Cindy Walsh, co-owner and founder of on Hartz Avenue, has many hats she juggles, but she is particularly proud to have been recently recognized for one of her hard-earned hats — successful serial entrepreneur.
Eight other local women were recognized along with Walsh, including Danville’s Tiffany Stuart, founder and president of Dynamic Office & Accounting Solutions, and San Ramon’s Dawn Serpa of Lea Journo Cosmetique.
The honor recognizes women entrepreneurs who succeed and innovate despite barriers that exist for women business owners, and positively impact their local communities.
The Women’s Initiative for Self Employment has been providing motivated high-potential, lower-income women the means and mentorship to put their business ambitions into action for 20 years.
In March, a report issued by the White House Council on Women and Girls, examining the social and economic well being of women in America, noted that women are more likely than men to be in poverty, particularly those who are single mothers, and commonly shoulder the majority of childrearing responsibility.
The United Nations also says, “of the world’s 1.3 billion poor, it is estimated that 70 percent are women.”
The Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment has countered this by focusing on the needs of low-income women and providing business training, micro-loans, and ongoing support to them to open doors to aid them in substantially improving their own economic futures.
They say that empowering women to take the reins of their own businesses benefits not only the women, but also her family and the entire community around her.
"For every one dollar invested in the training programs, $30 are returned to the local economy through increased annual earnings, new jobs created, savings from public benefits and tax revenue," says the non-profit.
The honor was particularly sweet for Walsh because she is a graduate of the program.
She credits it with helping her to start her first company, No Slippy Hair Clippy, for which she also received a Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2003.
When Walsh moved onto to her next venture with her husband, Justin, she says she took everything she learned from starting her first company to help build Norm’s Place.
Walsh is gratified to see the success of Norm’s Place.
She is especially proud the restaurant and bar has become a beloved community hub thanks to a carefully cultivated core customer base, built upon a commitment to great customer service, value and quality, and innovative and fun events and promotions.
Their loyal patrons and the Walsh's savvy attention to “where people are spending their money” has enabled them to ride out the recession, she says.
Walsh says she benefited from the Women’s Initiative programs that help women through low cost, or no-cost programs to guide them through building their business plans, training them in core business skills, and exposing them to valuable business contacts. They also receive ongoing support to help them grow and sustain their businesses after they graduate from the program.
At the awards event, Walsh says she was pleased to be the “poster child” for Women’s Initiative as the only honoree this year who had graduated from the program, and having taken the skills and mentoring she received from the program to build two businesses from the ground up.
One of her favorite parts of this year's event was the Women’s Initiative Graduate Marketplace, which showcased the products and services businesses graduates of the program have created, providing opportunities for women to materially support each other.
Support is key to overcoming the typical challenges women businessowners face.
Finding and keeping day to day “life balance,” while juggling business responsibilities with childrearing and other community activities, is the big challenge that Walsh says women entrepreneurs particularly face more so than their male counterparts.
She and her husband have built their business while also raising their 12 year-old daughter, and are now expecting a new baby. She works hard to maintain a good family life while also running a demanding family business.
Women are often tending to lunches and carpools, Walsh says, and often working a full time job elsewhere, while also getting their own ideas off the ground, and it can be quite a load.
“Perseverance, and sticking with it is the biggest challenge,” she says.
Her advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs is to “have an idea they are willing to be passionate about, and not give up."
“Believe in yourself.”
Norm's Place is located at 356 Hartz Ave. in Danville. For hours, menus, and upcoming events information, please visit their website: http://www.normsgrill.com/
To get involved and support the efforts of the Women's Initiative, please visit their website here.