By Carol Thompson
The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.
It’s not the kind of business meeting where a woman would be asked if she can juggle family responsibilities and a career.
Nobody would ask if she plans on returning to work post-pregnancy, or scold her for arriving late after taking a child to school.
“We’re all under-rated all the time,” said Kris Rockwood, owner of Press On Juice. “It’s critical to have an environment where you can be late. You can be emotional. You can give a gift and show your love and it’s not looked upon as a weakness, but rather a strength.”
Rockwood and Shawn Burnside started Women in Business, a group that meets monthly over breakfast. Laptops and notebooks crowd coffee, quiche and toast as the small group of business owners discuss recent progress and challenges.
It’s a casual, yet organized routine that started in September 2013. The women, all moms, take turns updating the others on business progress, asking questions, giving advice and motivation.
“Women get afraid of being successful,” said Lisa Maxbauer Price, assistant editor of Grand Traverse Woman and contributor to First For Women magazine. “That’s the power of the group. We push each other forward.”
Some women have established careers, such as artist Mariah Manning, who has 20 years of experience selling commissioned artwork, and Lynn Rodenroth, who started Great Lakes Bath & Body in 2008.
“The benefit everyone experiences from it is the affirmation,” Rodenroth said. “It’s possible. (Starting a business) doesn’t have to be an isolating experience.”
Some are new to business ownership, such as Burnside, who opened Old Mission Tours last year when she was a college-educated stay-at-home mom.
“I look back at some of our early meetings, and we were all focused on a direction,” Burnside said. “It’s really cool to see where those went over the year.”