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Shanika Tyler - Fleur Girl

After winning an entrepreneurship contest, Columbus State student Shanika Tyler is well on her way to establishing a flourishing floral business.

Tyler won the most recent entrepreneurship competition by Bad Girl Ventures, a small business development group based in Cincinnati. The competition consisted of nine weeks of intensive business training, covering topics like marketing, legal matters and taxes. Her business, Fleur Girl, makes flower arrangements for weddings and other events.

At the end, Tyler pitched her business plan and won a $25,000 small business loan from Key Bank. She also receives an advisory board for one year, sponsored by law firm Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce gave her a one-year free membership to its Entrepreneur Program.

The contest comes at an opportune time for Tyler. She founded her business in 2011, and the contest helped her move from a small studio space to a storefront at 14450 E. Broad Street in Reynoldsburg. She held a grand opening at the beginning of February.

Tyler, who has a background in real estate, got her first paying gig developing displays for a charity event. A former boss said she should try doing it full-time, and she quit her job to found Fleur Girl.

"I just got passionate about it and took that leap," Tyler says. "I guess it all goes hand-in-hand with my passion for design."

She credits staunch support from her fiancé and mother for helping get Fleur Girl off the ground. She did a dozen weddings in 2012 and was named a preferred flower-arranger for the Grand Valley Dale Ballroom. Her slate is filling up for 2013.

Columbus State is an important part of Tyler's business plan. She's at Columbus State studying Interactive Media, with an eye toward doing her own graphic design and web design.

In addition to Interactive Media, Columbus State also offers degrees in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. The college hosts a Small Business Development Center and in 2012 it sponsored an entrepreneurship contest called the 1492 Project.

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