Ladies First Founders

Ladies First Founders - Cohort 1

Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D) is the Dingman Center's one-credit course for female and non-binary entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland taught by Sara Herald, the Dingman Center's Director of Venture Development, Ladies First champion and co-chair of the Maryland Smith Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. Cohorts learn about entrepreneurship, grow their own business ideas, and support each other's entrepreneurial journeys.

The course is a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events. Topics include the how to's of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.

The course is open to any female or non-binary undergraduate at the University of Maryland who is working on a business or social venture. Due to high demand for the course, participants are selected through an application process. 

Applications are now closed for the 2020 Ladies First Founders class. Students who are interested in learning more about Ladies First should attend walk-in office hours with Lottie Byram (Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-3 p.m.) or email Sara Herald to schedule an appointment at sherald@rhsmith.umd.edu.

Cohort 3

Sarah Agaratt ’21: BillieJean
Sarah is a Computer Science major with a passion for sustainable fashion. She is seeking to launch a clothing company that exclusively uses recycled threads. 

Ijeoma Asonye ’23: Sporty Quick
As a track runner in high school, Ijeoma grew frustrated with the amount of time it took to switch between track and running shoes. Equipped with a major in Mechanical Engineering, she realized that with a transformable sole, both shoes could fit into one. The first of its kind, Sporty Quick allows athletes to avoid what they hate most: slowing down! 

Lucy Bedewi ’20: Wanderlust Wardrobe Consulting
At Wanderlust Wardrobe Consulting, you can get personal fashion advice at an affordable price. Lucy realized that personal stylists were only available to the ultra-rich and wanted to provide a service for everyday consumers. At Wanderlust, Lucy can raid your closet and pair different pieces together or be your personal shopper to create the perfect fit. Lucy’s subscription service gives you an affordable personal stylist with ease.  

Tamara Bethea ’23: Dessert company - name TBD
Tamara joined Ladies First with aspirations of creating a baked goods company. With a severe peanut allergy, Tamara found that the market lacked many dessert options that excited her. A Marketing major, Tamara hopes that her dessert creations will appeal to numerous customer segments from vegans to peanut to allergy-prone eaters.

Goodness Ihekweme ’21: G Styles
G Styles is a clothing brand offering unique pieces that merge street wear with African prints. Goodness used her eye for fashion and seamstress abilities to create hand-made pieces that have been displayed in numerous fashion shows across the DMV. 

Sarah Lader ’21: The Sustainable Socialite
Sarah believes in the importance of shopping sustainably, which inspired her to launch The Sustainable Socialite. An avid thrifter, Sarah finds elegant, one-of-a-kind pieces and sells them on a platform for trendy dressers. 

Crystal Pinckney ’22: Crys&Co Beauty
As a student living on campus, Crystal realized that many women lacked access to the beauty supplies that they needed. She soon created Crys&Co Beauty, which offers beauty supplies to people on campus who otherwise could not easily reach a beauty store.

Monica Pizzo ’20: LUMXN
LUMXN is a magazine intending to reimagine what a powerful womxn looks like by highlighting the stories, careers, and artwork of women in different societal roles.

Hannah Shraim ’20: Libre Looks
As a hijab-wearing business student, Hannah struggled to find professional clothing that adhered to her modest style of dress. Hannah launched Libre Looks, which offers modest professional fashion wear to modest dressing women.

Caroline Ta ’21: SweetsbyCaroline
For as long as she could remember, Caroline grew up baking sweet macarons with her family members. SweetsbyCaroline is a catering business that offers personalized cakes and custom macarons for any special occasion. 

Cohort 2

Sadia Alao '20: Beauty After Dark
Mentor: Shelly Bell, Founder of Black Girl Ventures
A delivery platform where users order beauty goods with personal shoppers. Once expanded and grounded in the market, we plan to stock products and deliver before and after beauty supply stores open and close.

Barathi Aravindan '22: Azelle
Mentor: Kelly O'Malley, Regional Director at The Vinetta Project
Our mission is to support the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay in a fashionable manner and empower women in the field of business by hiring young women in the community. We hope the charms on our bracelets serve as a constant reminder to support the Chesapeake Bay in its longevity.

Leah Barnes '21: Fulfilled
Mentor: Tonia Wellons, Founder, Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund
The purpose of this venture is to create a non- profit that helps students aging out of the foster care system. Statistics show that a low rate of children that age out of the system attend college. This organization will first aim to address those who do matriculate to college by providing them with essential items in the form of a "trunk" or suitcase. We would also pair students with viable resources to ensure graduation after two to four years.

I'Shea Boyd '20: Baltimore Leading Baltimore
Mentor: Erin Janklow, Founder and CEO of Entrada: Employer Sponsored Learning
We contribute to the advancement of our youth by fostering the fearless pursuit of post-secondary education through empowerment and inspiration.

Sabahat Fatima '21: Tailor app (name TBD)
Mentor: Carolyn Yarina, CEO and Co-Founder at Sisu Global Health
This platform will help increase the customer base of tailors, especially ones without a physical shop and changing work hours. Customers are benefited by access to wider range of customization choices. 

Dana Hashem '20: Care for a Terp
Mentor: Deborah Hemingway, PhD '18, Founder and CEO at Leon Scientific
This is a care package system for Terps by Terps. It’s an on-campus care package delivery system that offers more than regular care package items. The Care For A Terp care package allows the customer to order their favorite snacks (including drinks), but also to choose from a variety of items such as fuzzy socks, eye masks or scented candles.

Nazea Khan '20: Clothing app (name TBD)
Mentor: LaKisha Greenwade, MBA '11, Founder of Glam Tech
This revolutionary app is about allowing consumers to try on their clothing items without having to go through the hassle of the fitting room. All they need to do is insert their measurements into the app, scan the barcode, and the app will allow the consumer to know if the clothing item is too tight, too big, just right, etc.

Lara Sharma '22: Ele've
Mentor: Xina Eiland, President and CEO at X+PR
If you're a model or a fashion photographer or someone just trying to launch a product, it can be difficult to form creative contracts and grow your brand. Ele've creates dream fashion editorials at the tap of your finger by allowing you to choose your fashion photographer, art director, model, stylist and makeup artist from a network.

Saba Tshibaka '20: Rendered Inc.
Mentor: Ali von Paris '12, Founder and CEO of Route One Apparel
Rendered is a clothing vending service. The founders visit different consignment shops and thrift stores to find rare items, then do market research to verify the clothes are of value. They subsequently wash/alter the clothes, take pictures and post them online to our following (@renderedinc on IG), ebay, and depop.

Cohort 1

Audrey Awasom '18: Noble Uprising
Noble Uprising is a non-profit organization that empowers women experiencing homelessness through career readiness seminars, workforce development programs, and sustainable job opportunities. Learn more at

Maria Chen '19: Symbiont Health (Grand Prize Winner – Pitch Dingman Competition)
Symbiont Health is developing both wearable and non-wearable automated fall detection devices to combat the high rate of senior citizen morbidity resulting from syncope.

Megha Guggari '20: Synapto
Synapto is an early stage biotech venture revolutionizing the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease through portable Electroencephalogram (EEG) and artificial intelligence.

Breonna Massey '18: Slay Naturals
Being healthy and taking care of skin shouldn’t cost you your wallet or your style. SLAY Naturals infuses style and nature so you can Stay Lovely And Young (SLAY)

Sydney Parker '18: Emprology (Finalist- Pitch Dingman Competition)
Emprology LLC is an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate minority female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize off of their content.

Jess Rosenthal '20: Good Stuff Good Works
Good Stuff Good Works facilitates the sales of indigenous artisanal goods from the mountainous region of Ecuador to the University of Maryland community and beyond.

Jasmine Snead '18: Aurora Tights
Aurora Tights is an athletic brand that designs figure skating gear for an array of tones, complexions, and sizes.

Natalie Urban '18 and Yinyin Liao '18: Project Girl
PRJ GRL is a coffee venture dedicated to empowering people through coffee. Revenue from our company’s sales goes towards sponsoring impoverished girls’ education in Cambodia. All of our coffee is high-quality, and ethically-sourced from female farmers in Latin America.

Fiona Whitefield '20: Continuum
Continuum assists the growing elderly population to “age in place” by connecting those who are physically unable to maintain their home with skilled retirees who provide home maintenance services, ultimately building a network of social support and empowering those experiencing physical decline to maintain independence.