DENVER, Co. – What does a dream need to come true? At Denver’s The Zone, the answer is knowledge and space.
“We wanted to create some sort of opportunity for small businesses,” said Andrea Barela, CEO of NEWSED, a multidimensional nonprofit that serves the needs of West Denver.
A great need is to teach business acumen in an affordable and realistic way to help uplift a community struggling with gentrification and dislocation.
Upon graduation, they can become sellers at The Zone, owned by the association, who can be rented at an affordable price, helping to start businesses that might not have had the chance to start.
“That’s really what it took to make sure that not only did people, uh, get this opportunity, but that they have the know-how in a very similar format, like everything you need to know to run your business, you will learn during these eight weeks, ”said Barela.
“This is great support and it allows me to really gain a foothold in my business to move forward,” said Latasha Bell, owner of Ashae Soaps which is a supplier to The Zone.
Even with a great support system, The Zone has suffered blow after blow due to COVID-19. Store closures and health issues, even loss of life, have been big hurdles for businesses as well as nonprofits, putting dreams on hold.
“It really feels good, but it also makes me very anxious because I know there is a lot more we can do. There are a lot more people we can help. And I think, I have it. ‘The impression that the pandemic has left has crippled the retail community in several ways, ”said Barela.
Susan Luna is another The Zone salesperson and owner of Luna Apparel. She says that although the pandemic has been difficult, the skills she learned from NEWSED have helped her business survive.
“I learned in class that you have to rotate and you have to figure that out, so I started making face masks and couldn’t make them fast enough. It was really kind of crazy. I didn’t. never thought I would do that, but I started putting my own designs on a face mask and it kept me afloat, ”she said.
“I’ve always said I’ve learned that business reveals who you are and if you’re not ready you have to prepare yourself, and if you can’t prepare then you won’t be able to do it. So that’s where we are, ”Bell said.
As we move into the new year, NEWSED hopes we choose to use our dollars intentionally, spending where it counts to help local entrepreneurs continue to realize their dreams of business success, no matter what 2022 may throw in our pocket. .
“Look for these kinds of businesses first, because people sell products so they can support their families and support the future of their families. And to me that’s a lot more meaningful than buying from a big conglomerate that’s going to be great, you know? “said Barela.