Loudoun Economic Development Celebrates Black Businesses During Black History Month

In February 2023, Loudoun Economic Development celebrated Black businesses and entrepreneurs by highlighting local African Americans that are #MakingHistoryInLoudoun because when you do business here, anything is #LoudounPossible.

Shannon Curvey

Shannon Curvey’s time as a student athlete showed her the importance of continued strengthening after her physical therapy from sports-related injuries ended. A health management science graduate of Howard University, Curvey founded Function-N-Fitness in 2015 to bridge the gap between healthcare and fitness. Included in her 20-year experience and education, Curvey is a Virginia-licensed massage therapist (LMT), a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) through the Medical Exercise Training Institute, a Golf Fitness Specialist (GFS), and a Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM-CES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She currently focuses on post-rehab strengthening and maintenance.

Shannon brings expertise, professionalism, and devoted care to Loudoun County through her work. As an African American woman entrepreneur in a niche market, she is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Renee Ventrice

There is a lot to see between eastern and western Loudoun but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you just might miss it. Renee and Don Ventrice may have started Cork and Keg Tours, a winery and brewery full concierge tour service, as a side business in 2016 but the business would soon take off during a most unsuspecting time. Renee, an African American woman, Navy veteran, and WSET2 Certified wine educator, took to Facebook Live in early 2020 and, in an attempt to cheer up quarantined followers, opened a bottle of local wine and humorously sang karaoke from the company’s 13-seat Mercedes Sprinter. Little did she know that Facebook was watching.

The tech giant reached out to do a spotlight on her for its “Boost My Business” series, where she showcased how other businesses could also use Facebook Like to increase awareness. The video garnered over 18 million views and due to exposure on the social media platform, Cork & Keg was able to restart its tours in July 2020. They became so successful that they had to increase their workforce and as a result of its popularity, Cork & Keg received several national accolades, and Renee was a featured speaker at numerous events, many of which she was able to tell the company’s story.

Depending on the route, there are over 50 miles between eastern and western Loudoun County and Cork & Keg not only found a way to bring the two areas together, but they also created a vessel to see everything in between. Renee is passionate about her craft, created an in-demand solution, and is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Robyn James

Robyn James is a game-changer in the world of golf. A certified LPGA Class-A Professional and pro golf instructor, James was the grand champion of the 2022 Loudoun Innovation Challenge for her InfuseNClip product, a patented wearable ball marker and natural insect repellent that can be securely clipped to the brim of a cap. She is owner and founder of Birdie Everything, a Loudoun County, woman- and Black-owned business that specializes in these proprietary clips.

Her unique story won the “Share Your Story” competition of the 2023 70th Annual PGA Show in Orlando, golf’s biggest showcase event, where she was offered a booth scholarship at this year’s show; James will be bringing her invention to be exposed to thousands of golf leaders, industry executives, and retailers from around the world and she is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Alexander Phillips

Alexander Phillips spotted a major issue during his career with a top wireless carrier. He noticed many of the challenges the company faced when it came to revenue, product selection, and customer satisfaction and began to identify ways to mitigate the inefficiencies and lost opportunities between wireless carriers, accessory vendors, and their customers. Phillips founded CIXCI, LLC as a platform that simplifies the current go-to-market process for wireless carriers and accessory vendors. Through this strategic partnership, he is changing the way accessories are sold by increasing brand presence, reducing inventory and marketing costs, and ultimately generating a revenue stream.

Phillips recognized that customers seek the same value regarding their accessory needs as they do with their mobile devices, customer service, and rate plan needs. When companies improve their accessory portfolio, they can enhance their customers’ mobile shopping experience, which can lead to increased revenue and brand loyalty. CIXCI offers the only SaaS (software as a service) application that simplifies the wireless sales process and offers customers access to the largest accessory product catalog.

Alexander is dedicated to improving the mobile shopping experience and is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Tiffney T. Laing

Tiffney T. Laing set out on a mission to change the way that Black history was taught to young children in schools. Frustrated with how Black history was often limited to slavery and oppression in textbooks and classrooms and aware of the lasting impact that could have on growing minds, Laing challenged herself to change this narrative from focusing solely on subjugation and include the many achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history.

Bevy & Dave began as an educational toy company in 2015 as a vessel to empower families and educators to view Black history through an uplifting and inspirational lens. Within the company’s first exhibition year, its flagship toy, the “History Makers Puzzle Block Set (HMPBS),” was a finalist for the Toy of the Year Award, Rookie category, and is the winner of the 2018 Product of the Year Award by Creative Child Magazine and the 2018 Family Choice award. Through Bevy & Dave, Laing offers educational toys, games, books, original short animation films, and digital resources for preschool through elementary-age children.

Laing has garnered the attention of local, national, and international audiences with her unique and unconventional work and has been featured on media giants including Good Morning America, MSNBC, Voice of America, Daily Mail TV, Newsweek, Fox, NBC, and more.

Tiffney uses toys, tools, and technology to uplift, build, and educate the next generation of leaders and is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Sandrine “Lys” Yopa

The secret is out about Lys! Lys’ Secret (LYS Beauty Supply I Hair Braiding) was founded in 2017 by Sandrine and Fabrice Yopa. Sandrine, aka Lys, earned her master’s degree in healthcare administration but always had a passion and desire to serve her community through beauty and fashion.

Different types of hair require different types of care and technique and Lys recognized a need in Loudoun for just that. She wanted to introduce specific hair products and opened up Loudoun’s first Black owned beauty supply store and hair braiding/weaving service. Through exceptional customer service and providing a hair care need, Lys is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Andre Heletsi

Dr. Andre Heletsi’s end vision is to create community at his clinic, Missing Link Physical Therapy. After earning his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), he began his career as a physical therapist focusing on treating patients with limited mobility in the medical-surgical and subacute rehab settings. On a mission to grow his knowledge and further his career, he joined the outpatient team of Body Dynamics, Virginia, where he was mentored by a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and experts in the treatment of chronic general orthopedic ailments and dance/ performing arts injuries. One of the most important lessons learned was the specifics on how to build a clinical hypothesis to guide treatment.

Dr. Heletsi would grow, refine, apply, and then combine the practical knowledge of building and using a clinical hypothesis along with a new skill, trigger point dry needling, to develop an injury prevention program at the Classical Ballet Theatre in Herndon and then at his own practice when he opened it in 2014, where he believed that limitations in experience and education led to patients being categorized as ‘chronic.’ He currently specializes in the movement of the human body to restore normal mechanics and can treat anyone suffering from sports-related or general aches, pains, and injuries.

Andre believes that creating an environment of understanding and out of the box treatment will improve the quality of life of those with misunderstood injuries and is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun along his journey. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Clarisse Bethel

Clarisse Bethel’s passion for care led her to Loudoun County. An African immigrant, Bethel left her home and career for further opportunity in the United States. Once here, she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and began to build her healthcare business. Bethel launched a successful home healthcare business in Maryland in 2009 but upon learning about a nurse shortage in northern Virginia, she set her sights on Loudoun County, one area that was most severely affected by this shortage.

Bethel officially opened the very first private nursing school in Loudoun, Clarys Nurse Aide Training Center, in 2015. The school is also home to Loudoun’s first private licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. Bethel is currently working to bring more programs to the institution.

Clarisse put her heart into opening a nursing school to help combat the nursing shortage in the county and she is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Ayrielle Williams & Shannon Young

Traumatic experiences can negatively influence anyone’s life and unresolved emotional experiences can affect the human body and mind in ways that many of us never knew possible. Licensed Clinical Social Workers Ayrielle Williams and Shannon Young founded their mental health clinic, The Peaceful Place with a mission to help clients rediscover themselves fully and wholly. They approach therapy through a holistic and psychodynamic lens, supporting their clients with care and innovation.

Williams, “the sex therapist you never knew you needed,” works with clients struggling with issues connected to sexual dysfunctions and trauma-related disorders, while Young works with adults and youth experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, and PTSD. They use techniques such as eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion focused therapy (EFT) & rationale-emotive behavioral therapy (RBT). Together, they lead a team of professionals who are trauma trained and devoted to treating clients through their transitions and transformations.

Ayrielle and Shannon are working to increase the moments of peace in their clients’ lives and are #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Susan Mitchell

Susan Mitchell says she is committed to creating a future where, as an African American woman leading a biotech business, she is no longer a minority in the field. STEM-driven, Mitchell is co-founder of Guardians of Honor, LLC (GOH), a government contracting firm delivering grants management, research and evaluation, logistics, and technical assistance solutions to industry, the community, and government agencies including the National Science Foundation and NASA.

In 2021, Mitchell launched Athari Bio+Sciences Inc., a patient education-driven, diagnostic testing laboratory that recently received full Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) certification. The objective of the CLIA program is to ensure quality lab testing. Athari was awarded the certification following a stringent inspection that involved accurate SOP development, meeting personnel education and experience requirements, and compliance with rigorous HIPAA, electronic health records, and lab security protocols.

Mitchell is dedicated to serving African American and other communities of color with the goal of providing economic development, education, career, and mentoring opportunities through both her company’s initiatives and through partnerships with a wide variety of businesses and organizations. More recently, she partnered with Loudoun County Public Schools to help support the Academies of Loudoun’s NOCTI Skill-Based Performance Assessments for their Biomedical students.

Susan is steadfast in improving access to success in education, healthcare, workforce, and economic development and is carving a path in STEM to create equitable opportunities for those who may not have had them otherwise, and she is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Eddie Mason

Eddie Mason is a life changer. After a successful career in the NFL, he founded MASE Training in 2020 and has been inspiring people to do what is necessary, not what is convenient. He’s developed training programs and workouts for numerous student athletes and adults and in turn has changed lives, helping clients improve their overall quality of life. His definitive passion is to help people renew their minds and be transformed from the inside out. Many of those who have trained with Mason laud the individual care, community feel, and commitment to both the physical and mental well-being of clients that Mase Training offers.

Mason had an 8-year, legendary career in the NFL. He was drafted by the NY Jets in 1995 and played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Redskins respectively, retiring in 2003. He received five nominations for the NFL Pro Bowl during his 8-year career, was awarded the 2002 UnSung Hero Award, and was voted the 2001 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his community outreach alongside his wife Sonya. He took that passion into his role as the director of on field operations for the NFL PREP 100 for six years, and currently serves as Flag Football Commissioner for i9 Sports. Mason is also an NFL Life Transition Coach and consults with multiple other organizations to help players transition after retiring from the NFL. While he recognizes what he’s done as extraordinary accomplishments, his grandest achievement is marrying his wife Sonya, being a father, and putting his life experience into words in his book “Training for the Tough Game of Life.”

Eddie’s sense of community and life-changing programs are just some of the ways he is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Silas Redd

Silas Redd’s sense of fashion stems from generations of fashionistas. As owner of Nostalgia Boutique, a vintage clothing, antique furniture, and home décor shop in Purcellville, Redd’s goal is for his patrons to acquire the feeling of nostalgia through his product selection and the boutique’s welcoming environment. His passion for fashion started at an early age as he would sit among piles of fabrics with his great grandmother Georgia in the long summer days in Paris, VA. She would watch him draw his latest fashion designs in between playing dominos and humming country western songs. He was captivated by the transformative power of fashion. His grandmother Barbara knew how to accessorize when she rocked a simple black dress and his other grandmother Dorothy would take him shopping for hours at Lord & Taylor, coordinating patterns and fabrics with ease as she made her extravagant fashion choices. His mother Janet is classic yet slightly trendy and often does not acknowledge her sense of style though she can take reduced price pieces and transform them to look haute couture. Fashion truly does run in his blood.

After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BA in Fashion Merchandising and working at several national retail chains including Brooks Brothers, Macy’s, and Forever 21, Redd took the plunge in 2016 and opened the doors of his very own business. Nostalgia is his way of introducing his love of vintage fashion to the world.

Silas pours his passion for vintage into his collections, and he is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun one piece at a time. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Wendy Osborn

Though Wendy Osborn is passionate about many things, including philanthropy and gardening, her artistic vision lies with Chloe’s of Middleburg, a women’s fashion boutique in the heart of Virginia’s Hunt Country. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and former buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, Wendy opened the doors to Chloe’s in 2019 with a mission to bring fresh and dynamic fashion to women of all seasons. Her motivation to provide an excellent shopping experience and have customers leave her store feeling empowered and confident is what keeps her excited and her inventory fresh.

Named for Wendy’s daughter, some of Chloe’s aesthetics are beautifully painted by its namesake. The storefront is adorned with daydream clouds and butterflies, both of which Wendy says inspire her by feeding her soul and representing a sign of life, transformation, and hope. Her entrepreneurial spirit is fueled by her grandfather’s history of starting a successful restaurant in Princeton, NJ in the 1930s. She had always wanted to have her own business so after her family’s move to Upperville and her daughter’s preparation for a move to college several years later, she made her next creative move after finding a vacant storefront on Washington Street.

Wendy’s positivity and aspiration to spread happiness through fashion is refreshing and #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible

Frank Holmes

Frank = The Man is how one customer described Franklin Holmes, master barber, barber instructor, and owner of Sharp Line Cuts Barbershop Barber Shop in Ashburn. With over 30 years of experience, Holmes established Sharp Lines in 2013 and offers a team of creative, versatile, and professional barbers who consistently exceed customer expectations in a relaxed, professional, family-friendly atmosphere. He takes pride in his work, serving the modern man who is not afraid to pamper himself with hot lather shaves, facials, and scalp massages.

Holmes is also deeply committed to teaching his craft through a barber academy he has established. He ultimately would like for the academy to be a recognized opportunity for community and workforce development by providing non-degree programs, which would create prospects for economic growth within the county. Holmes is currently taking steps to seek accreditation for the program.

Frank is more than just a barber. He is a mentor, teacher, active community member, and master craftsman, and he is #MakingHistoryInLoudoun. #BlackHistoryMonth #LoudounPossible