Re-Discover SYEP: A Hidden Gem For Small Businesses

You never know what treasures you will find until you step out of your office to mingle with other businesses, organizations, and people in your community. Dr. Roy Hastick of the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CACCI) always says “Networking Works.” It was during one of CACCI’s very engaging meetings that District 40 Council Member Dr. Eugene Mathieu reminded us of one of New York City’s (NYC) oldest treasures, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

At first glance, it may seem most apparent that SYEP is a valuable asset for youths because it provides up to six weeks of paid work experience for the City’s residents, ages 14 to 24 years old. Businesses are able to increase youth career awareness and shape the workforce of the future. However, the exceptional value gained by the worksites is what may not be as apparent. These participants, not only, step into a variety of entry-level positions, but they also FOLLOW, LEAD, and INNOVATE.


While supervising and guiding additional workers may seem like a daunting task for some entrepreneurs or small businesses with one or two employees, the process is not to be feared. Businesses, large or small, should take this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Ashalla Design Shop, LLC was privileged to work with two SYEP placement sites this summer Medgar Evers College and CAMBA.  These two placement sites were assigned during our initial online worksite request application process. It is a web-based enrollment system on the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) website.

The program has a variety of placement sites throughout the City with very organized and passionate staff members. With over 50 placement sites throughout the five boroughs, there are plenty of opportunities for applicants to be chosen from. Placement sites range from community-based organizations to government offices. Some placement sites give their worksites the opportunity to interview their potential summer employees beforehand. Allowing the worksite to conduct interviews helps to ensure businesses receive the help they are looking for.

The placement site directors guide the worksites on employing these new hires. They advise on topics like “setting the ground rules from day one”, “how to effectively fill out time sheets”, and “how to handle emergencies”. The placement sites did an excellent job of preparing Ashalla on what to expect and how to have a successful summer with its participants.


left to right: Alex Gibbons (SYEP), Dianne Campbell (Business & Marketing Officer), Tiffany Farrell (SYEP), Natasha Brewer (SYEP), KimShala Hibbert (Founder & Principal Designer), Corey Francis (SYEP)


As a company committed to the prosperity of other businesses in the community, Ashalla would be remiss not to share this gem with others. Ashalla was able to accommodate 4 bright young adults who worked on a variety of projects for the company.


“Now that the SYEP program is coming to a close, it will be sad to see them go. So we decided to take the next step and hire.”
KimShala Hibbert, Founder and Principal Designer

” Ashalla Design Shop was an amazing place to work. It showed my true potential in designing and branding; and got me the opportunity to be offered a part-time position here!”
Tiffany Farrell, Junior Designer

“The SYEP program always provides me with great summer jobs. It’s a good way for me to work during the summer as well as make professional connections.
Alex Gibbons, Client and Partner Relations.


All businesses should take the opportunity to host at least one SYEP participant, as they will make a lasting impact on your business. Likewise you will play a very important role in their career and professional development.

The SYEP participants scripted, recorded, and edited a video on how to express a perfect pitch. Having an elevator pitch prepared is essential in world of business. 


6 Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Brand

As a small business owner, your business may not widely known or recognized. Developing a brand makes it a lot easier to promote your business to potential customers or other businesses that you may come across. Having a brand will clarify what your company is all about and gives your business a professional structure that can strengthen over time. Here are 6 good reasons why you should brand your small business.

1) Establishes Your Identity

Your small business needs a strong brand in order to be successful. It will allow you to confidently showcase your business in a professional manner that will draw in customers and other business opportunities. Your business will have a consistently group of visual cues that allow you to set an impression of your company. Your brand is a way for your business to make a statement that others will remember.

2) Builds Trust in Your Business

Branding Strategies imageIn order for your small business to continue receiving customers, they have to have some level of trust in you. A recognizable brand, that is consistent in it’s personality, quality, and messaging builds trust amongst clients and potential clients who hear and see your company has a solid foundation. A cohesive brand that can sustain a level of positive recognition will make customers confident in your business and its services.

3) Expresses Your Goals

Your brand is the primary medium for relaying your company’s message and goals. A clear brand gives customers a complete understanding of what services they can expect from your business. Branding is an opportunity to define and distinctly convey what your business aims to provide to its customers or even any external goals it aims to achieve along the way.

4) Saves Time, Energy, and Money

Your brand style guide will save you time and money on designing as well as printing costs. Instead of pulling from various sources every time you set out a new marketing campaign, you draw from the company brand style guide. This guide offers logo, color palette, font use, etc. in which is specifically and uniquely designed for your business.

Custom Branding for Integrity of Self MovementArts


*FIGURE 1: Case Study (click to enlarge)
Custom Branding for Integrity of Self MovementArts.

Take note of  the compilation of logo, color scheme, cover page of website, font use, mood images, and illustrations into a style guide that is used for Integrity of Self MovementArts.

5) Develops a Niche

Your business has a particular customer base, whether broad or specific. A good brand will define (and appeal to) your intended niche, allowing your business to target customers more effectively. It will also make finding and networking with similar or complementary businesses a simplified process. This in turn will allow you to find out reliable information on the needs and wants of your customers in order to cater to them.

6) Builds Your Online Presence

In a world where everyone is connected to the internet, it is necessary for your business to establish a strong online presence. Having a uniform brand that can be presented on various social media platforms allows for access to new customers and connections. An online presence also allows for fast and personal communication between your business and its followers.

A strong brand is necessary for any small business. It allows you to set the tone and goals of your business, and simplify it into a particular image, phrase, or color scheme. A brand is made to grow, and as a business owner this is exactly what you want. Over time, your business will become well known not only for its products and services, but also for its image and message.


Going Back to High School

New Visions Charter High School for Advance Mathematics III is located here.
New Visions Charter HS for Advance Math & Science III is located at the Sheepshead Bay HS campus in Brooklyn.           

It has been some time since I found myself going down a high school corridor. Therefore, I had no idea what to expect as I drove to the New Visions Charter High School for the Advance Math & Science III (AMS III) last Friday. AMS III is housed at the Sheepshead Bay High School campus in Brooklyn, NY. After checking in, I felt a sense of nostalgia as I observe the next generation of leaders scurrying through the halls. Their warmth and welcoming spirit put me at ease and I forgot all jitters of going back to high school. I was ready to be a part of Anchor week.

Anchor week is a project that challenges students within the New Vision Charter High School network to design a better campus. After researching and developing their ideas, students delivered their presentations to classmates, administrators, parents, community members, and a panel of judges from various professions outside of the institution. Ashalla was invited to participate as one of the Anchor judges.

It was a proud moment to watch groups of students proposing unique ideas such as rooftop gardens and energy conservations projects to improve their campus. Many of the students even went further to consider how their proposed ideas would impact the school’s surrounding communities. New Visions is definitely taking the right steps in shaping these future leaders. It was an exciting experience to go back to high school, even if just for a day.

New Visions Charter High School is a part of New Visions for Public Schools; an organization committed to designing, creating and sustaining great schools for New York City’s highest need students.

Ashalla attended CACCIs 2014 Power Breakfast

Eric AdamsIt was a very inspiring day, as small business leaders from all over Brooklyn gathered at the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce & Industry Inc.(CACCI) annual Power Breakfast at Borough Hall. The event, which was held on Thursday, December 17, allowed attendees to catch up with old friends while connecting with new ones.

Dr. Hastick started the event by inspiring CACCI members to always give back to their communities and to have faith when taking steps with their businesses even when they don’t see the whole staircase. It was truly a powerful event with speakers such as Brooklyn’s new Borough President; Eric Adams and New York City Comptroller; Scott Stringer.

In honor of  Matin Luther King Day, the event ended with each member of the audience reflecting and giving thanks to people who have influence and impacted their life and careers. The CACCI breakfast was not only a gathering of powerful business leaders, but of a group of people who encouraged and supported each others success. Ashalla looks forward to successful years working with this talented  group of people and the CCACI organization.