remember what the economic landscape looked like for small businesses before American Express launched Small Business Saturday on the day after Black Friday in 2010? People flocked into big-box stores and shoved billions into the pockets of retail giants each holiday session. Family-owned businesses would spend their advertising budget on Black Friday ads, banking on the fact that the beginning of the holiday shopping session would be prosperous for their stores as well. Then along came a movement designed to promote the local brick and mortar businesses that dot our downtowns and are the backbone of our communities. The now familiar stickers placed in local windows are little seeds planted into the minds of all shoppers, touting “Shop Small.” What if we were to take that same approach to helping women-owned businesses? What if we made woman entrepreneurs the focus for one day out of the year and personally supported their efforts not just with words, but financially? That’s the purpose of WO³ - Women Owned to the Third Power!
The idea to begin a movement aimed at embracing and elevating women-owned businesses, began in conjunction with launching my own business. My business is a women’s fashion accessory company named BRA-sériē, which is an innovative brand on a mission to reinvent the bra strap. Women for years have been trying to hide them, but now with BRA-sériē you can flaunt them with your stylish and fashionable interchangeable bra straps. My styles range from elegant to edgy and I like to call them “shoulder candy.” From my many conversations with groups of women ranging in ages, I found that the shoulder is the one area of the body we all tend to feel most comfortable revealing. My business launch also put me in a position to speak to many other woman entrepreneurs-engage with them at events and inside of work groups. The sentiment that is brought up frequently, is the need to actively rather than verbally boost each other’s businesses. What exactly does that mean? It means we need to gather strength in numbers and do something.
Taking action to raise awareness of women-owned businesses requires a three-step approach – Partner, Promote, Support. WO³ is a give-back movement that is set for its inaugural debut on March 28, 2020, and everyone (including men) can participate! Participation is easy and rewarding! We will execute WO³ Connect where we will ask participants to sign up online with a few bits of information, their name, city and state, and age. This way, we can compile data on who is part of the movement. Next, we will ask participants to prepare for the big day by doing a little bit of research on which woman-owned business they would like to patronize.
“THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS AND THE IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL IMPACT CAN BE SO GREAT, WE JUST NEED OTHERS TO GET INVOLVED.”
Securing an SBA loan or any sort of financing is a difficult pursuit. Acquiring funding to keep a dream alive can become limiting and challenging. Historically, women have not always been good at asking for money. However, there are studies that show once blessed with their own abundance, women become generous in giving back to their families, education, and communities. The trickle-down effect is substantial and spreads fiscal wellness much further, infusing many more than just the immediate recipient. I believe in the whole concept of “together we rise.” You help one woman; you help all women
Along with the financial benefits of this one day dedicated to concentrated efforts toward women-owned businesses, I hope to highlight the need to redefine the “girl code.” We are not doing enough to teach younger generations the fulfillment that comes with joining forces, giving back, and doing for others. Girls have become rather competitive, probably in large part due to decades of struggle to achieve equal standing and equal compensation in the workplace. This driving ambition has led to a “me first” attitude that I would like to help change in our future work force.
Through WO³, I am excited for this opportunity to lead by example, showing younger generations the fulfillment that comes when we actively partner, promote, and support our beautiful sisterhood of women. There is also some trepidation from men in this current climate, of how to interact with businesswomen. WO³ is inclusive, and bridges that divide by providing a perfect manner for men to show support and care for their female counterparts that are leading the way in their business enterprises.
“Along with the financial benefits of this one day dedicated to concentrated efforts toward women-owned businesses"
I recruited three local women entrepreneurs to help represent this movement by being the faces and examples of positive women role models. The best part was all three said yes immediately! Not only will their photos be showcased on the website, but we will also share their stories. You may be familiar with one or all of them, but you may not be aware of the passion with which they give back to their community. The three local women include Vicky Little with Sip and Scoop, Krista Mashore with Homes By Krista and Shurvone Wright with Confidence Without Regret.
This is an event for all backgrounds to come together. I encourage you to take part in this wonderful movement. If you would like to sign up to participate or want to learn more, go to www.WO3connect.com. Whether you are a lawyer, doctor, artist, hairdresser, teacher, or police officer, every industry, ethnicity, and political viewpoint can reside inside of this movement. We are going to get the word out via various podcasts I have been asked to be part of, as well as through organic word-of-mouth at events. There are so many women-owned businesses I already support year-round, but I am going to make a conscientious effort to discover and support under-served women-owned businesses that are not on my radar. As I continue to build my own brand, I look forward to watching the momentum gain for WO³, which in turn will raise awareness for other female-owned brands. Helping other women-owned businesses is the legacy I want to leave behind.
Photos By Casey Quist