Not only did five women leave the Safavieh Home Furnishings in Stamford with $1,000 in grant money for their businesses, they also walked away with the unified support from their fellow female business owners.
"What we know is when we support female entrepreneurs not only do they benefit from it, their family benefits from it, their community benefits from it and the economy benefits from it," Kathy McShane, managing director of Ladies Who Launch Connecticut, said March 20. "That's the message I want to get across."
Dickson, of Madison, runs Guapa Films, a diverse company that creates content geared toward issues women face and are not widely discussed.
Gaberman, of Westport, is the president of Berni & Murcer: Friends for Life, a not-for-profit organization that educates, encourages and comforts children with life-threatening illnesses at all stages of their journeys.
Greene, owner of Connecticut Cookie Company and a resident of Southport, bakes homemade cookies and bakery treats using her grandmother's vanilla.
Spevacek and Wolff, owners of Just Ordinary Moms and residents of Granby, collect stories from mothers across the country and turn them into books. Their next book will be "Just Ordinary Military Moms" and will feature stories from mothers who have children in the military.
After teaming up with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. co-founder and former CEO Linda McMahon in 2013 for Ladies Making History, an event during Women's History Month, McShane reached out to McMahon this year to make the event even bigger and asked that McMahon donate $4,000 in grant funding for female entrepreneurs.
The funds, said Allyson Spellman, founder of Unleash Your Voice, an organization that works to empower women, are to be used to help the women "start, fuel or expand their business."
McShane said women who applied for the grants wanted to use the funds to hire new employees, manufacture more product, develop strategic alliances or expand their infrastructure.
McMahon, who was the keynote speaker of the evening, told the audience that she never will forget where her multibillion-dollar company once started.
"I remember that company hashed out over a kitchen table," McMahon said.
When WWE was in its early stages McMahon and her husband, Vince, shared a single desk and leased a typewriter for $12 a month. That same company now has $2.3 billion in market cap, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and has more than 800 employees in offices around the world, she told the audience.
McMahon said business owners must remember to understand the culture of their business, be open-minded, to be a consumer of their own product and to hire talented people.
What's more, McMahon said, is that female business owners need to provide a support system for their peers.
"We need to advocate for each other," McMahon said. "We need to back each other."
Laura Dorr, owner of TLC Sweet Souls Rescue, a dog and puppy rescue in Newtown, agreed with McMahon, adding that there needs to be a sense of camaraderie among female entrepreneurs.
McMahon said events like those Ladies Who Launch offers is important to empower female entrepreneurs.
"Sometimes it's the little bit of help that you need, a little economic help, a little recognition, just a little pat on the back to help them moving forward," McMahon said. "Women put their whole heart and soul into what they're doing."
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