Olga’s Kitchen distributes $20K in grants for women entrepreneurs

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Olga’s Kitchen chose the first round of women entrepreneurs to receive grants for their businesses.

Founded in 1970 in metro Detroit by Olga Loizon, Olga’s Kitchen is a Michigan brand now owned and operated by Livonia-based TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (TSFR). The restaurant’s charitable arm is the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation.

The restaurant group in March announced the grant program to support female business owners in honor of Loizon, according to a previous Business Journal report.

Sticky Spoons Jam and U-Plant Landscape Designs each recently were awarded $10,000 grants to continue to build their businesses.

“We’re elated to honor the legacy of our founder by providing two women entrepreneurs with grants to take their Michigan-based businesses to the next level,” said Loredana Gianino, president of the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation. “Perseverance and innovation were central to Olga’s spirit and her success as she left an impact on this community. The grant awardees embody the same qualities as women entrepreneurs who are trailblazing in their own fields. We look forward to seeing how these grants will fuel the growth and success of these businesses.”

A pioneer for women in business, Loizon overcame countless obstacles — including being refused a loan from her bank simply because she was a woman — to create one of metro Detroit’s most iconic restaurant concepts. The restaurant chain has three West Michigan locations.

TSFR and Olga’s Kitchen founded the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation in her honor to provide annual grants to aspiring women entrepreneurs who exemplify the same passion, ambition and vision.

Sticky Spoons Jam

Founded by Aiyenede Akhigbe, former third-class petty officer engine operator (enlisted surface warfare specialist) in the U.S. Navy, Sticky Spoons Jam is based in Niles and specializes in the production of jams, jellies and syrup using locally sourced produce and packaging from Michigan farms and small businesses. With more than 100 flavors, such as Lunar Eclipse, Summer Solstice, Winter Jelly and Blueberry Lavender, Sticky Spoons sells products at markets in Michigan and Indiana. Akhigbe founded the business in 2016 to feed her children preservative-free foods.

In 2023, Sticky Spoons will open its licensed kitchen and storefront, as well as an e-commerce website. The business also aims to continue to identify and enter partnerships with shops in Michigan and beyond, including Meijer’s small-format grocery store Bridge Street Market.

U-Plant Landscape Designs

Founded by Sandy Jonick in 2019 and featured by the Busines Journal in 2021, U-Plant Landscape Designs assists homeowners with the necessary elements to complete landscaping projects themselves by providing digital landscape designs, a detailed plant list and labeled images. Jonick has designed more than 300 landscapes for West Michigan homeowners in the past three years.

The grant money from the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation will go toward fully funding U-Plant Landscape Designs’ marketing program and capital needs. This will lead to expanding the business into other markets, beautifying communities and making them an influential part of the environment.

Women entrepreneurs can apply for grants through the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation here.

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