Q&A: Oak Cliff Women In Business’ Founders

Three Oak Cliff women, Linda Holt, Heidi Maggio and Karen Chappell, attended a women in business meeting in Lakewood a few months ago. They liked the all-female business group that Darlene Ellison started so much that they decided to start up their own women in business group here in Oak Cliff. Holt co-owns Square Foot real estate company, and Maggio and Chappell own a professional organizing service called Kessler Simple Solutions. They all were members of Rosemont Early Childhood PTA, and they’re using some of the same networking ideas to start the business-focused group.

Why did you guys want to start an Oak Cliff Women in Business?

Maggio: The idea is that women make friends first and then support each other in business. Darlene Ellison started this as a small organization within her bank, and the idea caught on. So now she has 600 people in her database who network with other women.

Chappell: Linda met some of the members at a meeting she went to, so she said, “Hey, you girls, let’s go to this.” So we went, and we were standing there, and we thought, why isn’t this in Oak Cliff? And Darlene is our biggest cheerleader. She’s letting us use her model.

Holt: She’s already worked out all the kinks, so it’s easy.

Tell me more about the idea. What is Women in Business all about?

Maggio: Well, when you get there, everyone puts their business cards on the table, and before you leave, you pick one up. So, without a lot of grandstanding or hoopla, you get a lot of networking done. You relax and sit down and talk to each other, and then when you get home, you look at the cards. You’re there being social, but you share the same issues. If you own a business, and you’re trying to solve them all on your own … getting answers from that many different women, you’re going to come up with a solution.

Holt: It’s about just realizing who our contacts are in our own neighborhood. There’s so much talk about “slow” in the marketplace and so much discussion of using and maximizing what’s local. We’ve been doing it with RECEPTA for many years. And now it’s become the cool thing to do. But I think that women, particularly, are not networking and going out and shaking hands near as much as the guys are. You’re taking care of a household and taking your kids places, so you’ve got a lot on your plate. It’s a way of giving permission for women to do that in a very casual way. You become friends first with women you don’t know, and then you support those women.

Chappell: I think there will be a lot of businesses that we didn’t even know were women-owned businesses. I can’t wait to see who all ends up on the list. I think it’ll be fascinating.

How can women join the group?

Chappell: We brainstormed on who we thought would be good founding members. So we’re going to have a founder’s social first, and then in September, we’re going to have our kickoff social, and we’re going to send out invitations to as many women as we can find.

Maggio: The founders’ responsibility is going to be to find other members. We already have a pretty healthy database going among the three of us, but I’m sure there’s so many more out there that we don’t even know about.

How much will it cost to join?

Chappell: There’s no membership fee. All we’re asking these women to do is come, have a glass of wine, have an hors d’oeuvre and get to know these women.

Maggio: They don’t have to pay for the socials either. If you’re hosting it, you’re advertising your company, and we’re hoping that will be the draw. Companies can give door prizes, and if you give one, you get to stand up and give an advertisement for 60 seconds.

Holt: There’s also a charity spotlight every meeting. Each member has a pet thing they support, so each one gets four or five minutes to spotlight their charity.

For more information on Oak Cliff Women in Business, contact Heidi Maggio at heidi@kesslersimplesolutions.com or 214.507.2965.


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