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The Denver Business Journal featured two Community College of Aurora students in an April 27, 2018 article - the full article features students from Front Range Community College and Red Rocks Community College. Read about CCA's two students.
Maria Avina, a clean start with new business skills
Community college: Community College of Aurora
Company name: Declare it Clean
Month and year founded: March 2017
Revenue since founding: Approximately $130,000
Maria Avina’s story is in many ways the quintessential American Dream.
The 44-year-old Mexican immigrant and mother of three reinvented herself after attempts at starting her own business didn’t work out. Her latest venture, Declare It Clean — a partnership with her husband, Felipe Avina — was looking a little shaky, so she decided to enroll at the Community College of Aurora, which had recently launched its entrepreneurship program.
“I went to a business class,” Avina said. “It sounded like something that was going to help me with my business…. I started learning so much about business that I got more and more excited about it and started having better ideas: how to manage a company, legalese and everything.”
She decided the entire nine-month program was valuable, stayed enrolled and graduated in 2017.
Declare It Clean is now a six-figure business, planning to expand and hire, and competing against some of the bigger regional players in office and carpet cleaning. Felipe was a manager at Jan-Pro for 11 years and saw opportunities in customer service, maintenance and quality. Since he left, Maria said, his former clients are noticing and reaching out.
“We focus on doing the best we can — the best customer service, the best cleaning service,” Avina said. “We like quality, and we try to please our customers and get feedback from them and work with them."
The company is looking to hire two more part-time employees and will be leasing new cleaning vans in the coming years.
Maria and Felipe both put in long hours cleaning with a small team of two part-time employees and help from their kids, but Maria is the back-office expert. She takes care of invoices, payments and scheduling using QuickBooks — a skill she picked up through CCA’s entrepreneurship program. Declare It Clean has received some attention through CCA’s marketing, and the Avinas have somebody working on a website, but most business is coming in the old-fashioned way: networking.
“We haven’t done any promotions at all,” Avina said. “It’s all about talking, visiting buildings, visiting customers, handing out cards [and] making calls.”
Her experience with the CCA entrepreneurship program, she said, is key to her success.
Andrea Royal, delivering comfort to ease women's health issues
Community college: Community College of Aurora
Company name: Her Circle
Month and year founded: Planned launch June 2018
No reportable revenue or growth
Subscription box services are all the rage right now. Companies like Blue Apron, Trunk Club and Ipsy offer a variety of personalized products — from food and clothing to skin care — delivered straight to your door. Her Circle plans to offer a similar service aimed at women’s reproductive health.
It’s the brainchild of Andrea Royal, a 33-year-old student at the Community College of Aurora, who came up with the idea while recovering from surgery.
“Her Circle is going to empower women to take their self-care to the next level,” Royal said.
Royal is partnering with OB-GYNs, nutritionists, skin care manufacturers, holistic practitioners and even aromatherapists to curate boxes for women at all stages of their lives, from teenagers to those going through menopause. Her Circle aims to make life easier on women with conditions like endometriosis and painful periods. These conditions, while common, remain taboo topics in many circles, and the information for women suffering from them is scattered at specialized blogs and health sites on the internet.
“It’s all out there piecemeal,” Royal said. “I’m bringing it all together into one. Those who really latch onto the idea are those who have gone through those transitions.”
Her Circle aims to launch in June with a variety of services aimed at pampering women. There will be the post-surgery package, the period-support package, the painful-period package and the menopause package, for starters. Heat wraps, bath salts, teas, supplements, tampons, skin care items and scented candles are just some of the items women can expect to find — all handpicked by Royal.
These boxes are going to be highly curated,” Royal said. “There will be nothing I don’t want to receive, my sister doesn’t want to receive or my mother wouldn’t want to receive.”
Besides, she said: What woman doesn’t love receiving packages in the mail?
Royal is currently enrolled in CCA’s entrepreneurship program, a choice she made due to the school’s business-friendly curriculum and reputation as a gateway to larger universities. Through the program she learned the basics — from marketing to calculating a break-even point — and developed a business plan. Like most businesses launched through the program, Her Circle will be up and running before she graduates.
“I just can’t really say enough about it,” Royal said. “I just can’t put into words how much I have learned. I knew nothing about getting a business up and going, and now I feel like I could even lead somebody else through it. That’s how good and thorough the program is.”