Disability Entrepreneurship Institute, Business Owner portrait of Julie

Julie has always had one enduring dream: to run her own business. Since completing The Viscardi Center’s entrepreneurship pilot program, taking second place in its Founders with Disabilities PitchFest Competition in November 2021, and nabbing her very first clients, that dream is coming true. 

“I found a community where I could grow,” Julie says about her experience in the program, where she received mentorship from subject matter experts and engaged in an intense training curriculum. “I feel that I can make a difference in the lives of others.” 

Julie’s passion for entrepreneurship stems from her parents, who became business owners after emigrating to the U.S. from Haiti. From an early age, she knew educating herself in business management would open a world of opportunities.  

Seeking guidance, Julie enrolled in Viscardi’s entrepreneurship pilot program in Spring 2020. She developed the timely idea to help professionals, especially those working from home, transform their work areas or offices into attractive, functional spaces. She’s now the proud owner of interior design company Realign My Space based in Miami. 

Julie says getting started with an appropriate bank account for her new business did come with some unexpected obstacles, although she knew how to handle them.   

“With the skills and self-confidence gained during the learning modules, I was better suited to speak to an associate about opening an account right away. I also wouldn’t have been knowledgeable of the financial resources offered to people with disabilities starting a small business.” 

 Equipped with a new laptop donated through the program, which served as a much-needed replacement for her old computer with a broken mic, Julie used her equity-free cash grant from the PitchFest Competition to establish a strong online and social media presence to spread the word about her brand and attract new clients.  

Learn more about how the Disability Entrepreneurship Institute is preparing innovative self-starters for self-employment success.