HomeAwards2023 Notables: Female Entrepreneurs: Winners

2023 Notables: Female Entrepreneurs: Winners

In the United States, women own 42% of all businesses, employing 9.4 million people. However, often funding across all financial platforms lag behind proportionally for women-owned businesses. Here, the editorial staff of 405 Business present 12 women entrepreneurs who represent retail establishments, professional services, nonprofit endeavors, small businesses and so much more. Read about their success, their advice and how to support them. Then, go do it.

Methodology: The people selected are featured after being nominated by peers. Editors reviewed the nominations and made selections. Individuals submitted biography information and answered questions, which were used in the formation of the profiles shown. This is not a comprehensive list. It includes only those who were nominated and then selected after an editorial review. Nomination or submission does not guarantee coverage. To qualify, nominees must demonstrate leadership and excellence within their field and the topic discussed.

Erica Becker, Must Heart Dogs owner

Erica Becker

Becker first started her business in 2016 in Wisconsin before relocating to Oklahoma.

“I love baking but never had anyone to bake for other than my pups,” Becker said. “So I decided to try my hand at creating and selling treats to spoil your pups.”

Now Becker has added dog sitting and dog fostering to her life, and her business has taken off.

“I’m surrounded by dogs all day, every day, and I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I’ve been getting recognized as the dog or dog treat lady around Norman more and more, and I am 100% tickled by it.”

Why support women entrepreneurs?

I love supporting other women entrepreneurs. It’s lovely to know a handful of women business owners who want your business to succeed as much as they want their own to succeed.

Keven Calonkey Carl, Mister Robert Fine Furniture and Design president

Keven Calonkey Carl

Carl’s parents started Mister Robert Fine Furniture and Design in 1958, and she was raised with the store.

“They had three children under the age of 6, and they took a chance on themselves,” she said. “In those early years, my dad would deliver furniture after work hours, and my mother took me on design calls with her. This taught me traits required to be a successful entrepreneur: hard work, dedication and risk tolerance.”

Why is it important to support women entrepreneurs?

Women make up about 51% of the population but only 42% of business owners. My father always gave my mother credit as a co-owner of the store and vital to its success. As a woman in business, I want exactly the same thing that men in business want: a level playing field on which I can compete.

LaTeshia Dockery, The WERKshop OKC owner; Prepex co-owner

LaTeshia Dockery

Dockery started WERK in 2015, beginning as a audition prep company focusing on the high school, collegiate and pro auditions. In October 2019, she launched the sister concept WERK & UnWINEd for women 21 and up.

“Our focus is women’s empowerment, body positivity, health/wellness and confidence,” she said. “Our goal is to continue to provide Oklahoma City with creative dance experiences and concepts rooted in empowerment, positivity and unity.”

Why support women entrepreneurs?

Supporting women entrepreneurs is important to the economy because we literally run the world. (Those aren’t just Beyoncé song lyrics). Our businesses allow us to lead happier lives by creating better work life balances and financial stability for ourselves and our families.”

Kelley Gann, Freestyle Creative president & CEO

Kelley Gann

Gann became an owner with founder Vahid Farzaneh in 2020.

“During my tenure, the company has successfully grown by over tenfold and has expanded into a full-service agency that consistently produces award-winning marketing campaigns,” she said. ”In 2020, I founded V&K Ventures with Vahid Farzaneh where we lend our support to the Oklahoma film industry by connecting filmmakers with potential investors and partner with films to provide strategic marketing services.”

Why pursue entrepreneurship?

I know we can use the power of our work for good. We have a very ambitious vision for the future that revolves around advancing Oklahoma, elevating our creative community and growing this creative team that I love.

Valeria Loper, Little Lopers founder

Valeria Loper

Loper’s business began because of her four daughters.

“Finding cute and affordable hair bows wasn’t easy,” she said. “When I started making them, I found it was very satisfying and therapeutic. We started making them for our girls, then friends started to ask for them. The response to them was amazing, and here we are today 5.5 years strong!”

Are there specific challenges because you are a woman entrepreneur?

Women entrepreneurs can offer so much support as we travel down a lot of the similar roads. To know someone who has walked down the same path and been in the same trenches you are in is invaluable.

What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship can consume you. But it doesn’t have too, if there is love and support around.

Angela Muir, Boom Town Creamery owner & founder

Angela Muir

Muir started Boom Town Creamery June 2022, but her entrepreneurship dreams started earlier.

“I think my first taste of entrepreneurship was in the fourth grade when I started charging girls on the playground to paint their nails,” she said.

Why pursue entrepreneurship? I don’t know that there was ever another choice in my mind. I have always loved dreaming up big ideas and had a relentless drive to see them come to life.

Why support women entrepreneurs?

One of my favorite quotes is, “Empowered women empower women.” I love seeing other women succeed and supporting them to their success. When there is diversity in founders, we see more ideas, unique perspectives and everyone benefits.

Reagan Novak, RaeLuxe Aesthetics owner

Reagan Novak

Novak has been a solo esthetician for three and a half years.

“I am so blessed to have found my true passion of making others feel beautiful and confident in their skin,” she said.

Why support women entrepreneurs?

As women business owners, we must continue to support, encourage and uplift each other. As someone that attends networking events, it is not unnoticed that most attendees are men. I would love to see more women in the networking world. I have found true value in supporting other business owners in my area. I’m so blessed I live in a generation that is more approving and accepting of women in the business world. We can support one another, not just monetarily, but by referring to each other, sharing posts on social media, writing five-star business reviews, and by simply bragging about our women business owner friends!

Meredith Powell, Studio J Performing Arts Center owner & director

Meredith Powell

Powell is going into her 19th year of owning Studio J Performing Arts Center.

Why support women entrepreneurs?

For me, it is important to support women entrepreneurs because women are uniquely talented at creating joy-filled communities, which allows us to build businesses while also creating spaces that are safe for others to explore their gifts and enjoy the process of developing skills.

What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?

Ask for more, don’t settle, and have faith! I think these three things are especially important for women entrepreneurs. Because we deeply value community, it is so helpful to have other women in our lives who will remind us that we are worth it and that we deserve to achieve our goals.

Lauren Von Mingee, Quintessa Marketing founder & CEO

Lauren Von Mingee

Von founded her company in 2016 with one employee to now approximately 75 people.

“Quintessa originated from a pressing need identified during my time working for a law firm in California,” she said. “… Since its inception, our company has proudly assisted hundreds of thousands of car accident victims and provided services to thousands of attorneys, delivering a comprehensive and scalable product.”

Are there specific challenges because you are a woman entrepreneur?

While more women are starting their own businesses, they still encounter hurdles in securing the necessary funding to sustain and grow their ventures. Biases and stereotypes prevalent in the investment world limit funding opportunities for women, creating an unequal playing field. Addressing these issues is essential to enable women-run businesses to flourish and encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship.

Lauren Warkentine, William and Lauren founder & CEO

Lauren Warkentine

While studying abroad, Warkentine noticed custom suits being made very affordably, not for women, only men. So, she create her custom clothier business.

“I began thinking there had to be a better solution on the market and when I could not find it, I knew it was possible,” she said.

Why is it important to support women entrepreneurs?

Representation is important, people being able to see someone they can relate to allows them to dream.

What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?

Don’t listen to the doubters. Most people mean well but can’t see the vision you can. That isn’t their job, it’s yours. Don’t let their questions creep in and turn into doubt stopping you. Believe in your vision, put the work in and be patient.

Emily Woodside, Purity Day Spa president

Emily Woodside

Woodside worked at an oil and gas company for eight years before starting Purity.

Why pursue entrepreneurship?

Two reasons! I have a huge passion for health and wellness, and I wanted to provide an avenue for people to truly get some R&R and escape locally. 2) I wanted to have a flexible schedule after I had my first baby. I knew it definitely wouldn’t be less work, but I wanted to be able to work around my kids’ schedules!

What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?

I have learned to rely on my team and delegate. I’m surrounded by incredible people and I have to trust my team so that I can work on business development. You cannot do it alone. Trust your team!

Veronica Zelada, Cafe Kacao owner & chef

Veronica Zelada

Zelada immigrated from Guatemala with her three children in search of a better life. Eventually, she settled in Oklahoma and opened Café Kacao, a brunch spot celebrated for its fusion of American and Latin flavors.

What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?

In my industry, your reputation hinges on the quality of the last meal you serve. Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I’ve faced numerous skeptics and doubters. However, I’ve learned to trust my own instincts and maintain confidence in my decisions, even during challenging times when my business was struggling. Recognizing that failure is a part of the entrepreneurial path, I’ve embraced the mindset of resilience and self-belief, knowing that it is crucial for long-term success in my field.

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