The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce hosted its Leading Waco Women Winter Summit on Thursday.
Nine panelists who own seven businesses in the community shared tips, challenges and successes of owning a business.
Three hundred people attended the event, which is part of a summit series focused on serving, empowering and mentoring women.
Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce Director of Special Events Amanda Haygood said the event aimed to empower attendees.
“Our hope is that they would walk away with some tools that can help their business more effective or their leadership,” Haygood said.
Catherine Ballas, Angela Beeler and Emily Field who own REFIT Studio opened their business to give people a fitness experience of where everybody belongs.
The group started teaching classes to instructors in 2011 and opened a small studio in Waco two years later. Last year, they opened their flagship studio on downtown Waco.
The Wacoan Magazine chose the trio as the Wacoans of the Year in 2018.
“Our dream has always been, if we can help somebody through their journey, whether that is their journey through fear, or their fitness journey or their journey from being a new mom or their weight loss journey. We want to be there for them,” Ballas said.
She encouraged future business owners to seek advice from others.
“If you can make yourself available and teachable and open to people’s opinions and feedback. If you are resourceful, that is half of the battle,” said Ballas.
Luna Juice Bar owner Summer Shine started her business in 2014 and opened a storefront in 2018, which sells juices, smoothies, salads and vegan treats.
Shine hires women who are recovering from drugs and alcohol addiction with the intent of providing them with a safe work environment.
She is proud of some of the accomplishments of her business.
"We started off taking the juice to farmers' markets and we have been able to be a mostly debt free business,” Shine said.
Ashley Futris, who owns Bolt Boutique is also proud of selling products and offering unique events in the U Parks Village shopping Center in Waco.
"Bringing something fun and new and exciting to Waco has always been the dream,” Futris said.
Futris said her personal and professional network has helped her.
"They are so happy to promote me and support me and that has been a huge success for me,” Futris said.
Business owners recognized there are some challenges women who own businesses face.
"People are looking for the male business. They are looking for who is in charge and what's his name?” Shine said.
However, she said women can be successful in the business world.
"I want them to also walk away with the sense that you don't have to choose career or parenthood or career or being a wife. You can do all those things really well as a woman,” Shine said.
That message resonated with some of those who attended the event, including Nikki Rhea.
"I feel empowered. I feel a little bit of inspiration,” Rhea said.
There will be another summit on April 4 focused on mentoring.
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