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“From help with creating initial business plans and guidance on where to find funding to having a product tested in a certified lab to meet FDA requirements, A-B Tech Enka offers an aspiring Western North Carolina entrepreneur nearly everything needed to get a successful business off the ground,” says Jill Sparks, Executive Director of the A-B Tech Small Business Center. Located in the bustling Enka-Candler area on Sand Hills Road, A-B Tech Enka provides an integrated, holistic and entrepreneurial approach to business education, growth and entrepreneurship. It is home to A-B Tech’s Small Business Center, Business Incubation Program, the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast, NC BioNetwork, and also to collaborative tenants such as the Western Women’s Business Center and Blue Ridge Food Ventures. While A-B Tech Enka has become a hub for the food and beverage industry, the Small Business Center serves any type of business. As the regional hub for other Small Business Centers located within community colleges in WNC (Haywood, Tri County, Blue Ridge, Southwestern, and Isothermal) A-B Tech’s Small Business Center (SBC) creates a truly dynamic collaboration between entrepreneurs and service providers. All with the goal of growing the economy of WNC by assisting startups, early stage and at-risk enterprises. The SBC also partners with local funding sources such as Mountain Biz Works and Self-Help Credit Union. Sparks says this makes it easy to collaborate, offer joint programing, and build strong relationships to support start-up and established entrepreneurs. In addition, A-B Tech offers academic degrees and continuing education classes that complement the programs offered at the Enka location. A five-year snapshot from the Small Business Center and Business Incubation Program: Counseled 1,129 clients Held 480 seminars with 5,208 attendees Supported 94 start-ups Created or retained 441 jobs Resources at A-B Tech Enka, located within the Technology Commercialization Center (TCC) Building, on Sand Hills Road: SMALL BUSINESS CENTER: Offers one-on-one professional business counseling, seminars (online and in person), education and support. Topics covered include understanding the digital options for ecommerce; marketing; legal and tax issues; how to tap into Agritourism; and government contracting. There is a library with books and audio/video resources plus computers to access the internet and utilize business plan software. Learn more at: abtech.edu/SBC or call 828.398.7950. BUSINESS INCUBATION PROGRAM: The purpose of this program is to “create an atmosphere that encourages the development of businesses that promise a public or private good, have the potential to create single or multiple additional jobs and contribute to the economic development of the region.” The program offers consultation and coaching, access to shared resources such as an office, the wet lab, or manufacturing and storage facilities. Rent is priced by the square foot, is calculated on an annual basis, is available 24/7, and provides access to conference rooms, programs and other resources. The first incubating company was AvL Technologies, now one of the most successful companies in Asheville (see below for other success stories). 84 businesses have participated in the incubation program since the beginning and currently there are 20 businesses in the program. Learn more about requirements and the application process: Email SBCIncubator@abtech.edu or call 828.398.7950. CRAFT BEVERAGE INSTITUTE OF THE SOUTHEAST®: The CBI at A-B Tech is designed to support the rapidly growing craft beverage industry in Western North Carolina and the Southeast by providing the nation’s first two-year academic curriculum program and non-credit courses in brewing, distilling, fermentation and related business practices. The Institute works with the local brewing industry in various capacities such as recruiting, training and providing quality assurance testing. Its Brewing, Distillation and Fermentation degree and certificates prepare individuals for positions in brewery and distillery operations and management, distribution, sales and marketing, and customer service or to be self-employed and open their own craft production facility. The Institute has a training fermentation facility that supports real-time learning and reflects industry standards, including a commercial size brew-house, pilot brewing systems, hybrid distillation system, sensory analysis and quality-control labs, and packaging line. Learn more at abtech.edu/CBI. NC BIONETWORK: The NC Community College System’s BioNetwork provides high-quality economic and workforce development for the biotechnology and life science industries at four locations across North Carolina through education, training, and laboratory resources. The A-B Tech Enka location is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs achieve success in the food, beverage, and natural products industries, providing on-site equipment rentals and training for food safety, lab skills, business planning, and production. There are multiple labs for those interested in product research, testing and development of food, beverages, and natural products. The Test Kitchen offers rental space for testing and experimentation including cutting edge technology such as a freeze-dryer, etc. This is a fee for service at a reasonable, and sometimes zero, cost. Learn more at: ncbionetwork.org/contact-us/Asheville or call 828.782.2328. Collaborative Tenants at A-B Tech Enka: BLUE RIDGE FOOD VENTURES: BRFV is an 11,000-square-foot shared-use manufacturing facility that is a separate legal entity partnering with AB Tech Enka since 2005. In addition to equipment for preparing, bottling and packaging products, they offer guidance and advice about government regulations, marketing and design, business planning, and finding customers. If a budding entrepreneur is considering a business creating this kind of product, they can walk from the Small Business Center over to the commercial kitchen and quickly see what they can do in the facility. Learn more about BRFV and the many businesses it has launched (artisan food products, catering and food trucks, and natural body care products), at blueridgefoodventures.org or call 828.348.0130. WESTERN WOMEN’S BUSINESS CENTER: The mission of the WWBC is to provide technical assistance, capital and programs that reduce the barriers and serve as a catalyst to the success of women entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina. It is a program of the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, a statewide nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a mission to foster economic development in the state of North Carolina. CSBDF provides small business loans and business services to start-ups and existing businesses in North Carolina. Learn more at wwbcnc.org or call [...]

The post Oh! Woman Profile :: A-B Tech Enka appeared first on Oh! Woman Magazine.

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 “Young women need the girl-only environment where they can be leaders and support one another and just be themselves. Girl Scouts gives them that,” said Ballard. Since 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has given girls the necessary tools to lead change, break barriers and make the world a better place. With over 100 years of experience under their belt, this all-girl, girl-led organization isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Just ask Girl Scout leader Jennifer Ballard who helps lead a multi-level troop of 65 girls in Leicester, ranging in ages from kindergarten to high school. “When my daughter wanted to join Girl Scouts, there was not a local troop in our area, so another mom and I started the Brownie troop. That was 10 years ago. We started as a single level of Girl Scout Brownies, but within a couple years, we had added Girl Scout Daisies and the older levels as my daughter continued to move up,” said Ballard. In Ballard’s troop, a normal meeting starts with all the girls reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Then the girls break out into their own age levels to work on badges and participate in activities that give back to the community. Sometimes, all the girls will stay together for the meeting – giving the younger girls an opportunity to see what the older girls are working on and the older girls a chance to work on their leadership skills. Troop meetings may look different week to week, but the one thing that never changes is that everything the troop does is decided on by the girls. Recent research shows that girls learn best in an all-girl, girl-led and girl-friendly environment. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program that uses time-tested methods and research-backed programming to help girls take the lead, not only in troop activities, but in their own lives and the communities around them. Through Girl Scouts, girls develop a strong sense of self, seek challenges and learn from setbacks, display positive values, form and maintain healthy relationships and identity, and solve problems in the community. “Young women need the girl-only environment where they can be leaders and support one another and just be themselves. Girl Scouts gives them that,” said Ballard. “I love that everything is girl-led, and the girls make the decisions. It encourages the individuality of the girls and the troop.” And it’s not just during troop meetings that girls are making the decisions of when and what to do. The Girl Scout program also encourages girls to get outdoors, travel the world and try new things outside their comfort level. Ninety percent of parents say their daughter has gained more new experiences through Girl Scouts than in other after-school activities, and more than 70 percent of Girl Scouts say they’ve had the chance to build their skills or try new outdoor activities because of Girl Scouts. “Our troop loves to camp, both in cabins and in tents, and we usually go four times a year – but in Girl Scouts, you can do anything! If a troop wants to whitewater raft, backpack on the Appalachian Trail, horseback ride, climb the Alps, help the homeless, work with animals or learn about rocket science, they can do it! Girl Scouts are not limited in anything they want to do,” says Ballard. With the help of cookie money earned during the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls in Ballard’s troop have visited Savannah, the birthplace of Girl Scouting; spent the night on the USS Yorktown in Charleston; and spent the day tackling the ropes course and climbing wall at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. Older girls also have opportunities to travel more extensively through the local Girl Scout Travel Patrol and the Girl Scout Destinations programs. Past trips for girls in Ballard’s troop have included a 12-day visit to Ireland, Wales, England and Paris, and an excursion to West Virginia where they spent several days at a high adventure camp, rafting, kayaking, zip lining and rock climbing. Along with the outdoors and travel, Girl Scouts is continuing to put more emphasis on STEM initiatives. In July 2018, GSUSA unveiled 30 new badges for all age levels, ages 5-18, that not only enhance the one-of-a-kind Girl Scout experience, but also address some of society’s most pressing needs such as: cyber security, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science and space exploration. With these new focused programs and badges, girls are learning how to proactively address some of the biggest challenges in today’s society while building their skills. Ballard’s troop has already stepped right into the new materials with her older girls building a flashlight circuit and the whole troop working on a take-action project of creating sensory bottles for kids, along with a how-to video of what they can be used for. With so many opportunities and experiences open to girls through Girl Scouting, Ballard could go on and on about the benefits. “I love watching these young ladies become confident, self-sufficient and contributing members of society. I love watching them have fun together while learning and supporting each other. I love seeing our high school girls work so hard to earn their Girl Scout Gold Award, a project that requires 80-plus hours of service and is equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award. And I love watching girls who started in our troop not saying a single word during troop meetings, grow into being excited to talk with a newscaster during a live interview,” says Ballard. Girl Scouting is making a difference – in our girls, in our communities and in the future of tomorrow. A girl in Ballard’s troop seems to sum it up best: “Girl Scouting teaches girls who they are and how to be an amazing person. No other organization has the self-building and community feeling that Girl Scouts offers girls.”   For more information about Girl Scouting in your local area or to [...]

The post Girl Scouts Continue to Lead Change in Their All-Girl Environment appeared first on Oh! Woman Magazine.

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WNC Woman Magazine by Info@wncwoman.com - 6M ago

It might surprise you that this pageant winner and talented dancer says, “I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. I really enjoy going to school.” There are many sides to this 16-year-old East Henderson High School student. In November 2017, she was crowned Miss Western Carolina’s Outstanding Teen 2018, then she went to Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen and took 3rd Runner Up out of 44 candidates. She finished up her year’s rein and then won Miss Emerald Ridge’s Outstanding Teen 2019. She will be competing, once again, for the title of Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen in April in High Point. “I’ve known about the Miss America organization since a friend who won the Miss Hendersonville crown talked about how much she loved the pageants. I was especially interested in the scholarship program since I want to go to college in NYC (she’s looking at NYU and Pace University) and it’s not cheap! I’m also big on making friends and close bonds with people and I heard this organization is all about sisterhood.” Her other reason for wanting to go to NYC is that she hopes to join the Radio City Rockettes after college. “When I was about three years old, I got into them watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. They are like the “dancing gods” for me. When I was 14 my mom looked into it and found out they were having auditions in Atlanta. Out of 60,000 applicants from everywhere they choose 180 girls each summer.” Keelie was accepted and has danced with them for the past two years and will be there again this summer. This multi-faceted young woman also feels the need to give back to her community. She has helped the Blood Connection hold successful blood drives and saw the impact of that work when they told her the blood donated had saved 48 lives! In addition, she has been learning sign language at her school. “I thought it would be a cool thing to be able to interpret for news programs or public events. Also, there is a little girl at the studio where I teach dance to kids on Wednesdays whose parents are both deaf. The mother especially seemed isolated at times because she can’t communicate with many people. I saw her in the studio and started signing for her and I thought she was gonna cry.” Keelie hopes to join the Rockettes professionally, dance for a few years – as long as physically possible – and then go into teaching. Always giving back, this inspiring young woman is truly Leading the Way.  

The post Leading The Way :: Keelie Jones appeared first on Oh! Woman Magazine.

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WNC Woman Magazine by Info@wncwoman.com - 6M ago

Norma Hawes and Effie Phillips are no strangers in the halls of Vance Elementary School in West Asheville. In fact, they have both been teachers for over 20 years, sharing their joy and passion with children. With almost three decades under their belts and retirement options on the table, these veteran teachers have opted to stay in the classroom. Part of this decision is woven into their relationship with The Roots Foundation, a local non-profit that empowers teachers to engage students in relevant problem solving and works to connect curriculum to the outdoors. TRF currently provides; professional development, one-on-one support and school yard enhancement at three schools: Verner, Vance and Montford Northstar. Learn more at rootsfound.org. Read on to find out how these remarkable women, Norma and Effie, continue to innovate their first grade classrooms. When did you become a teacher and what inspired you go into this profession? Effie Phillips: “I started teaching 1st grade as an assistant in 1982, then as a teacher in 1992 and I love it. We are a critical grade, giving students that strong foundation to do well the rest of their educational life. Ilove their innocence and thrill when they know they’ve learned something–it gives me goose bumps and that just keeps me wanting to teach.” Norma Hawes: “I came to Vance in 1992. I’m inspired to help others learn to love reading. Reading is involved in everything you do, it’s a life skill.  I love first grade, they are just so happy. When they “get it,” it’s not silent, it’s ‘Oh yes! I get it now.’ They are just so expressive.” Tell me about your collaboration with The Roots Foundation (TRF).   What impact has the partnership had on the school and your classroom? EP: “TRF has done fantastic work on the school grounds: the planting, the community orchard, the 400 rocks for our art project…” NH: “All the volunteers, they get to build: picnic tables, outside classrooms, garden beds, a weather station.–We can just keep naming…” EP: “…and the wispy willows on the playground that will grow into a little shade hut. TRF is not just looking at the now, they are thinking about the future.” NH: “TRF also provides the opportunity for our team to come together and bounce around ideas. I never was a gardener, and science was always something I just had to teach. TRF broadened my horizon and helped me come out of my shell. I am comfortable now going to the garden. I’m also able to come up with Project Based Learning (PBL) lessons and see where they fit in to so many areas of our curriculum. Having their support, sharing ideas, and having someone else to listen to us that’s from the outside is huge. We have lots of ideas as teachers, but we don’t always know how to get the resources or time. TRF said, ‘you tell us what you want and we will do what we can to help you.’  They do their best to go into the community and make it happen.” EP: “I appreciate the co-planning time we have developing units with TRF, it gets us thinking and making connections. It may sound corny, but Roots is a perfect name because they have taken me back to the roots of education where our lessons feel more like thematic units. Now, through PBL, I can try to see the possibilities of how I can integrate all the core areas together instead of having a disjointed curriculum trying to fit things in  I can also take the students to one of the outdoor classrooms and enjoy lessons outside. When we were doing the math unit, and making brick, the kids were so excited to get into the mud and mix and learn about ratios.” NH: “TRF is like a breath of fresh air, it’s like, ‘oh wow, we get to have TRF today!’  I feel confident and it makes me excited to be a teacher.” What is your current experience with Project Based Learning (PBL)?  How effective do you think it is as a teaching pedagogy?   EP: “I did not do much PBL before The Roots Foundation. They’ve helped me grow. I am doing so much better with launching an idea and then guiding students to brainstorm how they can solve it working backwards through steps. I feel I can do good, authentic lessons and coordinated writing for a purpose. It’s a living curriculum. We’re creating more of a learning cycle that students can see from grade to grade. For example: they planted beans in first grade before school let out and then, when they came back in second, they got to harvest them. The more we can expose students to the hands-on cycle of learning, not just reading it in a book, the more fun they have because they are doing it and they will remember it.” NH: “Having children see the end result of their work is so important. When we did our mint project last year, I was thinking: What standard do we never really get to?  It was economics–talking about money with first graders. When we met with TRF, we started coming up with ideas. We knew what the end project was going to be: selling mint to French Broad Chocolate Lounge to make delicious chocolates, but the question was; how do we get there?” We worked through the steps with TRF integrating reading, writing, planting, selling, harvesting, and a field trip to see how chocolate is actually made. It inspired us to ask ‘Where do we go next?’ and to carry it on into this school year.” EP: “Yes, it did not just end. We didn’t say: ‘We’ve done that PBL project, so we can check it off.’  We’ve grown – and now we want to use the mint we harvested this fall and we are going to make soap and tea to teach economics with our next group of kids.” NH: “This methodology requires time, which is challenging [...]

The post Two Vance Elementary Teachers appeared first on Oh! Woman Magazine.

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It was 1916, and Susan Courtney Harris had just rented an entire beautiful Victorian hotel for the whole summer of 1917. You see, that hotel was her favorite vacation destination. She and her five children had enjoyed the property for several summers as her husband, the children’s father, traveled and worked for the railroad during the summers. The cool mountain air of Haywood County, North Carolina sure beat the sweltering heat of Jacksonville, Florida. And her children loved frolicking in the meadows and spending carefree summer days in the mountains. The hotel had fallen on hard times and Susan decided to do something about it. Not wanting it to close, and not wanting to lose her precious summer “home,” she leased the entire hotel, returned to Jacksonville, and started drumming up business for her 1917 summer adventure that she would call Skyland Camp for Girls in Clyde, North Carolina. It went so well that she leased the hotel again in 1918, 1919 and 1920. And in its fourth year of operation, as Skyland Camp for Girls was becoming a known entity among Jacksonville families who sought a cooler, carefree summer for their daughters, the hotel owner made other plans. Unbeknownst to Susan, the owner orchestrated an auction, complete with entertainment, food and much hoopla, with the intention to sell the entire property, parcel by parcel. Upon hearing this news, as the auction was beginning, Susan left her post of helping out in the kitchen and marched on to the front porch and directly to the auction. Imagine. There she stood beside the auctioneer looking at all the men who were bidding on the first parcel of land. She raised her hand and declared “$3000 for the whole kit and caboodle.” The auctioneer looked at her, looked at the crowd and shouted “Going once.  Going twice.”   Looking around again at the men, who seemed to be standing in uncomfortable silence, the auctioneer finally said, “SOLD to the lady in the apron.” And the rest, as they say, is history.  Susan launched a business that has become a cornerstone in the world of overnight camps for girls. Today, Skyland is owned and operated by Susan’s great granddaughter Sherry Brown. Before Sherry, it was operated for 30 years by her parents Bunny and Tim Brown. Between Susan and Bunny, Susan’s daughters Frances and Hempy were at the helm. “My great grandmother was a woman in business before women could even BE in business,” said Sherry Brown, current owner and operator. “She wasn’t even able to vote when she started Skyland, nor was she allowed to purchase property without a man’s consent. For as much gratitude as we have for her and her vision, we give equal thanks to her husband, my great grandfather, for supporting his wife as she pursued her passions and dreams. Not all women were so lucky in those days.” Skyland is a place where girls have always been able to find their voice, step into their confidence, and become the women they choose to be. Today Skyland exists much as it did in the 1920s. Campers, ages 6-16 are housed by grade level, and sleep on the charming open-air sleeping porches of the original Victorian hotel and nearby cabins. Granddaughters and great-granddaughters of campers from those early years are now attending camp. Skyland is a generational legacy that stands as a beacon for girls and women across the world. Recognizing that overnight camp experiences, whether as a camper or a counselor, increase success in school, college and career, Sherry and her partner Kay Anderson became interested in sharing the beautiful, healing and nurturing Skyland property with adults who are also seeking growth opportunities, lifelong friendships, and some stretch goals. “Kay, whose background is perfect for Skyland, spent more than a decade in corporate human resources, as WELL as in elementary and higher education. She’s been an executive and life coach and leadership consultant and has brought a unique skillset to the Skyland team,” said Sherry Brown. “She is great at supporting the camp’s marketing and communication efforts and has been instrumental in launching Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching programs under the umbrella of Skyland Equine.” Skyland Equine offers equine facilitated learning and coaching programs in the form of 3- and 4-day retreats, individual equine experiences, and teambuilding workshops. During on-site retreats, guests stay in the main lodge or cabins, all of which offer semi-private accommodations, updated plumbing, hot showers, and Skyland’s famous screened-in sleeping porches. Guests drift off to sleep accompanied by choirs of crickets, and awaken with signs of sunrise, chirping birds and scurrying squirrels. During on-site retreats, guests are served three healthy (and delicious!) meals each day, as well as snacks and beverages. Guests participate in morning and afternoon workshops, as well as evening gatherings. In addition, there is ample free time provided so guests can explore the grounds. Free time can include relaxing at the pool, playing tennis, shooting archery, journaling while relaxing in a hammock or Adirondack chair, exploring Skyland’s Tranquility Trail, or simply resting and focusing on soul restoration. “The work with horses is astounding, and we’ve witnessed truly life-changing, and career-altering experiences for women,” said Kay Anderson. “Retreats have included college-age women, entrepreneurs, authors, fundraising executives, CEOs, CFOs, and moms who are launching home-based businesses.” This unique method of ground-based equine partnership (all programs are non-riding), combined with real-time coaching, allows participants to break through limiting beliefs, claim their authentic voice, and gain clarity and confidence in the direction of their dreams. One attendee, a 58-year old woman who would be defined as “highly successful” by corporate standards, reported back to us six months later and said that “the learning I had from the equine boundary exercise transformed my work. Literally, it transformed the way I approach colleagues and clients. I saw immediate results and am incorporating that learning into every human interaction. THANK YOU, Skyland Herd.  I’ll be back for more!!” Susan Courtney Harris could not have imagined the success of [...]

The post Skyland Camp for Girls :: Grow, Connect and Learn appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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I read articles about when to give up. The reasons are many and I often check most of those. But the one I cannot check is “when the passion dies.” I was born and raised in France. I am known to take risks. One day, a bit out of the blue, I decided to come to the USA. Pioneer woman of the 20th century, I left everything and everyone behind in France and eventually settled in America. Twenty years ago, I thought it would be lovely to organize a tour of my native region of Northern Provence. Having traveled extensively in my youth and being an immigrant, it is clear to me that we really do not know much about people of other places let alone other countries. I wanted people to experience France at its core. I wanted to give them the ultimate authentic experience. Little did I know, at the time, that this idea would transform into a business vision. Caught into the daily life of work and raising children, the idea just rested on a little shelf in the back of my mind waving at me from time to time. I shared my vision plenty of times with plenty of people from different walks of life. My passion in describing the area and the type of experience I wanted to offer always earned positive feedback. How could I best unveil this hidden jewel of France? I knew there was a shift in travel from the 7-countries-in-7 days big bus experience to something more intimate, slower, and real. Authenticity is a word catching on in travel. I was raised in a family with a long tradition of entrepreneurship. Growing up my father was never an “employee.” He embarked on various business ventures that eventually lead to owning two successful real estate agencies. Risk, determination, big visions and independence run deep in my blood. However, my career path ended in Early Education and Social Services, a very far cry from entrepreneurship and the travel industry. Was it that I was getting older and an empty nester?  Was it that my vision started to tug at me quite hard? Was it that the gene of independence would not go to sleep? Maybe I simply grew tired of trying to fulfill someone else’s vision. In 2013, I quit my job to give that tugging dream a chance. The risk was enormous. By then I was the bread winner of our family. We were financially stable enough for me to not generate an income for a bit, yet, not for long. So, I went to work for hours, religiously putting my idea on paper and engaging in the monumental research I needed to create a memorable experience for my future clients. I signed up for Mountain Bizworks courses to design business, financial, and marketing plans. I gleaned valuable feedback and made some adjustments to my plan. I joined various entrepreneur meet-ups and attended several meetings weekly. I drew on free resources such as AB Tech and SCORE to get as much information and education I could get to transform this dream into income. Through conversations, exchanges, research and instinct (lots of it) I learned an incredible amount in a short time such as: defining my audience, where and how to reach it, tips on pricing, tips on talking up my business. I invested in a professional website, created a page on Facebook and posted daily for a full year.  Soon it became clear to me that, despite the positive feedback I always received when sharing my vision, generating an income from it was not going to be an easy or quick task. Time was running out, coffers were getting low, I had to switch gears. I shifted back to the world of Early Education. I opened a child care in my home and embarked on caring for five toddlers, 10 hours a day five days a week. It is demanding work both in time and energy. However, that business took off in a heartbeat. The income was welcome. Then, my grandchildren moved in with us. Time became a rare commodity in my life, but I persisted. Be at 9 p.m. or 3 a.m. standing wide awake, or weekends, every free minute was and is dedicated to educating myself in business management, marketing, and implementing strategies. Getting help has been challenging. I was given much advice at cost or free. I followed some and let go of others. Amid all, I received suggestions that proved quite valuable. In 2015 I re-branded to Provence Detours and lead my first two trips. I have been able to recruit for one trip every year since then. The time restriction created by the child care business does not allow me to promote and run more than one trip per year. The feedback from tour participants has been invigorating, humbling, and informative. Overall clients have really enjoyed exploring the nook and crannies of a place they had never heard of. Let alone the food and wine! I spend many hours doubting what I do and why I do it. Would not life be easier with just one business to run? Why not stick with the one that works the best, child care? The one that does not require any marketing (I get calls all l the time from desperate parents). Why not pursue the one which after 35 years of experience comes so naturally to me? Statistically, startups close doors because people give up. It simply gets too hard. I get that, I am there all the time. I read articles about when to give up. The reasons are many and I often check most of those. But the one I cannot check is “when the passion dies.” My passion for what I offer is quite alive. The spark has not died, and I will keep blowing on it till the fire burns fully or I run out of breath. I believe what I have is special, [...]

The post Beyond Twice Over :: Sylvie Delaunay appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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WNC Woman Magazine by Info@wncwoman.com - 7M ago

She is a 17-year-old, home-schooled farm girl from Edneyville, NC (near Hendersonville) who is now on her way to the big time: as a contestant on the TV show American Idol! Meghan’s path to this opportunity is not as surprising as her small-town roots might suggest. She’s been singing since she could talk; in fact she says, “When I first started talking, I would sing everything. It kind of drove my parents crazy sometimes!” Music, especially country music, has always been an important part of her life. “When I was younger, I was told I had dyslexia. I could learn so many things with my hands, but when It came to reading, I just couldn’t grasp things. So, in order to learn a word, I’d put it into a song and that helped me through that season of my life.” She got a “no” from Americal Idol a year ago, but, “This past year I worked so hard and told my mom, I’m gonna get a “Yes” this time. Then I kind of chickened out at the last minute. I kind of got scared. Then out of nowhere, I said, I’m gonna do it, let’s get ready and we can make it to the audition in Charlotte.” That time, she did get her “Yes!” She went through several auditions with American Idol. Then someone said, since you sing country music why don’t you apply for this contest they have teamed up to do with CMA (Country Music Association). “I entered a video but didn’t really expect a lot out of it.” After not hearing anything in a month and a half she got an email saying she was in the top three! Next step was a trip to Nashville to record a video to be played on CMA; the day after that she was scheduled to be on Good Morning America. When her plane was delayed, then canceled, she did the show from her living room on Face-time. “I won and got the Golden Ticket to Hollywood!” Meghan talks about those who inspired her, especially the music minister, Chris Roberts, at her former church. And she wants to pay that inspiration forward. “Music is a hard career but honestly, if I can sing and make people happy, I’m happy to be able to encourage others no matter where I am.” FB: Meghan Woods Music Instagram: meghanwoodsofficial YouTube: Meghan Woods

The post Leading the Way :: Meghan Woods appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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We believe that everything is built one conversation at a time. Community, Companies, Dreams, Families…The possibilities are infinite when women start talking to each other. Why did we choose the new brand Oh! WOMAN? Oh! is used to express a range of emotions including surprise, anger, disappointment, or joy, or simply when reacting to something that someone said. At one time or another I’ve heard the expression of Oh! from every woman I know; no matter the age or level of education, race or religion. I hope and believe we will elicit this expression from our readers every month. You are holding the first edition of Oh! WOMAN magazine. This brand change has been in the creation phase for the past year. Over the past two years we have seen a pattern from women that visit Asheville. I was having lunch and I overheard a mother and her daughter talking. “Why don’t we have a magazine like this in our city?” I am curious by nature. My husband says I’m just nosey! I say I’m friendly. So, I turned around and asked them: Why don’t you start one? They both laughed, and the mother said, “I wouldn’t even know how to begin.” I had the pleasure of talking to them and soon we all parted as new friends. I have kept in touch with these ladies. You know how you never see a Volkswagen Bug until you start looking for one? Over the summer I heard at least five or six other conversations about the magazine that were about the same. Every time I asked the question: Why don’t you start one in your city, the response was the same, “I wouldn’t know where to begin.” Again, and again I was surprised. Don’t get me wrong. Every month I am so proud of our team and how they work together to make every edition the great magazine that it is. It takes hard work and a lot of creativity to get it to press every month. Every time I thought about having this magazine in other cities, I felt excited by the possibility. Why not! We created this; could we support other communities in having a Woman’s magazine like ours? Sandi and I started talking about it and HERE We ARE! The first edition of Oh! WOMAN. It Takes A Village. How many times have we all used this phrase? For Oh! WOMAN  magazine it’s true. It has been sixteen years of building a successful publication, WNC Woman magazine. Since its first full year of publication in 2003 the magazine has always been in the top three in the Mountain Xpress Best Of category “Free Publications.” And always the number one woman’s magazine in the region. We believe we have a winning formula that is easily repeated. Julie Parker — who was the first woman I met when I moved to Asheville through her web design business, Handwoven Webs — and I were having lunch in 2002. I had seen a magazine in Boulder, Colorado: Boulder Woman, and thought it was an interesting idea. We discussed doing a woman’s magazine here. Julie had a group of friends and we all met to form Infinite Circles Publishing with Julie as the first editor. This was a group of dynamic ladies who were all interested in forming this wonderful magazine. Each contributed money, talent and time to get it started. Sandi Tomlin-Sutker was one of these talented women. She worked with Julie from the beginning, learning on the job about layout and design. Then in 2010 she took the helm of the publication as Publisher and Editor, shaping WNC Woman into the unique publication it is. She built distribution to its current 500+ locations throughout WNC. It is a successful publication that can now be replicated in other cities throughout the world. I would say this is a great legacy. I believe that success leaves clues. We have been fortunate enough to learn from our mistakes. Maybe I should confess! We have survived our mistakes. My friend, Bill Gilliland at Action Coach, told me that it is from our Epic Failures we learn how to be succeed. I have always been in the background of the magazine and not always active in the day-to-day work. I came back into the operations of the magazine in the Fall of 2015. In 2016 we started building and strengthening the magazine platform. In April of 2017 I took on the role of Publisher. This is our Village: Sandra Grace, Publisher; Sandi Tomlin-Sutker, Executive Editor; Crystal Pressley, Sales Manager, and Francina Edmonds, Sales Representative; Kate Gower, Owner of Farmhouse Graphics and Art Director for Oh! Woman. The Oh! Woman team is grateful for the readers that have supported us in the growth and changes we have experienced recently. We welcome and encourage letters to our Editor at editor@wncwoman.com. It is the letters we receive that guide us in the direction and decisions we make about the editorial content. The features and departments come from your suggestions. This magazine is for our community. We listen to what you, our readers, want. Oh! Woman could not exist without our advertisers. We have maintained relationships with some of our advertisers for many years. White Oak Financial, Starks Financial, Dr. George Ibrahim at Biltmore Restorative. Dr. Bob Hanna; Mars Hill Retirement; Mans Ruin Tattoo; Goodwill. Mission Hospital and Pardee Hospital. Ingles came on with us last year. It is an honor to have the encouragement of businesses that support our families and community. When we say it takes a village, we are really saying Oh! Woman is supported by our community in Western North Carolina: readers and advertisers. Every month we have the goal to Connect, Inform, Inspire, and build Community. One conversation at a time. We have “done one thing well.” We have built a community of readers that support our advertisers and advertisers that support our readers. New Directions. As with any new venture or change we have [...]

The post Oh! Woman Profile :: Moving Forward with Grace! appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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If you’ve never been into Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn, you are in for a pleasant surprise! Alan and his wife Tonia, have worked hard to transform their shops into bright, inviting retail environments full of jewelry and, of course, everything else that comes along with being a traditional pawn shop. The friendly staff at Alan’s is there to assist you with all your shopping needs, as well as to work with the customers who need to obtain a short-term collateral-based cash loan, or to sell merchandise that is no longer wanted or needed. Far from the “Hollywood” image of a pawn shop, Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn established itself in the local economy 30 years ago. Alan and Tonia are very excited to be celebrating their 30th Anniversary, which just happens to be the “Diamond” Anniversary. This is very fitting considering the amount of “bling” you will find when you walk through their doors. In 1988, Alan opened the first Alan’s. Why the pawn business?  Just happens that Alan was a contractor and was building homes in Asheville when the market crashed, and he had to use the services of a local pawn shop to help make payroll. When he wasn’t treated fairly, he decided that ultimately there was a better way for this type of business to run. He bought a pawn shop that happened to be up for sale, starting his new business with a shop that was roughly 800 square feet. Through trial and error, he worked his way up by always being involved in the community, and making sure that he and his staff treat customers with the respect they deserve. In 1995, Tonia Sheppard, was doing an internship through Mars Hill College for Marketing, which is where she met Alan, as Alan’s was a client of the marketing firm. In 1996, she graduated, and worked a couple of other jobs in marketing before she was hired by Alan in 1997 to work in-house. Today she knows the business from top to bottom. Alan and Tonia were married in 2003; they live in Weaverville with all their fur babies. What does a Pawn Shop do? They make short-term collateral loans based on items of value such as jewelry, electronics, musical instruments, tools, etc. The item(s) are held for specified lengths of time (regulated by state and federal laws) during which the customer can pay back the loan and retrieve their property. Some shops are known to specialize in loaning high amounts on specific merchandise, and Alan’s is known for their loans on and purchases of jewelry. “It holds its value very well, and we like to do loans rather than purchase the jewelry from people who might need the collateral in the future.”  So, not only does Alan’s loan on items, they will buy them directly from you, or you can trade up to another item in their huge inventory. Alan’s Jewelry Department “People walk in our store and say, wow, this doesn’t look like a pawn shop! Alan is very particular and wants the store to always look perfect, clean and i nviting.” Alan’s has the largest selection of jewelry in Western North Carolina, including diamonds, designer brands, vintage/estate jewelry and more. About 40% of the merchandise in Alan’s jewelry department is pre-owned, and the rest is refurbished in their state-of-the-art on-site jewelry repair shop or purchased from wholesalers across the country. “We belong to many organizations such as the International Watch & Jewelry Guild, the Southern Jewelers Organization (SJO) and the National Pawnbrokers Association. We can special order pretty much anything that you need, or we can design a special piece for you.”  Alan’s has five jewelers on staff to do custom designs and jewelry repairs. The repair department includes engraving machines, laser welders and so much more. Lynn Daniel is Alan’s Lead Jeweler, and in her words, “I caught the ‘jewelry bug’ watching Stuart Ney when I was a teenager here in Asheville. I studied casting and jewelry design while getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology and counseling.” A cool tidbit is that Lynn became a full-time jeweler in 1988, which also happens to be the year that Alan Sheppard started Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn! Sounds pretty serendipitous to us. Female Staff at Alan’s Alan and Tonia have been very fortunate to have an incredible staff in their organization, and many of those are women. Not only are they staff members, but they are in management positions. Dena Smith started with Alan in 1990 as his only jeweler and is Alan’s longest-term staff member. There is a mother-daughter duo on staff; the mother started 18 years ago when daughter Brittney was only 11 years old. “Since the day Brittney was old enough to work, she has been with us and is now in a Supervisor position at the Alan’s Tunnel Road location.” Most people would figure that the pawn industry is predominately male, but Alan’s has over 15 staff members that are female. From the jewelry department staff to the pawn department staff, Alan’s always looks to promote within. That focus on being fair with their employees carries over to their customers. “Alan’s theory with our employees is: ‘the day you think you’re better than the customer who walks in the building is the day you can follow them out the door!’” Alan’s now has three locations: 1186 Patton Avenue, Asheville, NC 736 Tunnel Rd., Asheville, NC 510 Paint Town Rd., Cherokee (Across from Casino) FB: Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn www.alanspawn.com

The post OH! Woman Profile :: Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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WNC Woman Magazine by Info@wncwoman.com - 8M ago

On November 8th the Asheville Chamber of Commerce sponsored its WomanUP event to recognize several accomplished women entrepreneurs, executives and leaders. There were several amazing women nominated in each category and the winners are: L to R: Katie Shaffer, JoAnn Yoder, Murphy Funkhouser Capps, Lisa Adkins WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS: Best in Business (Presented by Webb Investment Services): Murphy Funkhouser Capps of Kudzu Brands Rising Star (Presented by Western Carolina University): Katie Shaffer of GE Aviation WOMAN EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR (Presented by Mission Health): JoAnn Yoder of Brumit Restaurant Group OUTSTANDING WOMAN IN NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP (Presented by TD Bank): Lisa Adkins of Buncombe County Schools Foundation ~~~ The second highlight of the morning was the Keynote Speaker, Rebecca Ryan of NEXT Generation Consulting, Inc. who is serving as the resident futurist for the Asheville Chamber. Rebecca Ryan grew up in West Bend, Wisconsin. She earned undergraduate degrees with honors in Economics and International Relations from Drake University. After five jobs in four years, she founded NEXT Generation Consulting in 1997. A born trend-watcher, Ryan realized that the workforce had changed, but cities and the workplace had not. Her mission is to help humanity become future-ready. “Here’s the deal: Most of our planning is not based on what’s coming. It’s based on what’s past! This is like trying to drive your car only looking at your rearview mirror. Evidence that we’re doing ‘planning’ based on the past is all around you. Look at your budget (if you work for a city or have profit and loss responsibility) or look at your comprehensive plan (if you’re a planner) or look at your strategic plans (if you have a job at all, I guarantee you there’s a strategic plan hidden in a drawer somewhere.) Most of these documents are based on what’s always been done, what’s tried and true. The trouble is, you’re not going to live your life in the past. You’re going to live it in the future. So planning needs to be less history-oriented and more future-oriented.” Ryan is the author of The Next Big Things: The Future of Local Government (2015), ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Next Leaders (2013), and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation (2007). In addition to her work at NEXT Generation Consulting, Ryan is the Resident Futurist at the Alliance for Innovation, a Senior Advisor at the Governing Institute, co-founder of CitiZen, a program of the Institute for Zen Leadership, and a Senior Fellow at CEOs for Cities. The Rebecca Ryan Diva Squad (Rebecca, Lisa and Stephanie) has a mission – to leave the world a better place for future generations. We’re enthused about strategic foresight, empowering communities, data driven trends, and having a BLAST at work. Join us! #thefutureisourstocreate rebeccaryan.com T: ngcrebecca

The post WomanUP 2018 Winners appeared first on WNC Woman Magazine.

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