Women-owned businesses are on the rise, both nationally and in North Carolina. As of 2007, women owned 7.8 million of our nation’s 27 million firms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Locally, women owned 29.3 percent of Asheville’s 12,773 businesses, putting the city above both national and state averages (28.8 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively).
The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express, extrapolates from census data to produce current figures, which also point to an increasingly vibrant landscape of female-led businesses in North Carolina. The state ranks third in the nation for women-owned business growth and is in the top 10 for both the total number of such businesses and growth in African-American and Native American ownership. Despite this explosive growth, however, U.S. women still contribute only 4 percent of the nation’s business revenue and employ only 6 percent of the workforce.
But numbers, however impressive, don’t do full justice to businesswomen in Asheville and beyond. These creative individuals are works in progress with stories to tell, lessons to share and questions to raise.
Accordingly, for this year’s Women in Business coverage, Xpress profiles four local women who’ve brought the mother-child dynamic into their self-run enterprises. Tammy Woods found a way to market homemade, healthy granola bars so she could earn a living while home-schooling her daughter. Theresa Green founded a gourmet chocolate company after being inspired by the benefits of raw chocolate. Selina Delangre took over an international sea salt business while raising a child who had a serious health condition. And Stella Godwin expanded her mother’s health food store after decades of guided immersion into herbalism.
Coincidentally, all of these women are in the health food industry, and three of them (Tammy, Theresa and Selina) are single moms. Furthermore, Stella’s mother was a single mom. These fortuitous factors provide an additional lens through which to explore each woman’s unique set of obstacles and insights.
As Selina aptly phrased it, “This isn’t a pity party.” Instead, it’s a great way to get acquainted with four inspiring local women who’ve worked hard to reconcile the competing demands of motherhood and livelihood.