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Spring 2024 Retail Lab Graduates 14 Local Entrepreneurs

On Wednesday, May 8, fourteen local entrepreneurs celebrated their completion of the Retail Lab Boot Camp. The program is tailored to address the complex issues that arise when opening and operating a retail establishment. The graduates of Retail Lab completed a six-week immersive boot camp that concluded with the opportunity to pitch for grant funding.

This cohort featured a mixture of ventures ranging from a new record shop concept to a refreshing take on Bloody Mary mixes. All participants in the program shared a common interest in expanding their knowledge and networks throughout the program.

Melissa Scarfone, who participated in the program with her business, Willow’s Handcrafted Collars, had this to say about the program: “The Retail Lab Boot Camp has been phenomenal. We have gone over anything you can imagine… I highly recommend it; I cannot wait to take everything I learned from the program and pass the lessons on to my customers.”

The program is made possible through generous funding from Wells Fargo. It is a collaborative effort between the Flywheel Foundation and the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Local business owners play a pivotal role in developing the curriculum on business strategy, branding, marketing, e-commerce, point-of-sale, and inventory management.

Retail Lab graduates are rewarded with a 3-month Flywheel Membership, providing access to space at the Cabarrus Center, various amenities, and member benefits. Furthermore, graduates will continue to receive unwavering support from Entrepreneurial Support Organizations at the Cabarrus Center.

Applications for the next cohort will open later this year. If you have questions about the program, please contact Grant Colgan at the Flywheel Foundation.

Spring 2024 Retail Lab Graduates

  • Bigg On Natural Beauty | Equality Biggers, Andre Biggers*
  • Define Shine Cleaning | Stephanie Watkins*
  • Java Notes Records | Douglas Taylor
  • Kitchen Hippies | Naomi Colon*
  • Mama Bears Krafts | Lori Green
  • Placidi Tea | Jane Sabah Kpeli
  • Queen Hooked Creations | Candance Madry
  • Southern Stitches and Gifts | Andrea Edward
  • Scout & Willow | Christina Thompson, Natalie Smith
  • Willow’s Handcrafted Collars | Melissa Scarfone*
  • XCEL | Ernest Swindell, Alonna Bailey*

*Indicates venture received micro-grant through the Retail Lab Program

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

About the Cabarrus Center
The Cabarrus Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is in downtown Concord and provides a range of amenities to support entrepreneurs in launching or growing their businesses. These include professional workspaces, meeting rooms, event spaces, educational workshops, networking events, business resources, and mentorship services.

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