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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:02:07 10:11:25

From left, front row: student Amy Simpson, Donna Simpson, consultant manager at the SBDC. Back row: Lisa Criscera, founder and co-owner of L.C. Solutions and Dudziec.

Francene Pisano Dudziec knows a thing or two about being a small business owner.

That makes her a perfect fit for her position as special projects coordinator for the University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). There, the Moosic resident’s responsibilities include helping to oversee the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center, a partnership of the SBDC and the university’s Kania School of Management.

Right now, Dudziec is gearing up for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center’s next “Coffee and Confidence” talk, a free information session for women interested in exploring the idea of starting their own business. The event is set for Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the fifth floor of the U of S’s Brennan Hall, 320 Madison Ave.

The featured speaker will be Lisa Criscera, founder and co-owner of L.C. Solutions, LLC, a Carbondale-based business specializing in public relations, marketing and social media services.

Admission to the talk is free. Reservations can be made via the education/training tab at scrantonsbdc.com, or by contacting Dudziec at 570-941-4168 or francene.dudziec@scranton.edu.

Designed for women with lower incomes, those in transition or those trying to make a better life for themselves and their families, Coffee and Confidence strives to give participants helpful support and guidance as they determine if starting a business is a worthwhile and tangible option — all in a relaxed, casual setting.

“It’s great to have women in the community come in and help other women,” Dudziec said. “A lot of businesswomen don’t know where to start. … It’s important to know what you’re getting into. We don’t want to sugarcoat all the challenges that go into starting a business.”

The talks focus on many different facets of business development, from budgeting and marketing to networking and designing a website. In addition, Dudziec said, they cover topics that prospective entrepreneurs often don’t think about, like how much the business will affect their marriage and family life.

“It’s really important for women to support each other,” Dudziec said. “Because then they think, ‘Hey, if they can do it, then I can do it.’”

Coffee and Confidence serves as a nice complement to the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center’s other services, among them the StartUP program, an intensive multi-week educational series for budding business owners. The program is held three times per year, with the next series beginning March 7.

In addition, Dudziec coordinates the center’s Small Business Internship Initiative, which helps small area businesses establish college internship programs.

A Moosic resident for the past 25 years, Dudziec grew up in Exeter, where her family runs a fence company.

“Having grown up in a family business, I think that’s where I had the initial enthusiasm for business,” she said.

After working as a graphic designer at the U of S for many years, Dudziec decided to take the plunge and start her own small business, the Clarks Summit-based gift shop Monogram Muse. She eventually closed the shop upon returning to the university two-and-a-half years ago, but continues to operate the business online at monogrammusegifts.com. Meanwhile, she sells her own line of beach bags, Hello Beach, at hellobeach.bigcartel.com.

Dudziec resides in the Greenwood section of Moosic with her husband, Michael, and their two daughters, Ariana, 21, and Lucia, 10. She loves her tight-knit neighborhood and the borough’s close proximity to a number of area attractions.

“I just love living in Moosic. It’s so convenient,” Dudziec said. “It’s such a nice community.”

She enthuses just as much about her job.

“I really enjoy meeting all these future entrepreneurs – all these women with dreams and ideas,” Dudziec said. “I love sharing my stories and helping other businesswomen.”