A CEO’s compelling story – From working with HIV positive kids to starting an organic scrubs biz.

Rachel Lewin, CEO and founder of RxOrganics, knows a good deal about the struggle almost every start-up business encounters during the first two years.

Rachel holdingupblueshirt

Rachel holding up one of her scrubs tops in front of her current line.

Rachel Lewin, a skilled fashion designer, was on a mission to create scrubs that felt good. Her experience as a registered nurse, often spending up to 12 hours in the same uniform, brought this need to her attention.“The scrubs hospitals gave us were ugly and the strings and pockets weren’t efficient at all,” Rachel says during our interview at her office in the Bayview.

“I wanted to make scrubs that made sense! I was eager to learn how to make garments and decided to go to fashion school while working as a full-time nurse”, she says smiling as I open my eyes widely imagining what a busy schedule that must have been.

 

rachel office

Rachel’s collection of a variety of scrubs, work aprons and even a scrubs dress.

When I ask Rachel how she got into nursing she tells me a very compelling story. “When I was 22 I used to work at this small children’s hospital in the 90’s in New York dedicated to HIV positive kids,” she says.

“Work was very difficult, and the small staff was often overwhelmed – emotionally and physically. It was one of the most unique jobs I’ve ever had but it was draining,” she continues.

“I specifically remember one of the kids, a 5 year old African American boy named Mufasa. He wore these cowboy boots he must have found somewhere, and he loved them so much he would wear them to bed,” Rachel reminiscently adds.

“I can still hear the sound of his boots running down the hallway,” she says looking at me with a sentimental smile.

rachel dog

Rachel with loving companion Tash

Following the beat of her own drum, Rachel established RxOrganics in 2010, a company dedicated to local manufacturing and sustainable textile kitchen and medical garments, in a little space between her bedroom and stairwell.

“I was literally sewing in a 4 by 2 foot space, creating, sampling and testing prototypes,” Rachel tells me while thinking about her meager beginnings. “It took me a long time to create the perfect pattern, figure out how to use reclaimed and recyclable fabrics and find the right manufacturers,” she says.

 

rachel showing donation

Rachel showing me a bag of her many prototypes. 
In 2011 RxOrganic’s (then Rxclothing:organic scubs) scored their first client – a large, local multi campus hospital called Sutter Health CPMC San Francisco. They liked her presentation, values and vision and agreed to a contract on site.
The young nurse and business woman was delighted, and knew she was on the right path. “There were ensuing up’s and down’s – website troubles and manufacturing inconsistencies, but the business ultimately continued to move in the right direction”, she recalls.

rachel rack

Rachel at her desk with her many awards including the Green Business Certification and Renaissance’s Certificate of Completion.

“I had a great product and great clients, but I had insecurities. I needed to make sure I knew how to run my business and that what I was doing was correct,” Rachel says when I ask her how she got involved with Renaissance.
“Renaissance was phenomenal with helping me complete a thorough Business Plan, and I still use the original plan as a living document,” she enthusiastically adds. “I still keep it updated and reflect and rewrite it because business is never static, and my business model has changed a few times since I’ve written the original”.

Fast forward to 2014, Rachel was concerned profits weren’t enough to justify the amount of time she put into her business.

However, even when she struggled with the idea of giving up on her dream, a few key developments came to fruition – her business was awarded the Green Certification by the city of San Francisco, some new clients emerged, and a dynamic new partnership was formed between RxOrganics and Operation Smile – an international children’s medical charity.

“We are now doing more work than ever, and it’s really all coming together,” Rachel says.

 

rachel showcasingpants

Rachel showcasing one of her comfortable RxOrganics scrubs.

 

I left Rachel’s office with a big smile on my face. “What an inspiring story”, I think to myself, and wave Rachel good-bye as I return to Renaissance SoMa.

We can all learn from Rachel inspiring story simply because it shows that no business start-up is perfect, and that it takes time and persistence to achieve success.

No matter how hard the road may be remember that the first two years will always be the most challenging years of your life!
Don’t give up on your dream! It is persistence that will lead you to success.
Interested in starting your own business? Check out our upcoming calendar of classes HERE or simply visit us for our next ORIENTATION on June 1st.
Want to see more of Rachel? Click here for a video, and click here to follow RxOrganics on Social Media.
Furthermore, to learn more about the unique partnership between RxOrganics and Operation Smile click here
 
Happy Memorial Weekend 2015!
Yours,
Petra O.
Renaissance Programs Coordinator & Fashion Entrepreneur
415.348.6212

 

Meet an inspiring entrepreneur!

James Mabrey, owner of Your All Day Everyday Janitorial Service.

Hi, I’m James Mabrey and I’ve been providing cleaning and sanitation solutions to private residents, businesses and institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years. But the road to get here wasn’t always easy.

I’ve lived in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point community all my life where I worked as a carpenter and dreamed of being my own boss. I knew I had to be in business for myself to better provide for my family the way I wanted to. I had the determination, but before starting my own business I didn’t realize how much training, guidance and focus it would take to become successful.

I found Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center where I took business classes and developed networks with people just like me who wanted to take charge of their own lives and provide – in the best way possible – for themselves and their families.

Years later, I now have an office in Renaissance Bayview’s Business Assistance Center and I joined their Contractors’ Program where I’ve been paired with a mentor who assists me in securing contracts and accessing resources to grow my business. It is rewarding to me to provide for my family and my employees’ families. In fact, I just hired my seventh employee and celebrated by making a contribution to Renaissance.

The support I received from Renaissance has inspired me to give back to help other aspiring entrepreneurs. Please join me by making a donation to Renaissance today and give someone the tools to change his or her life.

I’m living proof that Renaissance truly helps women and men from Bayview Hunters Point and communities throughout the Bay Area to create better futures for themselves and their families.

Thank you for joining me and giving to Renaissance today.

Sincerely,

James Mabrey
Owner, Your All Day Everyday Janitorial Service & Renaissance Client

 

P.S. Renaissance is a 501(c)(3) organization with 5 centers throughout the Bay Area. Your gift is fully tax-deductible.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center delivers crucial entrepreneurship training and support services to lower-income Bay Area women and men, helping them become economically self-sufficient on their own terms through entrepreneurship. 

Thank you for Creating True Economic Opportunity with us!

“Thank you so much for helping me to provide for my family as a successful business woman.”

Margarita Moreno, proud owner of Princess Beauty Salon and Renaissance Client

Together we raised critical funds through Silicon Valley Gives, Creating True Economic Opportunity for thousands of Bay Area women and men. Thank you so much.

If you missed Silicon Valley Gives, it’s not too late to give.

In fact, your gift will go further because all donations received through May 31st, will be matched by five Renaissance Board Members.

Thank you so much for your generous support. We look forward to updating you with inspiring stories from our client businesses throughout the month so you can see the exciting impact of your generosity.

Sincerely,

Sharon Signature
Sharon Miller

CEO

P.S. You can make an even bigger impact by becoming a monthly sustaining donor.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center delivers crucial entrepreneurship training and support services to lower-income Bay Area women and men, helping them become economically self-sufficient on their own terms through entrepreneurship. 

 

Today is the Day!

“Since becoming a client of Renaissance I was able to grow my business and hire 2 new employees.”

Margarita Moreno, proud owner of Princess Beauty Salon and Renaissance Client
Renaissance is kicking off our spring campaign to Create True Economic Opportunity for lower-income Bay Area women and men with Silicon Valley Gives.

 

With your support, Renaissance will assist lower-income women and men to start and grow their own thriving businesses and create better futures for their families.

For Margarita, who emigrated to California from Mexico in 1991, it took her personal determination along with intensive training from Renaissance to grow her business, Princess Beauty Salon in Daly City.

Although Margarita owned her own business for 12 years, she was struggling. When she heard of Renaissance onUnivision‘s morning show, Margarita quickly enrolled in Renaissance’s intensive Start Smart and Business Prep classes where she honed her marketing and finance skills. As a result, her business started to grow beyond her expectations and she was able to hire 2 new employees.

When you donate to Renaissance, you are giving entrepreneurs – just like Margarita – the hand up they need to become economically self-sufficient and contribute to the vibrancy of our local communities.

 

Donations received throughout the month of May will be generously matched by five Renaissance Board Members and Silicon Valley Gives (on May 5th only)!

 

Your contribution to Renaissance will provide lower-income women and men with the small business training, consulting, financial education, business incubation, mentorship and access to capital, resources and networks all entrepreneurs need to succeed.
Your gift will help entrepreneurs like Margarita, for example:

 

$5,000 will fund 1 Start Smart (introduction to business class) for 20 individuals $2,500 provides industry-specific training for 12 entrepreneurs in the construction or food sectors $1,000 provides
2 months of onsite incubation for 1 emerging business
$750 will support 1 entrepreneur to attend our intensive 14-week “mini MBA” $500 will support 1 woman in our women-focused small business and personal empowerment class $250 will support 1 entrepreneur in securing capital for business launch and growth
$100 provides
2 hours of expert small business consulting in
marketing, finance and operations
$50 keeps the lights on and our programs running. We can’t do it without them or you. Every dollar helps!

 

 

Thank you so much for donating today. Together, we are Creating True Economic Opportunity for over 2,000 women and men each year… just like Margarita Moreno.

Thank you so much.
Sharon Signature
Sharon Miller
CEO

P.S. Renaissance is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Your gift is fully tax-deductible.

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