I have been a client of the West Company MicroEnterprise Program since the 1980s. Shorty after I graduated from the Mendocino Art Center’s Advanced Ceramics Program in 1986, I built a small studio on my property. That year I became a client of the West Company and joined many other women (and men!) who were building their businesses. I attended classes in entrepreneurship and wrote my first business plan. I was one of a four-member women’s business network that we named “ Success Now”. We met every 2 weeks for 5 years. Maggie Watson was our support coach and liaison to West Company. Through this program we were able to access low cost loans. I took out my first loan to buy my own kiln. After paying it off, I took out another and purchased a 120 square foot redwood building to extend my studio space. I joined the West Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program and became a mentor to artist Patricia Breed. In 1993, I was named the “Entrepreneur of Promise” for Mendocino County at an annual awards dinner in Ukiah, and in 1998 became a keynote speaker at the same event. Over the years, West Company has provided many opportunities for financial and professional growth, support and skill. Their commitment to provide top notch, timely and professional entrepreneurial assistance to women who were starting or building their businesses helped forge many strong women-owned business in the area. Through their ongoing support and useful programs I was able to create a viable business foundation that became a 40 year career as a ceramic artist.
In 2013, I changed my major career focus expanding on my 30+ career as a wedding officiant, adding two others – certified life coach and mediator. I have attended numerous classes on using social media and have been in two seminars learning hands-on how to craft my own videos that I can post on YouTube or on my website using Google Video Manager. I attend a monthly Women In Business meeting with other entrepreneurs who are also served by West Company.
I am currently working with Joyce Perlman who is new to West and brings great skill from the corporate setting. Joyce herself owns her own Wedding Photography business, http://Jperlmanphotography.com She is the perfect person for me to have as an ally since she knows the local weddings business so well. Joyce is helping me understand my business by defining the goal, vision, audience, message, strengths, weakness, opportunities, and design tone for my new website. She and I have been working on the resulting creative brief to give to my very the awesome web designer Rachel Rose Nelson http://rachelrose.co. Joyce, Rachel and I will continue to work together until my new website is up and running. Joyce knows the trends, she knows the business of online marketing, what works and doesn’t work for the online user, and is gifted in bringing me up to speed in this constantly changing cyber world. Rachel has years of experience designing websites. Some of her clients are the Mendocino Film Festival, McCallum House and Bloembox.
You see by this post that West Company has been an ally and support for many years. Decade after decade, I continue to be grateful for the generosity and positive spirit that I can count on from the many gifted people who work there. I attribute my ability to be a thriving local business owner to my own entrepreneurial spirit and the years of support I have received from the West Company. West recognized my needs, saw my gifts and commitment and assisted me in building four viable businesses.
I am only one of many women and men who have received assistance from them. We on the coast are very fortunate to have benefitted from their services! Thank you!!