With ever-changing technology and shifts in the digital age, many small businesses are looking for ways to break into online sales and service. E-commerce can be a challenging method to tackle alone, which is why the Washington Center for Women in Business (WCWB) developed and launched Quick Start Up: HER Commerce Edition. To celebrate the efforts of the most recent cohort, the WCWB is presenting the first ever Pop Up, where the program graduates can showcase their products and services in person. This free community event will be held at Drip Espresso Bar on August 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Quick Start-Up program was initially developed in response to the needs that came up at the onset of the COVID-19 shutdowns. WCWB Program Manager Naomi Sky found that many businesses were interested in breaking into an online sales platform to offset the impact of the pandemic. “It was a challenging time, and e-commerce became the norm,” Naomi explains. “I wanted to be able to support those individuals and try to mitigate the roadblocks as much as possible so we could get people generating income.” In spring of 2020, the first four-week Quick Start-Up program began and provided exceptional support to upcoming and established business owners in the community as they embarked on a new quest to integrate their businesses with the digital world.
With the Quick Start-Up program, participants have dedicated support from start to finish. From general business support such as setting up a business license to developing branding, this program covers a range of topics that every business owner can benefit from. All of the training is conveniently offered online with unlimited virtual support provided along the way. “We are very community-oriented naturally with the way the program is set up,” shares Naomi. “We also offer one-on-one business coaching sessions throughout the whole program so that we can meet each attendee on their level.” This individualized approach really allows the WCWB to personally support each business owner with their unique needs based on their current skillset and goals.
In the last two weeks of the program, Naomi and her team focus on helping each cohort participant develop their online platform with their business partner The W Marketplace. The W Marketplace is a women-owned and female-focused online retail platform that gives fellow women-owned businesses a place to showcase their products and services. With the Quick Start-Up program, consultants from The W Marketplace help support each participant in developing branding, graphics, and content for their personal e-commerce page on the website. This ensures each person is able to present themselves, their products, and their business the way they want and be deeply integrated into a well-established and locally-focused online community.
Registration for the program is open to businesses established or looking to open in the City of Olympia that are 51% women-owned and have a product or service that can be sold online. Outside of these requirements, every business owner is welcome to join the program, from seasoned entrepreneurs to innovative minds just breaking into business ownership. No matter where you are starting from, Naomi and her team are eager to help you build your individual brand online and find success with your own personal e-commerce page on The W Marketplace.
The best part about this program is that it is 100% funded. Valued at $1,500, the program is of no-cost to qualifying business owners through scholarship funds. The program includes not only four-week intensive support and online training on essential business topics, but also comes with an entire annual subscription on The W Marketplace for the first year. “There is also a lot of networking opportunities since The W Marketplace holds monthly meetings for their sellers, so it is really a great way to connect with other businesses too.” With so much opportunity to learn and connect, the Quick Start-Up program truly sets new business owners on the path to success. Check back soon on their website for updates on the next cohort and take your business to the next level online!
With the summer cohort preparing to graduate in August, Naomi wanted to finally have the opportunity to showcase and support our local business owners with an in-person event. On August 4, the WCWB is proud to be partnering with Drip Espresso to host a Pop Up for the graduating cohort. At this free community event, community members can come learn more about the newest businesses starting in Olympia and can even purchase products at their booths. It is the perfect opportunity to show your support for our growing local economy, not to mention grabbing a delicious coffee and treat from Olympia’s women-owned and local coffee bar, Drip Espresso.
Through the continued support of local organizations like the WCWB, our women-owned entrepreneurs can get the help they need to grow and thrive in Olympia and beyond. The summer Quick Start-Up graduates are eager to present their new businesses and products at the Pop Up, so be sure to come downtown to show your support!
Written by: Heather Leigh