SWANTON, Vt. (WCAX) – The number of female-owned businesses is increasing in the Green Mountain State, according to data by the Vermont Commission on Women.
Now, one section of Swanton is home to a number of businesses that are mostly owned by women.
Meet Darci Benoit, owner of Bees on Broadway. She says, “I’ve always had a dream of owning a store, so I feel like I’ve achieved my dream.”
For the last three years, Benoit has been making soaps, candles, salves, and other products at her shop in Swanton using honey and wax from her family’s bees.
“For so many years, the inside joke was it was a good old boys’ town, but I think the women are really coming up and showing what we’re capable of now,” Benoit said.
According to a report by the Vermont Commission on Women, 32% of businesses in the Green Mountain State are owned by women, generating roughly $2.2 billion in revenue each year.
Although these businesses are growing at a faster rate than businesses owned by men, Kiah Morris with the Vermont Commission on Women says those in Vermont are still fewer in number, smaller in size, and lower in annual revenue.
“They’re not often given the executive support on learning how to really truly build a business plan that isn’t just getting the door open, but maintaining it over time, getting ready for the ups and downs of the economy and such,” Morris said.
That’s something Benoit has faced first-hand. She says without support, female business owners may face systemic challenges.
“Finding somebody to answer your questions as a woman, you may be pushed aside if you don’t have the right questions or have the right person to talk to,” Benoit said.
Morris says other challenges include work-life balance and access to child care. She adds that the most important piece in sustaining a business model comes from within the business community.
“I hope that they will reach out to those women to see other ways that they can collaborate,” Morris said. “Can they make cooperative business models so it doesn’t have to be the solo entrepreneur, taking in all of the risks and all of the only rewards?” She adds, “It makes it easy to share this load, share this wisdom, and build out mentorship.”
Karen Samson, owner of Karen’s Hair Studio in Swanton, says as more and more female-owned businesses pop up throughout the state, it provides a boost to others looking to do the same thing.
“I think it’s a huge incentive for people, and for women, to see the success stories,” Samson said. “I think it gives you confidence that you can fulfil your dreams and open up a business, and make it work for your lifestyle.”
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