Women in business gather to share their knowledge

Sherry Martell
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TRURO - After 15 years of working in the corporate business world, Wanda MacInnes decided to take her career in a new direction when staff cuts eliminated her position.
With a flare for art and years of experience sewing as a hobby, she decided to make a name for herself with her own line of sleepwear, loungewear and lingerie and launched plans to be her own boss, developing Annabelle Design Apparel.
"It was an opportunity in my life to do something different and creative," said MacInnes, one of about 27 Colchester County women entrepreneurs attending a networking luncheon in Truro on Thursday.
The event was held at the Best Western Glengarry and presented by the Centre for Women in Business and the Colchester Regional Development Agency to give women entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet.
"I've always sewn. I learned from my mother, from the time I was old enough to sit down at a sewing machine, I could sew, knit and crochet," said MacInnes.
She said working for herself at first felt like a scary prospect but then she became determined to succeed by creating original Canadian products to fill a niche market addressing some hard-to-find sizes.
"The biggest challenge was narrowing it down to what it was people would want to buy," she said.
During the luncheon the business owners spent time sharing stories of successes and failures, exchanging information about each other's enterprises and received valuable advice from women who have been their own boss for many years.
The guest speaker was Sara Bonnyman, a potter based in Tatamagouche for the past 35 years. She has expanded her customer base to international markets around the globe, and talked about overcoming many obstacles in her journey from exploding kilns early on to learning marketing skills and utilizing new technologies.
"You can't do better if you don't
know where you are," she told the group, reinforcing the importance of understanding target markets.
Travel counsellor Terry Larke established her business in 2002 to help people realize their dream vacations by specializing in tourism to unique destinations around the world.
The certified travel counsellor said one of the biggest challenges for her was marketing.
"Truro is a small town so basically I have to get myself out beyond its borders," said Larke.
She said when considering opening a business you have to look at it like it's someone you are going to marry.
"It takes determination," she said. "You have to have a passion for what you are doing because it's going to be your life."
Nancy Carrigan is preparing to open Carrigan Concepts in Truro, an interior decorating and furniture design business.
She said the networking meeting is a stepping-stone to meet potential clients and learn from other experienced businesswomen like Bonnyman. "The talk was very good, showing the ups and downs," she said.

smartell@transcontinental.ca

Organizations: Centre for Women, Colchester Regional Development Agency

Geographic location: TRURO, Colchester County, Tatamagouche

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