Brian Boggs Chairmakers wins FedEx Small Business Grant contest

Brian Boggs, photo from Brian Boggs Chairmakers website
Brian Boggs, photo from Brian Boggs Chairmakers website

Press release:

FedEx announced today that Sword & Plough is the grand prize winner of its 5th annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Based in Denver, Colo., Sword & Plough will receive a $25,000 grant, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office® print and business services to help them grow their business. This year, the contest offered grants and services to 10 small businesses, distributing a collective prize pool of $120,500—the largest sum since the contest’s inception.

“Marking our fifth year of the FedEx Grant contest, we saw a broad range of small business owners with diverse interests who all exhibited a great passion for their business,” said Becky Huling, vice president of Customer Engagement Marketing at FedEx. “FedEx is committed to empowering diverse individuals and giving entrepreneurs everywhere the tools they need to succeed. We’re excited to work with Sword & Plough as they take their business to the next level, while continuing to give back to the military community in a profound way.”

Sword & Plough was co-founded by Emily Núñez Cavness, an active duty U.S. Army officer, and her sister Betsy Núñez. The sisters, who grew up in a military family, recognized the challenge that veterans face in finding meaningful work after military service and were inspired to help. Through their unique business model, Sword & Plough works with American manufacturers who employ veterans to make wearable goods out of recycled materials from the U.S. military that would otherwise be thrown away. The durable fabrics combined with leather accents and other American-made textiles produce fashionable, urban bags and accessories. Since launching the company in 2013, Sword & Plough has hired 65 veterans—including designers and manufacturers—and repurposed more than 35,000 pounds of military surplus. The socially-conscious company has also donated 10% of their profits to veteran organizations each year they have been in business.

“We are truly honored to have been awarded the Grand Prize in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest,” said Emily Núñez Cavness, CEO of Sword & Plough. “With the grant money, we plan to further our mission by hiring a military veteran with logistics experience to help us expand our production and improve our supply chain and inventory management.”

Sword & Plough also plans to use the FedEx Office print and business services to produce additional marketing materials to help expand their brand ambassador program, which is primarily made up of veterans and military spouses.

In addition to the grand prize, FedEx awarded Flexfrost Protein Ice Cream of Glen Ridge, N.J. $15,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office services, and the following eight businesses received $7,500 grants and $1,000 in FedEx Office services:

Brian Boggs Chairmakers (Asheville, N.C.)
Funky Fresh (Milwaukee, Wis.)
G. Joannou Cycle (Northvale, N.J.)
Scratch and Peck Feeds (Burlington, W ash.)
Nurdle in the Rough (Holualoa, Hawaii)
Terra Klay (Naperville, Ill.)
The Konery (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Yellow Scope (Portland, Ore.)

“FedEx Office is thrilled to support the Grant Contest for the first time, offering more than $20,000 in printing and business services,” said Kate Axtell, managing director of Communications for FedEx Office. “Small businesses rely on us regularly for their numerous business needs, and we are excited to work with them as a trusted advisor.”

The 2017 contest attracted candidates from across the United States and garnered more than 1.5 million votes. Over the past five years, more than 13,000 businesses have entered the contest in the United States alone. The contest has now grown from one country to nine countries and the grant pool for the U.S. contest has grown from $50,000 to more than $120,000 in total prizes.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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