Conference brings women entrepreneurs together to build businesses

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Conference brings women entrepreneurs together to build businesses

Beth Waters, For the Sun-News10:51 a.m. MDT September 19, 2016

LAS CRUCES – To be unafraid of failure is as true a mantra to the prize fighter as to the business person.

Saying she’s in the same ring battling as a businesswoman as many women, boxing champion Jennifer Han had a message to deliver at the first WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Mean Business event sponsored by Arrowhead Center on Sept. 10 at the NMSU Center for the Arts.

“You have to believe in yourself and never give up,” Han said. “Because any business you choose to create is not going to be a smooth ride, but if you fight for your dreams, you’ll be successful.”

Those attending the inaugural event represented a cross section of local women, from students aspiring to careers as entrepreneurs, to those firmly rooted in business ownership.

Han encouraged all the attendees to find commonalities with each other. Speaking to a reporter after her remarks, Han said humbly that she relates to all of them.

“I’m just like them, I haven’t reached all my goals yet, and so yes, I know what it’s like to fight,” Han said.

Arianna Parsons, another conference presenter, was among panelists discussing the importance of collaboration.

Parsons is both executive director of the Las Cruces Downtown Parternship and co-owner of Beck’s Coffee. In a recent interview while mingling with her customers, Parsons elaborated on her comments at the conference.

“This is a really exciting time for businesswomen in Las Cruces, with a lot of opportunity and a building of support,” she said. “There’s a great environment for collaboration among women who are in business here, people like to work together, especially the younger set.”

Aspiring business owners don’t have to do it all themselves, they can work in collaboration with others and build a “tribe” to find the support they need to succeed, she said. Parsons added that mentoring among local businesswomen was key.

Leah Messina relocated her business from Baltimore to Las Cruces and told conference-goers about the challenges that move presented. In addition, she shared knowledge garnered from starting her own firm, Sinuate Media.

“Our online distribution landscape has changed, which means the web is a very messy place,” Messina said, describing her business as one that provides navigational tools. “We assist businesses to grow, utilizing those tools that are online.”

Messina brought her business to Las Cruces six years years ago and found challenges early on.

“I really missed the camaraderie that was present among the businesswomen I interacted with in Baltimore,” she said. “I felt there was nothing at all like that when I arrived here. So to have a women’s business conference like this is very exciting.”

Messina became acclimated by becoming involved in organizations such as the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.

“When I began to attend those events, I saw that there are a lot women within this community that are open and receptive,” she said.

Messina said in some ways it was as if she were opening her business all over again.

In that regard, Parsons said there is ample support among her counterparts.

“For businesswomen in Las Cruces, there is a space here where you can be honest, where you don’t have to put on this front, of all success, and every decision being a great one, and you’ve had no failures.”

Messina agreed, saying she benefited greatly from that support.

“Now I’m very excited to have the opportunity to grow my business here in Las Cruces. I see it as an exciting and productive way to provide jobs to young people,” she said.

Messina works with New Mexico State University to provide internships at her business, as well as part-time employment to those taking classes.

“The more I interact with young women in Las Cruces, the more I hear them ask, how do they start a business, how old do you have to be? It’s so inspiring to see what they’ve gone on to do in their careers,” Messina said.

Beth Waters is a Las Cruces freelance writer and photographer and can be reached at BethWatersFreelance@gmail.com.