The Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) is excited to officially relaunch our blog so we can highlight local businesswomen and entrepreneurs who have worked with us on growing their business. We know that being an entrepreneur can feel isolating and that each individual journey is a unique experience in uncovering your own greatness. Our hope with this blog is that by sharing stories of others we can celebrate successes together and uplift each other through our challenges. We are dream catchers, ready for you to take the leap!
In this first monthly success highlight, we’ve got a dedicated workshop attendee, and coaching client, Sara Metzger from Vista Coaching to share a bit of her journey with us!
Please provide us a little background about you and your business including your products and services.
Hello all, I am Sara Metzger and I’m a personal development coach, mother of two, and owner of Vista Coaching. I spent 20 years as a teacher and after retiring from the world of education I started my own coaching practice. I specialize in working with empty nesters.
How has Western Women’s Business Center helped you in achieving business success or in working through your challenges? Especially as it relates to COVID-19.
The Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) has played a pivotal role in the creation and success of my fledgling business. A friend suggested that I participate in some of the seminars presented by WWBC being held at the AB Tech Small Business Center. I’ve learned about marketing, networking, social media platforms, infusing creativity into my work, and other priceless skills. I loved the offerings and the Deep Dive Labs where small groups come together to process what we have learned. I’ve met amazing people who are working on building their businesses and brands. The support I received from the WWBC and the community that they create is awesome!
Being an Empty Nester myself, I have always disliked the term “Empty Nest” and bristled at that label. It sounded so sad and lonely! When my two daughters headed off to college, I was hit with that wave of loss, sadness, and realization that I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I worried that without my “Mom identity” I didn’t have a true purpose. After floundering for a bit, I was lucky enough to partner with some wise souls who helped me create a mindset shift to realize that a so-called empty nest was really just a space for personal growth! I rediscovered my talents, strengths, passion, and purpose. My life became full again. I decided to help others who might be struggling or feel stuck in their lives. Through coaching, using a Presence-Based Model, I help my clients discover a renewed sense of direction in their lives while reconnecting with their partners and the surrounding community. Together, we create new vistas and clients realize that the challenging, empty nest transition is really an opportunity for an exciting, personal transformation.
When COVID-19 hit it felt like the world changed. Everyone felt isolated and separated. The Western Women’s Business Center remained a constant resource through it all. They quickly pivoted to online offerings and continued to reach out and connect with the community they helped create. They offered courses specifically designed to help small businesses adapt to the new reality. Again I can’t stress how supported and connected I feel! Most of the people I met through the WWBC are now friends as well as business contacts.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about getting started or who is working on growing their business?
I highly encourage folks who are thinking about starting their own businesses or growing their existing ones to reach out to the WWBC community. It is a great resource and allows you to learn new tools, network, and ask the important questions you want to be answered. I find if you ask a question, you receive a quick answer along with some contacts to further your knowledge. I thrive on collaborative learning and WWBC is the place to experience that first hand.
How can people learn more about you?
Please visit my website, email me, check out my social media, or give me a call!
For some, taking a bold step into the unknown to pursue even the tiniest spark of passion may turn into a lifelong love affair. Such is the case for OWL Bakery founder Susannah Gebhart. Her woman-owned business is a smashing success in an industry historically dominated by men.
One of Gebhart’s first forays into the culinary world came in college while studying anthropology and African-Studies when she worked on an organic garden; it was here where she began dreaming of being part of a food community where she could help others to build knowledge, confidence and alliance around holistic ideas related to health and wellbeing. It was while working at the Montford Walk-In bakery that Gebhart had her ah-ha moment and realized she passionately loved this craft. That little voice in her head seemed to be saying, “Pursue this… there is No Other Option.”
In August 2014, Gebhart opened the retail storefront of OWL (Old World Levain) Bakery on Haywood Street in West Asheville. At first, Gebhart was somewhat naïve about how to run a business, but she jumped in feet first and began learning as much as she could. Recognizing her focus would be best utilized creating an excellent product, she knew she would need bookkeeping, cash flow help, and a loan. Therefore, she contacted the Carolina Small Business Development Fund and the Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC). Gebhart received a scholarship to participate in The Best Year Yet workshop offered by the WWBC and met Annice Brown, a successful small business consultant and coach with over 25 years of experience. Working with Brown proved to be a pivotal time in the evolution of OWL Bakery. Today Gebhart is seeing the fruits of her labor and intentions as OWL Bakery continues to grow and gains national recognition. She was recently selected as one of 15 Badass Female Chefs and Restaurateurs You Need to Know Around the U.S. by ZAGAT. Gebhart’s passion for her business, and passion for and within her life, remains positive and upbeat.
For more information about OWL Bakery, visit www.owlbakery.com
T.B.M Smallcakes. “My experience with the WWBC and the CSBDF has been such a positive one. The thought of even thinking about opening our own business was scary in itself, but to take the steps towards beginning the process was enough to make me want to tremble in fear. However, from the moment I made the phone call to Sharon at the WWBC, I knew that I had been connected with the right soul. After having being dismissed by another small business resource, before I could even explain the proposal, needless to say, I was very apprehensive and nervous. Sharon helped to take all of that away the moment I walked into her office, and she gave me such a heart-warming smile. As she sat and listened so intently as I shared my story, dream, and proposal, she did not hesitate to say "Oh Yes Brandy, we can do this! It meant the world, and at that moment I knew that although the road was not going to be easy, it still could be traveled upon. With the resources and support from Sharon & Tommy, T.B.M Smallcakes opened its doors on Oct. 15, 2016!! We not only have had a great start, but we have also been able to give back to donate to a few community events and causes, which is one of the ways we desire to impact our surrounding community. Thank You, WWBC & CSBDF, for helping to make our dream come true," told by Brandy during the WWBC Third annual Conference.
Share this success story with your friends!
My Sister and I, an event planning and catering company. Andrea is a native of Asheville and the oldest of six kids. As a child, she was fortunate to have both a great grandmother and grandmother. They were both great cooks. Andrea remembers the four-layer chocolate and coconut cakes, macaroni and cheese, and cathead biscuits with homemade applesauce. After becoming ill and retiring early from a career in business development, she decided to open her own business. “I spoke with the great people at Carolina Small Business & Western Women’s Business Center, and the WWBC promoted our work, helped me to market my business and work on proposals and contacts. WWBC made sure they helped us grow our business by hiring us to cater for them as well,” Andrea said during the WWBC Third Annual Conference.
Devoted Human, the brainchild of Meredith Bennett, sells handcrafted products for pet lovers through an e-commerce platform and in local shops in Asheville, NC. The company was created to help artists and artisans reach a wider audience while giving back to grassroots animal rescue organizations. Meredith sought help from the Western Women’s Business Center, where she received technical assistance in areas of finance and human resources. Being located in the A-B Tech incubator has allowed Meredith to build strong relationships not only with the team at the Western Women's Business Center but also with other business owners in the incubator. These connections have assisted the company's first-year growth and provided her with the opportunity to sponsor local events, secure key vendors, and connect with the community through a local radio show.