“Before starting the BBEA program, my business was already established. However I really didn't have any business order in my finances, marketing, nor did I have a business model. Now I have all of those resources.”
- Britni Perkins
Britni Perkins, ‘20, likes to help others by bringing them joy. In 2019 she turned her passion into a business and launched Blessings 2 Celebrate. She offers party planning, rentals and favors. Perkins founded the business because she believes every blessing should be celebrated and every person deserves to show their happiness through their celebration.
Like many entrepreneurs, she was motivated by her passion but was looking for some keys to unlock the next level of potential for her business. That’s when she turned to the Cedar Valley Black Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator (BBEA).
The accelerator is a 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium (24/7 BLAC) program that aims to provide critical and intensive financial and sustainability support to accelerate growth and development for new and existing minority owned businesses in the Cedar Valley. Reshonda Young, program director, explained, “The program takes business owners that are within the first one to three years of operation through an accelerator that teaches them about customer discovery, marketing, customer acquisition, financing and other areas of business structures. We pair them with a mentor who walks with them through the 16-week program and into the alumni program that follows.”
“Before starting the BBEA program, my business was already established. However, I really didn’t have any business order in my finances, marketing, nor did I have a business model. Now I have all of those resources. I have an updated business model canvas, which has details of my customer market segments. I am evolving a marketing strategy that fits what was taught in class, and I have a QuickBooks system set up,” emphasized Perkins.
The BBEA is a new opportunity for Cedar Valley business owners, now halfway through itʼs third cohort this fall. The free program is supported by the University of Northern Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC). The program also functions with collaborative efforts from Grow Cedar Valley, Iowa C.O.R.E. and Red Cedar.
Lindi Roelofse, who serves as academic program manager, T. Wayne Davis Chair in Entrepreneurship of the UNI JPEC and BBEA instructor, said,, “It is such a privilege to see BBEA participants look out for each other. In chort after cohort now we see peer-to-peer support, sharing ideas, win-win partnerships strengthening one another. Britni is a great example of this as she thoughtfully assembled and constructed the business model canvas that was right for her and her beautiful family. Her award as one of the bright shining stars of BBEA is well deserved.”
Perkins commented, “Lindi Roelofse and Laurie Watje (director of JPEC) have both been phenomenal help to me and my business, Blessings 2 Celebrate. All of the lectures were thorough, and they provided great hands-on help even through Zoom. They have been such a great help that I am strongly considering going back to UNI to achieve my graduate certificate in entrepreneurship!”
Blessings 2 Celebrate can be found on Facebook. Perkins was named a 20 Under 40 recipient by the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier in 2021. UNI