Entrepreneurial spirit garners recognition for students

May 29, 2011

Grinspoon award winners with professor Anne Potter

Three HCC students collectively won $2,500 from the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation's Entrepreneurship Initiative Awards, and were among recipients recognized at an April 27 event at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke.

Brian Bartus, Lillian Coleman, and Andrew Eaton won the foundation's Entrepreneurship Initiative Spirit Award for 2011. Each year, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation awards more than $65,000 to budding entrepreneurs from 12 colleges across Western Massachusetts, to encourage pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams.

Students are nominated by their faculty advisors, and then judged by an Advisory Committee that looks for those who have acted upon their desire to own their own business. Business Division Professors Anne Potter and Ellen Majka, co-advisors of the Entrepreneurship Club, nominated the HCC students.

"They are wonderful students who have a passion for their businesses," Potter said.

At the banquet, award winners and nominees also participated in an Entrepreneur Exhibit, an opportunity to market ideas, and meet fellow Grinspoon Spirit Award winners.

"It's cool to see something that I did get some notoriety, and to see what started out as an idea not fizzle out, but actually turn into something that is moving forward and going strong," Bartus said. The 21-year old Amherst resident is the owner of Cave Records, a full-service record label launched in September 2010. Cave Records identifies small, unnoticed local bands and collaborates with them to release their recordings to the public, as well as managing the behind-the-scenes aspects of the music industry, from producing customized vinyl records, cassettes, and CD's to organizing concerts and maintaining business relationships with music stores and on the Internet.

Cave Records has released two CDs with the bands Pachgacha and Chalk Talk. The cassettes, CD's and vinyl's were on display at the Grinspoon exhibit.

Bartus will graduate from HCC this spring with an Associate in Arts in Music.

Coleman, of Hadley, started making her ornate gift cards in her home nearly 12 years ago, and has now turned it into a functioning business called Cards By Coleman.

The designs are original Afro centric keepsake greeting cards. Many have Kente cloth, gold, silver, copper and vibrant colored borders, bows, ribbons, cowry shells, mini straw brooms, feathers, jewels and fancy embellishments on them.

"I'm elated by this," Coleman said at the banquet. "This business is truly God-inspired." Coleman, who sells the greeting cards at craft fairs, and has placements in AJ Hastings Inc., Exhibits at the Nacul Gallery in Amherst and the Fish Bowl Gallery and Student Union Gallery at the University of Massachusetts, said her award funds would pay the fees associated with getting her designs trademarked. Coleman will transfer from HCC in the fall to attend the University Without Walls program at the University of Massachusetts.

Eaton, of Northampton, is owner of Lifted Family Jewelry, which specializes in hand crafted, one-of-a-kind sterling silver and 14K gold-wire wrapped jewelry. He designs pendants, rings and hat clips using gemstones with a combination of silver and gold wire wrapping. The unique jewelry appeals to artists, musicians, the Hip-Hop community and gemstone collectors.

"I feel honored right now. It's really an accomplishment to be recognized for my work, and to win a competition over so many other talented people," said Eaton, who will graduate this spring with an associate degree in Visual Arts.

Eaton sells his products through a mix of retailers and at music and arts and crafts festivals, and through his website www.HEADSRUS.org. His jewelry can also be found at the Hempest on Main Street in Northampton. He in the planning process for acquiring a location in Thornes Market in Northampton, and producing a hemp clothing line called Lifted Threads.

"We're so proud of them," Majka said, at the banquet.


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