WOMEN IN BUSINESS: Dream Team – Business owner finds support among other working women

TRAVERSE CITY – Jackie Monigold never dreamed of opening her own business. Her resume had been peppered with everything from stewardess to computer programmer to business manager. She had made a home in Traverse City and raised a family of four. But when the idea of opening Pages In Time fell into her lap, her life and her dreams took a new turn.

Within six months time, she was welcoming customers into her new scrapbooking and memory album shop in the Grand Traverse Commerce Center–all of it built with the support and guidance of her network of businesswomen.

“When I asked myself ‘Can I really do this?’ Nobody told me ‘No,'” Monigold said of the women with whom she worked. “The options are different for women now. The support group is there, and there are so many opportunities for the taking.”

The opportunity came when a friend encouraged Monigold to open a Pages In Time shop, which is affiliated with three others in Lower Michigan. The sentimentalist in her loved the idea of preserving lifelong memories and she knew her web of female colleagues and friends, as well as her associates in the Traverse City Zonta, was the perfect garden for sowing dreams.

“If I hadn’t had them to push me along, a lot of little things would have stopped me from the beginning,” she explained. “They made me see that the everyday problems were minor to the big picture.”

Zonta went out of their way to give Monigold tips on starting the business, leads on contacts in the community and even spent time passing out flyers promoting the business.

With the foundation poured, Monigold contacted Margaret Tipsword, a private banking officer with Old Kent Bank in Traverse City. She’s a one-stop financial resource for her clients.

“My job is to answer questions, address their banking needs and, most importantly, make them feel welcome in the community,” she said.

While Tipsword doesn’t market specifically to women, she has helped several women with their own business and is surprised by the number of women striking out on their own.

“It seems like so many women are ready to get going with a business and a career,” she says.

Another member of Monigold’s support team has also seen the number of women entrepreneurs rise. Cindy Blaum, an accountant with Dennis, Gartland and Niergarth, PC, in Traverse City, has helped many women, including Monigold, set up accounting systems and software for their businesses. And they come from all backgrounds.

“I work with a lot of women who aren’t necessarily college-educated,” Blaum said. “But that doesn’t mean they can’t be very successful businesswomen.”

She spends time with each business to determine the best methods of accounting and account management.

“Women with limited computer or accounting experience can still do it with the proper training,” Blaum said. “We take it one step at a time. It’s amazing how much a person can do with time and persistence.”

Factors that were essential to Monigold’s success. She worked with a number of businesswomen in the community to set up Pages In Time.

One of her most important team members is A.J. Lorenzen, owner of American Speedy Printing Centers in Traverse City, who helped coordinate her grand opening celebration.

After working side-by-side with Monigold to design her printing and advertising materials, Lorenzen, a fellow Zontian, knew a great deal about the business and felt confident in helping Monigold enter the business community. So she sent out invitations for the grand opening to friends and colleagues to introduce Monigold to potential customers.

“When it comes to marketing, making a personal connection is much more effective than a Yellow Pages ad,” Lorenzen said. “Word of mouth and recommendations from people you trust and admire in business is a very good way to network.”

And networking is essentially what got Monigold’s business off the ground. Her support group consisted of women who had the experience she lacked, the information she wanted and the encouragement she needed.

Now that Monigold’s business is up and swinging, she contends that working with a number of different women taught her one very important thing: “I really learned that women have choices,” Monigold said. “It’s really exciting for women today. They can go for it at any age and there are other women out there to help them do it.” BIZNEWS