With the vision to make Capitol Hill the best neighborhood in America to operate a woman-owned business, Capitol Hill Entrepreneurial Women is already making progress.
A recent study that ranked Seattle as the #2 city in the country for women entrepreneurs noted CHEW as a factor:
Seattle is one of the most highly educated cities and has a correspondingly high median income and low unemployment rate. With 12.5 businesses per 100 residents, the city is highly entrepreneurial, and women own around 4 of those businesses.
Organizations like CHEW organize events and panels to encourage female entrepreneurs to open their businesses in Seattle. Seattle is also home to one of the world’s most famous and civic-minded businesswomen, Melinda Gates, as well as rising chef and restaurant entrepreneur Renee Erickson.
Laura Culberg founded CHEW in 2011 while running her business, The SweatBox yoga. After connecting with other women and offering business advice and watching the neighborhood change over more than a decade of business on the Hill, she says she finally got the idea to join entrepreneurial forces.
“Capitol Hill is diverse, open-minded and there are smart people there,” she says. “It’s a place where people take risks and that’s the kind of person I relate to.”
CHEW includes notable female business owners, such as Liz Dunn of Dunn + Hobbs, “queen of nightlife” Linda Derschang, property manager Anne Michelson, Jody Hall of Cupcake Royale, Hallie Kuperman of Century Ballroom and Karyn Schwartz of Sugarpill; who are all based on the hill.
Merrilee Bradshaw, a seamstress and clothing designer who runs her studio in Capitol Hill, recently joined CHEW for the networking and business advice.
“I hope that the people I have met, served and made friendships with would be willing to help me in my endeavor to make sewing and designing a full time job,” she says.
Culberg says she’s had a lot of requests to create similar pods in other neighborhoods, but for now CHEW is staying focused on Capitol Hill.
“We’d like to have an active presence in how the neighborhood develops,” she says. “There is a ton of development and we want to make sure that small businesses, women-owned businesses continue to thrive. And, we want this to be a neighborhood where innovation still lives, where new ideas evolve and come to fruition.”
Culberg’s latest bit of advice for female entrepreneurs:
“I heard Sheryl Sandberg on the radio yesterday and she shared one of her favorite quotes, which I also love; ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’” she says. “Take a risk. It really is true that if you believe in what you do/what you offer, if you do it well, with integrity, the business will succeed.”
You can learn more at chewseattle.com.