Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs launches in downtown Santa Cruz

July 03–SANTA CRUZ — Anandi Heinrich got the idea to create an informal network for women she knew who own businesses downtown. She started a year ago with an email, then morning gatherings at Soif restaurant, owned by Patrice Boyle.

Now the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs — AWE, for short — is launching publicly, open to women running a business, running a nonprofit or working in government.

“We all have the same goals — to make downtown more beautiful and more positive,” said Heinrich, 47, who would like to see more flowers downtown. She co-owns the Pacific Avenue retail shop Pacific Trading Co. with her sister, Rama Zoe Heinrich, 41. They grew up in the shop after their mother bought it in 1985.

More than 30 downtown businesses led by women will have posters in their windows discussing how they build community downtown.

In July, customers have a chance to win a gift certificate by visiting 10 of the 25 participating businesses.

Prizes will be awarded and women entrepreneurs will speak at a launch party 7 p.m. July 25 at Assembly, co-owned by Kendra Baker, at 1108 Pacific Ave.

Running a business is a juggling act for Anandi Heinrich, who has a 10-year-old son, and her sister, who has a daughter, 8, and son, 5.

“We’re all so busy we don’t necessarily know each other,” said Heinrich.

WOMEN’S VOICES

Casey Coonerty Protti, 42, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz, is working on the launch.

In January, responding to the #MeToo movement, Protti started a year of programs at Bookshop Santa Cruz called “Women’s Voices,” with a monthly theme and focus on a book by a female author.

For July, the theme is “women and entrepreneurship.”

The book is “Good Company: Where Creativity Meets Business” by Grace Bonney, who profiled 100 entrepreneurs and how they bring change to their enterprise.

“She really focuses on diversity and creativity,” said Protti. “She became one of our favorite people.”

The July campaign showcases 28 women entrepreneurs, with their photo and their words on the storefront posters.

“The whole idea is to elevate women’s voices,” Protti said.

SECOND GENERATION

Like Heinrich, she is a second-generation business owner.

She grew up in Bookshop Santa Cruz watching her mother Candy and father Neal at work and learning from them, a tradition she is keeping for her two children ages 11 and 8.

“A lot of us are raising our kids in our stores,” said Protti.

She pointed to other multi-generational businessess: Cara Pearson of Pacific Cookie Co., started by her parents Larry and Shelly; Valerie Moselle and Lynda Meeder, the daughter-mother founders of Luma Yoga; Pure Pleasure, owned by mother-daughter duo Janis Baldwin and Amy Baldwin; and Buttercup Cakes and Frosting, a three-generation cake shop run by Jan Wilson, daughter Carren Dixon and granddaughter Hannah Wilson-James.

Groups such as Santa Cruz Chamber Women in Business have supported women business owners, but what is different about AWE is it’s “downtown-specific,” Protti said.

Bonnie Lipscomb, the city’s economic development director, worked with the new group and Hive Design to develop a logo and had all the downtown women business owners photographed for the Visit Santa Cruz County guide.

“It is a large group,” she said. “We see that increasing.”

FEMALE-FRIENDLY

Three years ago, NerdWallet, a personal finance website, reported Santa Cruz County was the fourth best place in the nation for a woman to start a business, based on the number of loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, median income for women and the female business ownership rate.

Last year, Santa Cruz County Bank, the biggest small business lender locally, made 53 SBA loans, four of them to businesses owned by women, and 16 so far this year, with two to businesses where a woman is the majority owner.

This article provided by NewsEdge.