Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recognizing and Celebrating Today’s Hard-Working Business Women

Allison Way is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners and bizperc, two of Kansas City's newest entrepreneurial resources. 

Many of you women in business, working mothers, and mompreneurs may not know that every year, September 22nd is dedicated to you. Today is American Business Women’s Day, a day to recognize all powerful and hard-working women in the business community.

The date of Business Women’s Day originates from the founding of The American Business Women’s Association on September 22, 1949. Interestingly enough, the association was developed by Hilary A. Bufton Jr. and three Kansas City business women. The four women founded the ABWA and later, celebrated Business Women’s Day in 1982. The mission of the ABWA is “to bring together business women of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support, and national recognition.” This proves the strength of Kansas City business and the caliber of people that develop small businesses in this extraordinary city.

The roots of this special day trace all the way back to the late 1940s when men were off fighting in WWII and women had to fill the void in the workforce. When soldiers returned after the war, many women were not anxious to return to traditional roles in the home. Since this time, women’s role and contribution in the workforce have grown and evolved. Women’s business has truly grown since 1949, when the day was first recognized. In 2009, there were precisely 6,489,259 women who owned a small business, and the numbers continue to grow.

Today’s business women are extremely inspirational. They always rise up, even when the odds are against them. Think Big Partners would like to recognize six individuals who have revolutionized American women in business:

Meg Whitman:  Chief Executive Officer and President of eBay
Meg Whitman is the definition of a successful business woman. Before becoming the head of eBay (a career that she underwent from 1998-2008), Whitman served as an executive in numerous international companies including The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, and Hasbro. Whitman transformed eBay from a $4 million company to an $8 billion company in a matter of ten years. She also played a large role in the development in PayPal and Skype. Whitman’s hard work and dedication to business earns her a top spot as an American business woman.

Kate Spade:  Co-founder of designer brand, Kate Spade New York
Kate Spade is a Kansas City native. She was born in the city and attended St. Teresa’s Academy and the University of Kansas before hitting it big in New York. In 1996, she opened her first NYC shop, and two years later, her brand boomed. Kate Spade stores can now be found in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Greenwich, Connecticut, Atlanta, Dallas, and many more. The Kate Spade brand had sales of $125 million in 2004, and helped Spade earn America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories and Best Accessory Designer of the Year.

Oprah Winfrey:  American television host and producer
Oprah is well-known for her bootstrapping—she truly pulled herself up by her bootstraps in order to become a success. Oprah led an impoverished childhood in rural Mississippi. She climbed her way up to the top by working in radio, television, and even hosted a small Chicago talk show. Oprah revolutionized the tabloid talk show and reinvented her own show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, with a focus on literature, self-improvement and spirituality. She has been ranked the richest African American on the 20th century and the world’s only black billionaire.

Bonnie Kelly & Teresa Walsh:  Co-founders of Silpada Designs
Silpada Designs co-founders Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh (natives of the Kansas City area) developed their own direct-selling jewelry line after scrounging up $25 each from grocery funds and pursuing careers in sterling silver. After hosting jewelry parties at friends’ homes, acquaintances of Kelly and Walsh were interested in selling the sterling jewelry themselves. So, in 1997, Silpada Designs was born. Silpada was recently bought by Avon Products for $650 million.

Beyoncé Knowles:  American Pop/R&B singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer
Known quite simply as Beyoncé, this singer-songwriter, actress and fashion designer is multi-talented, and an extremely successful woman in business. With two fashion lines (House of Dereon and Sasha Fierce), endorsements with Pepsi, L’Oreal, Tommy Hilfiger, and numerous philanthropy ventures, Beyoncé has transformed herself from a Grammy-Award winning artist to a big-time business woman. Not to mention, she was included in Time's “100 Most Influential People in the World” list this year.

So today, Think Big Partners would like to recognize all businesswomen of the world. Thank you for strengthening today’s business community through your hard work and unique perspectives. The world would not be the same without people like you!

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