabarrus)
  • Mason’s Mixer | Juan Irby (Cabarrus)
  • Nastalgic Mayne, LLC | Syte’Nial Harriel (Cabarrus)
  • Opulence Self-Care Collection | Nicole Oaties (Cabarrus)
  • OTTER Reading | Meagan Beam (Mecklenburg)
  • Perfect for Candles | Kristen Wells (Mecklenburg)
  • Scrubbies | Bobbie Wilson (Rowan)
  • Shay Bird Baby | Claire Hill (Rowan)
  • The Pyrite Crown | Jessica Ambra-Puntarich (Cabarrus)
  • Wise Earth and Iron | James Wise (Rowan)
In addition to receiving $2,500 micro-grants, the following entrepreneurs have started selling their products inside the Retail Lab Pop Up Store.

Pictured from left to right:

  • Be Handmade Soaps
  • Kannapolis Creators Studio
  • Mason’s Mixer
  • Wise Earth and Iron
  • OTTER Reading (not pictured)

Located at 57 Union Street South in downtown Concord, the Retail Lab Pop Up Store provides a space for local entrepreneurs to test out their business concepts in a low-risk retail environment. Learn more about the Retail Lab Pop Up Store at

For more information about the Retail Lab program, visit

About the Cabarrus Center

Located in the heart of downtown Concord, the Cabarrus Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers professional workspace, meeting rooms, event space, educational workshops, networking events, business resources, mentorship services, and a host of amenities to support entrepreneurs who are launching or growing their businesses.

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