The Passion to Purse Program seeks to improve the economic independence of Greensboro women and their children by implementing a comprehensive project assisting low or no income women to start and maintain microenterprises.

Passion to Purse uses the Operation JumpStart curriculum. This is a hands-on, 36-hour training program designed to help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs determine the feasibility of their business ideas while building essential business planning and preparation skills.

Skills learned include: business development, market research and analysis, pricing, and financial projections.

YWCA Passion to Purse Grad Designs in a Hurry

By Mary Coyne Wessling

Four days. That was her lead time to design, create and complete custom draperies for the client. Not just any client. This was her alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University. To add to the pressure: the drapes would be created for the chancellor’s private dining room and be hung in time to welcome a VIP visitor – Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook.

Janice Booker, a recent graduate of the YWCA Greensboro Passion to Purse program, took on this project and scored with flying colors. Actually, the colors were muted tans and greys displayed on sheer organza drapes. Her company, JB Designs, specializes in creating high-end interior designs for homes and businesses. Making custom draperies is one of Janice’s many talents.

“I am a third generation fabricator,” said Janice. “My grandmother made custom drapes and slip covers and my mother worked for her.”

Ms. Booker’s journey toward interior design was in her blood but when she arrived at NC A&T as a student her father had different ideas. “My father didn’t want me to study design. He wanted me to get ready for a decent paying profession.” So she earned her bachelor of science  degree in Transportation and Materials Moving and planned on returning home to work for the Port Authority.

Meeting Nathan Booker, also an NC A&T student, made her change her plans. They married and raised two daughters, Brianna and Erika. Eventually Janice found herself immersed in the design industry again. In 2005 she took a job with a company that specialized in decorating furniture showrooms and other interiors.

By 2008, Janice and her husband were running their own business doing soft and hard window fixtures, and decorating homes and businesses with high-end furniture, accessories, and custom draperies. Decorating by JB Designs went from top to bottom.

In 2012, Janice’s world turned upside down when her husband passed away suddenly. Although she kept the business going, she knew she needed more guidance in how to run it well. In December 2016 Janice made a visit to the Women’s Resource Center to explore her options of continuing on her own or working for someone else.

“I knew I had to reinvent this business to make it work,” she said. Women’s Resource Center staff pointed her to the Passion to Purse program. Although Janice had completed other business-related workshops, she felt the need to gain more knowledge and experience.

After interviewing with Passion to Purse Director Karla Comer, Janice joined the program. “I really liked the hands-on, think outside the box way of learning,” Janice said.

Among the most important things she learned from Passion to Purse: she wasn’t charging enough for her services and she needed to enhance her marketing. “I learned I have to open my mouth! I had to develop that elevator speech to describe my business.”

Now Janice is proud not only of her business but has a domain name, a business email and a separate  business telephone line.

In midst of completing Passion to Purse, Janice found her networking efforts – another important business tool – paid off. A woman she knew at NC A&T called while meeting with her colleagues who were planning the Zuckerberg visit to the campus. They asked Janice if she could hang custom draperies to dress up a dining room. The group stayed late so Janice could view the room that evening.

Calls to local suppliers, design approval from the committee, purchasing 50 yards of sheer fabric, and a flurry of cutting and sewing (including stitching hems by hand) culminated in beautiful custom drapes sporting the trendy neutral grey tones with hints of tan.

“It all came out like I envisioned,” said Janice. “Once I got approval to proceed, I went through books and web sites to find the right design.” She settled on the sheers with grey border binding that brings out the tans and silver highlights.

Perhaps her greatest feat was making so many drapes with just enough fabric. “They teach you in this business to measure twice and cut once. I was careful and came out with just a bit of fabric left over.”

Her fee for the job was carefully calculated using a time app, one she learned about through Passion to Purse. When asked, Janice added up the hours on her cell phone and reported  she had worked 43 hours in four days.

Janice said the NC A&T job didn’t make her nervous because she knew what she was doing. She did, however, feel overwhelmed. The clients loved them. “I am hoping to get first bid on decorating the rest of the room,” Janice said.

In addition to gracing the chancellor’s dining room with beauty, Janice celebrated the news that her daughter Erika, a freshman at NC A&T, was chosen to meet Zuckerberg. It came as little surprise to Janice that her daughter was inspired by the co-founder of Facebook to start her own business.

It’s likely he wasn’t the only one who inspired the young woman. As Janice said, “My husband and I always  talked about entrepreneurships with our girls.”

See Who We Are

YWCA Greensboro was awarded our first multi-year grant – as well as our largest one to date –  to launch our new Passion to Purse program. The YWCA has had a tremendously successful first year with the program.

Participants will have access to the YWCA Greensboro’s:

  • commercial kitchen
  • classrooms
  • event spaces
  • on-site childcare
  • other building resources to aid in their business development.

YWCA staff and partners will assist participants in:

  • assessing their own skills and passions
  • preparing business plans
  • budgets
  • securing initial operational resources
  • finding mentors

How to register:
Women that are interested in participating in the program must complete an application. Select applicants will be invited for an interview. Those selected are those that seem to be a good fit for our program based on certain criteria. Those that do not meet criteria, but are interested in taking the classes may be able to do so by paying a fee.

The Passion to Purse Program offers a limited number of microloans to women for emergency work related needs or as seed money for their microenterprise.

This program is mostly funded by a grant from the Women to Women Foundation.

Call or email us for more information or
Fill Out The Online Application.

Contact: Passion to Purse

Microenterprises contribute significantly to economic growth, social stability and equity. The only limitations are in your mind! Let’s build something amazing!
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All classes are taught by certified instructors.

What is a Microenterprise?

  • A small business that employs and operates with a small number of employees
  • Started with a small amount of capital
  • Specializes in providing goods or services for their local areas
  • Can be run from home and various locations
  • Produces products made at home and sold online, in local stores, or at local markets

A woman may take out a loan and purchase a sewing machine and basic supplies. She could use the machine to establish a microenterprise that specializes in sewing, tailoring, alterations, sewing classes and more. The woman would increase her wealth and help her community by providing a service.

Examples: seamstress, butcher, baker, candle maker, roofer, metal worker, jewelry designer, hair stylist, barber, nail technician, makeup artist, photographer, street vendor, carpenter, chef, event planner, child care worker, and more.