Arizona shows growth in women-owned businesses, cultivates startup culture

(Photos by Melanie Whyte and courtesy of Jasmine Anglen and Alison Trumbull.)

By Melanie Whyte

Over the last 10 years, Phoenix incubators such as CO+HOOTS, Seed Spot and Galvanize, along with PHX Startup Week, have cultivated a startup atmosphere in Arizona and offered community building and support to a growing number of women-owned businesses.

Ranked 11th by the American Express OPEN, Arizona has seen a 47.2 percent increase in women-owned businesses between 2007 and 2016. However, Arizona is among one of the hardest places for women owned-businesses to gain traction, ranking, as one of the lowest ranked in the country for revenue growth and employment increases.


Data from American Express OPEN (Graphic by Melanie Whyte)

Incubators such as Seed Spot have developed programming to address individual communities such as Women’s Boot Camp. Seed Spot has historically served about 49 percent women in their programs, according to Lauren McDanell, Phoenix director of entrepreneurial initiatives.

“The reason why that number is higher than average incubators does have to do with specific programming targeted towards women,” she said. “We just saw a need arise a couple years ago for women to have their own community as they enter into the larger entrepreneurial community.”

Seed Spot has created programming for a variety of demographic groups such as a Latino-focused initiative, while conversations for an African-American and veterans initiatives are in the near future, McDanell said.

“Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely experience for anyone who participates in it. It’s something that causes a lot of early stage entrepreneurs to burn out and walk away from the projects that they’re working on,” she said. “What we’ve seen is gathering people who share common experiences in any way helps to create that sense of community a little bit earlier.”

Susan Halverson, manager of community entrepreneurship at the school of Entrepreneurship + Innovation at ASU, said its programs for women entrepreneurs provide a network of other women business owners who they can collaborate with and share ideas.

“I think the community and the network building is incredibly important for all entrepreneurs, but since I work mostly with women entrepreneurs I know that that is probably the most valuable thing that we do,” she said.

Halverson touched briefly on the challenges of funding, especially for minority entrepreneurs including women.

“I think no matter what entrepreneurs you talk to funding is always a challenge, and so little venture capital and even small business loans go to women led businesses and businesses lead by entrepreneurs of color,” she said.


Data from Pitchbook via Fortune (Graphic by Melanie Whyte)


Despite the many challenges entrepreneurs face, John Johnson, Phoenix Operations Manager at Seed Spot, said it doesn’t take a superhuman to become an entrepreneur.

“Just identify a problem in the world and start working on a solution,” he said. “A lot of people are hesitant to start because they think it is this massive undertaking — which it is — but when you identify a problem you are passionate about and you are passionate about solving it, it instantly integrates into your lifestyle.”


Meet eight women entrepreneurs in the Valley, from various industries at different stages in their businesses

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“People are afraid to go out of their box. When I was little I’d do all sorts of different things to see what I’d like and then I knew if it was the right way to go or not.” – Pattie Freeman

After owning flower shops, a limo service and a travel agency, Pattie Freeman, founder of The Arizona Hypnotist and Hypnosis by Pattie, found her true passion in hypnosis. A skeptic at first, Pattie learned of hypnosis through experiencing it herself and finally ridding her nail biting habit. Now Freeman works as a stage hypnotist and hypnotherapist working with locals in the valley, professional athletes, and other international clients.

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“Everything happens for a reason, and it is all a learning experience. It is just going to help you be cautious in the future and be careful and grow from it.” – Sakura Considine

Sakura Considine is co-founder and creative brand director of Bloguettes, tool-based training for entrepreneurs. Considine left college and started a website called The Sorority Secrets with two other women. A year later, after learning about having a business and how hard it is to stand out in a crowd, she met her current business partner. Both workaholics, they started teaching workshops to share everything they had learned, and Bloguettes grew bigger with every workshop, webinar and corporate training they held.

(Photo courtesy of Alison Trumbull)

“If you had asked me six years ago where I would be now this isn’t necessarily what I thought I’d be doing, but I’ve always done something that is my passion. I’m lucky I had the passion for the arts and ballet, and this organically became my new passion.” – Alison Trumbull

Alison Trumbull, founder of boutique Pilates studio, Studio Allongé, came to Arizona six years ago with a contract as a dancer for Ballet Arizona. After a year with the company she signed for another year only to break her contract mid-season. She found a renewed passion in Pilates and became a full time instructor. In 2014 she opened the studio and has maintained clients from some of her first classes in the valley.

(Photo courtesy of Jasmine Anglen)

“It wasn’t this magic moment where an idea just hit me, it was something I had to do a lot of research and interviews for. I know a lot of entrepreneurs where they get their idea and pursue it, but that’s not exactly how it worked for me.” – Jasmine Anglen

Jasmine Anglen, co-founder of All Walks Project, works to raise awareness of human trafficking by providing support for prevention, intervention training and life skills classes for survivors. In her sophomore year of college she heard a woman speak about being sex trafficked out of Phoenix. Anglen spent the next two years doing research and interviews in the community. In 2014 she set up an advocacy organization that would be able to utilize student manpower to get resources to help rehabilitate survivors. Today it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“I had a great career, but I started thinking about these poor women. A lot of them don’t speak English and they’re depending on these sales. I thought if I just bail out I’m not sure someone else is going to take care of this problem.” – Kay Diggs

Kay Diggs, creator of Tappetite, started her business during her break from grad school. Diggs knew how to bake and thought she could make money during her year off.  But it wasn’t a steady income because she had to chase customers. That’s when she decided to make a marketplace for homebakers through this app.

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“Sometimes it’s hard to find that balance between school work and being a successful business owner, but I love it so it comes easier to me.” – Raven Gibson

Raven Gibson is the founder of Legendary Rootz, a clothing line dedicated to empowering black women. Gibson said they are celebrating black excellence one tee at a time. Gibson is currently a junior at ASU majoring in biochemistry with aspirations to go to medical school. She started the business her freshman year making small designs and now she has customers internationally. She is working on a new company called Gawddess Couture and a website, Melanin Meetup, where she hosts interviews.

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“You need to live and breathe it. This is your baby, this is your startup. You need to be in the middle of it.” – P.K. Fields

P.K. Fields founded ElderSense, a “” for assisted living and adult group homes, after her father became sick. She looked at a bunch of websites to find him a home and observed they wouldn’t get back to you and the pictures were outdated. Realizing there was a market in the senior space, she used her experience from building the original websites for the Bellagio, Treasure Island, Mirage and countless others to create ElderSense.

(Photo by Melanie Whyte/PIN Bureau)

“You can do whatever you want. You can’t start a business without trying.” – Amanda Mason

Amanda Mason is co-founder of Fuel Fudge, a blend of superfood and essential fats that can be eaten as a solid when placed in the fridge, or enjoyed as a liquid above 76ºF.  They have been working on this product for eight months and launched their website in March. Mason describes diving headfirst into entrepreneurship with food.

To hear more women entrepreneur voices, click here to view videos of female business owners at PHX Startup Week 2017.




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