Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium 2018 logo with photos of Gigi Butler and Chloe Epstein

Founders of Gigi’s Cupcakes and Chloe’s Fruit to headline UF Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  The University of Florida is hosting the annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium on April 18 in Emerson Alumni Hall. The event will feature Gigi’s Cupcakes founder Gina “Gigi” Butler and Chloe’s Fruit founder Chloe Epstein as the keynote speakers.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is free for all UF students, faculty and staff. Community members are also welcome to attend this event for $25. The event includes a networking lunch and presentations from other notable female entrepreneurs including Helena Cowley, CEO of Captozyme, Annette Cornwell Bauer, founder of Blakeland Construction Services (a Gator100 company), Brianna Bean, founder of The Job Scouts and Dani McVety, founder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice (a Gator100 company).

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, presented by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center at the UF Warrington College of Business, the UF Collaboratory for Women Innovators, and COX, offers inspirational stories and lessons learned from successful women entrepreneurs. The event provides opportunities for women to connect with peers and other successful female business leaders to foster a community of women in entrepreneurship where they benefit through mentoring, network building, start-up and career advice, internships and role models.

“We are fortunate to have a terrific slate of women entrepreneurs traveling to Gainesville from across the country and the state of Florida to inspire women at UF and Gainesville to think big,” said Nola Miyasaki, Executive Director for Outreach and Incubation, who also oversees the new Collaboratory for Women Innovators at the Innovation Hub. “Hearing from women who have been successful in spite of challenges or against the odds helps motivate all of us to follow our entrepreneurial spirit and to believe in ourselves.”

Gina “Gigi” Butler: Butler is the founder of Gigi’s Cupcakes, a cupcake bakery company. Her success story is truly an “American Dream” of a housekeeper turned CEO practically overnight. Butler is a single mother, trying to balance the demands of raising a young daughter while running a multi-million-dollar company. As incredible as her baked goods are, Butler’s personal story and the road she traveled to becoming the “Culinary Queen of Baking,” is even more remarkable. After years of trying to make it in the music industry at night and cleaning during the day, she decided to focus her efforts on her passion for baking, a lost art in her eyes. With only $33 left to her name, she opened up her first bakery shop in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008 and held her breath. Eight years later, Gigi’s Cupcakes is now the largest cupcake franchise in the country with over 100 locations and counting. Gigi’s Cupcakes features over 300 rotating flavors including sugar free and gluten free options in locations nationwide.

Chloe Epstein: Epstein is the co-founder and president of Chloe’s Fruit, a healthy, unadulterated soft-serve and popsicle company. She is a former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney and self-described “fro-yo addict.” After not being able to find a frozen treat without artificial ingredients, fat and corn syrup, she decided to create her own using only fruit, water and organic cane sugar. Thus, Chloe’s Fruit was born as an all-natural alternative to both the artificial ingredients of frozen yogurt and the fat and dairy of ice cream. Epstein has since expanded the company to include a flagship store in New York City and sells the company’s fruit popsicles in over 4,000 supermarkets nationwide, including Publix stores. She has plans to continue to grow the company from a regional brand to a national brand, add more retail partners, new product varieties and new applications for the company’s soft serve fruit.

UF attendees must register for the event. Community attendees should register for the event.