Women’s Network event celebrates ‘women in our community’ | Local News

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FAIRMONT — There’s no denying that the past two years have been difficult for small businesses to survive, let alone thrive. This proposition becomes even more difficult for small businesses owned by women.

One of the ways women-owned businesses can work together and support each other is the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Network, which held its annual Women’s Network Expo Friday at the Robert Research Building. H. Mollohan.

The affair was titled “Chin Up…Crown On” and greeted guests with tiaras to wear for the duration of the event. Laura Seybold, owner of Shine Consulting, and Kimberly Luse, author and president of Strategic Ethical Solutions, gave presentations designed to inspire guests to support each other.

A panel of women business owners discussed the challenges and processes of running a business. The panel included Jann Stewart, owner of White’s Fine Jewelry, Katie Willard of Social Bee Media, Amber Steele of Blush Mobile Tan Van and Shawna Hale of Next Level Fitness and White Hall Wine & Spirits.

Stewart was asked what she would do differently in her business. Stewart said she was intrigued by the question because she hadn’t really thought about what she wished she had known before starting a business.

“I definitely would have been better informed and educated,” Stewart said. “For me this was a tough question and I hope someone has some helpful advice as well. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. There’s so much that goes into running a business and you don’t realize what you need to know until you’re right in the middle of it.

Seybold said it’s important for business owners to pursue their dreams and focus on their goals. She works with people who feel stuck and want to get the most out of their careers and their lives.

In her opening speech, Luse talked about working with other women and having people you can rely on for authentic relationships. She used personal anecdotes and information from her books “Losing Your Job Without Losing Your Mind: Strategic Ethical Solutions” and “Circling the Drain: A Story of Hope, Lost Children, and Finding Home.”

“Give yourself the power to say three words – ‘I don’t know’, no one can know everything,” Luse said.

Luse also said to make sure you have people you can rely on.

“I call them SOS people – people in your inner circle that if you texted them three letters…Tina Shaw if I texted you SOS, what would you do?” Luse asked.

“Call immediately,” Shaw, president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, said from across the room.

“This circle is tight,” Luse said.

The Women’s Network is designed to educate, engage and empower women, Shaw said.

“We need each other’s support to sustain each other continuously. Women always tend to put themselves last. As our keynote speaker said, “You can’t do that.” Sometimes you have to put yourself first. Most of the women are married, have children or grandchildren, and work full time,” Shaw said.

This was the Women’s Network’s first event in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shaw said she was thrilled to have all 50 attendees and looks forward to future events. Some of the events include a summer picnic, a Women’s Wake-Up Call event which includes an obstetrician-gynecologist to discuss women’s health issues with members, Lunch and Learn and Small Business Saturdays, they meet to do a “Shopping Mob”. They all go to local women-owned businesses in Marion County to show their support and shop around.

The Housewife Network committee chose the theme and the speakers and panelists for Friday’s event, Shaw said.

“We want women who may not always feel worthy of wearing their crowns every day. Once we have our theme, we look for women who have gone through a lot of obstacles that they have overcome and women who have done really well,” Shaw said.

Shaw described the Women’s Network as a large group of professional women. She said the event was a great success.

“We wear so many hats that it’s important to slow down for a while and let everyone know that it’s okay to say no if you can’t do it all. We want to celebrate the women in our community,” Shaw said.

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