Building Business Together: Stories Behind the Success

Small business ownership can be a pathway to find personal growth, build generational wealth, and to give back to your local community - and successful small business owners often make it look easy! Hear from three local entrepreneurs as they share about their journey, how they started out, their advice to others, and where they turned for help along the way.


This 3-part keynote event will be followed by a moderated panel discussion with all three speakers, to learn more about them, and the companies they run.

Kennon Maurer, Ebony and Ivory Coffee

Kennon Maurer is a dynamic entrepreneur who seamlessly bridges the worlds of real estate and the coffee industry. As a real estate team leader, Kennon's prowess was acknowledged when he was awarded the "Rookie of the Year" by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in 2021.


Within just 2.5 years, he and his wife, Kenzie, founded and grew Ebony and Ivory Coffee, which swiftly gained recognition from the Thurston County EDC as Small Business of the Year. Beyond any accolades, Kennon's true talent lies in creating work environments where camaraderie thrives alongside ambition.

Makieda Hart, Sgt. Hart's BBQ

Makieda Hart is the inspiring entrepreneur behind Sgt. Hart’s BBQ Sauce. With her background as a military spouse and her passion for flavor, Makieda’s small business journey combines exceptional taste with community empowerment. Her story showcases resilience, determination, and a commitment to making a difference through both her culinary creations and community initiatives.


Makieda launched Sgt Hart’s BBQ sauce in 2018 after leaving a corporate career to pursue her goal of being more independent, choosing small business ownership to discover more creative freedom. Following an initial launch in local farmer’s markets, Sgt. Hart’s BBQ Sauce has developed into a full line of flavors and can be found in local grocery stores, online, and at weekly farmers markets across four counties.


In 2020 Makieda founded South Sound BIPOC, a free business directory and support group for BIPOC-owned businesses, specializing in mentoring, resource navigation, workshops and brand awareness.

Jennifer Weddermann, Weddermann Architecture

Jennifer Weddermann is the owner of Weddermann Architecture, a Tacoma-based firm specializing in architectural design for residential, commercial, and community-based projects. Jennifer started her own company in 2010 and has grown it from the ground up. The company now supports a team of seven full-time employees, owns their own 3,000 square foot building, and boasts a diverse portfolio of public and private projects that can be found throughout the South Puget Sound region, including projects at the Tacoma Light Rail Line, Tacoma Children’s Museum, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.


Jennifer is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional and member of the U.S Green Building Council, and is committed to sustainable design principles and projects that contribute to the beauty and growth of her community. In addition to leading her team on a growing list of projects, Jennifer volunteers time in her local community through pro-bono work, assisting local food banks, church groups, and as a mentor to aspiring welders and artisans.


In May of 2023 Jennifer was named Washington Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Seattle District and was a finalist for the SBA National Small Business Person of the Year.

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