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Beckon Ice Cream: Dairy Full, Lactose Free

Katy Flannery & Gwen Burlingame | Co-Founders | Beckon Ice Cream

Co-founded by female entrepreneurs Katy Flannery and Gwen Burlingame, Beckon is the first
premium lactose-free dairy ice cream on the market and has distinguished itself as an ice cream
favorite for those who are lactose intolerant. Beckon’s unique process allows its ice cream to
be made from traditional ice cream ingredients, including milk and cream, but without the
lactose. By using the natural enzyme the body needs to digest lactose, Beckon ice cream can be
both dairy-full and lactose-free, maintaining the creamy, satisfying taste and texture that we
expect from our favorite ice creams.
It is estimated that 65% of the human population is lactose intolerant. Beckon’s mission is to
make real, premium ice cream with a clean label available to anyone, including those with
lactose intolerance. Unlike many ice creams on the market, Beckon does not use any gums,
corn syrup, or artificial stabilizers. Beckon sources high quality dairy from a co-op in the
Northeast that is 100% farmer-owned and sweetens every flavor with non-GMO pure cane
“Beckon is here to welcome lactose intolerant ice cream lovers back to real premium ice cream.
We chose the name Beckon to illustrate that invitation or call to join in. Our ice cream is not an
alternative; it’s the real deal. We’re extending deliciously creamy, dairy-full ice cream to an
entire group of individuals who have previously had to compromise,” said Gwen Burlingame,
co-founder of Beckon.
Beckon will be available in five flavors – Sea Salt Chocolate Chip, Vanilla, Mint Chip, Espresso
and Chocolate – starting in June 2018 with an MSRP of $5.99 for a 16oz pint in Whole Foods
Market, Roche Bros, and Big Y throughout New England. Beckon is also expanding distribution
to select retailers in the New York Metro Area.

Study: Self-employed women still earn less than male peers

COMPARED TO WHEN they were traditionally employed, the majority of self-employed women say they make as much or more money, have more work-life balance, are healthier and are less stressed about work. / COURTESY FRESHBOOKS
COMPARED TO WHEN they were traditionally employed, the majority of self-employed women say they make as much or more money, have more work-life balance, are healthier and are less stressed about work. / COURTESY FRESHBOOKS

PROVIDENCE – A new study on women in the workplace finds that up to 13 million women could quit their traditional jobs over the next five years to work for themselves, but self-employed women still earn 28 percent less than self-employed men.

The 2018 Women in the Independent WorkForce Report was done by FreshBooks and ResearchNow.

Major reasons why women said they choose to leave traditional jobs to work for themselves were workplace discrimination that imposes a glass ceiling on career advancement (70 percent of respondents), and the demands of taking care of their children (84 percent). One-quarter of self-employed women said they are choosing to work less to pursue a better work-life balance.

Most women respondents said they chose working for themselves to enhance their careers; 52 percent said they could not reach their full potential as someone else’s employee; that proportion rose to 61 percent for women of color.

Only 33 percent said they chose self-employment to earn more money.

Among self-employed people, a gender gap in income and access to customers persists. Annual earnings of self-employed professionals in the U.S., according to the FreshBooks report, are $77,540 for men and $56,184 for women.

The study reported that about one-third of these women believe they’re not taken as seriously as their male counterparts and that they have to work harder than men who do the same job. And one-fifth of self-employed women say they have to charge less than their male equivalents to get and keep clients.

Some factors other than gender may influence the pay differentials between women and men. One is the age of the business: 40 percent of women own businesses that are less than 3 years old, compared to 20 percent of men.

Another factor is the age of the independent business owner: 57 percent of self-employed women are under 50 years old, compared to 45 percent of men. Further, self-employed women are twice as likely as men to work part-time: 1 in 10 of these women work for themselves part-time.

Ninety-one percent of women respondents said they made the choice to work independently and the outcomes are mostly positive: 70 percent said they make as much or more money as they did in traditional jobs; 70 percent reported better work-life balance; 60 percent said they were healthier; and 52 percent said they felt less anxiety about their work life.

Mary Lhowe is a PBN contributing writer.

New England Woman Small Business Owner of the Year

Carol Dancer and Absorbent Specialty Products continues to transform barriers into opportunity


Adversity is a fact of life for small business owners, never has a business opened its doors without obstacles immediately baring their teeth; Carol Dancer’s small business journey is no exception. Prior to Absorbent Specialty Products becoming a reality, Carol and her father, Perry, were in business as manufacturers of industrial absorbent materials made from paper mill sludge and landfill waste. In 2001, they lost the business to a devastating fire.

Hurt but determined, Carol and her father began again by seeking out financial partners for a new venture. They soon founded the new company and before long realized their partners had other than honorable motivations. Over the next three years the partners drove the business into disarray, causing Carol and Perry to leave the company.

Undeterred, Carol branched off on her own, taking the knowledge she had gained over years of entrepreneurship and opened the doors to Absorbent Specialty Products. Dancer began Absorbent Specialty Products modestly, focusing on the niche of mortuary reconstruction products. Before long they began receiving requests from customers of the business Carol had left. They were looking for someone who could supply acid and base neutralizers now that the supplier had closed. Carol began manufacturing these neutralizer products for liquid chemical spills immediately, building her customer base.

As Absorbent Specialty Products began to grow so did the scope of what the business produced. Dancer began focusing on her next offering, working on the early stages of what would become the Quick Dam product line. Quick Dam products offer homeowners, hospitals, and hotels the opportunity to stop flooding before it happens. Too often water damage is a reactive issue, demanding hefty restoration prices that may or may not be covered by insurance. Quick Dam offers multiple protective
options from potential disastrous damage.

Dancer’s new line had a dramatic effect on Absorbent Specialty Products, skyrocketing sales over 500% from 2012 to 2017. Carol continues to focus on her three most successful areas of mortuary reconstruction, neutralizers, and Quick Dam products. It is fitting that Dancer’s success comes from the creation of barriers; while she has created barriers to protect homes from disaster, she has faced so many barriers and adversity in her professional life and continued to come out the other side even
stronger. “It gives you a drive; I’m going to do it with or without you,” said Dancer, “When people are thinking you can’t do it, or they’re taking the opportunities away from you, you kind of turn it around and say I can do it, I know we can make it fly,” she added.


For her demonstrated success and potential for future growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Carol Dancer, President of Absorbent Specialty Products, as the 2018 New England Woman Small Business Owner of the Year.

Small Business Person of the Year

Kelly Mendell: Leading the way for RI Small Business

Kelly Mendell is the president and majority owner of MIKEL, a woman-owned, leading undersea warfare technology company in Middletown. Kelly joined MIKEL in 2002, three years after her father, Brian Guimond, founded the defense technology start-up and by 2008 was the President.

Kelly’s journey began at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she majored in engineering and began interning in a machine shop gaining hands-on experience in manufacturing, planning, materials, and quality control. Kelly graduated from UMASS with her BS in Industrial Engineering and from Babson College with an MBA and would go to work for companies including Polaroid, Gillette, and Raytheon working as both an industrial engineer and manufacturing manager.

In 2002, after the birth of her daughter Laura, Kelly joined MIKEL as the Managing Director. Kelly was responsible for managing all aspects of the business including billing, payroll, contracts, accounting, benefits, financial tracking, sales, and marketing. A few years later, after her second child, Max was born, the work-life balance became even more demanding and included many trips and long evenings of work after her children went to bed. Mendell, persevered, making strategic personnel decisions during a time of economic downturn and was moved into the role of President.

Kelly reflected on the difficult decisions she had to make in 2008, “We had to do layoffs and that’s what really motivated me to grow because we have a family atmosphere here and I feel a sense of obligation to these people I’m hiring.” She continued, “I want to make sure they have jobs for a long time that are challenging, interesting, and good paying. It’s not pleasant to lay off people that you care for and are good workers, so I decided that I didn’t want to ever be in that situation again.”

To ensure her company’s future would be stable Mendell reached out to SBA resource partners, SCORE and The Center for Women & Enterprise. She began working with SCORE on how to win government contracts while using her CWE counseling to focus on presentation, speaking, marketing, documentation, and professionalism.

These essential educational and personnel decisions allowed MIKEL to garner crucial government contracts that would keep them in the black from 2008 through today. “I was really motivated to grow,” said Mendell, “I wanted our company to rise and I wanted to bring stability to our business at a time when defense was not stable and we had a lot of uncertainty with our programs,” she added. Due to Kelly’s leadership MIKEL was able to stay successful during one of the most difficult economic periods in national history and by the time 2015 had come MIKEL had grown to 110 employees.

Today the company employs over 175 engineers, logisticians, technicians and developers and hopes to continue to provide even more challenging jobs in the future. “The key to growth is to do a really great job on your current work.” In conjunction with this philosophy, MIKEL is on the lookout to work in other high growth areas in the DoD like the unmanned domain and cyber security because companies have to keep up with the market demands to stay alive and viable.

In Kelly’s spare time she holds a leadership role on the executive board for SENEDIA, which promotes the defense business in Southeast New England, STEM in schools, and increases the visibility and education for those in the defense sector. Kelly has also sat on panels for the National Conference on Women-Owned Businesses discussing her Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) success story, and Small Businesses Association of New England (SBANE).

For her demonstrated success and potential for future growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Kelly B. Mendell, President of MIKEL, as the 2018 Rhode Island Small
Business Person of the Year.

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