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CMC class launches fledgling entrepreneurs

Courtesy of Colorado Mountain College
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Their slogan is “Live. Love. Linger.” Their product, Goddess Gowns, is a colorful array of slinky, silky kimono-like robes made for wherever lingering can happen, say the beach or the boudoir. For would-be entrepreneurs Charmaine Boudreaux and M.J. Lerch, the slogan and the product are the fruit of a 12-week class that concluded Tuesday night at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs.Boudreaux, Lerch and nine fellow students learned the fine points of starting up a business venture in CMC’s Leading Edge course. In that time most came up with a business plan and a good healthy dose of self-confidence.The class is taught by Jerry Pradier who has a string of degrees including a masters in marketing and personnel management from Troy State University and a masters in philosophy from State University of New York Albany, as well as certificates in organizational development from the Air Force Leadership and Management Development Center and leadership development from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.In the course of the class, students learn the basics of business development and complete a business plan for their venture. At graduation Tuesday evening, many of them spoke of their dreams and credited Pradier and his course for helping them to find the right way to realize them.”Things happen in this class that happened because I was here,” said Cody Owen, a disabled man who has launched Passage to Freedom, which provides access to buildings and open spaces for the disabled.Owen said during the class he had an idea to design a wheelchair-accessible dog park in Carbondale, and he is now working with the town to that end.Cabinet-maker Michael White related how a chance conversation at a dance class a couple of years ago led to a major job – building cabinets for actor Kevin Costner’s new home in Aspen – that in turn led him to start his own business.”I’ve been in the cabinet-making business for 27 years, and I’m just now (starting to) work for myself,” he told the class. “I really have a passion for what I do. … I’ve had the privilege of working with millionaires and even more privilege working with people who have saved for 30 years to remodel their kitchen.”White echoed the words of keynote speaker and Glenwood Springs real estate maven Donna Fell, who encouraged the class to follow their passion and stick with their values.Fell told her own success story beginning with her move to Glenwood Springs in the mid-1980s as a single parent with three kids and very little money. One night on her way home from her waitressing job, Fell stopped at 7-11 and found a lottery ticket on the ground. She mailed it in and was selected to play “Spin the Wheel,” which gave contestants a chance to win $2.5 million. She won $25,000.”I decided to invest in myself,” Fell said. She followed her passion by enrolling in real estate school. “I knew I wanted to be in real estate from the time I was 10 years old” when she saw a real estate commercial on TV. “I saw the white picket fence and the house and (knew) owning my own home was the greatest dream I could have.”I never lost sight of that dream,” she said.Tuesday night the small conference room in the CMC administration building on Grand Avenue was brim full with happy, hopeful entrepreneurs who were ready to go right out and follow their passion.CMC’s Small Business Development Center regional director Kaye Jacobson encouraged them to do so.She said the common theme running through their plans was simple. “You are all contributing to the quality of life that makes life here so special.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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