Mindy Miraglia

No one knows how many of the 24 million small businesses in the United States have closed, but the number, when tallied, is likely to surpass one million. Some tiny companies have turned a corner and head into 2021 shaken and changed, but alive. Times of E reached out to incubators across the United States, who connected us to entrepreneurs whose companies survived. Ten entrepreneurs shared their stories with us. You can find others in the series at Rest of the US. Thanks to gener8tor, Arlee Community Development Corp., E For All, and Arrowhead.

Before the pandemic, Mindy Miraglia left her job after experiencing workplace hostility. She decided to embark on a 500-mile journey on Camino de Santiago in Spain. This pilgrimage, which she wrote was extremely out of her comfort zone, continues to inspire her and give her peace. 

As COVID-19 began to stress and burden many people, she started her own mini-pilgrimage company, Berkshire Camino to recreate the journey she took. The company leads slow, local hiking journeys across the Berkshires in Lee, Massachusetts. 

“I’m motivated to create a business that allows women in particular to capture the feeling of empowerment on both half-day and multi-day journeys closer to home,” Miraglia wrote. 

The restrictions of a pandemic fit well into Miraglia’s mission. The groups are limited to 10, which creates a community but also feels intimate. There’s also a surge in interest for walks and being outdoors as an escape from the fully virtual world. 

The company’s half-day walks, which encompass six-eight routes ranging from five-nine miles and three and a half-five hours, costs $80. Private group walks, which require a minimum of four people, cost $360.

Last year, Berkshire Camino’s five lead walkers, with CPR and first aid training, and six accompanying walkers tested two of these routes. They led 20 walks last year. 

Eventually, there will be about 10-12 routes across the Berkshires, including three-day, four night journeys, which have not been priced yet. Miraglia also said its staff will also be growing for its 2021 season, which starts in May and ends in October. There are 70 half-day walks on the calendar so far.

Although Berkshire Camino operates outdoors and Miraglia said all participants must wear masks on the shuttle van and in populated areas, the group-style does deter some folks from trying the expeditions. Miraglia said she’s heard from many people who wanted to wait to try them out until after COVID-19 has calmed down.

Miraglia launched the company in June while she was participating in an Entrepreneurship for All program. The mentors she gained from the program helped her navigate the challenges of starting up in the middle of a pandemic. 

“As a female solopreneur I had to really step up and out in the midst of the tumult that was 2020,” she wrote. “It has set a tone that benefits me as a business-woman and leader to be anticipating that everything can truly change in a moment. We’ve been forever impacted with that lived experience.”

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.