Women owning their own

By Rasmieyh Abdelnabi

In the heart of Sycamore’s picturesque downtown, Marcia Elliott’s business, Made Just For You, sits as one of several hundred owned by women in Sycamore.

Elliott is the third owner of the store, 338 W. State St., which sells locally handcrafted home décor items. She took over the store in 1994 after working there for six years.

“I have been putting my crafts here and working here, so I knew how things were run,” Elliott said.

There were 496 women-owned businesses in Sycamore in 1997, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That number has risen during the last few years, said Rose Treml, executive director of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce.

“Women are stepping out and realizing that they can do it on their own,” she said.

Treml said she has seen an increase particularly in husband-and-wife-owned businesses in which the wife is the “face of the business,” and the husband handles the behind-the-scenes operations.

Although running a business is a big step for anyone, it is especially difficult for women because they are not used to dealing with financial matters, Treml said.

“Starting from scratch, talking to bankers, pushing for what you need – sometimes it’s hard for women to do,” she said.

For women starting their own business, or just thinking about it, help can be found locally.

Two years ago, a group of women asking for assistance on starting a business.

Treml responded by forming the Kishwaukee Women’s Network, which aims primarily to help women start and improve their businesses.

About 100 network members meet every third Thursday of the month at the Sycamore Country Club for lunch.

Many female executives, such as bankers and insurance brokers, attend the meetings, Treml said.

Aside from financial freedom, Elliott said families cannot survive on one income.

“With everything that everyone thinks they need, you have to have two people working in order to afford everything,” Elliott said.

Today, people worry not only about general day-to-day care for their families, but also planning for the future, such as setting up college funds, Elliott said.

Despite the benefits of owning a business, there is more than meets the eye, she said. Even seemingly simple hurdles such as transportation require further planning.

Taking classes and meeting people who can help put the plan in action is the first step, she said.

“If you’re not successful, well, at least you’ve learned something, and if you are successful, well, good for you,” Elliott said.

The next Kishwaukee Women’s Network meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., Sept. 15 at Kishwaukee Country Club, 1901 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.