Business: This Wood Be Good

Owner: Tommy Arrington

IG: ThisWoodBeGood


When/why did you decide to start your business? Were you always talented in that area?

I started my business (This Wood Be Good) just about two years ago. I started my business due to the increase in request for diy (do it yourself) projects for people’s homes.

What obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome in starting your business? 

There were many obstacles at first starting my business like not having a Price Index for material, I’d constantly have to keep running back and forth to Home Depot just to get an accurate cost of material on a project someone wanted. Another was not collecting down payments which is today the Cost of Material (COM). I use to use my own money to cover the cost of material and then the customer would sometimes back out of the purchase and I’d lose money if I didn’t sell the item to another customer so now I’ve learned from those mistakes earlier in the process and now things flow a lot more smoothly.

What types of product do you offer? What sets your business apart from competitors?

I provide everything from entertainment consoles to end tables, book shelves to bed frames. With each new project my skills improve so I try to work on something new as frequently as possible. I wouldn’t say I have competitors because I do my best to just focus on the customers needs but I feel when it’s crafted from passion according to the customers liking you’re biggest competition is yourself. How much more are you willing to create?

Being a relatively young business, how has the support and feedback been to this point?

The support is always appreciated. People support in multiple ways so no one way is greater than the other. I could appreciate someone who has referred me to several customers just as much as the one customer who purchased several items. It’s all mutually respected. As far as feedback goes, I appreciate it all, the positive and negative. I strive for nothing but positive feedback but I’m also cognizant of the fact that I cannot please everyone.

Unfortunately there are certain misconceptions about Black business (being unprofessional, etc.)? have you in anyway felt the effect of those misconceptions?

To an extent, yes but not often because I have no problem telling potential customers whether I can or cannot do something. There’s been plenty of projects I had to pass on just because I didn’t have the equipment, skill level or the timing of the project just was not good. I think it just revolves around honesty and common courtesy for the customer. There are however some individuals that are just impossible to satisfy. They come in with the highest of expectations and sometimes negative energy and the process is already tainted from there lack of appreciation or understanding of your business. These are the type of people I still will try to reason with but not feel bad if they go elsewhere.

What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?

As for advice to new business owners I would say, just start with what you have and get the ball moving. Everything else will fall in place eventually. If you wait on perfect conditions to start, you’ll never get started.

What’s next for you and the business?

As for the next moves in regards to my business, I want to simply continue to grow my experience and produce more for more people. I also want to attach my wood working skills to a Non-profit organization that I am starting in the near future and teach the importance of being able to build both literally and figuratively with what you have.





Business: Alexis Von

Owner: Markus Bethel

IG: @Shatteredvanity





Business: Elevated Living, LLC

Owner: Daphnie Bruno, Ph.D.

VFTS: When did you start your business? What was your inspiration?

​DB: Elevated Living Consulting LLC began with a thought as everything does. The idea for my business began with a question “Daphnie, what do you see yourself doing for the rest of your life that you would look forward to doing every day?” I thought of and wrote down three things; teaching, writing and traveling. I also knew I wanted to find ways to share my knowledge and skills in ways that inspire people to do great things. So throughout my work I am careful with my words and actions because I understand the power of what I say and do. I am careful of the message I want to convey. It is with this energy and intent that I begin every working relationship. I am very intentional in my words and thoughts because I also understand that is one of the ways to empower others.

VFTS: What services do you provide? What might a participant learn at one of your workshops?

​DB: I will say first and foremost I am in the business of inspiring others, and I do this in a variety of different ways. I provide staff/professional development seminars, leadership trainings and workshops on topics related to cultural diversity and success in the workplace. Participants would learn strategies to deal with the challenges related to diversity in the workplace and education. Because my area of expertise is developmental psychology with specialization in racial and ethnic diversity issues, I use this knowledge base in addressing issues of race and diversity to steer conversations about challenges in any educational arena.

VFTS: What obstacles, if any, did you overcome in starting your business?

DB: Let me start answering this questions by saying first that there are going to be obstacles anytime you chose to lead, especially when you chose to address topics that are uncomfortable but necessary conversations. As a professional speaker I believe in addressing those tough conversations because that is where changes take place, and lives are elevated and people begin to do better for themselves. Until we begin to explore the challenging conversations very little change will be seen.

VFTS: As an inspirational speaker, what messages do you look to get across?

DB: As an inspirational speaker my message across the board is self-motivation. I would love for those I build relationships with to find the strength to do for self. It is in being able to self-motivate that real changes begin place.

VFTS: As an author, who is your target audience? What messages are you looking to get across?

DB: As an author, I would say that my target audiences are anyone who needs that flicker of light to come on to be inspired and empowered. I have come to realize that the best way that I can help others is to show them examples of what empowerment looks like. In order for that to happen I must be a representative of empowerment through my work. In other words live an empowered life others will see and mirror.

VFTS: What would you say your company’s greatest success is up to this point?

DB: I would say that the greatest success is being established as a leader in bringing fresh ideas to schools and businesses. I am currently very active in inspiring parents to become involved in their children’s education. I believe parents have lost track of their role and responsibility as a result of busy schedules evolved around work and other responsibilities. I would like to believe that Elevated Living Consulting LLC is actively working on a parent revolution in education, a movement centered around this idea of parent engagement to build student achievement. I support parents who seek motivation in becoming involved in their children’s education.

VFTS: What advice would you give aspiring business owners?

DB: I consider myself an up and coming business and I believe that the greatest aspect of doing what I do is that I turned an idea into something more tangible. Anyone who is aspiring to do anything new and life changing would gain a great deal by writing down their thoughts since no idea is too small. Even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment write it down because eventually you can take all of these thoughts and develop them into something life changing.

VFTS: What is next for you and your company?

DB: I am continually writing and developing myself and as I develop so do my ideas and my work. I am in the process of writing with intent to publish. As I publish, I believe the focus of my conversations will also reflect that so I’m excited about what’s next.





Business: Hands On Moving, LLC

Owner: Xzavier Richardson


When did you start your business?


What was your inspiration?

My family is filled with entrepreneurs. Mainly my dad inspired me to go into business in the moving industry because he owned a moving company when I was a young boy. My father owned multiple businesses such as a construction company, Transportation conpany, moving company and was involved in real estate as well. Out of all the businesses he owned, I was most interested in the moving industry.

What services do you provide and what locations do you service?

Residential Moving
Commercial Moving
Long Distance Moving
Packing Services

Additional services:
Piano Moving
Junk Removal
Delivery Services
Areas served:

Connecticut; New Haven County, Fairfield County and Hartford County


What obstacles, if any, did you overcome in starting your business?

When I first started Hands On Moving, I was a junior in college working two other jobs along with operating my business. I worked at Target as a Guest Service Manager and Yale New Haven Hospital as a Transporter. It was very difficult to balance my school work, work two jobs and also maintain and grow my business all at the same time. However, I did graduate from Southern Connecticut State University in May of 2015. I left target and was promoted to a Patient Transport Supervisor at Yale New Haven Hospital 3 weeks before graduation. Even though my plate seem to lighten up a little, two months later my son Carter was born. Over the next two years I continue to grow my business while working a full time job overnight and being a father to my son Carter and Stepson Dennis. I dealt with very long days, sleepless nights and daily sacrifices along the way. However, I am proud to say today that all the sacrifices were well worth it. I now operate a Full Service Moving and Storage company that operates throughout the entire state of Connecticut, I have employed 80+ employees over the past 3 years and recently in October of 2017, and I took the leap of faith of leaving Yale New Haven Hospital to focus on working my dream job of being an entrepreneur.

While in business I had to learn about payroll taxes, workers comp, licenses and marketing/advertising strategies to start a business, which I must say was very difficult to understand in the beginning years and still is a challenge today since we are a fast growing business. However, we have a full team that helps us overcome these challenges such as a Vice President, Operations Manager, Job Site Supervisors, Team Leaders, Secretary, Accountant, Marketing Director and Human Resource Director.

What separates you from your competitors?

We are a one stop shop Moving Company for all of our customers. We provide labor service, full service moving, packing services, storage, junk removal and delivery services throughout the entire state of Connecticut and Tri – State areas. As expressed in our Company name, we want to provide our customer with a “HANDS ON” experience from start to finish. Compared to our competition, we want to make sure our customers have options when it comes down to choosing Moving services. We understand that every customer has a unique need and reason on why they need to move and we want to make sure our services can accommodate everyone’s needs. The Hands On team is made up of mostly young college professionals that are working hard together to grow this business and hoping to make a future opportunity for other young professionals to join our team. Hands On Moving is known by our customer as being very professional, fast and experienced movers.

You’re not only creating opportunity for yourself but you’re also employing other young Black men, why is that important to you?

Employing young black men is very important to me, especially young men from the inner city. I, being an inner city black male myself, growing up in the Newhall Ville section of New Haven, understand the struggle and the pain of finding a positive outlet to success. I feel that a lot of our young black men want an opportunity to work and make a positive living for themselves but they may not have the right people or best living environment around them to give them a fair opportunity to a decent job. I understand the needs of the young black male and the guidance they need to be successful. I employed over 80 young black males over the past 3 years from the inner city and they all have done a great job contributing to the success of my business. Some may need a little coaching and guidance but with taking the time to invest in our young black men, I have had nothing but success.

What would you say your company’s greatest success is up to this point?

Moving over 2500+ customers within 3 years.

Having a great customer satisfaction rating on all of our advertising/marketing platforms such as Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, BBB and Facebook.

Fleet of 4 company vehicles

90% of our employees are college students attending school in the New Haven County

Winning our first Government Commercial Moving Bid 2017.

Becoming a Fully License, Insured and Bond Moving & Storage Moving Company

What advice would you give aspiring business owners?

Go into business doing something you love. Don’t just start a business in an industry because you can make a lot of money. The most successful businesses are ran by people who love what they do. Always believe that you can succeed, you’ll find ways through different obstacles. That’s the fun part of being in business, checking off your accomplishments one by one.




Business: All My Children Daycare

Owner: Escelena Harris





Business: New Haven Sound Lounge

Owner: Will “MixedBySkool” Barnes





Business: Maintenance Pro, LLC

Owner: Darryl Nicholson




Business: Through Her Eyes Productions

Owner: Simone Roberts

VFTS: When did you start your business? What was your inspiration?

SR: I started my business after hearing positive feedback from women on how after publishing my first book they were inspired to share their stories. I had no idea that what I had been through at 19, would inspire so many others especially older than me, to also want to share their story.

VFTS: Why is it so important to you to give women a platform to tell their stories?

SR: I believe it’s so important because women are so use to being the strength for everyone else, that we forget to be strong and embrace our own stories. Each platform I have created and plan to continue to create, is for women to just come together in a safe space and share their story through whatever form is most comfortable.

VFTS: What obstacles, if any, did you overcome in starting your business?

SR: My biggest obstacle was self-doubt. I didn’t believe that anyone was going to support this 19 year old girl with a “vision.” I remember even up to my first cafè, I thought no one was going to show up and be apart. Nevertheless, I had over 10 women show up to share their stories. My other obstacle was money. Sometimes your vision can be bigger than your pockets. It doesn’t mean you give up on it, but make a plan to get it done.

VFTS: What would you say your company’s greatest success is up to this point?

SR: I think it is a tie between my bi-monthly cafes entitled “And So She Speaks” and my second book “We Survived It.” I say my cafè because each one brings a diverse crowd of women as young as 9 and as old as mid-60’s sharing their art, sharing their story. I am always left amazed. I also said my book We Survived It, because 24 women (25 including myself), entrusted me to share their deepest battles turned victories. The stories ranged from cancer, to physical/mental abuse, to surviving near death experiences. I am forever humbled by the experience. From that book, so many visions, movements and even more books were birthed from the women included.

VFTS: What do your workshops consist of? What do you hope those attending your workshops get out of them?
SR: I haven’t done many workshops lately, but the ones I have hosted are focused on mental empowerment. Every activity, discussion, panel is focused on helping the person to grow. I hope that whoever attends one of these workshops leave feeling inspired and motivated to take on the world.
VFTS: What advice would you give aspiring business owners?

SR: Never give up. It is not always going to be easy. There will surely be more bad days than good at first but keep going. The reward will be worth it!

VFTS: What is next for you and your company?

SR: Right now I am taking a step in the direction of mental empowerment for kids (my first love). I am in the processing of getting ready to release my second children’s book in my four part series; “Monie Says.” The next book will be Monie Says Love.




Business: Kinfolk Klothing

Owner: Neff Castell