By Cinde Ingram The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) An initiative of the High Point Community Foundation, "Women In Motion" seeks to give women the knowledge, opportunity and self-determination to be economically secure.
The first Women in Motion Summit provided personal and professional advice to more than 100 women who gathered Wednesday at Colonial Country Club.
Women entrepreneurs shared experiences that led to owning their own businesses, detailed challenges they overcame and explained their pathways to success in an effort to help other women find their own paths.
"Do not compare your journey to everyone else's," said Megan Metzger Lightfoot, owner of Preferred ChildCare and Megan Metzger Consulting. "Authenticity is about staying true to what you believe, not about your image."
Lightfoot shared her experiences of struggling to identify and follow her core values while she chose to stop living up to her parents' expectations.
In addition to advising attendees to focus on values that mean the most to them, Lightfoot told them not to fear being vulnerable because it leads to building intimacy and increasing self-worth. "Learn to appreciate the things that make you special," Lightfoot said.
The four women on the entrepreneurial panel advised the audience of women who hailed from High Point, Trinity, Archdale, Thomasville, Jamestown, Asheboro, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
"It's fun to follow your dreams, but a lot of times that comes with a lot of bumps in the road," said Paula Lynam, owner of Chartreuse Barn. She and her husband started a consignment store after their children were grown and later bought a barn to offer barn sales because they wanted to be artistic about reusing things other people discard. A cancer diagnosis three weeks before an opening event was one of those bumps in the road that put things into perspective, she said.
"It's never a smooth ride," said Grace Kanoy, co-owner of GeoCore Films. She had worked in the film industry about 20 years ago then worked in marketing but yearned to return to film. "Quickly my husband and I realized we didn't want to do weddings because we had no children and I don't want to give up my weekends. What we did like doing was documentary stock, storytelling, just finding those nuggets but using it for business. Developing that business was another thing. I think the key is you have to identify first the need for that."
Women were eager to hear about accessory designer Blythe Leonard's inspirations to begin a business making custom pocketbooks and other leather goods. She worked as a designer for a large firm after earning her degree at Savannah College of Art and Design but found herself having to defend her designs, which were often simplified to use less materials or stitches.
Her great-grandfather's vacant textile mill provided a place for her to operate her own leather goods firm. She began by renovating a small section of the mill and finds inspiration from her customers.
"When you start a company, you start really small," Leonard said. "You don't realize how far you can run with it. ... You can't leap. Never take a step bigger than you stride."
Connie Cwik, president and CEO of Cwik Business Connections, offered participants strategies for a better work-life balance.