Vine Education Group – An Educational Pathway for Young, International Students

SBDC helps the Irvine-based Business Launch and Market  Its Services

Having immigrated from China herself, Vine Education owner Lei Zhao understood the cultural journey that so many others go through when arriving to their new lives in the United States. She also appreciated the literal learning curve that most new citizens faced. So, Lei wanted to do something to allay the transition that many young students from abroad experience when entering the American school system.

With an inherent need to make a positive difference in her community, Lei endeavored to create a place where educational enrichment courses could be offered to newly immigrated students. Now, her business, Vine Education Group does just that, as well as provides courses in English as a second language, with additional support through language classes, math, and music.

To get the ball rolling and help make her vision a reality, Lei hired Kelly Savage, Vine’s Education Coordinator who has been putting Lei’s plans to work. In her position, Kelly Savage splits her time as Vine’s chief administrator and as a Vine teacher.

At the beginning when Kelly joined, the infrastructure for the Vine Education Group was already in place, but there was a maelstrom of bureaucracy that had yet to be navigated.

“Lei Zhao hired me at a time when they had already leased office space — and had been doing some marketing in Chinese,” said Kelly. “But getting all of the business licenses and permits squared away was a challenge. So, I was tasked with was doing whatever it took to get the business up, running, and make it legal and official.”

Kelly’s search began and ended with an online search that led her to the Orange County SBDC. After Kelly met with SBDC Business Consultant Roger Lloyd, things began to happen quickly. Roger was able to impart his years of experience and guided Kelly to the city and county offices for Vine’s business license and zoning approvals to do business. 

“Roger was great,” said Kelly. “He actually had his own experience running a similar type of business and suggested ways to market, as well as how to make our business stand out from the competition. All of his consulting was tremendously helpful to get things started and to distinguish ourselves.”

Now up and running — with a successful grand opening behind them — Kelly has kept in touch with Roger and the Orange County SBDC.

“Roger’s really been instrumental in helping us with enrollment and increasing sales. It’s something that we’re continuously working on — and he’s continuously giving us great ideas from his own experience. Overall, the SBDC has been a terrific resource, and we couldn’t be more grateful for Roger’s help.”


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