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‘Take the step forward’

Diving into Women's History Month with female entrepreneurs

Women’s History Month is observed in March every year in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, according to LiveYourDream.org.

The month recognizes the accomplishments, contributions and historical significance of women, and also encourages reflection on the progress made in gender equality despite ongoing challenges women face worldwide.

To celebrate, individuals can participate in a Women’s History Month event in their towns by sharing social posts; raising awareness; and showing support for women entrepreneurs and creators, among other ways. Women-owned businesses are on the rise, but females still represent a minority of business owners.

Kenise Anderson, CEO of Charm City Boutique in the Moorestown Mall, started out as a vendor before opening her store two years ago. Her journey has been what she described as a “fluid process” and from her perspective, running a business starts with taking a chance.

“Take the step forward, take the big jump, because in return, you’re actually going to get to this level,” Anderson noted. “I would say believe in God and trust in yourself.”

Vanessa Coleman worked at a kiosk in the mall for a year-and-a-half before she opened her store – Vixen Couture – in July of last year. The business was started by Coleman and her daughters, who also serve as brand ambassadors, according to the boutique’s site.

Coleman pointed out that opening a business doesn’t come overnight, and that it takes consistency.

“You have to be consistent with your brand,” she explained. “People shop from you because they like you, they know you and they trust you, so you have to be consistent in building your brand base to be successful.”

Although 60% of U.S. college-educated earners are women, they did not always have access to education, according to LiveYourDream.org. Social movements gradually broke down gender barriers over the decades and by 1972, Title IX guaranteed Americans freedom from sex-based discrimination in education and athletics.

Yet equal access to education remains an issue in developed countries for women of marginalized identities, women with lower socio-economic backgrounds and single moms. In several parts of the world – such as Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa – women have extremely limited access to education, sometimes none, particularly in rural areas.

Today, 77% of moms with kids under 18 also have jobs; in 1975, it was 47%. Historically, the idea of women working outside of the home was frowned upon, and most women who did so worked in traditionally female occupations such as maids and seamstresses. Today, more women not only work outside the home, but across many occupations.

Guidant Financial, a small business financing company founded in 2003 to provide funding options to small-business owners, explains in the women in business segment of its online annual “Small Business Trends” report that despite facing economic challenges, most women-owned businesses reported profitability this year, with 56% of surveyed respondents reporting positive financial outcomes.

The segment also explained that the happiness levels among women business owners reflect a predominantly positive sentiment towards their entrepreneurial pursuits, with a significant majority of 69% reporting feeling somewhat to very happy in their endeavors.

For Nicole Newton, that level of happiness always hits daily when she opens her business – Nicole Wear – in the Moorestown Mall.

“I feel like every morning when I open up that gate, it’s the same feeling, it’s the first day I ever opened it,” she remarked. “I feel like it’s just a dream; it literally is a dream … It’s a burst of energy …

“Even if it’s a day that’s slower than most, it doesn’t matter, because I’m finally working for myself.”

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