Pumps In Power: Upstate Women Start Networking Groups - WSPA.com

Pumps In Power: Upstate Women Start Networking Groups

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There's a new trend sweeping the nation and kicking through the glass ceiling. It's women helping women, in launching businesses and living life. There's a new trend sweeping the nation and kicking through the glass ceiling. It's women helping women, in launching businesses and living life.

In a room full of powerful women, stilettos and sun dresses aren't the typical networking attire. They're sharing food and a glass of wine, instead of pushing products or themselves.

It's all part of a new trend sweeping the nation and kicking through the glass ceiling. It's women helping women, in launching businesses and living life.

Lauren Skelton owns River Falls Spa in downtown Greenville. She and another local entrepreneur saw a need for women to band together, relax and make connections.

"A lot of the groups that exist are really hardcore networking, people are there on a mission, to pass out their cards and to gain as much business as they can in the shortest period of time, almost like speed dating," Skelton explained. "We wanted something very different."

A year and a half later, Women Mean Business is going strong.

"I think people do business with people that they like," Skelton said.

Little did they know at the time - what they were doing was happening all over the country.

Author Pamela Ryckman collected their stories in her book Stiletto Network.

"It's upending all the stereotypes of women in the workforce, that in fact, we're not just back-stabbers, there are all these women all across the nation giving and helping each other," Ryckman explained in an interview via Skype.

At a time when women head only 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies, these "stiletto networks" are encouraging them to climb the corporate ladder and to start their own companies.

"You don't have to be starting on high with lots of money or connections," Ryckman explained. "You could start with a dollar and a dream, and basically build your advisory board, build the group around you who's going to help you achieve your dreams."

Sara Riddle will soon open a maternity and nursing store in downtown Spartanburg, called Haute Mama.

"I knew that there were other groups like this out there, and I thought, why not Spartanburg?" Riddle said.

Sara grabbed some girlfriends and started a new networking group called "Sparkle."

"There's no purpose except for just simply the spirit of some helping other women succeed," explained member Beth Hrubala of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

"We can empower each other and truly we're just having fun!" said Duffy Baehr of Baehr Feet in Spartanburg.

Other entrepreneurs and career women are joining in too. One minute, they're chatting about shoes. The next - they're sharing advice on launching a business.

"We have many roles," said Brooke Shugart of Studio B for Pilates and Barre. "We're mothers, and wives and business owners, and I just feel like it's very important for us to encourage each other"

"It does change the dynamic for sure," said Brandy Gutierrez, of iRecycle.

Anne Anderson, owns Herb & Renewal in downtown Spartanburg. "To have a network of women business owners, that we can actually be a part of, it's just a natural ripple effect in the community."

It's a community of women with high heels, and even higher hopes.

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