SMOKEY POINT — The WISE Women have seen more than 50 businesswomen walk through their doors since the local nonprofit organization launched in February of last year, according to co-founder Judy Bradley, of Better Your Business in Marysville, and on Wednesday, Jan. 15, the group sought to expand its scope by showcasing successful women in business from throughout the region, at the Medallion Hotel in Smokey Point.
"We've got tables for 18 different businesswomen here, but we're not here to network," Bradley said that afternoon, as dozens of other businesswomen filtered through the aisles between the tables. "We're here to empower women in business in becoming whatever it is that they need to become. We've all been there. We're normal people, just like you. But by coming together, we can share the knowledge and personal experience that we each have, to help each other out."
Bradley acknowledged the unique challenges that women face in the world of business, among them the need to find their own balances between their professional careers and their personal lives.
"Perhaps the biggest challenge that many women deal with is simply being themselves," Bradley said. "Many of us are wives and mothers, who are taking care of families, while many others are adjusting to significant changes in life, such as divorces or the loss of loved ones. We're here to help you refine yourself, not re-find yourself."
Bradley touted Dannita Schacht as one of the WISE Women's success stories, since Schacht first joined the group as a jewelry seller for Stella & Dot, and now owns her own business of Dannita Schacht Executive Services.
"I realized from being part of this group that I wasn't passionate about what I was doing, and that I needed to do what I was actually passionate about," Schacht said. "I needed to figure out what I wanted to do, and not just do what I'd always done. When I decided to start my own business, it actually wasn't scary. It was relaxing. It felt like I was doing what I was born to do, which is helping small businesses."
Schacht's range of experience has allowed her to advise her clients on areas ranging from organizing one's office to ordering supplies.
"I've got six clients now, and I'm so at ease," Schacht said. "It's felt like a natural transition, so there's been no stress. WISE has been a blessing to me."
Cindi Pedersen, an area sales director for Mary Kay, sees the WISE Women's goals as dovetailing with Mary Kay's own mission statement of enriching the lives of women.
"We're able to benefit from each other's experience because, to a certain extent, business is business," Pedersen said. "There are a lot of parallels and shared skill-sets between different businesses, and we can use those to help each other move past our stumbling blocks. Most businesswomen lack mentors, which is why, even though we have a lot of great ideas, we often don't know how to put them into practice. We're so busy juggling our duties as wives and mothers, and even caring for our own aging parents, that we're not confident in ourselves. WISE not only lets us view our own challenges in different ways, but it also allows us to interact with women who can see the best in us."
Proceeds from the WISE Women's business showcase went toward "Queen, It's a New Day," whose founder, Pastor Judy Hoff of Life Changes Ministries, explained how her own organization transforms the lives of hundreds of women each year.
"The women whom we help come from all sorts of different backgrounds, whether they're living in shelters or recovering from addictions," said Hoff, who explained that the monthly "hand-ups" provided by her group culminate in a two-day-long annual gala, which furnishes would-be working women with both professional skills and wardrobes to seek employment. "We deal with the whole woman, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially."
The WISE Women meet on the first Wednesday of every month from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Bob's Burgers & Brew at 8822 Quil Ceda Parkway in Tulalip. The next meeting is slated for Feb. 5.
For more information, log onto www.areyouawisewoman.com.