Our Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Spotlight
Oana P

Name: Oana Livia Popa
(pronounced [Wana])

Business Name: World in Harmony International

Instagram: @wihworldinharmony

Etsy: wihworldinharmony   

 

 

W.I.H. is a socially responsible organization that offers a wide range of gifts, handmade, fair-trade, eco jewelry and accessories from international and local artisans. Our products are bold, well-traveled, a fusion of cultures and mixed media styles, from East Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Our customer is a person eager to try new styles, learn about other countries, cultures, an international traveler at heart, and a person willing to "vote" with their financial power, spending their money according to their life values. By buying these products, an entrepreneur in the community is supported in achieving their dreams.

How it all started: My roommate and best friend inspired me to go to Rwanda in 2008 and work in an UNDESA project, managing databases containing HIV patients' health data. In Rwanda, I was so fortunate to meet a group of women artisans, some living with HIV, as one of the horrible consequences of surviving the horrific 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. 

These strong entrepreneur women were able to support themselves only from their handcrafts income, and send their four or five children to school, and feed a whole family. Their resilience, inner peace and faith that their hard work would pay off, inspired me to bring their crafts to the United States, in order to increase their market and global exposure, and to reaffirm that their work-ethic, patience and faith really does pay off. That's how I started my art and entrepreneurship project, and I am proud to say that it is growing stronger each day, empowering women worldwide and creating international collaborations between artists, through the use of technology. With access to Internet, the world became much smaller and accessible.

Through my experience with entrepreneurship, and having a Masters in Business, I also had the honor to coach refugee women through a local organization, and I proudly served as an AmeriCorps fellow, in my community, in Washtenaw County. I am happy to support these refugee women's dreams and guide them to the amazing resources I discovered, through my own entrepreneurship journey. 

What drives you to be a business owner? 

My motivation is given by making a difference in the lives of other artisans, empowering women entrepreneurs to be independent and self-supported from the use of their talents, and through the use of technology. 

How has the Entrepreneurship Center at WCC helped with your business goals?  

The EC is a crucial resource for me as an entrepreneur, as a friendly and welcoming co-working space, a center where I can meet other like-minded people, where I can ask for help, resources, connections and much more. I cannot be grateful enough for the resources, from business plan blueprints, that helped me organize my thoughts, to the library resources, to the mentoring hours, to finding places that would host my events, etc.

The EC staff has always been there for me, sometimes when others doubted. The EC supported me and often was able to predict my next question, before I even verbalized it. I also enjoy attending the events and panels organized by EC, where I get to network with different entrepreneurs and get another perspective, on their very original career paths.

I take entrepreneurship as a mental gym: you have to constantly work-out your entrepreneurial muscles, and stay ahead of the curve, to understand upcoming trends. Yesterday's great idea, might become obsolete today.

If you could offer one piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs or prospective entrepreneurs, what would it be?

In short: Believe in your dreams, wake-up and write them down, pitch and reach up for your goal!

It's pretty much the business' life-cycle, from forming to achieving full potential, then reinventing oneself, again and again. I believe the journey of an entrepreneur is an original and unexpected path, sometimes not the straightest direct line, but the idea is to learn along the path, empower others, and always enjoy the journey.

I believe our identity as human beings is calling us to a higher purpose, not only to be prosperous for our own benefit, but mainly to benefit and serve others with our knowledge. I believe a top quality financial education would empower other entrepreneurs to make the most impact for humanity, and I am thankful to say I have found this wealth of knowledge at the EC.

Dr. Jeff O'Boyle

 Jeff O'Boyle

 "Stay positive and network with as many people as you possibly can. As entrepreneurs, we will have nine failures for every one success. Getting it wrong is part of getting it right. The really great entrepreneurs write off their mistakes as experience, and cultivate a constant need to learn."

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Rebecca Wittekindt

 Rebecca Wittekindt

“You can’t have everything right away, you have to grow with your business, it is a very organic relationship. Make big goals, create projects and make small steps that move you forward.  You have to start somewhere and each day is an opportunity. Today is an opportunity!”

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Pete Raciti

Pete Raciti

“Believe in yourself and what you are doing. If you don’t, no one else will. Investors and customers have to believe in you before they will work with you. Also, don’t give up. If you are doing the right things, for the right reasons, it will happen!”

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Shannell Smith

Shanell Smith

“When you put your time and dedication into your business, thinking of even doing a small change is not something you may want to do or embrace because you feel so connected to what you are building as an entrepreneur. However, business is all about change and evolving – look at change as a positive thing and you will be amazed at how things can grow for you and your business!”

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Janet Wolforth

Janet Wolforth

“Talk to people about your idea! Don’t be afraid to tell people what it is you are planning to do. Seek people out who can give feedback on the idea followed by the design of a new product.”

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Zach Pryor

Zach Pryor

“I love brainstorming new ideas, meeting people, and proving that successful entrepreneurship is possible regardless of age.”

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Jason Lee

Jason Lee

“I love the fact that I can create and shape an environment designed to make me most productive … I’m happier and believe I am making a bigger impact to society by creating solutions that did not previously exist.”

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Aaron Richison

 Aaron Richison

“Consistency is key! Every day strive to be better, be a sponge within your industry and the biggest piece of advice I could give would be to never be afraid to take a risk, that’s why we are entrepreneurs, we are willing to take risks when others are more hesitant.”

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Krisin Anne Danko

Kristin Anne Danko

“Starting a business is just one long learning process. I had a mantra I said to myself when we were starting out: ‘Leap and the net will appear.’ I knew I just had to take the risk and now it’s paying off!”

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Haiying Gan

Haiying Gan

“Light Orange Bean is a food blog that I post recipes I developed along with eye-catching food photography I captured. My audiences are from every part of the world and they are lovers of healthy recipes (especially gluten-free and vegan). Besides running the food blog, I’m also a photographer providing photography services to local businesses, especially restaurants.”

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Karen L. Driggs

Karen L. Driggs

“The opportunity to support a healthy lifestyle for busy people (motivates me to be a business owner). I appreciate the income stream and the ability to be part of the community with this service.”

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Liv Buttons

Liv Buttons

“I’m driven to be a business owner because I fervently believe in the positive power of business. I see a lot of negative stigma surrounding capitalism and big business– especially in my generation– and it’s warranted. I started Liv Buttons as a social enterprise; I wanted to use it as an example of how to break norms and conduct business differently.”

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Betty Chaffee

Betty Chaffee

“Until people know your product or service exists and has value for them, there may be little or no demand. Be ready to put yourself out there in front of people!”

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George Pariseau

George Pariseau

“Stepping into entrepreneurship has been a tremendous growth experience: I’m a better human being because of it and I’m looking forward to the life long journey this path is taking me on.”

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Jackman and Wooley

Kate Jackman and Jennifer Wooley

“It’s great to have a passion you want to share, but businesses are 80-90% all the ‘other stuff’ and only 10-20% the fun stuff…Be aware of that and make sure you are willing to do all the hard work that gets your passion in the hands of those that will appreciate it.”

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Mary Lou Stropoli

Mary Lou Stropoli

“Creativity is not only a great way to spend our time, it’s also a fantastic way to keep minds active and elastic.”

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Nathan Ayers

Nathan Ayers

“Don’t ever settle. It is possible to create a career and business that fulfills all of your goals, be they professional, artistic, economic or community impact related.”

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Red Jennings

Red Jennings

“Your character will develop right along with your business. You will start to learn new fascinating things about yourself as you dedicate your time to your dreams.”

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Alicia Myers

Alicia Myers

“When you have a business, the most important thing is filling a need that you’re passionate about. Because passion drives determination and having determination to do something right will lead you towards success.”

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Vardan Sargsyan

Vardan Sargsyan

“What drives me to become a business owner is the ability it gives me to serve my local community.”

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