EV Leading Ladies helps women connect - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

EV Leading Ladies helps women connect

January 22nd, 2022 development
EV Leading Ladies helps women connect

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Businesswomen have different needs than their male peers, Mary Harp argues. 

So, a friend had an idea.

“She wanted a group where women would celebrate each other’s wins, that they would feel safe to be able to take that shot at earning one another’s business, and really grow together in business and life,” Harp said. “That it would be natural, it would be fun, it would be very relational, all the things that women love. And also be profitable.”

Her friend created Leading Ladies in southwest Florida. Harp is starting her own Leading Ladies group for the East Valley and she has plans to make it global.

Harp said her friend expected about a half dozen women to turn out for that first organizational meeting in Florida. She was surprised when 50 did. Harp said she’s seen the same enthusiasm here. Even before their first event, they had already signed up more  than three dozen women to be members.

There are other business networking groups out there, but they don’t quite fill what the members of Leading Ladies say they are looking for.

Jennifer Abbs, who has a network marketing business, said, “Something like this, is not intimidating.”

The East Valley Leading Ladies held their first event earlier this week. They plan to continue to meet at 6 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month. 

“Many times we think of networking groups as just that, just sitting and networking,” said Angela Fort, who has a home décor business, Angela’s Place. “But many women are looking for relationships. Now, if you’re going to help me build business on the side, that’s the icing on top, but people are looking for relationships. And I’m personally looking for relationships outside of my comfort zone.”

Fort said she’s been a member of the Chandler Chamber and said it’s great. But that having a variety of groups is appealing.

Helen Minor, a former teacher, said she and her husband are just starting a crafting business. She said they know they have a lot to learn about running a successful business, and that’s why she joined Leading Ladies.

“I’ve been Mrs. Minor for 30 years to kids, so coming out of my comfort zone and this is a challenge, and I’m really excited about it but I can’t do it on my own,” Minor said. “I’m looking for support, and friendships that are outside of my previous life.”

Harp, who started the Arizona group, said the pandemic played a major role in the formation of Leading Ladies.

“Women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” Harp said. “Staying at home, taking care of kids, household responsibilities, a lot of services went away that women in business relied on, and so women were the ones who stepped up I’m going to take care of this for my family. As a result of that, a lot of women looked to entrepreneurship to meet the demands of the income of their families.”

She said women who took that route are finding it can be lonely. That’s why they are looking for a group like hers to help fill a need for relationships with other businesswomen.

Harp said among the 50 members who had signed up by the end of last week, there are businesswomen from Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. She said others from outside the East Valley are welcome for now, but they plan to expand when there is enough interest in other communities.

Abbs, the network marketer, said Leading Ladies fills a niche.

“I think that it’s good for the mom that’s like, I want to be the stay-at-home mom and I don’t know where to start, to come in and meet some friends who are from millionaires to just got started last night, and then you can pick and choose from the box of donuts what you want to do,” Abbs said.

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