ST. GEORGE —Entrepreneurial women across the state of Utah are making their mark by starting their own businesses. And Southern Utah is no stranger to this trend.
According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics in October, Utah has the highest percentage of self-employed women in the United States. Out of the state’s total self-employment number, women make up approximately 52.7%. The Women’s Business Center of Utah estimates there are about 89,000 women-owned businesses in Utah, bringing in $15.7 billion a year.
“Women entrepreneurs are taking the world by storm,” Audra Thompson, owner of Dandelion Wishes Studio, told St. George News. “We, as women, have so many gifts and talents to share. And when we support each other, we succeed beyond the expected.”
Over the last year, St. George News has covered a variety of women who took the leap into business ownership. From jewelry and clothing to published authors and food trucks, these entrepreneurs are sharing their talents with the world.
“My experience has been incredible and inspiring working with the women of Utah,” said Kat Puzey, owner and founder of MoFACo and event coordinator for the St. George Downtown Farmers Market. “I’ve helped teenagers start out and watched women in their 80s launch new brands. I don’t see any sign of it stopping.”
With a focus on raising families in Utah, Puzey said it’s no surprise that Utah ranks the highest for self-employed women. Many find inventive ways around 9-5 jobs in order to chase their dreams.
Nan Johnson, owner of Ruby’s Glass Studio, told St. George News her love for stained and fused glass led to giving away her art pieces as gifts to friends and family. As word spread about her creations, it turned into a full-time business now run from her home garage. Doing what she loves for a living while making her own schedule has been the most rewarding part of business ownership, she said, adding that she appreciates the support she has received from the community while pursuing her passion.
“I have met many other women artisans who are also doing what they love and running their own business,” Johnson said. “The freedom and satisfaction they have is inspiring.”
As the owner of a silversmith and lapidary business, Dandelion Wishes Studio, Thompson said it hasn’t been an easy journey. But, she said, starting her own business has been worth it and has taught her the importance of investing in and showing up for herself.
“As women, we instinctively know how to show up,” Thompson said. “We show up for everyone: our children, our spouse, our employer. Learning to show up for ourselves is empowering.”
Kerry Ann Humphrey, founder of the Hurricane Valley Women’s Collective and small business owner herself, said she’s amazed by women in Utah’s self-employment ranking. What excites her, even more, is what the local businesses do for the economy. As the owner of Unity Health & Wellness, she said she’s had the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills like accounting, but the most powerful part of the process has been her own personal growth.
Southern Utah Wado-Kai Karate owner Shannon Mondry said she was able to open her dream karate studio with tremendous support from family, friends and St. George business associates.
“I’m proud that Utah ranks the highest for women entrepreneurship,” Mondry said. “It tells us that Utah values women’s leadership and enthusiasm for a well-rounded economy.”
Amber Foster along with her guitar-pick-wearing mother and sisters are the family owners of Groupie Love, a business that strung from a love of music. Foster said starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart and takes desire, determination and grit. However, the reward of building one’s own dream outshines building someone else’s.
Owner and founder of Groupie Love, Mary Love, told St. George News she felt a huge sense of pride about Utah’s ranking.
“Being a Utah native, I feel tremendous pride in our state for ranking the highest for self-employed women,” she said. “Our ancestors would be proud as we continue to pave the way for future generations of women pursuing their own dreams.”
Feel like you have a unique small business with a backstory worth sharing? Email St. George News reporter Jessi Bang.
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