Success Stories: How These Two SWFL Women Turned Their Passion into a Business

We’re thrilled to announce that with the support of the Women’s Foundation and the team of Southwest Florida lenders we have helped fund two recent Kiva U.S. loans for two local women.

Read on to see how they are both turning their passion into a business and how you can do the same!

What did you do before starting a business? Tell us a bit about your motivation…
Carleen, Imagine Wellness Spa

Carleen, Imagine Wellness Spa –I was a sales and marketing manager in Media and later in skin care with a manufacturer but I wanted to make a difference for others and use my business skills to make money for my own business rather than someone else’s. I am very passionate about combining science and beauty and I think this has been key to my success.

Monica, Tamu’s Cupcakery

Monica, Tamu Cupcakery- I’ve been a Classification Supervisor at a Florida Correctional Facility since 2010, which is an extremely demanding position since I serve as Duty Warden monthly and work long hours. Currently, I juggle being the sole operator of Tamu Cupcakery and a career at the prison until I can successfully obtain a storefront and focus 100% on Tamu Cupcakery. For me, It all started with the Easy Bake oven as a child. Then I became the lead baker for fundraisers at my kids’ school. I learned that I loved to cook and that America loves to eat! Once I relocated from NY to FL, I decided to start putting my dream of owning a restaurant into motion. I love to create & experiment with meals, desserts and to reinvent recipes. In 2012, I attended many events such as Riddum Runway & participated in Deal Chicken. In 2016, Tamu Cupcakery was legalized and now I am saving for a bakery restaurant.

How did the funding from your loan help you?
Imagine Wellness’ New and Improved Location

Carleen, Imagine Wellness Spa – Our original business was located on a second floor with no elevator. The loan we received allowed us to move to a larger, new location on the ground floor and enabled us to serve more clients who previously had difficulties with the stairs. I also brought in a new treatment and retail line which helped my business grow. I was in the top five accounts with this company at the end of the first year!

I have officially made the transition from employee to employer. I now employ a client coordinator and several therapists who are independent contractors.

Monica, Tamu Cupcakery- Our Kiva loan is providing Tamu Cupcakery with the working capital we need as we strive to switch from an

A Tamu Cupcakery Event

online cupcakery to a storefront cupcakery. The Kiva funds we received allowed us to purchase food packaging supplies and ingredients. Thanks to the support of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, Kiva and our Kiva lenders we could pay for more hours at the commercial kitchen in which we operate. We also purchased the necessary supplies & equipment to continue providing baking classes to local children. I hope to grow enough to provide jobs in our community!

Anything you want us to include that will tell people a bit about your experience as a Kiva success?

Carleen, Imagine Wellness Spa – This loan helped me ramp up my business and filled a void in financing available to me as an entrepreneur with a small business.

Monica, Tamu Cupcakery- The Women’s Foundation Kiva program is a blessing because it’s interest-free and forces you to be proactive, network, and sell your business to others. Applying for the Kiva loan has helped my business in more ways than one.

I received 100% funding, but I also gained new prospects for future dessert orders, met new businesses that provide a plethora of info to help Tamu Cupcakery succeed, and upon repaying the loan I am eligible to apply again.

If I could give advice to other women entrepreneurs is never to let anyone or anything talk you out of your dreams! You must believe in yourself, and sometimes that means being your own cheerleader. Have faith, even when you cannot see the step ahead. Develop a feasibility plan, learn to budget, educate yourself on your business, be cost effective, remain focused & positive and never give up!” , Monica, Tamu Cupcakery.

You can help boost the economic power of other Southwest Florida women by making loans to entrepreneurs who need funding to grow their businesses, join our team of SWFL Lenders and start changing our community $25 at a time. Join HERE

Are you a SWFL woman in need of funding to grow your business? Follow this link to see if you qualify for a Kiva loan:

Learn More about Carleen and Monica’s Businesses

Children can learn how to bake at Tamu Cupcakery

Tamu Cupcakery, LLC. Our goal is to create happiness in every bite! We offer over 72 flavor options and a variety of desserts from cupcakes, cakes, cake pops to cheesecakes, cookies, brownies, cupcake bouquets & more! We hold kids baking classes, small business networking events and we are at the Club Square Farmers Market every Saturday in Cape Coral. Visit us on social media and at

Imagine Wellness Spa

Imagine Wellness Spa
Find and enhance your best beautiful self!! The Imagine Wellness Spa is focused on supporting you in your quest for internal and external wellness. You may have been to the Doctor and have a diagnosis, marching orders and don’t where to begin or how to stay accountable. Using our therapeutic approach along with progressive, non-aggressive, treatments and modalities, safe products and education-based, science-based, recommendations founded on holistic principles aimed at aligning mind, body, and spirit, we help you identify the root cause of your concerns. We strive to be known as the place that gets results! Visit us on social media and at


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