Four women business owners shared their stories of persistence, passion, innovation and more in the fifth webinar of the Hawaii Women in Business Seminar Series. Melia Foster, Meli Wraps; Nina Hans, WeekdayStudio; Jennifer Schettewi, Pono Chocolate; and Lori Silva, Napua‘ala spoke about their pathway to business and answered questions on their biggest challenges including how to get certified as a women/minority owned small business (wosb/mosb.)
The webinar, presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) — with support of the Small Business Administration (SBA), County of Maui and Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West (WBEC-West) – to guide more business owners to certifications that can help their business expand.
“MEDB and partners know that giving existing women business owners tools like certification to expand their businesses and by providing coaching and technical assistance to new women business owners are key strategies to strengthen our economy, our communities and our families,” said Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO of MEDB.
Melia Foster, who got certified as a women-owned small business end of 2020 and is part of the WBEC-West network said, “It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve connected with so many other women entrepreneurs. I feel like there are emails almost every week with great connections. I listened to a webinar on how to do retail in large department stores. I’m still new to it and realize there is so much yet to tap into. We recently added the “Women Owned” logo to our packaging which is such an honor.”
All speakers warned that there was a great deal of paperwork involved but it was worth it.
“What I like to do is have all the paperwork ready. There’s a list of what you need,” said Jennifer Schettewi, co-owner of Pono Chocolates of Paia. “None of it was very difficult, you just have to have it all ready to upload. Now we are certified and we are able to put the Women-Owned logo on our chocolate bars, which is nice.”
Lori Silva, creator of Napua’ala had a big challenge with the paperwork admitting “I am not good with writing. I’m the worst speller.” Her encouraging advice was to persevere and “Ask for help, because there is always help out there.”
Nina Hans of WeekDay Studio co-owns the business with her husband and is the majority owner and the decision-maker – a key factor for certification. “We work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies and all of these have some sort of diversity program or social economic responsibility that they have to meet and what I found that even though I own the business just being a woman, doesn’t mean you are certified or anything,” said Nina, explaining why she pursued certification. “I would get these opportunities and fill out forms and find out that I couldn’t check this one requirement.”
Listen to the replay to hear their stories and discover whether certification is an option for your business. You can contact MEDB if based on Maui and interested in assistance for your business.
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Funded (in part) through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.