HAWBL: Women supporting women

courtesy photo A few members of Huron Area Women Business Leaders (HAWBL) pose for a picture. HAWBL is planning another event on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Top Floor Events. Call 605-354-7918 for tickets.

It all started with a post on Facebook asking other women in business if they would be interested in forming a group to share ideas and support.

The response, says founder Sara Waldner, was overwhelming.

“I thought, I’ll just throw it out there,” said Waldner. “I had lived here before, then moved to Sioux Falls for a while. I just didn’t know a ton of people. Women attended that first meeting and they started inviting their friends.”

The Huron Area Women Business Leaders meet each Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at GiGi’s, 349 Wisconsin Ave. S.W..

They share their successes, struggles and encouragement.

Now the group is working on a “Seasons of Change” program that will be presented at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Top Floor Events.

“We’ll have speakers for different seasons of life,” Waldner said. “It’s how we can speak to all women.”

Amanda Sneed, a doctor of physical therapy with Modern Day Health Care and a professional photographer, said she was intrigued by the idea of women helping women when she saw the Facebook post almost a year ago.

“It’s for women who own, represent or dream of owning their own business to come together alongside other women professionals to encourage and assist in growing our companies,” Sneed said. “I loved the opportunity to network with other like-minded women.

“The ability to learn from more experienced women business leaders and refer others to local businesses in town for their needs seemed like a wonderful experience I could not pass up,” Sneed added.

Sneed said the weekly meetings have strengthened her own leadership skills.

“I have a new group of friends whom I never would have met without this organization of leaders,” Sneed said. “I have been encouraged to pursue my dreams. These ladies have helped grow my business by being a referral network and sharing social media posts so I can reach people who I may not be connected with.  

“The HAWBL meetings provide an opportunity to showcase the special services I can offer as well as request help with business challenges from other leaders in a noncompetitive, highly supportive environment.”

Earlier this summer HAWBL sponsored a luncheon with a program focusing on finding balance between work and home. More than 77 women attended from across the area, including Sioux Falls.

“We launched in September last year and we had 12 sponsors for the luncheon,” Waldner said. “I’m so proud of the team and how we all work together.”

A chance to mentor and support women in business is what attracted Marvie Tschetter Grossman to get involved in HAWBL last winter.

“I appreciated their objective, which was women supporting other women in business,” Grossman said. “Everybody can be successful, there is room for everyone.

“Granted I am retired from Lankota, but I still have my coaching business,” she said. “This group is made up of younger business women who really want the best for the community. It’s awesome to watch that. It gives me opportunity to share and mentor, as well as participate.”

Meetings on Wednesday mornings at GiGi’s begin with a “Shine and Share,” where participants to share their story with their business.

“We go around the table and ask how we can help each other out,” Waldner said. “It’s fun to watch how we’ve been able to help. It’s confidential, community and empowering.

“Every woman business leader in Huron is invited,” Waldner added. “Everything really happens around the table.”

For ticket information call Waldner at 605-354-7918 or Jessica VanDiepen at Tumble Track at 605-520-2985.