Women Entrepreneurs of Southern Oregon (WESO) Empowers “Shop Local” Businesses at March 9th Entrepreneur Expo

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Check out our mission! Women Entrepreneurs of Southern Oregon (WESO) is a community of dynamic entrepreneurs helping each other achieve business goals through networking, education, and inspiration.

So, how does WESO achieve these goals? WESO is a membership organization that has been a part of the Rogue Valley for almost 40 years. They began in 1980 as a chapter of a statewide women entrepreneurs organization. At that time, it was particularly essential for women business owners to band together to show that they have the talents and drive to succeed. In 2001, they separated from the statewide group and formed their own nonprofit organization to support women-owned businesses in the Rogue Valley and other parts of Southern Oregon and Northern California. In 2019, they continue to help members improve their savvy and promote their businesses through their member services, outreach, and networking.

Currently, WESO is focusing on their 17th annual Entrepreneur Expo on Saturday, which will be held on March 9th from 12 to 4PM at the Inn at the Commons (200 N. Riverside Dr., Medford). The Expo is a combination trade show and networking event that welcomes the public and local business owners. WESO has grown this annual event every year because they have found that women want to support each other and seek out women-owned businesses in our area. WESO members showcase their businesses at reduced exhibitor rates. Nonmembers can also be vendors and may choose to join WESO at a special Expo vendor rate. Each year, the event features approximately 65-70 vendors and draws large crowds of attendees who enjoy the many door prizes, raffles, and local shopping opportunities.

In addition to the Expo, WESO offers members year-round opportunities to grow their businesses. Monthly meetings feature guest speakers who present programs specifically designed to inform, educate, and inspire business owners. Recent meetings included topics such as:

 The Psychology of Social: Creating Content that Gets Likes and Shares, with Rachel Koning
 Last Chance on Your End-Of-Year Tax Planning: Are You Ready? with Jackie Truax
 Discover Your Divine Sales Blueprint: Strategies that Feed Your Soul and Make Money, with Diahana Barnes
 The Power of Mindfulness: Paying Attention Can Change Your Life and Business, with Kristen Stroud, M.A.

Members enjoy a reduced meeting cost and can introduce themselves to the group with a “30-second commercial.” New members may join as individuals or businesses. WESO welcomes guests, and nonmembers may attend up to three meetings before joining.

Other ways WESO members may promote their businesses include being the Business Spotlight at monthly meetings, where members may share their business with a table display and the undivided attention of the group. Members may also promote their businesses through an extensive online business listing, and reserve Business of the Month ads on our website and in emails.

WESO members are also generously helpful with advice and support for each other. One way they do this is through Success Circle meetings. These are peer mentoring groups that provide support and practical suggestions for business improvement. Success Circle meetings are free and open to both members and nonmembers as part of WESO’s outreach effort. Women business owners are encouraged to explore new ideas or seek suggestions or support from other entrepreneurs. Check out the Upcoming Events page on the website for more info on the next Success Circle meeting: wesoweb.org.

As part of WESO’s commitment to women’s needs, WESO sponsors and funds the important services provided by the Community Works – Dunn House Women’s Shelter which provides a safe refuge and support services for women and children to help them escape from domestic or sexual abuse, stalking, trafficking and date violence. Women with or without children who are in fear from their intimate partner or family member may need to stay in a safe place while figuring out a longer term plan for safety, or have time to rest and learn about options.

Dunn House Shelter is a large home where several families reside. Food, clothing, and personal care items are provided and the services are free and confidential. Children at Dunn House Shelter have a safe place to play, to spend time with their mothers and to be involved in age appropriate activities. Advocates work with families to provide information, referrals to community services, and needed support. WESO collects donations for Dunn House and sponsors raffle baskets at the annual Entrepreneur Expo to raise funds for Dunn House.

A key element of WESO is that they are managed totally by volunteers. They have no paid staff and are staffed by a board of directors and other volunteer members This keeps costs low and provides great opportunities for members to become involved in leadership positions.

The current board members (who also manage local businesses) include:

Mary Fitzsimmons, President (Rogue Valley Tutoring Center)

Joyce Crain, Vice President (Office Support Solutions & Creative Unique Gifts)

Jim Ward, Assistant Vice President (Medford Pet Butler)

Debbie Hodgson, Secretary (Infinity Insurance Solutions)

Laurie Neff, Treasurer (Bookkeeping for Small Business and Seniors)

Lisa Schweickert, Expo Director (Customer Services Specialist)

Cat Carroll, Venue Coordinator and Marketing Team Member (CBD for People & their Pets)

Jenai May, Marketing Team Leader (Silver Rockets Web & Graphic Design)

Brenda Walleman, Membership Director (Sound Music Therapy, LLC.)

Alexis McKenna, Program Director (Coming Home, LLC)

Diane West, Website Administrator (West Design)

Cathie Izor, Website Assistant and Archivist

WESO is an effective way to build your business and support other local entrepreneurs.

Contact Information Women Entrepreneurs of Southern Oregon (WESO)

Address: PO Box 1662, Medford OR 97501
Website: wesoweb.org
Email Address: president@wesoweb.org

Lisa Schweickert Client Services Consultant
WESO Expo Director
LinkedIn * WESO

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