Author Archive

June 2021 Amber Grant Finalists

Sunday, July 11th, 2021

We’re delighted to share with you 5 finalists for the $10,000 June Amber Grant.

The June recipient will become the seventh qualifier for our 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000). We’ll announce the business selected to receive the $10,000 grant by the 22nd of this month. Remember, each of the runners-up will earn $1,000 in grant funds.

Note: The $10,000 Amber Grant continues to run monthly in 2021. If you’d like to apply in support of your women-owned business, you can fill out an application. In July, an additional grant of $5,000 will be awarded to a women-owned business in the Animal Services industry.

Shortly, we’ll announce the June, business-specific grant award recipient (Business Support Service, $5,000).

Finally, a big congratulations to the following 5 Amber Grant finalists for last month:

Language Learning Market



Rainbow Secure



Revival Direct Primary Care



Terrae Packaging



The Shanwich Shop

(Website not yet available)

May 2021 Amber Grant Awarded to The Sweetberry Company

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce the $10,000 May Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Tiye Harris, Founder of The Sweetberry Company.

Tiye is the sixth qualifier for the 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).

Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Tiye for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.

WomensNet: Welcome everyone to a chat with our latest WomensNet winner of the Amber Grant. Today, we’re speaking with Tiye Harris of The Sweetberry Company, formerly Sweetberry Books. And she is our Amber Grant winner for May, 2021.

I’m Marcia Layton Turner. And I’m just one of the members of the WomensNet Advisory Board. So Tiye, welcome. So glad that you’re able to chat with us. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about your business. Why did you start it? What do you sell?

Tiye: Sure, absolutely. Well first thank you, Marcia, for being a part of a group that has afforded women like myself to have the opportunity to be a recipient of the Amber Grant. So thank you so much. So excited to be a May recipient of the Amber Grant.

The Sweetberry Company really got started from one eventful exchange from one of my very young students. So about 13 years ago, I left a career in pharmaceutical sales to join the Teach for America Corps. It was kind of a passion of mine to teach inner city youth. So it was my first class with Teach for America — a kindergarten class in Philadelphia — and we were having a lesson where the kids had to draw what they wanted to be.

And we were going to make a comic book of what we’re going to be when we grow up. And half of the students were having trouble thinking about what they want it to be. And the other half got really busy drawing athletes, entertainers… but the other half — it wasn’t that they were spoiled for choice. It was almost as if they didn’t know what they could be. So in the drawings that had already been drawn, I noticed that no careers like teacher, police officer, a fireman, a doctor, had been drawn. So I said, ‘Hey guys, who wants to be a doctor,’? And before the students could even answer, one of my little, most bubbly students — his name is Celine — he laughed and he said

“Mrs. Harris, we can’t be doctors, were black.” And it stopped me in my tracks. And the whole class started laughing. Now this is a class of five and six year olds, and it was inner city Philly, a 100% black and about 90% low income. And I don’t say that to say that this demographic doesn’t think they can become anything; not at all. But later, statistics will show when I start The Sweetberry company, exactly why that was very important. But it just blew me away that that was the thought. And of course, while I was with those students, we did so much around black history and lessons where we can integrate that in. And I started to think, how can I help change the narrative? Because at the end of the day, you can’t be what you don’t see and you can’t achieve what you don’t believe.

And the thing was, you just need exposure. And it starting so young. This was years ago when this first started. So I thought about it over the course of years, of course, and decided that my contribution would be to use some of my creativity skills, my teaching skills, to start with the books. There have been studies that show that children are more susceptible to like reading if they see characters that look that like them, or if they see characters that have a community like theirs. But aside from that, there was a study that showed that nearly 60% of low income homes have no books in their home for the kids.

As I was teaching, I found that there were little, if any books, that my students could see themselves represented in. And I was an early elementary school teacher. So we’re talking kindergarten to third or fourth grade. And there were hardly any books where the students could see themselves. And also in these communities, in this community, there’s usually one book per 300 students. This is statistically speaking. Now this was in 2014 and we hope these demographics and these statistics have changed. But nonetheless this really fueled me to want to do something different, to help shape the narrative. So the first book was, Look What Brown Can Do, for Sweetberry Books. It is like a little kid version of a black history book. It’s made for little eyes and little fingers. It’s illustrated, it’s written in ways they can read it and understand.

And we’re not just talking about black history champions that we all kind of know about. Many of them we don’t know about. And it just caused Sweetberry Books (now The Sweetberry Company) to blossom to more books. We now have products that have characters on them because the point is, you know, “representation matters” is so much more than a hashtag. And we want every child to be able to see themselves as a hero and as a main character. And while these books are perfect for any household, it means so much to me that I’m able to put them in hands of kids that look like me and look like I did. I didn’t have that when I was a kid either.

WomensNet: That’s awesome. And what are the other two titles that you have in front of you?

Tiye: In front of us, I have Kayleigh Bailey. We often see books that have black characters and they are centered around either black culture — our hair, maybe black history — but I wanted there to be a book series where it’s just a character doing little kid stuff. So this is just Kayleigh. She’s just Kayleigh. She tends to take things very, very literally. So this is called Scaredy Cat, and she thinks when she gets scared, she turns into a cat. So it’s pretty cute. And this book here, it’s a coloring book, and it was birthed in our quarantine. Beautiful, beautiful illustrations using quotes from black champions. Just a beautiful, beautiful book, and we have others and other products on the website as well.

WomensNet: Obviously, you’ve been very successful so far. What do you think has been your secret? What’s gotten you to this point?

Tiye: This is something that I’m extremely passionate about. And when you are starting a business, businesses have challenges. They have major challenges and minor challenges, but what really keeps me going is receiving feedback. I get videos all the time, messages all the time. Just the reviews and the pictures and the videos, is so much bigger than me, that it really has helped on the days you kind of think, ‘do I have anything left in me?’

But when you get a mother to write you and say, ‘my child now wants to be an electrical engineer with a focus on cellular technology,’ ….and they’re eight? That means so much. And you get grown up saying, ‘I didn’t know, I could sing opera.’ I wanted to, when I was a kid, but I didn’t know this was here. I didn’t know this world existed. So those are the types of things that say to me, ‘you’re doing a good job and keep going.’ And that to me is more success than anything.

WomensNet: So take me back. How did you hear about the Amber Grant and what made you decide to apply?

Tiye: The Amber Grant stuck out in a huge way because not only was this centered around women in businesses, but I saw an array of women. I went on the website and I saw that this grant had been given to so many different businesses, doing so many amazing things. And also women of all walks and cultures in life. And that just stuck out to me. I was so grateful to even be able to apply, and now to be a winner, is amazing. Thank you.

WomensNet: Now that you’ve won $10,000 to grow the company, what are some of the first investments that you think you’ll make?

Tiye: So The Sweetberry company has been afforded some pretty great opportunities that haven’t been able to scale as well as I would like due to inventory. Typically, I just keep around 200, 100, books of each copy. And from a publisher’s perspective, that’s a very low amount of inventory. So when I get opportunities to perhaps, put a book in the Smithsonian National African-American Museum or other African-American museums, whether it be one in North Carolina or LA, they’re asking for such large amounts and on a monthly basis. They might say ‘Hey, we need this. This is wonderful. We want to place you here. This is great. We’ll take 550 copies or 1200.’ And so at that point, it’s a matter of timing. It’s a matter of cost.

With the Amber Grant, one of the first things that will happen are getting those numbers, those inventories up right away, so that I can fulfill those orders as well as sell on my own. Once this happens again, go to trade shows and pop-up shops, and be able to interact more with my merchandise. Aside from that, we have some pretty great things in the pipeline for stories, expanding the line for older kids, middle grade(s). One of them I’m really, really excited about, is going to feature black children and children of color with disabilities. And that’s going to take a very different kind of illustrator, because it’s comic book form. And illustrators are costly, as they should be — it takes a lot of expertise. So the Amber Grant is going to help us propel those projects forward.

WomensNet: You gave us a little bit of a taste of what’s to come next, and that was going to be my next question. What are your future plans? So beyond, say, the next six months to a year, what do you see for The Sweetberry Company.

Tiye: We’ve got so many great plans. I’m so excited. So we have planned to partner with charter schools and large organizations that service minority urban low income youth. And typically we do see a lot of children of color there. So, like I said, charter schools like Boys and Girls Club YMCA, and we are planning to start something — tentatively called The Sweetberry Book Club. The purpose of it is to get booklets and magazine type books into the hands of these kids so that they can take something home; something that’s encouraging, something that they can have and keep for themselves. It wouldn’t be a charge, because it’s a partnership with these different entities. But it really means a lot to be able to give a child something that’s going to inspire them and encourage them to look towards the future and show them what they can do.

I’m really excited about that. In addition, probably early next year, I’m currently working on a specialty coloring book that is going to specifically be for jails and prisons for activity time for visiting day. A lot of times kids like this kind of get overlooked, and I’m passionate about that. I don’t want anyone to be overlooked. They’ll still be aligned with our goal to make sure that every child is represented and they get to see themselves as a main character. Those are two of the major things that are coming down the pipeline, in addition to some more books.

WomensNet: Do you have any advice? So many of the women in our community are getting started, trying to find their way to get to where you are. So do you have any advice for them? Anything you’ve learned along the way that might help them?

Tiye: My biggest advice would be to honor your journey. Because sometimes, especially women, we look at everything we have to do. We’re moms, we’re not moms, we’re aunts, we’re working or taking care of responsibilities. We might be caring for other people. And so we keep a lot on our shoulders and we think ‘I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be doing this. I should be this already.’ And it doesn’t help. Sometimes on social media, we see other people with some measure of success that we think we should have maybe gotten there already, but it really is a journey. And so sometimes we have to honor that journey and celebrate what we’ve already done. And that would be my biggest piece of advice.

We hear a lot of stories about how you just got to grind, grind, grind, grind. And sometimes that can feel pretty stressful, especially when you’re building a business. So honor the journey. You don’t have to be anywhere. You’re not right now. You’re in the best place; keep building and celebrate today.

Women Business Owners, Do You Need Business Insurance?

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

In a word, yes. You need insurance of some type to keep your company up-and-running long-term. Insurance is a tool to help mitigate some of the risks associated with running a business and having employees, both of which open you up to liability.

“If you have a business and hope to survive, you’ll want to protect against losses like property damage and liability claims against your business, says Fran Majidi of SmartFinancial Insurance. “Otherwise, you may have to pay for losses out of pocket or have no assistance if your business becomes inoperable.” 

Majidi points out that states each have their own specific laws and requirements regarding business insurance that you’ll want to check. However, in most states, workers compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance are required of employers.

Workers’ Comp Insurance

“Workers’ compensation will cover the costs associated with job-related injuries and illnesses,” explains Majidi. “When your employees experience work-related injuries, the company will be spared from paying their medical expenses because the insurance will cover, if not all, most of it,” says Nick Schrader, an insurance agent with Texas General Insurance.

Unemployment Insurance

Employers are often required to carry unemployment insurance, which helps support workers who lose their jobs “for reasons beyond their control,” Majidi says.

Liability Insurance

“It doesn’t matter what type of business you own; liability insurance can protect you from any customer accidents in your store. Liability insurance can help provide coverage from bodily injury or property damage,” explains Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of altLINE Sobanco, a business advisory firm.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Another type to consider is commercial umbrella insurance, which “is an added insurance that extends coverage. If you live in a place prone to break-ins or property damage, umbrella insurance is worth its weight in gold,” Pendergast says.

Property Insurance

If your company has a physical presence that employees and/or customers visit, you’ll want to consider liability insurance and property insurance. “You wouldn’t want to throw away your hard-earning money by not making your establishment, tools, and equipment insured,” says Schrader. “Having property insurance ensures that whatever unfortunate events may happen in your establishment, everything will not be wasted because you can file a claim for it.” Meaning, you can be reimbursed for your losses.

Data Breach Insurance

With the exponential rise in computer hackers stealing business data, or holding it hostage, data breach insurance may be something to consider, especially if a large portion of your intellectual property or assets reside online. Pendergast explains that “any costs you must pay when data is stolen can come from data breach insurance.”

Key Man Insurance

Lyle Deitch, an insurance professional and CEO of Parachute360, says, “I always recommend that small business owners have key man insurance….[it] can be invaluable in buying your business, investors and family the time it needs to sort out the business, so that it can continue operations.”

Business Interruption

“Business interruption insurance, or BII, can be bought separately from a BOP policy, but it’ll cost more,” Majidi explains. “BII isn’t just lost income insurance, either. In the event of a covered catastrophe, BII may help pay mortgages and leases, taxes, relocation costs (this is especially important if this determines whether or not a business can get back on track), payroll costs and more.”

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

“Most small businesses would do well to purchase a small business owner’s policy (BOP), which combines business property, business liability and business income in one affordable policy,” says Majidi. “With this policy, your business would be covered if there were damages done to the building, equipment, furniture, documents, and all other contents. You’d also be covered if your business operations came to a halt due to a covered catastrophe,” she says.

“Often, the difference between a business that overcomes a disaster and one that shuts down is the right business insurance policy,” says Majidi.

Heather Burns of Hutcheson Reynolds & Caswell Insurance in Ontario, Canada, points out that business insurance can help protect all the assets associated with a business and can help “absorb the financial burden of a loss to their business.”

Big picture, she says, business insurance “is designed to give all business owners peace of mind knowing their investment is protected.”

May 2021 Amber Grant Finalists

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

We’re delighted to share with you 5 finalists for the $10,000 May Amber Grant.

The May recipient will become the sixth qualifier for our 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000). We’ll announce the business selected to receive the $10,000 grant by the 25th of this month. Remember, each of the runners-up will earn $1,000 in grant funds.

Note: The $10,000 Amber Grant will continue to run monthly in 2021. If you’d like to apply in support of your women-owned business, you can fill out an application. In June, an additional grant of $5,000 will be awarded to a women-owned business in the Business Support Service industry.

Shortly, we’ll announce the May, business-specific grant award recipient (Mental & Emotional Support, $5,000).

Finally, a big congratulations to the following 5 Amber Grant finalists for May, 2021:




La Vie en Code



Roe Lashay Yoga/Girl Stance



Rozanna’s Violins



The Sweetberry Company


April 2021 Amber Grant Awarded to Suite Creative Studio

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce the $10,000 April Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Jessica Owusu-Afriyie, Founder of Suite Creative Studio. SCS provides fashion design, development and production services to bring clients’ ideas to market.

Jessica is the fifth qualifier for the 2021 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).

Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Jessica for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.

WomensNet: Welcome everyone to a chat with our latest WomensNet winner of the Amber Grant. Today, we’re speaking with Jessica Owusu-Afriyie of Suite Creative Studio, who’s the Amber Grant winner for April, 2021. I’m Marcia Layton Turner. And I’m one of the members of the WomensNet Advisory Board.

So, Jessica, welcome. Let’s start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your business, beginning with why you started it.

Jessica: Just to start, I do want to say thank you again for this opportunity. It’s so amazing. I just really appreciate this grant and what it can do for my business.

I started my business about four years ago after I had spent over a decade in the fashion industry. I had worked my way up from design assistant to design director for a private label and branded licensing company. I found myself out of work with a young child. I was looking for what was my next step and what was my next move. I did a lot of interviewing and really at the end of the day what I decided to do was follow my passion in the [fashion] industry.

I love working in design, but I was really being called and pushed to working with more sustainable brands. More ethically focused brands. The industry can get kind of a bad rap sometimes with the amount of waste that is produced. I wanted to have a little bit more power to choose who I was working with, so that I could be proud of the brands that I worked with and the product that I ultimately created. So I started Suite Creative Studio as a resource for other brands to work with us on a design and development basis. We work with our clients on product-based services — everything from creative design to market-ready product, and everything in between.

So there are many steps that go from having the idea for a product to having that product in hand and ready to sell to your consumer. And we help with all of those steps. Our team is very experienced and well-versed in creative design, technical design, sourcing materials, sourcing manufacturers; negotiating and communicating with the manufacturers on our client’s behalf as well.

We focus on a few categories. Namely intimate apparel [which is] one of our niche categories. Swimwear and active wear. Those are our three biggest categories. We also work with ready-to-wear, which is our everyday clothing, and some accessories as well. As a company initiative, sustainability is really important to us. It is definitely the way of the world; it’s the way the industry needs to go. So that is something that we work to implement within our clients brand development, wherever we can, regardless of whether or not the brand is specifically looking to be a sustainable brand.

WomensNet: I’m picturing the process. So let’s say I’m a big name swimwear company, and I know that we want to create a new line and we’re looking for support. So I can come to Suite Creative Studio and ask for help developing something totally new, right? And you can guide me in sustainable options, if, if my goal is to become more sustainable.

Jessica: Absolutely. We work with companies and clients of all sizes. We work with clients that are established, and have their own maybe internal teams, but are looking for an outside resource or as a private label option for maybe a new category.

Or maybe like you said, to incorporate sustainability if they are not already doing it in house. Even the largest brands out there typically will have some level of external resources for design and development in addition to their in-house resources and their in-house teams.

And then all the way down to pre-launch businesses as well. We work with clients that haven’t even gone to market yet. Maybe they just have an idea of the product they want to create, and they may not have the technical design background. They may not have the creative design background to refine their design to make it something that is marketable and viable. So we work with people across the map, as far as stages of either development or brand growth.

WomensNet: I’m so interested in this topic because we hear so much about the H and M and the fast fashion and how terrible it is for the environment. Do you see rising demand for more sustainable options, sort of as a backlash against this fast fashion?

Jessica: Yes, absolutely. The sustainable fashion category has been something that’s been growing for a long time. So there’s a lot of talk about it right now, but it didn’t start two years ago or five years ago. It started honestly decades ago, but it’s been building steam. And for sure, the last 10 years there’s been some gasoline on that fire and people are really starting to pay attention — from the consumer level, as well as from the manufacturer level. And that’s one of the most important aspects because we have to show that it’s something that’s wanted. And then we have to put the responsibility on the manufacturers in order to choose better options.

So use less toxic chemicals or non-toxic chemicals. In the dye process, can we use less water? Can we use organic materials or recycled materials? The consumer can’t get that until the manufacturer also makes that commitment and offers those options. So there’s a lot of innovative and more forward thinking manufacturers and vendors out there of materials and trims, that have been working on these initiatives for a long time. We’re getting to the place where demand and possibility is starting to come true. We’re able to really start buying into more sustainable options, whether it be a less toxic option or a more natural option. People are doing amazing things with with recycling, for sure.

[Also] working with new natural fibers or working with natural fibers in a new way. Also looking to eliminate animal products in the process as well. There are amazing companies out there that are working with vegan leathers that are not the 20 years ago, polyurethane leather that is vegan, but it wasn’t the better option. Now, it’s becoming the better option. So it’s being made out of cactus or mushroom, or coconut leaf — all these interesting, amazing things. Being experts in the industry, we’ve had our finger on the pulse of this movement for 15 years, and we’re able to kind of help brands and support them into knowing that these options are out there, and then finding them, and cultivating them over the course in the life of a brand.

And so the demand is definitely there. I think the consumer is very used to fast fashion. We’ve gotten very used to it and the price point specifically. So that’s a hurdle because I think most consumers want a more sustainable option — but they want it to be the same price. So that’s where the industry is now trying to work on making that happen, and eventually it will 100% will happen. But we are inching our way there.

WomensNet: This sounds like an exciting time to be in the industry when all this change is happening.

Jessica: It sure is. It’s definitely a fun industry in general. It’s very grueling. It’s very challenging, but it is very fun. It’s very rewarding. There’s so much change. There’s definitely a major shift in the industry right now. Also a shift towards kind of disruptor startup brands. There’s a major opportunity for startup brands to kind of enter and do something new and put their spin on it and really make a big difference.

WomensNet: What do you think has been the secret to your success so far?

Jessica: Starting my company was really just to feel great about what I do. Admittedly, sometimes in this industry, you don’t. Because of either the product that’s being made, or the conditions that it’s either coming from or creating. I just really wanted to actively make a different choice within my career. And I felt that it had to be possible, to still be in this industry, but feel really good about what I’m doing. I love the people that I work with. And so that’s something that I live with every single day. The clients that we work with are amazing.

I have created friendships with my clients as well. Ultimately, I really want to see them succeed and to build these great businesses for themselves and their legacy. Something that can really change the market and also just change our idea of what’s possible. And to know that there are ways to do things. There are other ways to do things and what we see being done. So I think just trying to stay true to my passion and my belief in working with great people and wanting to leave a positive impact from what I do.

WomensNet: What made you decide to apply for an Amber Grant? Did you have a particular need that you were trying to meet?

Jessica: Yes. Our business has been growing. We’ve been lucky for sure to have come out of a really tough year in a good place. We’re basically looking to expand our reach to work with even more companies. 85% of our clients are women-owned businesses. We really want to focus on cultivating these women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, to be able to see more inclusion and more representation in this industry — in an impactful way.

In order to do that, we really need to grow our team as well. So the reason why I applied was really to help facilitate in that. With any company growth, there’s a cost to growth for sure. Building our team and what is involved, as far as purchasing computers, purchasing additional software — those are the types of things that we really need to build out. It is a big upfront cost. But for our company, it’s important and necessary right now.

WomensNet: So it sounds like the $10,000 will allow you to start adding to your team immediately?

Jessica: Absolutely. We have somebody starting in two weeks, which I am very excited about. I am looking to stretch this as far as it can go. Sourcing the things that we need — computers and things like that — that are either second hand or refurbished or whatever, so that we can really leverage this opportunity for growth.

WomensNet: Looking ahead, even farther into the future, what are some future plans that you may have for the company. Two years ahead or five years ahead?

Jessica: Sustainability is a major initiative going forward. So working to be more and more sustainable, I plan to start working with 3d prototyping. That is basically something that can cut out a stack or two of sample making, which can save materials [from being] wasted. It can even lower your carbon footprint from shipping and transit and things like that. And also help with expediting lead times for the sample and development process. It’s an exciting new direction that the industry is going in and starting to implement more and more. The software is quite costly, but that’s something that we’re working towards and working to develop and get into in the next couple of years.

We’re also looking to eventually start a scholarship program. It’s something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. Because starting a business in general — and an apparel brand specifically —  is a big undertaking and it can be very costly. Sometimes that is a barrier of entry that does not allow for everyone to take that risk, even if they have what it takes.

I would really love to build in a scholarship program to bring on, maybe a couple of brands per year, and get them to market and aid in their growth. So we would be focusing, again, still on the women and minority communities to bring their ideas to life and be able to pay forward the opportunities that we’ve been given as well.

WomensNet: Do you have any advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs, anything you’ve learned along the way that you think might be useful or helpful?

Jessica: We all know business is challenging. It can be scary. And we have our ups and we have our downs. But when it comes to business, you’re never going to be as up or as down as you are forever. It’s not permanent. Things come in waves. We have peaks, we have valleys. I think it’s most important to really enjoy the ups, but also prepare for the downs because they will come.

But if you are prepared for it and resilient, you’ll get through it and you will live to see another day in business. In the thick of things, sometimes when we’re working on things so closely, it’s really hard to see what we’re accomplishing or what we’re even getting through. And sometimes you just need a little bit of space to look back and then appreciate what you’ve achieved or what you’ve overcome.

How Pivoting Your Business Model Can be a Win

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

More than 4 in 10 women business owners had to pivot their business model to maintain revenue during the pandemic, according to American Express’ Entrepreneurial Spirit Trendex, conducted in 2020. 68 percent expected they would have to again in 2021.

By pivot, we mean fundamentally changing the company’s business model in order to react to market shifts or in response to changing internal dynamics. For some businesses, the pivot was temporary, such as Anheuser-Busch and Diageo, makers of liquors and beers, which switched from making spirits to hand sanitizer as the pandemic surged. Restaurants pivoted to carry out and delivery-only as states shut down in-person dining, and retailers pushed curbside pickup as an option for shoppers to get what they needed quickly, without having to step foot inside the store.

Some businesses pivoted on a dime from one type of business to a completely different one, while others evolved over time. More are still in the process of responding to continued market shifts.

A few of those savvy female business owners who successfully pivoted include:

In-person to virtual workshops. Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, which provides digital marketing training, says that, “prior to the pandemic, most of our business was generated from in-person workshops. We had to quickly pivot to provide virtual workshops instead.”

Although clients initially viewed virtual workshops as “a necessary evil,” Neher says, her team spent months “testing, optimizing, and perfecting our virtual workshops and they now out-score even our in-person trainings!”

Now that “clients have seen that it can be effective,” Neher anticipates that 50 percent of the firm’s revenue will continue to be in virtual training.

Similarly, Laura Sinclair ran a brick-and-mortar gym pre-COVID. However, in November 2020, following the birth of her son, Sinclair quickly transitioned to providing pre- and postnatal coaching—her specialty—online, at Blueprint Fitness.

“We had come to terms with the reality that our gym business would continue to be impacted and the demands of being a new mom and running a brick-and-mortar during COVID would not be realistic for me,” she explains. “To date, I have been able to replace much of the income I’d paid myself from my gym by pivoting my business online.”

Shifting service offerings. Sarah Schaer, founder and CEO of Kango, which provided transportation services for children, says, “When the pandemic hit, the need for Kango’s main services vanished immediately.” Children didn’t need safe rides to school, activities, and appointments during a pandemic lockdown.

Recognizing the need to pivot but unsure initially what that meant, Schaer distributed a survey to customers “to find out how their needs had changed.” She discovered that “the solution was contactless food and grocery delivery, and the introduction of tutoring services for kids struggling to learn in virtual classrooms.”

By expanding her company’s services to provide a wide array of offerings, she tapped into new revenue generating opportunities.

Melissa Tong, founder and CCO of Duck Punk, took a similar tack. Her business pre-COVID was video marketing, with a primary focus on TV commercials for Fortune 500 companies, including Nissan and Verizon, she says. However, when the industry shut down, Tong switched gears away from video, specifically, to storytelling. “Offering storytelling services to companies that want to brand and market through storytelling,” Tong explains.

Already, clients are achieving big wins. “One of my clients quadrupled their sales in just three months,” she says.

From product to service. Nechami Tenenbaum, CEO of Karmela Cosmetics, shifted from selling her high performance, natural lipstick line to providing marketing and image consulting services, “to guide women on actualizing their ideal self-image and up-level their business, for greater business and personal success.”

Instead of relying solely on product sales, Tenenbaum looked at the reason behind those purchases and discovered many clients wanted more guidance regarding their personal image.

Make needed changes. Leslie Polizzotto, co-founder of The Doughnut Project, a handcrafted doughnut shop in NYC, had two locations, 24 employees, and a business partner pre-pandemic. The company was not profitable, she reports. However, since the pandemic, the business partner exited the company, Polizzotto shrunk her employee count down to three, and the business is now profitable.

The difference? Polizzotto is now able to pay her staff well and includes them in creative decisions, sharing financial results regularly. “This has led them to be motivated to help my business excel,” she says. Weekly collaborations with local and national brands as part of the company’s Weekend Specials has also led to lines down the block and “the shop sells out daily,” she reports.

Even as vaccinations increase and hospitalizations continue to decline, it’s possible we may not ever revert to life as it was a couple of years ago. Some market shifts will become permanent, while others may continue to evolve over time. Companies that can be agile and able to respond to those shifting demands will come out on top.

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