Quick takes: On the importance of mentorships

Michlel Cook; photo courtesy of Cook

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Women’s Issue. 

Michele Cook, owner of Blaze On Creations, discusses the importance of mentorships and inspiring the next wave of female business owners.

Who is a local woman you admire and why?

This is tough — as there are a handful. But to choose one …

Franny Tacy, the mastermind behind Franny’s Farmacy, shines as a beacon of inspiration. Her passion for sustainable agriculture and commitment to natural products have earned her a special place in my admiration. With her unrelenting drive to share knowledge and offer encouragement, she has been a driving force for many, including myself, in our community. Her unwavering vision has flourished into a thriving business, showcasing her remarkable ability to bring her beliefs to life. Franny’s support for small businesses, including mine, and her sage advice have been immeasurable, and I am grateful for the time she takes to uplift and inspire others. Franny is a true gem in our community.

What is one specific way women can help uplift other women within your industry?

Women can help uplift other women entrepreneurs by offering mentorship and support to overcome unique challenges and barriers, such as limited access to funding, lack of representation and cultural biases. This includes offering advice, connecting with resources and networks, and advocating for policies that support women in entrepreneurship. By collaborating, women entrepreneurs can foster a more just and equal business environment, balance the odds and inspire the next wave of female business owners.

What’s one way men can better support women in WNC? 

As a small-business woman in a male-dominated industry, I appreciate the support of men who understand the unique challenges faced by women in the workplace. One way men can better support us is by being an ally and advocate for gender equality. This can include speaking up when they witness bias or discrimination, promoting and supporting women’s ideas and contributions in meetings, and being mindful of their own language and behavior. Additionally, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities can go a long way in helping women advance in their careers. By working together and supporting each other, we can create a more inclusive and equitable work environment for everyone in Western North Carolina.


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