South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Celebrates HustleSBE Cohort Seven Graduation


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 26, 2023) – The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership celebrated the graduation of its seventh HustleSBE cohort yesterday. The business bootcamp provides support and assistance to minority and women entrepreneurs across the five-county region.

This eight-session program is dedicated to bringing resources on topics including capital, certifications, fiscal management, and human resources to minority and women-owned businesses. Participants are required to have been in business for at least one year.

The classes were led by HustleSBE facilitator Jess Koscher of Write Connections | strategy + design, LLC, a HustleSBE Cohort Three graduate. The Cohort Seven members were joined by guest speakers sharing their expert knowledge in a variety of topics of interest – including Alan Steele of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, Jenny Frech from the Soapy Gnome, Camisha Taylor of Insight Accounting Group, Kyle Chamberlain and Libby Klesmith from THK Law, Luis Zapata of 1st Source, Faiz Khoja of Stifel Financial, Nick Kieffer from the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and Levon Johnson of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

“HustleSBE is more than an 8-week bootcamp,” said Koscher. “Together, we are building community for women and minority businesses. The impact goes far beyond their time with us. They now have a place to be vulnerable, share success, and find ideas for their challenges. During their time with us, they were introduced to areas of business ownership that were not comfortable or versed for them. Now, they have new ideas and people to go to for answers. I wish all women and minority-owned small businesses utilized HustleSBE.”

HustleSBE sessions were held at the Community Learning Center at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend. The applicant pool for this cohort was 48 percent African American or Black business owners, 33 percent Caucasian or White business owners, 14 percent Multiracial business owners, and 5 percent Hispanic or Latino business owners, with 81 percent female and 19 percent male. Cohort Seven included businesses from fashion, beauty, culinary, and voiceover services.

“I met a lot of beautiful people that were doing the same thing that I was doing and going through the same thing that I was going through on this experience,” Benita Pfeifer, founder of D’Marie Boutique and Cohort Seven graduate, said at the ceremony. “It has sharpened me. I felt like it’s actually the sandpaper to my business. It’s moving me out a little bit. I still have a lot to do, but it was a great experience for me. I just feel like I have family now, like I have entered into this group – into this community. So, I’m very excited. I’m very thankful. I’m very grateful. And I’m excited to see what’s next.”

Cohort Seven Graduates include:

  • Elizabeth Coleman, Beauty King
  • Rhonda Davis, Rhonda’s Tasty Treats
  • Nicky Foust, Chefs for Seniors
  • Benita Pfeifer, D’Marie Boutique
  • Marcella Taylor, Arkie Enterprises
  • Gregory Williams, Fitzgerald’s Smokehouse BBQ

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit


Media Contact
Liz Folkerts
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership