Several times now, I have been sitting at the Branch (residencing) and saw a middle-aged man talking with two younger women. Overhearing bits of their conversation I could hear they were planning something, but not sure of what. At first I thought it was a theater production. The second time it sounded different. The third time I was too far away to hear them. At some point, I think after they had finished talking the third time, the man came over to me. I think he had noticed the “Writer-in-Residence” sign on my table. We introduced ourselves and started talking. He was Jose Vazquez, the owner of Bamboo Creative Solutions LLC. I interviewed him and the two woman recently. This post is the result.
The vision statement of Bamboo Creative Solutions as stated in the website is to “unite and improve communities through entrepreneurship!” As Jose´put it to me “We help entrepreneurs either growing their business or starting it. The biggest thing we do is inspire people to get past their fear and give them direction.” Echoing the vision statement on the website he said “The overall vision is to unite communities through entrepreneurship. I think Racine is a great place to do that.”
Jose´ has been an entrepreneur for 20 years and indirectly teaching since he started in business. A half dozen years ago he started teaching entrepreneurship as a small Business Consultant for CEDCO (Community Economic Development Corporation, Inc.) a private not-for-profit community development organization. “I fell in love with it,” Jose´said. CEDCO’s mission statement was “Improving Communities Through Entrepreneurship.” CEDCO no longer exists. Clearly, Jose´is continuing that work.
Jose´grew up about an hour west of Philadelphia. He has been in Wisconsin for 20 years. Introduced to Racine by Brent Oglesby, the Director of CEDCO, Jose´ “saw a lot of people struggling here and thought maybe I can do something about it. So that is why I am here.”
Jose´estimates that he as worked with at least “40 people that need it.” He will work with anybody but focuses on those “suffering from the stigma of poverty.” It has been “a lonely plight,” he notes. “There is no else doing it. It has been lonely but also rewarding. It feeds your soul.”
It is his income and his “calling.” “It is just extending the best of me; what is inside of me,” he said. “This allows me to extend the best of me and if I can serve in some way I think it is great. As long as I am making a real impact.”
The two women I saw Jose talking to were Racine natives Iesha Allen and Diamond Grandy-Roy who are starting a spa business for young girls called “Shimmer of Glitter.” The name refers to the idea that they provide a shimmer of love and glitter of hope.
They stage events that allow girls to be pampered, providing facials and manicures or pedicures. They also have slime parties and sip & paint events where the children sip tea and paint a canvas. They also offer etiquette classes and a summer camp with swimming and day trips, such as going to the zoo. “We don’t have a lot of that here,” Iesha noted. They want to “let the young ladies know that they are special they deserve to be pampered and have self-care.”
They will also have a local speaker come in to “encourage and motivate them” [the kids] while they’re having fun. The idea is to “uplift and teach them the importance of self-care while offering guidance in a relaxing environment,” Iesha said. They also have pop-up events for boys.