By Tyler Price
Continuing our celebration of Women’s Small Business Month, Krystal Bonner, lead designer and founder of Phoenix Forrester Events, also an informal mentee of our program, stopped by the NBIC for a little chat about why it’s important to highlight female achievement within the entrepreneurial world.
“It’s great, from a broader perspective, for women to know what other women are doing to start their businesses – to communicate on a larger scale how many women own businesses and are successful,” said Bonner.
Bonner said that having this platform is imperative for up-and-coming women. She believes it is important to witness and admire other people success – especially as a beginning entrepreneur.
One successful entrepreneur who helped encourage and inspire Bonner is our very own Angela Crane-Jones – the director of the NBIC.
“Meeting Angela truly helped me,” Bonner said. “She was and is the owner of several small businesses herself. She understands what that’s like, but also to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.”
“What I love about Angela,” Bonner continued, “is she’s so relatable and down to earth. If I had a question about any of these things, she’d answer me openly and full-heartedly.”
But, the truth is, women need relationships like Bonner and Jones’ not just because of the male-dominated nature of the business world, but also the immense pressure and stress which comes with owning a business.
“Being in small business sounds glamorous and great. But, it is hard work,” Bonner said. “It’s really lonely and can be isolating. And, sometimes, not appreciated very much.”
“So,” Bonner continued, “you need to think long and hard about what industry you are going into. Because you will be giving up your nights and weekends. You need to have passion so you can get back up when you are knocked down.”
However, even though the entrepreneurial world is intense and dog-eat-dog, Bonner is tough and was fully prepared by the NBIC.
“NBIC is very competitive. I like being a woman who is doing things amongst all these men,” Bonner said.
The NBIC also taught Bonner the value of fostering lasting relationships within the business world and how they can come back to benefit later in life.
“What I have learned as a business owner is that relationships are vital – they are the lifeline to your success,” said Bonner. “Every client I have received over the last 8 years, has been a result of word-of-mouth or a recommendation. Because the relationships I have built are strong.”
No one is discounting the fact that men are still incredibly important in the workplace. However, it is imperative for women to empower one another and nurture more relationships – all the while keeping the goal of equality in mind.
More women need to create jobs, said Bonner. The more women we have in the corporate structure, the more women we have making decisions – leading to more women being hired. The more women are hired, the greater opportunities for women to advance become. This is how equality will one day come to be – each and every woman making an impact on the whole of society.
Gender discrimination is intricate and institutionalized – but not unstoppable. Women simply need to focus on gaining more leverage.
So, if you are a woman, please consider becoming an entrepreneur in a field of your passion. It will be hard work and it will be stressful. But, you will feel accomplished and encouraged.
And, you will be creating more jobs for the economy and changing the world for all women.
Happy Women’s Small Business Month from us here at the NBIC.
~
“Phoenix Forrester Events (PFE) is a boutique-style, event planning and logistics management agency specializing in strategy and creative design. PFE provides custom solutions to companies in multiple industries,” according to their website.
Their mission is “to serve as an extension of our client’s personality by creating and designing events that offer extraordinary experiences, unique to its audience while distinctly representing the culture, lifestyle and long-term goals.”

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Abigail DaSilva
Abigail DaSilva is the marketing coordinator at NBIC, channeling her passion and creativity to support the organization’s mission of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. A proud graduate of Tennessee State University, Abigail holds a degree in design, which fuels her artistic sensibilities and impeccable eye for aesthetics. Before joining NBIC, Abigail embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey alongside her brother, where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts of their own venture. This experience honed her skills in strategic promotion, customer engagement, and marketing media. Abigail has played a crucial role in the company, transforming their media marketing strategies, specifically towards a more video-driven approach. Recognizing the power of visual storytelling, she has created compelling content and innovative campaigns that have amplified NBIC’s reach and engagement, strengthening their online presence and impact. Outside of her professional endeavors, Abigail is an avid art buff, frequently visiting museums and exploring immersive experiences that combine technology and creativity. She also has a deep love for travel, shopping, and anything that allows her to utilize her creative mind. With her unwavering commitment and broad range of experience, Abigail is a valuable asset to NBIC. She remains eager to push boundaries, elevate engagement, and empower entrepreneurs through her exceptional marketing expertise.
Anne-Marie Tanner
Anne-Marie Tanner is the Programs Coordinator at NBIC. With a Master’s degree in strategic marketing from Midway University and a Bachelor’s degree in design from University of Kentucky, she brings a unique blend of business experience and creativity to her work. Prior to joining NBIC in March of 2023, Anne-Marie worked as a small business and startup consultant, where she gained valuable experience in guiding entrepreneurs through the challenges and opportunities of launching and growing their businesses. Her expertise in strategic planning and her ability to quickly grasp new concepts makes her a strong asset to the NBIC team. As the Programs Coordinator at NBIC, Anne-Marie manages multiple components, including Foundations, E-Myth, Framework, and Groundwork. Anne-Marie values collaboration and strives to align her work with the vision and expectations of her colleagues. Beyond her professional career, Anne-Marie has a wide range of hobbies and passions. She is an accomplished Olympic weight-lifter. Additionally, with her husband, she started a medical clinic in Martin, TN, a brewery and events center in Paris, TN, and an airbnb property. Their goal is not only to build successful businesses, but also to provide economic stability and job opportunities to as many people as possible. With her extensive background in business, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her commitment to personal growth, Anne-Marie Tanner is an extremely valuable asset to NBIC. Her diverse skill set and positive mindset make her a catalyst for success, both for herself and the new businesses she assists.
Saturnie Antoine
Saturnie Antoine has been a part of NBIC since November 2021, serving as the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and has obtained a professional certification in coaching skills. With a diverse background in corporate work spanning over 15 years, Saturnie has worked in various sectors. As the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager, Saturnie oversees the entire program. Her responsibilities include structuring the curriculum, sourcing speakers, and organizing the launch campaign. Additionally, Saturnie provides personalized professional coaching to the program participants, offering guidance and support to help them scale their businesses to $1 million plus level. Since the commencement of the program in March 2023, under Saturnie’s leadership, R.I.S.E. UP has witnessed numerous accomplishments and successes. Additionally, the program’s focus on emotional intelligence has helped participants navigate internal challenges and overcome obstacles inhibiting their growth. Outside of work, Saturnie values personal time spent with her family and loved ones. Her true passion lies in her role as a professional coach, where she finds fulfillment in assisting women on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Saturnie’s commitment to her clients and her extensive experience, coupled with her excellent coaching skills, allows her to provide comprehensive support to program participants, enabling them to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Under Saturnie’s leadership, the R.I.S.E. UP Program continues to flourish and make a lasting impact on the lives of female entrepreneurs.
Leroy Cunningham
Leroy Cunningham currently occupies the role of Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC. He holds a major degree in Business Administration from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with minor degrees in Accounting and Economics. Leroy’s prior engagement with business development consulting brings great strength to the NBIC team. He has worked at three of the largest market capitalization companies in the world – Emerson Electric, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway. In his current role as the Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC, Leroy wears many hats. One of his primary objectives at NBIC is to increase the number of small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses qualified to undertake contracts from prime contractors and government entities. By fostering relationships with community partners and engaging with prime contractors and government entities, Leroy works tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for these businesses to flourish. Additionally, Leroy dedicates his time to consulting with business owners, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. By helping businesses at their current stage and empowering them to reach their goals, Leroy greatly contributes to the growth and success of NBIC’s clients. Outside of work, Leroy indulges in his love for reading, sports, and travel. With his vast knowledge, dedication, and passion for community empowerment, Leroy is committed to making a meaningful impact at NBIC. His wealth of certifications and global business experience lends a unique perspective and expertise to NBIC’s initiatives, which will undoubtedly drive the organization forward.
Octavia Wilson-Simmons
Octavia Wilson-Simmons is the Special Project Coordinator at NBIC. With a background as a tank storage broker, Octavia acted as a vital liaison between storage terminals and cargo owners, facilitating contracts for the transportation and storage of products. Prior to NBIC, she also worked as a chemical operator at a chemical company, further enhancing her expertise in the industry. Joining NBIC in early 2022, Octavia initially served as an assistant to Angela before transitioning to her current position as a Special Project Coordinator. In this role, Octavia plays a crucial part in various projects, including MNAA and Elevate 615. She also provides invaluable support to the team, assisting with grants and streamlining processes to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination. Outside of her professional endeavors, Octavia is extremely family-oriented and cherishes family outings and spending quality time with her loved ones. Octavia is also a dedicated DIY enthusiast and seeks to immerse herself in various projects. Octavia embraces the opportunity to collaborate with the NBIC team, support Angela, and contribute to the company’s mission. Having witnessed the growth of businesses firsthand gives Octavia special insight into the entrepreneurial world and the hard work that goes into operating and expanding your business. With her extensive background in the oil industry and her unwavering dedication to assisting others, Octavia continues to make a positive impact within NBIC, among her peers, and within the entrepreneurial community as a whole.