What Do These Small Business Owners All Have in Common?

Library programs take entrepreneurs to new levels of success.

by Rebecca Joy NorlanderJoanna Laursen BruckerShaun Field
May 16, 2022

As part of our research looking into the relationship between libraries and entrepreneurship, we conducted interviews with a range of entrepreneurs. These business owners -– who all started very different types of businesses -– have one thing in common: they all credit their local libraries with providing vital assistance in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Meet Godfrey Riddle, who owns a lifestyle brand with a social justice focus called Civic Saint. A portion of Civic Saint’s sales are donated to organizations that fight for racial and social equity. Godfrey launched his small business during the height of the pandemic, following the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the movements that sprung up in their wake. His local library helped him to identify a market niche and build a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Read more about Godfrey’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Godfrey Riddle

Meet Eileen Bobowski, who started a Kansas City non-profit to help people build financial stability through sewing. Her organization, The Sewing Labs, proved to be especially timely: during the pandemic, 200+ volunteers sewed more than 75,000 masks that were distributed for free to the community! Singer, the sewing machine company, donated 30 machines, further extending the organization’s capacity. Eileen used her library to build business knowledge, create marketing videos, and increase The Sewing Labs’ social media presence.

Read more about Eileen’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Eileen Bobowski

Meet Darlene Deluca, an independent author who learned strategies and skills for marketing and promoting her books. One of the key benefits to the programs that Deluca found at her local library was that they were both free and viewed as trustworthy, which was common in many other library programs as well. Given the library’s reputation, small business owners can trust that the information they get is accurate and that the classes will be worth their time, despite not charging as much as business classes elsewhere.

Read more about Darlene’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Darlene Deluca

Meet Megan Davis, a natural hair culturist and entrepreneur who is educating her community about African American hair heritage and history. In the last 10 years, she has conducted about 50 free workshops and presentations, most of which have been hosted in the free public meeting rooms at her local library in Toledo. Megan has also worked with library staff in one-on-one mentoring sessions to design a business plan and set business goals.

Read more about Megan’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Megan Davis

Meet Cindy Newland, a businesswoman who is helping companies develop wellness initiatives and teaching people to enjoy plant-based diets. Her library has supported Cindy’s business growth through valuable insight in how to leverage social media, skill building in marketing and branding, and general support and guidance to navigate the pandemic.

Read more about Cindy’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Cindy Newland

Meet Daniel Hipsher, who has built a successful business on his family’s barbeque sauce and now owns a popular restaurant with three locations in Kansas City. Not only did Daniel learn photo skills and social media techniques through his local library ––he also found support to help him move into consulting. He now provides services to other entrepreneurs to help bring their products to market.

Read more about Daniel’s entrepreneurial journey here.

Daniel Hipsher

Banner photo credit: Social.Cut on Unsplash

Join the Conversation
What did you think of this? How did you use it? Is there something else we should be thinking of?
Support research that has a real world impact.