CVTC: A Good Place to Start
college offers entrepreneurship program, course paths to help people start their own businesses
Sabrina Spiegel graduated from high school years ago and admits she didn’t have it all figured out.
Now she’s the owner of Saylon Seven – a popular salon in Eau Claire.
Anthony Nied and his brother started a lawn mowing business in the early 1990s. His current ownership of Safe & Simple Organic Lawns is a nod to his earlier roots.
Lillie Speros was home-schooled through high school. Now she owns a coffee house called Plaza Perk in Eau Claire.
Spiegel, Nied, and Speros have at least one thing in common – they realized their dream of starting their own business after attending Chippewa Valley Technical College.
“They support the Chippewa Valley’s creative economy. We need more entrepreneurs to continue to build on the great contributions made so far.” –Lisa Arendt, CVTC associate dean of business, arts, and science
Although entrepreneurship in the U.S. has been declining for decades, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, CVTC continues to make it easy for people to learn the tools to start their own business and help it thrive.
The college’s entrepreneurship technical diploma is designed to help community members learn more about entrepreneurship and move an idea to the point of a business launch.
Lisa Arendt, CVTC’s associate dean of business, arts, and science, said it’s essential to have entrepreneurs among us.
“They support the Chippewa Valley’s creative economy. We need more entrepreneurs to continue to build on the great contributions made so far,” she said.
Tyler Van Helden, entrepreneurship program director and instructor, interacts with area business owners and agencies that support entrepreneurship throughout the region.
“Entrepreneurs are our local visionaries,” he said. “They listen to others and themselves. They find ways to make our lives better, and they often build products or offer services we all use.”
Spiegel, a local cosmetologist, exemplifies that description.
The owner of Saylon Seven said she worked as a daycare provider after high school, but it wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
She attended CVTC and received her associate’s degree in cosmetology. It ignited a fire in her.
“I had these leadership skills I didn’t know I had,” she said. “It’s just better to own your own business.
“I wanted to give the Eau Claire community something unique and different that they normally don’t see. I had all of these ideas.”
“Without CVTC, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It propelled me right into the industry.” –Anthony Nied, Safe & Simple Organic Lawns
It was important for Spiegel to create an atmosphere at her salon where all people felt welcome. She said CVTC gave her the tools to make her business a success. “I could not have felt the empowerment, strength, and skill level to do what I do without CVTC,” Spiegel said.
Nied and Speros echo those sentiments. Nied earned his degree in horticulture from CVTC and started his landscape business in 2018.
“There is always going to be some nerves and some anxiety with starting a new business, but it was a welcome change,” he said. “You just have to have persistence. You go back to your values, your roots, and make decisions from the heart.
“Without CVTC, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It propelled me right into the industry.”
Speros said starting her coffee shop was a dream finally realized. She also comes by it honestly. Her father had been a business owner his whole life, so she got to see the behind-the-scenes and inner workings of his business. Speros has a nail technician technical diploma from CVTC, but she also took classes in business, marketing, and management.
“Getting a new business out there so people know about it is really hard to do,” she said. “This is representing me. All of this is my business. It’s a lot of weight to think about. This is how you’re known to people now. It’s rough, but it’s worth it.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”