News & Events

Cara Nicholl, Baluva, Temple, NH

Inspiring Grains of Sand

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to be self-employed as the general population, 14.7 percent compared to 8 percent.[1] It is no surprise when you think about the level of independence this provides individuals, ranging from the ability to set their own pace and schedule, and reduce issues related to transportation.

For Cara Nicholl, entrepreneurship came after being diagnosed with a chronic disease in 2010. She coped with debilitating pain for years and became very depressed.  When cleaning her room one day she found a canister of sand her grandmother had collected for her from her favorite beach on Cape Cod.

Cara wanted a way to keep their beach adventures and memories of the summer with her at all times. She thought creating beads and jewelry was a great way to do it and started making pieces for friends and family members. That Christmas, Cara gifted her aunt with a rosary made with beads from her favorite beach and from her reaction she knew she was on to something special. She wanted to give people the comfort of being with their favorite place at times when they needed or wanted it the most.

After years of creating beads as a hobby, in 2015 Cara decided to transition her hobby into a formalized business and created, “Baluva,” which is the Nepali word for sand. The primary mission for Baluva was to help people have access to their favorite places. Opening a business was her way of making that possible. With no formal business training and no business plan, Cara embarked on her entrepreneurial journey.

Confidence & Support

"The Hike" necklace from Baluva.  Inspired by the memory of her father, Cara centered the design of this necklace around one of her Dad's favorite hikes.
Feeling overwhelmed with the various directions she could take her business, she found the Center for Women and Enterprise and utilized many of our resources. Cara’s first experience with CWE came in the form of a one-on-one consult where she was able to sit down with business expert and go over her ideas on a more personal level. She then attended a Social Media Made Simple workshop to learn how she could utilize social media to her business’ advantage and finally dove in head first to our 10 week business planning class which walks clients through writing each section of a business plan – from finances, marketing, etc.

According to Cara, “CWE came at just the right time. I was searching for support because I had some visions for Baluva’s future but was unsure about how to pursue them. CWE gave me a sounding board for my different ideas and provided me with classes, such as Business Planning, that provided me with not only a business plan at the end, but a road map of where I was going to take Baluva. CWE also provides me with invaluable confidence and support. For example, my production slowed down after an old wrist injury flared up. Since much of my work is hands-on, CWE gave advice on how to keep running a successful business, including seeking out employees and interns.”

Words of Advice to Hopeful Entrepreneurs

Cara’s advice to anyone who wants to start their own business? “The first thing they need is passion and to build a company they believe in. And to reach out to other area businesses and networks for support, especially when starting out. I wish I had done it sooner!”

Temple, NH