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GCW awards 2 business grants

Women entrepreneurs will use funds to elevate their businesses

A home-staging company and a counseling firm are the inaugural winners in a grant program designed to help women entrepreneurs elevate their businesses.

Powerful Minds Counseling LLC and Sophisticated Staging LLC received PowHER grants worth $2,500 and $1,500, respectively. The PowHER program, a Gulf Coast Woman initiative accomplished in partnership with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was funded largely by the recipients of the magazine’s 100 Successful Women to Know award, GCW and other women in business.

“We received nearly 20 applications for the PowHER grants, and competition was fierce,” says Joy Douglas, membership director for the Chamber. “Ultimately, our review committee submitted individual scores for each applicant based on the applicant’s five-year business goals, the grant project as presented, how well the project would support the overall business goals and a few other select criteria.”

Dorothy P. Wilson, publisher of Gulf Coast Woman magazine, said she is excited to do more for South Mississippi women business owners.

“I recall what it was like when I first started my business. When your business is still young, a $2,500 or $1,500 grant can make a significant impact on your ability to grow,” she says. “I’m very proud of the winners and also grateful for Adele Lyons and the Chamber’s willingness to step up to help GCW launch this program. The Chamber is an excellent partner.”


According to the owner, Dr. Shelbi Bradley, Powerful Minds Counseling offers individual, family and group counseling that promotes mental and emotional wellness. With the grant funds, Bradley intends to provide mental health first aid and youth mental health first aid training to community members, teachers, parents and others. Bradley herself is a dual-trained instructor in youth and adult mental health first aid.

“Mental health first aid is a course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders,” she explains. “The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance-use problem or experiencing a crisis.”

Bradley notes that the average cost to train one person in mental health first aid is around $23.95, and the grant money will allow her to offer this course to about 100 people.

“The more we educate ourselves about mental health, especially in our youth, the more we will be able to handle crises and hopefully reduce the stigma and statistics around mental health illnesses and crisis,” she says.

In addition, the grant will help Bradley bring awareness to her business and other trainings she offers.

“It will open the door for those seeking care to gain access to affordable care in the area,” she says.


In business since May 2021, Sophisticated Staging LLC has “ambitious plans for growth and success” over the next five years, according to owner Jennifer Miller.

“Our primary objective is to establish ourselves as the go-to provider for professional home staging services in our region,” Miller explains in her application. “To achieve this, we will invest in marketing initiatives to enhance our brand visibility and increase awareness of the benefits of home staging.”

The company, Miller adds, also wants to expand its range of services to cater to its clients’ diverse needs, which may include offering more home-staging consultation services and virtual staging options, or collaborating with local furniture dealers.

“As part of our growth strategy, we also will focus on building a skilled and dedicated team of home-staging professionals,” Miller says. “We will invest in training programs to ensure our team stays up to date with the latest trends, techniques and industry best practices.”

To that end, part of the grant will be used to send Miller’s team to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals continuing education conference in Las Vegas, scheduled for January.

“By attending this prestigious conference, our team will have the opportunity to enhance their skills, stay updated on the latest industry trends and network with industry leaders and fellow professionals,” Miller says.

Awards were presented to the winners during a Chamber ceremony on Nov. 20.

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