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We're thrilled to post the next installment in our series titled Local Business Spotlight!🔆

We shine the spotlight this time on Mission Spirits at 215 Buck Street in Millville.

Founder Jay Wheeler grew up in the friendly suburbs of Toledo, Ohio, but soon moved to Philadelphia for college and ultimately found a familiar sense of strong community, mutual support, and local pride in Millville, where he decided to build his beautiful distillery named Mission Spirits.

Learn more about Mission Spirits in our interview just below.

Elegant, inviting, and extraordinary—the storefront of Mission Spirits shines on Buck Street.

Connecting the Past and the Present

"We had unfettered access to the houses and yards of our neighbors." Jay describes his childhood in the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio with this idyllic picture. The community was close, supportive, and open. Kids could stop by the home of a friend, grab a bite to eat, and run off to the next adventure.

Jay soon moved to West Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania and begin a new life on the East Coast. He followed his academic pursuits with a successful media career in New York City.

Every one of these memories, decisions, and experiences would come to influence Jay's decision to build his own distillery in Millville. "I felt that same love and dedication in Millville that I recalled from my childhood, and it gave me comfort."

Stellar Product, Outstanding Service, and Extraordinary Experiences

In addition to his appreciation for the citizens of Millville, Jay expressed his gratitude for generous support from the city government that helped him navigate the development process for Mission Spirits. Permits, regulations, contacts—Jay can't overstate the value of this collaboration, which allowed him to maintain his focus on the business and the product, while still complying with local laws.

And the outcome of that focus on the business and the product? Something extraordinary for our city!

Just a sampling of the stellar products at the bar of Mission Spirits.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

As Jay reflects on his decision to build Mission Spirits in Millville, he reveals his sharp instincts for good business. The logistics of distributing his products efficiently to markets in DC, Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore, Philadelphia, and New York City. The surrounding local organizations full of partnership potential such as the Levoy Theatre, the New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Wheaton Village. And of course the beautiful building in the heart of our downtown district to meet customers where they're at.

Plush seating, warm decor, and a view of the distillation process make for an extraordinary experience.

Jay recommends a similar strategy to the next generation of local entrepreneurs. "Make a detailed plan with a strict budget, then test your ideas quickly and inexpensively with friends, family, and even some acquaintances who are further removed from you and therefore willing to share harsh truths. If you see promising results after all, go for it!"

We at HCDC have witnessed the success of this entrepreneurial mindset, especially within our Creative Enterprise Center and among our other downtown businesses.

Finally, Jay shares a message from the entire team at Mission Spirits. "We want to encourage people to invest in themselves and work hard, dedicating themselves to excellence in their craft. It means trying and failing and trying again, having the steadfast resilience to pick yourself up and keep going."

We're honored to have Mission Spirits in our city and look forward to its enduring success!✅

We're thrilled to post the next installment in our monthly series titled Local Business Spotlight!🔆

We shine the spotlight this time on Tina's Hair Salon at 26 North High Street in Millville. Tina Gillam grew up in our county and began her illustrious career with hairstyling in 1996. 25 years later, she's recognized as a successful leader in our community and a strong inspiration for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Learn more about Tina's Hair Salon in our interview just below.

The unmistakable storefront window of Tina's Hair Salon.

Constant Learning and Steady Progress

It began with B&B Barbershop & Beauty Salon on High Street, way back in 1996. At the time, Tina still was living in Bridgeton, where she was born and where she grew up, but just one year later she moved to Millville " continue my hair journey. I fell in love with the town and people."

Two of those people were Diane Bergan and Donna Wiggins, also from Bridgeton. Tina explains that she learned an immense amount from these early mentors and really began to develop her craft.

"I was young, doing friends' hair in my neighborhood when my bestfriend's mom, Diane, noticed my gift. Diane told me to get my hair license, then join her and Donna at B&B Barbershop & Beauty Salon."

Tina learned what she describes as "old-school styling lessons still in demand today", such as Jerry curls, finger waves, and French rolls with curls, all of which Tina still offers at her own salon to set herself apart with a diverse repertoire. "If you can't grow it, we'll sew it. And if you can't achieve it, we'll weave it!"😎

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Eventually Tina built such a strong reputation as a skilled Hairstylist in Millville that she decided to branch out on her own. "I knew I wanted to be on High Street in Millville, so I started from the beginning of the street, taking notice of every unoccupied business space and looking up their phone numbers. It wasn't long before I found 26 North High Street, and the rest is history! I opened up Tina's Hair Salon LLC in August 2015."

It's precisely this drive, this independent streak, this entrepreneurial spirit that we at HCDC admire so very much!🤩 Tina built a career on her own terms, and she made our entire community, both residential and commercial, better off as a result!

Recognition for the Past, Inspiration for the Future

Tina's journey as an entrepreneur certainly didn't go unnoticed by other leaders in the community. Along the way she's been recognized by a wide variety of organizations for an equally wide variety of awards, including:

  • Certificate of Commendation from the Cumberland County Freeholders

  • The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Leading Ladies

  • Director of Hair for Atlantic City Fashion Week since 2016

  • Citation by the Senate and General Assembly of New Jersey "...for bringing honor and pride to our community."

Beautifully put and absolutely accurate!

Just one of the many awards to Tina for her work in our community.

Of course, that dedication doesn't end at the close of business hours. Tina now gives back the same inspiration that helped her become a success. She explains, "My clients see me as a Beautifier. My Stylists see me as a Teacher. And my family see me as the Best!" We share the hope with Tina that the next generation of community members—whether it's entrepreneurs, regulars at the salon, or precious family members—will continue to see Tina as an example of the possibilities in our town.

As for parting words from Tina, "If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Never give up on your dreams! Start small, and think big. There's plenty of room to grow!"

We're honored to work alongside Tina's Hair Salon in our city and look forward to its enduring success!✅

We're thrilled to post the next installment in our new series, Local Business spotlight!🔆

This month we shine the spotlight on Full Circle Training at 14 East Mulberry Street in Millville. Traci Iwaszkiewicz and Lisa Swift grew their business from an idea at the kitchen table into a central part of our local healthcare community. Together they draw on years of experience and an unwavering commitment to excellence in each and every training session.

Learn more about Full Circle Training in our interview just below.

The modern, comfortable training center at Full Circle Training.

Guided By Expertise, Driven By Generosity

Traci and Lisa worked together at the Department of Corrections, and even after retirement they remained close friends. They shared a mutual drive to stay active and to support our community. "We were talking about the next steps at the kitchen table one day. We knew we wanted to keep busy, we knew we wanted to support our community, and we knew we loved our work in training, so we just decided to create Full Circle Training and go for it!"

It was one of those pivotal conversations that entrepreneurs know well.😎

Full Circle Training opened its doors in June 2019, and just a few short months later it went on to support Millville during a healthcare challenge of staggering magnitude.

Working Through the Pandemic

While Traci and Lisa couldn't have foreseen COVID-19, they quickly positioned their business for maximum support of healthcare professionals on the front lines. CPR and First Aid are two prominent examples, as they are necessary skills for healthcare professionals to maintain their certification. Full Circle Training decreased the size of its training sessions, raised funds to purchase more equipment for safe individual use by participants in the sessions, and just kept pushing forward, despite the risks. In another sign of persistent work for the greater good during a crisis, Full Circle Training just recently became an official training site with the American Heart Association!

As the pandemic begins to subside—not one moment too soon—Traci and Lisa plan to expand their training accordingly to security officers who will play a key role in the reopening of retail shops and schools.

Two student perspectives on the training session, as a healthcare professional and as a security officer.

A Virtuous Cycle of Community Support

Traci and Lisa make clear in their reflections on Full Circle Training that the local community in Millville played a critical, meaningful role in their success—from businesses and nonprofits to professionals and residents.

For example, Lisa previously volunteered at the Holly City Development Corporation and soon learned about the Creative Enterprise Center within the same building. When it came time to select a headquarters for Full Circle Training, Traci and Lisa appreciated the turnkey capability of the Creative Enterprise Center and the "phenomenal" guidance of HCDC along the way. They started with training sessions in the hallway for just a few participants, but soon negotiated for beautiful additional space, which they captured in the pictures above. Giving to the community through HCDC eventually led to operational support from HCDC, which in turn brought more good to the community in a virtuous cycle.

Traci and Lisa sometimes cross paths with former participants from their programs, such as staff at the local doctor's office, and they're eager to integrate Full Circle Training even more tightly with our community through upcoming public events. They explain, "If you find something that you really enjoy and give it your all, you never know where it can go." It's inspiring advice, and as we've learned from our interview, when we go together, we can go far.

We're honored to work alongside Full Circle Training in our city and look forward to its continued success!✅

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