Name: Cynthia Heathcoe

Distinction: CEO of Contemporary Living furniture store

City: Palm Beach Gardens

Cynthia Heathcoe’s dreams of having her own business materialized a year ago when she opened Contemporary Living ( in Downtown at the Gardens. This year, she is in the running for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Palm Beach SCORE ( The awards ceremony will be on May 8. Finalists will be announced soon.

A Kentucky native and 25-year Florida resident, Heathcoe wouldn’t have envisioned this scenario for herself 15 years ago when she lived in a homeless shelter with her young children. She didn’t have any money and had a bad credit rating.

She dropped out of Palm Beach State College after two years to work in the retail furniture industry and was good at it — always the top seller for each of her employers, but she wanted more. She wanted her own business.

That opportunity came to her after a chance meeting with SCORE mentor Penny Pompei, who came in to buy some pillows at the furniture store where Heathcoe was working.

Pompei worked with Heathcoe through SCORE’s mentoring system, since Heathcoe had no money to pay for consulting help and no collateral for a business loan.

It paid off. Heathcoe’s company secured a Small Business Administration loan, which provided her the money to secure a lease at Downtown at the Gardens and purchase inventory for the store, with a little extra capital to help with marketing expenses. She is already on her way to $1 million a year in sales, and she is determined to grow that substantially over the next few years.