A local entrepreneur is shedding light on the hardships of starting a small business as a woman or minority.
An Amazon film crew stopped by Illinois State University on Wednesday to shoot a series of videos about business owners finding success through Amazon. Inspire International CEO Kristin Rae of Normal runs her luggage company on Amazon from a laptop in her home. She said her business journey can inspire an array of people.
"When you share your story and how you got there, it really does help other people get to their place too," said Rae. "So I feel like a part of a community of people who are really trying to help each other."
Rae began her luggage company after a shampoo bottle exploded in her suitcase. Rae graduated from ISU in 2007 and said her business was not taking off at a storefront. She said the recession drove a consumer's preference to shop online.
Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council CEO Kyle Ham said the Twin Cities are an ideal environment for Amazon to eventually build a warehouse, as it's done in other U.S. communities. He said he wants to keep the ideas of Amazon in the community in hope of a larger project.
"We certainly do everything we can to position our community for that, but today's opportunity with Amazon is separate from that conversation," Ham said.
Amazon Business Seller Market Leader Colin Puckett said he hopes they can return to speak with students in the future.
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