By Kimberlei N. Davis
The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.
The second week of the 2009-10 school term at Elloree Elementary had just begun when Evelyn left her job after 27 years.
It wasn’t a voluntary decision; however it was one that was non-negotiable, she noted.
The South Carolina State University alumna’s leap of faith paid off and this year it landed her recognition as the grand prize winner of Black Enterprise Small Business University powered by AARP.
As the owner and operator of Creative Expressions and Gifts, the then-50-year-old launched her business full time in 2010 and says that her return for listening to God when others thought she was insane is paying off in dividends that money can’t buy.
From flower arrangements, greeting cards, T-shirts and balloons to her best sellers: personalized gift baskets and buttons, Evelyn believes her business is well on its way to providing jobs in Orangeburg.
The newlywed’s store sits along Neeses Highway in what used to be her garage.
Starting out, Haye-Primus said she pulled out of her 401k to pay off her mortgage.
The renovations she made to retrofit her home and the purchase of a new minivan were all paid in cash, a fact that she is very proud of.
As the grand prize winner of SBU, the Philadelphia native took a four-week course that provided advice from industry experts, Black Enterprise editors and fellow entrepreneurs on marketing, financing and investing, managing your team, upgrading your technology finding balance and more.
As part of her winnings, she received an all-expense-paid trip to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the 19th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo, hosted by Nationwide.
During the three-day conference, Walmart hosted two 20/20 Vision Forums addressing supplier diversity: “Get On the Shelf” and “Calling All Female Entrepreneurs: How to Gain Your Piece of the $20 Billion Contracting Pie.”