On a recent visit to Connecticut, Seth Goodall, regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), came to the Upper Albany neighborhood to meet Vivian Akuoko, CEO of Evay Cosmetics.
Goodall and the other visitors chose Evay as one of the businesses that they wanted to learn more about. Akuoko, a participant in the Upper Albany Main Street/University of Hartford Micro-Business Incubator (MBI), regaled the group with anecdotes of her early beginnings — the ups and downs on her quest to produce quality products, finding employees from her church home, and recently moving the manufacturing from New York to Connecticut.
For more than 30 years, Akuoko has been on Albany Avenue. She attributes much of her success to Upper Albany Main Street. “Working with them is how I received my first business loan," Akuoko said.
With expert assistance from University of Hartford MBI intern Justin Calabrese, Evay’s product line has gotten a facelift, moved online, and gone international. “Exporting on a grand scale has always been a dream of mine,” says Akuoko. "Now that I’ve strengthened my business knowledge, gotten a new marketing plan, and financing is in place, I’m ready to fly.”