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Vegan-leather purse designer wins Saginaw business pitch competition


SAGINAW, MI — The spring 2023 Saginaw Soup Pitch Competition winners have been named, and a fashion accessories designer took the top prize.

Saginaw’s entrepreneurial pitch competition took place Thursday evening, May 4, at CMURC, upstairs at the SVRC Marketplace, 203 S. Washington Ave. The event highlighted area entrepreneurs as they pitched their small business ideas to a panel of judges and audience members.

The winners are:

  • First Place and People’s Choice: Ja’Maiya Ryan - Ryan & Co. LLC

  • Second Place: Diamond Essex - Princess Spa Bus

  • Third Place: Sandra Crosby Robinson - Just Pen It

According to the Ryan & Co. website, Ryan has “a lifetime commitment to design” and will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion accessories design this spring.

“Born in Saginaw, MI, Designing luxury without the hefty price tag was essential. She has always shown interest in expressing her creativity at a young age,” the website reads. “She displays excellence through her craftsmanship, work ethic, and persistence. She strives to inspire others in her community and become a continuous representation for Black women pursuing their passion in the arts.”

Saginaw Soup aims to help entrepreneurs like Ryan achieve their goals.

“Saginaw Soup works to inform entrepreneurs and visionaries of the resources that are available to help develop their business idea,” Cassi Zimmerman, director of planning and economic development for the city of Saginaw, said in a statement.

“We walk these entrepreneurs through the development of a business plan, including hosting training on speaking about the problem they are solving, a marketing plan, competition, and financials. Entrepreneurs leave the program with the tools to stabilize and grow their business.”

Saginaw Soup is a collaborative effort among Saginaw Future, Saginaw Economic Development Corporation, the Small Business Development Center, Saginaw Chamber of Commerce, CMURC, City of Saginaw and the Bridgeport and Saginaw DDAs. Saginaw DDA, Saginaw Future and Jolt Credit Union are sponsors.

For more information, find Saginaw Soup on Facebook.


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