Kelvin Haydon, a fashion designer and owner of KH Design, has won the first business plan competition sponsored by the North Avenue/Fond Du Lac Business Improvement District (Marketplace BID 32).
“I’m excited about the economic development in this corridor. Development is rapid and robust in Lindsay Heights,” said Alderman Russell Stamper at a press conference at the corner of Fond Du Lac Avenue and North Avenue. Stamper was one of eight judges in the competition.
Haydon was chosen from among 18 entrepreneurs who entered the Start-Up/Scale-Up Business Plan Competition. Together with second and third place winners, Ms. Clean Cleaning Services owner Nikita Watkins and would-be retailer Ailsa Stokes-Hardy, Haydon will receive rent and technical assistance, among other prizes. Until now, Haydon and Watkins have been operating their businesses out of their homes. Stokes-Hardy plans to open Love’n My Curves, a resale store for plus-size women.
Haydon attended Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) and earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago. He has worked for several Milwaukee clothing manufacturers, including JH Collectibles, and has designed clothing for men and women for 20 years, he said.
In addition to participating in shows in New York City and Memphis, Haydon was chosen as Little Rock Fashion Week’s Designer of the Year in 2012, he added. Now focusing on high fashion and ready-to-wear designs for women, Haydon said that opening a store will give him much more visibility, bring in new clients and offer a more relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience.
“(We) have been talking for at least three years about how do we support local entrepreneurs in all ways possible … And how do we start fixing some of these empty storefronts in our community,” said Jacqueline Ward, executive director of Marketplace BID 32.
Though BID 32 considered having a contest for some time, a competition by Layton Boulevard West Neighbors inspired it to forge ahead, Ward said.
Participants came to the competition through classes and workshops the BID offers to entrepreneurs.
Workshops cover a wide range of topics, including legal, marketing, accounting, insurance and risk management — “everything that they will be challenged with when they open their doors,” Ward said.
“I see in the work that I do that entrepreneurs miss out on professional development when they decide to jump into a business,” Ward added.
Classes on how to start a business and on financial basics are offered every month, according to Ward. The next class will be on financial basics on Aug. 17.
Haydon’s award includes $5,000 for start-up costs and a rent reduction of $300 per month for six months in a renovated building at 2025-27 W. Fond Du Lac Ave. Among other services, he will receive software set up; equipment and furniture valued at $1,000; business plan development and support; and a professional services contract.
Watkins and Stokes-Hardy will be awarded discounted lease space for a pop-up shop or office; legal, accounting, financial and marketing assistance; business plan development and support; a professional services contract; and small cash awards.
In addition to Stamper, judges were Joaquin Altoro, vice president, Town Bank; Sakuri Fears, program officer, LISC; Gina Stilp, senior program officer, Zilber Family Foundation; Derek Kenner and Michael Ford, partners, SMB Group; Ngozie Omegbu, economic development associate, Legacy Redevelopment Corp.; and Nicholas Monette, management project officer, WHEDA.