Young Entrepreneur of the Year Winners

2021 Winner

Kelly McCaskill, owner, Ridgelight Studio

Kelly McCaskill is the founder and lead photographer of Ridgelight Studio. As such it goes without saying that she loves taking pictures.  Whether it’s beautiful homes, neat products, or capturing a brand’s story, she is always happy to be behind a camera. When she does not have a camera in hand or my face buried in a screen while editing, you can find Kelly tinkering with other creative tools. She also enjoys crafts, being outside, camping, and spending time with her furry family.

2020 Winner

Shaquwan’Da Allen, Owner, Rootz Natural Hair Shop

Shaquwan’da Allen is the Owner of Rootz Natural Hair Shop in Manchester. She started as a self-employed hairdresser, renting a chair in someone else’s salon, but she then recognized a need in the community. Upon her graduation from Southern New Hampshire University, Shaquwan’da advocated for House Bill 82 (HB82) into law. HB82 states that if you are performing natural hair care and braiding using no chemicals, you no longer need a cosmetology license to start your own company – thus the creation of Rootz. In 2019, she and her husband transformed their living room into Rootz and after a year of business, they moved into the heart of Manchester. Natural hair care services are extremely limited in the state of New Hampshire and as the state becomes more diverse, there is an increasing number of people that are in need of the services provided at Rootz. The business now serves more than 400 clients that travel from all over New Hampshire. Shaquwan’Da’s long-term goal for Rootz is to provide a mobile service that can make hair care services even more accessible to people in need throughout the Granite State. The mobile unit will help increase business, build better relationships and give clients the confidence boost that comes with having their hair taken care of professionally and personally. As noted in her nomination, that through some significant struggles, Shaquwan’Da’s talent, professionalism, customer service, community leadership and focus, and positive, forward-looking demeanor have remained unwavering! 

2019 Winner

Emmett Soldati, Founder and Owner, Teatotaller

Emmett Soldati is the Founder and Owner of Teatotaller in Somersworth. He consults for an international non-profit, Farmersfirst: Africa, to support climate knowledge and food security for subsistence farmers throughout Central Africa. Emmett is the Vice-Chair of the Seacoast area nonprofit, Arts in Reach, and the Chair of the Somersworth Democrats. Teatotaller is a full-service cafe opened 11 years ago in Somersworth. Currently, Teatotaller employees 11 people and with the upcoming second location in Concord will create at least 15 more jobs for the community. Most importantly, Teatotaller has become an LGBTQ+ safe space, where employees and patrons alike can feel comfortable expressing their true selves. In addition, Teatotaller hosts the largest teen drag show in New Hampshire and lets many different community groups hold their meetings within the cafe’s brightly painted walls. Not only is Emmett committed to the environment he has created, but he is also dedicated to providing the best product offerings to his customers. All his beverages are hand-crafted with homemade syrups, freshly squeezed lemons, house blended teas and locally roasted coffee beans, making Teatotaller one of the top non-alcoholic beverage vendors in the state. His nominator and employee wrote, “Emmett leaves an unforgettable presence, making everyone he meets feel welcome, heard, and left craving their next cup of tea from Teatotaller.

2018 Winner

Krysta Lewis, CEO, Aisling Organics

Krysta Lewis is the CEO of Aisling Organics, a pure makeup line with a mission to provide users with safe cosmetics options. The origin of the brand was developed from her personal story which is demonstrated through her passion for educating and speaking about women’s health and beauty. In 2017, she was a participant in Alpha Loft’s Accelerate NH cohort and won SCORE’S Business Growth Competition. Giving back is also important as evident through a relationship with “Lipstick Angels,” an organization dedicated to offering empowering beauty services to cancer patients. She has secured an agreement with Paul Mitchell to distribute her first-in-the-market liquid lipstick along the east coast and recently received a 300,000 unit purchase order from Ipsy, a popular beauty subscription service.  

2017 Winner

Scott Crowder, Founder, Boxscore, Pond Hockey Classic and EKAL Activity Center

Scott Crowder is the founder of Boxscore, Pond Hockey Classic, and EKAL Activity Center. Scott keepsbusy with three ventures in New Hampshire and his family. In the winter, Scott produces the Pond Hockey Classic, which is the largest pond hockey tournament in the United States. In the summer, Scott runs EKAL Activity Center, which is Meredith’s recreation center for lake rentals and also does lake tours on his 1930’s wooden speedboat discussing the lake’s history. He was a participant in Alpha Loft’s 2016 Accelerate NH cohort and was a finalist for the Manchester Young Professionals Network’s 2017 Start-Up Challenge. He is passionate about growing NH’s tech ecosystem ensuring that all of his employees are located in NH and is currently working to develop an internship program.

2016 Winner

Kat Antonioli, Managing Partner, INHOUSE Worldwide

kat-antonioli-headshotAs a Founder and Managing Partner for INHOUSE WORLDWIDE, a full service web development agency, Kat Antonioli has been instrumental in leading the company’s growth. In less than three years, she increased the number of employees from two to twelve. Kat’s nominator calls her a “collaborative spirit” which sets both her and INHOUSE Worldwide apart from its competitors.

With a strong belief that community service is an important part of company culture, she launched INHOUSE Gives Back, and used this as an opportunity to engage her team to volunteer together. Kat is also the co-founder of Strangers Helping Strangers, a nonprofit that raises food donations for people in need throughout New Hampshire and beyond.

Kat is a part of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2016 and was selected as a winner of the third annual “10 to Watch” Young Professionals contest with Catapult Seacoast.

2015 Winner

Alex Freid, Founder, Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN)

alex_freid_smAlex Freid resides in Lee and is the founder and executive director of PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network, a non-profit network of student leaders on campuses across the country working towards zero waste. The idea was created from his time at UNH when he founded and developed UNH Trash 2 Treasure, collecting discarded materials left behind by students at the end of the academic year. Alex has been awarded numerous honors and awards, most recently as a recipient of Catapult Seacoast’s “10 to Watch” award winners.

Alex was described as “a visionary who knows how to reach a 30,000 foot vision with multiple 30 foot ladders” by one of his references. Businesses and organizations also recognize the importance of PLAN; funding provided by the NH Charitable Foundation, Clif Bar Family Foundation, and Tom’s of Maine. As his nominator said, “Alex has a strong commitment to NH and to building a world class organization with strong local and national impact from here.”

2014 Winner

Michael Carlton, Owner, Calling All Cargo

MikeCarltonMichael is from Northwood and owns Calling All Cargo, a moving and storage company based in Dover. In addition to starting his own, now 20-person company, in 2007, Michael is also very involved in the Seacoast Community. As one of his reference stated, “Michael is completely customer-focused and community-minded. He goes above and beyond and takes the extra effort to support local businesses.”  When Mike started Calling All Cargo he wanted to ensure his company, with the mission to “Change lives one move at a time,” would have an impact on the industry and the community, so he created three rules:

  • Calling All Cargo is a nonsmoking company
  • They have a spirit of athleticism
  • They give back to the community through volunteer activities

As his nominator said, “Mike’s good karma, compassion and commitment to excellence are the foundation of his business and his life.”