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Friday, 22 May 2015 16:17

Local Women Business Leaders Break Top Layers of Glass

By | Business

Work-Life Balance and Access to Capital:  Tough to Crack, but Not Impenetrable

According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, women-owned firms have grown by one and a half times the rate of other small enterprises in the last 15 years. Corresponding trends in support systems for women in business have been slower to materialize. Two areas needing support are work-life balance and access to capital. 

Casey Sacci, owner of Creative Corks 1107 Ellsworth Blvd. in Malta, knows full well the risks for a woman with a family starting a business, but she did not let that stop her. 

“It all happened so fast,” said Sacci. “I had this idea while trick-or-treating with my kids last Halloween, and here we are – the ribbon was cut May 14 and we’re open for business.” 

Creative Corks is an instructional art studio with a beer and wine bar. The studio offers classes in painting, metal tooling, sketching, creative writing, scrapbooking, among others. Creative Corks also provides birthday or private parties and fundraisers for local charities, and offers Budding Artist classes for children, working collaboratively with Plum Dandy located next door.

“I feel like everything has gone so great so far,” said Sacci, “I even decorated the envelope of my liquor license, in a turquoise and royal blue envelope with rainbow-colored Sharpies, plus gave them a nice thank you letter.  I got the license pretty fast, so going the extra artistic miles must have worked.” 

Sacci says her biggest challenge was finding a balance between work and life. She had been working from home for her father’s restoration business, which worked well while raising her two daughters, now eight and six years old. 

“I’ve been such a hands-on mom,” said Sacci, “and not being there to tuck them into bed has been a difficult change. We do have to find that balance of being there for them and still being here for myself and my husband, who is super supportive. We cut back summer activities, and I realized that my girls are actually happier to have free time.”

Sacci said she worried about how having a business would affect her daughters, but it has worked out better than she thought. She feels a solution to work-life balance is to involve the family. Her children picked out the paint and were there for many of the discussions in setting up the facility. 

“We’re always talking about perseverance in our family,” said Sacci, “but now we’re showing it to them. You work for something; you work through it, and persevere.  All those nights and questions about ‘what do you think about this or that’ turned into ‘look at what we did’ and the light bulb went off. It was really something to see, how their faces lit up and with realization.” 

Sacci’s advice for women who are considering starting a business is to have a well-thought-out business plan. “It’s key to know what you are getting into,” she said. “And, time management is essential, including time for you.”  

For Good Morning Café owner Nancy Holzman, access to capital was her primary challenge because traditional lenders are wary of lending to start-ups in the food and beverage industry. She rolled up her sleeves and stepped in anyway, into a business with a lot of overhead. 

“In this business, you have to find the capital,” said Holzman. “The cost of doing business in NYS is high and this business is influenced by weather and the economy.  But I know that if I hadn’t done this, someone else would have. Find what you love, prepare, and jump in with both feet.”

Good Morning Café on 2100 Doubleday Avenue, Ballston Spa, is a breakfast restaurant featuring locally-grown, organic, and fair trade ingredients with minimal processing. Holzman also created an innovative give-back model she built right into the menu, with a motto of “Eat Good, Do Good, Feel Good.”

After careful research for capital, Holzman decided to take her confidence, a solid plan, and experience to the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, a nonprofit that provides nontraditional financing for, among other things, women-owned businesses. 

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Holzman. “They could see the concept right away, and they provided me with not only funds, but so much support in the expert advice and trainings they offer, and here I am in my third year! I am incredibly grateful to them.”

Holzman’s advice to someone thinking about opening a restaurant is to spend time shadowing someone and asking questions about day-, week-, and month-to-month experiences. She shadowed someone in Maine, and says it was invaluable. “You need to experience all the pieces of the puzzle on some level before you commit,” said Holzman. 

There are several resources for women to help them find solutions for business challenges. The Saratoga County Chamber’s Women in Business Group, sponsored by Key4Women, meets on the first Tuesday of every month, usually at the chamber in Saratoga Springs. The group provides informational and education sessions covering topics like working with the media, creating a healthy work environment, and more. 

Saratoga Women in Business (SWIB) is a new resource locally. The social group is for women leaders and executives to meet and enjoy the company of other women leaders with the idea that social interaction leads to trust which can lead to business. Its inaugural meeting was held Wednesday May 20, hosted by sales manager and mortgage loan officer for HomeBridge Financial Services, Inc., Heidi Ives, and her two co-founders, Rachel Spensieri, a freelance writer and editor, and Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, owner of DRB Business Interiors and Saratoga CoWorks, a shared workspace for professionals. 

“Men get out and do business while playing golf,” said Ives. “I think women like to do business that way, not necessarily on the golf course, but it’s natural for us to be social, get to know each other, and build trust.” She says that contact with other women in business helps address everything from work-life balance to raising capital to finding new clients. 

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