Friday, March 1, 2019

small business ideas for women

small business ideas for women


Free small-business startup series offered | Money | journaltimes.com - Journal Times

Posted: 27 Feb 2019 01:45 PM PST

RACINE — Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corp. will host a free five-week Start, Run, Grow Your Small Business Series at its office at 245 Main St., suite 102, starting March 5 from 6-9 p.m.

This series will teach the fundamentals of running a business, and participants will have the opportunity to develop a completed business plan. The series utilizes QuickBooks Online and the LivePlan platform, so computer skills are required.

The facilitator will be Jenn Ring, owner of Professional Success Partners. She brings nearly 20 years of small-business coaching, small-business planning and entrepreneurial experience to deliver a series that will provide the skills to determine and test the viability of business ideas and to create the business plan that will work for each individual.

Painesville possesses strong display of female leadership | Lake County - News-Herald.com

Posted: 28 Feb 2019 04:00 PM PST

Since 1988, the U.S. has considered the month of March as Women's History Month, and on a global level, March 8 is celebrated as International Woman's Day.

In Painesville, women staff several key leadership positions, including in the parks and recreation department, the city planner, economic development director, and communication director. This is in addition to City Manager Monica Irelan Dupee.

The News-Herald recently talked to these women about their inspirations and their outlooks.

Monica Irelan Dupee (City manager; started in 2016)

On becoming a leader: "Since I can remember, I knew my job had to be something that would help people. I started college while still in high school with the intention of being a social worker."

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Monica Irelan; City Manager

Her style of leadership: "We each bring a skill to the table and together solve complex issues. As the leader, it is my job to provide the resources and tools that are necessary for each of these experts to do their job effectively.

"But, it is necessary that we laugh a lot and enjoy the work we do together. I think people are surprised by how casual we are in our everyday work, but it creates a great team environment."

Strong women in her life: "My mother worked a full-time job while raising five children. My paternal grandmother was 'Rosy the Riveter' during World War II, working in a bomber plant while the men were off to war."

Issues of women's equality: "I think it is becoming easier to talk about inequalities in America, but it is still hard to talk about an issue without being labeled. That being said, the data is clear; there are still inequalities in pay between men and women doing the same job with the same qualifications. The inequality is stronger if the woman is of color."

Lynn White (City planner; started in 1991)

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Lynne White; City Planner

What led to working at Painesville: "After high school I worked several retail jobs and learned that what I was taught about customer service from my father helped me. I was hired at the very bottom of the hierarchy, as a part-time typist due to the experiences that I had in retail and importance of customer service."

Why Painesville: "The small town atmosphere and historic charm along with the fact that I live in Painesville makes me motivated to make Painesville its best. Painesville has so much to offer with wonderful opportunities to grow. I believe one day we'll get there."

Leanne Exum (City engineer; started 2014)

What led to your position? "My stepfather was the city engineer for Painesville growing up and I found his job very interesting. That is what led me down the path civil engineering in college and eventually led me full-circle, back to Painesville."

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Leanne Exum; City Engineer

How she leads her department: "I have an open door policy to discuss departmental, residential and construction issues. I welcome new ideas from everyone so that we have a cohesive relationship and I encourage team building. There is definitely a 'can do' attitude on the team."

Personal inspiration: "My mom has always supported and encouraged me."

Michelle LaPuma (Recreation and Public Lands director; started 2013)

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Michelle LaPuma; Director of Recreations & Public Lands

What led to your position: "I was self-employed running a landscaping business with my husband handling all of the books and bids for our company. I continued to run the business by myself for ten years after he passed away, meeting with customers and supervising projects. I became certified as a Woman Minority Business Owner and worked hard to grow the business."

How she runs her department: "My management style is Respect. Each and every employee is a valuable part of our department. I try to display this by keeping my employees informed, meeting with them regularly to allow them the opportunity to ask questions and give suggestions."

What keeps her motivated: "It is my desire to make a difference by providing quality family events, making sure public lands are well maintained and working to add new amenities to our parks. I am fortunate to work with a group of talented, hard working individuals who take pride in their work and the city."

Cathy Bieterman (Economic Development director; started 2005)

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Cathy Bieterman; Economic Development Director

What led to her position: "I had an internship position with the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chapter of Commerce and I loved my internship in their Government Affairs Department. I decided from that point on I was interested in working with Chambers of Commerce and bridging local government with the needs of small business."

How she runs her department: I like to say that we are very locally focused. We work very hard to bring local opportunities to local businesses and we work even harder to find solutions and ways in which business can work through the processes of local government.

Inspiration for young girls: "It's important to really understand your own true values and core beliefs that you want to reflect and hold close to you and find those same values and beliefs in others."

Kathleen Sullivan (Communications coordinator; started 2018)

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Kathleen Sullivan; Communication Coordinator

What led to her position: "I was a journalism and public relations major at Miami University. From there I went into business communications for four years and now public communications. I enjoy talking to people and listening, so being in the public sector gives me lots of exposure to people of various backgrounds."

How she runs her department: "I try to come to the table with all points of views in mind. Whenever a new project or topic is brought to my attention to communicate, I want to become an expert on the that topic as much as possible before I start communicating to others."

Issues of equality: "When you get to the leadership level, in private business or the public sector, there is a disproportion of women to men. It's one of the first things I noticed when I interviewed with the Painesville team, half the room was female."

Inspiration for young girls: "Look within your own family or daily interactions. We're surrounded by powerful women, most people just don't realize it."

4 Black Women Entrepreneurs Share The Business Of "Buying Black" - Forbes

Posted: 27 Feb 2019 01:14 PM PST

Buying Black is a social enterprise that seeks to maximize profit and opportunity for Black businesses owners and generational wealth within Black communities.Getty Images

"Buy Black" is not just a rallying cry for Black History Month. There are many entrepreneurs who have built sustainable businesses around the concept that succeed year-round. Nielsen reports that the Black consumer buying power is $1.2 trillion annually. And while those stats may make an impressive "Available Market Size" section in a business plan or slide on a pitch, the reality of successfully tapping into a consumer market is more nuanced than opening up shop—physical or digital—in a crowd.

If you build it, there is no guarantee that they will come. Especially, with the rising accessibility to entrepreneurship and a growing number of women of color striking out to build businesses on their own. Whatever the endeavor, there will be competition. But that shouldn't be a deterrent. Competition means market validation which, in turn, shows that people will actually want what you're selling. Those who survive competitive markets have not only done the research on their customers, invested in building a strong brand and consistently iterate for better processes and operations. They also evaluate the business case for their ideas before launching—the reasons for launching, the options available for execution, the measurable benefits expected, the risks and costs involved, and the outlook for the future.

Below, four Black women entrepreneurs share how they have strategically launched and are growing "for us, buy us" marketplace businesses that serve the Black community entirely from Black artisans and business owners. These social enterprises work to maximize profit and opportunity for other Black businesses owners and create the potential for the generational impact of keeping and growing wealth within Black communities.

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon is the Founder of The Village Market ATL, a small business platform that offers classes, marketplace, summits, mentorship opportunities for Black businesses.Sheree Swann

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, Founder of The Village Market ATL

Shani Syphrett: What problem does your company solve?

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon: The Village Market solves the problem of lack of resources, a lack of support and a lack of opportunities for Black businesses. We provide a space to attend training, workshops, receive mentorship and be embraced by a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Our quarterly marketplace experience provides Black businesses with an opportunity to sell their products to thousands of buying patrons and provides the community with access and a means to patronize vetted Black businesses.  

Syphrett: How has The Village Market evolved over time?

Dr. Hallmon: I built slowly but intentionally. As many built online models, directories, e-commerce opportunities to support Black businesses, I desired to add another layer by creating a physical community. I wanted to create a place for people to actively engage, support and show up for each other. And, I felt that events would be the best business model for that. We started with a series of free classes where we gathered successful business owners in an intimate setting. There, we matched business owners who have had success with those who were hungry to learn. It was a pipeline for getting people what they needed and we were intentional with ensuring that Black business owners were learning and being supported by other Black business owners. We continue that model within the Village Market experience today.

Syphrett: How has serving the Black community played a role in your business growth?

Dr. Hallmon: I have worked intentionally to make the Village Market a part of the conversations and become the go-to for "support" and resources. I have worked to make it become a part of the fabric of our community and one of the most sought after marketplace experiences. I have also allowed the company to grow new branches of businesses and engage in strong strategic partnerships. We decided to bootstrap and not take on investors or sponsors, so we handle all of our overhead costs. But, I have made investments in my company so I can continuously grow and evolve. And because we want to ensure that the dollar circulates from us first, we hire Black contractors for our events.

Anika Hobbs is the Founder of Nubian Hueman, a Washington DC-based boutique featuring a curated selection of African-inspired apparel, accessories & home decor.Dayo Kosoko

Anika Hobbs, Founder of Nubian Hueman

Syphrett: What value does your company bring to your market and where have you seen success?

Anika Hobbs: Nubian Hueman is a social enterprise that specializes in sourcing and curating unique goods, fashion, and art by designers representing the global African Diaspora. We're actively breaking the myth that artists cannot live through their creative abilities. We bring together popular culture and fair-trade shopping in a modern brand experience that promotes collective interaction, community development, and global responsibility. Our success has been in partnering with close to 400 artists and designers, from 6 different continents, and over 25 countries.

Syphrett: What has been the benefit of launching Nubian Hueman as a brick & mortar store first and how do you see the business evolving?

Hobbs: Having a brick & mortar store has allowed us to speak directly with our customer base and receive feedback on our assortment and where there may be gaps. Our customers are 95% Black and we know that they want to buy from Black and Brown brands from actually speaking to them. So we make that option available in an unapologetic, comfortable, and welcoming space. Nubian Hueman is a representation of how buying Black is a model of sustainable business. We will be opening our second store in Baltimore, MD in the second quarter of this year and we are building our social impact arm through incubation and targeted workshops to develop the brands and designers we work with. We are also looking to move into design, manufacturing, and a wholesale platform within the next 5 years. We're building a financial ecosystem around a generally underserved but financially powerful population.

Syphrett: What are the major costs of running your business?

Hobbs: The major costs are rent, inventory, shipping, and research. What is unique to us is our buying process. Most boutiques either produce their own goods or go to market shows (eg. Magic in Las Vegas or New York). Our buying process requires a major portion of research into global independent artists and staying knowledgeable about importing so that we can work with designers outside of the US. We also work closely to build trust and create agreements that ensure our artisans are paid in a timely fashion. Our counterparts may work on a NET-30 or NET-60 when purchasing inventory but we provide payment upfront in order to begin production. This adds an additional risk on our end as well.

Syphrett: What were the risks involved with launching the business and what have you done to mitigate them?

Hobbs: The risks were having a rotating assortment with brands that were unable to produce a wholesale quantity of products. We also were facing the myth that Black business are only limited to shea butter or t-shirts and potentially receiving pushback for not being inclusive of all races and nationalities. We mitigate those risks by building relationships with the artisans and, many times, coaching them in the wholesale process and on how to scale. It may take 5-6 months for a product actually hits our shelves, but it is important to us to provide that support. Being able to relay that their product is in a store has provided our artisans with further scaling opportunities with retail giants like Walmart, Target, or Whole Foods.

Dr. Kristian Hendersion is the founder of BLK + GRN, an online marketplace that connects Black women with natural lifestyles to high-quality, toxic-free brands.Sloane Dakota Tucker

Dr. Kristian Henderson, Founder of BLK + GRN

Syphrett: What problem does your company solve?

Dr. Kristian Henderson: BLK + GRN solves two problems: one, Black women's lack of access to high-quality non-toxic products; and two, Black artisans' lack access to retail platforms to scale. Black women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, yet 75% of the products marketed to Black women are formulated with ingredients that are considered toxic and linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive damage. Black women are looking for higher quality Black-owned products that are beneficial to their health, but there isn't an easy way to purchase these green products.

Syphrett: What is the business model for BLK + GRN and has it stayed the same since you began?

Dr. Henderson: We always knew we would start with an online marketplace, because of the lower start-up costs to establish the proof of concept. Our biggest revenue driver is the goods that are sold. We only make money when our customers purchase products from our marketplace. That was our main focus the first year and in our second year, we are moving into doing more pop-up and event-based events to support our online store. We know that our customer is looking for community, so events are proving a good way to talk to our customer in an intimate and authentic way.

Syphrett: What were the risks involved with launching the business and what have you done to mitigate them?

Dr. Henderson: There is a pervasive stigma associated with Black-owned businesses. There is an assumption that the products will be low quality, the customer service will be bad and that the consumer will have to compromise in order to support Black-owned businesses. We are laser focused on breaking this stigma. Our team of experts test every product that we carry to ensure quality and effectiveness. We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service—taking a "yes first" approach—to ensure we treat our customers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Lastly, we have designed our social media presence and website to exude quality and luxury. We won't erase the stigma overnight, but every day, we are hoping that each positive interaction helps change the conversation around buying Black products.

Syphrett: What would you consider to be the benefits of buying Black?

Dr. Henderson: Buying Black is an acknowledgment of the tremendous buying power of the African American community and the realization that we can improve our communities by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. I often say that every time I shop, I consider my purchasing decision as a vote. I am voting on who gets revenue and who doesn't. Who gets to thrive and who doesn't. It is important to me that my purchasing decisions to align with my values. Buying Black is one of the cornerstones of ensuring Black communities thrive.

Michelle Dalzon is the founder of theBOM - Black Owned Market, a curated pop-up shopping destination that makes buying from black-owned brands convenient.Kolin Mendez

Michelle Dalzon, Founder of The Black-Owned Market (theBOM)

Syphrett: What value does your company bring to your market and where have you seen success?

Michelle Dalzon: theBOM hand selects Black businesses and places them in a physical marketplace setting. At our market, the business-owners come first. We provide white-glove pop-up experiences for each brand by getting to know their voice and aesthetic and using that information to create a custom display. We've been in business for 2 years now and have hosted five pop-ups thus far including a partnership with Blavity Inc's 21Ninety to curate a shopping experience for their Summit21 conference in 2018.

Syphrett: How did you test the market for your business concept?

Dalzon: The first option I considered was a pop-up business model because it allows you to test ideas with low risk since the space is only temporary. I also used pop-ups for customer discovery. I could find out demographic, spending amount, the potential for repeat customers, and overall interest in the concept. After the first one in 2016, I knew I had something but I wanted to test it in different seasons and with different themes to see where interest peaked most. Now, after having hosted 5 pop-ups, I can see that the summer and winter— around the holidays—are the best times for pop-ups. Everything for me is driven by my mission first and followed by consumer behavior.  

Syphrett: What would you consider to be the benefits of buying Black?

Dalzon: I am the child of Black small business owners who are Haitian immigrants and I've spent the past eight years of my life working in top companies in marketing and advertising. I have the unique skills to make sure this succeeds because I have experienced it first hand. My parents' beauty supply store is the reason I was able to afford private high school and college, and it was also my first job. Just by the store existing it provided a source of inspiration in our small community. In the '80s, there weren't many blueprints to follow and my parents created that blueprint. I didn't realize how much of an influence this had on my life and the potential it had to influence the generations to come. Legacy is so important. You must create something the next generation can own. That is how generational wealth begins and is sustained. I will do everything in my power to continue their legacy and touch as many black business in an impactful way as possible. For many, I want theBOM to be the launching pad to be in stores like Target or eventually want to own a store one day.

Syphrett: What's on the horizon for theBOM?

Dalzon: Our next phases are in the works as we speak. We started as a pop-up, but there is so much more in store. The e-commerce version of theBOM will be launching this Spring and will bring the physical marketplace online in a very unique way. People outside of NYC have been asking if we could come to their city, so we knew there is demand, but it just is not economical for us at the moment. People have traveled from Ohio, Boston and Guatemala just to attend and I think this is a solution that will make everyone happy. We're also planning for the launch of a standing store. The first location will be in collaboration with my parents who owned their beauty supply store in MA for the past 30 years. I am starting the journey to raise a seed round and this full-circle moment is something that I am extremely excited about!

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Meet the Empower Squad: Chica Chat launches supportive movement for El Paso's next generation of women in entrepreneurship - Borderzine

Posted: 28 Feb 2019 08:39 AM PST

The El Paso business community is getting a fresh, feminine makeover thanks to the new organization Chica Chat.

"We're here to empower each other, and to help each other, and to provide a safe space for women," Chica Chat treasurer Ashley Valdez says.

The nonprofit organization brings together young women who are entrepreneurs to provide them with the tools and knowledge for success.

President Zoë Gemoets says she was reading the book "Work Party: How to Create and Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams" by Jaclyn Johnson when the idea for the group came to her.

"At the end of the book she asks, 'what are you doing to help the women of your community?'" so I was like 'damn, what am I doing?' I could totally do this," Gemoets explains.

She reached out to Valdez, Anais Chavira, now Chica Chat's secretary and Lola Vaughn who serves as vice president of the group, and in just a few months they've taken Chica Chat from an idea to a fledging non-profit organization.

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Chica Chat founders, clockwise from top left: Lola Vaughn, Zoë Gemoets, Anais Chavira and Ashley Valdez.

Their Instagram account @letschicachat started in December and has more than 800 followers. Gemoets estimates that the January 10th launch event drew close to 80 women and there were 30 people at the second meeting in February. The first two meetings in their monthly "Working the Net" series attracted a variety of women from business owners to accountants to bloggers.

"I think the point is to create a space monthly where girls know, on the first Thursday of every month I'm gonna be able to attend something that's meant for me, that's gonna help me grow as a person," Vaughn says.

Chica Chat's founders hope to connect business-minded women in El Paso in ways that are mutually beneficial, including linking small business owners with photographers and graphic designers who can help them market their businesses.

Meetings will occasionally feature business women from El Paso as guest speakers to share their knowledge with the budding entrepreneurs.

Barracuda Public Relations owner Marina Monsisvais, who was the guest speaker at the group's February meeting, says she feels Chica Chat is filling a void that was missing in El Paso when she entered the business world.

"When I was starting out, I think that having something like this would have been tremendously helpful," she says. "How neat would it be to outside of your personal circle to have that other group of young, empowered women who are doing something that you can bounce ideas off of," Monsisvais said.

Chica Chat's women are working to combat the idea that women need to compete against each other in order to succeed.

"We need to stop tearing each other down," Valdez says. "We're here to help each other."

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Chica Chat attendees stand together following the group's February "Working the Net" event.

This supportive approach is especially apparent on the group's social media, where they refer to their members as their "hustlin' sisters" and their "chicas." They put out calls for them to "be strong" and improve their community. They post words of affirmation in the form of colorful graphics that remind their followers that they're made of "brains and beauty" and an "inspiration to someone else".

"I think if we can push the message that we're all sisters, that we're all trying to prosper together, it's really important to foster that environment because it trickles down," she explains.

While women of all ages are welcomed at Chica Chat, millennials are the target audience. "Millennials are just a completely different generation. We're constantly trying to push each other up the totem pole and help each other out," Vaughn says.

In the future, the women behind Chica Chat hope to be able to fund a co-working space for their members through grants, complete with photography areas for women in the group who are social media influencers and a daycare area for working mothers.

Vaughn, a mother herself, says that ultimately, she wants Chica Chat to foster a supportive culture for future generations of El Paso women.

"The goal at the end of my day is to create an environment that trickles down so that when my little girl is 23, she's in a loving sisterhood environment here in El Paso," she says.

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