Women Entrepreneurs Help-Lead-Greenville’s Can-Do Spirit

Travis Hairgrove The Herald Banner, Greenville, Texas

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Travis Hairgrove reports, "The Census found that female-owned businesses continued to grow [over the past 5 years] but were still far behind those owned by men. However, there were areas where women were making inroads, including in health care or the healthy living segment — women own nearly 20% of those businesses nationwide."

Greenville

The number of women-owned businesses in the country has increased by about 21% over the last five years, according to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau.

While encouraging, the early months of COVID-19 restrictions disproportionately affected women in the work force, as many had to stay home to help their children with virtual schooling.

"Something we always believe is that there's always a solution, and we keep a can-do attitude no matter what," Naomi Swanson, co-owner of Fit City Nutrition told the Herald-Banner. "Back when we had to do curbside service, there was one day when we decided to have fun with it and served teas in those silly, inflatable dinosaur costumes.

"Doing things like that, engaging with our community through social media, and supporting the community by bringing teas to either essential workers who had to work during the pandemic or to people who could not work because of COVID, has helped a lot," Swanson added.

The Census found that female-owned businesses continued to grow but were still far behind those owned by men. However, there were areas where women were making inroads, including in health care or the healthy living segment — women own nearly 20% of those businesses nationwide.

Women-owned employer firms reported nearly $1.8 trillion in sales, shipments, receipts or revenue and employed over 10.1 million workers with an annual payroll of $388.1 billion in 2018.

In terms of overall growth, women-owned business continued to flourish in areas like construction, real estate and finance.

During the last year, local business owners have been faced with myriad challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic. Many say they've been supported by the community during the ups and downs caused by the weather and the pandemic.

Glenda Yost, owner of Glenda's Cafe & Catering, said she's been boosted by the appreciation she's received from the community.

"We had a lot of people make a point of supporting local caterers during the early months of COVID, by providing lunch for their staff or to medical workers to show appreciation," Yost said. "There was one time, when I served the hospitals' whole staff. I served 1,400 people that day."

Even now, as Greenville continues to work its way out of damage caused by the recent snow storm, Yost is supporting city crews as they work to repair the roads outside of her parking lot.

"They're out there working hard, so I fed them this morning," Yost said Thursday. "I made them breakfast tacos."

Of course, health-related industries are among those most affected by COVID-19, and healthcare/businesses that promote a healthy lifestyle employ a high number of women.

Connected to the general public's increased awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy environment is increasing demand for cleaning services.

A relatively new cleaning service that serves the Hunt and Rockwall County area is Brittex Beyond Luxury Cleaning, owned by 21-year-old Eleanor Hill. "We focus on cleaning that's eco friendly, pet friendly, and kid friendly, alike," Hills said. "I founded the company when I was 19, but I'm getting more into the habit of having weekly Zoom meetings, where we go over statistics and vision planning, and I've been learning from bigger companies like Servpro, to see how their teams work on a bigger scale."

Similar to Fit City Nutrition and Glenda's Cafe, Brittex has also been involved in working with the community and non-profits. For example, Brittex's teams clean as part of Alzheimer's caregiver support organization Remember For Me's respite care services.

"We have about six clients each month, through Remember for Me," Hill said. "It's meant a lot, because I have people in my family with Alzheimer's." Finally, an industry that was practically devastated by COVID-19 restriction, but that is starting to see a dramatic surge in business is the travel industry.

"Not only travel agents, but Airlines had to let a lot of people go when travel restrictions were in full force," Shannon Routh of Travel Dreams said. "Yes, now a lot of people are booking trips, maybe because of their stimulus checks, but travel agencies and airlines are now understaffed because of having to let people go.

"I've been on hold with an airline for nine hours today, because the rep I usually work with is one who got laid off, but I'll stay on the phone until 10 p.m. if I have to to get this done, because you have to take care of your customers." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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