The Rock It! Lab kicks off with the first class

On October 17, the Rock It! Lab officially inaugurated the first class of entrepreneurs. The class includes individuals with businesses that run the gamut from simply an idea to those who already have a full-fledged business and want to take their ideas to the next level.

The 2021 Rock It! Lab class of entrepreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with the Rock It! Lab, it is a collaboration between CALS and Advancing Black Entrepreneurship that helps aspiring business owners within under-resourced communities as they walk the path of entrepreneurship. The program is located in the Cox Building, where there are three main spaces that entrepreneurs can use to help grow their business – on the first floor, is the River Shop where entrepreneurs who have finished products can sell their wares, down stairs is the 501 Makers Space which serves to provide an area for artists and clothing designers to work and create, and the second floor is the Village Coworking Space where entrepreneurs can conduct meetings or use it as a general office space.

Nathan James addressing the class, along with Benito Lubazibwa, founder of ABE.

“I wish you all could have been at the kickoff last night for the group of entrepreneurs selected for RIL’s first Incubator program. I’ve been trying to put into words how the event ‘felt,’ the energy, the passion, the gratitude, the hope, all the aspirations of the amazing people who were there because they want to make a difference and know we can help.”

Nathan James
Deputy Executive Director of
Technology & Collection Innovation

This class represents a variety of industries, including more tangible businesses like food makers, artists and jewelers, as well as service providers like the growing industry of home healthcare, cleaning services and even athlete marketing. Each “class” requires a six-month commitment as they go through the mentorship program. We can’t wait to follow this group on their journey and see how they progress. We wish them the best of luck!

The full 2021 class:

Tonya Smith
Bridging the Gap Adult Care and Daycare

Lisa Buckner
Mama’s Homemade Pie Shop

Lakeisha Sharpley
Lux and Soul LLC.

Hezekiah Pierce

Corey Nelson
Chicago Flamin Grill

Marie Rahmaan
Rashawn’s Cleaning Service, LLC.

Natalie Harris
Sugar Joint Bakery

Nicole Wilson
Natural Joy by Nicole Janae LLC.

Cheryl Humphrey
Perfecting The Gift, LLC. dba Candy Butta

Maria Aguilar

Maria Barrero

Vivian Brittenum
Rock City Staffing Agency

Charmaine Cook
Your Fashion Modest

Jeanette Patterson
Royal Mantles LLC.

Troy Hill
Young Athlete Elite Marketing (Y.A.E.M.)

Lamont McCarther
McCarther n Sons Services

Lorin Calhoun
Creative Attributes

J’Tara Lockhart
Lockedhart Eyewear

Tiffiney Sims
Chef by Reservations

Yarely Lopez

Shana Ricks
The Plant Boutique

Shayla Henderson
Än trā

Naomi Lalonde
Balance Body & Sole

Sergio Valdivia
Sergio Valdivia Art

Sara Drew 
Business name TBD

Lela Belleton
Lewks By Elle

Rashanna Buford
Ra’Elles Ice Queen Treats

Chyna Nellon
Cultural Immersion Media LLC.

LaWonda Brooks
Sista Girl’s Seasoned Vinegars