If you have been to Katonah Paint and Hardware in the past three years, you have probably met entrepreneur Mary Ricci, the color and design consultant in the paint center. This Wednesday September 15, Ricci will temporarily shed her role as color consultant when she steps into the roles of organizer, leader, and business advocate for the second annual "Women Promoting Women" event.
Free to the public, "Women Promoting Women" will be held at Katonah Paint and Hardware from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Guests will be treated to champagne and wine, hors d'oeuvres catered by Happiness Is, and freebies from the other featured businesses. Last year's event featured 15 women-owned businesses and drew a crowd of 200—it's grown to 30 women-owned businesses with an expected crowd of over 300.
The group of entrepreneurs is diverse, but they have a common desire for a platform through which they can network and share their knowledge with other women business owners.
Christine Salazar has owned her gourmet and catering business, Happiness Is, for over 20 years. Though she's already well-connected, she participates because it's still good to "get my face out there," she said.
"In this economy, it's important to constantly network; you have to work it or you'll lose it," she said.
On the other end of the spectrum is Jessica Wade, who started her charitable business, Coloring to Cure, last month. Wade, a college senior studying media and communication arts at Pace University, designs greeting cards, and donates 50 percent of her profits to the charity Feeding America. Although new to the business world, Wade remains focused in her commitment to her new enterprise. "Thirty years from now, I hope this business and charity is still going strong," she said.
Ricci was inspired to create "Women Promoting Women" by these innovative women and by her own struggles to make her business grow. "I came into business a little later in my life, and I needed to find a way to get networked and to keep my business out there," she said.
She found the opportunity to network when her mentor, Frank Oliveri, who manages the paint and hardware store, asked her to consult there.
While working at the store, Ricci met exceptional women business owners. Like her, many of these women needed a forum for their businesses, and the concept of "Women Promoting Women" was born. When the , and Oliveri heard Ricci's plan they offered to foot the bill.
"They just got it," said Ricci.
Women businesses owners have a huge impact on the national economy. Trade groups like the National Women's Business Council, and the federal Small Business Administration cite female-owned companies as contributing nearly $3 trillion to the U.S. economy and 16 percent of U.S. employment.
Anne Janiak, Executive Director of the Women's Enterprise Development Center located in White Plains, which helps women start businesses, said that the number of businesses owned by women county-wide was growing. "They're a huge force," she said.
Ricci's plans to continue the event, and work with young women in business—extending her support network to high school and college-aged budding entrepreneurs.
By the way, men are welcome too. An RSVP to (917) 833-0886 is appreciated, but not required.