Boutique Owner Wins Strong Tank Pitch Contest – Inside Indiana Business

Downtown North Judson in Starke County. (Photo courtesy The Times of Northwest Indiana)

A fabric maker in downtown Knox looking to expand her year-old business is the winner of the 2022 Starke Tank Countywide Business Pitch Competition. Irelynd Fornelli opened the Irelynd Alexis Boutique in August 2021 and has built a loyal customer base both in-store and online.

Fornelli says that with the $12,000 first prize, she plans to add additional sizes for women’s clothing, as well as men’s and children’s clothing.

“I love meeting my customers, and I encourage them to stop by other downtown businesses like Rabbit Coffee Roasting Company and Papa Farm Pizza,” Fornelli said. “We have a great, supportive community and I want to provide a place for people to shop locally for clothes and gifts.”

Fornelli says she’s dreamed of opening her own shop since high school. She achieved this goal by holding several part-time jobs to supplement her income as a paraprofessional worker.

Second place went to Dalton Tunis, owner of Bone Boss Game Calls. He started the turkey and deer call business in 2020. With its $6,000 asking price, Tunis plans to purchase a CNC machine to create and cut its turkey calls. He also plans to set up an online presence for orders.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation and the Indiana Small Business Development Center hosted the competition, in which companies compete for seed capital.

“Starke County is a wonderful, supportive community,” said SCEDF Executive Director Lisa Dan. “Our existing businesses understand that they also benefit by helping other entrepreneurs succeed.”

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