Thank you so much for being part of WYNTK blog series!
I have had the pleasure of being part of your amazing community and have always believed networking is so powerful as an entrepreneur...
Before we jump in to all the wonderful support you provide, could you firstly share little about yourself, your business and how you got to this point?
Hi! I’m Lisa & I’m the Founder, Chief Motivator, and Big Idea Generator of We Are Women Owned - your go-to platform for discovering, shopping & supporting women-owned small businesses! After a decade working in the retail industry as a boutique manager & buyer, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey and launched an online women’s apparel boutique in 2016.
While there was so much I had learned from my time working in the retail industry, there was so much I had yet to learn and didn’t know who exactly to turn to for knowledge & support. I found myself feeling lonely, isolated, longing for connection with women entrepreneurs who understood the highs & lows of running a small business and also wishing there were more opportunities for brands like mine to showcase our products in a physical setting.
The desire for sisterhood paired with the desire to participate in IRL events is what led me to create We Are Women Owned. Also, believe it or not even just 4 short years ago, women founders & small business owners weren’t promoting the fact that their businesses were women-owned like they are today. I wanted more women standing in their power, owning & celebrating what an accomplishment it truly is being a woman & having the strength, courage, passion and perseverance to build something of our own in a world that for far too long did not encourage us or even allow us the opportunity to do so.
In 2017, I organised & hosted a small pop-up shopping event with 4 other women-owned small businesses I love and two months later we quickly grew to 17 participating brands and it truly snowballed from there. Pre-pandemic, we’d organised 15 in-person events primarily taking place in the SoHo district of NYC. Through our onboarding process we encouraged the founders who were participating in our events to foster relationships with one another. In turn, many of the businesses we’ve had the pleasure of working with through our pop-up events have gone on to collaborate with one another in various ways from joining forces to create a limited edition collection, hosting giveaways, putting together their own events, hiring one another for their services, purchasing one another products wholesale & more!
Tell us why you think being part of a community is so important to an independent business?
I truly believe that we have the ability to accomplish so much more together than by going it completely solo! The opportunity is there to get to where you’d like to be faster by connecting with women who have already undergone the experience you may currently be going through, it is extremely helpful and important to have a sounding board when making decisions big & small, the more you engage within a community the more potential there is for fellow members to really get to know you and advocate for the products & services you provide when talking to their friends, family, customers, clients & audiences and while I can keep on going, it’s overall super impactful to be surrounded by women who understand the wins & challenges of running a business independently. Knowing you are not alone in your feelings and experience can be very powerful and even healing. It can give you the strength, wisdom and perseverance to keep going when times get tough.
You don’t just support people networking - you also provided so much training and education as part of WAWO - why is that? Why is it important to you that your community also educates its members?
Yes! Like I mentioned earlier, while there was so much knowledge I’d gained throughout my career working for others within the retail industry, there was also so much I didn’t know when starting my very own eComm shop. I also understand firsthand the investment it can take to get a business running. Although I quickly recognised how transformational connecting with the right people can be within one’s business and even personal life, education is also a key component in building a thriving business. As solopreneurs or those who are working in small teams, we wear so many if not all the hats. When dreaming up the We Are Women Owned Sisterhood Membership Community, it was important to me that we create resources and organise workshops that were accessible, digestible and as easily actionable as possible with keeping who are community members in mind. While our primary focus is on brand and founder visibility through digital marketing, we’ve built a well-rounded content library to include topics like money & finance, mindset & intuition, press, productivity & goal setting, hiring & growth strategy, etc, with more to come!
What would you suggest to a business owner who is looking to join a networking community? How do they know which is right for them?
I would suggest getting super clear on your business goals and what you are hoping to gain from being a part of a community.
A few things to consider when looking for the right community is to find out who the community supports and if it matches up with the stage you are currently in within your business and if you feel the community can support you with where you hope to go.
I’d also consider how much time you are realistically able to dedicate to engaging in and with the community, as well as time dedicated to attend calls and workshops. I’m of the mindset that the more time & energy you invest into a community, the more you’ll get out of it!
I’m very big on energy & values, so do your research to find out if your energy & values pair well with the person who is leading and hosting the community as well as it’s members.
Physical Retail is opening back up with the UK - along with so many other great pop up meetings - are you looking forward to returning to “in real life” meetings?
While I am so happy to see physical retail opening back up and I’m all for it while following proper guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety, I’m really excited about what we have planned for We Are Women Owned and all that we are building within the digital space. Going entirely virtual has allowed us to connect with & support women beyond the New York area, which has been such a gift to WAWO and to our community. It’s allowed us to be of greater support to so many more incredible women and has brought so many of us together in business altering ways!
I look forward to the day where we’re back to organising & hosting in-person events, but for right now, I feel confident that we are exactly where we need to be!
What can independent businesses owners expect from WAWO?
A whole lot of love, support & good vibes all around from a community of women who truly understand & celebrate you exactly as you are and where you are, but also throughout your evolution! Myself, team WAWO and our community members all know what it’s like and how much it can take to run a small business and because of this we aim to be of the best support we can possibly be to the independent business owners we have the honour of working with. We’re all about doing things & growing as a collective, which is infused into everything we do & all that we offer.
You are not a lady to sit still - so what else can we except to see from you and WAWO in the future?
I’m so excited to share that we’re launching the first official We Are Women Owned Small Business Directory in the weeks to come. We’re on a mission to create one of the greatest directories out there in a way that is exciting and engaging for those who are interested in discovering & supporting women-owned while also helping increase visibility and brand awareness for the small businesses featured in the directory! We also have something fun planned for next year that we’re creating to shine light on brick & mortar businesses, so definitely stay tuned for that!
Finally, what is the best way people can get in touch with you to learn more.
You can find us at WeAreWomenOwned.com, @wearewomenowned on Instagram and if you’d like to connect with me personally, feel free to email me at email@example.com or DM me on Instagram via @lisanicolerosado!