At its 32nd Annual Women in Business Awards Gala on May 3, 2017, the National Association of Woman Business Owners – Charlotte Chapter (NAWBO Charlotte) named Fabi Preslar the Woman Business Owner of the Year and Carolina Aponte the Rising Star of the Year. The Woman Business Owner Award recognizes a local NAWBO member who has demonstrated strong leadership in growing and managing a successful business that is more than five years old, while also sharing her skills through volunteer and civic activities.
Penny Benkeser, President of NAWBO Charlotte and owner of SERVPRO NW Charlotte, Lincoln and NE Gaston counties, said, “Fabi and Carolina are wonderful representatives of business owners in the Charlotte region, who are establishing and cultivating companies, creating job opportunities, and contributing upwards of a billion dollars to North Carolina’s economy.”
Fabi Preslar is founder and president of SPARK Publications, a 19-year-old, Charlotte-based graphic design and custom publishing firm specializing in print and digital magazines, books, catalogs, and marketing materials. Clients include enthusiasts, trades, national associations, and professionals. The firm was started as a home-based business and has moved, expanded, and restructured several times.
Fabi identified her passion at age fifteen when she saw graphics on a highway billboard. She knew she wanted to be that person communicating to the masses through design. At 17 years old she moved to Charlotte by herself, had no car, knew no one, and had no money. She enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College, worked three jobs, and with student loans lived in a girls’ boarding house with 60 other girls seeking education at a variety of local colleges.
Currently Fabi celebrates having the best team in her career history, which includes her husband of 30 years, Larry, their daughter Sofi, top design talent, and two past clients. Fabi now owns the office space that houses her firm and three years ago launched her own magazine, b2bTRIBE, for greater Charlotte-area small business owners. SPARK Publications has won more than 150 industry awards in the past few years. In 2015, Fabi was named B2B Marketer of the Year by the Business Marketing Association of the Carolinas. She’s received numerous other honors, including Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine, a Gold Stevie® Award for Best Entrepreneur with under 100 employees, and the Greater Women’s Council Trailblazer Award from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).