DETROIT – A pioneer among women in business, Greek-American Olga Loizon persevered through every obstacle to create one of metro Detroit’s most iconic restaurant concepts, Olga’s Kitchen. She passed away in 2019 at age 92, but her family and the restaurant group’s owner are carrying on in the spirit of this inspiring woman. In honor of Olga Loizon and her legacy, Team Schostak Family Restaurants and Olga’s Kitchen founded the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation which focuses on entrepreneurial women who would be unable to attain the resources necessary to start a business or otherwise continue with their business development.
Team Schostak Family Restaurants announced the first two recipients of grants from the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation, The Detroit News (TDN) reported on May 19. “Sticky Spoons Jam of Niles and U-Plant Landscape Designs of Greater Grand Rapids have each won a $10,000 grant from the foundation to help them further their independent businesses,” TDN reported.
“It’s going to fully impact my business in a positive way, especially since we’re in the process of moving from a cottage food (industry) to a licensed kitchen,” said Sticky Spoons Jam founder Aiyenede Akhigbe, TDN reported. “I started reading up on Olga and I’m super impressed. She was one heck of a woman. To be told ‘no’ — which, we still get told ‘no’ a lot as women when you want to start a business — but to be told ‘no’ and still go, ‘well I’ll find a way around this and make it happen’ in such a tremendous way, I bow.”
“A former Third Class Petty Officer Engineman in the United States Navy, Akhigbe started her company of more than 150 unique flavors of jams in 2016 so her kids would have delicious, preservative-free food to eat,” TDN reported.
“Our best sellers are the apple pie jam,” she told TDN. “We hear a lot of expletives when people sample it at markets.”
“Sandy Jonick founded U-Plant Landscape Designs in 2019 to help homeowners beautify their properties themselves,” TDN reported, adding that “she provides digital landscape designs, detailed plant lists, and labeled images to help residents realize their landscape dreams.”
“As a relatively new business, Jonick can use the $10,000 from Loizon’s grant to fund her marketing program, and eventually expand the business into other markets,” TDN reported.
“We’re elated to honor the legacy of our founder by providing two women entrepreneurs with grants to take their Michigan-based businesses to the next level,” said Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation president Loredana Gianino in a media alert, TDN reported. “Perseverance and innovation were central to Olga’s spirit and her success as she left an impact on this community. The grant awardees embody the same qualities as women entrepreneurs who are trailblazing in their own fields. We look forward to seeing how these grants will fuel the growth and success of these businesses.”
More information about the Olga Loizon Memorial Foundation is available online: https://www.olgas.com/foundation/.