Michelle Christie says there is nothing like sharing business tips with other female entrepreneurs to help spur new ideas.
“Something magical happens with a women’s-only group,” said Christie, who four years ago started Motivators and Creators Women’s Group, based in Mount Vernon, with this cooperative goal in mind.
“There was a need to have a safe, comfortable space without competition so that women could get real-life feedback,” she said of the networking group.
Christie, who five years ago was a full-time mother and helping her husband, Christopher Hazlehurst, run the office for his construction company, Triple C HVAC & General Construction Inc., in Mount Vernon, said the business network came together when she tried to form a mothers’ group. Women came together, but the topic of business ventures kept coming up, she said.
From social to business
“I was trying to start a social group, but attracted a lot of businesswomen,” Christie said. And this networking group spawned yet something else — her own business consultation service focusing on online marketing and new media.
“I learned how to build a website and market on social media. Women were coming to me and our events and they needed Web help,” she said.
Bridget O’Brien, who runs her own public relations and production company in Bronxville and New York City, joined the group two years ago and is helping coordinate events and programs.
The group, known as MACs Women,has forged valuable business friendships, she said, adding that the tough economy has prompted many women to start their own businesses.
“Women need the work and they are going after their (business) passion,” said O’Brien, who has worked with many fashion clients including those at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. “We are going to see more and more women-run businesses.”
MACs has a major online presence, offering chat rooms, resources and information on new media. There are also several face-to-face events a year.
“Women know everyone, to pool expertise. This is business and it’s supportive and creative,” O’Briensaid of the network and advice that is shared.
On April 24, the group will hold its second contest, called Perfect Pitch. It is modeled after ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” a competition that pits people with new business ideas against each other and requires each to make their best pitch to a panel of experts who then decide which idea has the most potential.
Entries are still being considered for the final five business concepts to be reviewed by panelists. The businesses can be existing ones that owners want to grow, or concepts that women want to develop into a new venture. The businesses can be based anywhere in the metropolitan area. So far, Christie says that contenders include an interior designer, a cookie baker, a graphic designer and a handful of consultants who focus on branding and image-making. At the pitch event, one winner will be chosen to receive a $250 cash prize and a private in-depth consultation on social media with Christie.
At the first event the winner was Precious Williams, a real estate attorney who runs Curvy Girlz Lingerie LLC in New York City. Her line focuses on selling lacy undergarments for plus-sized women. She sells through home party events, and with her newly revamped website, is now hoping to market her items through Amazon, Christie said.
“It is exciting to see these new business ideas and help women become leaders,” she said.
Advice from a pro
Here are some business insights from Christie and how she started MACs.
Getting motivated: The goal was to provide support for female business owners and to help them share information and develop a good business plan. The idea came when Christie realized women starting a business were seeking colleagues to talk to.
The seeds: The initial investment was about $100, to create and maintain a website at www.macswomenonline.com.
Women only: It is “dynamic” to be a female-centered group, explains Christie. “We can have a genuine conversation. We are heart-centered and know it is more than just about making money,” she said. “It’s about being independent, owning your own power. But it is about getting strength, and advice, from others.”
How it has grown: MACs has about 700 online members, mostly from the New York metro area, though there are a handful of women from across the United States and Canada. These members range from consultants and life coaches to salon owners and real estate agents. Annual membership is $240.
Bring on the competition: As far as Pitch Perfect goes, both O’Brien and Christie say that putting together a presentation on a new business forces a woman to really think about the plan and listen to how it sounds.
Best advice: A successful business doesn’t happen accidentally, says Christie. It takes a good plan and perseverance and “advice from other women.”
To contact the network, go to www.macswomenonline.com.
MACs’ Perfect Pitch Contest
Panelists will provide feedback to a handful of new ventures. In addition to Christie and O’Brien, other panelists are Nicole Taylor of A.K.A. Coach Nic; Ferlie Almonte, an image consultant; and Caryn Chow, a public speaking and communications coach.
The event is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on April 24 at Villa Nova East, 65 First St. in Pelham. The evening includes light dinner and a mobile marketing presentation. Cost: $35, limited space available. To be considered for the contest, go to www.macswomenonline.com.
Referenced By: https://www.lohud.com/story/money/business/2014/04/16/startup-womens-network-shark-tank/7772125/