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

Fourteen local entrepreneurs are celebrating their graduation from the Retail Lab Boot Camp—a program created in 2021 to address the complex nature of starting and operating a retail establishment.

The 14 graduates of Retail Lab completed an application-based, six-week immersive boot camp on May 3. The following week, twelve of the graduates chose to pitch for members of the Entrepreneurship Council for $2,500 micro-grants. Five of the twelve were successfully awarded the grants.

Olivia Van Etten, founder of Blondie Bamboo and grant winner, said of the program, “I am eternally grateful for the experience, knowledge and lessons provided by the Retail Lab cohort. The information gained during these last 6 weeks has helped my business rapidly progress and move forward. I am achieving tremendous growth and success due to the resources provided by the Flywheel Foundation and the Small Business Center.”

The Flywheel Foundation collaborated with the Small Business Center at RCCC 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.

» In the News: Small Business Center at RCCC spotlights Blondies Bamboo (

Bria Smith, founder of Her Authentic Self and grant winner said about the program, “This was an ah-mazing adventure from beginning to end! I have been exposed to a whole new world, and through this new lens of experience my company will never be the same.”

Boot Camp graduates received a 3-month Flywheel Membership including space use at the Cabarrus Center, amenities, and member benefits. Additionally, graduates will receive ongoing support from the Entrepreneurial Organizations at the Cabarrus Center.

Spring 2023 Graduates

  • MDM Enterprises | Monique May
  • Blondies’ Bamboo | Olivia Van Etten
  • SmoKee ‘Kue | Kenner Kee
  • Dirt Skirt / Gasoline Alley | Brian Kepley
  • MarlieQ’s Caribbean Queen Food Truck | Marlie Nesbeth
  • No Hair Club | James Boyd
  • Clobell Diane Beauty | Leah Afful
  • Jexsii, LLC | Tequia Williams
  • FCIV Cosmetics | Natasha Stovall
  • Bubbles | Dana Adams
  • KBKhandles&Ko. | Khandis Bostick
  • Florals at Jackson | Uletha Oglesby
  • Davis, LLC | Machica Davis
  • Her Authentic Self | Bria Smith

$2,500 Grant Winners

  • Her Authentic Self
  • Jexsii, LLC
  • SmoKee ‘Kue
  • Blondies’ Bamboo
  • MDM Enterprises

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.

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

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