- August 30, 2021
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Tipped and Waxed Nail Nook and Fat T’s Cookies were among 20 winning businesses announced in the city’s Rubber City Match program. (Courtesy of Telia Anderson)
AKRON, Ohio – Tipped and Waxed Nail Nook and Fat T’s Cookies are two businesses looking to settle down in Akron with the help of the city’s Rubber City Match program.
The establishments were among 20 winning businesses announced in the second round of the program, which offers businesses resources and support to grow and prosper while boosting Akron’s neighborhood retail zones. Some 80 percent of the winning businesses are Black-owned, and 75 percent are woman-owned, according to the city. But no preference was given to minority-owned businesses, according to Heather Roszczyk, innovation and entrepreneurship advocate for the city’s Office of Integrated Development.
“There was no weight given to the race, ethnicity, or gender of the applicants; all businesses were selected based on merit alone,” Roszczyk said. “For our program outreach, we intentionally partnered with individuals and organizations that serve minority- and woman-owned businesses. The partnership and expertise of those organizations shaped our communication strategies, which I believe ultimately led to such a positive response from Black businesses and female-led businesses.”
Both Fat T’s Cookies and Tipped and Waxed Nail Nook were Space Award recipients. They will each will be matched with available commercial properties in Akron and receive technical help from the Bounce Innovation Hub, the Minority Business Assistance Center, or the Small Business Development Center to help them select their space. They will also be eligible for micro-grants to have attorneys review their lease documents.
“Rubber City Match is going to help us find a space, which is important because it’s hard to find a space,” said Telia Anderson, owner of Tipped and Waxed Nail Nook. “And sometimes with nail salons it’s even harder to find a space. A storefront would be great for us. We’re looking forward to finding a space in West Akron that also has a space for manicurists and estheticians.”
Anderson, 45, who lives in West Akron, closed her previous nail salon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She spent a year working as a traveling manicurist in Texas before deciding it was time to reestablish her salon in Akron.
“I knew there was a need for my nail salon, but hearing from former clients really solidified it,” she said. “My former clients struggled to find a nail salon that they felt comfortable going to that was reasonably priced.”
Anderson and one of her clients, who is also an attorney, submitted her application for the program. Shortly after that, she interviewed with three individuals. Two weeks later, Anderson was notified by email that she won the Space Award. Now Anderson is working on solidifying her business plan and working with Rubber City Match to find out about grant and loan opportunities for her salon. Her dream is to open a nail salon in West Akron and she plans to hire manicurists and estheticians for commission-based work and offer nail, waxing and skin-care services.
“Being able to offer my clients a space that is comfortable and in their own area, it means everything to me,” Anderson said.
Travis Howe is also looking forward to having a space of his own for Fat T’s Cookies, a business he started in 2017 by selling small batch, quarter-pound cookies out of the trunk of his car to pay for his gym membership. Howe, 29, earned bachelor’s degrees in sports management and business administration and a master’s degree in sports management. But after applying to 500 jobs without success, Howe returned to selling cookies to make ends meet. Now Fat T’s Cookies is a full-time job for Howe, who also employs three part-time bakers.
Travis Howe started Fat T's Cookies in 2017. Fat T's offers small batch, quarter-pound cookies. (Courtesy of Travis Howe)
Currently Howe shares a commercial kitchen with another food purveyor, which means he and his team can only bake at night.
“Not baking at night would be pretty clutch,” Howe, a Highland Square resident said. “Right now I’m baking at 5 p.m. 4-5 days per week and I get home whenever I get home.”
Howe said having his own commercial kitchen will allow him to control all the variables and scale his business to better meet customer demand. He currently sells his baked goods at the Akron Northside Marketplace, on the Fat T’s Cookies website and at weekend marketplaces and events.
“Since I started, people have asked me when I’m going to open up a store. I don’t think people realize how expensive a restaurant is. Instead, I have taken a slow and methodical approach to building the foundation of Fat T’s Cookies, but I’ve always wanted the first store to be here in Akron.”
Howe was approached about applying for the program, and he decided to apply for the Space Award because he saw it as way to get connected with the city and other small business owners. Though Howe isn’t set on opening a brick and mortar store right away, it’s definitely something he’s thinking about, though he said the timing depends on the pandemic.
“I want to be the place people go to and hang out whether that’s kids after school or just a place people can chat. There’s a very social aspect of Fat T’s Cookies that I’ve built up. I don’t refer to my customers as customers, I refer to them as my ‘fat fam’ because I want to build up a community that’s greater than just selling cookies,” Howe said.
Some 55 businesses submitted applications for the Space Award. Applications were reviewed by a selection committee made up of individuals from the city, the Small Business Development Center, Downtown Akron Partnership, the Minority Business Assistance Center at the Akron Urban League, the Bounce Innovation Hub, ECDI and the Western Reserve Community Fund. Applications were evaluated on factors such as business vision and plan, experience, capacity and market opportunity, Roszczyk said. Applicants participated in an in-person interview with members of the committee, and final selections were made based on a combination of written and interview scores.
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