Author Archive

A Deal From Hazel Lane – Exclusively for WomensNet Readers

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Last month we awarded one of our Amber Grants to the fabulous ladies over at Hazel Lane, a fun and exciting subscription box company that focuses on the flavors, people, and spirit of various cities.

The items and the city are a surprise until they arrive on your stoop, but you do get to choose the size of your box, clothing size and type of box (Ladies, Gents, Kids, so-on).

It’s a pretty sweet deal. You (or someone you really, really like) gets a treat on your doorstep every month, you can try new eco-chic products and taste some really delicious things, and you get to experience a new city every month with zero travel costs.

Even sweeter? Co-founders Ashley and Sam have generously created a discount code just for WomensNet readers. Simply enter the discount code GIRLPOWER at checkout and they’ll take $5 off your first order.

So head on over to their website, support a fantastic small business, treat yourself (or give a great gift), and save a few bucks while you’re at it!

Hazel Lane & ArtInFact Magazine Win April Amber Grants

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Last week we announced the April Amber Grant finalists and today we’re elated to announce not one, but two winners.

Big congratulations going out to both Hazel Lane and ArtInFact Magazine!

Please take a moment to check out our interviews with each winner below.

Hazel Lane
Ashley DeKellis & Samantha Strom

Hazel Lane Co Founders

Hazel Lane is a subscription box service that helps people explore the world, without having to leave home. Every month they send a carefully curated box of surprise goodies from that month’s selected city, taking great care to represent that place’s unique spirit and flavors. San Francisco’s box was foodie focused, while LA’s was sun & health. NYC will be fashion-forward, and Austin will be WEIRD!

We asked Ashley & Sam a few questions about their venture, and here’s what they had to say:

1. When spotlighting a new city each month, you must encounter many products. How do you select the items and businesses you feature?

We do find a ton of swoon worthy companies and products in every city. We work with our network, our members, friends, friend-of-friends, bloggers and anyone who wants to nominate a brand. Because we are committed to featuring locally-made, small brands that are eco-friendlier, our pool of products is automatically narrowed down. We also tend to feature a lot of female-founded businesses. Our final decision is usually when we both say “I have to have this and so-and-son would love it too.” It’s very scientific. =)

2. Do you get to go to these places and personally pick out the products yourself?

One day we will. That’s our goal! We’re lucky that we have enthusiastic supporters and members who help out in the meantime. We recently had a subscriber email and tell us she’s sending US a product she thinks we will like from a city she thinks we should feature. It’s a lot of fun to see people get so excited and engaged with the process from start-to-finish.

3. What is your favorite product you’ve found so far?

Oh this is a tough one! We really love everything we’ve put in the boxes so far. The top three are probably: Poco Dolce Chocolate and *plastique from San Francisco & Miss Marissa by Ebba from the Brooklyn box.

4. If you could visit one city in the world, right now. What would it be?
Paris, France! We have wanted to travel to Paris together since college. Ashley was a fashion major and took 4 years of French. With that knowledge under our belts, we can at least say “pardon moi, Ou se trouvé Le centre commercial Le plus proche?

Translation, Excuse me, where is the nearest shopping mall?” That’s all we really need to know, right?

5. Do you have any advice for any other moms out there looking to start their own business?
Yes, It sounds cliche because it really is…”Do what you have a passion for”. There is so much work that goes into starting a business. From web design, pricing, product selection, legalities, budget…but most of all time not spent with your family while working on the business. It’s been a struggle working on something you hope will benefit the future of your family but in turn requires a significant amount of time away from them. I’m still trying to balance work and family and honestly have a hard time finding a happy medium. Just surrounding myself with positive people, asking for help (babysitters, friends and mother-in-laws) and the overall love for my family helps keep the dream alive and flourishing.

ArtInFact Magazine
Semhar Woldeyesus


ArtInFact Magazine is content platform for entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and independent brands in New York City. It was created to provide early adopters with coverage of creative startups and micro-trends.Their chief goal is to empower independent creatives and small-scale entrepreneurs who have not been able to garner press attention, but have incredible products and services.

Here’s what Semmi had to say:

1. How well did the ladies on your team know one other before starting ArtInFact? How did you meet?

We first met each other four years ago at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. None of us are originally from New York City, so we quickly bonded. Getting adjusted here can be tough at first, especially when you don’t know anyone. But we really lucked out! We collided over a common interest in not only building our profiles as entrepreneurial, creative storytellers, but also supporting the endeavors of the people we feature. After graduating, we kept in touch. Despite working for different channels and media platforms, we continued to cheer each other on and support one another. We all had big dreams before coming to the city, and our friendship has empowered us to continue achieving them. Knowing each other is a real privilege; we are basically like family!

2. What inspired you to launch a magazine together?

We were inspired to start ArtInFact Magazine because we realized that so many entrepreneurs and creative professionals in this city could not get their stories told. In our day jobs, we kept noticing how independent brands and startups couldn’t get the same kind of coverage or attention as mainstream brands. New York is a city built and run by entrepreneurs from all different sectors. Yet the startups that get routine coverage are often tech ventures or companies that have major investment backing. We wanted to create a platform for those who don’t have a celebrity cosign, but truly care about their work and have a remarkable product. We are here to capture the independent spirit of New York.

3. Once you’re officially registered as an LLC, what will be your first plan of action?

Once we are registered as an LLC, we plan to roll out ads and take ArtInFact Mag into the real world with events, pop-up sales, and partnerships with independent brands. Although we are a content platform, one of our top priorities is to empower creative startups beyond telling their story. We are dedicated to building a community, not just an audience. Our events will also be linked to a mobile app where startups and creative professionals can register their company and get noticed!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are in the startup business in NYC looking to get in touch with you?

We are always on the hunt for new startups or ideas. If you are based in the NYC area, all you have to do is pitch us via our contact page. In your pitch, don’t be afraid to get personal. Tell us about your work and what inspired you to get started. And it doesn’t matter if you haven’t sold millions of units or are just starting out − we want to know about you! As we’ve learned in our own journey as a startup, the most important thing is to just do it. By working consistently, producing a lot of work, and putting yourself on a deadline, you will reach new heights.

5. What’s the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

To have full autonomy over the quality of work we produce and to be able to tell the stories of people we feel truly play a vital role in our communities is a great feeling. As entrepreneurs, we have put ourselves in a position to empower others. The most rewarding feeling is when a reader reaches out and tells us how a story impacted them or when an entrepreneur we’ve profiled expresses thanks. We understand how tough it is to get noticed and we are constantly in awe of underdogs. That’s who we are here for. Starting your own business involves so much risk, every story we publish is an opportunity to encourage other like-minded spirits to keep going! Failure only happens when you quit.

We’re honored to be able to help each of these fantastic businesses in a small way! Stay tuned for more inspiring applications and winner interviews, and don’t forget – the deadline for our May Amber Grant will be here before you know it!

April Amber Grant Finalists

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

April showers bring… new Amber Grant winners? Works for us!

We had another fantastic month with some truly inspiring applicants. You ladies just keep impressing us – and making it harder and harder to narrow things down.

It wasn’t easy, but we did it. Without further ado, here are April’s five finalists.

Check them out and stay tuned! We’ll announce the winner(s) within the next few days.

Amber Grant Finalists – April 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 1.17.08 PM
Whiskey & Whimsy Retreats
Kerrie Blazek

This idea makes us want to jump on a plane and head straight to Louisville. Kerrie Blazek and her team offer women an opportunity to ditch the daily grind for a luxurious, all-inclusive, one-of-a-kind girls getaway…on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

As their website explains, you can “think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience one of America’s most interesting cities, while re-igniting your innate creative fire, indulging in some delicious eats + fine whiskey, as you cozy up to like-minded sisters and hot guest speakers for some reciprocal sharing and learning – all in one gorgeous place.”

How could that not be the best weekend ever? We seriously might need to make a WomensNet trip for the next one.

CuteNCrafty Wedding Socks
Kendra Barnes

When Kendra Barnes got married last April, she made a label for her now husband’s wedding socks that read: “Just to make sure you don’t get Cold Feet, with love, from your bride” and had her Maid of Honor deliver them. It made for a great photo opportunity, put a smile on his face, and most importantly ensured that he didn’t wear a pair of his holey socks to their wedding.

When they received their wedding photos and video, she saw how the “Cold Feet” socks brought a smile to her husband’s face, and thought…”I wonder if other brides would want to buy this”. So, Kendra set up shop on Etsy and within days she was getting sales.

Since then she has sold over 2500 pairs of socks online and in three stores that carry her product across D.C. and Pennsylvania.

How great is that?

ArtInFact Magazine NYC
ArtInFact Magazine
Semhar Woldeyesus

ArtInFact Magazine is the brainchild of four full-time media professionals, all graduates of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, class of 2011. They’ve come together to create a content platform for entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and independent brands in New York City.

After realizing that mainstream media outlets typically only cover tech-centric ventures, Silicon Valley, or entrepreneurs who’ve received major investment backing, they decided to fill the gap and highlight startups and entrepreneurs that capture the independent spirit of New York City.

In case it’s not totally obvious, we’re big fans of supporting startups and entrepreneurs – so this idea really spoke to us.

Hazel Lane San Francisco Bo
Hazel Lane
Ashley DeKellis

Ashley DeKellis found a way to share her love of discovering amazing products from cities around the world with others – and she gets to do it as a stay at home mom, creating a sense of accomplishment that she, her husband and their son can be proud of.

Hazel Lane is a monthly subscription box service that helps others to explore the world, despite financial barriers and travel restrictions. Every month they send their members a carefully curated box of surprise goodies from a particular city, focusing on items that capture that destination’s spirit and signature flavors.

The boxes include healthy, sustainable and organic products from local business and arrive in 100% recycled packaging. Even better? They’re filing as a B Corp and already give 10% back to local charities in their featured cities.

Tuck Me In Bedding Retainment System
Tuck Me In – Good Night Bedding Securement System
Donna Liimatainen-Peterson

Like many of us, Donna Liimatainen-Peterson is a restless sleeper and a self-proclaimed sheet stealer. Her husband of 23 years would take extra measures to methodically tuck their sheets and blankets into his side of the bed, only to wake completely robbed of all of the bedding.

After spending 21 years as an architect (and even more years as an apologetic wife), she decided to design a solution for her unintentional sheet-stealing problem.

The Tuck Me In Good Night Bedding Retainment System utilizes an innovative lightweight cylindrical rod that easily attaches to the bottom edge of your bedsheets and blankets using coordinating fabric snap clamps, then gets inserted below the bottom edge of the mattress. If a good night sleep, fully covered, isn’t worth the $20 retail price – we’re not sure what is. Donna also sells extra long sheets and blankets to make sure you’ll never be “short sheeted” again.

Online Transparency Goes a Long Way

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Whenever we help startups with their marketing, we preach the importance of being open and honest about who they are as a company.

Who they are as a company ultimately boils down to the individual people involved in the project.

In a world where it’s easier than ever to find out exactly who you’re doing business with and what others have to say about them, transparency is no longer something that gives you an edge – it’s essential.

If you’re not willing to tell potential clients and customers exactly who you are and what you stand for, they can find someone who will. And that someone else is likely just a few clicks away.

Makes sense, right? What doesn’t make sense is that we weren’t practicing what we’ve been preaching.

We took a long hard look at our website and realized that we had some work to do in the transparency department ourselves! We sat down as a group and thought of every question that a woman interested in applying for a grant might have for us and then we answered them here in our new FAQ Page.

Then, we decided to ditch the stock photography and tell you exactly who we are by sharing the photos and bios of our advisory board members.


We hope that these efforts help to give you a better idea of who we are and what we stand for – and please, if you have any questions that we haven’t answered – let us know.

New Study Says Women Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Work With Their Husbands

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A new study published in the American Sociological Review found that women entrepreneurs who start new businesses with men are less likely to lead those businesses. Furthermore, if they co-found a business with their husband, there are even fewer chances for them to be in charge.

Previous studies have only examined the issue of gender in equality in established organizations, so researchers used a nationally representative sample of 362 mixed-sex start-up teams made up of a total of 882 entrepreneurs. Seventy percent of the mixed-set teams were husband and wife duos.

“Our explanation for more pronounced gender inequality in spousal teams is that when husband and wife work together, they carry with them the cultural expectations for the male breadwinner and the female homemaker roles into the business setting”, said Tiantian Yang from the department of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill.

The good news is, Yang and his team found that gender inequality can be reduced when people adopt organizational templates, like signing a formal operating agreement.

When a formal ownership agreement has not been signed, men are found to be 85% more likely to be in charge.

Has anyone out there co-founded a business with their husband? How’d it go? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

And while you’re at it, if you’re launching or have already launched your own business (with or without a man), apply for our April Amber Grant. This month’s deadline in coming up quick!

March Amber Grant Madness! Meet the 10 Finalists

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

March was a landmark month for us here at WomensNet! Not only did we receive a record number of Amber Grant applications, the quality of your business ideas absolutely blew us away.

In fact, we were so impressed we just couldn’t wait until the end of the month to get involved! We awarded a special mid-month grant to Rule of Pie Bakeshop owner Miranda Stapel and also funded the DBA and other various licensing costs for high school junior Sierra Elmore’s graphic design business 13 Elm Streets.

This week our WomensNet Board of Advisors is tasked with selecting the recipient of our $500 March grant.

We’ve narrowed it down to 10 finalists (which was no easy task) and we love all of these entrepreneurial ideas so much, we really wanted to share them.

Meet Our Finalists:

Game Worlds Camp
Alicia Andrew

Our camps are a place for kids ages 10-18 to learn to make their own video games and software in a fun environment. They will learn what goes into a game, how it gets made, and have the opportunity to work on their own game and software. We teach skills including programming, art, design, audio design, and business development.

Students work together in teams to bring their game idea to life. Focused on teamwork, problem solving new situations, and creative thinking, our goal is to introduce the world of software development to kids.

Shelly Bean The Sports Queen
Shelly Boyum Breen

A one of a kind children’s book series about a tough and lovable little girl who loves to play sports.
Shelly Bean the Sports Queen is a product of a new generation where being a “jock” is acceptable for girls as well as encouraged. Follow Shelly Bean and her friends as they play new sports together in each book. Parents can utilize the instructional and safety tips at the back of each book as well.

The Brooklyn Reader
Clara Zawadi Morris

Launched on December 16, 2013, The Brooklyn Reader is an online daily community news site for the fast-growing neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn, including the neighborhoods of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (soon-to-be launching in East New York, East Flatbush and Prospect Heights). The Brooklyn Reader posts 5-8 stories daily on all topics concerning Central Brooklyn, including crime incidents, fire emergencies, DOT alerts, politics, education, real estate development, new business development, arts and culture, entertainment and more!

Pig of the Month BBQ
Lea Richards

Pig of the Month BBQ sources natural ingredients from sustainable farming, and combines them with the best family BBQ recipes.

With determination to bring exceptionally delicious, high quality, home-cooked food to the entire world, Pig of the Month ships everything from succulent baby back ribs and melt-in-your-mouth smoked turkey to everybody’s favorite: thick-cut bacon.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 11.59.10 AM
Nager By Nic Hyl

Nager By Nic Hyl creates women’s swimsuits and cover-ups (for now). These swimsuits and cover-ups are unique, feminine, and sophisticated. They allow the woman to feel sexy in her skin without being too overt. Each of the pieces in the collection are lined, supportive, created with thought and made in the USA.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 12.06.41 PM
Leah Marche is a freemium social expression website for the “everyday people” who want to experience not-your-average inspirational messages. It puts a twist on celebrating special occasions, unlike Hallmark or American Greetings, by connecting loved ones through the art of performance poetry.

Animal Candle
Nina Kathleen Farley

Animal Candle aims to offer high-end soy candles with a chic, minimalist theme. Each candle fragrance represents a different at-risk species, and a portion of the profit for every candle sold will go towards wildlife conservation or animal rescue projects/organizations for the animal chosen by the consumer. The inaugural candle is a sea-breeze fragrance representing the endangered Right Whale, and a portion of proceeds will go to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Other Animal Candles include a Koala (eucalyptus peppermint) to fund a GIS-mapping project to protect habitats overlapping private land, and a Pig (fresh grass) to fund care for rescued farm animals at Farm Sanctuary.

Even better, the candle recipe has been perfected using 100% all natural, non-GMO soy wax grown in the USA without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or toxins.

Know My World
Genevieve Murphy

Know My World is a Global Education Resource organization that offers digital cross cultural exchange, collaborative projects, customized curriculum, and an innovative educational philosophy called TRACE Education. Our mission is to offer a multitude of platforms and projects for exchange and growth between various countries and cultures. These projects and exchanges provide shared teaching and learning opportunities between participants. The pivotal focus of Know My World is to promote enriching opportunities within and beyond the standard curriculum to transform the educative experience.

Knee runner injury
Smart Bionics Biosensing Ankle Brace
Emily Seyfort

Designed by undergraduate students for a class project, this wearable strain measuring ankle brace was initially created for athletes (basketball players, soccer players, etc…) so that coaches can monitor the stress levels on the ATFL ligament through a phone app, in order to prevent ankle injuries.

After receiving positive feedback, they now hope to expand the functionality and use this ankle brace for rehabilitation purposes after injuries, in order to test whether a person is fit to start walking without the brace.

Tech urSelf
Belinda Liu

Modern lifestyles risk separating us from the simple practices that have made us happy and healthy since ancient times. Positive practices are losing favor to the distractions of being constantly connected in the digital age.

Tech urSelf helps people see their lives in a new light – transforming everyday struggles into an opportunity for growth. We use technology purposefully to support people to make positive changes and build new life practices in order to cultivate their core values, personal wellness and the well-being of their community.

The first tool we created is urWell, an iPhone app that encourages individuals to stop, notice, and live with greater intention. Our next step is to apply what we have learned from piloting urWell and work with our partners (a team of psychologists, social scientists, and leadership coaches) to create a series of values-based, team building challenges hosted on a centralized web platform aimed at cultivating more compassionate and mission-driven workplaces.

WNN Blog Get application & business ideas on the WomensNet blog »

What people are saying about WomensNet


“You have to be in it to win it...seize the opportunity and apply.”

Nerd Wallet

“The Foundation awards $10,000 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $25,000.”


“Launched 20 years ago this grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal.”


“The Amber Grant Foundation was launched in 1998 to honor the memory of a young woman. The grant was formed to help women entrepreneurs reach their goals when Amber could not.”