Representing more than 57% of local business owners, Camas, Wash., women business leaders encourage and nurture their community through dedication, commitment, collaboration and giving back. These inspiring business leaders are experts at building relationships, supporting one another and working together as a community to make a difference.
Arktana Owner Ann Matthews loves what she does – and it is evident in how she carries herself and the smile on her face. She is a marketing genius and her involvement with the community is inspiring. It seems a week doesn’t go by that she isn’t supporting other local businesses through collaboration or uplifting local youth for their successes. Ann says, “Community is the key and collaboration feels 100% better than competition!” Arktana frequently hosts pop-up shops for local startup businesses and collaborates with other merchants for special promotions.
Carrie Schulstad, executive director of the Downtown Camas Association says, “We have a community of educated, entrepreneurial and hardworking people and we are lucky to have so many dedicated women in our downtown who are willing to put their passion into action and create accomplished and sustainable businesses. Our women business leaders are especially creative when it comes to collaboration and cross-marketing and I think that makes a big difference.”
Nurturing the community and making a difference is a common theme for Camas business owners. Marilyn Reed, owner of Lily Atelier explains, “Being a part of such an exciting downtown community with all of its diversity and growth is an opportunity for me to really make a difference in the lives of women and other community members. I can’t even express how fulfilling it is to have a woman walk through the front door of the store and I know her, her story, her challenges and her goals. That is powerful and it gives me a chance to make a difference in her life.”
Erica Slothtower, owner of Natalia’s Café, says one of her greatest rewards as a business owner is the ability to give back to the community not only through fund raising events (Natalia’s recently held a successful fundraiser for Courts for Kids), but also in small personal acts of kindness. Recently a father and his two teenage sons were in for breakfast after a morning of fishing, Erica said, “It was just good to see two good kids doing good things spending time with their dad and out fishing, so I bought their breakfast. I just wanted to send the message that doing good rewards good.” Giving back to the community and getting to work with wonderful customers makes the endless hours of work worth it.
Rewards and challenges
Owning your own business, doing something that you love, creating an environment where you want to go to work, choosing a path that is fulfilling, rewarding and that brings joy to your life is not without challenges, but it is how we face and overcome those challenges that matters.
Erica shares that one of the things that she feels good about is that through her hard work and determination she has demonstrated to her daughter that it is possible to go from hard times to thriving. Erica adds, if a young woman is reading this article and considering going into business, that going out on your own isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of scenario – it is hard work- but the rewards are there.
Jacquie Hill, owner of Body Bliss Yoga Studio says, “Running a small business is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is a certain amount of hustle, can-do attitude and drive that goes along with this lifestyle. Without my vision of a stronger, healthier community I believe I would lose heart at the struggle of running this wonderful space. I truly love what I do. Even when things get hectic and overwhelming, I never really feel it is a job.”
It takes courage to make the leap to do something you’ve dreamed of doing, explains Beth Forsythe, owner of Lizzbeth A. One of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur is “having to wear so many hats and deciding where to invest your time and where to employ someone else’s talents.”
Columbia Chiropractic & Massage Owner Amy Reynolds says, “I’ve worked in situations that took all that I had to give but showed me humility and empathy.” Amy says the ability to provide life/fulfillment, health, being an advocate for each person and knowing that her work makes a difference makes the challenges worth it.
Suzanne Ferguson, along with her husband Rick owns and operates the new home furnishings store, Juxtaposition, and R3 Retail Development, both located in Camas, Wash. She can be reached at Suzanne@sf-artfuldesigns.com.