Women Building Wyoming: Vendor Spotlight Showcases Women Entrepreneurs
When 14-year-old Ashlyn and her 11-year-old sister Nichole approached their mom about starting their own business, she was amused but not surprised.
Her girls, especially her oldest, had always been creative, always been innovative, always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit. So it just made sense that they'd want to start a business.
And that's exactly what they did. Ashlyn makes bracelets and sells them, while her little sister sells various types of candy.
"They just came up to me and said they wanted start their own business," Stephanie Hobson said of her daughters. "Ashlyn wanted to make the bracelets and start selling them so she could make some of her own, to do with what she wants, when she wants. And then Nichole, of course, being the little sister, wanted to follow and she loves candy so she figured, why not sell some candy?'
Ashlyn and Nichole are just two examples of Women Building Wyoming.
And that's why they, along with countless other women entrepreneurs were invited to the Women Building Wyoming vendor showcase at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds Industrial Building on Saturday.
"This is, technically, our third event," said Darbi Westman, the creator of the event and an entrepreneur in her own right. "We started off very small. I had about seven to ten vendors, and the women wanted to do something bigger. That's where Women Building Wyoming came into being. It used to just be a ladies night so, I guess with Women Building Wyoming, this is our first actual event [under that label]."
The event, which began at 11am and lasted throughout the afternoon, featured more than 50 different vendors.
"We have vendors here anywhere from 11 years old to women in their fifties," Westman proclaimed. "We've got some people just starting up their businesses and some people that have been doing it for 10 or 20 years. So it's pretty awesome to see all these women that have grown or are starting to grow their business. And this event is just to help them market themselves in a way that's pretty much free for them."
Westman did not charge the vendors for booth space at this event; she just wanted to give these women an opportunity to market themselves and show Casper exactly what they're capable of.
It's also an opportunity for different generations to come together and learn from each other, whether it's just two vendors speaking to each other or, in the case of Honeybees' Creations, it's a chance for a mother and her daughters to bond.
"That's actually the story behind the name," said Robin Schulte. "My girls have always been my honeybees. And so when we started this business, it's actually because of my older daughter. One day, she was just like, 'We should start a soap business.'"
So that's what they did. Schulte said that, previously, they made soap for themselves and for friends and they were getting a lot of great feedback, so they decided to start a business - Robin and her two daughters, Mercedes and Mackensey.
"It's definitely special," Robin stated. "My girls are really hard workers and I love working with them."
And, surprisingly, Robin's daughters enjoy working with her as well! At that age, many teenagers want nothing to do with their parents. But that's not the case with the Schulte family.
"I love doing this," Mercedes stated. "I wish we could get it rolling a bit more so we have a more steady stream of income, but I still love it."
And, really, that's why the Women Building Wyoming network exists - to expand business and to cultivate relationships.
That's exactly what Darbi Westman wanted to accomplish when she had this idea. She wanted to give women a place to be fully, wholly themselves. She wanted to give them a place to learn, to grow and, of course, to make a little money. She wanted to encourage them, embolden them, and empower them.
"I would tell these women to not listen to peoples' negativity," Westman shared. "If you have an idea or you wanna do something, just do it. You're never going to know what will work and what won't work unless you try it. Don't listen to people, whether it's your family or your friends, or whomever; don't listen. If they think it's a bad idea but you think it's gonna be a great idea, you're never going to know if it's a good idea unless you try it. I know. I've tried dozens of businesses and some have failed and some haven't, but I never would have known if I didn't try."
Stephanie is proud to see her girls try. She's even more proud to see them try together.
"I think it's amazing," she said. "I think that it teaches them responsibility and self independence. Now they don't have to come to me if they want something; they can make that choice themselves. That means a lot to me."
Nichole was asked what her favorite part was about owning her own business.
She took just a brief moment to think about her answer.
"Probably making money and talking to people," she said.
An entrepreneur, indeed. And exactly the type of girl that will grown in a woman building Wyoming.