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The most successful women entrepreneurs join multiple, diverse networks to learn from their industry contacts and develop connections to expertise. Having a critical mass of women in these networks helps us all gain credibility. Brooklyn Cupcake thrives to help small women-owned businesses by trying to transform their concepts of the future of their business- to move them into a place where they have the vision and the confidence to catapult their businesses to a whole new level. On a monthly basis, Brooklyn Cupcake will interview a small women-owned business in an effort to continue supporting one another.

This month’s featured small women-owned business is: The Language Lounge

The Language Lounge is conveniently located in Howard Beach, Queens. They offer a range of services for children and their families. Services include individualized assessment and therapeutic services for the treatment of:

Receptive/Expressive Language Delays & Disorders
Articulation & Phonology Disorders
Motor Speech Disorders: Apraxia of Speech & Dysarthria
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Augmentative & Alternative Communication including IPad technology
Language Learning Disabilities
Play & Social Skills
Oral-Motor Development
Feeding Therapy: Oral-Motor, Sensory, & Behavioral Based

The Language Lounge prides itself on being a beacon of hope for children with communication and feeding challenges. They emphasize ability over disability. Just as each child is unique, so is their therapeutic approach which is centered on empowering our children to communicate. They believe in a holistic approach to provide the highest standard of services for the families they are dedicated to serving. They provide a nurturing, family and child centered environment that is sensitive to the needs of the individuals they assist.

INTERVIEW: Cynthia Clifford of Brooklyn Cupcake and Frangelica Leo of The Language Lounge

Name: Frangelica Leo

Title: Speech Language Pathologist

Company Name: The Language Lounge

Years in Business: 4 months

How many employees do you currently have?  

None. It is just my partner, myself, and 2 contracted therapists.

Tell us about your business. What product or service do you provide and who is your target audience?

We provide speech, language, and feeding therapy/services to children over the age of 3 years. We recently added occupational therapy as well as Heath counseling.

It takes a certain mind-set and bravado for anyone to start their own business and succeed, but it’s even more difficult for women in business. Please tell us what being a business owner means to you personally.

Being a business owner was always a goal of mine. I love being a Speech Language Pathologist. However, I always wanted to offer services in a more private individualized setting. I want to be able to provide quality care to each and every individual who enters my door. I want to know every parent on a first name basis and be able to discuss any and all concerns about their child’s speech language and/or feeding delay. Being in the schools are great; however, you don’t get the parental involvement that’s so crucial for progress.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

My family has inspired me. Growing up I was taught to be independent, so I always knew I was going to reach for the stars. My son’s birth inspired me to start my own business. Although being an SLP is a flexible job there is nothing like being a mom and owning your own business. The flexibility that will EVENTUALLY come with the job will be great. In addition, I think it provides a great example to my son. I would hope he will one day be proud of his mom and understand that a woman can truly do anything she can put her mind to… to always respect a woman and support her.

Do you work your business part-time? If so, was it due to choice, conflicting family and household roles, or in order to have more flexibility in your schedule to be able to attend to family responsibilities?

All of the above…I work an 8:30 am -130 pm job during the day in order to finance the business that is currently run part-time (4 days a week and after school hours). The hours are being put in now to eventually build my business so I can cut my daytime hours and attend to family more, especially for when number 2 comes along.

There are observable differences in men and women entrepreneurs’ motivations, goals, preparation, organization, and strategic orientation. How do you perceive the various aspects of the experience of business?

The experience has been stressful and difficult. It was and still is difficult to find answers to certain things, know who to ask, what to ask, as well as receiving feedback. As a woman I feel we are not taken as seriously (e.g.: We have been trying to get a door etched so people can see who we are when they pass our office. We have called 5 different companies without a follow up response. Yet, when my partner’s husband called for us, saying it was HIS business, we received a detailed quote and a phone call within 3 hours. Coincidence?  I think not!

What skills do you believe women need in order to run a successful small business?

You need motivation and a lot of support! If a man owns a business, the wife is expected to take on all the household responsibilities, without question, because he is out to work. A woman who owns a business, may sometimes looked down upon if she is not able to keep up with household chores and spends less time with her children. A woman truly needs the support of her spouse and her family; otherwise, running a business, in my eyes, is almost impossible.

Most women-owned businesses do not meet the traditional business standards. Women do not have access to the same capital necessary to grow a business. They do not have the same access to contracting and procurement opportunities that may help them to build their business. Women do not have the same access to resources. What barriers and obstacles have you confronted as a women entrepreneur?

I, too, have not had the capital necessary so this has been a struggle and the reason why I couldn’t quit my job and delve into my business. It would also be nice to have the luxury of time! Having only to concentrate on the business would have made things a lot easier. Also, not having enough capital has caused issues at times because it is taking away from buying a house and other aspects of family and home life.

Are you certified as a Women-Owned Business (WOB)? If so, how have you benefited by this? If not, why not?

I am not and would love to learn about it.

Do you have a professional mentor or coach? If so, how has he/she helped you?

I don’t. I had one in mind but she never came through!

Advancements in technology have helped ease the movement of more women in business into leadership. What has been the most effective marketing and/or social media initiative or program you have used to promote your business?

Facebook, at the moment.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available).

Currently, no. However, only being in business 4 months I could honestly say, if you can do it yourself, don’t ask anyone because they never come through! I am not surprised by anyone anymore nor do I expect anything from anyone! Being in business has shown me that you can’t you can only count on yourself.

What business goal do you plan to accomplish over the next year? Are you choosing to remain a small business? Do you desire to have a large enterprise either by revenue, number of employees or market share?

In a year, I would like my business to be my sole source of income so that I can work less and quit my day job. I would love to expand and have 2-3 therapists in each discipline, but no more than that. I want the Language Lounge to continue to be a family-oriented close knit center. I want it to remain personal and individualized.

What one thing have you learned as a woman small business owner that has served you well over the years? What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

I have not been in business long enough to answer this.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Opening!

Do you have any new upcoming projects or reached a milestone? Are you involved in your community? If so, please tell us about it.

No, but we would like to be in the near future.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

It really helps to open a business with a colleague! I could not have done it without my partner, Sophia Tsimis. We bounce ideas off of each other and motivate each other.

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you (feel free to include the links to your social networks and websites)?

We are located at:82-17 153rd Avenue, Howard Beach, NY 11414 (in the Lindenwood Shopping Center). Phone: 718-487-3100

Email: TheLanguageLoungeNY@gmail.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheLanguageLoungeNY

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