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StartHER grant gives opportunity to women entrepreneurs

The StartHER grant, hosted by Texas Woman’s University, is opening the next round of submissions of women-owned businesses beginning Sept. 24.

The StartHER grant is an award given to women-owned businesses to promote women entrepreneurs in Texas. The grant is awarded through Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs and will award 25 grants across Texas, each worth $5,000. The owners must not be students, faculty or staff at the university due to possible conflicts of interest.

“I think [the grant] is extremely, extremely important,” the director of the Center for Women Entrepreneurs Tracy Irby, said. “Access to capital is a big issue for women entrepreneurs, and many times they are a solopreneur. Knowing that they have that $5,000, they can invest in their business or help them get started. It can make or break a small business.”

One awardee of this grant is solopreneur Amie Melton. Her small business, The Mug, is a coffee shop operating within a trailer that sells organic, fair-trade, and responsibly sourced coffee and other beverages. She started her business when COVID-19 was starting to influence larger populations in America, and at that time, a lot of coffee shops were closing, Melton said.

“I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, I just didn’t know what it would be,” Melton said. We used to travel to the Northwest and these little coffee stands were everywhere and I was like, ‘Perfect.’”

Another awardee of this grant is Feleccia Turner, owner of the Brownstone Experience. Her small business, as she described it, is an urban style subscription for the modern-day working woman. The brand’s mission is to provide a retail platform where the majority of the collection and inventory is made from minority-owned businesses. Turner has been an entrepreneur in fashion, wellness and beauty for over 10 years.

“I knew I wanted to re-enter this space, so I decided to couple my passion for beauty and my professional expertise to mold this company’s missions and values,” Turner said.

The grant money can be used on various aspects of business such as the purchase of equipment, the addition of new inventory, property improvements, marketing, and more. In addition to the money, awardees are also required to attend a small business training course hosted by the Center for Women Entrepreneurs and complete three hours of small business advising. 

“The fund was great, but more so the connections to the Center for Women Entrepreneurs and the courses we took as a requirement of the grant were extremely helpful,” Turner said. 

Many times, people are great at what they do but don’t know how to create a business plan or what insurance to have, so the ability to learn from experts in the field is an incredibly valuable part of the program, Irby said. 

Melton said she went through how to do a business plan, how to market, how to use social media and it showed her a lot of the resources that TWU has for business owners.

“If you don’t get it this year, don’t give up and use all the resources and look into the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s, because there’s so much that can benefit people,” Melton said.

Applications open Sept. 24. and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Maddie Ray can be reached via email at

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