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Cabarrus Center Announces Fall Cohort of Retail Lab Boot Camp

On Wednesday, September 28, the Cabarrus Center welcomed a new cohort of fourteen entrepreneurs into the Retail Lab Boot Camp program. The six-week immersive boot camp began in the fall of 2021 as a program to support local entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting a retail business.

A partnership between the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the Flywheel Foundation, the curriculum consists of instructor-led sessions supplemented by a self-directed Learning Management System. The program covers topics relevant to business and retail systems basics including strategy, branding and marketing, e-commerce, point-of-sale and inventory.

While the course itself is tailored to meet the fundamentals, the nature of the cohort enables participants the ability to learn from peers in various stages of their retail journey.

Nicole Fodeke, participant and owner of Be Handmade Soaps, said, “I am really excited about being accepted into Retail Lab. I’m looking forward to learning about strategies for running a successful business. I will be taking full advantage of the knowledge of the presenters as well as the networking opportunities provided by all the other business owners in the program. I know how to make soap but I want to scale my business!”

Fall 2022 Retail Lab Participants

  • Meagan Beam | OTTER Reading
  • Juan Irby | Mason’s Mixer
  • Michele Webb | Gift Innovations
  • Matthew Daily | Kannapolis Creators Studio
  • Jennifer McDonald | Jenuine Scents, LLC
  • Nicole Oaties | Opulence Self-Care Collection
  • Claire Hill | Shay Bird Baby
  • James Wise | Wise Earth and Iron
  • Bobbie Wilson | Scrubbies
  • Kristen Wells | Perfect for Candles
  • Jessica Ambra-Puntarich | The Pyrite Crown
  • Syte’Nial Harriel | Nastalgic Mayne, LLC
  • Cenderiea Bell | Crown’d Hair Collection
  • Nicole Fodeke | Be Handmade Soaps

Meagan Beam, founder of OTTER Reading intends to utilize the program knowledge to expand her reading support services to a larger audience of students in need. “I am thrilled to have been selected to be part of the Retail Lab Program. My company, OTTER Reading is passionate about providing reading support to the millions of students who are not reading at grade level in the United States. I know being a part of this one-of-a-kind opportunity will help me make a tremendous impact!”

At the completion of the program, participants will have the opportunity to compete for grant funding as well as test their concept in the Retail Lab Pop-Up store for six months which launched earlier this year. The Pop-Up store allows early-stage retailers the opportunity to put to practice what they learned in a co-op fashion and test the market without the typical risk that comes with opening a brick-and-mortar retail business. Learn more about the Retail Lab Pop-Up store at

Boot Camp participants receive a 3-month Flywheel Membership including space use at the Cabarrus Center, amenities, and member benefits. Additionally, participants will receive ongoing access to the tools on the Learning Management System and continued support from the entrepreneurial organizations at the Cabarrus Center.

Learn more about the Retail Lab program on the Cabarrus Center’s website at

About the Cabarrus Center:

Located in the heart of downtown Concord, the Cabarrus Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 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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