Editor’s note: For our special Women in Business issue, we asked women in our local business community to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina. Here is one of those stories.
Prior to founding The Phoenix Wellness Retreat in Asheville, I served as a commissioner for the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities in Washington, D.C., curated 4,000 works of art for Marriott Marquis Hotel, served as president of the D.C. chapter for Entrepreneurs’ Organization and founded EO’s Women of EO, a community that unifies thousands of women across the globe.
My parents taught me that I could achieve anything I dreamed, that everyone is equal, and that women are just as capable as men. With their lessons, I quickly asserted myself as a credible, respectable expert in a male-dominated industry. I had to constantly demonstrate my expertise and confidence. I was determined to ensure my gender did not hold me back.
I have overcome practically every barrier that so many other women have faced: sexism, sexual harassment, barriers to access to capital, underestimation and intimidation. I felt a constant need to prove myself and to demonstrate that my projects were successful, not because of luck, but because of my own capability. I have no regrets about the obstacles I faced; they’ve made me into the person I am. I am proud to be a role model for other women coming behind me.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned many important lessons along the way: the necessity of having a mentor for accountability, creating a board of advisors and knowing your core values. Everyone needs support. Asking for help is the most important thing that any business owner can do to grow. In addition to asking for help, it’s equally important to help others.
I founded The Phoenix Asheville as a safe, diverse and inclusive space for personal inspiration, growth and transformation. I am continuing my dedication to the arts through an Artists in Residency program at the retreat center and engagement with the Asheville Art Museum. My door is always open to guests who would like to stop by to share their experiences at The Phoenix.
— Marsha Ralls
Founder and CEO
The Phoenix Asheville