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Testimonials from Entrepreneurs

Testimonials from Entrepreneurs

These are the real stories of how Working Order Incubator supports individual entrepreneurs.

Ardelle Viviénne Robinson chooses the off-white linen paper with embossed edges for her note cards, to create a unique and charming way to send a personal message to a friend or loved one. She carefully crops each photo to create a moment in time. Each card is appropriate for a personal message of hope, wisdom or caring. The right words will soothe or inspire or let someone know you care.

Raised in Pittsburgh, Ardelle Viviénne has been the consummate student but was always drawn by the beauty of nature, the power of photography and the cleverness of words. Ardelle Viviénne is a graduate of Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park College and the University of Hawaii/Honolulu Community College with degrees in Pedology, Human Services and Journalism and Communications. But since she received her first Brownie camera on her eighth birthday her concentration has been photography. That tiny gift from her maternal grandparents has led to her professional abilities and talents. She spent hours in glorious gardens and takes advantage of scenic settings at every opportunity.

Since those first photographs, Ardelle Viviénne has been recognized for her literary, journalistic and photographic gifts. She received awards in each genre through local, national and international organizations and publications. These awards include: The National Newspapers Publishers Association. (NNPA), the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation (PBMF), the University of Pittsburgh, Community College of Allegheny County, Honolulu Community College, Point Park College and the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Each project was approached with a sense of wonder in the beauty of nature. But it was not easy. Serious arthritis pain was a part of each photographic excursion. That difficulty became opportunity. A move to Hawai’i eased the pain of arthritis and allowed Ardelle Viviénne to discover the unusual blooms and photographic images of the islands. During her stay she received a special award for an international anthology which included her prize-winning photo "Double Rainbows Over Honolulu."

After seven years on the islands, homesickness drew Ardelle Viviénne back to Pittsburgh. She settled in Point Breeze with a portfolio of photographs and a focus on the vibrant changing colors and seasonal flowers of Pittsburgh, while continuing to share the beauty of the islands.

Ardelle Viviénne was referred to Working Order, a Program of Volunteers of America by her state OVR agent. Working Order is a non-profit incubator business supporting entrepreneurships. This cooperative atmosphere of coaches and mentors working with individuals with disabilities or other obstacles to traditional employment is now helping Viviénne develop her brochure and research opportunities for product placement. For a variety of start-ups including Medical Transcription, Landscape Service, Database Entry and Design, Document Archiving, Interior Design, Grant Writing, Ceramics, Jewelry Design and more, Working Order has helped with feasibility studies and business plans, provided office space, computers, software and assistive devices, taught software programs, found trial work opportunities and developed marketing ideas to reach the right audience.

designs by viviénne is a success story. Although she still struggles with arthritis and the results of five spinal surgeries, she continues to makes each limited-edition card by hand. The photos are not manipulated in any way. Ardelle Viviénne trusts that nature gets it right every time and that Pittsburghers will find the time to send flowery messages with love.

Kathy Heart tells her story too. "I came to Working Order Incubator with a tentative business plan that I had written with help from the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.  My dream job was to be a writer who would make an exceptional contribution to the individuals and organizations for whom I worked.  My Business Coaches at Working Order Incubator helped me to make my plans realistic by ensuring that I had the skills required to fit the job and the market was present for the services I wanted to offer.  In 2004-2005, while working at my business part-time, I was able to help several non-profits raise over $340,000 using my grant proposal research and writing skills.  I have served both local and national clients. 

Working Order Incubator has more recently assisted me with further business development and market planning.   The result is that I moved my business from a sole proprietorship to a limited liability corporation (now called HEART Resources, LLC), and designed a new brochure that promotes my successes.  In every interaction with Working Order staff, I have received the highest respect, even on days when my disabilities prevented me from working at 100% of my capabilities.  The staff are knowledgeable about every aspect of what it takes to start a business and succeed as an entrepreneur who happens to also have a disability.  I cannot express how much appreciation I have for how Working Order Incubator has helped to transform my work life.  My gratitude is limitless."   

Collette Garmer learned to work around Type II diabetes, the muscle, bone and joint pain and fatique of fibromyalgia and the results of 16 operations triggered by Crohn’s disease. After 22 different jobs in 10 years and knowing that a 40 hour office work week was impossible, she connected with Working Order Incubator. With her talents, a passion to find a way to support herself and “a killer business plan” developed at Working Order Incubator, she found the support she needed and opened Garmer Jewelry and Beads in Natrona Heights. Colette made her own line of beaded jewelry and held a variety of classes. 

"I have known for some time that I am the type of person who needs to work for myself. Prior to my dealings with Working Order Incubator, I was floundering with what to do to achieve this goal. I even searched the Business Opportunities for years with no success. However, once landing on an idea for a bead and class store, and hooking up with Ruby, I was able to realize my dream. There's no way I could have managed this without the killer business plan I drew up with Working Order Incubator's help. Ruby Wilkosz is the greatest."  ~ Colette Garmer

For Working Order Incubator, Garmer Jewerly and Beads is a success story even though Colette is again in transition. Following her success with the first story, her family is in total support of the newest venture.  Finding a way to use a persons talents, direct their focus toward what they can do rather than what is impossible and help them discover the independence of self-employment is an alternative that can work for those whose disabilities or work obstacles do not fit in the usual plan of the Market Place. It takes work but the results are well worth it.