Women organization leaders launch NW Women’s Guide

The guide helps to direct women in business to the target market, organizations

NW Women’s Guide launch party
The NW Women’s Guide launch party was held in October and was attended by about 100 women from the business community. Photo Courtesy: Irina Negrean Photography

“A dynamic resource for women to find opportunities to learn, connect and volunteer with other women-centric organizations by offering a directory and calendar of events.”

This describes the NW Women’s Guide in a nutshell.

A little more than a year ago, a group of women business owners and members of different women’s organizations from around the Clark County/Portland-Metro area to brainstorm some of the different needs of women business owners. They discussed the possibility of a shared directory of women-owned businesses, places to network and also a calendar of events so that each group could make sure they weren’t holding important events on the same days.

From this brainstorming between about 20 different women entrepreneurs, the idea for the NW Women’s Guide was born. Among those founding members were Erika Laws of Impactful People NW; Michelle Bart of National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation (NWCAVE); Amy Loudenback of Women Entrepreneurs Organization (WEO); and Brittani Nelson of Ewomennetwork of Vancouver.

Michelle Bart and Erika Laws
Michelle Bart of NWCAVE (left) and Erika Laws of Impactful People NW are just two of the founding members of the NW Women’s Guide.

“We decided we needed a shared directory – there are multiple women-owned businesses in the area, but they are all kind of separated,” Laws said. “Then we also decided to have a calendar of events, we don’t want to compete with each other’s events, we want everyone to be able to attend each other’s events.”

“We also thought that when new women business owners come into the area, the can look at the directory to find out what other women-owned businesses are in the area,” Nelson said.

The NW Women’s Guide also offers some volunteer opportunities with area nonprofits that are focused on women.

A launch party for the guide was held in October, and Laws said about 100 women attended. She said that they had 40 people sign up to be in the guide at that time. Those who sign up pay through a membership fee, and Laws said 100 percent of those funds go directly to marketing the guide. It is free for anyone to access and use the directory online.

“Each of us who has events listed in the guide, they come up on SEO,” Bart said. “NWCAVE is licensed in Washing and Oregon, so it’s great for us to have some visibility in Portland.”

“It’s really helping to ‘bridge the bridge,’” Laws said. “Women will go on the other side of the river and vice versa.”

Currently, Laws said they have 17 organizations between Oregon and Washington listed in the guide.

“We need these kinds of different avenues to learn and grow our businesses,” Loudenback said. “When I first started at WEO, every time I needed something, I would first look in my own directory. The NW Women’s Guide is being able to look at a one-stop shop for goods and services, and also support women-owned businesses.”

Laws said they also want to use the guide to point people in the right direction when they are looking for networking groups.

“It shows women what their options are as far as networking groups,” Bart said. “If you want more of a learning, nuts and bolts kind of group, or something different.”

“We want to make it easy for women business owners to grow and collaborate with other women, and also help boost the economy,” Laws said. “It’s a very diverse group and a very inclusive directory.”

Additional founders of the NW Women’s Guide include Francine Read of Voices, Inc.; Dill Ward of Women with Moxie Network; Diana Hoff of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO); Lisa Moon Brumm of Connect to Success PDX; Barbara Mathey of The Wild Women Society; Robin Schuckmann of BNI Oregon & Southwest Washington; Erika Worth of ROAR – Fierce Female Storytelling; Kathy Mahr of Women in Business; Susan Reingold of Portlandia Club; and Kara Roberts of Ewomennetwork Portland.

“You are who you surround yourself with,” Laws said. “So, you might as well surround yourself with people who are doing things.”

Access the NW Women’s Guide for free at https://nwwomensguide.com/.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.