Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs

Throughout history, we’ve seen
testaments of the adventurous spirit and strength of women; women who fought
for their rights, who rode buses and braved the elements while traveling west
in covered wagons.

Today, there is a new kind of
pioneer; that of the woman entrepreneur. Look no further than to the business
ventures of several admirable Edmond, Oklahoma females and you will see that the spirit
of the pioneer is still going strong.

“I loved being home with my kids
and spending time with them, but I’m also very much a career woman and wanted
to open my own business,” says Christin Lynch, owner of the Edmond, Oklahoma stores Lil
Dudes and Divas and Pickles and Ice Cream.

Her first venture was Pickles and
Ice Cream, a maternity clothing store. The idea came about while she was
pregnant with her daughter. “I realized we didn’t have a whole lot of options
as far as places to go shopping for maternity clothes in the Oklahoma City
area,” Lynch said.

She began talking with her
friends and heard a lot of buzz about the Dallas location of Pickles and Ice
Cream. She did some research and discovered it was a franchise. That began her
career as a business owner, opening Pickles and Ice Cream in 2008. Lynch says she
is glad she went the franchise route because she was offered a lot of help with
the preliminary set up.

Lynch was offered another
opportunity to expand with the recent closure of the children’s clothing store located
next door to her business, named Lil Dudes and Divas. “It was just too perfect
and so I went ahead and took it over,” she says. “It was a natural step.”

Still, Lynch says opening and
running a business is a lot of work. “I easily work 60 to 80 hours a week, but
I love my job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Business woman Umi Chahal, who
owns Edmond, Oklahoma Choice Hospice and Choice Home Health, has advice for women who want to
open their own businesses. “Know the industry you want to go in. Whether it is
through attending seminars, classes or mentoring other people in your industry,
[anything] will help.”

In her 20s, Chahal worked with
patients at a nursing home. “It just bothered me that there was no place for
these people to live in their own homes.”

She began working with a home
health agency and read up on alternative methods of care. She started Choice
Home Health in 2001 and since then, it has won the Home Care Elite award
placing it within the top 25 percent of home care agencies in the United
States.

Through her work in home health,
Chahal says she recognized the need for end of life care and decided to start
Choice Hospice in 2004. Chahal was recently awarded the Riata Inspire
Distinguished Women Entrepreneur award for 2010.

Along with acquired knowledge of
the industry, Chahal attributes having a good staff to the success of her
companies. It’s always a challenge to find the right people and right number of
people in any business,” she says. “Even though that’s the challenge, it makes
it very rewarding to have a good team. The service being delivered is measured
by the people that deliver it.”

And no one knows staffing needs better than
Gina White. She began Millennium Personnel in Edmond, Oklahoma with business partner Regina
Duvall in December of 1999. Her business is a clerical and administrative
staffing company. “We find people jobs for a living and it’s very rewarding,”
says White. “The basis for our business is to connect people based on their
skills, background and what they’re looking for.”

White says she had the courage to start her
own business because she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her advice to
aspiring businesswomen is to surround yourself with great people. “Get a good CPA firm, hire a lawyer and have
a sound infrastructure.”

White assures that “if you get professional
advice and the right advice, it’s worth the money up front.”

Her business’ success has made all of the
hard work worthwhile. “We set out to make our way because we had these skills
and the experience and were happy to take the risk because we knew we could do
it in our hearts. It was scary to take that first step and believe in ourselves
but we did.”

There’s that pioneering spirit.

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