22 Oct CoCo Recognizes National Business Women’s Week
National Business Women’s Week is celebrated every third week in October and focuses on the accomplishments and success of women business owners and entrepreneurs. The first National Business Women’s Week was launched in 1928 by Lean Madison Phillips, president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC). In 1932, President Herbert Hoover issued a letter recognizing National Business Women’s Week. However, it was not until 1938 that the observance was officially recognized and celebrated annually.
This year’s celebration of women in business seems especially important. A 2020 study from the Female Founders Alliance, a social corporation of companies and individuals that provides resources and programming for women and non-binary founders, investors, and entrepreneurs, found that before the pandemic, 87% of respondents said they were “highly likely to start a company.” Yet, six months later, 51% said they had “delayed or scrapped their plans.”
The US Chamber of Commerce report reveals how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women who own small businesses.
In solidarity with our amazing women business owners in South LA, Community Coalition elevates two owners whose resilience through the pandemic is worthy of recognition and praise. This first is Javanne Sanders, who owns Toss it Up, a delicious and healthy salad service that delivers to its customers.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Sanders was driving the bus for the City of Gardena. Three months in, she realized that her job wasn’t satisfying and wanted to start her own business. So she took a seminar for aspiring entrepreneurs that suggested that she “find out what you enjoy doing that no one else in your community is offering as a service, and make sure it’s something your community needs.”
Shortly after the seminar, she craved a “bomb chicken salad,” but she didn’t know who in her community offered that healthy option. “I was tired of feeling weighed down by food. You want to try and get in shape, but you leave the gym, and you’re like, ‘how am I supposed to keep this weight off with the food in our communities,'” says Sanders.
While driving the bus, Sanders consistently ran her salad business on the side. Many Los Angeles residents faced furloughs and layoffs from their jobs due to the pandemic, and Sanders was among them. She was also laid off in 2020. But, in many ways, the pandemic fueled Sander’s desire to invest her time into her business fully. “Covid developed entrepreneurs. It showed us how skillful we can be when we need to survive.”
Sander’s has been featured in a Business Health article in USC News.
Another inspiring businesswoman in South LA is known for uplifting her community through hula hooping. Vanessa Bailey is a retired teacher and an active member of CoCo who opened a dance studio 14 years ago known as Vanessa’s Positive Energy—located at 1301 West Manchester Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90746, the studio was available to the public for dance classes and parties, but last year’s pandemic forced it to close its doors.
Bailey tried to keep her studio going during COVID-19, but she was losing her students and money as shelter in place orders shuttered businesses. Fortunately, many South LA residents knew of Bailey’s studio and her efforts to encourage seniors to stay active and exercise through dance. Hence, she received donations that helped her keep the lights on. Bailey was overwhelmed with gratitude for the community’s assistance and realized just how impactful her business had been to people.
“All of a sudden, people saw me hula hooping, and before I knew it, CoCo wanted to interview me,” Bailey said. “Spectrum News wanted to do a story on me, and now I have all these new followers on Instagram.”
Bailey refused to allow the pandemic to diminish her passion for dance while she stayed at home. Instead, she decided to sustain her connection with her community, even if it was virtually by hula hooping on camera and uploading videos to her Facebook page. So now seniors in South LA are watching her hula-hooping videos and virtually staying connected with their dance coach.
When asked what advice she had for other businesswomen, Ms. Vanessa said, “I want to leave a dynasty because I have two daughters and five granddaughters. So I want them to know if there is something you want to do, just get out there and do it.”
Vanessa’s Positive Energy studio is now open on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Chicago Style Stepping dance classes.
Share your experiences as a businesswoman by using the hashtag #BusinessWomensWeek or #NBWW on social media. You can also share your story with CoCo at ShareYourStory.