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Local Business L&M Hair Company Wins KeyBank’s Key4Women, 2023 Women-Owned Business Pitch Contest in Partnership With Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), and the Portland Thorns FC

10 Oregon and SW Washington start-up and existing WOB businesses competed for $50,000 in awards

PORTLAND, OR / ACCESSWIRE / November 20, 2023 / KeyBank's Key4Women program, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), and the Portland Thorns FC announced that local business, L&M Hair Company, is the winner of a business pitch contest for women-owned businesses (WOBs) located in Oregon and SW Washington. The event was held November 16th at Providence Park in Portland.

Owner Melody Brown won the grand prize of $20,000, which will go toward growing L&M Hair Company in Portland. L&M Hair Company is a thriving multi-location textured hair salon. Additionally, they provide mentorship and coaching to young textured hair stylists into starting lucrative careers.

Brown was one of 10 finalists that were selected to compete for cash awards totaling $50,000 from a pool of 210 applicants. MESO worked to review and select entries that satisfied the competition criteria. Businesses were required to include a detailed business plan, mini-market analysis and profit projections for their service or product. The finalists presented a 4-minute pitch, and fielded questions for 6-minutes to a panel of 5 judges. Out of the 10 finalists, there was 5 start-ups and 5 existing businesses. The grand prize winner could be from either category, while the runners-up were chosen from both categories. Other winners include:

  • Runner Up (Existing)- Ventura Home Loans LLC- $8,000 prize

  • Runner Up (Start-up)- Prelude, LLC- $8,000 prize

  • Amza Superfoods- $2,000 prize

  • Blue Elderberry Farm LLC- $2,000 prize

  • Crisp NW- $2,000 prize

  • El Paraiso 100% Natural LLC- $2,000 prize

  • Yuri's Certified Childcare- $2,000 prize

  • Sauvie Shrubs- $2,000 prize

  • Breakaway Bookkeeping & Advising- $2,000 prize

During the application process, MESO held workshops to review application requirements and best practices. Additionally, MESO provided every finalist with a mentor, who supported them during the preparation of their pitches.

"We congratulate Melody and her team at L&M Hair Company on winning the grand prize. Their pitch was inspiring, and we are so glad to help them grow and expand," said Rachael Sampson, national director, Key4Women. "Women business owners and leaders positively impact our economy and communities in powerful ways every day, which is evident based on the strength and diversity of the applications we received."

To be eligible, businesses had to be 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. They must also be headquartered in one of the following Oregon counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Hood River, Yamhill, Marion, OR one of the following Washington counties: Clark, Cowlitz, or Skamania.

Final awards were chosen by a panel of five judges, which included:

  • Candace Beeke, Publisher and Market President of the Portland Business Journal

  • Josh Lyons, KeyBank Oregon and SW Washington Market President and Commercial Banking Leader

  • Dr. Robin Beavers- Director of Community Impact- Portland Thorns FC

  • Briea O'Duinn- Founder and CEO of Beset SPC

  • Tiffany Canifax- Vice President and Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager at KeyBank

Criteria used to determine winners included the quality of the presentation, clarity of business vision and mission, economic impact of the idea and the soundness of value proposition.


Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) elevates and empowers under-resourced and excluded entrepreneurs to build resilience, equity, and thriving communities through access to capital, tailored business assistance, and education. Founded in 2005 to assist Black-owned small businesses that were experiencing challenges in the wake of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland, the nonprofit now serves more than 600 entrepreneurs and small businesses in Oregon and Southwest Washington each year. MESO is a designated SBA microlender, an IDA fiduciary, and a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).


Portland Thorns FC is an American professional women's soccer team based in Portland, Oregon that plays their home matches at the iconic Providence Park. Established in 2012, the team began play in 2013 as one of the founding teams of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - the top-ranked professional women's soccer league in the United States. Thorns FC rank among the best globally in attendance across male and female professional soccer clubs. The team has won eight trophies - three NWSL Championships (2013, 2017, 2022), two NWSL Shields (2016, 2021), NWSL Challenge Cup (2021), Women's International Champions Cup (2021), NWSL Community Shield (2020).


KeyCorp's roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $195 billion at June 30, 2023. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.


Key4Women started in 2005 as a campaign to lend $1 billion to qualified women-owned businesses within three years. The program achieved that in two years and has now generated more than $12 billion in loans to women-owned businesses. Membership in Key4Women is free. In addition to helping women business leaders and owners tap into capital to build and grow their businesses, Key4Women members gain valuable access to a team of local Certified Key4Wome Advisors who advocate, connect and empower women on their journey to financial wellness. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Meaghan Evans
Photo Credit: Meaghan Evans

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