Thursday, February 7, 2008

Do Try This At Home

Willow tree at Tower Grove Park
Photo By Sharon

I would like to introduce you to the Willows. Formed in 2006, this is a group of St. Louis women who own emerging businesses. The co-founders are Sharon (of Secret Leaves fame) and our good friend Gwen Oulman Brennan, the then owner of Larutan Studios.

When this idea first got going we had a dozen or so smart, energetic women on board. Most were just starting out in businesses based in design. We agreed to meet up every month or so with the main goal of sharing ideas, support and much needed pep talks. Anyone who is starting or owns a small business knows this is so important. As time wore on, the group sifted out to a core of seven or eight women. In future blogs I will do individual bios of each of the women in the group, but for now I’ll post the links to their websites and/or blogs. I encourage you to check them out. I’ll skip the details about Sharon and I since you probably know our long, drawn-out story by now and if you don’t, then by all means, please read the other posts in this blog!

Tyler Stallings is the proud mama of beautiful Chloe and owner of periwinklebloom. Jen Sertl, fashion designer extraordinaire, has Angelina Accoutrements. Ria Sharon is a passionate advocate of child food allergy awareness and heads up Check My Tag. Terry Winkelmann is the co-owner of St. Louis’ first green general store, Home Eco. And our newest member is Heather Robinson, who makes beautiful jewelry. Her business is Love Bird Vintage Jewelry.

Gwen, co-founder of the group, is a very talented painter and jewelry designer, but has since moved on to bigger and better things as a post-grad at the Rhode Island School of Design. Very cool for her, but not so much for us. We miss her.

As the group headed into its second year, an interesting by-product started happening. Not only were we verbally lifting each other up, but we were all starting to trade favors. Sharon has helped Jen by taking pictures of her restyled cashmere sweaters and wraps for her website and Tyler is helping out with the design of Secret Leaves' logo. Terry keeps us up-to-date with what is going on in the increasingly popular green movement and Ria, with her vast knowledge of internet marketing, has given us loads of tips and tricks. We all have our talents and everyone in the group is very generous with sharing them.

One thing Sharon and I have learned from our partnership in Secret Leaves is the benefit of bouncing ideas and strategies off each other. And with this group we have lots o’ bouncing going on. When you put six or seven creative gals in one room, there is no telling what will come out of it. There are always many stories and lots of laughs and, oh yeah, I forgot to mention the food. With every meeting there is a bounty of tasty munchies because, you know…we’re women. And we know how to throw a get-together.

I just know that after every meeting I go home feeling a little bit better about our business and that anything is possible. It does my head good. I strongly recommend trying this at home, children. Form a group and get in each other's business! If for no other reason than to make some great friends and have some good times. But believe me, you will get much more than that out of it.


1 comment:

Check My Tag said...

Sharon and Ann, my peeps! Thanks for such a thoughtful and heartfelt post. I'm honored to be a Willow.