Leslie Lamb poses for a portrait at the Esther Bone Memorial Library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on Friday, June 3, 2022. Lamb is competing to be one of two entrepreneurs to be offered $10,000 through GetSetUp. She is growing Grace Place Creative, a digital design firm that specializes in providing products and services for home-based businesses. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Like many people, Leslie Lamb found her life disrupted when the pandemic hit.

Her job as a retail merchandiser in grocery stores was suddenly unpredictable, and her normal outlets for socializing at senior centers were no longer an option.

In an attempt to break the isolation she was feeling, the 60-year-old Rio Rancho resident, said she signed up for an online program she found in a magazine.

That decision led her to discovering a new skill set and now, to leading her own digital design company, Grace Place Creative, while competing in an international startup competition for entrepreneurs 55 years old and older.

Lamb is one of 17 finalists out of several hundred applicants to compete in GetSetUp’s business pitch competition Demo Days held online from Tuesday to Thursday.

The top two winners will take home $10,000 to help grow their business.

“I am so grateful to have a few minutes of these people’s time just to present what has now become a passion project for me and which will be my business,” Lamb said.

The competition comes 12 weeks after the beginning of the GetSetUp Startup Accelerator Program, which helps older entrepreneurs set up a business in order to then pitch it to venture capitalists and business leaders.

Lamb said her involvement with GetSetUp, a company aimed at helping older adults learn new skills or build businesses, began in the early pandemic when she signed up for some cooking classes held via Zoom.

As a newcomer to online learning, Lamb said she was initially nervous to turn on her camera and actively participate until one of the teachers asked her to help teach a class.

Lamb was hooked, and soon became a volunteer social host teaching her own set of weekly classes.

As part of the classes, Lamb said she started preparing handouts for her participants through Canva, an online design website.

She soon realized she had a knack for design, something she had no prior experience in, which led her to participating in the Startup Accelerator Program where she launched her new business, Grace Place Creative.

Lamb said her new company is intended to help other small businesses grow their brand and create marketing materials by participating in a six-week-long intensive digital course.

Participants, she said, will leave the course having learned how to use Canva to market themselves while also having created materials, like business cards and social media posts, to use to help grow their business.

“When they leave the program, they will have items that they created and it will be items that they want to have,” she said.

Though Lamb lives in Rio Rancho, she said her courses are available to business owners everywhere since they are taught online.

Lamb said the program helped her grow professionally and personally, and the name of her business stems from an acronym for growth, resourcefulness, accountability, community and empowerment – all skills she said she gained through the business accelerator program and skills she hopes to impart on those taking her class.

Now that her business has launched, Lamb said she is looking for a group of beta program participants who will be able to purchase her course at a reduced rate of $77. The course will eventually cost $147 after the beta trial.

For more information or to sign up for the beta classes, email hello@graceplacecreative.com.